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Meet Intel’s Cherryville: 520 Series 240GB SSD Review
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by Robert Tanner on February 6, 2012 in Solid-State Drives

SandForce is back in town and it’s here to stay. Intel’s 520 Series is a full replacement for the 510 Series, but utilize the SF-2281 controller and custom Intel firmware to deliver one of the best SSDs we seen to date. If you already want an Intel SSD but don’t know which to get, we can answer that. Oh, and did we mention the 5 year warranty?

Synthetic: HD Tune Pro 4.6

Since we included a program designed to benchmark SSDs, we will include HD Tune as it benchmarks both hard disks and SSDs. Because the test drive houses the OS itself, HD Tune will not perform any write tests; we will have to be content with both the Read and Access times. HD Tune 4.6 added a new quick benchmark that we will include for users that wish to make a quick comparison with their own drives.

HD Tune seems to favor non-SandForce controllers for some reason, but even so the 520 still walks away with these benchmarks in the read, write, and access latency categories. More importantly, it does so showcasing a significant advantage in minimum read performance over every other drive in our lineup.

What makes SSDs so effective is the nearly instantaneous access times, which is best illustrated by the last graph. A typical HDD requires around 14ms to access data, which is a literal eternity for a modern computer. A typical SSD on the other hand will need about 0.1ms. To add perspective, a 3GHz processor will run 300,000 clock cycles in the same 0.1ms. By comparison to a mechanical HDD, 42,000,000 clock cycles would have elapsed in that 14ms before the drive had even begun sending data to memory!