New Intel 80GB SSD is faster than the best HDD

Intel's X25 boasts a 256.7MB/sec. burst speed

 Intel's X25-M Solid State Disk Drive

Intel's X25-M Solid State Disk Drive

Solid state drives (SSDs) are finally coming into their own -- they're faster, more durable, and use less power than traditional mechanical hard drives. However, the strongest indicator that this may be the storage tech of the future is Intel's release of its X18 and X25 solid state drives.

In our tests, the X25, released this week, is faster twice as the next fastest SSD we've tested and beats the fastest hard disk drive in reads and ties it in writes. The 80GB version, which we tested, is priced at US$595 for quantities up to 1,000.

Both the X18-M and X25-M SSD models are aimed at the mainstream market of laptop and netbook computers; they come, respectively in 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch form factors (as their names suggest).

So what's different about these drives? Well, I tested the 80GB X25-M, and I can tell you is that it is one of the fastest drives -- solid state or not -- that I've tested thus far. Intel turbo charges this drive by interleaving NAND flash chips and using 10 parallel channels and optimized firmware.

SSD vs. HDD

Recently, one of the fastest drive I've reviewed was Western Digital's Velociraptor hard drive. Its 10,000rpm spindle speed and 16MB buffer had it returning a 250.2MB/sec burst speed and 105.6MB/sec average read through HDTach. In my file transfer tests, 4,661 files of various types totaling 8.05GB, writing the data to the Velociraptor took a mere 4.4 minutes and reading the data from it and writing it to another drive needed only 4.04 minutes.

To be fair, the Velociraptor is too large for most laptops and netbooks (it's a 2.5-inch drive wrapped in Western Digital's 3.5-inch "Ice Pack" heatsink form factor). The next fastest I looked at (in the same article) was another Western Digital drive, the Scorpio Black, with a burst speed and average read result of 238.8MB/sec and 63.8MB/sec, respectively.

Intel's X25-M has them both beat. The SSD turned in 256.7MB/sec and 230.2MB/sec burst and transfer rates, respectively. Actual file transfers ran just 4.4 minutes and 3.7 minutes to and from the SSD.

How is it's speed in comparison to another SSD? No problem: Ridata's 64GB Ultra-S Plus is almost half as fast as Intel's X25-M when tested under HDTach while its real-world file transfer times are noticeably slower. The X25-M is a fast SSD.

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