Intel’s second-generation X25-M solid-state drive

Given the firm’s expertise in both storage controller design and semiconductor fabrication, it was probably only a matter of time before Intel got into the solid-state storage business. The chip giant finally burst onto the SSD scene a little less than a year ago with the introduction of its X25-M line of 2.5″ multi-level cell (MLC) flash drives. A performance revelation at the time, the X25-M easily captured the SSD performance crown. In fact, one could argue that it’s still the SSD to beat, even today.

Much has changed in the 11 months since the X25-M’s initial launch, though. Samsung has a new SSD design that’s being sold by Corsair and OCZ, and it offers better sequential throughput than the X25-M in both synthetic benchmarks and with real-world file operations. A Korean firm by the name of Indilinx has also introduced a Barefoot SSD controller that’s being used by nearly half a dozen drive makers. The Indilinx has been quite popular in certain circles, and with strong random-write performance and the promise of TRIM support for Windows 7, it’s become an intriguing alternative to the X25-M.

Intel has been busy since the X25-M’s launch, too. In November of last year, it unleashed a single-level cell (SLC) version of the X25 geared toward enterprise environments. A line of 1.8″ X18-M SSDs also joined the family. More recently, in April, Intel released a firmware update to improve the long-term performance of its X25-M and X18-M models. All along the way, Intel has aggressively cut prices. The 80GB X25-M initially launched at just under $600. Today, it costs close to half that.

SSDs remain an expensive proposition, even for enthusiasts accustomed to paying top dollar for high-performance hardware. Prices continue to plummet, though, spurred most recently by Intel’s introduction of a new generation of X25-M drives based on 34nm fabrication technology. These new units are much cheaper than their forebears, with the latest 80GB flavor selling for just $225 in bulk quantities—35% less than the street price of the old X25-M. And it gets better, because Intel says these latest models are even faster than the originals. One arrived at our doorstep this past Wednesday afternoon, and we’ve been testing it since. Let’s see what we’ve learned.

Subtract 16 nanometers

Because solid-state drives are essentially just arrays of flash memory chips, the best way to decrease their cost is to move to finer fabrication technologies that squeeze more gigabytes onto each silicon wafer. The original X25-M’s MLC NAND flash memory chips were fabbed using 50nm process technology, but the new models have flash chips built with 34nm tech. As a result, there’s more storage per chip in the new drives. The X25-M debuted at 80GB with 20 flash chips weighing in at 4GB each. This time around, the X25-M line is led by a 160GB model packing a whopping 16GB per chip.

The second-generation X25-M’s storage controller is also fresh silicon, but there’s been no die shrink here. Instead, Intel has removed any and all traces of halogen from the chip, which should appeal to laptop makers looking to boost their Greenpeace ratings. According to Intel, the controller’s architecture is on the same “technology node” as the original, so it’s still a 10-channel design. Interestingly, however, the company wouldn’t reveal whether the new chip runs at a higher internal clock speed than its forebear.

In fact, the new X25-M’s cache memory has actually gotten slower. The new drives have 32MB of 133MHz Micron DRAM, up 16MB but down 33MHz from the first-gen X25-M. The 32MB cache is still much smaller than what’s strapped to new SSDs based on Indilinx designs, which use 64MB DRAM chips, and the latest Samsung controllers, which come with 128MB of cache.

Intel does say that latencies have been reduced throughout the updated storage controller. As a result, the drive’s random read latency has been reduced from 85 to 65 microseconds, while its random write latency has dropped from 115 to 85 microseconds. That’s about a 25% improvement on both fronts, which suggests an internal clock speed bump.


X25-M

X25-M G2

Controller
Intel PC29AS21AA0 Intel PC29AS21BA0

Flash fabrication process
50nm 34nm

Capacity
80, 160GB 80, 160GB

Cache
16MB 32MB

Max sequential reads
250MB/s 250MB/s

Max sequential writes
70MB/s 70MB/s

Read latency
85 µs 65 µs

Write latency
115 µs 85 µs

Max 4KB write IOPS
3,300 8,600 (160GB)
6,600 (80GB)

Max 4KB read IOPS
35,000 35,000

Active power consumption
150 mW 150 mW

Idle power consumption
60 mW 75 mW

In addition to reducing latencies, speeding random writes seems to have been another focus of Intel’s performance optimizations. The company claims that the new 80GB X25-M can push up to 6,600 random 4KB write IOPS—double the original’s theoretical peak and 2,000 shy of the 8,600 IOPS claimed for the new 160GB model. The X25-M’s peak random read rating hasn’t increased, though; it’s still sitting pretty at a staggering 35,000 IOPS.

Although the X25-M’s random write performance has apparently been improved, it doesn’t appear that much has been done to hasten sequential transfers. The gen-two unit’s still saddled with its predecessor’s relatively sluggish 70MB/s sustained write speed rating. That rating wasn’t particularly impressive when the X25-M first launched, and with Indilinx- and Samsung-based drives boasting sustained write speed ratings in the 200MB/s range, it’s a glaring potential liability now. Intel says sustained write speeds haven’t increased because it was concentrating on making a quick transition to 34nm flash and driving down drive prices, instead. That may be the most prudent approach. After all, we’ve found that the original X25-M is no slouch when it comes to real-world write performance. We’ll see how this latest spin fares in a moment.

A few more tweaks at 34nm

More important than changes to the X25-M’s performance ratings are the steps Intel has taken to combat the scourge of long-term SSD performance: the block rewrite penalty. This penalty arises due to the nature of flash memory cells, which are made up of 4KB pages organized into 512KB blocks. It’s possible to write to pages directly, but only if they’re empty. When writing to an occupied page, the drive must rewrite the entire block. Doing so involves reading the much larger block into cache, modifying its contents, and then writing back the whole thing—additional steps that take time, slowing write performance.

But a solid-state drive with loads of free storage capacity should have plenty of vacant pages ripe for direct writing, right? Unfortunately, no. When Windows deletes a file, it doesn’t require that the associated data be wiped from the drive. The flash pages in question are marked as available, but their actual contents go untouched, so they’re technically still occupied. Thus, even in normal day-to-day use, one will eventually exhaust a flash-based drive’s supply of fresh pages and be forced to suffer through the block rewrite penalty for each and every subsequent write.

Intel uses a couple of approaches to combat performance degradation over time. The first is a series of garbage collection algorithms that are constantly working to cleanse the drive of internal fragmentation. Latency reductions inside the new X25-M storage controller apparently benefit these algorithms. Intel says the new design’s larger cache helps, too, as do improvements to the storage controller’s ability to perform concurrent operations and to the efficiency of its NAND array management.

The second stage of Intel’s block-rewrite defense comes in the fourth quarter of this year in the form of a firmware update with TRIM support for Windows 7. TRIM will address the block rewrite penalty by requiring that flash pages associated with deleted files be emptied rather than simply marked as available, keeping drives topped up with unoccupied pages.

Unfortunately, Intel has no plans to offer a TRIM-capable firmware update for its 50nm SSD family. The drives are nearly a year old now, and the TRIM specification wasn’t even close to being finalized back then, so Intel’s position is defensible. Still, it irks me a little that TRIM support perhaps could be added to the old drives with little effort.

Packaged with the 34nm TRIM firmware update will be an Intel SSD Toolbox application with a “TRIM-style” manual cleaning utility for both Windows XP and Vista. Indilinx offers a similar “wiper” utility for its drives, although that tool has compatibility problems with storage controller drivers from AMD, Intel, and Nvidia. Let’s hope Intel’s app is more robust.

The second-gen X25-M’s extensive under-the-hood changes are capped by a new skin. Gone is the black exterior of the old drive; in its place is a bare metal casing that’s gone unpainted in an attempt to further reduce costs. A black metal shim has been added to bring the drive up to a standard 9.5-mm thickness, though.

It’s a good thing that there’s a color contrast between the old and new models, because Intel intends to produce both as its customers make the transition to the new hotness. One may also differentiate between generations based on their model numbers: The old ones end in G1, while the new ones are tagged as G2.

Rumors preceding the X25-M G2’s official launch suggested that a 320GB flavor would join existing 80 and 160GB models. There’s even room on the barren back of the new 160GB drive’s PCB to add another 10 flash chips. Intel has yet to announce a 320GB drive, though, saying only that higher capacities won’t come until next year. We’ll also get a “high performance” 34nm drive in 2010. I suspect that will be an enterprise-class Extreme model based on single-level cell (SLC) flash.

At least we won’t have to wait long for Intel’s 34nm flash chips to migrate to its 1.8″ drives. An updated X18-M is coming by the end of this quarter, and it has the same performance ratings as the second-gen X25-M.

Our testing methods

Today we’ll be testing the new X25-M against not only its predecessor, but also rivals based on the latest SSD designs from Indilinx and Samsung. We’ve found that storage controller designs typically define SSD performance, so the OCZ Summit and Vertex drives we used for testing should be representative of what you can expect from other Samsung- and Indilinx-based drives, respectively.

Because the block-rewrite penalty can severely impact SSD performance, we’ve elected to test the drives in a simulated used state, with all their flash pages occupied. We don’t believe that testing SSDs in a factory-fresh state accurately represents their long-term performance, and we’re far more interested in seeing how drives handle a more typical scenario than chasing higher benchmark scores with SSDs that have been manually freshened with secure-erase tools that clear the contents of all flash pages.

We haven’t used Indilinx’s beta wiper utility to cleanse the Vertex, either. This application still has problems with common WHQL-certified storage drivers from AMD, Nvidia, and Intel, which is a huge problem in our eyes. We’re not inclined to perform additional time-consuming testing on the Vertex with a whole new set of storage controller drivers just because Indilinx hasn’t done sufficient compatibility testing on its end.

Processor

Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66GHz
System bus 1066MHz (266MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard

Gigabyte EP45-DS3R
Bios revision F10
North bridge
Intel
P45 Express
South bridge Intel ICH10R
Chipset drivers
Chipset 9.0.0.1008
AHCI/RAID 8.8.0.1009
Memory size 4GB
(2 DIMMs)
Memory type

OCZ PC2-6400 Platinum Edition
at 800MHz
CAS latency (CL)
5
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 4
RAS precharge (tRP) 4
Cycle time (tRAS) 15

Audio

Realtek ALC889A with 2.24 drivers
Graphics

Gigabyte GeForce 8600 GT 256MB
with ForceWare 185.85 drivers
Hard drives Intel X25-M 80GB with 8820 firmware

OCZ Summit
with 18C1 firmware
OCZ Vertex 120GB with 1.3 firmware
OS

Windows Vista Ultimate x64
OS updates Service Pack 2

Our test system was powered by an OCZ GameXStream power supply unit.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Quantifying the block-rewrite penalty

Before digging into our benchmark results, it’s worth taking a moment to quantify the magnitude of the block rewrite penalty associated with each drive. As we’ve seen in the past, some SSDs deal with this issue better than others.

First, we used an IOMeter workload consisting exclusively of 4KB random write requests to measure the response time of each drive in its factory-fresh state, with no occupied flash pages. We then subjected each SSD to several runs through HD Tach’s “full” disk benchmark, whose write speed test fills drives with a single, contiguous file. This test neatly occupies all available flash pages, forcing a block rewrite for every subsequent write request.

With our SSDs now in a simulated used state, we ran our IOMeter random writes test once more to gather response time data.

The gen-two X25-M’s response times are quicker then the original’s in both states. That’s good enough for the lead, at least in a used state. However, the Vertex remains the most responsive drive in a factory-fresh state.

Obviously, the Summit’s comparatively slow used-state response times are a cause for concern. I’ve actually been using a Summit in my primary desktop to see if this has a discernable impact on performance with day-to-day tasks. So far, I haven’t noticed the Summit to be any slower than the two-drive Caviar Black 640GB RAID 1 array that it replaced.

WorldBench
WorldBench uses scripting to step through a series of tasks in common Windows applications. It then produces an overall score. WorldBench also spits out individual results for its component application tests, allowing us to compare performance in each. We’ll look at the overall score, and then we’ll show individual application results.

Intel’s careful tweaking earns the new X25-M three more points in WorldBench. That puts it in the lead overall, but what about the individual application tests?

Of WorldBench’s multimedia editing and encoding tests, Photoshop is the most demanding of the storage subsystem. The Vertex still has the quickest completion time in that test. However, the G2 X25-M is much faster than the gen-one unit.

WorldBench’s office and multitasking tests aren’t particularly storage-bound. However, the new X25-5M is a few seconds slower than the rest in tests that involve Firefox.

The new X25-M finishes the Nero test quicker than all the other drives. It’s fast in WinZip, too, but is just edged out at the line by the Vertex.

Boot and load times
To test system boot and game level load times, we busted out our trusty stopwatch.

Our test system boots a little slower with the X25-M G2 than it does with the other SSDs. Less than a second and a half separates the fastest drive from the slowest, though.

Game level load times are also pretty close across the board. Again, the new X25-M is a little slower than the old model.

File Copy Test
File Copy Test is a pseudo-real-world benchmark that times how long it takes to create, read, and copy files in various test patterns. We’ve converted those completion times to MB/s to make the results easier to interpret.

Vista’s intelligent caching schemes make obtaining consistent and repeatable performance results rather difficult with FC-Test. To get reliable results, we had to drop back to an older 0.3 revision of the application and create or own custom test patterns. During our initial testing, we noticed that larger test patterns tended to generate more consistent file creation, read, and copy times. That makes sense, because with 4GB of system memory, our test rig has plenty of free RAM available to be filled by Vista’s caching and pre-fetching mojo.

For our tests, we created custom MP3, video, and program files test patterns weighing in at roughly 10GB each. The MP3 test pattern was created from a chunk of my own archive of ultra-high-quality MP3s, while the video test pattern was built from a mix of video files ranging from 360MB to 1.4GB in size. The program files test pattern was derived from, you guessed it, the contents of our test system’s Program Files directory.

Even with these changes, we noticed a little more variability in FC-Test performance than we’d like to see. Normally, we run tests three times and average the results, but for FC-Test, we’ve run each test five times before averaging. We also had to perform some additional test runs to replace obviously erroneous results that cropped up occasionally with each of the drives, usually on the first one or two test runs. The X25-M G2 was a particularly egregious offender on this front, with its performance varying wildly through the first three to four test runs before settling down to consistent, repeatable levels. We’ve asked Intel why that is, but have yet to get a response.

Once G2 the settles down, it boasts the fastest file creation rates with two of our three test patterns. What’s even more impressive is the fact that the new drive is more than twice as fast as the old one with the MP3 and video test patterns. It’s not too far off that mark with the program files test pattern, either.

The gen-two X25-M isn’t always faster than its predecessor when we switch to reads. However, it is consistently quicker than the Indilinx- and Samsung-based drives.

Our copy tests stress both read and write performance, and although the X25-M G2 loses the lead to the Summit in two test patterns, it’s well ahead when dealing with a collection of MP3 files. The new X25-M is about 10MB/s faster than the old drive here.

IOMeter
IOMeter presents a good test case for both seek times and command queuing.

Well, there’s your improved random write performance. With IOMeter workloads that include write operations (everything but the web server workload), the new X25-M offers notably higher transaction rates than the old model. This boost in performance is good enough to put the Intel drive back in the lead, ahead of the OCZ Vertex.

The G2 picks up where the original left off in the read-dominated web server workload, too. Though it’s not that much faster than the older model, the new drive is still miles ahead of the competition.

Along with the G2’s superior transaction rates comes higher CPU utilization. Because some of the drives are doing more work, these results are better put into context by looking at the transaction rate per percent CPU utilization.

Higher numbers are better here, and the X25-M G2 looks very competitive. It’s clearly the most efficient drive with the web server workload.

HD Tach
We tested HD Tach with the benchmark’s full variable zone size setting.

The new X25-M is every bit as fast as the old drive in HD Tach’s sustained read speed test, which makes it quicker than the Summit and the Vertex. However, those drives more than double the X25-M’s transfer rate in the sustained write speed test. At least the G2 drive is a little quicker than the first revision. Amusingly, both exceed Intel’s 70MB/s maximum sustained write speed rating.

The move to a slower but larger DRAM cache costs the X25-M a few MB/s in HD Tach’s burst speed test. Still, the G2 is still quicker than the OCZ drives here.

HD Tach’s random access time test doesn’t tease out meaningful differences between these SSDs. Their near-instantaneous access times are simply too quick.

Our CPU utilization results are within HD Tach’s +/- 2% margin of error in this test.

Power consumption
For our power consumption tests, we measured the voltage drop across a 0.1-ohm resistor placed in line with the 5V and 12V lines connected to each drive. We were able to calculate the power draw from each voltage rail and add them together for the total power draw of the drive. Drives were tested while idling and under an IOMeter load consisting of 256 outstanding I/O requests using the workstation access pattern.

The new X25-M’s power consumption is nearly identical to that of the old model. Keep in mind that at 160GB, the G2 we’re using has twice the storage capacity of the first-gen unit.

That said, the Intel drives are still more power-hungry than those based on Indilinx and Samsung controllers. The Summit’s extremely low idle power consumption is particularly impressive, but we’re still only looking at differences of fractions of a watt.

Conclusions

Intel’s tick-tock approach to processor development delivers new architectures on each tock and then shrinks them to finer process technologies with each tick. This philosophy now appears to be influencing the company’s solid-state drives. The second-generation X25-M retains the same architecture as its predecessor, but takes advantage of new manufacturing technology and some targeted tweaks to deliver real improvements. The move to a more advanced process node has allowed Intel to cut the X25-M prices dramatically, with new 80GB models selling for just $225 in bulk quantities and 160GB drives running only $440.

Lower prices put the X25-M G2 drives around $2.80 per gigabyte, which is still much more expensive than mechanical storage. However, it’s certainly competitive with the cost of other SSDs on the market. The 120GB OCZ Summit, for example, sells for around $350 online. And the 120GB Vertex? It’s just under $400, at least for now. Soon after the 34nm X25-M was announced, OCZ revealed a new price list for its Indilinx-based drives. The 120GB Vertex should hit its freshly discounted suggested retail price of $290 (which translates to $2.42 per gigabyte) before long. Neither OCZ nor Corsair has promised price cuts for Samsung-based drives, though.

Of course, there’s more to the 34nm X25-M than lower prices. The reductions in internal latencies and improvements in random write performance pay big dividends. The gen-two X25-M is faster than its forebear nearly across the board, and by dramatic margins in FC-Test and IOMeter. The fact that the drive excels when faced with both real-world sequential transfers and demanding, highly random workloads is a testament to the strength of Intel’s storage controller design. The Samsung controller does well in FC-Test but turns in an abysmal performance in IOMeter, while the Indilinx controller thrives in IOMeter but is woefully slow in FC-Test.

The original X25-M was already an impressive all-around performer, and since this new revision is even faster, I think we have new storage performance king, at least among MLC-based SSDs. With Windows 7 TRIM support promised in a fourth-quarter firmware update and a manual TRIM tool coming for Vista and XP users, the latest X25-M appears to have all the bases covered. Indeed, the drive’s only real weakness is its comparatively slow sustained write speeds in synthetic benchmarks like HD Tach. That’s a result I’m inclined to overlook given the G2’s otherwise strong showing with real-world write operations, though.

At the end of the SSD round-up we published earlier this month, I concluded that it was probably best to wait until Windows 7’s release to splurge on an SSD. We simply won’t know how TRIM will affect performance until then. However, the new X25-M is so much faster overall than its competitors that it seems unlikely the current generation of Indilinx and Samsung drives will be able to make up the difference, even with TRIM support added to the mix. That’s why we’re tentatively granting the X25-M G2 TR Recommended distinction. If I were looking to plunk a solid-state drive into a netbook, notebook, desktop, or even web server today, I’d go with Intel’s latest X25-M in a heartbeat.

Comments closed
    • Drifter639
    • 10 years ago

    I replaced a WD Black 1Tb (noisy) with one of these on a Mac Pro and must say I am sold. I will never use a mechanical drive for boot again. So fast and quiet.

    • indeego
    • 10 years ago

    Just got one of these. I imaged a 7200RPM 80G HDD, and installed an X25-MG2 on a 4 year old Windows XP desktop:

    §[< http://indeego.com/ssdbefore.png< ]§ §[<http://indeego.com/ssdafter.png<]§ Boot reduced from 42 seconds to 20 seconds. Really quite amazingg{.}g

    • moritzgedig
    • 10 years ago

    what do they mean by “34nm” ? what size is the reference for flash?
    is that the distance from drain to source?
    why is it smaller than current/production SRAM?
    how do the 45nm of CPUs relate to the 34nm of flash?
    Is flash more regular than SRAM and can therefor be made smaller?

      • PrincipalSkinner
      • 10 years ago

      yes Lisa, daddy’s a teacher!

    • Trymor
    • 10 years ago

    Ok, Intel now waits to see what the others do, then next time actually makes the product we were all hoping for…

    Big picture – these aren’t much different than the old ones, but will make more money till the next ones because they wont trim their old models. Bummer.

      • Freon
      • 10 years ago

      They’re still great drives. They’ve never needed TRIM to not suck, unlike many other SSDs which are practically crippled after being used.

      It’s the others that have been hobbling along, not the other way around. Intel is leading the charge with some of the best performing drives, drives that work out of the box with more system. I think you’ve really got things backwards.

      And this drive only more evidence. Intel releases these new drives and everyone else has to drop prices to keep up. Intel is the market leader here, not the other way around.

        • Trymor
        • 10 years ago

        I’m not reading real deep into it here, just a casual thought. but It seems Intel tweaked the bar rather than raising it, and the other decent players are close enough to Intel right now that there next step should be better than Intel. Then Intels next move be big.

        …or something like that heh. I’m just rambling in the middle of a long hard couple of days.

      • Freon
      • 10 years ago

      edit: double post..

    • Maximus_is
    • 10 years ago

    Just wondering.
    With native TRIM support in Windows 7, I’m guessing that means that it will be clearing pages marked for deletion continuously. I was wondering whether this will hinder restoring accidentally deleted files.
    I had to restore files and one of the only reasons why I could was because I wasn’t using that hard drive and re-writing those segments. If this TRIM feature is automatically destroying those deleted files, will we still be able to recover the deleted files?

      • HammerSandwich
      • 10 years ago

      I’m not on the Windows dev team, so apologies for guessing here. TRIM should purge items as they are removed from the recycle bin. Either set a huge custom size or follow a reasonable backup plan. If you’re in the habit of shift-deleting everything, you’re likely to lose something sooner or later.

        • UberGerbil
        • 10 years ago

        Yes. Technically when you delete files the normal way in Windows Explorer, they’re not actually deleted (as far as the file system is concerned), they’re just moved to the Recycle folder (which has Hidden and System attributes, but is easy to observe on any volume via the command line or by allowing the viewing of such files/directories in Explorer). If you delete files from the Recycle bin (or delete them via the command line, or by holding down shift when you delete in Explorer) then the files are actually deleted in the file system and, in Win7 with a supporting SSD, TRIM presumably will be applied.

        Note that even in that case, the files may not be gone immediately. Most SSDs will implement a lazy TRIM algorithm, only reclaiming blocks when the disk is otherwise idle (the necessary erases are slow and blocking and therefore need to be avoided as much as possible when the disk is busy, which of course is also why you want TRIM to free up blocks in the first place). However, not all SSDs may do so (particularly cheaper models with less sophisticated controllers) and there will be no reliable way to take advantage of lazy TRIMs to grab back files before they’re fully erased — even if the SSD maker offers a utility for this, the drive will be chewing away at them so they may be gone before you get a chance to run it (if such a utility even exists).

          • Maximus_is
          • 10 years ago

          Cheers for the response.

            • Trymor
            • 10 years ago

            So technically, it could be said that SSD’s will change the way some of us compute 😉

    • Chloiber
    • 10 years ago

    I still don’t understand why you don’t use the TRIM software from OCZ. I’ve got a Ultradrive and a new Intel X25-M “Postville” 80GB – so I’m not really “pro” Indilinx or “pro” Intel. Both drives are very good.
    I don’t care if you think “it’s beta software”. Most of the ppl have no problems using manual trim, yet you seem to be unable to use it.
    Another thing: why exactly didnt you test with the NEWEST firmware of the Vertex (that’s 1571, should be “1.3” for vertexusers)?

    It’s nice that you tested the “used” state of the drives – but before any customer uses a drive in “used” state, they trim or the automatic garbage collection (which should be implemented in 1571, which you didnt use?!) holds the performance at 70-80%. So the “sooner or later you will be using the ssd in used state” isn’t really true IMHO.

    Anyway – I don’t want to start another “indilinx-war”, because I know for myself how good the drives are (using one since about 4 months) and many other testers also see the good sides of the indilinx drives – so it’s actually good to have a counterpart. Just test with the newest firmware if possible next time (if it isn’t a typo).

    r[http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.hardwareluxx.de%2Fcommunity%2Fshowpost.php%3Fp%3D12542741%26postcount%3D295&sl=de&tl=en&history_state0=<]§ It's translated from german (sorry about my english by the way). And "boat" is obviously "boot" ;-)

      • Dissonance
      • 10 years ago

      Actually, we did use the 1.3 firmware on the Vertex. My mistake in the testing methods table.

      As for the TRIM tool, it’s not that it didn’t work for us, but that it doesn’t work properly unless you’re using Vista’s own AHCI driver. I’m not going to switch drivers away from a WHQL-certified Intel storage controller to a Microsoft one just because that’s the only one Indilinx has bothered to validate. My time is limited, and a driver switch requires loads of additional testing.

      As stated in the review, the wiper util has documented issues (detailed in OCZ’s own forums, no less) with AMD and Nvidia’s storage controller drivers, as well. Combined with its history of data corruption with older versions, I don’t see how the wiper utility isn’t a beta app at best and flakey at worst.

        • Chloiber
        • 10 years ago

        If you used 1571, then ignore that part of my post.

        As I said, I don’t want to start another discussion about that, so I will just let it be and accept your point of view.

    • AmishRakeFight
    • 10 years ago

    heh. love typos

    • danny e.
    • 10 years ago

    looks like Velociraptor for my next build… Then possibly an SLC SSD around Q2 / Q3 2010 when the price has dropped another 40-60%.

    I need 128GB min. for C:

      • mutantmagnet
      • 10 years ago

      A Velociraptor is a waste of money compared to an SSD. If you care so much about capacity but want the comfort of respectable drive performance then get a Caviar Black.

      The Black version was built so well it has similar performance to the raptor and offers substantially more space.

      If performance is your concern then hop on the SSD bandwagon with the new price drops for Indilix (or Samsung when they get around to it) controller SSDs caused by Intel’s newest entry with the 34nm G2.

        • Freon
        • 10 years ago

        I agree, I think the door has closed on the WD Raptors. They sit in a precarious spot on the price/performance curve between SSDs and standard “high performance” 7200RPM drives like the WD Black, F1, etc. They offer an incremental speed increase at best for a fairly large premium per GB, while SSDs can be wildly faster.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 10 years ago

        Indeed, I don’t see the point of buying a VRaptor now either. In fact if you partition a large HD, effectively short-stroking it, you can get better access times for the first partition that’s on the fast part of the drive. I got ~9ms access times on a 200GB partition of a WD6400AAKS. That’s not quite VRaptor time but you end up with an an additional partition for storage and it costs a lot less per GB.

      • Nomgle
      • 10 years ago

      Why an SLC drive ?
      The days of MLC flash offering sub-par performance and lifespan are long gone ! It’s more than upto the job /[

    • mako
    • 10 years ago

    I’m trying really hard not to earmark a few hundred bucks for this drive.

    • Stranger
    • 10 years ago

    “all traces of *[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halogen<]§

    • ShadowTiger
    • 10 years ago

    I use restoration.exe (get it off google) to unmark files for deletion… aka restoring them. It also has the ability to permadelete these files if i remember correctly. Isn’t this basically a manual trim tool thats already available for all SSDs? BTW considering how slow sequential transfers are this would probably take several minutes to do.

      • ew
      • 10 years ago

      Before TRIM no drive understands the concept of delete or free space. Files, free space and allocated space are all non-physical concepts of the file system that the drive is completely unaware of. Think of drives without TRIM as being a long row of on/off switches that has a length that never changes.

      • Nomgle
      • 10 years ago

      It’s not the same thing. Your tool isn’t /[

    • Kougar
    • 10 years ago

    So what exactly occurred to the OCZ Vertex during the Worldbench Nero 7 benchmark?

    That’s not just a bad showing, but something odd is obviously is occuring with that specific drive, unless there is a logical explanation I’m overlooking…

    • Ruiner
    • 10 years ago

    TRIM for 1st gen via firmware update would be nice, but methinks early adopters will likely get shafted.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 10 years ago

      Eh, that’s the classic risk of being an early adopter. Features and improvements from newer revisions may not trickle down.

        • ew
        • 10 years ago

        How was it a risk? The drives were never advertised as being TRIM capable. Why should Intel add a new feature to a drive you already bought for free?

          • clone
          • 10 years ago

          because their is a solid arguement that the diminished performance over time can be claimed as a defect.

          you bought a drive that was supposed to operate at this speed but it won’t sustain that performance over the life of the warranty period unless TRIM apps are used to routinely clear it…. and those apps weren’t available so to be fair Intel has 2 choices they can accept the old drives if returned or offer TRIM support to maintain the performance that they claimed the early SSD’s offered.

          my guess is TRIM support will be product wide.

            • Anomymous Gerbil
            • 10 years ago

            Presumably it’s not a fault when it’s “easily” rectifiable by (worst case) moving the data off, wiping the drive, and restoring the data. Not a pleasant thing to have to do, but I doubt Intel’s going to lose a court case when there are obvious “remedies” like that.

            • clone
            • 10 years ago

            potential bad press and hurt PR image….. easily fixed by offering TRIM support.

            which is little more than a background app they will be offering for the new drives.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 10 years ago

    So when are they supposed to be available for purchase?

      • Asbestos
      • 10 years ago

      Should be about a week. Newegg had them listed for $230 for the 80GB model when they were announced last week. They aren’t listed now. I heard a report which said that they are delayed two weeks due to needing an updated firmware.

        • DrDillyBar
        • 10 years ago

        Cool. Need to get myself a bday present.

    • Freon
    • 10 years ago

    $225 for the 80GB model is starting to look really appealing. I might get one yet this year.

      • Mr Bill
      • 10 years ago

      Look at it this way. Its pretty close to the cost of a similar capacity 10K U320 drive and you don’t even have to buy a controller.

    • HammerSandwich
    • 10 years ago

    I just found an interesting OCZ forum post that discusses self cleaning in their SSDs. This applies to the tested FW versions for both OCZ drives. Could TR please allow the Summit & Vertex drives to idle overnight then rerun the rewrite-penalty test?

    q[

      • WillBach
      • 10 years ago

      It would be interesting to see how the performance changes with idling on the Intel G2 drives as well, given that they too should be doing garbage collecting.

      • Firestarter
      • 10 years ago

      I wonder how a drive (that cannot make assumptions about the filesystem) can clear pages that have not been explicitly cleared by the OS. Do they use drivers to convey that information? Does the drive read the allocation tables/nodes/MFT?

        • adisor19
        • 10 years ago

        I’m assuming the drive’ss firmware logic does some FS level analysis in its spare time and cleans up the pages that should be empty.

        Adi

          • UberGerbil
          • 10 years ago

          Uh…. no.

        • Nomgle
        • 10 years ago

        But the pages *[

    • mattthemuppet
    • 10 years ago

    so what power consumption would one expect from an 80GB G2? Presumably not half that of the 160GB but it’d be interesting to know. Might only be 0.25W or so, but that’s still a fair bit in the context of mobile computing and a 12W laptop.

    • piesquared
    • 10 years ago
      • Tamale
      • 10 years ago

      I’m sure if we got one we’d review it and compare it the rest of our hard drives.

      • StashTheVampede
      • 10 years ago

      FusionIO cards are REALLY fast. So fast that we’ll be ordering several more of them.

      Too bad it isn’t in the same class as the Intel drive:
      – Bootable
      – Works with any OS that supports SATA

      Depending on your needs, the SATA SSDs will be more flexible with its configuration than the Fusion card:
      – Buy many more devices
      – Multiple ways to RAID the drives.

      Pure performance? Yeah, FusionIO wins. Flexibility? Current SSDs really beat FusionIO.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    Page 2, second paragraph, first sentence seems like it’s missing a word. “A solid-state drive” perhaps?

    • dragmor
    • 10 years ago

    Nice to see Intel dropping the prices to where the average users is better off buying a dual core and a 80gb SSD than a quad core and a normal HD.

      • Krogoth
      • 10 years ago

      SSDs in their current form are still not meant for desktop users. They are only good for portables because they are much easier on the battery. Performance-wise, SSDs are better suited for server-related loads.

        • Mr Bill
        • 10 years ago

        I disagree, I’m using the X25-M as my system drive in my new build. I’ve never had a system so responsive and quick no matter what I’m doing.

          • Krogoth
          • 10 years ago

          Any mainstream 7200RPM on a modern rig is just about as responsive for desktop-related tasks.

          Having tons of memory (2GiB+) also helps.

            • Mr Bill
            • 10 years ago

            Hmmm, I have 8GB DDR3 1600 on this 955 Black edition system (XP64 pro) but I have been running SCSI for a long time. The previous system although only dual MP 2600’s; had 1.8GB ddr2100, 10K Fujitsu MAP U320 SCSI boot disk, and ditto U320 SCSI Raid 10 for additional storage. I submit I know about fast storage. This feels more responsive. However, could partially be the quicker 4 core CPU and memory subsystem.

            • Meadows
            • 10 years ago

            I’ll say it’s _[

          • Meadows
          • 10 years ago

          And yet a lot more people would argue that a good old 640 gig Caviar is still a better deal.

            • moose17145
            • 10 years ago

            For my needs / wants I would be one of those people to make that argument. I personally would rather have a 1TB traditional hard drive than a 80GB solid state drive for well over twice the price.

    • oldDummy
    • 10 years ago

    EDIT: Oops, this was in reply to #12

    • obarthelemy
    • 10 years ago

    Thanks for the article.

    I’d love to see a mechanical HD in the tables, for reference: I’m not yet at the point where I’m pondering which SSD I should buy, but rather, if I should get one at all or not.

    • Palek
    • 10 years ago

    Typo report no. 3:

    “The new X25-M finishes the WinZip test quicker than all the other drives. It’s fast in WinZip, too, but is just edged out at the line by the Vertex.”

    The first WinZip should be Nero.

    Tech Report… More like TYPO REPORT! 😉

    • Firestarter
    • 10 years ago

    This thing is pretty impressive for ‘just’ a shrink! I particularly like the aggressive pricing and the substantial improvement in real world writing tests.

    • UberGerbil
    • 10 years ago

    So 11 months is “a little more than a year ago”? Here I thought I was getting old, but apparently the years are actually getting shorter.

    • Dazrin
    • 10 years ago

    Another typo at the bottom of the first page… idle and active power consumption labels are backwards. Idle PC should be less than active.

    • danazar
    • 10 years ago

    Do we know if and when TRIM support will come to OSX?

    • Nereid
    • 10 years ago

    Looks like a typo in the chart on the first page: 1155 µs write latency instead of 115 µs.

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