Performance Zooms with New Firmware for Intel 34nm X25-M SSDs


10/28/2009: Woops! Intel has pulled the firmware. Check out our news story to find out why.

Intel today released new firmware for its 34nm X25-M SSDs.

New Firmware: 02HA; Old Firmware: 02G9

The new firmware supports TRIM. This feature requires Windows 7 with Microsoft AHCI drivers. Intel drivers don’t support TRIM yet. For Windows Vista or XP you have to use the Intel SSD Toolbox, which supports TRIM.

The TRIM attribute of the ATA data set management command synchronizes the operating system’s view of deleted files with those that are deleted, but not erased on the drive.  TRIM tells the SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. This helps stabilize the performance and health of the SSD over time.

For the tests we set up a Windows 7 system on our standard storage test platform. We used the Microsoft AHCI driver to support TRIM.

Drive performance is much better with the new firmware. Also after torturing the drive with IOMeter. The sequential write performance in used state areas is in the close to that of the former new state areas, the numbers still decrease but not near as much. Random reads and writes in our database benchmarks double. Very impressive. Workstation benchmarks also double and Webserver and Fileserver numbers increase significantly.

Early adopters who bought the first X25-M will not get a firmware update. Very sad.

Testing Order:

  1. H2benchW
  2. IOMeter
  3. 30min idle time for triming the drive
  4. Second run of H2benchW
  5. Second run of IOMeter

The new firmware provides very impressive numbers and takes SSDs to a higher level of performance well beyond HDDs as system drives in desktop computers.

Achim Roos
  • kelfen
    Good job Intel producing firmware worth upgrading
  • burnley14
    I'm not usually a stickler about this, but was this article translated or something? On the first page it seemed like there were a lot of grammatical issues, far more than the occasional type-o that is to be expected.
  • huron
    This looks very good. It's great to see that they fixed the problem that was causing SSD slowdown over time. I think I'll have to put one of these in my new build.

  • El_Capitan
    A new firmware for the Intel X25-M G1 is nice and all, but the SSD still fails price per performance per space against Crucial's M225 and Corsair's P128/P256. All you get with the X25-M G1 is great I/O performance. Write speeds are still pretty low compared to going up to 200MB's W/s.

    Intel X25-m = 160GB, $659.00, 250 MB/s Read, 70 MB/s Write
    Crucial M225 = 256GB, $675.00, 250 MB/s Read, 200 MB/s Write
    Corsair P256 = 256GB, $719.00 (free shipping), 220 MB/s Read, 200 MB/s Write

    Prices are from Newegg's retail prices. You can get them cheaper other places and OEM.
  • SVoyager
    The random read/writes are through the roof. The other SSD's are faaar behind. You might not reach the high throughput as the corsairs you mentioned but then it depends on what you intend the drive to do.

    I have a raid for big file transfers with conventional drives, those will handle throughput, and will have SSD for smaller file operation, OS, games, etc. The X25-M G2 seems nice for that!
  • masterasia
    Upgrading firmware right now. Let's see what this baby can do.
  • Is there a typo in the Read Throughput Graph? It looks like with TRIM read throughput drops after use? The labeling is not consistent with the graph below it so hopefully trim does not adversely affect read speeds...
  • jezza333
    Is it just me, or are these specs not-so-special for SSDs? A 70mm RunCore will clock 250MB/s read and 180MB/s write.

    Please explain how these are so awesome? Just the usual hype and price gouging by Intel, when the alternatives are simply better.
  • dhowie
    jezza, i totally agree. I also believe that each ssd are better then others for certain environments, such as SVoyager put.

    I'm not a fanboy of any of these companies, but i think intel needs to react to the competition, besides the few task where the intel ssd hase an advantage they can be easily set aside for a similar priced drive with more performance in general.

    "Intel X25-m = 160GB, $659.00, 250 MB/s Read, 70 MB/s Write
    Crucial M225 = 256GB, $675.00, 250 MB/s Read, 200 MB/s Write
    Corsair P256 = 256GB, $719.00 (free shipping), 220 MB/s Read, 200 MB/s Write"

    For the intel fans they can always buy two 160gb drives and raid them for a whopping 140MB/s write at a cost of just over $1300. The extra pcie raid controller they might need, might push that 1300 into 1500 territory.
  • fourfives
    ER i'm going to go out on a limb here and say "its because of IOPS". Why are people getting hung up on sequential reads and writes? Heck if you want that just go buy a Sata II drive. No spindle can touch the IOPS of any decent SLC or MLC.