SSD shrinkage leads to Intel 310 Series

Intel has added a fresh line of solid-state drives to its growing portfolio of storage products. This isn’t the long-awaited successor to the X25-M family, though. Instead, the new 310 Series brings the X25-M’s controller architecture and 34-nano flash to the tiny mini-SATA form factor.

Otherwise known as mSATA, the diminutive SSD form factor pipes Serial ATA signaling over a mini PCI Express connector. Mini is the operative word all around. SSDs in the 310 Series measure just 51 x 30 x 5.8 mm, which is roughly 11% of the volume of 2.5″ drives with a 9.5-mm thickness. Even standard 1.8″ drives look portly in comparison, being more than four times larger than a 310 Series offering. With a weight of less than 10 grams per SSD, the 310 Series doesn’t have much heft, either.

The 310 Series will be available in 40 and 80GB variants. As one might expect, the latter is the quicker of the two. It’s rated for 200MB/s sustained reads and 80MB/s writes, while the 40GB drive tops out at 170MB/s for reads and 35MB/s for writes. There’s a similar disparity when we look at the drives’ performance specifications for random reads and writes. Here’s how some key specs compare with a couple of other Intel SSDs:

  310 Series X25-V 40GB X25-M 80GB
40GB 80GB
Sustained reads 170MB/s 200MB/s 170MB/s 250MB/s
Sustained writes 35MB/s 80MB/s 35MB/s 70MB/s
4KB random reads 25k IOps 35k IOps 25k IOps 35k IOps
4KB random writes 2.5k IOps 6.6k IOps 2.5k IOps 6.6k IOps
Idle power 75 mW 75 mW 75 mW 75 mW
Active power 150 mW 150 mW 150 mW 150 mW

The 80GB 310 Series has a higher sustained write speed than its full-size X25-M counterpart but slower sustained reads.  Otherwise, the performance of the 310 Series looks to be on par with that of Intel’s 2.5″ SSDs.  Given that the drives use similar controllers and flash memory, that parity is to be expected. I’m a little surprised that the 310 Series doesn’t have lower power-draw ratings, however.

Although the 310 Series won’t be sold as bare or retail-boxed drives to end users, it’s already shipping to notebook makers. According to the official press release, which isn’t live as I write this, Lenovo is eager to implement the drives in its ThinkPad line. Interestingly, the 310 Series’ product literature makes numerous mentions of dual-drive notebook configs that pair the SSDs with traditional 2.5″ mechanical storage. Desktop users have been enjoying similar hybrid storage configurations for a while now, and it would be nice to see notebook makers get in on the action.

Doing so won’t cost them too much, at least for the drives. Intel says the 40GB 310 Series model runs $99 in 1,000-unit quantities, while its 80GB sibling sells for $179. Those prices make the 310 Series only slightly more expensive than 2.5″ Intel SSDs with equivalent capacities.

Comments closed
    • Anomymous Gerbil
    • 9 years ago

    When a component is <$100, who cares about cost/GB ratios? Just feel the performance, and open your wallet.

    Imagine telling someone 5 or 10 years ago that you could *actually buy* a ~40GB SSD for $100, and then telling them that people wouldn’t spend such a small amount of money for such a noticeable performance boost – they’d fall off their chairs laughing.

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      Life is relative…

        • Anomymous Gerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Yes, but when things are this cheap, relativity should go out the window.

          • TheBob!
          • 9 years ago

          While at the same time memory makers are being investigated for price fixing. Never understand why people look out for big companies. Trust me they are not out for your best interest.

            • WaltC
            • 9 years ago

            If not for “big companies”–and I see no reason to distinguish them on a moral plane as any different from “small companies”–what products would we have?

            Now, if you want to talk about “big government” as an entity which has an endless thirst to consume as much as it can get away with in the form of compulsory taxation, and an entity which creates no wealth or products of any description, an entity which constantly writes bad checks to spend money it does not have–I’m all ears…;)

            • Anomymous Gerbil
            • 9 years ago

            Wow… “an entity which creates no wealth or products of any description”.

            Not to justify the profligacy of the US government (I am assuming you’re from the USA) and the ludicrously partisan situation in the US that drives it, but you might be forgetting the non-trivial amounts of money that the US government spends on basic research and development, via numberous agencies. That money brings an awful lot of payback, although how you’d do a proper cost/benefit analysis I have no idea.

          • Trymor
          • 9 years ago

          …according to you.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    /[<"I'm sorry but the cost per gigabyte is just still too high, *[https://techreport.com/r.x/ssd-value-0610/perf-boot.gif<]§ (I'm not going to go into how TR's boot times are DOUBLE what I ever see on OEM systems that don't show endless storage progress). Savings of ~3 seconds per day. In my own testing it's a savings of at least 23 seconds a day versus HDD. In TR's case, that is 18.25 minutes a year, or about an hour savings for an average 3-year lifetime of a drive. Most professionals easily could justify saving an hour over three years in just reduced boot times for the cost/Gig. We're not even talking other apps. Anyone who's ever used a SSD: virus scan your machine while working: pretty much zero impact. Do the same with mechanical: serious impact in bringing up anything significant. We show a 1:20 minute quick (system, common file locations, registry) scan with our AV software on SSD. We show triple that with our mechanicals. That is ~2:40 minutes a week users are more impacted. (8320 minutes a year.) TR's value proposition ( §[<https://techreport.com/r.x/ssd-value-0610/value-boot-plot.gif<]§ ) doesn't take into account the $/time of the user to wait, which is *[

    • crazybus
    • 9 years ago

    Any idea if this new mSata form factor has the same pinout as the old mini-PCIe SSDs that Asus and Dell used to put in some of their netbooks? I think OCZ quit making them now but as far as I know you can still get them from RunCore.

    • BlackStar
    • 9 years ago

    [deleted]

    • Wirko
    • 9 years ago

    Not a single Canadian coin?

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 9 years ago

    I find those coins offensive.

      • Trymor
      • 9 years ago

      Hmm, no bites.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      I find /[

      • TaBoVilla
      • 9 years ago

      I find money in general offensive, that’s why I redistribute it (loans, debts, credit cards, purchases on steam, jewelry on the wife, stuff) all over the place and keep none =)

    • PixelArmy
    • 9 years ago

    Tablets anyone?

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    Wow, that drive has been spending time in the pool…

      • bdwilcox
      • 9 years ago

      “You mean, like a sweater?”

    • HisDivineShadow
    • 9 years ago

    Wake me when the successor to X-25 G2 is out. Supposedly, it was 2010 Q4, but then Indilinx Jetstream was coming then, too.

    If only SSD’s were as reliable as video cards in release. Right, nVidia? Right? Haha.

    The shame of it is that all I really want from the next gen of SSD’s is cheaper prices with more capacity. Yet they’re focused on more speed and higher prices.

      • Flying Fox
      • 9 years ago

      I hope you meant G3 not G2.

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        He meant the successor to G2

      • gtoulouzas
      • 9 years ago

      “The shame of it is that all I really want from the next gen of SSD’s is cheaper prices with more capacity. Yet they’re focused on more speed and higher prices.”

      I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Seriously, now that we’re past the jmicron stuttering ssd fiasco, most users are more than content with the current speeds. Capacity is what’s lacking at the moment.

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    Now if the price for the *[

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      /[<"Although the 310 Series won't be sold as bare or retail-boxed drives to end users,"<]/ Good luckg{

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        Okay, so I overlooked that, however considering the falseness of what I said, it’s not actually relevant either way.

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    just in time for bobcat.

    • Duck
    • 9 years ago

    Imagine 4 of the 40GB model in raid 0. Would have huge performance in something that takes up the space of only a 1.8″ HDD. That would make it $400 for 160GB though. Once they get down to more like $60 for 40GB I can really see these things taking off big time.

    • wagsbags
    • 9 years ago

    This would be a great alternative to hybrid hard drives.

    • srg86
    • 9 years ago

    With this whole thing about smaller capacity SSDs being slower than higher capacity ones.

    I realize that this is part of the technology, but I can’t help feeling ripped off, another reason why I feel they are still too expensive to bother with at the moment. But that’s just me.

      • bcronce
      • 9 years ago

      Small capacity and high capacity drives use the same chips, but the high capacity drive has more of them.

      SSDs just RAID0 all the chips together.

      More chips = faster drives.

      So long as the bottleneck is the chips, this will continue to be the case.

      larger = faster

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      You’re making one huge sweeping generalization. They’ll still do everything extremely fast. The only case you’d notice one is slower than the other is if you are sequentially writing a large amount of information to one directly from a faster SSD.

      Considering these will go in things like netbooks and ultraportables, I don’t see how slower sequential write speed should even figure in. Capacity is the only relevant difference.

        • Trymor
        • 9 years ago

        It seems by his post, that he is just justifying holding on to his money.

        A person can sure mis out on a lot of enjoyments through the years that way…

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 9 years ago

          So it seems, but it amazes me when, several years after the bugs were worked out of mainstream SSDs, people are still calling one “slower” than another. Try using one and saying it’s slow lol.

            • indeego
            • 9 years ago

            An Agility I is /[

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            Doing what?

            • Flying Fox
            • 9 years ago

            Copying and watching the pr0n of course!

            • indeego
            • 9 years ago

            The pron delays a fap by 1 Internetsg{<.<}g

            • Trymor
            • 9 years ago

            Unless u rn flashblock…

            • maxxcool
            • 9 years ago

            move a raw 80 gig stream. the agility 1 is now sadly slower by half in writting.

            • Trymor
            • 9 years ago

            l[

            • srg86
            • 9 years ago

            I’m sorry but the cost per gigabyte is just still too high, it’s not that I want to hold onto my money, they are just too expensive/GB to be justified imho. Okay I could get a smaller 40GB one in theory but that’s smaller than I’d want for my OS drive, but any larger than that is more than I’m prepared to pay for a drive.

            My next built, which I’m hoping to use a Sandy Bridge processor, will still have the mechanical hard drives from my current system to cut down cost, storage speed is a relatively low priority plus I’ll be buying parts for two rigs, mine and my wifes’s which will have 2 1TB mechanical hard drives. At a later date, I may use an 80GB SSD as a mid life kicker, but at the moment > $150 is more than I’m prepared to pay for a “Hard Disk”.

            • Trymor
            • 9 years ago

            I rest my case.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            So buy one that isn’t $150. There are so many choices for a reason. For a desktop, your OS and the specific applications that benefit from SSDs don’t take up much space, and that’s all there’s any reason to put on one.

            You can’t even connect this particular SSD to most desktop boards lol. Again, what is the issue with these SSDs and their prices, speed, capacity, and intended use? You are proving the point that you are fishing for excuses more than you are disproving it.

            I’m not trying to be argumentative. I think you are missing a very serious point.

            I must ask, if the slow access speed of a HDD isn’t a priority, then why are you building a new computer with the fancy new “faster” parts, which have even greater price premiums than an entire SSD, under the guise that you are trying to make the most of your money?

            A SSD is an order of magnitude faster than a HDD, and a HDD is going to be the slowest part of any modern computer using one. Those fancy new Sandy Bridge CPUs may be a few % faster than what’s been available for years. Unless you’re replacing a low clocked Athlon 64 X2 with a quad-core Sandy Bridge, good luck telling the difference.

            It’s tough to beat for the money spent on moving to a SSD from a HDD. $100 and your disk seeks vanish. You already intend to reuse your same HDD, so why are you even talking about capacity?

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            +1. His bottleneck is not the CPU, but the hard drive access… that’s what makes your computer seem slow, and having a CPU 4x faster doesn’t make the computer seem appreciably faster.

            noSSD/SSD = night/day

            • BlackStar
            • 9 years ago

            100% agreed.

            My Intel X25-M G2 actually changed the way I use my computer. Everything is an order of magnitude faster: boot, shutdown, program installation, program launch. No longer am I afraid of rebooting for updates (the OS boots in less than 15s) and no longer do I stop virus scans from running – they finish so fast it’s just no worth the effort.

            Going back to regular hard drives is painful. My old 1.8GHz Core 2 + IGP + SSD laptop feels so much faster than my 3.2GHz Phenom 2 + 4850 + hard disk workstation that I’d rather boot the first and remote-desktop to the latter (occasionally) rather than use that directly.

            • srg86
            • 9 years ago

            I’m not saying that they’re not a big improvement, just still too expensive imho. That will improve with time.

            • Trymor
            • 9 years ago

            l[

            • srg86
            • 9 years ago

            okay, okay, you’ve all convinced me, actually waiting less time for mundane tasks actually makes sense.

            For what I can see the Corsair Nova 64GB or Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB looks to the the best fit price wise.

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            -[http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211479<]§ $95 after MIR for 64GB<]- Let me take that back. 25nm-based SSDs are supposed to come out in February - if you're going to build a new rig, I would wait until then. 25nm should make them cheaper, and probably faster too - I would expect the prices on the current crop of SSDs drop quite nicely with new stuff on the market. Some great deals to be had. Also, with SB out, you might be able to find Lynnfields at nice discounted prices, along with P55 boards (or, alternatively, Clarkdales+H55).

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            Equally or even more import than the upcoming move to 25nm, everyone and their dog will announce new SSD lines at CES, and that’s days away, then maybe another month until some of them start showing up.

            • Trymor
            • 9 years ago

            Ok, but the key word is start showing up. How long till prices ‘settle’ on the new stuff, then finally driving old hardware prices down? My guess is at least 2 months.

            • Trymor
            • 9 years ago

            §[<http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0351760<]§ Sandforce controller, 250ish read/write, 105.95 after shipping...no rebate. Get this now if you have the cash ;) I almost bought one, but I already have a 32 Gig SSD with Win7 and ubuntu on it. If you are building a whole system, you could wait 2-4 months for some cool deals, but isn't that always the case? Enjoy now, or not - that is the question...lol.

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            You must not have used one – once you get to try, you will never again talk about CPU upgrades and high cost of SSDs in the same paragraph.

            • cegras
            • 9 years ago

            “Too expensive” by what metric? If it’s performance increased per dollar, it’s the cheapest by far. If it’s capacity / dollar … then technically yes. But like others have said, you will be carrying over the capacity workhorses – HDDs, from your prev. build.

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            My work laptop doesn’t have an SSD, and I hate it with passion. McAfee just kills the thing completely – scanning anything on a hard drive is pure pain. My own CULV ultraportable feels 10x faster just because it has an 80GB G1 Intel SSD, even though the CPU is much slower.

            I will never again have a PC without a boot SSD. Ever.

            • srg86
            • 9 years ago

            The point I’m trying to make has nothing to do with these particular SSDs, just SSDs in general.

            Actually I will be replacing a relatively low clocked Athlon64 X2 with quad core sandy bridge.

            I simply don’t think they are cost effective at the moment. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they are the way of the future in storage, just that I’m willing to wait a little longer before I make the jump to an SSD.

            Anyway my original point was about higher capacity SSDs being much faster than smaller capacity ones because of their architecture. I hope this is something that can actually be changed somewhere down the line (how that is done I don’t know)

            • Trymor
            • 9 years ago

            The American way?

    • TaBoVilla
    • 9 years ago

    one day, hard drive and ram will be the same thing, just different folders

      • SonicSilicon
      • 9 years ago

      I’ve already been there with Windows CE.
      Originally it was annoying since it was volatile RAM, but they switched the requirement to Flash RAM years ago. I don’t recall if you still need to manually manage how much of the RAM is dedicated to each task, through.

      • Kaleid
      • 9 years ago

      Hope that day comes ASAP.

    • KarateBob
    • 9 years ago

    I would like to see Intel push widespread adoption of mSATA. Have it in laptops and desktops, on motherboards. It’ll be like in the 1990’s when you could add an L2 or L3 cache via add-in card, but now with an SSD. When you boil it all down, an SSD is another layer of cache and has countless benefits to a modern computer. Thanks Intel 🙂

    • pedro
    • 9 years ago

    This is very awesome. I’d gladly pony up $99 for the OS on an SSD. Now we just need to remove optical drives from notebooks and replace them with an extra 2.5 inch HDD or extra battery capacity.

      • Corrado
      • 9 years ago

      This. Smaller onboard SATA SSD, with a regular SATA 2.5″ bay for storage. I think this is one of the main things holding back SSDs in notebooks. Lots of people only have 1 computer… their laptop. Meaning they can’t fit everything they have into 80-160gb anymore. If you could have an 80gb boot drive and a 500gb storage drive, this would alleviate the problem.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    these are getting down to the price levels i’d like to see. almost anyway…

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      Next-gen chips are right around the corner, prices are bound to drop

      (good job on #1)

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