In a brief statement yesterday morning, Intel announced that it would extend the limited warranty for its 320 Series solid-state drives from three years to five. The company said it is "confident in the enhanced reliability features" of its third-generation SSDs and the updated policy applies to all 320 Series drives, including those that have already been purchased by consumers.
Interestingly, the company didn't bless its 510 Series with the same treatment, suggesting it has less faith in the durability of those models. The 510 Series is equipped with Intel's 34nm MLC NAND flash and a Marvell controller, whereas the 320 Series pairs Intel's new 25nm memory with its own-brand PC29AS21BA0 controller -- the same part found inside its X25-M G2.
It's also worth noting that the 320 Series has additional reliability features to protect against flash errors and power failures. The drives come in six capacities spanning from 40GB ($100) to 600GB ($1,200) with read rates of up to 270MB/s and peak writes of 220MB/s -- though that speed declines with the drive's size. The 40GB model maxes out at 200MB/s and 45MB/s.
The 320 Series represents Intel's latest mainstream offering and is a replacement for the company's vastly successful X25-M. While that has been known for months, reports are circulating this week that Intel has recently informed its partners that it will officially discontinue its X25-V, X25-M and X25-E series flash drives this year, with the last shipment set for November 15, 2011.
The warranty extension comes shortly after the results of an RMA study that covered various computer hardware components, including storage drives. According to that report, Intel had an SSD return rate of 0.3% -- the lowest recorded and the only company below 1%. Kingston had a 1.2% RMA rate, Crucial had 1.9%, Corsair had 2.7% and OCZ was last with 3.5%.