This morning, Intel is releasing their new 330 series SATA III SSDs with a healthy mix of performance and value. A new addition to the mainstream 300 series, the 330 is a budget oriented offering which shouldn’t lack for performance.
The 330 series is available in 60GB, 120GB, and 180GB capacities and suggested retail pricing is $89, $149, and $249, respectively, the 330 carrying three years of warranty coverage.
Based around LSI SandForce processor, the 330 is a value version of the Intel 520 “Cherryville” SATA 3 SSD. Intel lists maximum sequential performance of 500MB/s read and 450MB/s writes with IOPS rated at up to 22,500 for random 4K reads and 33,000 4K random writes.
Whereas the previous Intel offerings with 25nm MLC flash have held 5 year warranties, the 330’s lesser warranty is likely a budget oriented move. It’s memory is not the 5,000 program/erase (PE) cycle flash to which we’ve grown accustomed in Intel’s newer products, but rather 3,000 PE rated flash similar to the kind used in other drives utilizing NAND from Intel/Micron’s joint fabrication facilities. Whether the flash in question is synchronous or the slower asynchronous isn’t clear, but it should beat the SATA II 320 series in terms of performance either way.
Intel’s first SandForce powered drive, the 520, dropped SandForce’s RAISE technology, which can help the drive recover should one of the NAND devices fail, and the usual space devoted to that technology was replaced with additional over-provisioning. According to Intel, the 180GB 330 does use some redundancy, though the 60GB and 120GB do not. This could be to preserve the amount of user-available capacity, as most 25nm flash equipped SandForce drives do not use RAISE at the the 60GB capacity.
The 330 should be available at the time of this report. It is not replacing the SATA II 320 series, but instead, will be offered along side for some time. Intel has never created a “value” line of drives, as previous value oriented offerings were typically lower capacity versions of larger drives, such as the X25-V (for Value). This marks a new step for Intel, as competing on lowest cost per GB has never been a prime motivator.