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Articles:

1.Intel to ship 34nm SSDs /digiTimes

2.Intel’s X25-E SSD Walks All Over The Competition /Tom's Hardware

3.Intel X25-M 'G2' 34nm 160GB SSD Review / PC Perspective

4. Intel 34nm X25-M Gen 2 SSD Performance Review / hothardware.com

 

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1. Intel to ship 34nm SSDs

 


Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES [Wednesday 22 July 2009]

Intel has announced a new lineup of NAND flash-based solid state drives (SSDs) that utilize 34nm multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory, and said the move to the more-advanced process will help lower prices of the SSDs by up to 60% thanks to the reduced die size and advanced engineering design.

The Intel X25-M mainstream SATA SSDs come in standard 2.5-inch and 1.8-inch sizes, and are available in 80GB and 160GB versions. The new SSDs will begin shipping on 34nm flash memory later in the third quarter of 2009, according to the company.

"Our goal was to not only be first to achieve 34nm NAND flash memory lithography, but to do so with the same or better performance than our 50nm version," said Randy Wilhelm, Intel vice president and general manager, Intel NAND Solutions Group.

Intel said its new X25-M on 34nm is drop-in compatible with the current 50nm version, and offers improved latency and faster random write inputs/outputs per second (IOPS). Compared to approximately 4,000 microseconds for a hard disk drive (HDD), the new 34nm SSD operates at 65-microsecond latency and provides a 25% reduction in latency.

Random write performance increases twofold, further separating the X25-M from other competing SSDs, according to Intel. It delivers up to 6,600 4KB write IOPS and 35,000 read IOPS, compared to HDDs that only operate at several hundred IOPS.

New channel prices for the X25-M 80GB are US$225 for quantities up to 1,000 units (a 60% reduction from the original introduction price of US$595 a year ago), and the 160GB version is US$440 (down from $945 at introduction), according to Intel.

In addition, Intel noted its new SSD will also support Microsoft Windows 7 with a firmware update. The upcoming OS is scheduled to release in October.

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2. Intel’s X25-E SSD Walks All Over The Competition


 

The first solid state drive by Intel was the mainstream X25-M, which we reviewed last September. It is available in capacities of 80 GB and 160 GB, and its performance and power efficiency set new standards for desktop systems and notebooks. However, since it is based on MLC flash memory, its write throughput and I/O performance generally aren't considered suitable for servers and workstations. That all changes with the introduction of the X25-E SLC-based SSD.

X25-M/X25-E: Why Two SSDs?

There are two different types of flash memory on the market: multi-level cell (MLC) and single-level cell (SLC). MLC stores multiple bits of data in each flash memory cell, making it less expensive. SLC costs much more, but allows direct access to each bit of data, which enables better performance for random access and write operations.

Let me give you an example: the X25-M, which has been Intel’s desktop flash SSD product, reaches a level of 200 MB/s in read throughput, but it only writes at up to 75 MB/s. And although it provides great I/O performance, an SLC-based flash SSD can do much better.

Enterprise Requirements

Enterprise customers typically require as many I/O operations per second as possible in order to sustain the minimum number of transactions per second required by mission-critical applications. In this context, Intel paired its excellent flash controller with SLC memory. The result is amazing, as the X25-E drive simply leaves its competition in the dust.

We compared it to the X25-M, a Samsung 64 GB mainstream flash SSD, server SSDs from Mtron and Memoright, and the two fastest 15,000 RPM hard drives you can get: the Hitachi Ultrastar 15K450, and Seagate’s Cheetah 15K.6.

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Conclusion

If you took the time to flip through all of the benchmark pages, then you probably won’t need to read this conclusion to know what we're going to say. Intel’s first SSD, the X25-M, which aims at the premium desktop and mobile market, was already impressive. It still dominates many benchmarks, pairing high performance with great efficiency. But the X25-E is something different altogether.

Performance Madness

The new device is based on the same controller and cache memory architecture. It does not provide more maximum throughput than the X25-M (200 MB/s), and it is limited to 32 GB and 64 GB capacities for now. But it offers serious write performance (160 MB/s) thanks to single level cell flash memory, which the mainstream drive doesn’t possess. More importantly, it introduces I/O performance that is 10x to 25x higher than what you can get from the latest 15,000 RPM server hard drives. In almost every I/O benchmark, except the Web server test, the X25-E is three to five times faster than its direct flash SSD competitors.

Revealing the Inefficient

Describing the X25-E as the most efficient server drive would be correct, but I prefer to endorse it as the flash SSD storage product that finally redefines server storage performance, and resets the standards for high I/O devices. It isn’t so much more efficient than hard drives, but hard drives are simply extremely inefficient when it comes to random workloads.

Sophisticated flash memory technology has reached a level at which a single storage product is capable of delivering performance levels formerly reached only on complex RAID arrays with 6-12 hard drives. Not only does it outperform those good old hard drives, but this single X25-E storage product does it while consuming only a bit more than 1 W, on average, compared to at least 100 W for a RAID array.

This doesn’t mean that the hard drive is going to disappear, of course. High capacity applications and fast throughput remain an undisputed domain of magnetic storage products. But the days of hard drives being used in I/O intensive server applications are numbered. Hitachi and Seagate had better do their homework before releasing their flash SSD products in late 2009 or 2010, as Intel has set the bar higher than it has ever been before in the server storage market.

 

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3. Intel X25-M 'G2' 34nm 160GB SSD Review


 

Author: Allyn Malventano
Date: Jul 22, 2009

I've been a fan of the Intel X25-M series ever since reading Ryan's review back in September.  I also have it to thank for leading me into the hot seat of hardware reviewing.  My work with Ryan to report on fragmentation issues present in the early firmware, and follow-on collaboration with Intel to correct those issues, were among the first pieces I published.

Intel's announcement came only yesterday.  A new, second generation model of their mainstream series SSD's.  These drives were reportedly faster in every way, with higher capacity to boot.  Testers were not provided with early engineering samples this time around, meaning the settling dust from the press release was stirred back up by a slew of busy Storage Reviewers (myself included).  Our test sample came in just this afternoon.

Improvements to the write combination algorithm and the maintenance of a larger LBA remap table required the move to a larger 32GB SDRAM chip (up from 16GB on the 80GB G1).  The flash is of sufficient density to keep the underside of the PCB free and clear, enabling an easy move to a future 320GB model.  16GB on a single flash chip is a huge improvement - Samsung currently has to stack a pair of 8GB chips on each other to match that figure.

Specifications

Going by the available data sheets, the G2 is very similar to the G1, but there are some improvements, on paper at least:

Spec
G1
G2
Sequential Read
250 MB/sec
250 MB/sec
Sequential Write
70 MB/sec
70 MB/sec
Read Latency
85 usec
65 usec
Write Latency
115 usec
85 usec
Read IOPS
35K
35K
Write IOPS
3.3K
6.6 / 8.6 K
Launch price
$595 / $945
$225 / $440


The latency improvements are nice, but X25's were already very speedy in that area.  The real significance here is the pricing.  *Starting* prices for these drives will be less than half that of the previous generation.  As long as the distributors can stick close to these figures, the G2 X25-M will be cheaper than nearly every other performance SSD currently on the market.

 

see more at http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=750&type=expert&pid=3

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4. Intel 34nm X25-M Gen 2 SSD Performance Review


 

When Intel released their first generation 50nm SSD product, the market buzzed with appreciation for the product and its overall performance profile. We in fact took you through the ins and outs of Intel's new MLC-based Solid State Drive product line-up for the consumer market and agreed it was one of the fastest on the market at the time.  However, over time, other manufacturers have closed the gap significantly. Perhaps it was the fact that Intel had "skin" in the SSD game or maybe it was just the all-around buzz of the burgeoning SSD market in general but there's no question, the technology itself has a considerable resource commitment from a number of very big name manufacturers.


Intel 34nm X25-M 160GB Solid State Drive

Based on 50nm manufacturing technology, Intel's highly acclaimed line of SSDs have historically commanded a price premium in the market as well, which regardless didn't keep them from selling like hotcakes. However, with the kind of resources that very few manufacturers like Intel can bring to bear, it was abundantly clear that Intel's SSD roadmap would continue to evolve. Today we've got a look at Intel's second generation of SSD products, the recently announced 34nm version of the Intel X25-M SSD. At 160GB and a significantly lower price point, Intel is also claiming performance has been taken up a notch or two as well. Sounds like a proverbial win-win doesn't it? Let's see for ourselves...

 

Intel 34nm X25-M and X18-M SATA SSD
Specifications and Features

A quick-take look at the specs tells you that the drives still share the same capacity offering of 80GB and 160GB and the drive also is still built with Intel's excellent 10 channel parallel architecture but with instead with 34nm MLC flash components. Additionally, the drive is specified for the same 250MB/s sequential read and 70MB/s sequential write performance of the first generation product. However where the drives differ is a reduced read access latency of 65 microseconds versus 85 for the previous generation product and Intel claims random write performance has increased 2x for the 80GB and 2.5x for the 160GB product to for up to 6,600 4KB write IOPS for the 80GB drive and 8,600 write IOPS for the 160GB drive with up to 35,000 read IOPS on either product. Back in September '08 we took a look at Intel's first gen drive, if you'd like to take a look back for a refresher. Additionally, we've also looked Kingston's re-branded version of the first gen X25M in this round-up showcase previously as well.  We even recently put a quartet of the SSDs together in RAID 0 and pit them against Fusion-io's ioDrive PCI Express-based SSD for some real excitement in the benchmarks.  But that's enough of the rearview, let's take a closer look at what Intel has in store for us with the second generation offering.

 

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