This is the part where we usually have to remove void stickers to take apart the drive but there were none present. However, there’s verbiage on the case warning against voiding the warranty if the drive is opened so please leave the disassembling to us!
Four screws and we’re in. The plastic perimeter bezel comes off making the drive casing a three part assembly rather than the typical two.
On one side of the PCB we find eight NAND modules in the familiar horseshoe pattern that many SandForce drives have.
A closer look shows that it’s Intel’s own MLC 25nm MLC synchronous NAND. With 16 total on board and each being 16GB in density, we have a total raw capacity of 256GB.
On flip side we have the remaining NAND with the controller in its usual spot near the SATA connectors. As always, no cache is present as it’s not needed with the controller.
This sight should be familiar to most who keep up on SSD reviews. The SF-2281 controller has been very successful in the marketplace, and why not? It puts up some of the best performance numbers, does a great job with drive maintenance (even without TRIM enabled) and has so far proven to be very reliable. With its DuraClass technology, it handles error correction, wear-leveling, 256-bit AES encryption, and compression duties without breaking a sweat.
[UPDATE: Intel announced on June 11, 2012 that the 520 Series drives do not offer 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption, but rather a less secure 128-bit AES encryption. Consumers who have purchased a 520 Series drive prior to July 1, 2012 can contact Intel customer support (by October 1, 2012) to receive a full refund of the purchase price if they are unhappy with the encryption performance. Note that this would mostly be laptop users who have a much greater risk of theft/loss.]
Other than the controller, all parts are fabricated by Intel which gives them ultimate control on their quality, supply, and helps keep manufacturing costs to a minimum.