intel 34mm ssd Intel will launch new SSDs for caching, to go with Ivy Bridge

It's still debatable as to how many consumers have taken advantage of SSD caching in their systems, but Intel is about to replace its Larson Creek series of SSDs – more commonly known as the 311 series – with a range of new models in time for its Ivy Bridge processors. The new models has been designed for the 7-series chipsets, but are still backwards compatible with the 6-series and has thus far been known under the code name of Hawley Creek.

It's still debatable as to how many consumers have taken advantage of SSD caching in their systems, but Intel is about to replace its Larson Creek series of SSDs – more commonly known as the 311 series – with a range of new models in time for its Ivy Bridge processors. The new models has been designed for the 7-series chipsets, but are still backwards compatible with the 6-series and has thus far been known under the code name of Hawley Creek.

The retail brand will be the 313 series, indicating only a minor upgrade over Intel's current 311 series. As with the 311 series, the 313 series will use SLC NAND flash, although Intel has moved from 34nm parts to 25nm parts. Beyond a change in NAND flash Intel has decided to offer two capacities, 20GB and 24GB. We're not sure what difference the extra 4GB of flash memory will make, but there's obviously a reason as to why Intel had added a second capacity to its range of caching drives. It's possible that we'll see slightly improved performance out of the 24GB drives, but sadly we don't have any performance figures at hand.

intel 34mm ssd Intel will launch new SSDs for caching, to go with Ivy Bridge

Intel is retaining the 2.5-inch and mSATA form factors, but the 2.5-inch drives are now only 7mm tall, instead of 9mm of the 311 series. The SATA interface is still at 3Gbps, but the reason for is simply because Intel doesn't have a new SSD controller of its own. The reason Intel is sticking with SLC flash for its caching drives is most likely because the company is expecting a high wear and tear ratio on this type of SSDs and as such using cheaper NAND flash would mean that the drives would wear out quicker.

As for pricing, well, things haven't changed much, with Intel's MSRP of the 20GB models coming in at US$99 (S$125) and the 24GB models being slightly more expensive at US$119 (S$150). We actually spotted all four models on pre-order at a wide range of online retailers, although every single one was listing them for a fair bit more money than Intel's MSRP, although in this case at least some of that additional cost would have included sales tax. The new drives should be launched in April alongside Ivy Bridge and the 7-series chipset, although it's possible that they may arrive earlier in the channel.