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Intel launches 25nm 320 Series SSDs

Intel's latest assault on the solid-state storage market, the 320 Series, has officially launched today - but can a process shrink to 25nm and a price drop offer serious competition in an increasingly crowded market?

The Intel Solid-State Drive 320 Series, to give the range its full title, is Intel's first commercial product based on the new 25nm process size - which makes SSDs significantly cheaper to manufacture, thanks to increased yields from a single wafer. Sadly, it also slightly reduces capacity - which is why the company has chosen to launch a brand new range, rather than stick the new components into one of its existing SSD product lines.

Initially available in 40GB, 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, and enterprise-oriented 300GB and 600GB capacities, the 320 Series is designed as a cheaper alternative to the company's current X25-M SSDs - and while UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, the company claims a $100 drop in US RRP.

"Intel designed new quality and reliability features into our SSDs to take advantage of the latest 25nm silicon so we could deliver cost advantages to our customers," claimed Intel's Pete Hazen at the launch.

The big question, of course, is whether the drop in process size comes with a drop in performance. While it's disappointing to see Intel cutting corners on the interface, packing a 3Gb/s SATA connector when its competitors are choosing to include 6Gb/s connectivity as standard, the specifications are still pretty impressive. According to Intel's own figures, sequential read speeds hit 270MB/s while write speeds are barely slower at 220MB/s.

Interestingly, Intel has chosen to make encryption a standard feature of the 320 Series: all drives in the range will include hardware-based 128-bit AES cryptography support, which helps keep important data private in the event of loss or theft.

"We see the Intel SSD 320 as a solid advancement to our SSD roadmap," claimed Intel's non-volatile memory boss Tom Rampone at the launch, "and will continue to upgrade and refresh our SSD product line as we add more enterprise options for our business customers throughout the year."

Wholesale prices for the drives, based on 1,000-unit shipments, are set at 40GB for $89, 80GB at $159, 120GB at $209, 160GB at $289, 300GB at $529, and the top-end 600GB model at $1,069.

UK retail pricing has not yet been confirmed by the company.