Intel launches its new performance 520 series of SSDs

intel ssd 520 Intel launches its new performance 520 series of SSDs

Intel has finally launched its 520 series of SSDs – previously codenamed Cherryville – its first SSD with a SandForce controller and a model set to replace the Marvell powered 510 series. The question is if this will make Intel a "me too" SSD manufacturer or if the company has managed to bring anything to the table.

Intel has finally launched its 520 series of SSDs – previously codenamed Cherryville – its first SSD with a SandForce controller and a model set to replace the Marvell powered 510 series. The question is if this will make Intel a "me too" SSD manufacturer or if the company has managed to bring anything to the table.

Early reviews are revealing that Intel has its own firmware for the SF-2281 controller which is used in the 520 series and as such Intel is claiming to have abolished some of the issues that have plagued SF-2281 based SSDs, although it's not entirely clear as to what extent Intel has done this, as it's early days yet. What Intel has done is integrate support in its own SSD Toolbox for the 520 series of SSDs which means that there's no problem with Intel's RST drivers, something that apparently can be a problem with SandForce's own toolbox.

Looking at some of the first benchmarks, specifically from Anandtech in this case, it looks like Intel has managed to tweak the SF-2281 firmware to work well with its own NAND flash and although the 520 series is far from the fastest SSDs in the market, the 60GB drive manages to do remarkably well, especially when compared to larger drives which generally performs better due to the way SSD controllers generally offers better performance when additional NAND flash modules are being utilized. Intel seems to be a market leader in 4KB random writes, bettering Kingston's HyperX drive with over 40MB/s comparing 240GB models.

intel ssd 520 Intel launches its new performance 520 series of SSDs

Where Intel doesn't compare so well, albeit still ahead of Kingston's HyperX drive is in sequential read tests and here the new 520 series actually falls behind the older 510 series and other Marvell based SSDs. When it comes to incompressible data the 520 series doesn't do so well either and here the lower capacity 60GB model is really suffering, especially in terms of write performance, falling behind even the good old X25-M, albeit a 160GB model. Overall this is very much a "me too" product from Intel that performs really well where SandForce controllers have traditionally performed well to start with, but doesn't really stand out from the competition elsewhere.

However, as far as a consumer alternative, the 520 series is quickly losing any appeal when you start looking at cost, as Intel is asking for US$149 for the 60GB model, US$229 for 120GB, US$369 for 180GB, US$509 for 240GB and finally US$999 for the 480GB model. This makes even Kingston's otherwise highly priced HyperX models look cheap at around US$205 for the 120GB SKU and US$420 for the 240GB SKU. It's clear that Intel isn't aiming the 520 series towards consumers with this kind of pricing, but we have a feeling that Intel will be selling plenty of drives nonetheless.

Source: Intel

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