The fact that Solid State Drives (SSD) offer significantly better performance over hard disk drives is now well established. They're faster, require less power to run and – as they contain no moving parts – offer a more rugged storage solution. At the moment, though, HDD solutions are much cheaper and can store more data on a single device ... but the gaps are closing. Intel has now upped the available storage capacity on its new third generation SSD 320 Series to a spacious 600GB, and has managed to lower the cost by 30 percent.

Intel has added a couple of storage capacities to its new Intel SSD 320 Series, which replaces the company's X25-M drives launched in 2008. In addition to new SATA II (3Gbps) 40, 80, 120 and 160GB models, there will also be 300 and 600GB versions – with the 1.8-inch format drives running to 300GB, while the 2.5-inch will go all the way up to 600GB.

Based on the company's 25nm NAND flash memory, the new Series "features an advanced architecture that employs 10 parallel NAND flash channels equipped with multi-level cell NAND flash memory," says Intel. "With powerful Native Command Queuing that enables up to 32 concurrent operations; the Intel SSD 320 Series drastically outperforms traditional hard disk."

The highest capacity drives offer 39,500 input/output operations per second (IOPS) random reads and 23,000 IOPS random writes, and sequential write of 220MB/s and 270MB/s read – which is not as fast as the company's 510 Series drives, but is still pretty quick.

The Intel SSD 320 Series also offers extra data security features such as hardware- and firmware-based power-loss data protection to help save data stored in temporary buffers in the event of a unplanned shutdown, 128-bit advanced AES encryption and ATA user password which can be set to require authentication at boot. The free-to-use Intel SSD Toolbox utility for Windows contains a number of drive management and diagnostic tools, and users can also download some free drive cloning software to help with the migration of data from the old storage device to the new SSD solution.

Based on 1,000 unit quantities, the 40GB unit will be made available to OEMs for US$89 each, with the 80GB priced at US$159, 120GB at US$209, 160GB at US$289, 300GB at US$529 and 600GB at US$1,069. Consumers will need to check outlets for retail prices.

View gallery - 3 images