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Intel Unveils Bigger, Faster SSDs

Intel SSD 320
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Intel SSD 320

Intel has replaced the X25-M PC solid-state drive with a third-generation SSD that is more reliable, provides greater storage, and is less expensive.

The SSD 320 is based on a 25-nanometer flash memory process announced about a year ago by Intel and partner Micron Technology. The partners jointly operate a flash memory manufacturer called IM Flash Technologies.

Shrinking the size of the circuitry to 25 nm from the X25-M's 34 nm has produced a higher performing device that is less expensive and provides much more storage, Intel said. Where the X-25M topped out at 160 GB, its replacement is available with as much as 600 GB. The SSD 320 supports the same 3 Gbps SATA II computer bus interface, so X25-M customers can upgrade to the new device.

"Intel designed new quality and reliability features into our SSDs to take advantage of the latest 25nm silicon, so we could deliver cost advantages to our customers," Pete Hazen, director of marketing for Intel's Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, said in a statement.

The SSD 320 is a 2.5-inch SSD targeted for use in desktops and laptops in which users are willing to pay more for higher performance than a traditional hard disk drive. The SSD can perform random reads at up to 39,500 input/output operations per second and random writes of up to 23,000 IOPS.

The SSD 320 has a sequential write speed of 220 MB per seconds, more than double that of the X25-M, and a sequential read speed of 270 MB per second. The faster speeds improve a PC's multitasking capabilities. For example, there is no perceivable slowdown when playing background music or downloading a video to the SSD, while working on a document, Intel said.

The SSD 320 contains additional redundancies to prevent the loss of data, even in the event of a power loss. The device also includes 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard capabilities to prevent data theft in a PC is lost or stolen.

Intel provides the SSD Optimizer utility that provides Windows users with a set of management and diagnostic tools. The company also provides free data migration software on its Web site to clone all the content on a previous storage drive, whether an SSD or hard drive, and move it to an Intel device.

Intel sells its SSDs through retailers, such as Best Buy, Fry's Electronics, and SSD 320 prices to retailers, which are based on 1,000-unit quantities, start at $89 for 40 GB to $289 for 160 GB. The 300 GB SSD 320 costs $529 and the 600 GB model $1,069.

SSD use is growing in laptops as prices come down. While still costing much more than hard drives, SSDs are faster and lighter, which make them well-suited for thin and light laptops in which portability is a key feature.