That thing in the above picture is an SSD, and a hoofing big one too. The Plextor M6e is the first M.2 SSD I’ve had arrive in the office, and it’s a 512GB drive that aims to circumvent the limitations of current SATA connections by using the same PCI Express bus that's been providing oodles of bandwidth to graphics cards for years.
Crucial have unveiled their new M550 series of SSDs, hot on the heels of Intel’s SSD 730 drives. These are the first new SSDs of the year, and represent two of the big boys in SSD manufacturing.
Crucial’s M550 is an update to their incredibly successful M500 series, and as such still retains the same commitment to performance and pricing. The M550 drives are competitive with the top SSDs on both of these fronts.
Crucial are using a slightly revised Marvell memory controller in their new drive, along with parent-company Micron’s 20nm NAND Flash to provide the storage. The M550 range comes with a little more space than their M500 counterparts, shifting from 480GB to 512GB, and from 960GB to a full 1TB for the relevant drives.
This is an absolutely tiny solid state drive. Not in capacity terms - nope, it packs 500GB into that frame - but in build size. It’s tough to really get across just how wee the new Samsung 840 EVO mSATA drive is. Even when I tell you it measures some 5 x 3cm that hardly seems to do it justice. The fact is you’d probably miss the drive even once it’s embedded in a mini-ITX motherboard.
The most impressive thing about this little mSATA 840 EVO though is the fact that it has exactly the same performance as it’s chunkier 2.5-inch brethren. In case you’d forgotten, they’re pretty epic when it comes to SSD performance themselves. The 840 EVO mSATA is pure Samsung from top to bottom. It’s got a smattering of 19nm 3-bit MLC NAND Flash attached to that wee slice of PCB, and Samsung’s own MEX memory controller helps shunt data around at excellent speed.
Remember the excellent 1TB Samsung EVO drive I checked out back in the Summer? No matter, Sammy have trumped their own SSD by now releasing one that’s about one third the size of a standard solid state drive. Ladies and gentlefolk, here’s the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA sliver of SSD loveliness.
At 5cm x 3cm the new range of mSATA SSDs is certainly space-conscious and is primarily designed so that those laptop folk have access to the same sort of speedy SSD capacity that we’ve become so used to on the desktop side.
The big problem with solid state drives, even with prices dropping on an almost daily basis, is that getting the storage capacity you really need is often prohibitively expensive. Western Digital are looking to solve the problem with the WD Black2 Dual Drive by pairing a 120GB SSD with a 1TB HDD in a single 2.5-inch package. Basically it looks like any other 120GB SSD, but comes with another 1,000GB of data storage behind it. It's an interesting upgrade option for any system with limited storage options, like a laptop or a small form-factor PC. It means you don’t have to make a compromise between quicker performance with an SSD and the increased capacity, but slower speed, of a standard hard drive.
In the age old battle of mechanical vs. digital it seems that SSDs have finally won. Or at least that's what it looks like on the surface.
Seagate, it was recently reported, will be stopping production of the performance end of its 2.5-inch HDD range at the end of the year. The 7,200RPM drives were once the pinnacle of notebook storage and were the drives of choice for most gaming laptops of the last few years - but no more.
Memory maestros, Crucial, have just announced their first high-capacity, terabyte-class SSD that will actually be affordable for people not on MP’s salaries. While they’re not actually creating a full 1TB drive in the new Crucial M500 series of solid state drives, they are going up to capacities of 960GB. That should give you a bit of space for your Steam library.
The one problem with solid state drives? They don’t last. Non-volatile memory will generally just about last 10,000 read/write cycles before it gives up the ghost and falls over. Like, permanently. Dead. Norwegian Blue-style. Taiwan memory manufacturer, Macronix, though has come up with a neat solution which could extend that life to 100 million read/write cycles.
We’ve been waiting a long while for the full fruits of the marriage of SSD manufacturers OCZ and memory controller creators Indilinx - but with the new OCZ Vector they’re producing a drive that’s all theirs.
The last Vertex 4 solid state drive came with the Indilinx Barefoot 2 controller on its boards, but, while it could claim ownership of the firmware it was running, the silicon itself was very much Marvell-infused. Still, that SSD remains one of my absolute favourite drives, and is still more than relevant now - especially when you can pick up one of the 256GB flavours for just £155.
Intel and Plextor have both announced new additions to their SSD line up this week, hitting low price points for fast solid state drives. While they're timed to arrive at the peak of current generation SSD technology, though, it's what comes next that's really interesting.
Struggling to stay on top of the tiny amount of space you have on your SSD drive? Fear not, as promised in our first guide on how to save save space on your SSD we have a few more tips on creating room for games on your new flash drive.
Solid state storage drives based on NAND flash memory provide more performance per pound than DRAM, and will eventually become the "memory of choice" in a new PC. So says a report by Objective Analysis cited on Computer World today.
Researchers at Objective ran 300 benchmarks comparing aspects of system performance. They tested various combinations of DRAM, SSD drives and traditional hard drives for system storage. While they don't conclude that DRAM will vanish any time soon, they do reckon that dollar for dollar, buying an SSD is a much better upgrade for a current PC. That will improve further in SSD's favour as prices drop and drive technology gets faster.