The Other 2011 Competitors
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.