Today Intel is officially announcing what we've had in house since the end of last year: the Intel SSD 525. Based on SandForce's SF-2281 controller but using a special Intel validated (but SandForce developed) firmware, the 525 is an mSATA version of the 2.5" SATA Intel SSD 520 that launched last February. Unlike the Intel SSD 335, the 525 uses the same 25nm 2-bit MLC IMFT NAND as the 520, the only difference here is the form factor. 

Similar to the 520, Intel is claiming max sequential performance of 550/520 MBps (compressible reads/writes). Random IO specs are listed as up to 50K/80K for 4KB random reads/writes. 

The 525 features a 5-year warranty from Intel and will be available in capacities ranging from 30GB all the way up to 240GB. The 120GB and 180GB 525s are shipping today, with the rest of the models scheduled to be available later this quarter. Pricing is listed below:

Intel SSD 525 Launch Pricing
Capacity 30GB 60GB 90GB 120GB 180GB 240GB
RCP/MSRP $54 $104 $129 $149 $214 $279

Intel's suggested pricing is a bit higher than Crucial's mSATA m4, but street pricing is almost always lower than what we see in these press announcements. The range of capacities and granular size options will make the 525 good for everything from a very small boot drive (30GB) all the way up to a full fledged OS/apps drive at the higher capacities.

By the middle of the year we should see the arrival of the first NGFF (now known as M.2) form factor SSDs that should eventually supplant mSATA. It will take a little while for motherboards and OEM systems to implement M.2, so I expect that we'll continue to see mSATA used. I do hope for a quick transition to M.2 however, not only is the standard more flexible (e.g. longer cards can deliver even higher capacity drives) but it also supports PCIe as well as SATA as an interface.

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  • ViRGE - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    Is there even a chassis that offers dual mSATA for RAID use? Reply
  • critical_ - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    I've been waiting for these. I will finally get rid of the crap ADATA SX300 256GB mSATA in my possession. HELLO EBAY! Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    The Adata mSATA you have is also using Sandforce (and got great reviews) - I doubt you'll see any difference at all. Reply
  • critical_ - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - link

    Firmware support. Firmware support. Firmware support.

    ADATA hasn't released 5.0.4+ yet. We're still stuck on 5.0.2a months after the new firmware was released. I'll pay Intel for their great support and quicker-than-molasses firmware validation. So, yes, I'll see a difference once I have working TRIM.
    Reply
  • JeBarr - Monday, January 28, 2013 - link

    The more mSATA, the merrier. Not many choices out there for consumer mSATA so having another version from Intel will be good for everyone. Especially since they are covering all sizes except for the extra large 480/512GB.

    One question about the M.2 form factor

    Does the PCIe interface compatibility mean I can convert via cable to PCIe x1 slot?
    Reply
  • JeBarr - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - link

    Disregard that question.....just read the bit on NGFF...which i shoulda done in the first place :D Reply
  • ZoSo - Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - link

    Guess this will be nice for OEM. I'll be building an HTPC very soon and have been looking for a Mini ITX board that will support a 6GB mSATA. But all the ones I've seen so far only support 3GB mSATA. Reply
  • hrrmph - Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - link

    TOOLBOX

    Good to see you guys (Anand and Kristian) covering the toolbox software in more detail lately. Thanks!

    I recently tried the Samsung Magician toolbox software with WinXP and found it to be buggy and irritating to work with (doesn't recognize 840 Pro, insists on running at Windows startup, etc.). I've got a new Win7 machine, so I'll give it a try with that machine.

    The screenshots of the Intel software appear to show that their toolbox has some polish to it. I look forward to trying it.

    ------------------

    MUSIC & MOVIES

    I'm currently running SSDs for system drives (OS + progs + a small amount of mostly compressible data) on all of my machines. The SSDs are OWC, Intel, and Samsung.

    It looks like larger and larger SSDs for bulk data are on the cusp of being affordable. So I am itching to buy some bigger capacity SSDs to dedicate to bulk storage.

    So I also particularly appreciate the reminder that Sandforce drives perform very poorly when they get filled up with compressed data like movies and music.

    ------------------

    WARRANTY

    Good to see Intel giving a proper 5 year warranty.

    Unfortunately, it looks like the high capacity drives from some of the competition are stuck with paltry 3-year warranties.

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    LAST THOUGHTS

    So it looks like good toolbox software, a decent warranty, and high capacity (~960GB), in a high performance SSD aren't quite here yet.

    But, for system drives in mSATA slots, these Intel 525 SSDs look to be unbeatable.

    Thanks for great SSD articles! I look forward to reading the updates on spare area.

    -

    Reply

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