Just a couple of weeks after I posted my thoughts on next generation SSDs and the switch to 25nm, OCZ and Intel has now announed their new drives. OCZ continues to be one of the closest partners to SandForce and will probably be the first to bring a next generation SSD based on the new SandForce SF-2281 controller to market in March/April. This controller is capable of over 500MB sequential (read: large files) read AND write speed! IOPS (read: small files) can get as high as 60.000, but only for 15 seconds on the consumer drive before it gets capped at 20.000 IOPS. But this is not an issue for regular consumers, as 20.000 IOPS is high enough for normal use. The all new SF-2281 controller not only supports SATA 6 Gbps, it really needs it. SandForce has actually stated that for reaching the drives true potential, you must use Intel’s new ‘Sandy Bridge’ platform, as previous SATA 6 Gbps just doesn’t cut it. (I.e. the popular Marvel controller used in the X58 chipsets, although a new controller supposedly is in the works.) They would become a bottleneck, as they can’t handle the throughput that these new drives provide. Other manufacturers joining Team SandForce: Corsair (Force GT), G.Skill (Phoenix II), Patriot (Wildfire), amongst others.
Intel finally released their SSD 510 Series and the biggest surprise was the use of the Marvell 9174 controller. Intel previously have used it’s own flash, firmware and controller, so this was quite a chocker for SSD enthusiasts and the corresponding news sites. This is the same controller used in the Corsair Performance 3 Series (and the upcoming Micron/Crucial RealSSD C400), except that Intel has tweaked it for better sequential transfer speeds. IOPS is actually lower than X-25M G2, as you can see in the table below (courtesy of Tom’s Hardware).
Another interesting tidbit, is the use of 34nm flash. Also, the 120GB model is noticeably slower. According to several reviews, this isn’t the ‘G3’ (aka ‘Postville Refresh’) that got leaked last year. That is still to come. One speculates that Intel felt the pressure to release a SATA 6Gbps SSD, and had to go with Marvell’s controller, as it’s own ‘G3’ isn’t ready yet. Only time will tell.
My post SSD reviews from around the web is already updated with Intel’s 510 Series and OCZ Vertex 3 (beta hardware with beta firmware).