Intel once blazed a trail into the high-end SSD arena with its X25 series, and while the Santa Clara chip maker's X25-E is no slouch wih read and write speeds of 250MB/s and 170MB/s, respectively, those are no longer best-in-class numbers.
Don't count Intel out, however. After completing the transition to 25nm NAND flash wafers in a joint effort with Micron, Intel is reportedly making new SSDs based on the die shrink. Codenamed Lyndonville, these upcoming SSDs are expected to run faster than anything currently in Intel's stable.
Lyndonville SSDs will use MLC-based NAND flash memory and will likely be aimed at the enterprise market. Capacities are expected to come in 100GB, 200GB, and 400GB when they launch in the first quarter of 2011, though no decision has yet been made on pricing.
It seems like every few weeks OCZ comes out with a new SSD, and this time around, the company announced two new products to its flash-based storage lineup. Both the Vertex 2 and Agility 2 target enthusiasts with high transfer rates and relatively high capacities.
"OCZ’s original Vertex Series of solid state drives have become a top seller due to the product’s exceptional performance and reliability," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ Technology Group. "The new Vertex 2 and Agility 2 SSD lines continue that tradition by incorporating the latest controller and firmware technology. They are an excellent solution for customers who are looking for improved transfer rates and best-in-class input/output per second (IOPS) for a wide range of uses, ranging from entertainment to workstation and tier 2 storage applications. Additionally, this new product line highlights our continuing determination to be the market leader in the high reliability memory and flash-based storage market."
Both drives come rated at up to 285MB/s read and 275MB/s write speeds, and both are available in 50GB, 100GB, 200GB, and 400GB capacities. So what separates the two? According to OCZ, the higher-end Vertex 2 has been tuned for 4KB random writes up to 50,000 IOPs, while the Agility 2 boasts random writes up to 10,000 IOPS.
When this week began, Xtremesystems forum member SteveRo held the PCMark Vantage world record with a score of 30,359,. Now SteveRo sits in second place, having conceded the top spot to Corsair Labs with a record-breaking score of 32,947.
"To demonstrate just how fast our products are, we decided to go after the PCMark Vantage world record," Corsair said. "This benchmark heavily stresses the entire system, not just he CPU and GPU like the 3DMark Series. With PCMark Vantage the memory and SSDs are stressed just as much if not more than the CPU and GPU, with almost all of the individual benchmark tests taking advantage of the fast solid-state drives."
SSD performance proved key in Corsair's successful attempt at taking the performance crown. Corsair's record-breaking system included eleven Force Series F200 SSDs along with Corsair Dominator GTX2 DDR memory. Overclocking also played a heavy role, with Corsair using liquid nitrogen to cool an Intel Core i7 980X processor and pushing the frequency up to a blistering 5.79GHz.
We'd all love to deck out our rigs with high-capacity, high-performance SSDs, but for most, it just isn't practical. That doesn't mean the benefits of an SSD are lost on the mainstream market, and if you're willing to settle for a lower capacity drive, there are some compelling options finally starting to appear.
As a result, there's a rush among SSD makers to cater to entry-level and mainstream consumers, and Kingston thinks it has a leg up on the competition. Citing un-named industry sources, DigiTimes says Kingston has shipped about 30,000 low-priced SSDs, prompting other companies to release low-priced units of their own.
If you ask Kingston, its 30GB SSD is the better option over Intel's new 40GB X25-V, and if looking strictly at street pricing, they're right, even if just barely. Intel's 40GB X25-V streets for about $125, or about $3.12 per GB. Kingston's 30GB SSDNow V Series streets for $92, or about $3.07 per GB. Kingston's drive is also rated a little bit faster with up to 180MB/s read and 50MB/s write speeds, compared to 170MB/s and 35MB/s, respectively.
Of course, hard drives still trump SSDs in capacity and price per GB, which begs the question, is anyone interested in these so-called value oriented SSDs? Hit the jump and sound off!
Is SSD pricing finally starting to trickle into the mainstream? We're not sure, but if the latest moves by OCZ and Intel are any indication, even budget buyers might be tempted to look at flash-based storage in lieu of mechanical hard drives.
Less than a week ago, OCZ announced its sub-$100 Onyx SSD line, and now Intel is saying it too is shipping a low-cost SSD. Intel's calling it the X25-V Value, which the company says sells for $125.
That's a little bit more than OCZ's Onyx, but it also offers more capacity at 40GB versus 32GB. The X25-V is built on a five-channel architecture with 10 4GB NAND flash chips. Compared to other SSDs in Intel's lineup, performance takes a hit, checking in at 170MB/s read and 35MB/s write speeds, although it does have native command queuing (NCQ) and offers up TRIM support.
"I think what Intel and OCZ are shooting at is a price point for the consumer," said Gregory Wong, a flash memory analyst at Forward Insights. "And it's whatever capacity you can get for $100. In my discussions with Intel, they're seeing good uptake of their 40GB SSD, but it's not going to replace a hard drive in a notebook."
It could, however, replace a boot drive, and might be the start of something beautiful (affordable SSDs).
We're not the least bit surprised that OCZ has come out with yet another solid state drive (SSD), but here's something you probably weren't expecting: It costs less than $100.
OCZ's new Onyx SATA II 2.5-inch SSD series looks to tackle the mainstream market by putting more focus on price than it does with raw performance or high capacity. Available initially only in 32GB form, the Onxy drive offers up to 125MB/s read and up to 70MB/s write speeds, so it's not going to knock out the competition. But it will make a solid argument for a netbook or boot drive.
"As new technologies become available, OCZ continues to expand both our enterprise and consumer SSD lines, and one of our goals is to make SSDs more affordable to end-users. Our new Onyx series SSD does exactly that and is a perfect solution for netbooks, laptops, or home desktop PCs," commented Ryan Petersen, CEO of the OCZ Technology Group. "Designed to offer the best of both worlds, the new OCZ Onyx SSD delivers the speed and reliability of solid state storage to mainstream consumers at an aggressive price point that makes the technology more accessible to customers who want to take advantage of all the benefits of the SSDs without incurring the high cost normally associated with the solution."
Few other details are available, such as which controller the Onyx uses, though we do know it comes with 64MB of cache and serves up TRIM support.
No word yet on when this one will make it to market.
Citing sources from hard drive makers, news and rumor site DigiTimes says that Apple's iPad could end up slowing SSD growth in the market place. Say what?
The reason, sources say, is because the iPad might create a shortage of NAND flash chips. Apple already consumes about one-third of the total NAND flash output because of the company's immensely popular iPod and iPhone devices, and if the iPad proves to be just as hot, NAND flash supply could tighten.
The news gets even worse for SSD fans. The cost of NAND flash has been the biggest roadblock in pushing SSDs into the mainstream, and the sources noted that prices are continuing to increase. That should change once the NAND flash industry transitions to a 20nm process technology, however that isn't expected to happen until at least the second half of 2011. Bummer.
In another nod towards the increasingly popular SandForce controller, Corsair today announced its Force Series SSDs built around SandForce.
"The Force Series are the fastest SSDs that Corsair has launched to date," stated Kevin Conley, Vice President of Engineering at Corsair. “We have been very impressed with the SandForce SSD Processor innovations in the months that we have been working with them, and we can’t wait to get these extraordinarily fast SSDs into the hands of our most demanding customers."
And fast they are, at least on paper. By combining the SandForce SF-1200 SSD processor with MLC flash memory, Corsair claims its new SSD line can race along at 285MB/s read and 275MB/s write speeds.
These will be available in 100GB and 200GB capacities and come with TRIM support in Windows 7. No word yet on price or availability.
Sometimes a company just does something unnecessarily extravagant to get attention. This time the company is Patriot, and the extravagance is building a PC with 40 SSDs in one huge array. This feat was accomplished using 5 LSI Mega RAID SAS/SATA 9260-8i raid cards to connect up the 40 TorqX SSDs. The System also packs two 1000w Thermaltake power supplies, and a server board with dual Xeons and 48GB of DDR3 RAM.
We would like very much to play with this system, but it’s unlikely that Patriot will be letting it out of their sight. According to a questionable claim apparently made by a Patriot rep, the system would be able to rip a Blu-Ray in 0.9 seconds. Technically, we’ve never seen an optical drive capable of that sort of read speed. It’s possible this was just a ham-handed attempt to show the speed of the drives. If so, the array is able to write about 8GB per second. Yeah, we’d take that.
Western DIgital is no stranger to low capacity, high performance, pricey storage solutions, only up until this point they've always fallen under the company's VelociRaptor line. That all changes today, as WD announced its first-ever consumer-oriented solid state drive (SSD), the SiliconEdge 2.5-inch SSD family.
"The development of the WD SiliconEdge Blue product family leverages WD's extensive experience in designing and manufacturing highly reliable storage products and the company's worldwide sales and distribution network to accelerate SSD technology adoption by OEMs, technology enthusiasts, gamers and road warriors," said Michael Hajeck, senior vice president and general manager of WD's solid state storage business unit. "Customers who demand the ultimate in performance will find the WD SiliconEdge Blue SSDs exceed all their requirements."
The new drives ship in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities and features a native SATA 3Gbps interface. Read speeds come rated at up to 250MB/s, while WD says you can expect writes in the neighborhood of 170MBs. TRIM support also comes standard, as does NCQ.
In addition to performance, WD is touting the SiliconEdge family's ruggedness, saying the product line has "passed WD's extensive functional integrity testing procedures" consisting of over 250,000 of testing.
The drives are available now for $279 (64GB), $529 ($128GB), and $999 (256GB).