The X25-M was a tremendous first attempt by Intel to get into the SSD market. In our review of the SSD I wrote that Intel just Conroe’d the SSD market, and if it weren’t for the pesky 80MB/s sequential write speed limitation the X25-M would’ve been given the title: World’s Fastest Drive.

Its successor, the X25-M G2, was a mild update that brought prices down through the use of 34nm NAND. Remember that Intel is also 49% owner of the IMFT joint venture and as a result can be quite competitive on NAND pricing (and quite early to adopt new NAND technologies).

Intel’s goal all along was to drive down the cost of SSDs. Looking at the history of MSRPs with the X25-M (not to mention the M, which stood for Mainstream in the product name) this shouldn’t come as a surprise:

Intel X25-M Pricing History
  2008 2009
40GB - $125
80GB $595 $225
160GB $1000+ $440

The third generation X25-M was to drive down costs even further, this time thanks to Intel’s 25nm NAND. You’d be able to get twice the capacity at the same price point as the X25-M G2. The value drive would be an 80GB offering, the mainstream drive would be 160GB and the high end drive would be 320GB.

The drive would offer higher performance. The controller was to be completely redesigned, with the “oversight” that limited sequential write speed to only 100MB/s corrected entirely. In addition, the third generation Intel SSD would add full disk encryption - making it even better suited for enterprise customers. Going after the enterprise market was Intel’s plan to really make money on SSDs in the long run. Instead of just selling corporations a CPU, chipset and wireless controller in a notebook, there would be an SSD on top of all of that. Perhaps eventually even have some security software courtesy of McAfee.

The third generation X25-M was originally due out in the middle of 2010. As is usually the case with schedules, the “G3” slipped. The middle of the year became the end of the year and the end of the year became Q1 2011.

To make matters worse, the specifications Intel was talking about for its third generation drive/controller weren’t all that competitive. We published the details last year knowing that the competition would do better. Intel’s redesigned controller was late and underperforming. Internally, Intel knew it had a problem.

Intel aimed for the majority of the market with the X25-M, it had set its sights on lowering cost, but it left the high performance enthusiast market entirely uncared for. A void that SandForce filled quite nicely with its unique brand of controllers.

With a hole in the roadmap and an unwillingness to cede complete control of the high end market to SandForce, Intel did the unthinkable: developed a new SSD based on a competing controller technology.

Intel’s SSD 510 Powered by Marvell
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  • someguy11 - Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - link

    Hey Anand
    I've been reading your SSD bibles for years, searching and keeping abreast of the latest SSD news so I'd know the best before taking the plunge.

    Well, I took the plunge after reading some reviews of the Samsung SSDs elsewhere. The price of a 60GB ($90) was too hard to pass up. In short I'm happy. Very happy.

    Why dont any Samsungs appear in these exhaustive SSD lists? Do you have plans to do so?
    Reply
  • sequoia464 - Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - link

    I have to agree with some of the earlier comments on the size of the drives tested. Hopefully you can promptly add the Vertex 3 and this new Intel in the 120 GB flavors to your SSD BENCH when they are available. The larger capacity drives are just unafordable for quite a few of us, at least to me anyway.

    Too bad the manufacturers don't send you the smaller capacity drives as well initially, although I understand why they don't. All of the Vertex3 results that I have seen so far are on the 240 GB drive also.

    As comprehensive as the SSD bench currently is I'm sure that the 120 Gb versions will eventually be in there.

    Thanks for the review.
    Reply
  • Rasta_Cook - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    It would be really nice if the corsair performance 3 could be benched and compared to intel 510, both use the same controller, however the corsair p3 has barely any reviews online even though it has been available for a while now. Reply
  • yekn - Sunday, March 6, 2011 - link

    actually Corsair P3 has the same level high sequential number and poor random number, which lead me to believe P3 and 510 are using the same firmware with different Nand.
    looks like Intel not only uses 3rd party controller but also 3rd party firmware.
    Reply
  • Ryomitomo - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    I would also like to find out how this SSD perform against the rest. This drive had been on the market for a while now. Thank you! Reply
  • RealGsus - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Hi guys,

    I really hope you can help me out. I'm putting together a new system and am looking for a new SSD. I've been awaiting the arrival of the new intel drive, but I'm a little disappointed with its performance.

    So I'm wondering which would be the best choice for a pretty much gaming-system.

    Crucial C300 128GB
    Intel G2 120GB
    Intel 510 120GB

    Guess it's narrowed down to these three, since the Vertex three is month away and also the C400 shouldn't be coming within the next weeks?

    Thanks in advance for any opinions on this :)

    Kind regards,
    Gsus
    Reply
  • princekermit - Friday, March 4, 2011 - link

    I have the C300 128 and I am very pleased with it. Reply
  • RealGsus - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Hi guys,

    I really hope you can help me out. I'm putting together a new system and am looking for a new SSD. I've been awaiting the arrival of the new intel drive, but I'm a little disappointed with its performance.

    So I'm wondering which would be the best choice for a pretty much gaming-system.

    Crucial C300 128GB
    Intel G2 120GB
    Intel 510 120GB

    Guess it's narrowed down to these three, since the Vertex three is month away and also the C400 shouldn't be coming within the next weeks?

    Thanks in advance for any opinions on this :)

    Kind regards,
    Gsus
    Reply
  • Sampleboy - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Any chance we could get the benchmarks for the OCZ RevoDrive X2 thrown into the mix for comparison? It's about the same price point now as the Intel 510 so I'm debating between the two. Reply
  • hyperasus - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    I do not understand why Anand didn't include the latest Corsair drives in this review. Has Corsair done something to offend AnandTech? Reply

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