Intel Touts Tiny 310 SSD's Capabilities at Storage Visions

Intel demonstrated its tiny 310 series solid state drive at the Storage Visions show Jan. 5 in Las Vegas. The 310 unit is capable of performing as well as the Intel X25 SSD drive and is designed for use in tablets, notebooks, and embedded applications.

Intel claims its latest solid state drive is capable of delivering performance on par with its popular X25 drive despite the tiny size, the company said.

Originally announced Dec. 29, Intel showcased the fast, ultra-compact SSD at the Storage Visions show on Jan. 5, which is running in conjunction with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. At the same time, DRS Technologies is showing off its new ARMOR 7 tablet PC equipped with the Intel 310 at CES.

The ARMOR mobile and field unit is designed to work in extreme temperatures and withstand shock, vibration and drops. "The Intel SSD 310 Series fits the bill by offering a reliable and high performing memory solution," said Mike Sarrica, vice-president and general manager of DRS Tactical Systems.

Measuring about two inches long by one inch wide, less than 0.20 inches thick and weighing just 10 grams, the Intel 310 SSD series is specifically designed for dual-drive notebooks, single-drive tablets, and rugged, low-power military or industrial embedded applications, the company said. The fast ultra-compact SSD will help accelerate boot time and access to frequently used applications or files.

Lenovo will also be incorporating the Intel 310 SSD "across the ThinkPad line," said Tom Butler, director of ThinkPad product marketing at Lenovo. Butler said the drives will be found in both single-drive and dual-drive ThinkPads. While Lenovo has ThinkPads on display at CES, it is unclear as to whether any of them are based on the 310 Series.

Under testing conditions on a Lenovo IdeaPad Y560, Intel said the fast ultra-compact SSD improved overall PC system performance by up to 60 percent when paired with a high-capacity 5400 rpm hard disk drive in a dual-drive system.

The small SSD draws very negligible amounts of power during idle, at 75 mW, and 150 mW when active, according to the specifications.

ThinkPads with the 310 Series inside will give customers "faster performance and longer battery life," said Tom Looney, vice-president and general manager of the public sector and enterprise group at Lenovo.

The ultra-small device, measuring a mere eighth of the 2.5-inch Intel X25 SSD but uses the same 10-channel controller architecture to enable high performance, Intel said. Available in 40GB and 80GB storage capacities, the 310 is "the first in a wave of SSD products" expected from Intel throughout 2011, according to Tom Rampone, Intel vice-president and general manager of Intel's NAND solutions group.

The Intel 310 SSD comes with a 34nm Intel NAND flash memory and will be available as a mSATA drive. It supports SATA 1.5 Gbps and 3 Gbps signals over a PCI Express mini-connector for on-board, compact storage, as would be required in single-drive tablets and handheld devices, according to the company. The mSATA drive can also be connected to an existing SATA port on a PC to perform as a boot drive.

According to the product specifications, the 40GB drive is capable of up to 170 MB/s sustained sequential reads and 35 MB/s sustained sequential writes. The 80GB is capable of 200 MB/s and 70 MB/s for read/write operations.

Intel's free Solid-State Drive Toolbox application supports the 310 Series to run and schedule automatic maintenance tasks that optimize the drive's performance.

The drive is already shipping to customers in 1,000-unit quantities. Pricing is set at $99 for the 40GB drive and $179 for 80GB, Intel said.