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Uses new flash controller, available next year

Solid State Drives have been held back by the 300 MB/s limit of the SATA II interface for much of the last year. This led many SSD makers to produce SSDs using the PCIe interfaceMotherboards supporting the new 6Gbps SATA interface hit the market last month, and enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting SSDs that would support the new speeds.

Micron might not be the first name you think of when you consider SSDs, but the company is announcing its new RealSSD C300. It is the first to use a native 6Gbps SATA interface and also first to use ONFI 2.1 high-speed synchronous NAND, making it the fastest SATA-based SSD for notebook and desktop personal computers.

“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 Dean Klein, Vice President of Memory System Development for Micron.

The new drive is capable of read speeds of up to 355 MB/s and write speeds of up to 215MB/s. No random read/write performance figures are available yet. The C300 SSD turns in a score of 45,000 from PC Mark Vantage's HDD Suite. A competitive performance benchmark video is available at

“Hard drives gain little performance advantage when using SATA 6Gb/s because of mechanical limitations,” said Klein. “As a developer of leading-edge NAND technology, along with our sophisticated controller and firmware innovations, Micron is well positioned to tune our drives to take full advantage of the faster speeds achieved using the SATA 6Gb/s interface. The combination of these technology advancements has enabled the RealSSD C300 drive to far outshine the competition.”

The C300 is built using 34nm MLC NAND flash from IM Flash Tech, Micron's joint venture with Intel. It uses a new proprietary NAND flash controller and firmware that was designed in partnership with the Marvell Technology Group.

The new drive is backwards compatible with SATA II motherboards, and will be available in
128GB and 256GB capacities, as well as 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch form factors. Micron is currently sampling the C300 SSD in limited quantities and expects to enter mass production in the first quarter of next year. First availability of the drive will likely be through subsidiary, which sells SSD and memory products made by Micron to consumers.

The C300 is expected to be just the first of many new SSDs in the new year. New NAND flash controller chips from Samsung, SandForce, and Indilinx are expected to provide 6Gbps SATA support, while new high speed DDR NAND flash chips will test their limits.

Update: Micron has confirmed that the C300 uses a new proprietary controller and firmware that was designed in partnership with the Marvell Technology Group. It also uses 2Gb of DDR3 DRAM as cache.

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held back?
By Alphafox78 on 12/2/09, Rating: 0
RE: held back?
By Souka on 12/2/2009 2:17:35 PM , Rating: 4
Classic case of new tech, new problems :)

However, it's nice to see the SSD drives actually saturating native interface, unlike the mechanic HDs and ATA interface of the past.

RE: held back?
By geddarkstorm on 12/2/2009 2:43:42 PM , Rating: 5
250MB/s-260MB/s read is saturating the bus as has been shown by many reviewers, and don't forget you're doing writes too. Just because it's theoretical is 300MB/s for SATA 3Gb, doesn't mean it can actually ever reach that in the practical ;). Welcome to the world of technology.

RE: held back?
By CommodoreVic20 on 12/2/2009 3:13:48 PM , Rating: 2
Probably some overhead in the transfer.

RE: held back?
By Flunk on 12/2/2009 4:05:44 PM , Rating: 3
I think you might be confusing MB with Mb 1 Megabyte (MB) is 8 Megabits (Mb) add on some overhead and 250 MB/s is about what you'll get by maxing out 3Gb/s SATA.

RE: held back?
By Byte on 12/2/2009 11:50:04 PM , Rating: 2
Buses generally use 10b/8b encoding so you just divide by 10 to reach the MBps number and whatever overhead you want to subtract to that. No need to mess with 8s. They do this so that a line doesn't die from a long string of nothing (00000).

RE: held back?
By Shining Arcanine on 12/2/2009 5:44:28 PM , Rating: 1
250 to 270 Mbps is the maximum that the SATA II interface can do after protocol overhead is taken into account. They are bottlenecked by it.

RE: held back?
By ggordonliddy on 12/2/2009 11:21:09 PM , Rating: 4
250 to 270 Mbps is the maximum that the SATA II interface can do
SATA II can only do about 31MB a second? Wow. Got any other hot tips lately?

RE: held back?
By mikeyD95125 on 12/3/2009 12:16:07 AM , Rating: 4
Oh well who doesn't mess up MB and Mb every once in a while?

Sustained transfers are nice show off numbers but the real world performance increase is in low access time and quick random reads/writes.

RE: held back?
By therealnickdanger on 12/4/2009 6:45:27 AM , Rating: 2
I would anticipate a 2GB DDR3 cache will take care of your random writes... ;-)

Sata needs to play catch up
By tastyratz on 12/2/2009 4:21:34 PM , Rating: 2
If sata 3Gbps translates to 250MB in real world with overhead, one could estimate double for sata 6Gbps... meaning 500MB/s. If this drive is 355MB/s now and sata 6Gbps is not even out in full force... we will likely have drives that saturate the sata 6Gbps bus before its readily widely adopted and rolled out.

Sata 12Gbps needs to get here faster than mechanical would have ever needed it to. Time to revisit and accelerate the roadmap.

RE: Sata needs to play catch up
By jRaskell on 12/2/2009 5:24:18 PM , Rating: 2
Not really. While the bandwidth may actually double, the perceptive difference in regular PC usage isn't going to be that noticable.

When 3Gbps is capable of boot times of 7-10 seconds, 6Gbps is going to reduce that by only a few seconds, and 12Gbps is going to reduce it even less than that. (a portion of the boot up time is a result of PC activity, it's not 100% loading from storage device, so it isn't going to be a linear decrease in boot times)

Unless you are regularly working with extremely large file sizes of multiple gb, there just won't be much perceivable increase in perform going from 6Gbps to 12Gbps (considering most activities are already near instant on 3Gbps), not to mention you're likely going to be saving those large files onto a regular hard drive until they start ramping up SSD capacities as well.

RE: Sata needs to play catch up
By Shining Arcanine on 12/2/2009 5:58:43 PM , Rating: 2
The improvements will be even smaller when you consider the fact that random operations on small file sizes (e.g. 4KB) are not bottlenecked by the SATA I interface, much less the SATA II interface.

There could very well be no performance increase from these drives. While there could be one, I am skeptical because they failed to test the drive at 4KB random read/write operations.

RE: Sata needs to play catch up
By tastyratz on 12/3/2009 8:43:15 AM , Rating: 2
What yours and the reply before it is expressing is opinion and confusing your needs in its relation to performance progression. The point is it is possible to create faster drives that quickly will outpace the interface standard, and at the rate of current expansion it will likely not take them very long to do so.

This time last year drive reads were 120-150mb peak... 1 year and it's now DOUBLED in consumer available drives.
a 30gb crucial ssd last September was quoted at a $533 street price. What will $533 get you for a drive now?

Where is Moore when he needs another law?

While you personally or the average person may not be able to always take advantage of the additional speed with their current methods of computing, there are others who may be able to... and their buy in will drive down prices.

As speeds progress and ssd adoption becomes more commonplace a rethink of the current paging system design and programming methodology is neccesary. With the premise of winfs as well (relational database file system) we could quite possibly find ways to take advantage of the enormous increases in speed.

If Good enough was good enough we would all still be on pentium 3's.

RE: Sata needs to play catch up
By Anoxanmore on 12/3/2009 2:45:49 PM , Rating: 2

Pentium II's... I miss mine. *tear*

RE: Sata needs to play catch up
By Belard on 12/2/2009 5:54:57 PM , Rating: 2
SATA 2 has been out for a long time (3 years), HDs don't run much faster on SATA2(3Gbs) over SATA1(1.5GBs) - but with SSDs, they really needed SATA2 and quickly hit the limits. Not all SSDs are about to hit 250+mb/s.

So its understandable that the very first SATA3 drives won't come close to hitting the top speed. PCIe drives are still needed for that ($2500~5000).

Thus, the makers work out the kinks and make improvements to SATA3 controllers and drives... and have a reason for their customers to BUY newer drives in a year or so with more advanced features. So in 2012, expect SSDs to easily hit 450~500MB/s for the TOP end models... while lower end will be cheaper, of course.

By ChrisHF on 12/2/2009 1:49:26 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone know what controller this uses? Intel? Indilinx? A new controller that we have not seen before, perhaps from Micron themselves?

RE: Contoller?
By ChrisHF on 12/2/2009 1:53:13 PM , Rating: 2
Or SandForce?

RE: Contoller?
By wifiwolf on 12/2/2009 2:20:40 PM , Rating: 1
I'm guessing intel since they are partners.

RE: Contoller?
By fleshconsumed on 12/2/2009 2:35:55 PM , Rating: 2
Last Micron drive used indilinx, so it's reasonable to wonder which controller they will use this time.

RE: Contoller?
By RU482 on 12/3/2009 1:06:20 PM , Rating: 2
The last micron drive did not use indilinx. The C200 also used a micron proprietary controller. Performance was around or slightly better than the samsung PM800 controller. Cost of the drives, on the other hand, was parallel to SSDs with the indilinx controller :(

RE: Contoller?
By SAnderson on 12/4/2009 4:02:58 PM , Rating: 2
The Micron C200 used a Micron-Marvel controller as well.
The Crucial drives used Indilidx. Crucial != Micron. Crucial is its own company that can sell whatever parts they want.

Micron direcotor
By itbj2 on 12/2/2009 1:49:21 PM , Rating: 1
Why is the guy from Micron dressed like he just got off of a horse. You would think showing a high end technology product dressed like cowboy would have been red flagged by their PR department;

RE: Micron direcotor
By Scabies on 12/2/2009 2:51:34 PM , Rating: 4
RE: Micron direcotor
By gemsurf on 12/2/2009 3:00:46 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like Sykes is getting ready to tailgate at a Boise State Bronco Football game! Good stuff!!

RE: Micron direcotor
By SAnderson on 12/2/2009 3:39:42 PM , Rating: 2
Attire at Micron is casual, such as what he is wearing. Jeans and Polo/button up shirt/etc.

Still waiting
By twhittet on 12/2/2009 1:59:24 PM , Rating: 4
Just give me 60-80gigs, saturating normal SATA II in read, write, AND random, for $100. Please?!!!?

RE: Still waiting
By siuol11 on 12/3/2009 8:56:07 PM , Rating: 2
Amen! Great performance is one thing, but when it costs more than my laptop its just not reasonable!

By XtAzY on 12/2/2009 7:33:02 PM , Rating: 2
It also uses 2Gb of DDR3 DRAM as cache.

Are you serious??.......WOW....!!

By etherreal on 12/2/2009 10:27:40 PM , Rating: 2
That is 2 Giga bits , not 2 Giga bytes . 2Gb=256MB.

By XtAzY on 12/2/2009 11:33:52 PM , Rating: 2
ah... i guess i got too excited and read too fast... thanks for the correction!

By etrading59 on 12/7/2009 7:42:23 AM , Rating: 2
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