Intel expands mSATA line with 525 Series SSD

Although Intel has a deep lineup of solid-state drives, its selection of mSATA models has been rather limited. Until today, all the firm had to offer the ultrabook-optimized form factor was a collection of 300-series SSDs with 3Gbps host interfaces, similarly sluggish performance ratings, and capacities that maxed out at mere 80GB. Now, however, Intel is releasing a much more potent mSATA model: the 525 Series. This drive is essentially an mSATA version of the 2.5" 520 Series, a SandForce-based solution that’s very fast indeed.

Like its 2.5" counterpart, the 525 Series combines SandForce’s SF-2281 controller silicon with 25-nm NAND and a 6Gbps interface. Intel says the drive delivers similar performance to its big brother; the 525 Series is rated for sequential read and write speeds of 550 and 520 MB/s, respectively, and it’s purportedly capable of cranking out 50,000 and 80,000 IOps with random I/O. Not bad for a drive that measures a diminutive 2" x 1.2" x 0.14".

The 525 Series’ tiny footprint and thin profile are ideal for notebooks, all-in-one PCs, and small-form-factor systems like Intel’s own Next Unit of Computing. Indeed, the NUC we reviewed in November had a 525 Series drive tucked inside. That was the 180GB model, which Intel is currently shipping along with a 120GB version. The 30, 60, 90, and 240GB flavors will begin rolling out this quarter.

Intel didn’t provide us with performance specifications for the various capacities, but if they mirror those of the 520 Series, you’ll need at least the 180GB variant to get full performance. SSD performance tends to fall off as drive capacities decrease, since there are fewer NAND dies to exploit the controller’s internal parallelism.

Regardless of the capacity, the Intel 525 Series offers 128-bit AES encryption and five-year warranty coverage. The suggested retail prices are $10-20 more than what you’ll pay for equivalent 520 Series drives right now, which isn’t unexpected. mSATA drives are typically more expensive than 2.5" models. Intel does note that the 525 Series’ eventual street price could differ "due to the dynamic nature of the market and varying prices."

I’m a little surprised the 525 Series doesn’t use Intel’s next-generation 20-nm NAND, which debuted in the 2.5" 335 Series in October. Perhaps Intel has an update to its 300-series mSATA SSDs in the works.

Comments closed
    • Deanjo
    • 7 years ago

    Too bad that the desktop boards out there that do have mSATA slots are usually shared with a SATA 2 port and unable to utilize the faster SATA 3 capabilities found on the drive.

    • maxxcool
    • 7 years ago

    Now can I get a case with a front loading m-sata sloth to fit these buggers ? Or a laptop with a side port to slap one in without the use of a screw driver ?

      • Grigory
      • 7 years ago

      Easy, just do the truffel shuffel.

        • BIF
        • 7 years ago

        I don’t understand this response either. Did I accidentally wake up on the wrong planet today? 🙂

          • Grigory
          • 7 years ago

          It’s a Goonies reference because he said sloth instead of slot. 🙂

      • Bauxite
      • 7 years ago

      You can get trayless bays for 2.5″ drives, and there are several msata-to-2.5″ adapters out there.

      There are also some 2.5″ to 3.5″ adapters, so you can go [i<]full inception[/i<] and convert your 5.25" external bay to accept a 3.5" caddy for a 2.5" adapter for a msata drive!

      • Washer
      • 7 years ago

      Huh? Why? You wouldn’t want to carry an mSATA drive around in your pocket.

    • BIF
    • 7 years ago

    I dislike the use of model numbers when they are too similar to storage capacities, yet don’t describe that characteristic AT ALL.

    There won’t even be a version fo the 525 that will approach 512 GB. Too confusing.

    Samsung too, with their 830 and 840’s.

    Vertex 3 and M4 is a lot easier to keep straight.

      • indeego
      • 7 years ago

      Yeah and why doesn’t Mustang always have 1 horsepower?

        • BIF
        • 7 years ago

        I don’t understand your response.

          • indeego
          • 7 years ago

          You will, eventually.

          • SomeOtherGeek
          • 7 years ago

          It’s a horse, not a car.

            • BIF
            • 7 years ago

            I doubt it. Really, Mustangs and horses? Indeego’s smart answer just diminished what I was trying to say, which I think was a valid point.

            So, back to my point (please): For hard drives, why would a manufacturer’s marketing department choose to use a 3-character number for a model number, when the capacities (as they are today for SSDs) are also portrayed with 3-characters? The 525 sounds too much like a 512 GB capacity drive. Just like the Samsung 830 hints at something MUCH bigger then the 256 I bought.

            Now, when SSD capacities approach terabyte and multi-terabyte capacities, then of course single-digit model numbers won’t make sense there either.

            Watered down naming conventions make no sense to me, and I find it annoying. Just saying.

            • indeego
            • 7 years ago

            I hate to say it but I was mocking your point. My point is that you are arguing against something that has existed for likely centuries and it’s pretty pointless. Model “T” (to bring it back to cars,) had little to do with the car’s capability itself.

            “For hard drives, why would a manufacturer’s marketing department choose to use a 3-character number for a model number,”

            because model numbers have different capacities, and numbers have psychological importance beyond technical importance.

            ” The 525 sounds too much like a 512 GB capacity drive.”
            So what? Have you even seen GPU naming in the past decade? Tell me how it makes ANY sense to a layman shopping.

            “Now, when SSD capacities approach terabyte and multi-terabyte capacities, then of course single-digit model numbers won’t make sense there either.”

            So just accept the marketing fluff and move on.

            “Watered down naming conventions make no sense to me, and I find it annoying. Just saying.”
            I find [u<]all[/u<] marketing annoying. ALL of it I want out of my life. I hate paying for products knowing a significant part of my money is invested in marketing, which is fluff, wasteful. But I harbor no fantasy world where my opinion will change said world.

    • Walkintarget
    • 7 years ago

    Trying to determine if this uses SLC or MLC memory … anyone know ?

      • Damage
      • 7 years ago

      MLC.

      • bcronce
      • 7 years ago

      SLC drives are still around $300 for a 32Gb drive. If you can afford the drive, it’s MLC.

        • Bauxite
        • 7 years ago

        Its not [i<]quite[/i<] that bad, in fact intels own 311/313 SLC msata drives are often around $100 for 20-24GB. They are a lot more affordable than many SLC SATA DOMs for embedded systems, and msata is starting to pick up steam there.

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