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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 12/2/2009 1:56:07 PM , Rating: 0
most of the drives out there arent being held back by the 3gb sata interface, most only go up to 250mb/sec unless your talking real high end. the only motherboard that has the 6gb connector was proven by anand to be crappy compared to the 3gb intel controller. im waiting for intel to support 6gb natively.

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... ;-)

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