SanDisk has been on a tear lately. Following up the launch of its Extreme Pro SDHC/SDXC UHS-II card earlier this month, which it bills as the fastest SD card from here to the edge of the galaxy, SanDisk today announced its new 128GB Ultra microSDXC UHS-1 memory card, which offers the most capacity of any microSD card ever made. That's a pretty impressive amount of storage for a part that's smaller than the size of a fingernail.
This is turning out to be quite the week for fans of fast and capacious flash drives. Corsair yesterday announced a trio of high capacity USB 3.0 thumb drives, and moments ago we received an email from Patriot letting us know that it added three new 128GB USB 3.0 flash drives to its Supersonic family. These include the Supersonic Rage XT, Boost XT, and Pulse, all of which support the SuperSpeed spec.
Teams of engineers from SanDisk and Toshiba working at SanDisk's Milpitas campus developed a NAND flash memory chip smaller than a U.S. penny, the two companies announced. The 128Gb (gigabit) memory chip, which is currently in production, is the world's smallest and can store 128 billion bits of information on a single die measuring just 170mm2, barely more than a quarter of an inch squared.
The joint collaboration between chip giants Intel and Micron has resulted in a new benchmark in NAND flash technology. Specifically, the two tech gurus announced the world's first 20nm (not just nanometer-class, but an actual 20nm process) 128Gb (gigabit) multilevel-cell (MLC) device they say is ideal for small form factor tablets, smartphones, solid state drives, and high-performance compute devices.
We’ve seen a few USB 3.0 external drives here at Maximum PC, and we do appreciate the long-overdue speed boost. It’s nice to have file transfers limited by drive speed again, rather than the interface—the 33MB/s maximum was killing us. And while we appreciated the boost we got from USB 3.0 in WD’s My Book 3.0 and the Vantec NexStar 3 SuperSpeed enclosure, the former was only as fast as the mechanical drive within it and the latter couldn’t even match the speeds of the drives it enclosed.
It’s great to have a USB 3.0 interface on a mechanical drive, but wouldn’t it be nice to combine USB 3.0 with SSD? With a theoretical bandwidth limit exceeding 5Gb/s, why wouldn’t you? Thankfully, OCZ did. The Enyo is a compact anodized aluminum brick stuffed with MLC NAND and a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port.
The JMicron JM602 controller, paired with insufficient cache, hobbled the first generation of consumer SSDs—once the cache filled, write speeds slowed to a crawl. Random-write latencies could get as bad as a fifth of a second (compared to .1ms for most modern SSDs), pulling average sustained writes down as low as 20MB/s in some cases. Manufacturers responded by adding more cache or by building future generations of drives on different controllers, such as the Barefoot Indilinx part. Since then, JMicron has been pretty quiet, but now Patriot’s Zephyr line has arrived, powered by JMicron’s new JMF612 SATA controller. Is this new effort enough to the put JMicron into our good graces?
It's official folks, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) has finalized the release of the specifications for BDXL. What this means is that manufacturers can now grab licensing information and licensing applications needed to begin producing Blu-ray media with up to 128GB of capacity.
"The BDA worked diligently to create an extension of the Blu-ray Disc format that leverages the physical structure of the design of the disc to create even more storage capacity," said Victor Matsuda, Blu-ray Disc Association Global Promotions Committee chair. "By using the existing Blu-ray technologies, we have created a long-term and stable solution for archiving large amounts of sensitive data, video and graphic images. We expect further growth of the Blu-ray Disc market as the introduction of 100GB/128GB discs will expand the application of Blu-ray Disc technologies."
It might be awhile before these super high capacity discs see any kind of mainstream use. In this early stage, BDXL discs will be used in commercial segments like broadcasting, medical, and document imaging enterprises with heavy archiving needs, the BDA says.
You know that 32GB iPhone 4 you just pre-ordered? The amount of internal storage is going to seem comparatively quaint if Toshiba follows through with its plan to mass produce 128GB embedded NAND flash memory modules by the end of this year.
That's right folks, 128 awesome gigabytes of storage capacity could become standard on everything from high-end smartphones to tablet PCs, digital cameras, and everywhere else you find embedded flash chips. It's the highest capacity yet achieved in the industry, part of which is the result of Toshiba's 32nm manufacturing technology. The other part of the equation involves stuffing sixteen 64Gbit (equal to 8GB) NAND chips onto a dedicated controller into a package measuring just 17 x 22 x 1.4mm.
The implications here are huge, especially with competition ramping up in the mobile market. With 1GHz Snapdragon chips strutting through the smartphone scene and 2GHz chips on the horizon, smartphones are finally powerful enough to truly be considered handheld PCs. And with a spate of Android, WebOS, and Windows 7 tablets on the horizon, Apple's flagship 64GB iPad could suddenly become far less appealing, and for reasons other than lack of Flash support.
With all the fancy new controllers out there—the SandForces, Toshibas, Da Vincis, and what have you—we were a little concerned that vendors would forget the little controller that made it all possible: the Indilinx Barefoot controller. Yep, the one that powers our current Best of the Best Patriot Torqx, as well as every other top-performing SSD of the past year. In this land of the new, can Corsair’s Nova V128, which sports the classic Barefoot controller, still push bits with the best of ‘em?
Yep. Though the SandForce-based drives in the roundup push the best sustained write speeds yet, the Nova V128’s Indilinx controller with 64MB of cache still sustains the fastest reads of the drives in this roundup, averaging 210MB/s on our test bed (the Torqx’ read speeds are slightly higher). And the V128’s average writes of 163MB/s are right up there with the 128GB Torqx.
We’re not mad. We’re just disappointed. When Plextor announced in February that it, too, was entering the SSD market, we were cautiously optimistic. After all, more competition is always a good thing, and Plextor wouldn’t put out a subpar product just to try to capitalize on a trend—would it?
The Plextor PX-128M1S is the first drive we’ve tested that is built on the Marvell 88SS8014-BHP2 “Da Vinci” controller—and if its performance is indicative of the platform as a whole, we hope it’s the last.