Intel has refreshed its solid-state drive offerings based on the chipmaker's advanced 25-nanometer semiconductor technology. The goal is to lower the cost of employing SSD technology by up to 30 percent in comparison with the 80GB and 160GB models of the company's existing X25-M SATA SSD product line, Intel said Monday.
The new Intel SSD 320 Series devices are aimed at mainstream consumers and corporate IT buyers who want a substantial performance boost over the conventional hard disk drives deployed in most desktop and notebook PCs as well as corporate servers in data centers. Available in 40GB, 80GB, 120GB, 160GB and new higher-capacity 300GB and 600GB versions, the new 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch multilevel-cell NAND flash devices also integrate 3Gb/s SATA II interfaces.
"We see the Intel SSD 320 as a solid advancement to our SSD road map, and will continue to upgrade and refresh our SSD product line as we add more options for our business customers throughout the year," said Tom Rampone, vice president and general manager at Intel NVM Solutions Group.
PC users upgrading to a new Intel SSD can expect a performance boost of up to 66 percent in overall system responsiveness, according to Intel. This is because SSD technology is able to speed up critical PC processes, such as bootup times as well as the opening of applications and large user files.
What's more, the new drives have been designed to store the user's ongoing data processes in temporary buffers for a very short period of time. In the event of an unexpected power outage, small capacitors aboard the device can deliver enough power to enable the SSD to make a recoverable copy of the buffer content.
Users deploying Intel's new SSD 320 Series should also benefit from enhanced multitasking capabilities. The chipmaker has more than doubled sequential write speeds to 220 MB/s, more than sufficient for users working on a document to also download a video or play background music without any perceivable slowdown.
Available for free download, Intel's SSD Toolbox utility eases the complexity of replacing any existing HDD on a desktop or laptop PC. Among other things, the software gives users the ability to clone the entire content of any existing storage drive to any Intel SSD. Also on tap is a powerful set of management, information and diagnostic tools for optimizing the performance and health of the new drive.
To help protect personal data in the event of theft or loss, Intel SSD 320 Series models offer 128-bit AES encryption. And as a second layer of protection, the new drives require the user to enter a password each time the devices are powered on. "Protecting user data today has never been move critical -- it's about protecting the things you store on your computer's drive," said Intel Technical Marketing Engineer Charles Foster.
According to Intel, the new drives are equipped with a unique AES encryption key, which means the device is ready to roll out of the box. However, security-conscious users also can generate their own unique AES encryption key by using Intel's SSD Toolbox utility to perform a secure erase of the device.
Intel SSD 320 Series devices are slated to become available from retailers such as Best Buy, Fry's Electronics, Amazon.com and Newegg. Amazon's retail prices range from about $127 for the 40GB model and $192 for the 80GB device to $1,041 for Intel's top-of-the-line 600GB drive.