The first native PCI Express SSD has finally arrived!
The Plextor M6e is the first native PCI Express SSD we’ve been able to get our hands on, so we’re excited to finally see what an SSD can do when it’s not hobbled by the SATA interface and its 550MB/s bottleneck. Instead of SATA or a 2.5-inch device, this drive utilizes the M.2 form factor along with a PCI Express interface, so it can plug into any late-model motherboard and is bootable. The M.2 interface was designed for notebooks as a replacement for mSATA, as it allows for much higher capacities along with different size devices, so it can be mounted in a wider variety of locations compared to mSATA. To create the M6e, Plextor took a “gum stick” drive and mounted it to a PCI Express 2.0 x2 add-in card. Since each PCI Express 2.0 lane allows for 500MB/s of bandwidth, the two lanes connected to this card allow up to 1GB/s of bandwidth, which is around 800MB/s after deducting overhead. This isn’t a massive increase over SATA 6Gb/s speeds, but it’s a decent bump.
Note: This review was originally featured in the June 2014 issue of the magazine.
Look for lower priced SSDs in the coming weeks and months
We have to admit, we've been spoiled by solid state drive price drops in the past year or so. While once considered cost prohibitive by many, SSDs are mostly affordable these days, provided you're not trying to match your 4TB hard drive in capacity. SSDs typically sell for less than 50 cents per gigabyte with prices continuing to drop. Accelerating the process is a price war in China that's leading to even lower cost SSDs.
Comes in more than a dozen capacities and form factors
Micron, the memory chip maker based in Boise, Idaho, announced its M600 SATA solid state drive. According to Micron, the M600 represents a next-generation design that sets a new bar for low-power, high-performance storage for PCs. There are 13 different variations to choose from ranging in capacity from 128GB to 1TB and in 2.5-inch/7mm, mSATA, and M.2 single-sided form factors.
We talk SSD bait-and-switch, pricing of DDR4, and more
Kingston dropped by for a quick visit to show off some new HyperX toys and we figured we’d bring them into the podcast room so you could also get a front seat in on the conversation. On episode #230 of the No BS Podcast, Jimmy and Tom are joined by Kingston’s Senior Technology Manager Mark Tekunoff, Public Relations Manager David Leong, and Reverb Communications Public Relations Director Douglass Perry. In the short half-hour podcast, we look at the company’s new HyperX Cloud headset and discuss the fairly recent “bait and switch” SSD controversy in which synchronous NAND was later swapped out with slower asynchronous NAND on retail shelves. We also talk about the future of DDR4, particularly in regards to pricing, yields, and performance.
That last time we heard from OCZ was back before the end of 2013, when the company was in the grips of bankruptcy and nobody was sure what its future held. Fast forward to March 2014, and things are looking rather good for the formerly beleaguered company, much to everyone’s surprise. Rather than simply dissolve and fade away like we had feared, the company has been acquired by storage behemoth Toshiba, and is now operating as an independent subsidiary.
Note: This review was originally featured in the May 2014 issue of the magazine.
When Toshiba acquired OCZ's storage division and rebranded it as OCZ Storage Solutions, it freed the bankrupt company to concentrate solely on building solid state drives rather than balancing the business side of securing affordable NAND flash memory and trying to contend with shortages. We're starting to see the fruits of this relationship, as OCZ today announced its new ARC 100 SSD Series intended to deliver "exceptional performance an an enticing price point."
Every mobile user who is limited to just one storage bay wants the best of both worlds: SSD speeds with HDD capacities. Both Seagate and WD have a one-drive solution to this problem, with Seagate offering a hybrid 1TB hard drive with an SSD cache for SSD-esque performance, and WD offering a no-compromise 2.5-inch drive with both an SSD and an HDD. These drives are arch rivals, so it’s time to settle the score.
The WD Black2 is an answer to the prayers of mobile users who have just one drive bay but want the speed of an SSD with the capacity of a hard drive. Unlike a hybrid drive, which stores all data on a hard drive but uses a limited amount of flash storage for caching, the WD Black2 features an all-new design whereby a single 2.5-inch enclosure houses both a hard drive and an SSD—two distinct drives that appear to the OS as such, so you can put your OS on the SSD and your data on the hard drive. It’s a brilliant solution that unfortunately gives up a bit of performance in order to conform to the small form factor, but if we had just one storage bay in our notebooks, we’d upgrade to this bad mutha immediately.
Affordable storage packed with advanced security features
Intel announced a new addition to its solid state drive (SSD) family, though it's not intended for home consumers. Instead, Intel's new SSD Pro 2500 Series is intended to bring security features and lower cost of ownership to businesses in need of the kind of "blazing fast" performance SSDs afford. They'll get that with SSD Pro 2500 family, which comes in capacities ranging from 120GB to 480GB.
Kingston Technology today introduced the latest addition to its SSDNow V300 series, the V310. What's special about the V310 is that it's a 960GB SSD, the largest capacity available in Kingston's entire stable of SSDs (the second largest is 480GB, which is available in Kingston's HyperX 3K and V300 Series). The V310 also swaps the custom LSI controller found in the V300 Series for a Phison 3108 controller.