Intel 520 Series SSD to Utilize SandForce Controller

In September, we caught our first glimpse of the upcoming Intel 520 Series SSD, which is slated to replace the current Intel 510 Series SSD based on a Marvell controller. The initial report showed the the 520 series will utilize 25 nm multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash memory made by Intel and features support for TRIM, SMART, NCQ, and ACS-2 compliance. The capacities will range from 60 GB, 120 GB, 160 GB, 240 GB, to 480 GB and be based on  2.5-inch SATA 6 Gb/s form-factor. The drive looked to be set to compete with current SandForce SF-22xx SSDs at each capacity level and price-point.

With the information being reported by The SSD Review, it looks like our initial report was right on the money based on the screenshots provided by Gathering of Tweakers. What this writer didn't expect is that these drives will utilize a SandForce SF-22xx controller. With the use of the SandForce controller, the performance numbers are better than originally reported back in September. If the visual materials are to be believed, it should have performance numbers of 550 MB/s read, 530 MB/s write sequential performance versus 530 MB/s read, 490 MB/s write sequential performance originally reported. The 4 KB random write performance is 40,000 IOPS (max 85,000 IOPS) reads and 70,000 IOPS writes random performance. We also see a nice jump in writes from 45,000 IOPS to 70,000 IOPS.

Image from Gathering of TweakersImage from Gathering of TweakersImage from Gathering of TweakersImage from Gathering of Tweakers

BouweenPC has provided a product brief that goes through the standard "marketing" breakdown of the overview of the drive and the benefits. The brief gives a breakdown on the specifications of the Intel 520 Series SSDs.

Image by BouweenPCImage by BouweenPCImage by BouweenPCImage by BouweenPC

The new Intel 520 Series SSD will be backed by Intel's 5-year warranty, upholding to Intel's long-standing reputation on reliability. This does question if Intel has modified the SandForce SF-22xx controller's firmware with its own "tweak" to help with its widely known random BSOD issues. The original release of the Intel 520 Series SSD was slated for November, now come and gone. This leaves us to believe the drive is set to be released any time--but based on the information provided by Softpedia, it looks more like a Q1 2012 release date.

Next up for Intel in 2012, is codename "King Crest", a successor of SSD 520 "Cherryville" series. The drive is set to utilize a SATA 6.0 Gb/s interface and 25 nm HET-MLC NAND flash instead of regular 25 nm NAND flash found on SSD 520 series.

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  • lordvj
  • wolfram23
    So basically all SSDs are going to be nearly identical, with a small variation in flash type used?
  • Zenthar
    Given the number of issues reported with many vendors using SF (the more widely known being OCZ), is that a good move on Intel's part which has a good track record (except the 8MB bug perhaps)?