Deciphering Intel's new X25-M G2 SSD

My laptop hard disk is beginning to die. In what seems like perfect timing, Intel has released a refresh of their X25-M solid state disk (SSD) lineup (via Engadget and Ars Technica). The new models offer much over the old ones:

  • Manufactured on a 35 nm vs 50 nm process
  • Faster seek times, both read and write, leading to more I/O operations per second (IOPS)
  • Significantly less expensive (Cited as a 60% price drop, though that’s comparing at-introduction MSRPs. It’s still at least 25% less.)
  • Greater shock tolerance (1500 G vs 1000 G)
  • Future TRIM command support, via firmware upgrade. The ATA TRIM command mitigates SSD fragmentation problems that have been the cause of many performance issues.

While die shrinks usually lead to parts that consume less power, the new X25-M uses the same amount of power when active (150 mW), and actually more power when idle (75 mW vs 60 mW). Still, it’s significantly less power than most laptop hard disk drives (my Hitachi 7K200 idles at 800 mW). [Source: Intel’s technical specifications]

Of course, with all these changes, Intel decided to name the drives the same as the old ones, making it difficult for people who want to buy one right now to know what device they’re actually getting.

This kind of inane marketing isn’t new, with the most infamous example on my mind being the Linksys WRT54G. Linksys (so far) as made 6 different revisions of the exact same model, drastically changing the internal hardware throughout the revisions. While most people don’t care, a few did, such as those in the modder community (like myself) who wanted to run modified firmwares. Purchasing anything took a lot of research on the part of the buyer. Manufacturers really should be in the business of making their products easier to buy, not more difficult.

Fortunately, I’ve done the research for you: the new Intel SSDs do have slightly different part numbers, so you can tell the old parts from the new. For example, the old X25-M 80 GB disk has a part number of SSDSA2MH080G1C1, while the newer model has a part number of SSDSA2MH080G201. That is, the part numbers contain either a “G1” or a “G2” corresponding to the revision.

With the glowing positive reviews for the X25-M since it’s introduction a few months ago, its new lower price, and most importantly, the failure of my current laptop disk, I’m going to pick up one of these drives within a week.

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