An overclocked SSD? Simon Crisp investigates.
Intel’s brand new SSD 730 family is important for Intel, as these are the first drives in years aimed at the consumer market using its own silicon for the controller. Well, we say ‘family’ , but currently there are only two capacities available: 240GB (with 550/270MB/s read/writes) and this 480GB option.
You have to go back all the way to the SSD 320 (launched in 2011) for the last Intel-based memory controller, and that was rated at just 3Gbps. The SSD 730 series, however, features Intel’s first home-grown 6Gbps controller.
Instead of the usual 16 identical 20nm NAND chips you might find in any other drive, the SSD 730 looks like someone has walked along the NAND bins and just picked chips that took their fancy. You get 14 32GB chips, one 64GB chip and one 16GB chip, giving a total capacity of 528GB. So how come it’s sold as a 480GB drive? Well, all that extra capacity is used for maintaining the drive through wear-levelling, bad block replacement. That’s the Enterprise legacy, and it should bode well for the drive’s longevity.
At last year’s San Francisco IDF, Intel started talking about overclocked SSDs.
It must be said that most people thought Intel had finally lost the plot and laughed off the idea. However, with the SSD 730, Intel has overclocked the controller from 400MHz in the drive to a heady 600MHz. The NAND bus has also had a boost, but it’s a much milder 18MHz tweak to now run at 100MHz.
Intel must have confidence in all of this trickery, as it offers a five-year warranty.
The results weren’t quite as good as expected. Intel quotes read/write figures for the SSD 730 of 550MB/s and 470MB/s respectively – speeds we couldn’t quite reach with the ATTO benchmark, which gave us 529MB/s and 454MB/s, still very impressive.