With an industry first, Intel has refreshed some of their SSD models with new variants built on a much smaller method of production. The new manufacturing process, based around a 34nm die instead of the older drives’ 50nm, have allowed Intel to lower prices and, hopefully, increase capacity.
The new drives maintain the original Intel X25-M branding and name schema, but offer substantially reduced pricing. Intel’s first X25-M was introduced a year ago at $945 for the 160GB version and $595 for the 80GB version, with the new drives coming in at $440 for the 160GB version and $225 for the 80GB version, a savings of 53 and 62 percent respectively.
In addition to the new lower prices, Intel is claiming that the drives are faster than ever before, with a 25% reduction in latency. Users are likely not going to notice that decrease; they will, however, notice the apparent twofold increase in random write performance. Many SSDs are still faster than HDDs in sustained sequential read and write performance, but the real performance gains come from the shockingly quick random speeds.
Intel says that while the new drives don’t currently offer support for the TRIM command coming in Windows 7 (which helps to stave off prolonged decreases in SSD write performance), it will be enabled in a firmware update along with a tool to let users optimize their SSDs in Windows XP and Vista.