If you're not rocking a solid state drive in your system, it's probably because of price, are we right? And specifically, the cost per gigabyte can be hard to swallow when mechanical hard drives offer such a superior value, at least in terms of what you're paying. SSDs have a long way to go before they catch up to HDDs, but maybe they don't have to. Maybe SSDs just need to offer a better value before the mainstream market dives in en masse.
They sure do grow up fast, don't they? We're not talking about kids, but solid state drives, and in particularly those in OCZ's family. The former memory maker who's now all in with flash based storage devices today announced the Agility 3 and Solid 3 SATA III SSD product lines. Both drives boast support for the SATA 6Gbps interface and are built around the SandForce SF-2200 controller, so what separates the two?
In last month’s roundup of solid-state drives, Intel’s entrant bore Marvell’s 9174 6Gb/s SATA controller, rather than an Intel one. While the Intel 510 SSD performed respectably among its 6Gb/s SATA peers, it’s not the top-to-bottom Intel drive fans have been waiting for. That drive is finally here, and despite the Intel 320 Series nomenclature, this is the third generation in Intel’s X25-M series of mainstream solid-state drives. But is a drive with a 3Gb/s SATA controller really going to cut it in 2011?
Intel is having a bear of a time keeping its future product releases under wraps. Earlier this month a leaked slide provided some basic details about Intel's upcoming Sandy Bridge-E platform, followed by another slide that went into a little more detail about clockspeeds and cache sizes. Now yet another internal slide has slipped through the back door, this one detailing Intel's upcoming SSD plans up through the end of this year.
We love solid state drives because of the impact they have on overall system performance. Faster load times, snappier system response, and even some applications benefit from improved read and write times, as compared to mechanical hard drives. But where SSDs really spread their wings is in the enterprise environment. This, along with small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) is where OCZ is aiming its new VeloDrive PCI-Express SSD.
Patriot is upfront in the fact that its new Torqx 2 solid state drive line isn't the fastest on the market, nor is it intended to be. Built to take advantage of the SATA II (3Gbps) interface, Patriot says it's looking to deliver "the perfect balance of price and performance." Don't misunderstand that to think the Torqx 2 is slow. On paper, this new series is rated at up to 270MB/s read and up to 230MB/s write speeds.
OCZ Technology ditched the DRAM business in order to focus on the more profitable solid state drive sector, and that's exactly what they've done. Adding to an already crowded lineup of SSDs, OCZ today unveiled a new addition to its Vertex 3 SATA III Series, the Vertex 3 Max IOPS edition. Compared to other Vertex 3 drives, this latest entry brings higher write speeds to the table.
We’ll say this for the Plextor M2 Series SSD: It’s a huge step up from Plextor’s last SSD. The M1S Series SSD we tested in our June 2010 roundup used Marvell’s “Da-Vinci” 88SS8014-BHP2 controller, which suffered from instability and slow writes. We gave that drive a 5 verdict. To our great relief, the M2 series SSD instead uses Marvell’s newer 6Gb/s SATA controller, the 88SS9174-BLD2—marking the third appearance of a Marvell 9174 controller in this roundup.
Nobody panic. Intel is still coming out with its much-delayed third-generation solid-state drive. The 320 Series will use 25nm NAND and Intel’s latest controller, on 3Gb/s SATA, and will focus on what made Intel drives great: high read speeds and random writes, and rock-solid reliability. Intel, recognizing that 250MB/s read speeds ain’t gonna cut it in 2011 (and holy cow, do we love typing that), is also bowing to popular demand and releasing an SSD with 6Gb/s SATA capability, but rather than design its own controller for that, Intel is using a third-party component. Intel wouldn’t officially tell us which controller, but thanks to the mysterious and powerful technol-ogy known as screwdriver, we can say with confidence that it’s Marvell’s 88SS9174-BKK2.
At first blush, the Crucial m4 seems virtually indistinguishable from its predecessor, the Crucial RealSSD C300. After all, it’s available in the same capacity with the same Marvell 9174 6Gb/s SATA controller and same amount of DRAM cache—256MB for the 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB versions, and 128MB for the 64GB drive.