Intel has entered the high-capacity big leagues with a new series of solid-state drives that offer up to 600 gigabytes in capacity.
The world's largest chipmaker is tapping into its most cutting-edge manufacturing technology to get the larger capacities--with chip geometries shrinking to a mere 25 nanometers. Those geometries are a step ahead of its newest Core i series processors, which are built on a slightly "fatter" 32-nanometer manufacturing process.
Intel's third-generation SSD 320 Series comes in 40, 80, 120, 160, 300, and 600GB options.
And, of course, they're faster. The new SSDs deliver up to 39,500 input/output operations per second (IOPS) random reads and 23,000 IOPS random writes on its highest-capacity drives. Maximum sequential write speeds have doubled from its second-generation SSDs to 220 megabytes-per-second (MB/s) sequential writes. Read throughputs have been boosted to 270 MB/s sequential reads. These numbers are comparable to--and in some cases exceed--published numbers from Samsung, a leading SSD manufacturer and supplier.
"This greatly improves a user's multitasking capabilities. For example, a user can easily play background music or download a video, while working on a document with no perceivable slow down," Intel said in a statement. 320 series SSDs also add enhanced data security features, power-loss management and innovative data redundancy features.
Solid-state drives have found a sizable niche in the laptop market. SSDs are standard on all of the new svelte MacBook Air laptops from Apple and hot new ultraportables like the Samsung 9 Series, among other popular laptops from Dell, Sony, and Toshiba. Generally, SSDs are faster at reading data than hard disk drives.
On IOPS benchmarks, for example, SSDs far surpass hard disk drives. The speed superiority to standard disk drives is great enough that companies such as Seagate are now offering hybrid drives with SSD technology to boost read speeds and boot-up times.
As always, the higher performance of SSDs will cost you. Though a 160GB drive is offered for a relatively reasonable $289 (in 1,000-unit quantities), this jumps to $1,069 for the 600GB drive. That's more than 10 times the price of standard retail hard disk drives with capacities in the range of 700GB.
Intel SSDs are available at retailers such as Best Buy and Fry's Electronics.
(See 320 Series detailed technical specifications for varying speeds and SSD form factors.)