Intel SSD 330 240GB
First, we’d like to tell you a few words about the older affordable SSD from Intel. Our having got its 240GB version is a good reason for that. The series originally included models with up to 180 GB capacity, so the 240GB version was released later, following the consumer demand which had shifted towards larger storage capacities.
The Intel SSD 330 is different from the premium-class Intel SSD 520 whose case with a height of 7 mm allows it to be used in ultraportable computers as well. The Intel SSD 330 is 9 mm in height and thus less versatile. The manufacturing quality is immaculate, though. The robust metallic halves of the case are neatly fitted to each other.
Opening the case, we can make sure that the Intel SSD 330 is architecturally identical to the SSD 520. Besides the SF-2281 controller and similar flash memory (synchronous 25nm flash with ONFI interface), the PCB design is the same. In fact, the PCB we’ve extracted out of our SSD 330 was labeled as Cherryville which is the codename of the 520 model.
Like its senior cousin, the Intel SSD 330 contains 16 flash memory chips, each of which incorporates two 8GB NAND dies, so the controller can enable 8-channel access mode with 4-way interleave on each channel. This max-performance configuration is only implemented in the 240GB model, though. Take note that one sixteenth of the total capacity (i.e. the capacity of one flash memory chip) is not accessible for the user. It is allotted to the RAISE technology that improves data reliability.
Manufactured on 25nm tech process at Intel’s own facilities, the 29F16B08CCME2 chips are no different from those we saw in the Intel SSD 520, yet it doesn’t mean the two SSDs differ in firmware only. The flash memory of the affordable SSD 330 is rated for 3000 rather than 5000 reprogram cycles, which explains its lower price. This reliability parameter is not reflected in the chip marking, creating an impression that the SSD 330 contains the same hardware as the SSD 520.
Besides the warranty period and reliability, the SSD 330 is specified to have lower speeds:
Considering the identical design, this can only be explained by firmware differences. Intel develops firmware independently of SandForce and separately for the two series. The lower performance of the SSD 330 seems to be a deliberate solution that reflects the market positioning of that model. On the other hand, specifications of any SandForce-based SSD are a marketing tool in the first place, so we will only be able to see the relative performance of Intel’s SSDs after we benchmark them ourselves.
We can only add that the 240GB Intel SSD 330 is an outdated product already. Its shipments will be over in the next couple of months and it will be replaced by the Intel SSD 335 240GB. Let’s see if that’s a worthy replacement.