Is Intel’s 522 Series ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD Next To Be Released?

Lets begin this article by conceding that it is abound with speculation and based upon much more balance of probability than concrete fact.

In fact, the closest we have come to confirmation is that all to familiar echo of silence when we posed the question to in the know SSD industry associates, many of whom could have simply provided a yes or no to our question. Has Intel and Sandforce teamed up to introduce a new Intel SSD?

Intel eventually followed through with the company standard release of, No comment and carried on to acknowledge that they will not comment on unreleased products.

The SSD Review believes that Intel is gearing up for yet another SATA 3 SSD announcement in the near future.  This announcement has Intel and Sandforce joining hands to bring to market the Intel name along with Sandforces already famous SATA 3 SSD processors capable of parallel 500MB/s transfer speeds.

INTRODUCTION

Intel officially released news of the much anticipated 510 series SSD on 28 Feb 11.  This news was immediately overshadowed by word of reviewers having evaluated their pre-release samples only to find the new Marvell 9174 controller inside. This was a totally unexpected move by Intel, a company whose success in sales of the X25 series SSDs remains unequaled. While others were making their way through abundant reviews of the 510 series drive, The SSD Review was digging through the internet to figure out where this may have started.

INTEL AND SANDFORCE JOIN HANDS FOR IDF 2010

In Sep 2010, Legit Reviews attended The Independent Developers Forum (IDF) 2010 and obtained photographs which appear to be almost exclusive when searching the internet.  The photographs, shown on display within the SandForce booth, depict SandForce SF-1200 processor surrounded by Intel 25nm NAND flash memory in a prototype SSD.

Borrowed With Permission of Legit Reviews

In order to better understand the creation of an SSD, we need to realize that one cannot just match up any size and brand of memory with any SSD processor and expect the machine to work.  This is especially true of brand new and unreleased Intel memory being matched with the prototype Sandforce processor that was announced just a short time ago.

There has to be a lot of interaction between both companies and, at very least, we can probably agree that both companies had to collaborate for this picture to be possible.  Have they gone further than that?

THE UNEXPECTED APPEARANCE OF THE INTEL SSD ROAD MAP

Lets step back a bit further.  In the Fall of 2010, several websites also published an article that provided illustrations of an internal Intel road map which described their SSD direction in 2010/2011.  Logically speaking, the document appears to have been created by Intel and one would believe that they had no intent of public viewing of such.

In examining the chart, it is clearly apparent that, if this were to be an official Intel document,  Intels original plans were to release their new SSD with a SATA II interface at a time when others were looking forward to the new world of SATA 3 and blazing parallel 500MB/s transfer speeds.  Does this make any sense at all?

Further examination of the ‘alleged’ Intel road map suggests that the ‘Postville Refresh Intel SSD would contain drive encryption which is most commonly seen with Sandforce processors.  The new SF-2000 series, in fact, has built in 256 bit AES encryption listed within its specs.

Personally, I think Intel took a close look at the road map and wondered what the heck they were doing.  This might also suggest that Intel had no in house design which would explain their shopping elsewhere for a new SATA 3 controller¦or controllers.  Lets face it.  A simple SATA II refresh would have been completely uncharacteristic for a company that strives to advance technology at such a lightning pace.  It would have taken them out of the SSD race completely whereas, teaming up with Marvell and Sandforce may just assure top spot on the roost once again.

BACK TO THE START

As we head back to where we started we are left with the question as to why Intel would consider Sandforce when they have already established a good working relationship with Marvell.  This might then become a valid question to ask Corsair, Patriot, and several other manufacturers that have publicly announced their upcoming SSD line up to include processors from both Marvell and Sandforce.

Would it be a reasonable assumption that Marvell controlled SSDs may make up oem mid-level offerings while Sandforce SF-2000 series would provide for the hard care enthusiast and enterprise interests?

FINAL THOUGHTS

News from Intel that they would soon be including a Sandforce Driven SATA III SSD would certainly be welcome news to many Intel supporters who have been left wondering what to expect from Intel on the SSD front.  Unfortunately, Intel prefers to keep such information close to the heart until just before release and, traditionally, will only release news in the few weeks prior to actual release.

The sheer logic behind it all is just to great of a benefit for Intel to ignore.  This is really the only conceivable method of anyone reducing OCZs stronghold on the SSD industry and its a dent that OCZ would certainly feel.  If I were a betting man, I would be considering the earliest release date once production of SF-2000 series SSDs ramps up and check for the official Intel announcement anytime soon.

As for the 522 series designation, that was just wishful but logical thinking (22 = SF-2200 series). Who knows though right?  We may just see Intel 525 Series come out for enterprise clients.

The SSD Review apologizes but comments for this thread have been closed due to article response.  Please join the discussion at The SSD Review Forum posts located here.  Thank you.

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