Intel 510 Series 120GB
Intel's 510 Series 120GB shows improvement


Intel 510 series 120gb

The reason it's not the drive Intel originally planned it to be can be seen once you open the metal alloy case, because sitting on the PCB in place of where the Intel controller should be is a third-party Marvell controller.

The Marvel 88S9174-BKK2 controller is not unique to the Intel drives, and can be found in a few other drives, for example Corsair's Performance 3 drives have it, and Crucial use it in the C300 drive.

But Intel has tried to distance itself from other manufacturers by tweaking the firmware to give better sequential read performance.

To help push the performance along even further especially when it comes to dealing with small files, there's a 128MB DDR3 1333MHz cache courtesy of a Hynix chip, which is a giant leap over the good old X25-M, which had to make do with just 32MB of DRAM.

For the 510 series, Intel has kept faith with the 34mm MLC NAND memory chips made by IM Flash Technologies – unlike many of its competitors, which are now or soon will be transitioning to 25mm chips.

To achieve its 120GB capacity, the drive uses 16 8MB 34mm chips (coded 29F6408CAMDD) – eight on each side of the PCB.

Once the drive is formatted and Windows installed, you have a usable 111GB, the rest of the space (12.7%) reserved for over-provisioning duties.

The 510 is the first Intel drive to have the 6Gbps interface and it makes a lot of sense not only from the performance point of view given that the sequential read transfer rates already flood the 3Gbps interface, but from a marketing point of view.

It allows Intel to market the whole mainboard/processor/storage solution thanks to the native SATA 6Gbps support found on the Sandy Bridge supporting P67 and H67 mainstream and performance chipsets.