We've heralded the reign of solid state since its dramatic leap to the top of performance charts in late 2008; it's now 2012, and the industry has had a lot of time to fine-tune and improve.
This leads us to today's launch of the Intel 520-series SSDs, which interface through the modern Sata 3.0 bus, and are "produced using Intel compute-quality 25-nanometre (nm) NAND memory process technology."
The above process is notable for being even smaller than the current smallest graphics technology (28nm); and is far smaller than any modern central processing unit (32nm).
520-series SSDs in the range will be available in storage capacities from 60GB to 480GB, include hardware support for 256-bit AES encryption, and are better at obfuscating that encryption password to ward off potential security risks.
Claimed in the press release to perform 80,000 write and 50,000 read random 4K IOPS, these drives are also said to be capable of sustained 550MB/s read and, impressively, 520MB/s write. Notably the full write speeds are only available for 520-series drives of 180GB or higher capacity, likely due to an internal RAID architecture, though the slowest is only 475MB/s write for the 60GB drive.
These speeds are attainable with the use of a Sandforce storage processor and a custom firmware developed by Sandforce and Intel, and longevity appears decent with the inclusion of a 5-year warranty.
We have contacted Intel PR at time of writing but have not received a response for local, or indeed any official pricing, and will update when we are informed of such. Using StaticICE, the 60GB model appears to be going for $175 in local stores; $250 for the 120GB; and $560 for the 240GB.
This is not particularly price-competitive to other SATA 3.0 SSDs, though real-world performance will have to be tested to determine if the 520-series is a better choice. Still, it's good to have some competition!
Update: Intel have responded with official Aussie pricing:
60GB - $185.00
120GB - $329.95
180GB - $449.95
240GB - $619.95