ASIDE FROM Nehalem and Larrabee talks, the star of the Day 1 show at IDF was the new lineup of Intel SSD SATA-2 drives.
The slim black units, initially available in 32 GB SLC and 80 GB MLC flavours, claim record-breaking read and write speeds.
A full house press-only crowd was witness to hell of a lot of marketing on top of some really interesting benchmark scores. The ONFI 1 compliant drives with proprietary Intel flash controller, 10 parallel flash channels and improved wear levelling are aimed at the very top anyway.
Intel went ahead with both mainstream, X18-M & X25-M, and extreme lines, X25-E, in the initial lineup. Two million hour MTBF (1.2 million for mainstream), 75µs read latency and active power in the 2W range speak for themselves. The speeds of up to 250MB/s reads - near the SATA-2 transfer limit - and 170MB/s writes (70MB/s on the mainstream version) aren't bad at all.
Intel claims 9x faster PCmark Vantage HDD benchmarks, and 40 per cent faster MS Office 2007 installs vs a traditional HDD, as well as an order of magnitude better read performance compared to competing SSDs. How do they reflect in the actual benchmarks, especially since the Vista test systems had only 2GB RAM, 'enhancing' the swapping experience?
Here are the rounds: First was on two identical HP Elite Penryn subnotebooks - one with 5400 rpm HDD, another with the vaunted Intel 'mainstream' SSD. Loaded were some nasty large photos and videos through Google Picasso: 30 seconds on the SSD vs 1 min 34 seconds with the HDD - not bad at all.
Then we came to the IBM Thinkpads - three identical units running IOmeter. The HDD scored around 500, The third party SSD around 1,200 and Intel hit over 11,000 IOPs. In HDtune on a gamer test desktop, twin RAID0 10,000 rpm drives achieved 170MB/s and 7ms access vs 240MB/s and 0.1ms access for the Intel flash - at a similar price point (not forgetting the vastly higher RAID0 capacity of course).
So, the benchmarks are fine - even finer when running this in a RAID server setup, as you can see on the slide. The other SSD makers are expected to have an answer to Intel's challenge real soon - Samsung among the first.
The drives are to start appearing in the market as samples in about a month, but Intel wouldn't say what they'll be costing. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ