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Data Storage Intel Hardware

Intel SSD 510 Series 6Gbps SATA Drives Tested 79

MojoKid writes "Intel recently announced its 510 series Solid State Drive products. The new 510 series SSDs build upon Intel's successful X-25M series of drives by offering native support for SATA 6Gbs interface speeds, with maximum reads in the 500MB/s range and write speeds of approximately 315MB/s — huge improvements over the previous generation. The numbers are in and the new Marvell-infused Intel SSD offers impressive performance rivaling other 6Gbps SATA SSDs on the market but not as fast as the recently announced SandForce 2500-based SSDs like the OCZ Vertex 3."
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Intel SSD 510 Series 6Gbps SATA Drives Tested

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  • If it starts at 500MB/s reads, how long does it stay that way before performance may begin to degrade (possibly, in some cases... maybe)?
    • From what I understand, it's not the reads that suffer but the writes over time. Fortunately, the TRIM command (with supporting OS) will do a background scrub to zero out the cells in preparation for the next set of user writes to occur.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        TRIM doesn't work with RAID, so unless you are fine with having no redundancy and downtime with drive failure, it won't help.

        • It works with raid if the card supports it or if the software raid supports it.

          • As far as I know, there is no raid setup (hardware or software) which supports trim. Please correct me if I'm wrong (with proof please). I know that about a year ago there was a bunch of fuss when people thought a new intel driver was going to support TRIM on SSD raid setups, but it was an error in the documentation later clarified. Other than that, I've heard nothing more on the matter.

        • TRIM doesn't work with RAID

          Looks like it might, actually. []

          • Nope, that was an error in the documentation:

            Intel® Rapid Storage Technology 9.6 supports TRIM in AHCI mode and in RAID mode for drives that are not part of a RAID volume.

            A defect was filed to correct the information in the Help file that states that TRIM is supported on RAID volumes.

            Notice the date on that page.... "Last Modified: 26-Mar-2010", which is a few days after the flood of articles a few days prior (including the one you linked) claiming the driver would support TRIM on SSD arrays

        • Who said anything about RAID? If you're concerned about TRIM support, don't use SSDs in an array. Individual drives are fast enough for most purposes and if you want redundancy, then just drop periodic images on a spare.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Read again. It's 500 MB/s maximum read speeds.

      I am much more interested worst case speeds, cause that's when you feel a problem.

      I'd also like to know the random access speeds, and in particular small random write speed; the typical bottleneck of SSDs in general, and the new 22 nm process in particular.

      • by v1 ( 525388 )

        Read again. It's 500 MB/s maximum read speeds.

        I am much more interested worst case speeds, cause that's when you feel a problem.

        Since it's solid state, there are no seek penalties. Speeds decrease as the reads become more random over the surface of the drive, and in particular when you only want a small amount of data (a few k) where the drive has to read in an entire flash block which could be say, 64k. So the drive is reading a lot more data than its passing to the computer.

        I'd also like to know the ran

  • Now that that's out, I'm waiting for a price drop on the Intel X25-M 120GB version. It's currently listed as $229.99 on I'm going to guess that the real sale will happen once the new Mac OS gets released. At least, that's what I plan on doing.

    • by Shuh ( 13578 )
      I just bought one of those for $229.99! I guess I should have known no sooner than I had installed the drive, Intel would come out with a brand new SSD and everything would be cheaper. Also OS X 10.7 with TRIM support is just around the corner. Oh well. This wasn't my first run-in with premature acquisition, and it probably won't be my last.
      • That's the cost of being an early adopter. You should be proud of that, man! How many of *them* never heard of Apple Newton - even though it had just a little too slow processor to handle it's software power? Raise your hand, if you know what it feels to have Gravis Ultrasound just to have it killed with Windows 95, or texting and talking with Matrix Neo's Nokia (old 7110) phone - just to realise that even tho the call answering effect is awesome, the phone wears and starts answering - and rejecting - your

  • by Cinder6 ( 894572 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @04:08PM (#35383334)

    The OCZ Vertex 3 drive you see pictured here is a 240GB model (224MB formatted) outfitted with 16 pieces of Micron NAND flash, totally 256GB—the additional capacity is over provisioned for wear leveling, data protection, and other functions.

    224MB formatted? I knew SSDs used some of the space for redundancy, but that's just ridiculous.

    • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @04:13PM (#35383380) Journal

      What, 0.93% of the drive capacity isn't enough for you? I bet you want a whole 1% of drive capacity all to yourself.

      Greedy bastard...

      • Unknown Lamer must have had his head in the Cloud.
      • So according to you, 224MB is 0.93% of 240GB?

        It's funny because you fail as badly as the TFA itself.

        • by vux984 ( 928602 )

          And here I thought it was on purpose. Sarcastic satire...

          I could easily imagine a future time when 99.07% of the advertised space on a storage medium was actualy reserved for 'file system / partition overhead, redundancy, wear leveling, error correction, government tax, your operating system recovery partition, secret NSA back door partition, and unlockable future upgrades via micropayments...) leaving 0.93% of the advertised space available for the buyer to actually use.

          I admit I already feel a bit gipped

          • I think you mean gypped, and it's just as bigoted as saying you jewed someone down on a price.

    • Putting aside the MB/GB mixup, the larger 240GB figure does not include redundancy internal to the SSD. The drive reports 240GB of usable space; 224GB is what you have left over after subtracting partitioning and filesystem overhead (presumably based on FAT or NTFS). Redundancy, ECC, wear-leveling, etc. come out of the remaining 16GB (256GB - 240GB) not reported to the OS.

      • The drive reports 240GB of usable space; 224GB is what you have left over after subtracting partitioning and filesystem overhead

        Actually, it's what you have left over after the power of 10 to power of 2 conversion. Yes, the manufacturers are lying about this with flash drives as well.

        • I admit that the correlation is suspicious (224 * 1024**3 ~= 240 * 1000**3). The difference between 240GB and 224GB could be a result of abusing SI's decimal prefix definitions with non-SI base units like "byte", if one assumes the article was in error regarding 224GB being available after formatting. The actual NAND flash appears to be measured in standard binary units (256GB total, or 16GB per device), which would be consistent with my own experience with raw NAND. Assuming two of the 16 NAND devices are

    • Actually, Intel recommends overprovisioning the drive even further. For example, I have a 160 GB SSD in the notebook I am typing this on. It is provisioned to 128 GB (and formatted to 125 or so). []. You do indeed see a speed increase by leaving more of the drive "unavailable" to BIOS. We've been using Ubuntu Live CD's and hdparm to set this.
  • I am quite happy that these SSD are becoming so fast. Hopefully soon personal desktops will come out with one of these as well as a disk HD. These SSDs serve a really neat niche of providing mid-range speed (compared to RAM) while still providing a large enough memory to store meaningful stuff. ZFS is really taking the right idea with smart usage of the speed and storage capacity of SSDs.

    ZFS and SSDs []

    • Having a SSD for the OS and high demand applications, with a separate spinning hard disk for low demand generic storage is definitely the way to do it. I've been running a X25-M for my system drive at home for a couple years, and it is far and away the better way to do things. Coming to work and dealing with a one-drive system all day is a noticeable let down at this point, even if the rest of the machine is brand new.

      It's too bad a setup like that is still considered rather exotic for typical users.
  • Vertex 3 is based on SandForce SF-2200
  • They need to start including a conventional 2.5" hard drive in these comparisons. You can say they're in a different class, but these stories are always accompanied by people making direct cost/GB comparisons to hard drives, so clearly they are still competitors.
    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      Unless you plan to use these in a laptop it does not matter. Heck, many SSDs do not even fit in laptops as they are too tall.

  • by schnikies79 ( 788746 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @04:39PM (#35383598)

    I haven't spent over $100 for a hard drive in years and I'm not going to start because it's an SSD.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    OCZ may be the speed king but they also seem like the failure king. Go read the reviews of OCZ SSD's on various sites, the one common thing seems to be that they all have a short lifespan.

    • Re:OCZ, meh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by slaker ( 53818 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @05:21PM (#35384030)

      In my experience, the average RMA turnaround time for the four drives I've so far sent back to OCZ is not quite six weeks. It's not just that they die, it's that they die and the after-sale customer service is atrocious.

      My single experience with getting an Intel SSD replaced was a three day turnaround from the day the defective unit shipped out.

  • All this new hi-speed data transfer technology should be just ripe for my next upgrade. 1 year ago I built a Quad Core system with all the standard SATA II stuff. I can see in about 5 years that all these super fast drives and Thunderbolt may be standard. But as of now I am satisfied with what I have.
  • I would never interfere with someone else's fetish, but what is the point of getting excited about SSD speeds? how many people who buy them have any sort of thought-out reason to get them, rather than alternatives? what's your workload that works if you can write at 315 MB/s, but fails if you're limited to a measly 250?

    in general, the SSD market seems driven by fetish, and that's just fine. the whole auto market is fetish-driven. and apple, too ;)

    what I wonder, though, is if there's someone out there de

    • The apple market is fetish driven? That makes me view the popularity of Granny Smith in a whole new light.

    • what's your workload that works if you can write at 315 MB/s, but fails if you're limited to a measly 250?

      While it may not fail at the ~150MB/s that the striped HDD array I'm using gets, but doubling the read/write speed will cut the solution time nearly in half for much of what I do. I run FEA that is limited by continuous writes and reads in the 50-60 GB range. One of these SSDs would allow me to get almost twice as much done. Even better would be a PCI-e SSD that has write speeds approaching 1GB/s, but those would be tough to justify since they still cost more than the rest of the Workstation.

      In a desktop

    • by Sabriel ( 134364 )

      It's not the increased bandwidth so much - though that helps too - as it is the decreased latency. An SSD doesn't have to wait for a platter to spin up or around at subsonic speeds before it can read the next chunk of data, and your IOPS don't nosedive from multiple tasks competing for priority over where the drive head has to move next.

    • I'm much more excited on speeds from products such as PCI-E Based SSDs []. That one has 740 MB/s, with sustained write speeds of around 600 MB/s. I don't own one, and i'm not in the market for an SSD, but if I got one, I would definitely be going this route.
  • Other coverage (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Friday March 04, 2011 @07:09PM (#35385178) Homepage

    As always, I find AnandTech's coverage [] to have a few nuggets of information that most other publications don't. It's well worth a read, particularly for those curious about TRIM performance and degradation over time. There's also a nice page on average reliability around different SSD manufacturers.

    Anand concludes by saying that the 510 is one of the fastest drives around today, but only worthwhile on a 6Gbps interface. He points out that they've swapped excellent random performance in the older X-25 for excellent sequential performance in the 510. The Vertex 3 still comes out on top, but the 510 should be more reliable. If OCZ can make their new drives more reliable, Intel will have an uphill battle to fight.

    Then there's also the other SSDs, since we've only heard from OCZ and Intel thus far.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      What seems to let other manufacturers down is a lack of proper testing. So many products have been found to have major performance issues long term or in particular configurations that it makes it hard to consider a drive from OCZ et. al. over one from Intel. Intel may not have the best performance benchmark wise but their SSDs have proven to be stable and reliable.

      Intel don't do asshat things like changing the type of flash memory without changing the model number either. It is a shame they have gone for t

    • by rubeng ( 1263328 )
      PC Perspective [] & Tom's Hardware [] also have their takes on this now. There's also an ongoing review roundup []

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.