Intel SSD 335 And Intel SSD 330 - The Development Of Inexpensive SSDs (Part 2)

4/22/2013 9:23:55 AM

The 330 series is being drawn from the market, starting at the 240GB model. The new SSD 335 series is only available with the capacity of 240GB, but the 80GB and 180GB models are also going to be present. Other capacities may also appear since the purpose of this new series is to replace the old 330 product series with various cheaper models.

Intel SSD 335 240GB

Intel SSD 335 240GB

It is easy to explain why they are cheaper. Intel does not try to hide it from being known, and they announced in the specifications that the SSD 335 series was excellent with new 20nm MLC flash memory. We’ve been expecting SSDs with such memory for quite a long time as IMFT began to produce it in mass quantity in the middle of 2012. The progressive technology helped reduce the size of a typical 64-gigabit MLC NAND die from 167 to 118 sq. mm, thus reducing the manufacturing cost of one chip. That is why the SSD 335 series is cheaper while delivering the same performance as the 330 series does.

In fact, we can’t expect to gain any performance benefits as the new memory has the same design as the old 25nm ones. One 20nm NAND flash die is 64 gigabits in capacity and the memory pages have the standard size of 8 KB, too. The synchronous interface uses the ONFI 2.3 protocol which is not very different from the previous versions in terms of bandwidth. ONFI 2.3 supports ECC controllers integrated into flash memory chips but Intel’s 20nm flash memory doesn’t offer such functions right now; therefore, the interface may be considered the same as it was before.

The reliability parameter hasn’t changed much, either. Intel’s 20nm MLC NAND flash is rated for 3000 reprogram cycles, so the SSD 335 should live as long as the SSD 330. The new type of flash memory has fewer needs for power, making the whole SSD much more economical. The 240GB Intel SSD 330 used to consume about 0.85W but the Intel SSD 335 only needs 0.35W.

Now, let’s take a look at the drive in reality. It looks completely like the SSD 330 discussed above on the outside. The case is identical except that the sticker with product information on it has been moved from the face to the reverse side.

On the outside, it looks like the SSD 330

On the outside, it looks like the SSD 330

This place for putting the SSD on is going to be replaced for the SSD 335 series with another one that is partially made of plastic to distinguish the 20nm products from others.

A part partially made of plastic to distinguish with others

A part partially made of plastic to distinguish with others

Inside the case, we can see the same unified hardware as in any other consumer-class SSD from Intel. The PCB is not different from the those of the SSD 330 and SSD 520 series. It has an SF-2281 controller and 16 chips of synchronous MLC NAND flash memory, each of which has 16GB in capacity. The chips are labeled 29F16B08CCMF2, in which the second letter F shows the 20nm tech process the two flash memory dies hidden in each chip are made on.

Unified hardware

Unified hardware

The SSD 335 differs from the SSD 330 when it comes to firmware. The new series even has a firmware update that corrects the SMART monitoring data error. However, basic firmware algorithms are the same for both series. The Intel SSD 335 is compatible with the SSD Toolbox utility which helps you manage the SSD and run some service features including TRIM and Secure Erase.

In other words, the Intel SSD 335 is such an improvement on the SSD 330 that doesn’t differ much from the original. However, it will certainly be accepted by end-users thanks to its price. While the Intel SSD 520 comes at $1.02 per a gigabyte of storage, the Intel SSD 330 costs about $0.83 per gigabyte and the SSD 335, only $0.73 per gigabyte.

Intel SSD 335 240GB specs

·         Control: SandForce SF-2281

·         Interface: SATA 6 Gbps

·         Flash memory: MLC flash sync 20 nm

·         Capacity: 240 GB (224GiB)

·         Cache: none

·         Sequential read speed: 500 MB/s

·         Sequential write speed: 450 MB/s

·         Random read speed (4 KB blocks): 42,000 IOPS

·         Random write speed (4 KB blocks): 52000 IOPS

Test configuration

For this SSD test session we collected a unified system on an Intel H67 based mainboard. This chipset provides support for two SATA 6 Gbit/s ports, which we use to connect the tested SSDs.

Two Intel SSDs from the same price range has already inside of themselves a very interesting topic. However, since we previously didn’t have a chance to compare Intel SSD 330 and Intel SSD 335 against the products from the competitors, we also decided to include all major SSD products available in the market these days for a more extensive comparison. The diagrams will include performance parameters for other products based on SandForce controller (Intel SSD 520 and Corsair Force GS) as well as for a variety of products with different hardware platforms. Among them we have: Corsair SSDs on LAMD LM87800 controller (Neutron GTX and Neutron), OCZ Vertex 4 on Indilinx Everest 2 controller, the newest OCZ Vector SSD on Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller, Crucial m4 on Marvell 9174, and Plextor SSDs on Marvell 9174 controller (M5S) and Marvell 9187 controller (M5 Pro). All the drives mentioned above used synchronous flash memory.  In particular, Crucial m4, Corsair Neutron, Intel SSD 520, OCZ Vertex 4, OCZ Vector and Plextor M5S use 25 nm IMFT memory with ONFI-interface. And Corsair Force GS, Corsair Neutron GTX and Plextor M5 Pro use Toggle Mode MLC NAND manufactured using 2x nm or 19 nm technology.

In general, our test was configured as follows:

·         Intel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.1 GHz, EIST and Turbo Boost off);

·         Foxconn H67S (BIOS A41F1P03) mainboard;

·         2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM DIMM 9-9-9-24-1T;

·         Crucial m4 256 GB system disc (CT256M4SSD2);

·         SSDs: Corsair Force Series GS 240 GB (CSSD-F240GBGS-BK, firmware version 5.03); Corsair GTX 240 Neutron GB (CSSD-N240GBGTX-BK, firmware version 2.06); Corsair Neutron 240 GB (CSSD-N240GB3-BK, firmware version 2.06); Crucial m4 256 GB (CT256M4SSD2 firmware version 040H); Intel SSD 330 240 GB (SSDSC2CT240A3K5, firmware version 300i); Intel SSD 335 240 GB (SSDSC2CW240A4K5, firmware version 335t); Intel SSD 520 240 GB (SSDSC2CW240A3K5, firmware version 400i); OCZ Vertex 4256 GB (VTX4-25SAT3-256G, firmware version 1.5); Vector OCZ 256 GB (VTR1-25SAT3-256G, firmware version 1.02); Plextor M5S 256 GB (PX-256M5S, firmware version 1.00); Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB (PX- 256M5P, firmware version 1.01).

·         Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64

·         Drivers: Intel Chipset Driver; Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver; Intel Rapid Storage Technology


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