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Intel 520 series SSD

Intel 520 240GB SSD

Sandforce inside

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Fresh thinking

Somewhat surprisingly Intel actually admits that this 4K random write performance is for a fresh out-of-the-box drive and gives an everyday use figure of 60,000IOPS – other vendors please take note.

Intel 520 series SSD Intel 520 series SSD

AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark results

Making up the drive's capacity are 16 16GB Intel 29F16B08CCHE2, 25nm MLC NAND chips, 8 per side of the PCB with the Sandforce 2281VB1-SDC controller joining the ones on the bottom of the PCB. Yes, 16 x 16GB does equal 256GB but one module is used for firmware and over provisioning. Hence, the 240GB capacity, which, when the drive is formatted, drops even further to 224GB.

Unlike many of its competitors relying on these controllers, Intel has co-defined the firmware with Sandforce allowing for better stability, compatibility and, above all, the ability to tune the performance of the drive.

Intel 520 series SSD

ATTO results

In use, the drive took just 11 seconds to get to the Windows 7 desktop after the motherboard BIOS had finished loading, while duplicating within the drive a 50GB folder of mixed file types and sizes took just 5m 45s. Loading a copy of Office 10 Professional took just 4m 30s from hitting the instal button to completion.

Intel quotes sequential read/write figures for the 520 240GB of 550MB/s and 520MB/s, respectively. This is confirmed by the ATTO benchmark which gave figures of 552MB/s for reads and 519MB/s for writes. All told, this puts the Intel 520 in amongst the fastest drives currently available. For comparison, Samsung’s 256GB 830 SSD produces read/write scores of 546MB/s and 408MB/s respectively.

Intel 520 series SSD

The slimline drive features a spacer for a snug fit in laptops

The performance of the Intel 520 also highlights just how much better the Sandforce controller is than the Marvell one used in the previous 510 series – the 250GB 510 gave read/write figures in ATTO of 403MB/s and 209MB/s.

Intel 520 series SSD

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Next page: Tooling around

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