Intel ‘Postville’ SSDs tip up

Faster and better, not cheaper

THE NEW INTEL M-Series SSDs are already on sale a day or three early. The new versions, code named ‘Postville’ may look the same on the outside, but are much faster than their predecessors.

Thanks to a reader, we’ll just call him François, we have the following link to Materiel.net showing the two new ‘Postville’ drives. The exterior dimensions remain the same, but Moore’s law shows how semiconductor shrinks are going to drive capacity and speed in SSDs like they did with CPUs and RAM.

Two postville drives

The new dynamic duo

The older MLC flash M-Series drives were rated at 210/70MBps for read/write. The faster E-Series used SLC flash to drive the read/write speeds up to 250/170, but you pay for it in capacity and price. The largest E was 64G, the smallest M was 80G, but the 64G E was almost double the price of the largest 160G M.

The new Postville drives are both rated at 250MBps write speed, but the 80G is upped to 90MBps write, the 160G hits 100. From our testing, Intel tends to be a bit conservative with these numbers, you are likely to get better speeds than they promise in the real world.

Postville parts have a 10€ price increase on Materiel.net, but we can’t say for sure how much of that is due to the ‘newness’ factor, and how much is due to higher bin parts. It is likely that the newer 34nm NAND flash Intel has been promising for a while now is the driver for the new parts. Some pretty fundamental limits on flash cycle times mean the performance gains will be more incremental while cost drops are more in line with the shrink.

I would expect the new flash to allow Intel to drop prices substantially, the fact that they have not means that they are either waiting to clear out non-Postville inventory, or they don’t want to destroy the nascent SSD industry.

In any case, faster is always good, and a small price premium, likely to vanish in short order, is well worth the 10-20% higher speed. It will be interesting to see what happens when the 34nm SLC flash chips hit the market, a 128G E-Series with 300MBps reads and 200MBps writes seems like the ultimate performance notebook part.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate