Articles: Storage

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Soon after our recent review of four solid state drives from Intel and Corsair called “Hi-Speed Chase: Corsair P128 vs. Three Intel SSDs”, we got as many as six new models. To be specific, it is a second-generation Intel X25-M model based on 34nm chips (the first generation was based on 50nm technology) and five SSDs from OCZ’s Agility, Summit, Vertex, Vertex Mac Edition and Vertex Turbo series. Let’s check them out right now!

Testing Participants

Intel X25-M G1 (50nm), 160GB: SSDSA2MH160G1GC


First goes the first-generation (G1) Intel X25-M which proved some time ago that SSDs had grown from ugly ducklings into swans already. It will serve us as a reference point in this test session.

Intel X25-M G2 (34nm), 160GB: SSDSA2MH160G2GC


The first generation of Intel’s SSDs is leaving already, though. It is being replaced with a second generation that is based on 34nm rather than 50nm flash memory chips. The controller has been revised, too. We should not expect any performance breakthroughs from the transition, though, and the specified speeds have not actually changed: 250MBps for reading and 70MBps for writing. It is storage capacity that is going to grow up. Early X25-M products used to have a capacity of 80GB and then grew to 160GB whereas the second generation begins with a 160GB model, a 320GB version coming out in near future. The exterior of the SSD is interesting, too. The first-generation 80GB drive had a full thickness of 9.5 millimeters while the second-generation SSD and the first-generation 160GB model are somewhat slimmer. There is a removable plastic frame that makes their metallic case as thick as standard.

We do expect some performance benefits, though. Why? First off, the capacity of the controller’s RAM chip is doubled (from 16 to 32MB). And the new generation has got new firmware. Unfortunately, the release of new products was somewhat spoiled by the fact that the firmware of the first batch had a bug that might cause a loss of data. Intel reacted instantly, though. The corrected firmware was quickly made available (it also suits Intel’s first-generation SSDs, by the way). And of course, all new batches of second-generation SSDs that come to retail have the updated firmware. As far as we know, they also come in different packaging. Instead of the modest cardboard box you can see in the photo above, the new packaging resembles a CPU box. Besides a disc, the kit will also include an adapter to install the SSD into a 3.5-inch system case bay.

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