If solid state drives (SSDs) are to ultimately replace standard hard disk drives (HDDs) as the default storage option, they're going to have to do it the old fashioned way - by offering a better, or at least comparable, bang for buck.
Because Windows 7 offers better support for SSDs than either Vista or XP, it was thought that Microsoft's upcoming OS might help bolster SSD sales and push the flash-based storage medium further into the mainstream. But this isn't likely to happen, say notebook vendors, who point out that the price gap between SSDs and HDDs is still too large.
SSDs currently check in at about $4-5 per GB, whereas HDDs cost less than $0.50 per GB, and that includes some higher end models. And despite rapid advancements in SSDs, it might be another three years before HDDs are finally dethroned.
Intel made a splash in the SSD market with its MLC-based X-25M SSD, which promplty put the beat down on existing SSDs at the time, as well as Western Digital's high octane VelociRaptor, the fastest performing consumer hard drive on the planet. But that was almost a year ago, and since then, other manufacturers have leveled the playing field with high performance SSDs of their own, taking some of the luster out of the X-25M.
Word on the web, however, is that Intel will be launching a new line of SSDs based on the company's 32nm NAND flash memory. Originally planned for Q4 of this year, it looks as though the launch will come much sooner, perhaps in just a few weeks, with Intel confirming it is ahead of schedule.
So far, there aren't any details regarding the new drives, though news and rumor site The Inquirer says to expect at least 80GB, 160GB, and 320GB capacities, and possibly higher, all of which will sport a better bang-for-buck than the pricey X-25M.
it wasn't that long ago that just a handful of SSDs littered the storage landscape, but not only have several manufacturers now jumped on board, but we're seeing companies expand their lineups. Such is the case with Corsair, who this week announced two new models -- P128 and P64 -- as part of its Performance Series.
The P128 boast the same 220MB/s read and 200MB/s write speeds as found on the P256, putting it at the higher end of the SSD performance spectrum but below the fastest drives on the market. Meanwhile, the P64 offers the same 220MB/s read speed but a slower 120MB/s writes. Both new models are built around the Samsung controller IC with 128MB of cache and NCQ support, meaning neither one should suffer the same stuttering problems reported on some JMicron-based SSDs.
The P128 is available now at about $339 street ($299 if you fancy mail-in-rebates), and the P64 will start shipping in July with no word yet on price.
While no official announcement has yet been made, word on the web is that OCZ will expand its Vertex Series SSDs with Turbo editions. As the name implies, these will be faster than the already speedy Vertex drives.
If the rumblings hold true, look for the Turbo edition to ship in 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, and 250GB capacities. According to OCZ rep Tony, the new SSDs will feature hand picked controller and hand picked NAND along with dedicated firmware, all of which will result in a 10 percent performance increase over existing Vertex drives. While the specs may change between now and release, Tony says you can expect up to 278MB/s read and 213MB/s write speeds.
No word yet on price or availability, although Tony did say the Turbo drives will carry about a 10 percent pricing premium over current Vertex drives.
Following an influx of solid state drives aimed at both the high-end and mainstream market, for awhile there it looked like SSDs might actually give traditional hard drives a run for its money. But as it turns out, money remains the issue, and higher per gigabyte costs will keep SSDs from being a threat to HDDs in 2009, and the same will probably hold true in 2010, memory makers say.
In the mobile sector, SSDs will close out the year with only a 1-1.5 percent penetration rate, and less than 10 percent in the low-cost PC segment, according to data by DRAMeXchange.
But it's not all gloom and doom for SSDs. Memory makers say the upcoming transition to 30nm and lower nodes will push NAND flash prices down, while some remain hopeful that Windows 7 will change the storage landscape.
SSD technology continues to mature, both in price per gigabyte and performance. On the latter front, Super Talent's new MasterDrive SX SSDs come equipped with 128MB DRAM of cache, which the company claims delivers "exceptional" write speeds.
"We developed the MasterDrive SX series to offer extreme reliability at an aggressive price point that makes sense for mobile professionals and enthusiasts. Moreover, these drives boast power efficiency and write speeds that few SSDs can match," said Super Talent Director of Marketing Joe James.
Available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities, the latter two sport 220MB/s and 200MB/s read and sequential write speeds, respectively (the 64GB checks in with 200MB/s and 120MB/s read and write speeds), while all three models sip just half a watt of power in read mode and 0.15W while idle.
No MSRP information has yet been made available, but street pricing for the 64GB and 128GB have currently settled in at around $173 and $336, respectively. No word yet on availability for the 256GB model.
You've heard the cliché big things come in small packages, but what you've probably never heard of is stuffing 128GB of solid state storage capacity into a form factor so tiny you could swallow it, secret agent style. That's exactly what InnoDisk has done, who was showing off its aptly named nanoSSD at Computex.
Despite its small stature, the nanoSSD offers pretty impressive performance numbers with InnoDisk claiming read and write speeds of 150MB/s and 160MB/s, respectively. It can also withstand an accelerative force of 20g, and to prove it, InnoDisk had its nanoSSD hooked up to a custom, rapidly vibrating motherboard, which you can see here.
It's been a strange and wonderful ride watching solid state drive technology finally start to come into its own and threaten traditional hard disk drives. Frustrating too, as the handful of SSDs that manage to blaze a performance trail cost an exorbitant amount per gigabyte, while some of the lower cost drives based on the JMicron controller suffer from stuttering problems. That's why we're thrilled to see JMicron take a mulligan.
According to news site DailyTech, JMicron plans to unveil a new NAND flash controller at Computex. Designed to fix the aforementioned stuttering problem, the JMF612 chip will use an ARM9 core in a 289-ball TFBGA package and support the use of up to 256MB of DDR or DDR2 RAM for external cache duties.
The other part of the equation involves a new generation of NAND flash chips that are smaller, faster, and cheaper to manufacturer. At least one company -- IM Flash Technologies, a joint venture between Intel and Micron -- is said to already be building 34nm NAND, and SSDs based on the new chip(s) will support NCQ. Moreover, JMicron's refreshed controller has been specifically designed to take advantage of these new NAND chips.
Toshiba to Asus: 'Suck it!' Toshiba didn't actually say that, but it has beat Asus to market with the world's first laptop to stuff a 512GB SSD into the spec sheet.
"The new, Toshiba-developed 512GB SSD employs a 2-bit-per-cell multi-level NAND flash memory to realize, the world's largest capacity SSD, with four times the density of SSD integrated into currently available products," Toshiba wrote in a press release. "Furthermore, a new controller that realizes high-speed parallel processing with the multi-level NAND flash memory boosts data access speeds by approximately 230 percent for read (max. 230MB per sec) and 450percent for write (max.180MB per sec), compared with SSD integrated into current PCs."
In addition to the sizable SSD, Toshiba's Dynabook SS-RX2 sports a 12.1-inch WXGA (1280x800) screen, a Core 2 Duo processor, integrated Intel GMA 4500MHD graphics, 3GB of DDR2-667 memory, a DVD burner, Bluetooth, and up to 12 hours of use on a single battery charge.
Right now it's only available in Japan for what amounts to $4,500 USD. Ouch.
Earlier in the week Corsair announced the latest addition to their Storage Solutions line with a monster 256GB SSD.
The drive, which will go by the name P256, will be one of the first to use Samsung’s new multi-level cell flash chips, and Controller IC technologies. Along with this, it’ll have a 128MB cache, and Native Command Queuing support. The drive also sports a read and write speeds of up to 200MB/sec.
“The Corsair Storage Solutions P256 delivers the best computing experience of any single storage drive available today,” stated John Beekley, Corsair’s VP of Applications Engineering. “Using the P256 results in immediate and dramatic improvements in system startup and shutdown, game level loading, application startup, and many other everyday tasks. Additionally, the P256 is more durable and reliable than hard disk drives, and has been shown in the Corsair Labs to provide up to 25% longer battery life in portable computers.”
If you’re looking to pick up one of these drives today, it won’t be cheap, but you can do it for $699 over at Newegg.