At last! After the appearance of our article SSD, TRIM and IOMeter, our SSD product report is ready! On the menu, you will of course find the SSDs that we have been recommending up until now, namely those based on Indilinx Barefoot controllers and the Intel Postvilles. The Intel Postvilles have been tested in 80 GB and 160 GB versions, while the Barefoot is used in no less than 4 of the SSDs tested:
- The Crucial M225 64 GB and 128 GB, which are standard models
- The OCZ Vertex Turbo 120 GB, with an overclocked version of the Barefoot
- The G.Skill Falcon II, which combines a Barefoot with IMFT 34nm flash
Still with a view to give representation to the “old” SSDs, we have also included the OCZ Summit 60/120 GB based on a Samsung controller and which are clones of the Samsung PB22-Js.
5 new SSDs join these:
- The OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB, based on the already famous SandForce SF-1200 controller
- The Crucial C300 128 GB, using the Marvell SATA 6 Gbits/s controller
- The Sandisk G3 120 GB, long-awaited and finally available
- The Kingston SSDNow V SNV425, built around the JMicron JMF618 controller
- The Kingston SSDNow V+ SNVP325, using a Toshiba controller
What is an SSD?
Before anything else, and for those who aren’t necessarily up on the technology, here’s a short recap of what an SSD is. An SSD (or Solid State Drive) is a storage device constituted of flash memory, in opposition to a standard hard drive (HDD) which stocks data on magnetic platters.
SSDs have many advantages over standard hard drives, starting with performance levels and including noise and resistance to knocks. Usage is transparent for the system, they are addressed in the same way as hard drives by the SATA controller.
Their disadvantage comes in the fact that flash memory has a limited lifespan. MLC flash NAND can only be written between 5,000 and 10,000 times depending on its quality but fortunately this is compensated by wear leveling algorithms which share usage across cells and take this drawback completely out of the picture unless you fully rewrite your SSD everyday, which doesn’t correspond to standard usage.
The memory chips are also limited in terms of data retention, because while a new cell can stock data for 10 years, at the end of its life this falls to a year. In practice and now the technology has been available for a couple of years, it looks as if the confidence placed in SSD reliability by manufacturers resulting from wear leveling algorithms has been justified. SSDs do not fail any more frequently than hard drives.