Intel 520 SSD Review (Round Two) – RAID Testing at 1.5GB/s With Highpoint 2720SGL RAID Controller

Our release yesterday of our Intel 520 SSD Review (Round One) was probably one of the most anticipated events seen yet in the SSD arena and, if sales can be determined by the extreme numbers of readers who visited the site, Intel will do very well.

In that review we made a promise, this being that we would follow up with the absolute best in RAID testing possible, displaying results only we could pull off.  Welcome to Round Two folks and get ready for the knockout punch!

With the backdrop of the LSI purchase of SandForce becoming a great story line, Intel’s choice to implement the SandForce SF-2281 into their enthusiast product line has created the ideal that the interaction between the two in creating a custom firmware could have dynamic results.  They weren’t wrong as our review of a single Intel 520 blew away the competition in PCMark Vantage Suite Testing.

The Intel 520 simply delivers performance as we have never seen from a SandForce controller, hence the excitement as it is so rare to see such high expectations deliver first hand, and deliver big!  If you could, imagine my excitement when Les (our Editor) called and asked me if I could push three Intel 520’s to the limit in order to validate our expectations even further.

I told him we could do one better.  Not only are we going to be showing you the performance of RAID 0 tests today, but also, get ready for their use, beside others, in our new Enterprise Test Regimen in upcoming days. For now though, this is for all the enthusiasts out there!

The Intel 520SSD is the culmination of almost a year of Intel’s efforts through intensive validation and firmware customization for the LSI SandForce SF-2281 controller. Each SSD contains Intel’s own ‘hand picked’ 25nm synchronous NAND flash memory, each of these three SSDs being 240GB in capacity. With a 6Gb/s interface providing rated speeds of 550 MB/s read and 520Mb/s write with a maximum 80,000 low 4k random write IOPS for a single drive, three drives will be incredible


Timing could not have been better for this report as we were already in the midst of performance testing the HighPoint 2720SGL RAID card with its new firmware and it has shown some amazing results.  Quite frankly, the results are off the charts and today’s testing of three Intel 520’s will be a taste of the Highpoint 2720SGL review to follow.

In the end, a quick disconnect of eight 6Gbps SSDs from the 2720SGL saw the connecting of three Intel 520’s.  Remember now, this is only a preview with the Intels and a thorough review will be published shortly highlighting the Highpoint, Intels and some unexpected other solid state drives.  For now, lets take a quick look at the 2720SGL engine under the hood…