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Samsung throws down the gauntlet when it comes to SSD performance

The solid state disk (SSD) market is really starting to heat up as more player enter the market and NAND flash memory/controller technology improves. A few weeks ago, Super Talent dazzled consumers with a new "budget" line of SSDs which offered surprisingly large storage capacities at relatively affordable levels.

Samsung today is taking tackling the opposite end of the pricing spectrum with its new 256GB SSDs which it plans to introduce later this year. Samsung's new SATA II SSD should obliterate the competition with read speeds of 200MB/sec and write speeds of an amazing 160MB/sec. This compares to 120MB/sec and 40MB/sec respectively for Super Talents latest SSDs. Even Mtron falls far behind Samsung's new 256GB SSD with read speeds of 120MB/sec and write speeds of 100MB/sec.

Most would take a guess that Samsung is using single-level cell (SLC) NAND chips to achieve these unheard of performance figures, however, the company instead settled on cheaper multi-level cell (MLC) NAND chips.

"With development of the 256GB SSD, the notebook PC is on the brink of a second stage of evolution," said Samsung Memory Marketing VP Jim Elliott. "This change is comparable to the evolution from the Sony Walkman to NAND memory-based MP3 players, representing an initial step in the shift to thinner, smaller SSD-based notebooks with significantly improved performance and more than ample storage."

Given the wide performance delta between Samsung's new 256GB SSD and lesser rivals, the drive will likely come to the market with a price tag that pushing into the multi-thousand dollar range. With a price tag that high, the SSD will likely be relegated to high-end business use and for consumer with plenty of money to burn.

However, as the technology matures, we can expect to see prices drop as we have seen with the offerings from Super Talent. And if Intel has anything to say about it, it will offer SSD performance that will rival all contenders and likely will use its girth to push pricing further down to “mere mortal” levels.

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By Visual on 5/27/2008 5:51:51 AM , Rating: 2
Even with old-fashioned magnetic hard-drives in RAID we already are able to saturate the SATA II 300MB/s bandwidth - as far as I understand, that limit is for the combined bandwidth over all drives on the same controller.
We desperately need the next version of SATA now.

I wonder if there are add-on RAID cards that aren't limited like that. Makes sense that there are, but they'd need to be something like PCI-express 2x or even 4x, as a 1x connection only has 250MB/s in one direction.
I guess using several add-on controllers is a way to work around that total bandwidth limit, but mainstream motherboards don't usually have multiple PCI-express ports above 1x.
So we need next version of PCI-express too... It's a good thing that v.2 is already rolling out, but we still need motherboard manufacturers to start putting more, and faster, slots than they are currently.

By misbfa1 on 5/27/2008 11:27:14 AM , Rating: 2
Not true, there was an article where a review website took 9 SSDs and put them in RAID 0. They were able to get near 100% scaling in read and write. I can't remember which site it was. I am going to look around for it and post the link.

They did run into limitations of one boards SATA controller, so they switched to another board and got full transfer rates.

By misbfa1 on 5/27/2008 11:34:17 AM , Rating: 2
Here is the link.

As you can see, even with all those high transfer rates, it didn't help Vista boot times. It helped a lot on shutdown times. However 9x was not any faster than 2x.

By Visual on 5/28/2008 4:43:46 AM , Rating: 2
thanks for the link, it was an interesting read.
good to know there are raid controllers that are indeed able to reach such high transfer rates, too.
but apparently even those controllers will not be enough if they were using these new and faster ssd drives...

about it not helping boot/shutdown times, it's really curious... it is possible that memory or cpu operations are the bottleneck at those rates, but i think it's more likely that the i/o layer software itself is not properly written and optimized with such high rates and low access times in mind. maybe we'll see more difference in the next windows version, or in a properly configured linux.

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