Review: Intel 335 240GB SSD
New NAND tech tweak treat
Intel’s 520 and 330 range of 2.5in consumer SSDs are the product of its relationship with LSI SandForce. It's practically unheard of for Intel not to have a controller of its own but its reliance on SandForce has left it in the same boat as every other drive manufacturer using these controllers. Namely, they are all eagerly awaiting the next generation SF3xxx controller due sometime next year. For now, all these companies can do is tinker about with the firmware – if it’s custom written – or bring out drives using different NAND chips or chop prices as much as possible in relation to the latest drives.
Intel's 335 SSD features new 20nm NAND but is only available in a 240GB capacity at present
In the meantime, old sparring partner Marvell has released its next generation controller that powers the Plextor M5 Pro series and Samsung has just released its next controller featured on the SSD840 Pro and 840. Still, Intel doesn't need to jump ship, play the waiting game or devise its own controller to improve its position in this highly competitive marketplace.
As a producer of NAND chips, Intel has a distinct advantage over the other Sandforce users as it can introduce new components into its storage line quicker than most of its rivals. The 335 drive (code name Jaycrest), is a case in point and is the latest model to join the company's burgeoning line of SSDs. I say 'drive' as, currently, the 335 family consists of a sole 240GB device.
The dies have it
What separates the 335 from the 330 and the 520 SSD is that it uses Intel’s latest 20nm synchronous NAND technology rather than the 25nm NAND used previously. IMFT, Intel’s and Micron’s joint venture announced this 20nm NAND back in early 2011 and finally production yields and volumes are at a stage when the NAND can be built into a retail drive.
At the time of writing it seems Intel is content with just a single capacity 335 drive but future increases in yields may yet see other capacities emerge. The new NAND is an 8GB per 118mm² die part with an 8KB page size. This is the same as the 25nm design but supporting the ONFI 2.3 specification, which has a bandwidth limit of 200MB/s.
The dies may have shrunk but the 335 utilises a 9.5mm enclosure
What the new NAND does use, however, is a planar cell structure with Hi-K/metal gate technology which will allow for easier die shrinking than the standard architecture of previous generations of NAND. Another advantage of this technology is that it allows the die to be shrunk without increasing the interference and the associated downgrading of the endurance of the write/erase cycle. Intel claims that the endurance should be similar to the previous generation 25nm parts.
Next page: Performance tests
Don't trust CrystalDiskMark
It's using comic sans font.
Power fail behaviour?
One thing a lot of reviews miss out, and given the increasing ubiquity of the drives is somewhat worrying, is whether the drive contains a supercap or small battery or something so that it can drain the RAM cache to flash when the power fails. Else any writes that were in flight at the time may be lost, which could do a nasty job of scrambling your filesystem (depending on the FS, of course)
Re: no rating?
To be honest ratings are pretty useless.
I'd rather just have an honest user experience review and that's it.
Re: 7% overprovisioning and a data protection nightmare
No different to bad / reallocated sectors that spinning media now transparently re-allocate on-the-fly when there's a problem and barely bother to tell you about it via SMART reporting (it's a minor statistic published nowadays, doesn't even warrant a more detail SMART warning/error report).
There is no way to ensure that the data on a drive isn't still present (and, no, nobody has ever recovered "historical" data from a magnetic drive even with the most expensive hardware in the world - go research it - but that doesn't mean that you overwrote everything, as you worry about with SSD). It doesn't matter the technology.
Don't give away drives that had your personal data on if you're worried about this. Do what every sensible person in the world does - just destroy the drive. No problems, no issues, no time wasted waiting for a disk to write several times over its entire capacity (if it can even do that any more), and no worry about "what you might have forgot" in terms of reallocated sectors, low level formatting, on-board Flash cache, etc.
Burn the damn thing down to ash. Problem solved. No matter what the technology.
Nice to see some actual hardware reviews again on the Hardware site. However, why the continuing trend for dropping The rating on the product. Its the go-to figure to see if you approve or not.
Is this for editorial reasons, or just to keep the manufacturers sweet? Or just to encourage us to click the amazon link even on crapware?