|Intel 525 SSD mSATA Solid State Drive|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 11 February 2013|
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Closer Look: Intel SSD 525
The Intel SSD 525-series is compact 6GB/s mSATA high-performance solid state drive storage product. Intel's Solid-State Drive 525 Series comes in an OEM brown box, available in capacities from 30-240GB. The 240GB model (SSDMCEAC240B301) we're testing in this article sells for $299.99 (Newegg / Amazon). Ideal for users wanting to upgrade a notebook computer, tablet device, or compatible desktop motherboard.
The list of mSATA-compatible computing devices is growing fast, nearly as quickly as SSDs are gaining popularity among PC, Linux, and Apple computer users. Since introduced in 2010, the mSATA interface has offered an alternative storage interface for performance-oriented power users wanting to speed-up their notebook or tablet device. Warrantied five-years of product protection, the Intel SSD 525 solid state drive could out-last the device it's installed into.
Measuring 2.0" (51mm) long, 1.18" (30mm) wide, and only 3.7mm thick, the Intel 525 packs plenty of performance and capacity into a small product that weighs a mere 6 grams (0.2 ounces). Each Intel SSD 525 Series solid state drive is comprised of a full-size mSATA printed circuit board, with a SandForce controller and NAND Flash modules attached to each side.
Similar to other second-generation LSI/SandForce-driven SSDs, Intel SSD 525 Series features a SF-2281VB1-SDC SATA 6Gb/s processor. Offering 8 flash channels with 8 Byte lanes configured (one lane per channel), the SF-2281 maintains a BGA-256 package. The SF-2281 controller offers advanced ECC engine correcting up to 55 bits per 512-byte sector to assure high data integrity and support for future generations of flash memory. More detail is available in our LSI/SandForce SF-2000 Series SSD Processor Overview article.
All Intel SSD 525 Series solid state drives utilize 25nm multi-layer cell Intel/Micron Flash Technology (IMFT) NAND Flash components. Depending on SSD capacity, different Intel NAND Flash parts are used: 29F64G08LCME2 (30GB), 29F16B08MCME2 (60GB), 29F32B08NCME2 (120GB), and 29F64B08PCME1 (180/240GB).
Intel included mSATA to SATA adapter board with the solid state drive sample, which allowed Benchmark Reviews to directly compare Intel SSD 525 Series performance to our library of previously tested SATA-based products. Pictured below is the Intel SSD 525 Series solid state drive installed into the adapter board.
All LSI/SandForce SSD controllers offer native TRIM garbage collection in supporting Operating System (such as Microsoft Windows-7), Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with 32 command slots, and basic Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (SMART) command set. LSI/SandForce built the SF-2200 series to produce 500 MB/s sequential read and write bandwidth with 60K (burst)/20K (sustained) IOPS random write (4K transfers). The firmware controls the performance variables on LSI/SandForce SSDs, and some manufacturers have licensed custom firmware to unlock additional performance for their products.
The SF-2281 SSD processor provides enhanced ECC with BCH data protection, and also includes LSI/SandForce's unique RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology. RAISE provides the protection and reliability of RAID on a single SSD drive, thanks to flash architecture, without the significant write overhead of parity. The LSI/SandForce DuraClass technology automatically stores data using Trusted Computing Group (TCG) OPAL security with 256-bit AES encryption and automatic, line-rate double encryption with a drive-level password, preventing data extraction directly from the physical flash memory modules.