Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

 

Introduction

Today we take a look at Intel's newest 6Gb/sec SATA SSD - the 520 Series. This is the second non-Intel controller to appear in one of their products. The first was the Marvell controller, which appeared in the 510 Series last March. This time around, Intel has gone with SandForce. This should leave at least one SATA 6Gb/sec model to be released. Taylorsville is the code name for the next SATA 6Gb/sec native-Intel controller, which has been on their roadmap since mid-2010 but has yet to actually materialize. While Taylorsville development continues, Intel has stop-gapped the 6Gb/sec slot with the 510 and now the 520 Series. Intel seemingly worked wonders with the stock Marvell firmware, and while the Marvell controller was much improved over stock, it still lagged far behind other higher performing SATA 6Gb/sec solutions. The SandForce was one of the much more capable controllers eating the 510's lunch, but how much further could Intel improve upon the SandForce firmware?

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I guess a good question to answer up front is - What took them so long?!?! The answer is a bit complicated. Intel has actually been working on getting the 520 out the door for over a year now. They had to start with the same base SandForce firmware but accomplish two things for their version to be successful:

  • Optimize to perform better than other equivalent SandForce models (from competitors).
  • Pass Intel's stringent validation testing.

They didn't say so directly, but I can only imagine Intel's process was plagued by multiple 'back to the drawing board' moments. Trying to one-up competition like OCZ can't be easy as they've been tweaking SandForce firmware since the very beginning. There's also those nasty bugs that would cause random BSOD's or even permanently brick the drive. Such failures have no place in an Intel SSD. Intel's upper limit for each SSD line is a 0.75% annual failure rate, and we've seen SandForce SSD's failing at a higher rate than that this past year.

With each tweak made, Intel would have to once again pass their drives through another round of full validation testing. This is no small task for Intel. As an example: It took Intel just a couple of weeks to recreate and correct the long-term performance issue I discovered back in 2009, but despite mountingpressure, they could not release the updated firmware until it had successfully passed their validation a full three months later. Intel takes this testing very seriously, and that's what leads people to trust their reliability.

Read on for the full review!

 

Intel's Z68 SSD caching revealed

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2011 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: leak, ssd, Intel, 720, 710, 520, z68, larson creek

ASRock made a bit of a mistake which enthusiasts everywhere are grateful for. We have been given a sneak peek at the upcoming SSD families, the 720, 710 and 520 series.  As if that wasn't good enough for those keeping an eye on the development of SSDs, we also get a peek at what even a small SSD can do for a system built on a Z68 board and using a traditional platter based HDD.  Check out The Inquirer for more information on this very interesting leak.

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"Chipzilla recently updated its popular range of SSDs with the 320 Series of drives based on 25nm NAND flash memory modules, but it looks like the chipmaker will release another, smaller capacity drive to interface with the Z68 chipset for its Sandy Bridge line of processors. At the launch of the 320 Series, Intel announced capacities ranging from 40GB to 600GB, however a new 20GB drive codenamed Larsen Creek was spotted when Asrock sent out some marketing material about Intel's upcoming Z68 chipset."

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Source: The Inquirer