Intel’s SSDs Are Looking Good

No word on release date yet though.

During one of our meetings with Intel the company showed us how its Solid State Drive technology is shaping up, as things have been a little quiet since its formal announcement at IDF Shanghai in April.

The first system that Intel demonstrated was a Home Theatre PC, built around the newly-released G45 chipset, which featured one of Intel’s SSD drives. What was interesting about this demonstration was that Intel had turned the monitor off before I entered the hotel suite. I had no idea the machine was powered up until one of Intel’s representatives turned the screen on to reveal the system playing a high-definition video. The machine was inaudible in what was a pretty quiet hotel room and, even with my ear to the top of the chassis, I couldn’t hear the usual ‘hum’ associated with even the quietest HTPCs I’ve built.

The second demonstration was a little more direct – Intel had kitted out a machine with an overclocked quad-core (eight-thread) Nehalem processor and a pair of Intel SSDs in RAID 0. The system was incredibly responsive, but given the CPU architecture and overclock (which was in double digit percentages, although the actual frequency wasn’t disclosed) I was a little sceptical about pinning improvement on the SSD.

Francois Piednoel, senior performance analyst at Intel, understood my concerns and fired up his Penryn-based notebook, which was kitted out with a 2.6GHz processor and an Intel SSD drive. He booted up from cold and started firing applications up, and they just reacted almost instantaneously – Word 2007, Excel 2007 and Photoshop all loaded up noticeably quicker than we’ve ever seen before. To say it put an end to our scepticism is a bit of an understatement – this was extremely impressive.

But Piednoel wasn’t finished just yet… He fired up his anti-virus software and watched it scan through his 160GB hard drive in about 16 minutes. “Anti-virus scanning is traditionally limited by the hard drive – but not in this scenario,” he said. “This is the first time an anti-virus application has become processor limited.”

Piednoel went onto say that he believes that Intel SSDs will help to make computers more secure, as a lot of people don’t scan their systems regularly because it takes too long. I’m not sure about the last bit, but his proof of concept demo was almost jaw dropping – I’ve never seen virus scanning working this fast before.

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