A-DATA this week launced its 512GB XPG 2.5-inch solid state drive (SSD), which it claims is the highest capacity SSD to date. The new drive will be pitched to both laptop and desktop users.
Balancing capacity with performance, A-DATA says its 512GB XPG reads data at up to 230MB/s and writes up to 160MB/s. By comparison, Intel's highly touted X-25M boasts read and write speeds of up to 250MB/s and 70MB/s, respectively, giving A-DATA's a sizable paper-spec advantage in write speeds and a slight disadvantage in read bandwidth.
The new drive comes enclosed in a "dashing, durable, lightweight aluminum casing" and boasts a shock resistance rating of 1500G/0.5ms. In other words, it could probably survive an accidental drop or three, even if the rest of your laptop doesn't.
Ruh-roh, Shaggy, it looks as though SSDs might not be all that and a bag of chips after all. Or more specifically, Intel's mighty X25-M SSD may prove a better sprinter than a marathon runner.
One of the major concerns with SSD technology is that the cells are good only for a finite number of writes, at which point they become read-only. Intel address this potential problem using sector remapping and wear-leveling algorithms, but a new report shows it might carry a nasty performance-reducing side effect.
Most wear-leveling algorithms dynamically move frequently-rewritten logical sectors to different physical sectors of the drive, ensuring that no cells are written to more frequently than others. Intel takes it a step further by extending its remap table into individual sectors, which reduces the number of small block writes needed for small files. The problem, according to PCPerspective, is that Intel's method seriously degrades long-term performance. After two of the site's writers noticed that their X25-M SSDs were performing signicantly slower after a length of time, the review site reran the drives through its gamut of benchmarks and found the drives had indeed degraded in performance, and in some cases, reads were reduced to a paltry 22MB/s. Zoinks!
If you own an X25-M and find that your drive has also slowed down considerably, there are fixes in place. According to Intel, one way to restore performance is to use IOMeter to sequentially write content to the entire drive. PCPerspective said it met with limited success using this method, but had much better results using Intel's second suggestion, which is to use a tool to perform a SECURE ERASE command on the drive. Using an older version of HDDErase (v3.3), the site says it was able to restore its X25-M back to its original performance levels.
Check out the article here, then hit the jump and sound off.
Every time Intel sets foot in the SSD market, something good seems to happen. The company's first foray resulted in one of the fastest SSDs yet available with its X-25M boasting read and write speeds of up to 250MB/s and 70MB/s respectively, and now the chip maker wants to boost capacities.
The amount of storage space most SSDs offer has typically been a weak point with the technology to this point, but according Bloomberg, Intel sent a document to its customers telling them to expect a 320GB SSD in the fourth quarter. The comparatively high capacity SSD will be one of eight new drives Intel plans to release, all of which will be built with 32nm chips.
No word yet on pricing or a specific release date, but if released today, the 320GB SSD would be the consumer market's largest capacity to date. However, Toshiba is also working on a high capacity SSD that will offer 512GB of storage and expects to ship the drive in Q2.
Add Corsair to the list of manufacturers now offering SSDs. Like many others before them, the memory maker is focusing on the mainstream market with its SSD debut, but is skipping lower capacity 32GB and 64GB models, at least for the time being, and has jumped straight to 128GB.
Corsair's also skipping the JMicron 602 controller, which is probably a good move considering the associated complaints of stuttering and poor overall performance. Instead, Corsair's S128 will use a Samsung controller and specially-selected Samsung NAND chips. Just don't expect to be blown away by its performance - the MLC-based SSD comes rated at up to 90MB/s and 70MB/s read and write speeds respectively, although Corsair says that faster drivers are in the works.
No word yet on price and availability in the U.S.,
Now in its third generation of solid state drives (SSDs), SanDisk says its new G3 series qualifies as the world's fastest multi-level cell (MLC) based SSDs, equating the performance to that of a theoretical 40K RPM hard drive. That's a big claim considering that, for the most part, SSDs have thus far failed to push real-world performance boundaries.
SanDisk rates the G3 series at 200MB/s read and 140MB/s write, which the company says is five times speedier than the fastest 7,200 RPM hard drives, and twice that of SSDs shipping in 2008. On the reliability side, which is another concern when it comes to high usage Flash memory, SanDisk says its G3 series can withstand 160 terabytes written (TBW) for the 240GB version before the cells turn into read-only. By SanDisk's measurements, that translates to over a century of typical usage.
Just how low can the memory market go? Pretty freakin' low, according to DRAMeXchange, who revised its flash bit growth from 108 percent in September to 81 percent. By comparison, that number stood at 175 percent in 2006, or more than double what it currently is. DRAMeXchange blames the slowed growth rate on declining demand for electronic gadgets.
Despite the weakened demand, the market research firm estimates 1Gb flash shipments to reach 52 billion units, up significantly from 28 billion in 2008. But as competition continues to heat up in the memory market and push flash storage capacities to new heights, actual chip shipments are expected to decline as a result. Throw in an oversupply of flash memory and there's not much for memory makers to celebrate in 2009.
Also feeling the pinch are SSD sales. There's been a major push in 2008 towards maneuvering SSDs into the mainstream, but despite those efforts, sales have been lower than anticipated.
"The penetration rate of SSD in the low cost PC market will be lower than 10% in 2009,” DRAMeXchange stated. "The short term demand mainly comes from the industrial market and the outcome in the low cost PC market is actually lower than expected, which was due to price and reliability issues."
The upshot, at least for consumers, is that flash memory is dirt cheap, and will probably remain that way at least through the next few months.
MSI has launched it's U1115 Hybrid netbook, which the company bills as the first notebook computer in the world capable of running both SSD and HDD drives at the same time. Combined with its 'ECO on' mode, MSI claims "the battery life of U115 Hybrid is super long." Sounds super duper.
The new netbook operates primarily with the SSD to run Windows, with the HDD being used for storage duties. With ECO on mode, the U115 Hybrid temporarily disconnects the HDD to help extend battery life, presumably offering the best of both worlds. Storage options come in 8GB/120GB (SSD/HDD) and 16GB/160GB configurations.
Outside of the hybrid drive configuation, MSI sticks closely to the standard netbook formula. Underneath the 10-inch hood sits a 1.6GHz Z530 Intel Atom processor, 1GB of DDR2-533 memory, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, a webcam, media card reader, and Windows XP Home.
Most of the talk surrounding solid state storage tends to revolve around the performance numbers, or lack thereof. Sluggish write speeds have hampered the hype on all but a select few models, and while more attention is being paid to the performance numbers, speed isn't the only thing increasing; SSDs are getting bigger.
Toshiba said it will have on display a 512GB solid state drive next month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), with shipments expected in the second quarter of 2009. At 512GB, Toshiba's SSD would rival mobile hard disk drives and qualify as one of the largest capacity SSDs for use in notebooks.
Alongside the 2.5-inch 512GB SSD, Toshiba also plans to release 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB models in both 1.8 an 2.5.-inch drive enclosures or as SSD flash modules. The new drives will be part of Toshiba's upcoming lineup of "fast read/write SSDs" built on a 43nm manufacturing process using multi-level cell (MLC) technology.
"The solid state drive market is evolving rapidly, with higher performance drives to meet market requirements, and differentiated product families targeted for appropriate applications,” said Mr. Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Vice President of Toshiba Corporation's Semiconductor Company. "This new 43nm SSD family balances value/performance characteristics for its targeted consumer applications, through use of MLC NAND and an advanced controller architecture."
Performance for the new drives look promising, with rated read and write speeds up to 250MB/s and 200MB/s respectively.
This past year we've seen a major push by several manufacturers to move solid state drives (SSDs) into the mainstream market, but the lower pricing has often come at the expense of performance. Enter Intel, who did away with any notion of bang/buck and instead focused on lightning-fast read speeds with its X-25M SSD.
Now OCZ is getting into the high performance SSD game with the introduction of its new Vertex series. Unlike the company's existing Core series SSDs,which target average users, the Vertex is aimed squarely at enthusiasts.
"The new Vertex Series of SSD drives are a premium MLC based SSD solution that are designed for consumers that require fast, rugged, and reliable solid state storage,” commented Eugene Chang, Director of Product Management for the OCZ Technology Group. “The Vertex makes use of our newest architecture and controller design complete with 64MB of cache to offer faster transfers and superior overall system response times in a broad range of applications and games."
Write speeds have traditionally been a weak spot for MLC-based SSDs, but that doesn't appear to be the case with the Vertex drives, at least on paper. OCZ claims read and write speeds of up to 200MB/s and 160MB/s respectively. By comparison, Intel claims up to 250MB/s and 70MB/s read and write speeds for its X-25M, making the Vertex appear to be a more balanced higher performance solution.
No word yet on availability, but OCZ did say the Vertex series will come in 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, and 250GB capacities. MSRPs for the 30GB-250GB will be set at $130, $250, $470, and $870 respectively.
If you're going to throw the gauntlet down, do it a big way and let the competition know what they're up against. That's exactly what Micron has done, who demoed a new SSD drive like no other we've seen before.
Unlike standard SSDs, which come equipped for either a PATA or SATA interface, Micron's prototype drive eschews such quaint bandwidth limits and instead makes do with a PCI-E slot. The end result is a new level of benchmarking that blows every other SSD to date out of the water, including Intel's mighty X-25M.
The YouTube video does a poor job of zeroing in on the benchmarks during the demonstration, but Micron's Joe Jeddeloh reads off the numbers as the two-card test setup runs through a short series of tests. During an Iometer run, Jeddeloh claims the dual drive configuration posted 200,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second), proclaiming "that's what Flash can do when managed correctly."
While the demonstration showed two cards running in unison, later in the video Jeddeloh holds up a single PCI-E card that combines the two displayed in the test bed with 16 Flash channels and an x8 PCI-E connector. He says the card will achieve over 1GB/s of bandwidth and at least 200,000 IOPS, "coming to you soon."