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SandForce was an unknown newcomer to the solid state drive business when they announced their first SF-1000 memory controller in 2009. Nevertheless many storage manufacturers recognized the chip's potential and moved quickly to adopt it, among them A-Data, Corsair, G.Skill, OCZ, Patriot, Super Talent, and the list went on.
Therefore it came as little surprise their second generation controller became widely popular in no time. SandForce had built a reputation for itself and a faster controller was the central piece into building faster SSDs. The consumer-level controller known as the SF-2200 was released in early 2011 including SATA 6Gb/s support and boasting read and write speeds of over 500MB/s, a mind blowing figure when compared to its predecessor.
The first product based on this controller was the popular OCZ Vertex 3 drive, but many others have followed, for better or for worse. It'd been rumored since last year that even Intel was joining the party, however as you may be aware the SF-2000 series SSDs suffered from a number of serious bugs (BSODs, random freezes, etc.) during the first 6 months of its release, we assume causing a delay in Intel's plans.
It's not the first time Intel is using third-party controllers, in fact it had previously favored the Marvell "Van Gogh" 88SS9174 for their SSD 510 Series. Since the days of the original X25-M SSD, Intel solid state storage products have been characterized for being the most stable and reliable around. With the company now willing to use the SF-2281, it proves that the controller has reached a certain desired level of maturity.
However, as the company has done with previous SSD products, Intel has adopted the SandForce SF-2281 controller but they have co-defined and validated the firmware for an Intel unique implementation. In other words, the SSD 520 Series drives will differ to similar products in terms of performance and reliability in spite of using the same controller.
The Intel SSD 520 Series will be available in 60GB, 120GB, 180GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities. Pricing starts at $150 for the 60GB model, the 240GB version we are testing is said to cost $510, while the flagship 480GB model will set you back a whopping $1,000. Should that pricing be accurate the SSD 520 Series will be considerably more expensive than existing SF-2281 drives. Read on to learn more about Intel's new premium consumer SSD.