When you think Intel, two things come to mind almost immediately: performance and reliability. When the world's largest technology company puts their brand on a product, you know it is not just a run-of-the-mill piece of hardware. Intel is the leader when it comes to disruptive technologies like solid state storage.
I remember my first SSD; it was an Intel X-25M 80GB. The X-25M was really the world's first viable consumer SSD; in fact, the M stands for mainstream. The first time I booted my PC after installing an X-25M, it changed my whole perception of what performance really is. This single SSD made my four-drive Raptor array look like a complete joke.
Intel's X25M featured a 10-channel in-house controller and an in-house MLC NAND array. The X25M dominated the competition up to the point when a tiny company called SandForce launched their second-generation flash controller. SandForce's 2200 series 8-channel controller featuring compression technology provided superior performance to Intel's at a lower cost.
Intel shocked the world when it chose to collaborate with SandForce and launched their third generation SSD, the Intel 520, featuring SandForce's second-generation 2281 flash controller. This was so shocking because at the time SandForce 2200 series controllers were buggy and had already alienated many consumers from SandForce Products.
Intel, as Intel always does, touched it and turned it to gold. Intel designed their own exclusive firmware that was able to solve the infamous 2281 BSOD issue, and their 520 Series SSD became an instant success. At the time, the 520 was probably the fastest consumer SSD ever made. Intel's partnership with LSI SandForce continues to this day. Intel's latest collaboration with LSI Sandforce is their 530 Series mainstream SSD. Intel's 530 Series is not designed to deliver enthusiast class performance, but rather mainstream performance with unequaled Intel reliability.
The validation process Intel utilizes to ensure a high performing, reliable SSD is easily the world's most extensive. Heat, cold, humidity, shock, and even cosmic particle bombardment are all part of Intel's validation process. This extensive validation process produces SSDs with the industry's lowest annual failure rate (AFR).
Over the course of time, LSI SandForce's 2281 controller has become renowned for its reliable, predictable performance as well as its low power consumption, making it a no-brainer choice for a mainstream offering that can deliver the kind of reliability Intel demands of any product that bears their name.
Today, we are going to see how Intel's mainstream SSD performs in RAID 0. Intel's 530 in a 180GB capacity is their best-selling SSD, so it makes sense that we explore what a two-drive array of this capacity point has under the hood. The competition is fierce, so let us see what the battle looks like as we subject our 530 two-drive array to our ever-evolving testing regimen.