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SSD 2010 roundup: 15 SSDs compared
by Marc Prieur
Published on October 24, 2010

SandForce SF-1200
Unveiled to the public at the end of 2009 on the occasion of a partnership with OCZ (them again!), the SF-1200 is SandForce’s general consumer SSD. In contrast to a lot of modern controllers, it doesn’t use an external cache but rather a small internal one coupled with sophisticated algorithms grouped under the name DuraWrite. Among the algorithms used is the compression of written data onto the SSD, which has the merit of economising the flash but which naturally won’t work on files that are already compressed, as is the case with archives as well as most multimedia files (mp3s, jpegs, mpegs and so on).

While most SSDs reserve around 6.8% of flash space for wear leveling and internal optimisation, SandForce goes further, reserving 12.6% (60/120/240 GB versions) or 27.2% (100/200 GB versions). Many manufacturers offer SSDs based on the SF-1200, such as OCZ with the Vertex 2s and Agility 2s, Corsair with the Force Series and G.Skill with the Phoenix.
OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB
Launched in April 2010, the OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB uses the SandForce SF-1200 without RAM but with 128 GB of flash memory made up of 16 x 8GB chips manufactured by Intel/Micron at 34nm. This SSD comes with firmware exclusive to OCZ which unblocks the SF-1200 in terms of random writes, taking it from 10,000 IO/s to 30,000 IO/s.
Corsair F120
Announced in May 2010, the Corsair F120 is part of a Corsair range using the SF-1200 and available in 40, 60, 80, 120 and 160 GB versions. It is similar to the Vertex 2 120 but with reserved space limited to 12.6%. The whole Corsair F range goes beyond the 10 000 IOPS limit that is found on some SF-1200 SSDs.

G.Skill Phoenix Pro 120 GB
G.Skill also has two ranges of SandForce SSD, the Phoenix and the Phoenix Pro range. The Phoenix range is limited to 10 000 IOPS in random writes by the firmware but not the Phoenix Pros, as is the case with the OCZ Agility 2 and Vertex 2 ranges. In practice, this sort of limitation has no impact on desktop usage. The SSD uses the now traditional 34nm Intel/Micron memory.

Marvell 88SS9174
Very active when it comes to SATA 6 Gbits, Marvell offers controllers designed for motherboards introducing this technology onto Intel platforms (Intel chipsets are currently limited to SATA 3 Gbits) as well as an SSD controller used for the moment exclusively by Crucial.
Crucial C300 128 GB
First SSD with the Marvell controller, the C300 was announced in December 2009 by Micron and in January 2010 by its subsidiary Crucial. The Marvell 88SS9174 comes with a Micron cache of 128 MB and 16 x 8GB 34nm Intel/Micron chips.

SanDisk SDC4
Long anticipated as it was first presented at the beginning of 2009, namely at the same time as the Indilinx Barefoot, the Sandisk G3 only arrived on the market a year later. Like SandForce, SanDisk reserves more flash than the norm (12.6% against 6.8% for the others).
SanDisk G3 120 GB
In its 120 GB version, the G3 uses the SanDisk SDC4 controller which comes with 64 MB of RAM originating from Hynix and addressing 16 x 8 GB MLC SanDisk chips. Note that SanDisk gives a 10 year guarantee on this SSD, while other manufacturers give 2 or 3 years! At a time when some still doubt SSD reliability, SanDisk’s guarantee should be attractive.

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