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

Intel’s X25-E SSD Walks All Over The Competition
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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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  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , February 27, 2009 10:41 AM
    Recently, I've seen an article about performance degradation in the X25-M due to internal fragmentation, have you looked into if this also applies to the X25-E?
  • -1 Hide
    zodiacfml , February 27, 2009 11:17 AM
    hard drive makers will be scratching their heads on this one. i've read some social networking and dating sites that uses around 200 to 600GB only of data.
  • 8 Hide
    WyomingKnott , February 27, 2009 12:10 PM
    Your previous review was of another flash-based product, the ioDrive from Fusion-io. If only you had included it's benchmarks in this article's figures, it would have been a most interesting shootoff. Any chance of updating the charts? Or do I just have to flip back and forth between the two articles?
  • 6 Hide
    dark_lord69 , February 27, 2009 12:54 PM
    WyomingKnottYour previous review was of another flash-based product, the ioDrive from Fusion-io. If only you had included it's benchmarks in this article's figures, it would have been a most interesting shootoff. Any chance of updating the charts? Or do I just have to flip back and forth between the two articles?


    I agree right after I clicked on this article the first thing I thought is I wonder how this compairs to the IODrive form IOFusion.
  • 0 Hide
    chovav , February 27, 2009 12:58 PM
    .... and a costs/performance chart with maybe total yearly costs with drive price, watt etc.. maybe even say something about the raid hardware you'll be able to save.

    nice article though, good to see that for (rich) consumers the X25-M is the right choice.
  • 5 Hide
    deiceman , February 27, 2009 1:53 PM
    So when can we expect Tom's to upgrade their servers with Intel X-25E's so that we can truly experience this amazing drive in real time???
  • -1 Hide
    reddozen , February 27, 2009 2:20 PM
    I have one of these going into my new server I'm building actually. We'll eventually raid 4 of them. Should be a nice addition to the 4x Quad-core Shanghai's.
  • 6 Hide
    cangelini , February 27, 2009 3:12 PM
    WyomingKnottYour previous review was of another flash-based product, the ioDrive from Fusion-io. If only you had included it's benchmarks in this article's figures, it would have been a most interesting shootoff. Any chance of updating the charts? Or do I just have to flip back and forth between the two articles?


    That's coming, probably next week, in a head-to-head between the two!
  • 2 Hide
    royaldutchtweaker , February 27, 2009 4:09 PM
    omg walks over the competition?
    fusion-IO has over 100000 IO operations in the same benchmark as where this intel reaches ~6000...
    don't believe me? read the IOdrive review. it utterly crushes the intel, the Mtron and all other SSD's, not to mention normal hard drives
  • 1 Hide
    Area51 , February 27, 2009 4:45 PM
    I think you may have another bottleneck in your configuration. I have been able to get 250MB sustain read from both my MLC and SLC drives.
  • 1 Hide
    Area51 , February 27, 2009 4:59 PM
    Could it be that the Nocona platform's chipset is limited on bandwith with its SATA connections? By the way I was refering to the Intel MLC and SLC.
  • 1 Hide
    Area51 , February 27, 2009 5:09 PM
    cangeliniThat's coming, probably next week, in a head-to-head between the two!


    Can you please include cost compassion? I am trying to figure out that for the same $$ which gives me a better value. So if I had $10,000 which would be a better buy.
  • 1 Hide
    dwwolfe , February 27, 2009 5:41 PM
    Besides theoretical numbers, I haven't read anything about the real-world life-expectancy of these drives in workstations and/or high-volumn servers.
  • 2 Hide
    cangelini , February 27, 2009 8:30 PM
    Area51Can you please include cost compassion? I am trying to figure out that for the same $$ which gives me a better value. So if I had $10,000 which would be a better buy.


    Area, the piece is already written, but I'll check to see if there's a discussion on cost.
  • 0 Hide
    coopchennick , February 27, 2009 8:51 PM
    Usually I'd say who cares about power consumption, but it actually makes sense in this article! An extra couple watts for a desktop becomes much much more in a server full of drives.

    One thing I'd like to see is some sort of mainstream desktop hard drive in there purely for sake of comparison. Throw a Caviar blue in the mix or something - with just these benchmarks, I find it difficult to get a sense of the performance gap between these drives and the one in my desktop.

    But good article guys, lots of data.
  • 1 Hide
    apache_lives , February 27, 2009 10:14 PM
    TEST THE PERFORMANCE OF THE DRIVES AT CERTAIN % POINTS - EMPTY, 20% 50% 70% AND 99% - the performance changes from what i hear - would love to know the results :D 

    Intel SSD's - making your porn load quicker!
  • 0 Hide
    eyal , February 27, 2009 11:41 PM
    When looking at power efficiency one should compare equal setups and I see power usage of storage of 32GB compared against up to 450GB here. One will need 14 of the smaller SSDs to hold the same data as one HD. Where does this comparo account for this?
  • -6 Hide
    eyal , February 28, 2009 12:07 AM
    When looking at power efficiency one should compare equal setups and I see power usage of storage of 32GB compared against up to 450GB here. One will need 14 of the smaller SSDs to hold the same data as one HD. Where does this comparo account for this?
  • -7 Hide
    eyal , February 28, 2009 12:08 AM
    When looking at power efficiency one should compare equal setups and I see power usage of storage of 32GB compared against up to 450GB here. One will need 14 of the smaller SSDs to hold the same data as one HD. Where does this comparo account for this?
  • 0 Hide
    borune , February 28, 2009 8:48 AM
    The article looses a lot when the OCZ Vertex is not taken into account!
    or, is it only available in EU?
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