It seems as though SSD manufacturers are increasingly taking aim at the performance market, and that's certainly the case with Corsair's new Extreme Series SSDs.
Available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities, the Extreme Series X32, X64, and X128 boast read speeds of up to 240MB/s and write speeds of up to 170MB/s. All three drives also incorporate the Indilinx Barefoot controller and Samsung MLC NAND flash memory.
"The combination of the Indilinx Barefoot controller, Samsung flash memory, and 64MB of on-board cache delivers blistering, stutter-free performance, eliminating the bottleneck imposed by traditional mechanical hard disks," said Jim Carlton, VP of Marketing at Corsair.
In addition, Corsair says its Extreme Series also come with user-upgradeable firmware, which will later add features such as the upcoming TRIM command for Windows 7.
Corsair says the drives are available now, though we didn't spot any being sold at the usual online outlets. Suffice to say, no word on price.
Home users aren't the only ones reluctant to shell out big bucks for low capacity SSDs; companies are too. But while the former might be justified in waiting until the bang-for-buck ratio becomes a bit more favorable, a new report by J. Gold Association says that companies can save money by investing in SSDs right now.
"Our intent was to identify the true costs associated with equipping notebook computers deployed in the enterprise," said Jack Gold, principal analyst at the firm. "We discovered that the savings were very significant for a standard three year cycle."
According to the report, despite the comparatively high cost of SSDs, a company stands to save about $214 over three years and up to $492 if the notebook remains in service for five years. Part of the savings comes from in-warranty repair costs, which J. Gold Association claims averages out to $970 for a notebook with a conventional hard drive, compared to $715 for one equipped with an SSD.
Other reasons for the disparity include lower failure rates and less power consumption.
Several SSD owners have reported intermittent stuttering, a problem that usually creeps up on drives built around a JMicron controller. But according to Patriot, insufficient cache can also be the culprit, and the company's new Torqx M28 series seeks to solve the problem by doubling the amount of DRAM cache from 64MB to 128MB.
"The Torqx series SSDs takes the technology of SSD to the next level," says Meng J. Choo, Patriot's Flash Product Manager. "Competitor non-cache drives suffered from what consumers described as 'stuttering effect' which inhibited the drive performance. Torqx series addresses this issue with a DRAM cache that acts as a buffer for data transfer bottlenecks and increases the random and sequential read and write transfer speeds."
So far available in both 128GB and 256GB capacities, the Torqx M28 come rated at up to 220MB/s sequential read and up to 200MB/s sequential write speeds - respectable, but not earth moving. Somewhat more impressive, the drives come backed by a 10 year warranty, or at least double that of most hard drives.
Last month, we learned that OCZ would be releasing a Turbo Vertex SSD line with hand picked parts, but no specifications had been finalized at the time. That's no longer the case, as OCZ officially introduced the new series this week, which is being aimed at the performance sector.
"The new Vertex Turbo makes use of the fastest SDR DRAM cache available and a proprietary FTL level firmware that provides an even faster solid state drive for enthusiasts looking for the ultimate desktop or laptop storage upgrade," said Ryan Edwards, Director of Product Management for OCZ.
Available in 30GB, 60GB, 128GB, and 250GB capacities, the new drives sport 64MB of 180MHz DRAM cache. Primed for performance, the flagship 250GB model registers up to 270MB/s read and up to 210MB/s write speeds (the 128GB model checks in with a slightly slower 200MB/s write speed, while both the 30GB and 60GB offer up to 240MB/s and 145MB/s read and write speeds, respectively).
Seagate, who originally planned to serve up enterprise SSD products in 2008 and later changed its target date to sometime in 2009, has suffered a setback in SSD development that may end up delaying the release until at least 2010, according to an investment bank briefing note.
"Notably in the last two weeks, we heard that Seagate (the company we think is closest in terms of market penetration) had another setback in its efforts to design an enterprise storage drive to compete with ZeusIOPS," wrote Kevin D. Vassily, an analyst at investment bank Pacific Crest Securities.
It remains unclear exactly what kind of setback Seagate is running into, but Vassily did bring up LSI in his note, the company Seagate picked to design and supply controller silicon for its SSDs. If Seagate is forced to find a new supplier, it might be mid-2011 or later before Seagate is able to ship SSDs in any volume, Vassily says.
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.