When we last left off Intel’s X25-M continued to prove its worth as the best desktop SSD on the market today. But there was new hope in a small controller company based in Korea called Indilinx. Thanks to some quick acting, Indilinx and OCZ were able to put forth the first true value alternative to the X25-M: the Vertex SSD.

In Indilinx we Hope

Now other manufacturers are beginning to ship Indilinx Barefoot based SSDs and the latest updates to the controller’s firmware make the SSD even faster than what I tested just a week ago.

Although I thought I’d be done with SSDs last week, the saga continues with a few minor updates important to anyone looking to buy an SSD today.

The Intel Update

I met with Intel this week to talk about its SSD roadmap as well as where the X25-M is today. Unfortunately I can’t talk about most of the details yet, but more information is coming.

The performance issue PC Perspective uncovered is indeed a real issue, although not something that I’ve been able to run into outside of running specific benchmark patterns. I mentioned it was a non-issue in my last article and now, armed with even more information, I’m even more confident in that. I can’t say much now, but it won’t be too much longer before I can.

A few readers wrote me and asked why the X25-M doesn’t work under Bootcamp on NVIDIA based Apple systems (e.g. the new MacBook/MacBook Pro). I didn’t have an answer at the time but I looked into it. It turns out that there is a compatibility issue with some of the 80GB X25-Ms and those platforms, but Intel does have a fix.

For starters, if you have a 160GB X25-M or X18-M, you aren’t affected by this issue; bootcamp will just work. The latest production of the 80GB X25-Ms are also not affected by this issue, but not the original drives. If you have an earlier X25-M and one of these Apple machines and are experiencing Bootcamp compatibility problems Intel wants you to contact its support staff for a fix: http://www.intel.com/support/

Remember what I wrote in my last SSD piece: “I’d venture a guess that Intel would not leave its most loyal customers out in the cold after spending $400 - $800 on a SSD. I can’t speak for Intel but like I said, stay tuned.”

I’ll have more updates on the Intel drive in the coming weeks.

The Vertex Update
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  • landheha - Saturday, July 18, 2009 - link

    The risk I see in all this is putting a windows page file on such a drive that is actually used. Or an Oracle rollback tablespace or redo logfiles. These will get this kind of drive into "used-status" in no time. Not to speak of the 10.000x erase limit.

    As another guy said before, the difference between SLC and MLC is not to be neglected.
  • anactoraaron - Thursday, June 25, 2009 - link

    Something I have noticed under win 7 RC x64 on my laptop is that when running on battery only the system boots up and shuts down faster than when on ac alone. I don't know why yet and this is especially revelant as even with the slightly lesser ssd's - basically non-intel - can improve laptop performance/responsiveness twofold vs. 7200rpm platter hdd's (as shown in the intial x25-m review). As far as the running on battery variable is concerned, my average shut down time on ac power is 17 seconds, and on battery it is 10 seconds (or less). Is there maybe something else going on in windows 7 that is an unknown as of now?
    Yes, after enjoying the initial review of the X25-M I had to spend about an hour to see where my platter hdd stood (and I'm sure I'm not the only one here that did so).
  • vhx - Saturday, June 13, 2009 - link

    Intel X25-M or OCZ Vertex 120?

    The Intel seems to own it at almost everything except a few writing cases. However the theoretical 180 MB/s Write doesn't seem to show up in anything but synthetic benchmarks which STILL makes it even with the X25-M in real world performance. Not to mention the Vertex's seem to still have major performance degradations compared to X25-M's loss.

    What would you all get if you had a choice?
  • Patanjali - Monday, May 4, 2009 - link

    These seem to have a reasonable write io ops/s compared to any of those that cost less than the Intel, and they are coming cheaper all the time. They use a 2nd generation Samsung controller.

    When will Anandtech review them and forget about all these experiments?
  • Gootch - Sunday, April 19, 2009 - link

    As always, my comments to your previous article should have waited until I had read the latest on these drives. However, X25 is the best (for now) and in some cases arguably cheaper/Gb. Once again a great article follow-up.
  • steffi - Thursday, April 16, 2009 - link

    So I managed to use a collegue's Intel PC at work to update the firmware in my X-25M but I've got a couple of questions ...

    1. Did that firmware resolve the NVidia compatibiity such that in the future I can apply the firmware update from my MacBook Pro Unibody NVidia machine?

    2. Did this firmware resolve the Bootcamp issue?

    3. How is it possible to use issue the SECURE_ERASE on a Mac then since it doesn't appear that HDDERASE will work given the need for legacy IDE mode?
  • SpeedDemonAaron - Monday, April 13, 2009 - link

    Thank you so much for your honest and concise articles on SSDs lately! This is the most important hardware change that the tech world has seen in a long time. There are a lot of bits that need to be uncovered so that the public knows what they are getting themselves into. You're doing an outstanding job of protecting the consumer since manufacturers are definitely producing SSD products at the moment with no regard for the consumer!
  • mmoran27 - Monday, April 13, 2009 - link

    Here it is.

    Must be done on Intel system or PC

  • MadBoris - Monday, April 13, 2009 - link

    PcPer did some test on the new Intel Firmware for the x25-M.
    Fragmentation issue went away but the drive is still to expensive. ;)


  • Eri Hyva - Saturday, April 11, 2009 - link


    The change log for firmware:

    Version 0112 (Feb. 2009) (Description: Basic I/O  optimized drive with SMART error logging)
    • Version 1199 (Feb. 2009) (Description: Enhanced performance I/O optimized drive)
    • Internal "write join" was implemented for better performance
    •SMART basic features can be performed without error log monitoring 
    (to reduce overhead of log data collection)
    •ATA power management commands (IDLE, STANDBY, SLEEP) are enabled for compatibility 
    (Actually these are dummy, while SATA based Power Management is fully supported)
    • Supports runtime bad block handling
    •Improved power management
    •Improved NAND handling
    •Enabled PIO mode data transfer
    • Version 1275 (March, 2009) (Description: Improved raid 0 mode performance)
    •Performance is improved when drive is installed on RAID0 mode host
    •Maximum LBA number is modified according to the JEDEC standard 
    • Modifications of internal data structure used by FW (stamp)
    •Improved write joining
    •Improved FPDMA transfer mode 
    • Version 1.10 (April 7, 2009) 
    •Feature Add : TRIM support is added
    •Apple Mac Pro sleep/wake up support added
    • Updater improved 
    •Bad block management function improved 

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