Many Ultrabooks and tablets till now have been fitted with criminally slow and small flash drives for media storage, which is usually the primary speed bottleneck in modern systems. Can Intel raise the bar with its upcoming mSATA SSD?
According to a roadmap that we have discussed about earlier this year, Intel planned to refresh its mainstream 330 series (with the 335 series), and provide an enthusiast mSATA offering in the form of the 525 series which uses Intel 20nm MLC NAND with a Sandforce SF-2281 controller. The new drive also features SATA 6Gb/s signalling speeds and capacities of up to 240GB.
The pre-production 180GB variant that we have obtained came with our Intel Next Unit of Computing review sample, which currently suffers some thermal related issues induced by heavy loading as discovered by the Tech Report. The smart boffins at Intel are purportedly working on a fix.
Here are some speed tests that we conducted with the drive, which should be more or less indicative of final performance:
Anvil's Storage Utilities – Compressed 0-Fill
Anvil's Storage Utilities – Uncompressible payload
Blackmagic Disk Speed Test
ATTO Disk Benchmark
At one glance, we can see that the mSATA based SSD 525 is in the same performance league as its larger 2.5-inch Sandforce SF-2281 SATA counterparts (we mean fantastic of course), which should be a no brainer to integrate in premium Ultrabooks and SFF designs. There is no word from Intel on when it will hit the retail or OEM channels yet.