The X25-M was a tremendous first attempt by Intel to get into the SSD market. In our review of the SSD I wrote that Intel just Conroe’d the SSD market, and if it weren’t for the pesky 80MB/s sequential write speed limitation the X25-M would’ve been given the title: World’s Fastest Drive.

Its successor, the X25-M G2, was a mild update that brought prices down through the use of 34nm NAND. Remember that Intel is also 49% owner of the IMFT joint venture and as a result can be quite competitive on NAND pricing (and quite early to adopt new NAND technologies).

Intel’s goal all along was to drive down the cost of SSDs. Looking at the history of MSRPs with the X25-M (not to mention the M, which stood for Mainstream in the product name) this shouldn’t come as a surprise:

Intel X25-M Pricing History
  2008 2009
40GB - $125
80GB $595 $225
160GB $1000+ $440

The third generation X25-M was to drive down costs even further, this time thanks to Intel’s 25nm NAND. You’d be able to get twice the capacity at the same price point as the X25-M G2. The value drive would be an 80GB offering, the mainstream drive would be 160GB and the high end drive would be 320GB.

The drive would offer higher performance. The controller was to be completely redesigned, with the “oversight” that limited sequential write speed to only 100MB/s corrected entirely. In addition, the third generation Intel SSD would add full disk encryption - making it even better suited for enterprise customers. Going after the enterprise market was Intel’s plan to really make money on SSDs in the long run. Instead of just selling corporations a CPU, chipset and wireless controller in a notebook, there would be an SSD on top of all of that. Perhaps eventually even have some security software courtesy of McAfee.

The third generation X25-M was originally due out in the middle of 2010. As is usually the case with schedules, the “G3” slipped. The middle of the year became the end of the year and the end of the year became Q1 2011.

To make matters worse, the specifications Intel was talking about for its third generation drive/controller weren’t all that competitive. We published the details last year knowing that the competition would do better. Intel’s redesigned controller was late and underperforming. Internally, Intel knew it had a problem.

Intel aimed for the majority of the market with the X25-M, it had set its sights on lowering cost, but it left the high performance enthusiast market entirely uncared for. A void that SandForce filled quite nicely with its unique brand of controllers.

With a hole in the roadmap and an unwillingness to cede complete control of the high end market to SandForce, Intel did the unthinkable: developed a new SSD based on a competing controller technology.

Intel’s SSD 510 Powered by Marvell
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  • Squuiid - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    +1
    They were the 1st of this next gen to be available, yet NOBODY has reviewed them.
    Based on the 2nd Gen Marvel controller I believe, a' la C400.
    Reply
  • Luke212 - Friday, March 04, 2011 - link

    Anand,

    I am looking to implement SSDs in Application servers and I need to know how they go in Raid 1 over time. Noone seems to test this! So I am stuck with magnetic drives!!
    Reply
  • sean.crees - Friday, March 11, 2011 - link

    Anyone else notice the Samsung 470 near or at the top of most benchmarks on a 3gb controller? Is this the SSD in current Macbook Pro's? I havn't seen a review posted to Anandtech about this specific device. Reply
  • daidaloss - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    I'm curious as to how does this SSD drive stacks up when compared to this unit SATA2 DDR2 HyperDrive5 from http://www.hyperossystems.co.uk/.
    Maybe sometime in the future, Anand will consider this RAM drive.
    Reply
  • tygrus - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    Not specific to Intel 510 SSD:
    Sequential performance after several full disk GB rewrites ?

    The LBA remapping for wear levelling must make more of the disk look random (not sequential) after every block has been re-written several times. It's a torture test to see how it can handle reading large files that have been spread over several non-sequential NAND blocks. Or does it not matter as much because the controller can optimise access to several NAND dies at once? Does it only remap 512KB at a time or does the 512KB blocks have non-sequential 4KB LBA's written to them?

    Does SSD performance approach random R/W performance after long term heavy use ?
    Reply
  • gaffe - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Just an anonymous tip. I happen to know this data is wildly inaccurate because my friend is a reliability engineer at a major company.

    WHY DON'T YOU DO A SMALL RELIABILITY TEST OF YOUR OWN TO SEE FOR YOURSELF HOW UNLIKELY IT IS THAT THIS DATA IS ACCURATE.

    It seems you have tested probably 20 SSDs for your reviews. So, how many of them have failed on you during testing? How many during the course of the past 3 years? What's the failure rate average across all manufacturers?

    Even though manufacturers probably send you their best tested units for review, and your sample size is small, etc. I am willing to bet you REAL MONEY that the failure rate will be more than 3% even in a sample size of just 20.

    How about we buy 20 SSDs today and in 3 years see who is right, loser buys em all, winner gets em (you can keep the failed ones)?
    Any takers?
    Reply
  • gaffe - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Oh and P.S.

    You forgot to mention above that failure rates are generally PER YEAR. So that's a 3% chance it fails EACH YEAR. And it's still wrong by double or triple (it's closer to 9%).
    Reply
  • gaffe - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Sorry to keep piling on, but it bothers me so much that this inaccurate data is out there and people are believing this that I also want to mention this data does not even say which models were tested. This is probably all enterprise grade drives that does not even apply to consumers that are reading this article, and, as I said above, it's STILL INACCURATE! Reply

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