Memory storage maker SanDisk made some headway in the solid state drive space today by introducing two new families of SSDs, the G4 (drop in replacements for HDDs) and P4 (for use in thin netbooks and tablets). Both families are built around an advanced 32nm multi-level cell (MLC) process technology and now come in capacities of up to 128GB for the P4 and up to 256GB for the G4.
"We designed our new SSDs with long-term consumer usage in mind," said Doron Myersdorf, senior director, SSD marketing, SanDisk. "Our drives offer faster boot times and improved system responsiveness while maintaining our uncompromising reliability standards. In addition, the drives utilize our Adaptive Flash Management (AFM) technology, which enables them to bridge the gap between demanding market requirements and increasingly challenging raw NAND flash characteristics."
On paper, performance is bit of a mixed bag. Sequential read and write speeds top out at up to 220MB/s and 160MB/s, respectively. That's a bit faster than the 120MB/s write speed threshold found on the G3, but not quite up to par with a number of new SSDs built around the vaunted SandForce SF-1200/1500 controllers that have started to appear.
Nevertheless, SanDisk did equip the new drives with a handful of performance-enhancing technologies, such as a page-based algorithm called ExtremeFFS designed to increase random write speeds and efficiency, and nCache acceleration technology, which SanDisk describes as a large non-volatile write cache technology intended to boost burst random write performance for shorter boot times, as well as to help present lag.
SanDisk says the new drives will start to show up in the third quarter. Pricing will depend on how many units top tier OEMs put on order.
The problem with solid state drives is two-fold. First, they're bloody expensive, putting higher performing models out of reach of most mainstream shoppers. And secondly, SSDs don't offer a ton of storage space. It's this latter shortcoming OCZ is trying to address, and towards that end, they've gone and released some high-capacity Vertex 2 and Agility 2 SSDS, both of which are now available in 400GB and 480GB capacities.
"Solid state drives have long delivered on exceptional performance and reliability but capacity has been a barrier to adoption for some clients," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of the OCZ Technology Group. "Building on our popular Agility 2 and Vertex 2 SSD lines our new high capacity models give customers up to 480GB of storage space allowing them to enjoy all the benefits of SSDs with plenty of room for even the largest applications and files, making this the ideal solution for customers that place a premium on speed, reliability and capacity."
What this means is that if you have deep enough pockets, you could ditch your mechanical hard drive entirely. A pair of 480GB SSDs checks in at nearly 1TB, enough space to boot your OS, run your applications, and store a whole lot of data. According to OCZ, both Vertex 2 and Agility 2 400GB editions feature 250MB/s read and 240MB/s write speeds. OCZ didn't disclose performance numbers on the 480GB models, nor did the company mention a release date or price. Our guess? "Soon" and "you don't want to know."
Corsair won the race to release the first SSD built around the Sandforce SF-1200 controller, and with that victory under their belt, they can now concentrate on releasing additional models. That's what they've done -- three of them, to be exact -- adding the F60 (60GB), F120 (120GB), and F240 (240GB) to the Force Series.
"We have had excellent feedback on our Force Series F100 and F200 from both reviewers and customers, and we are excited about expanding our Sandforce-based offerings," stated Jim Carlton, VP of Marketing at Corsair. "These solid-state drives are an excellent option for any enthusiast looking to build their system using the best storage system performance that is currently available."
Use of the Sandforce SF-1200 controller has paid big dividends in performance, with the new drives serving up to 258MB/s read and 275MB/s write speeds, while 4K random writes clock in at 180MB/s. All Force Series drives also support the TRIM command, and according to Corsair, even ECC data protection is improved.
We're seeing a lot of memory makers incorporate the mighty Sandforce SF-1200 controller into their SSD line for higher read and write speeds, with the latest to do so being Patriot. The company has just announced its new Inferno series, and like other Sandforce-based SSDs, performance should be the least of your concerns (save your worries for the price).
"The Inferno series of SSDs are the fastest and most exciting that Patriot has yet brought to market," states Les Henry, Vice President of Engineering at Patriot. "We have been pleased to work with SandForce to bring these enterprise level SSDs to the mainstream market at a fraction of the costs. We are very impressed with the performance numbers based on the SandForce SSD Processor. This solution fits well with our objective of offering the latest technology and best performance in our product lineup."
Available in 100GB and 200GB capacities, Patriot says its Inferno series will read data at up to 285MB/s and write files at up to 275MB/s, making them some of the fastest spec'd SSDs on the market. And to make installation easier, each Inferno drive ships with a 2.5-inch to 3.5-inch adapter, Patriot says.
Patriot didn't say anything about price or availability, but apparently they're already shipping. We found both drives on Newegg listed at $369 (100GB) and $679 (200GB).
Power users looking to pick up a potent solid state drive (SSD) now have yet another option to choose from, this one coming from Mushkin. The new series is called Callisto and comes built around the highly touted Sandforce SF-1200 controller found on other top tier SSDs.
"The Callisto SSDs continue Mushkin Enhanced's tradition of high-performance, high-reliability flash storage products and we're very pleased with the performance and responsiveness this product provides. We're confident the Callisto will not only meet the expectations of the market, but exceed them," said Brian Flood, Mushkin Enhanced director of product development.
Available in 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB capacities, all three drives feature read and write speeds up to 285MB/s and 275MB/s, respectively. Mushkin offered up few other details about its new Callisto series, though we suspect they also come equipped with 64MB of cache.
Pricing for the drives have been set to $219 (60GB), $370 (120GB) and $667 (240GB).
OCZ's Enyo Portable SSD solution might very well be the world's sexiest external storage device, and it's certainly one of the fastest. That's because OCZ slapped a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface on the drive, which already sports an SSD inside.
"We are continually searching for new ways to make the benefits of solid state storage available to consumers, and our new Enyo SSD is designed to make those benefits portable," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of the OCZ Technology Group. "The Enyo is a sleek external SSD that makes use of the increasingly popular SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface to make transferring anything from spreadsheets to high definition movies significantly faster than traditional media. Consumers never have to leave home without their valuable files again."
The Enyo supports up to 260MB/s read and 200MB/s write speeds for blazing fast transfers compared to USB 2.0. According to OCZ, the Enyo can transfer a 500MB YouTube clip in just 1.6 seconds, far faster than the 17 seconds it would take with a USB 2.0 port. But the real benefit is in extra large transfers, such as a moving a 1TB backup file in 47 minutes compared to 9.3 hours with USB 2.0
OCZ's sleek Enyo will be made available in 64GB, 128GB, and 128GB capacities. No word yet on price.
Covering both ends of the solid state drive (SSD) spectrum, Corsair today announced the addition of two new drives to its Nova Series SSDs in 32GB and 256GB form.
The 32GB model is now the lowest capacity Nova drive Corsair carries. Read and write speeds check in at 195MB/s and 75MB/s, respectively, and like the other Nova drives, the 32GB model supports the TRIM command used by Windows 7.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 256GB model is Corsair's largest Nova SSD to date, but it's not just about capacity. The largest drive ups the performance ante with 250MB/s read and 195MB/s write speeds. Both drives sport the popular Indilinx Barefoot controller, 64MB of cache, and a SATA II interface.
Corsair didn't announce a price for either drive, but give the street prices of the 64GB and 128GB models, we expect the 32GB to check in at around $100 and the 256GB somewhere in the vicinity of $700.
G.Skill, which is primarily known for its system memory products, wants to also build a reputation for blazing fast solid state drives (SSDs), and the company's new Phoenix drive should go a long way towards that.
On paper, the MLC-based Phoenix SATA II 2.5-inch SSD has all the makings of an enthusiast grade part. The heart of the SSD consists of the increasingly popular SandForce SF-1200 controller. Combined with high-speed NAND flash memory, G.Skill says its Phoenix drive will rip through data with up to 280MB/s read and 270MB/s write speeds, positioning the SSD as one of the fastest on the market.
"In order to continually satisfy computer enthusiasts and gamers' continuing thirst for performance technology, G.Skill has worked with SandForce to integrate its latest technology that provides previously unseen performance, quality, and reliability in G.Skill's Phoenix drive," G.Skill said.
The Phoenix line will ship in 50GB, 100GB, and 200GB capacities. No word yet on price or availability.
Here's some sobering news if you're hoping to pick up a low cost, high capacity solid state drive (SSD) any time in the near future. According to A-Data chairman Simon Chen, the SSD market won't experience robust growth for at least another two years.
NAND flash chips are at the root of problem. While the development of chip controllers have matured and TRIM support is now commonplace, NAND flash memory still costs way too much to push SSDs into the mainstream on any kind of level approaching hard drives.
Chen did note that NAND flash chip prices have come down a little bit since the fourth quarter of 2009, but not nearly enough to make an impact. Market research firm DRAMeXchange backs Chen's claims, noting that contract quotes for mainstream 16Gb (gigabit) multi-level cell (MLC) chips have stayed high at $4.06 so far this month.
Patriot on Wednesday launched a new line of SSDs built on top of the JMicron JMF612 controller. According to Patriot, you can expect "aggressive pricing and performance" from their Zephyr series.
"As solid-state drive technology advances, it is becoming more affordable, allowing SSD solutions to reach an increasing segment of end users. Patriot's objective is to offer the latest technology in our solutions which provide the best performance and price options", states Les Henry, Vice President of Engineering at Patriot. "Our Zephyr family of SSDs offer great performance, aggressive pricing and the inherent benefit of SSD technology over antiquated hard disk drives: quicker boot times and shorter application loading times. Including a Zephyr SSD in your desktop or notebook upgrade plans provides one of the best bang-for-the buck improvements you can make to your system."
That's all well and fine, but while Patriot was busy tooting its own horn, the company failed to mention exactly how much these new drives will cost. However they did release capacity and performance numbers, which breaks down as follows:
Zephyr 256GB: 240MB/s read, 180MB/s write
Zephyr 128GB, 240MB/s read, 145MB/s write
Zephyr 64GB, 240MB/s read, 85MB/s write
All three drives also ship with native support for the TRIM command in Windows 7. No word yet on when these will be available.