Intel have finally shipped their first Sold State Drive with Sandforce controller, pushing the 500-series to SATA III 6Gbps performance figures that should compete with the fastest retail drives on the market. The Intel 520-series of SSD's pairs a Sandforce SF-2281 controller with Intel's high-quality 25nm NAND, in a product which should combine great performance figures with high reliability.
Sandforce, whilst well known for speed due to the on-the-fly data compression/decompression the controller utilises, has had a few hiccups in the past with regards to reliability. It's hoped that Intel's rigorous validation scheme will serve to thrash out many of the niggling issues the controllers have going forward, but in the meantime reports are that Intel are using a modified firmware for the 520-series.
As expected, performance appears to scale heavily with disk size - the larger the disk, the faster the drive operates. High capacity 520 drives trade blows with other SF-2281 drives, as well as fast drives using non-Sandforce controllers such as the Samsung 830.
The Intel 520 also features advanced data protection functionality:
The new Intel SSD 520 Series offers the best security features of any Intel SSD to date and comes preconfigured with Intel® Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel® AES-NI) 256-bit encryption capabilities. In the event of theft or loss of your computer, you have the peace of mind that your personal data is secured by an advanced encryption technology. Additionally, the Intel SSD 520 Series contains “End-to-End Data Protection” ensuring integrity of stored data from the computer to the SSD and back.
Understandably, Intel drives will come at a premium. On pre-order for approx £115, the 60GB drives are priced close to the cost of 120GB drives from other manufacturers; 120GB variants occupy a more reasonable pricing sweetspot, being the only one for <£1.50 per GB. Even-so, there is likely to be no shortage of demand for a Sandforce SF2281 drive backed by Intel's awesome reliability statistics.
Source Anandtech, Intel.com