Review: Another name for Intel's X25 SSD
Kingston is a company founded in 1987 and has since become famous for manufacturing and distribution of various kinds of memory, such as RAM chips, USB drives, memory cards, etc. These guys are quite good at what they do and their various distribution channels around the world have opened up a world of opportunities for the SSD market.
Since the beginning of 2009, Kinston’s offers SSDNOW E series of enterprise server SSDs as well as SSDNOW M series for enthusiasts who like their laptops and desktops to have that extra edge. These disks are characterized by high read and write speeds, and it’s no wonder since these are actually the old rebranded Intel X25 SSD disks.
Today we’ll see what one of the world’s fastest SATA II SSDs, the Kingston SNE125-S2/32GB has to offer.
If you haven’t experienced SSD (solid state drive) technology yet, it’s about time you have as its closer to end users’ homes than ever, and its roots are deep in the beginning of computer revolution. If you’re not keen on listening to a history lesson, you might want to skip the following passage.
The first ferrite memory SSD devices have appeared in the time of vacuum tube computers, and they were called auxiliary memory units. In 1978, StorageTek made the first modern type of SSD devices, but the high prices made it impossible to appeal to broader audiences. Not until 1995 did these drives start gaining popularity, when M-Systems announced its first Flash-memory based SSDs. These devices were soon used for military and aviation purposes, as well as mission-critical apps. However, the price has again been keeping this technology away from mass popularity, but the last couple of years have brought significant improvements on that field. Although they’re still expensive compared to traditional HDD prices, their speed and durability are worth the additional investment. As far as mass storage device, SSDs won’t take HDDs down anytime soon, as they’re well ahead in terms of capacity, but SSDs have proven to be great as primary disks, the ones that run your OS of choice.
Solid state basically means there are no movable components within this piece of equipment, and thus they’re shock resistant as well as quiet. Information is stored in flash memory chips, enabling these devices faster transfer speeds and lower consumption.
Kingston’s E series of SSDs uses Intel’s solid state drives X25-E, which are the fastest on the market. They contain SLC (Single Level Cell) flash chips which are faster and pricier than Multi Level Cell (MLC) chips, although the latter are used more often due to their low price. Kingston’s SSDNOW E series comes with high IOPS (input and output operations per second) performance, so Kingston's intended usage of these is in server environments.
SLC’s MTBF is about 2 million hours, whereas SSD devices with MLC memory have an MTBF of 1.2 million hours. This is one of the factors that make SSDNOW E series perfect for servers, and the M series for desktops. On the other hand, MLC devices are a godsend for mobile computers, as they consume less and offer higher capacity (0.15W TYP in active state, whereas SLC requires 2.4W TYP).
Considering the €390 price for 21GB and €750 for a 64GB E series drive, it’s not hard to see why desktop users are more likely to opt on a €350 80GB MLC M series device.
The performance difference between the two SSDNOW Kingston series is that the E series writes up to 170MB/s, and the M series offers write speeds of up to 70MB/s. In theory, both disks should be capable of 250MB/s read speeds.
SSDNOW uses standard SATA 2.5’’ HDD interface, meaning it has a standard SATA II and power port.
The finishing touches on this device are excellent – no rough edges, and the device feels sturdy. Good thing about SSDs is that you can move them around and position them as you please even while they’re running, and it will introduce no hiccups whatsoever.
The memory controller is Intel’s System On a Chip, a square chip on the picture above. Next to it is the smaller, Samsung’s memory chip that serves as a buffer. Kingston used Samsung SLC NAND flash memory, 10 banks per each side of the board.
Kingston’s E series includes two versions which are different only in terms of capacity – 32 and 64GB. We tested the 32GB version and its specs are as follows:
-Speed: 250MB/sec. Read, 170MB/sec. Write
-Optimized: server environments
-Interface: SATA 1.5Gb/sec. i 3.0Gb/sec.
- Storage temperatures: -55° C to 95° C
-Operation temperature: 0° C to 70° C
-Form factor: 2.5" (Dimenzije: 69.85mm x 100mm x 7mm)
-Weight: 80 grams (+/- 2 grams)
-IOPS (Input and Output Operations Per Second): Random 4K
read: 35K Random 4K write: 3.3K
-Operational vibration: 2.17 G (7–800Hz)
-Idle vibration: 3.13 G (10–500Hz)
-Operating shock: 1,000 G/0.5 msec in both active and idle mode
-Lifespan: 2 MTBF (million work-hours before potential errors)
-Power: Active: 2.4 W TYP, Sleep: 0.06 W TYP
Kingston’s SSDNOW comes in a simple and 100% recyclable cardboard box.
The SSD device itself is wrapped in antistatic bag and carefully placed in the protective foam. In the box you’ll also find a short user’s manual. All the SSDNOW drives come with a 3 year warranty, 24/7 technical support as well as KingstonCare package of tools and services which will decrease your server outage time in case you experience trouble with your SSDNOW device.
Motherboard: MSI P45D3 Platinum ( Provided by: MSI );
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme edition at 3.6GHz ( Provided by: Intel );
Memory: Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 ( Provided by: Corsair);
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM ( Provided by: SmoothCreation );
Vista 32 SP1
Vista 64 SP1
We tested Kingston’s E series SSD drive with a couple of popular storage-media testing tools, but we often experienced varying results, so we’ll show you the values we’ve got the most times.
The following tests were done by connecting Kingston and Intel SSD device to Vista 32 SP1 system installed on WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM Hard Disk Drive. MSI’s P45D3 motherboard features Intel’s ICH10R chipset controller, and note that it too can sometimes affect results. However, our tests were done on the same motherboard, so they’re easily comparable.
HDTune reports the following results:
We see that Kingston’s E series with SLC memory reads a bit faster than Intel’s X25-M series with MLC memory, as you can see from the results below. This is not unexpected, as we’ve mentioned earlier that the difference between Kingston’s E and M series is in write speeds and not read speeds. Maximum read peak on Kingston SSDNOW E 32GB was 226MB/s, which is a bit lower than the listed maximum of 250GB/s.
Just to put things in perspective, we compared it to WD’s 320GB hard disk and OCZ’s 120GB APEX drive we’ve tested not long ago:
As you can see, Kingston’s E series SSDNOW offers four times the read speeds of a standard HD, and we noticed that it beats OCZ’s drive in minimum read speeds, which of course significantly benefits the results.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark also reports impressive scores, as the SSDNOW reaches maximum read and write speeds of 170MB/s and 250MB/s respectively.
Intel’s disk, whose results are below, in many tests didn’t manage to exceed 200MB/s read speeds, unlike Kingston’s E 32GB disk which simply excels. While Intel’s X25-M couldn’t reach its maximum write speeds, Kingston exceeds its 170MB/s limit. Still, note that these are only synthetic tests.
OCZ 120GB Apex drive achieves its maximum read speed of 221 MB/s, whereas the maximum read and write speeds of standard hard drive was about 53MB/s.
For this test, we installed Vista 64 OS on our Kingston and Intel disks, but since we kept getting different results we had to take these tests out for a spin for quite a couple of times. The tables show Kingston’s results followed by Intel’s.
The highest advantage we noticed was in Windows Media Center test, where Kingston ends up being three times better, but the difference is well evident in system startup times and multimedia editing tests.
SSDs are rapidly gaining on popularity, but their price is still not quite right, despite the fact that it has been getting better the last couple of years. Kingston’s E series SSDNOW 32GB costs $446, whereas the 64GB version will set you back 848$. Kingston also offers its M series, which is different from the E series only in write speeds. The M series could probably be compared to Intel’s X25-M results, but note that the 80GB version costs $412.
We must admit that this device is simply flawless and it leaves the competition in a huge cloud of dust, but we still find it hard to believe that users will find it to be appealing with such high pricing. On the other hand, Kingston didn’t intend for it to be popular with desktop users, as this device is aimed and server environments.
With that in mind, and the fact that this device is quiet, durable, and an excellent performer, we could say that this device’s golden times are yet to come. Add to that the fact that Kingston also offers support for those who choose this disk, and it’s a no brainer – we dub the Kingston SSDNOW E 32GB a Fudzilla Recommended piece of kit.