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Crucial m4 And Intel SSD 320: The Other SSD Competitors

Crucial m4 And Intel SSD 320: The Other SSD Competitors
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Two more SSDs recently landed in our lab. We cover the "Postville Refresh" Intel SSD 320 and Crucial’s new m4, and stack them up against Intel's SSD 510 and OCZ’s Vertex 3. If you're shopping for an SSD, read this comparison before you make your choice.

Intel's most recent SSD introduction left us with mixed feelings. Rather than behaving like a well-rounded drive, Intel's SSD 510 clearly emphasized sequential transfers, sacrificing random I/O in the process. As a result, it delivers its strongest performance in applications like video editing, and would be far less suited for duties inside of a Web or database server.

Most people are looking for a balanced SSD. That's what made the first-gen X25-M so attractive back when it first emerged. It proved to be a compelling solution for everyone, from enthusiasts to SMB-oriented customers. Between then and now, we’ve seen the performance crown bounce around. Most recently, OCZ's Vertex 3 and Vertex 3 Pro drew our attention with consistently high SATA 6Gb/s performance.

As we suggested in the SSD 510 piece, more flash-based drives were expected...and soon. Well, they've finally shown up. Last year, Crucial shook up the performance tree by introducing the first SATA 6Gb/s drive, its RealSSD C300. As a follow up, Crucial's m4 seeks to improve upon that drive's performance. Why call it the m4? Crucial and Micron are trying to differentiate their respective markets. Crucial's m4 is the drive for business and consumer customers; Micron’s RealSSD C400 is for OEMs. From here on out, Crucial is dropping the "RealSSD" name from its consumer products. It will only be used by Micron.

Meanwhile, Intel is announcing its third-gen X25-M, dubbed the SSD 320. This is substantially different  from the SSD 510. While the 6Gb/s 510 series is intended for enthusiasts based on a Marvell controller, the SSD 320 is a refresh of what we've already seen from the X25-M and the X25-M G2, based on Intel's proprietary controller.

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  • 0 Hide
    rainwilds , March 28, 2011 2:23 PM
    Oooo, Crucial or Vertex? Decisions, decisions!
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 28, 2011 3:28 PM
    Could you expand on the Full Disk Encryption capabilities of the Intel 320?
    If you can actually use hardware FDE on that drive (rather than just secure erase), that's a winner for me.
  • 0 Hide
    bto , March 28, 2011 3:31 PM
    Why does the Intel 510 250GB appear to have two scores in crystalmark? (469.4 and 259.7) on the top benchmark on page: "Benchmark Results: CrystalDiskMark Streaming Performance" the specs are identical for both.
  • 2 Hide
    poppasmurf , March 28, 2011 3:42 PM
    Great lil tidbit, wonder what the difference will be between other SSD's with different interface connections other than physical appearance and the interface connection. More on the lines of pro's and con's between the SSD interface connections I'm referring to the OCZ PCI-e drives vs. SATA 6GB just a thought to stir up the hoop la of ssd's :p 
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , March 28, 2011 4:13 PM
    I am beginning to wonder if we haven't reached the point where the human eye and brain are finding it harder to differentiate performance among ssd's. Some mainstream benchmarks seem to suggest that. Some of the benchmarks in this review seem to indicate the same. There are some very tight groupings.
  • 2 Hide
    henryvalz , March 28, 2011 4:49 PM
    At the speed points that SSDs are functioning, I'm beginning to think that durability and reliability might be the best basis for decision. I would also really like to see some boot times from Windows 7, or loading time for games.
  • 1 Hide
    kev_stev , March 28, 2011 5:13 PM
    Does anyone know when the vertex 3 and M4 are going to actually be available? I have heard rumors that the vertex 3 will be released "any day now" since mid march...
  • -1 Hide
    iamtheking123 , March 28, 2011 7:35 PM
    I'll go SSD in my next build, probably in a year and a half. Right now I'm satisfied with Raid 0-ed 1TB Caviar Blacks.
  • 0 Hide
    foscooter , March 28, 2011 8:19 PM
    No mention of a release date. When will they be "in stores?" Q2 isn't exact enough.
  • -1 Hide
    zerapio , March 28, 2011 8:20 PM
    Alert! Spelling police is coming and their PISSED

    (yes, it was intentional)
  • 0 Hide
    microking4u , March 28, 2011 8:23 PM
    Why are the I/O's for this drive way off on your review compared to others such as Anand and PCPer?
  • 0 Hide
    groberts101 , March 28, 2011 9:00 PM
    Would have been interesting to see those Vantage marks on a Vertex 3 that hadn't already been hammered into a throttled state by all the previous tests. While it obviously shows the stamina and expected performance of the V3 after extremely heavy usage, the test doesn't take into consideration what many will see on newly installed drives that are used moderately. From that standpoint, the testing protocol is flawed, IMO.

    IOW, the testing protocol in reverse would have been more interesting to see typical Vantage scores from an unthrottled controller. I know for fact through personal beta-testing of the V3 that they would have been much higher.

    Or even better yet would be too take into account the special Durawrite throttling which the Sandforce drives STILL have built into the firmware(though not nearly as aggressive as the V2). Would surely give a nice little boost to SF through secure erase cleansing. If done at the 50% point it would show the potential in certain portions of the test suite that most WOULD see when not hitting thier drives with benchmark after benchmark in some sort of "hammer em' till the dust settles" protocol.

    Decent enough writeup though and all the review sites will eventually get it figured out, I guess.
  • 0 Hide
    PraxGTI , March 28, 2011 9:39 PM
    Our SQL server has done more than 5*10^25 I/O Write Bytes in its 3 years lifespan. I really doubt the reliability of SSDs in a corporate server, although the IOs would be nice since our server can be crippled to 500% disk usage with disk queue sizes up to 8 at times.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 29, 2011 12:27 AM
    praxgtiOur SQL server has done more than 5*10^25 I/O Write Bytes in its 3 years lifespan. I really doubt the reliability of SSDs in a corporate server, although the IOs would be nice since our server can be crippled to 500% disk usage with disk queue sizes up to 8 at times.


    How did you work that one out,

    10^24 bytes is a 1 yobibyte = 2^80 bytes = 1208925819614629174706176 bytes = 1,024 zebibytes

    1 zebibyte = 270 bytes = 1180591620717411303424 bytes = 1,024 exbibytes

    1 exbibyte = 260 bytes = 1152921504606846976 bytes = 1,024 pebibytes

    All of the data in the world on every hard drive is estimated at around 500 exbibytes.

    even in bits you are in order of several magnitude off
  • 1 Hide
    acku , March 29, 2011 12:28 AM
    Quote:
    Would have been interesting to see those Vantage marks on a Vertex 3 that hadn't already been hammered into a throttled state by all the previous tests. While it obviously shows the stamina and expected performance of the V3 after extremely heavy usage, the test doesn't take into consideration what many will see on newly installed drives that are used moderately. From that standpoint, the testing protocol is flawed, IMO.

    IOW, the testing protocol in reverse would have been more interesting to see typical Vantage scores from an unthrottled controller. I know for fact through personal beta-testing of the V3 that they would have been much higher.

    Or even better yet would be too take into account the special Durawrite throttling which the Sandforce drives STILL have built into the firmware(though not nearly as aggressive as the V2). Would surely give a nice little boost to SF through secure erase cleansing. If done at the 50% point it would show the potential in certain portions of the test suite that most WOULD see when not hitting thier drives with benchmark after benchmark in some sort of "hammer em' till the dust settles" protocol.

    Decent enough writeup though and all the review sites will eventually get it figured out, I guess.


    Hi groberts101,

    The test are actually run backwards. We just have help in a different order in the review. :) 

    Cheers,
    Andrew
    TomsHardware
  • 0 Hide
    acku , March 29, 2011 12:29 AM
    Quote:
    Why does the Intel 510 250GB appear to have two scores in crystalmark? (469.4 and 259.7) on the top benchmark on page: "Benchmark Results: CrystalDiskMark Streaming Performance" the specs are identical for both.


    I think there is a legend in the lower right hand corner. One is using the 6Gb/s port and one is using the 3Gb/s port.
  • 0 Hide
    acku , March 29, 2011 3:46 AM
    Quote:
    Why are the I/O's for this drive way off on your review compared to others such as Anand and PCPer?

    Which ones are you referencing?
  • 0 Hide
    ww2003 , March 29, 2011 4:35 AM
    From what i have been hearing the new vortec 3 is going to be the best SSD on the market with faster speeds the any other one has right now.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , March 29, 2011 5:13 AM
    I like the part in the conclusion that one not need the fastest SSDs out there especially for desktop uses.
    In my opinion, Intel has a point with their new products and pricing, enable bigger capacities at lower capacities.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , March 29, 2011 5:16 AM
    I meant prices. :p 

    zodiacfmlI like the part in the conclusion that one not need the fastest SSDs out there especially for desktop uses. In my opinion, Intel has a point with their new products and pricing, enable bigger capacities at lower capacities.

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