intel® SSD 710 Series Review
710 Series drives come in 300GB, 200GB and 100GB capacity for Ultrabooks and MacBook Pro.
Upon Intel's entry to the SSD market, it aimed to bring more awareness to this technology. The company was really serious about this goal that it even called the brand X25-M, with M for mainstream. The company didn't want SSD to be introduced as a part of mainstream technology for its own selfish interest. They just wanted to help improve CPU performance with the help of this additional storage. Even without changing anything with the IO, the modifications in CPU would be less and less significant. To address this matter, Intel was hoping on using SSD.
Intel sort of reached their ultimate goal in bringing SSD technology mainstream. The market was already troubled before Intel introduced their product. Even if the SSD market does not have the perfect solution to storage problems just as yet, at least there are more competitions and more options for the buyers these days. This is what's more important because the users can choose more affordable SSDs. Aside from Intel, there are Marvell, Samsung, Indilinx, SanDisk and JMicron. All these companies are trying to be the leading supplier of SSD.
The market is currently enjoying good competition, which also led to more reliable SSD products with visibly improved performance. However, Intel is slowly taking away its focus on this particular market and this is expected to unfold in the years to come. The company has not forgotten about its shareholders, who are naturally demanding for higher profits. They cannot reach the shareholders' expectations if they keep focusing on the SSD market that seemed to be getting phased out of the industry. The most important thing is to earn dollars per GB once Intel can prove to the market its product's reliability and performance.
However, Intel does not plan to take itself out of the SSD market. The company still planned to produce high-end SSD products though its mainstream sign may no longer appear on the product name. This is because they plan to focus more on the enterprise aspect of the business. They wanted introduce their SSD product to high-end workstation and desktop users. For instance, Cherryville's targets are the enthusiasts and desktop users. Despite the goal that they have declared, I cannot see Intel actively pushing for mainstream SSD. This is because the market is currently being controlled by the other brands.
Now, Intel has declared its change in goals by introducing SSD 710, which is released after X25-E. This is not like the other SSDs that are introduced with the promise of better performance. Instead, it is designed by Intel with larger memory capacities, something much larger than that of X25-E, but with the same performance and endurance levels. SSD 710 is the cheaper version of X25-E because of its larger capacity.
You might not be immediately taken by this offer though. When Intel released X25-E in 2008 and made it available to the market in 2009, it has not undergone any modifications. This is why it is understandable why many buyers might not feel like anticipating what SSD 710 has brought to the market given the fact that it is similar to a three-year old technology in X25-E. If you want an SSD with a stronger performance, you are likely not one of the target buyers of SSD 710.
Intel designed SSD 710 almost like how it created SSD 320. Both SSDs share the same controller though 710 has newer firmware, which is also designed with enterprise users in mind. Its firmware is created for the typical workloads of enterprise users.
By using the same controller as the 320, you can expect the same benefits from 710. It does not have a 6Gbps support though it has a full disk encryption with the use of an ATA password. It also has capacitors that connect all stored data to NAND in case there is power failure. SSD 710 also has data redundancy and extra NAND arrays. Even if the NAND experiences failure problems, your data will be kept secured.
Even if it was mentioned earlier that SSD 710 is cheaper than X25-E, it is not actually cheaper by a lot. Remember that it is an enterprise SSD product so it is still expensive compared to an SSD for other buyers.
SSD 710 costs $6.50 per GB, which is cheaper than X25-E that costs $11 per GB. X25-E even cost $15 per GB when it first came out. If you think about it, all these SSD prices are high enough for consumers. Obviously, SSD 710 is targeted for enterprise consumers.
The capacity of 710 is also higher than other SSD products. SSD X25-E only has 64 GB but 710 has 300GB as its maximum memory capacity.
If you consider 710's reliability, just think about how reliable X25-E is. If you are fine with the latter's performance, you should be fine with 710's too. However, X25-E can use 50nm SLC NAND that gives it an endurance rating of 100,000 program/erase cycles per cell. SSD 710, on the other hand, still need to reach this endurance with 25nm MLC NAND. This endurance performance though is way better than that of a consumer SSD that has 3000 to 5000 program/erase cycles per cell.