We reported on Intel's SSD 330 weeks ago, but today is the official announcement of the drive and its availability in the channel. Unlike previous 300 series drives, the 330 isn't based on Intel's own controller - it's the second SandForce SF-2281 drive in Intel's lineup.

Intel SSD Comparison
  Intel SSD 520 Intel SSD 510 Intel SSD 330 Intel SSD 320
Capacity 60 / 120 / 180 / 240 / 480GB 120 / 250GB 60 / 120 / 180GB 40 / 80 / 120 / 160 / 300 / 600GB
Controller SandForce SF-2281 Marvell 9174 SandForce SF-2281 Intel X25-M G3
Interface 6Gbps SATA 6Gbps SATA 6Gbps SATA 3Gbps SATA
Random Read Performance (Up to) 50K IOPS 20K IOPS 42K IOPS 39.5K IOPS
Random Write Performance (Up to) 60K IOPS 8K IOPS 52K IOPS 23K IOPS
Sequential Read Performance (Up to) 550 MB/s 500 MB/s 500 MB/s 270 MB/s
Sequential Write Performance (Up to) 520 MB/s 315 MB/s 450 MB/s 220 MB/s
Warranty 5 years 3 years 3 years 5 years

 

The 330 differs from the SandForce based Intel SSD 520 in a couple of key areas. The 330 uses lower p/e count NAND (still Intel 25nm MLC) compared to the 520, reducing Intel's rated lifespan from 5 years of 20GB of writes per day to 3 years under the same workload. Intel's ratings have historically been conservative, so I'd expect that the 330 would last much longer than 3 years for the vast majority of workloads - particularly based on previous calculations on the topic. With a 3 year usable lifespan rating however, Intel dropped the limited warranty on the 330 to 3 years as well.

All of this results in a significant reduction in price compared to the 520:

SSD Pricing Comparison
  60/64GB 120GB/128GB 180GB
Crucial m4 $79.99 $154.99  
Intel SSD 520 $109.99 $184.99 $289.99
Intel SSD 330 $89 $149 $234
Kingston HyperX 3K   $169.99  
Samsung SSD 830 $94.99 $174.99  
OCZ Vertex 3 $98.99 $159.99  
OCZ Vertex 4   $179.99  

In fact, the Intel SSD 330 appears to be the cheapest SF-2281 drive on the market today. Interestingly enough it's only available at three capacities (60, 120 & 180GB), while the Intel SSD 320 was available in far more models going all the way up to 600GB.

Performance ratings are down compared to the Intel SSD 520, although it's not clear whether these are artificial limits or not:

Intel SSD 520 vs. 330
  Intel SSD 520 120GB Intel SSD 330 120GB
Capacity 120GB 120GB
Controller SF-2281 SF-2281
Random Read Performance (Up to) 25K IOPS 22.5K IOPS
Random Write Performance (Up to) 40K IOPS 33K IOPS
Sequential Read Performance (Up to) 550 MB/s 500 MB/s
Sequential Write Performance (Up to) 500 MB/s 450 MB/s
Warranty 5 years 3 years
Price $184 $149

Presumably Intel's SSD 330 uses a similar custom firmware solution to the SSD 520, which should hopefully keep it safe from any SF-2281 related BSOD or other instability.

 

Intel SSD 330
Capacity 60GB 120GB 180GB
Controller SandForce SF-2281 SandForce SF-2281 SandForce SF-2281
Interface 6Gbps SATA 6Gbps SATA 6Gbps SATA
Random Read Performance (Up to) 12K IOPS 22.5K IOPS 42K IOPS
Random Write Performance (Up to) 20.5K IOPS 33K IOPS 52K IOPS
Sequential Read Performance (Up to) 500 MB/s 500 MB/s 500 MB/s
Sequential Write Performance (Up to) 400 MB/s 450 MB/s 450 MB/s
Warranty 3 years 3 years 3 years
MSRP $89 $149 $234
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  • dananski - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Hehehe... Only today I spotted a collegue's Vertex 3 on nearly full capacity. My flatmate is just as bad but he only has a 60GB drive... don't know how he copes. Reply
  • bji - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Are they using a workload that would be write-heavy with those drives? If so, how are they coping with being almost out of space constantly? If not, then they won't care about sandforce worst case performance because they're not doing significant enough writing to the drive anyway. Reply
  • James5mith - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Check your prices.

    Right now the Mushkin Chronos and Chronos Deluxe are the cheapest drives on the market, for both budget and performance categories. Want 34nm sync NAND in a 240GB drive? Newegg has the Chronos deluxe for $239. That's sub-$1/GB for top end performance.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    I know I'm nitpicking but Mushin Chronos Deluxe uses 32nm Toggle NAND, not ONFi 2.x NAND. Reply
  • pc_void - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    I'm also nitpicking - that's $200+ category. Reply
  • pc_void - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Well, I was thinking of the 120GB... so with the 180GB sure go Mushkin if you really want a 'better value'. Reply
  • iwod - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    I would never buy an Sandforce based SSD because of all its issues. I figure it was too much clever technology built in trying to do simple things. Which we all know would be prone to error.

    But with Intel reliability track record and software design i am now very confident to recommend this Sandforce based SSD to anyone.

    And the price listed for Intel 330 are suggested retail price!, You are very likely to find it cheaper and therefore making it one of the cheapest SSD on the market,

    What is not to like?
    Reply
  • pc_void - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    You sound like an ad. Reply
  • GreenEnergy - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Putting an Intel label on and adding a custom firmware doesnt make the SandForce magically reliable. Reply
  • Galcobar - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    Nothing magical about a year's worth of validation work. Reply

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