Intel SSD overclocking code leaks ahead of IDF

August 29, 2013 // 9:29 a.m.

Tags: #extreme-tuning-utility #idf #intel #intel-xtu #nand-flash #overclocking #solid-state #solid-state-drive #solid-state-storage #storage #xtu

Details of Intel's plans to offer overclocking for its own-brand solid-state drives (SSDs) have leaked ahead of the company's formal unveiling at the Intel Developer Forum next month.

Announced as part of an overclocking demonstration to take place at the Intel Developer Forum San Francisco on the 10th of September, session AISO001 is set to demonstrate the first example of overclocking an SSD as Intel looks to raise its game with enthusiasts. Although not a direct focus of the session, the SSD overclocking has generated considerable interest - albeit with concerns about how it will affect the longevity of targeted storage devices.

The company has, however, been tight-lipped in exactly what it will be demonstrating and how it will be achieving the performance-boosting tweaks to its SSDs. Thankfully, eagle-eyed types at Myce have unravelled the secret and in doing so discovered that the functionality will be available to all as part of the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) software package.

Analysing the latest release of the XTU software, Myce discovered that code for adjusting SSD settings is already present. Although invisible to the end-user - with Intel likely to release an update that provides access to the SSD-specific settings following the demonstration at IDF - the settings reveal just what Intel is changing, and how it is likely to affect the drives.

The first, and potentially most important detail, is that Intel will only be allowing adjustments to its own-brand SSD devices and not those of third party companies - not even Asus, which is running the IDF overclocking event as Intel's hardware partner.

Those who have a compatible drive, however, will find settings in a future XTU release which allow for the on-board microcontroller to be overclocked, the NAND flash bus frequency to be toggled between 83MHz and 100MHz, and the power mode of the drive to be set to 'Limited,' 'Typical' or an energy-hungry 'Unconstrained.'

Thus far, it has not been discovered while Intel SSD models will be compatible with the XTU overclocking functionality - but it seems likely that it will be a feature Intel will restrict to its high-end devices only. How long it will take a rival company to bundle overclocking software with its own SSDs remains to be seen - but people are likely to watch Intel's experiment closely to see if any data loss occurs before plunging head-first into competition.

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