|Intel SSD 320 Series Solid State Drive|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 15 June 2011|
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Intel SSD 320 Series
Intel recently debuted their Intel 311 Series SSD, which is a boot drive intended to be partnered with a high-capacity hard disk drive using Intel Smart Response Technology on compatible Intel 6-Series chipsets: Z68, HM67, QM67. This design promotes improved performance on computer systems for casual/mainstream users, and does so without the risk of losing data to an SSD failure (although hard drive failure should still be a concern). The product we're looking at is of the more traditional variety, which someone might use for their standalone storage needs in a desktop or notebook computer system. In this article we investigate the Intel SSD 320 series solid state drive.
The Intel SSD 320 Series is finished with a subtle aluminum chassis that keeps to a minimalist approach. Once installed the SSD is usually hidden away from view, which explains why Intel has remained conservative towards the appearance of their solid state drive. Standard 2.5" drive bay mounting points are pre-drilled and threaded into the SSD chassis, and an included black plastic spacer is attached to the top side of the SSD to enable the Intel 320 Series to fit into SATA notebook computers if needed. Both halves of the enclosure are made of steel, with a textured finish on the top panel and flat finish on the bottom.
The Intel SSD 320 Series draws from three generations of SSD engineering experience, and uses compute-quality Intel 25nm multi-level cell (MLC) NAND Flash memory manufacturing processes on an architecture that employs 10 parallel NAND flash channels. Native Command Queuing that enables up to 32 concurrent operations empowers the Intel SSD 320 Series to outperform traditional hard disk drives. Minimal write amplification and a unique wear-leveling design improve NAND longevity, and the Intel SSD 320 Series comes pre-configured with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 128 bit encryption capabilities when a BIOS-level password has been configured to enable user-unique encryption.
An Intel PC29AS21BA0 SATA 3Gb/s SSD controller powers this drive, identical to recently released Intel 311 Series SSD and older Intel X25-M G2 SSDs, which means it was designed to accept 34nm NAND flash of SLC design. The DRAM buffer is marked H55S5162EFR-60M, and is of a 64MB Hynix Mobile SDR design that operates at 666Mhz.
The key ingredient on Intel's SSD 320 Series is the 25nm MLC NAND flash, which is also produced in-house by Intel. Each of the twenty NAND modules is marked 29F16B08CCME1, which references their IC part number requiring 2.7-3.6V for normal operation. Intel specifies the 320 Series solid state drive to produce sequential reads up to 270 MB/s, with 4 KB operations reaching 60,000 combined IOPS.
In the next few sections we'll test the Intel SSD 320 Series as a stand-alone storage device, comparing this solid state drive to other retail products intended for notebook and desktop installation.