As storage technology moves inexorably toward solid state, Toshiba is determined to be on the forefront of the changeover. The Japanese tech giant has announced plans to expand their selection of 32nm Multi-Level-Cell (MLC) NAND SSD units. The new lineup will include a “Half-Slim” 128GB SSD suitable for use in netbooks. The drives will be capable of 180MB per second read and 70MB per second write speeds.
Lest you assume that Toshiba has forgotten the performance space, there will also be new high performance SSDs. These standard 2.5-inch drives will be capable of 250MB per second read and 180MB per second write speeds. They will be available in sizes ranging from 64GB all the way up to 512GB.
If you’re weary of SSD reliability, fear not. These drives will support the new TRIM commands implemented in Windows 7. The first production samples should show up in Q1, with wide availability in Q2. No pricing information was available.
OCZ this week announced that enterprise solid state drive (SSD) provider WhipTail Technologies will tap into OCZ's "premium" SSDs for products and services the company offers.
"We are proud to support WhipTail with our enterprise class OEM SSD products," commented Ryan Petersen, CEO at the OCZ Technology Group. "WhipTail’s unique Racerunner solution takes full advantage of all the benefits of solid state drives to provide their customers with an exceptional storage appliance that gives their customers a competitive advantage."
WhipTail will use OCZ's SSDs to configure its Racerunner SSD appliances, which consists of a proprietary software stack and are touted as the "fastest flash-based appliances currently on the market."
Seagate’s new line is called Pulsar. According to Seagate, Pulsar is intended for blade and general server applications--which means they will be targeted to the enterprise market segment.
The drives will be built with chips of Seagate’s own design, making use of single-level cell (SLC) technology (for reliability), fit into a 2.5-inch form factor, use a SATA 3Gb/s interface, and will be available in capacities up to 200GB.
Mechanical hard drives still hold the advantage when it comes to capacity and price-per-gigabyte, but there's no touching the speed of a quality solid state drive (SSD). OEMs know this, and while mobile PC users might not be willing to pay the premium placed on SSDs, they may be willing to step up to a 7200 RPM hard drive. In fact, Seagate reckons that by 2011, half of all mobile hard drives will spin at 7200 RPM in order to better compete with their pricier brethren.
By 2012, Seagate predicts most mobile PCs -- even netbooks -- will have transitioned to 7200 RPM hard drives. That's good news for power users more concerned with performance than they are with maximing battery life. The theoretical performance difference between a 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM hard drive sits at about 33 percent, but it can be even more, depending on cache, areal density, and other factors.
The move to faster mobile hard drives at lower price points might not bode so well for SSD adoption, however. SSDs will still trump HDDs in everything from boot times to how long it takes to load an application, but it won't be as pronounced as when compared to a 5400 RPM HDD.
If you're looking for the fastest solid state drive available for your notebook or desktop PC, Micron says look no further than its RealSSD C300 drive. According to Micron, the new drive improves performance in a number of areas, including faster OS boot and hibernate times, speedier application loads, and peppier data transfer and file copying.
"The C300 SSD not only delivers on all the inherent advantages of SSDs -- improved reliability and lower power use -- but also leverages a finely tuned architecture and high-speed ONFI 2.1 NAND to provide a whole new level of performance," said Deal Klein, vice president of memory system development at Micron.
Micron says the performance gains are even better when paired with a SATA 6Gb/s interface. How much so? Try up to 355MB/s reads and up to 216MB/s writes. And in its own internal benchmarking, Micron's C300 scored 45,000 in PC Mark Vantage's HDD Suite.
See a side-by-side showdown between Micron's RealSSD C300 and a hard drive in this YouTube video.
Intel X25-M G2 SSD owners should be lauded for their patience. Don't believe it? See here, here, and, here. We won't fault anyone who takes this next bit of news with guarded optimism, but Intel's newly released 02HD firmware purports to restore TRIM support, and do so without bricking the previously problematic drives.
So far at least, user response in Intel's support forums have been fairly positive. Nobody yet has reported any major problems in the firmware's main support thread, which is a positive sign given the SSD's past problems.
The 02HD firmware applies to both 80GB and 160GB Intel X25-M G2 SSDs built on a 34nm manufacturing process, and in addition to restoring TRIM support, Intel says it also contains "several continuous improvement optimizations intended to provide the best possible user experience."
It’s been a long time since we tested a single-level cell (SLC) SSD, as the market has moved almost entirely over to multi-level cell (MLC) designs. MLC is favored because it’s cheaper to produce and each cell can store two bits of data, rather than one, so you can cram more storage into each flash unit. On the other hand, SLC is faster and is rated for 100,000 read/write cycles, as opposed to 10,000 for MLC. Naturally, SLC is preferred for enterprise solutions, while MLC has captured the consumer market. But with the introduction of the (relatively) affordable Agility EX series, OCZ is hoping to win back some of the consumer market for SLC.
The 60GB Agility EX pairs the popular Indilinx Barefoot controller—responsible for this generation’s blazing-fast, stutter-free SSDs—with 64GB of onboard SLC NAND. It’s worth noting that this is the same capacity as a standard 64GB SSD; OCZ just uses a binary naming convention. In our tests, the Agility EX’s sustained read speeds topped off at around 197MB/s, or approximately six percent slower than the second-gen Intel X-25M. Sustained write speeds, at 175MB/s, were the same as with the Patriot Torqx, an MLC drive using the same Indilinx controller. But the Agility really shone in application tests, with a five percent faster Premiere Pro encoding time and a 13 percent higher PCMark Vantage HDD score than the Torqx.
I’m looking to get a new SSD for my laptop when Windows 7 comes out, and I just read a review on Newegg warning about a drive not supporting Win7’s TRIM feature. A Google search gave me the basics on TRIM, but how important is it, really? I’m having trouble finding which drives support it and am wondering if I should wait before pulling the trigger.
I use my laptop for home and work, so I’d really like to do a clean install on a new drive (for restoration purposes when I really screw something up) and it seems like a perfect time to make the switch. I’m also moving from 32-bit Vista to 64-bit Windows 7, so—as I understand it—I need to wipe regardless.
There's no way around it - if SSDs are to eventually replace mechanical hard drives, manufacturers have to find a way to increase capacity at a reasonable cost. So far, every SSD vendor has failed on both accounts, which is why we're excited to see OCZ release a 1TB SSD.
Also available in the more traditional 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities, the new Colossus 3.5-inch SSD series brings no-holds barred performance to the scene, at least on paper. According to OCZ, each drive is capable of up to 260MB/s reads and writes, up to 220MB/s sustained writes, and up to 14,000 IOPS. That puts the Colossus right up there with the fastest spec'd drives on the market.
"The new Colossus Series is designed to boost desktop and workstation performance and is for high power users tht put a premium on speed, reliability, and maximum storage capacity," said Eugene Chang, VP of Product Management at OCZ. "The Colossus core-architecture is also available to enterprise clients with locked BOMs (build of materials) and customized firmware to match their unique applications."
A 1TB drive certainly makes headway on the capacity front, but the question is, how much will it cost? OCZ didn't say, though previous reports had the then-upcoming drive pegged at $2,500. Ouch.
After a flurry of activity earlier this year, which seemingly saw a new SSD being released every week, we're beginning to see the SSD market cool down a little. But rest assured, manufacturers are still devoting R&D to the flash-based storage segment, as evidenced by G.Skill's new Falcon II 2.5-inch SSDs.
G.Skill says the Falcon II series comes equipped with the new Indilinx ECO controller. Seeing the ECO tag, the first thing that came to mind was what effect will that have on performance, and G.Skill rates its new SSDs at up to 220MB/s reads and 150MB/s writes (110MB/s writes on the 64GB model).
The drives, which are available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities, also boast 64MB of DRAM cache and advanced wear leveling algorithms. G.Skill says the Falcon II series also feature the latest Indilinx 1819 version firmware, which purports to offer improved support for the Windows 7 TRIM command, something Intel's 34nm SSDs have struggled with as of late.