Intel X25-M, 2.5” 34nm (160GB)
Intel’s latest X25-M drive is based on the same in-house controller with 32MB cache memory as the initial X25-M series, which is why you can keep grabbing firmware upgrades at the usual location. There have been several firmware updates that help prevent substantial performance drops after intensive use. The latest firmware, which we used for the review, does not deliver much higher performance than previous X25-M drives, but the performance impact under intensive use seems to have abated to the point of being almost unnoticeable. Even after significant use of the drive, we were still seeing 200 MB/s read throughput.
This latest Intel model carries a “G2” code in its model name, standing for 34nm MLC flash memory, while “G1” marks the older 50nm generation. Both perform equally, but the 34nm version is the basis for the upcoming 320GB model. We found that it required quite a bit of power to deliver workstation-type I/O (2.2W), which spoiled the efficiency results in the I/O performance per watt summary. Almost the same applies to power at maximum streaming (up to 1.8W). However, these results indicate maximum performance. Stay under these levels and you’ll find a 0.2W power requirement for HD video playback as well as 0.1W idle power draw. Only Corsair’s P256 and the OCZ Summit are close at 0.2W; all other SSDs require 0.4W to 1.0W at idle. One watt does make a difference in battery runtime over the long run.
However, we’re missing progress on the performance side, as the X25-M is no longer the best flash SSD for performance users. The exception is in enterprise scenarios, which Intel dominates thanks to incredible I/O results. Almost all Indilinx-powered SSDs now deliver higher throughput than Intel. Still, the difference is small once the SSDs are in the 200 MB/s range and up.