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Angelbird to Bring PCIe SSD on the Cheap

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 44 comments
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Extreme SSD performance over PCI-Express on the cheap? There's hope!

A company called Angelbird is working on bringing high-performance SSD solutions to the masses, specifically, user upgradeable PCI-Express SSD solution.

Called Wings, the PCI-e 4x solution comes equipped with 16GB or 32GB built in. The board allows users to customize the onboard bootloader via the the integrated flash memory. The built in "OS" is called Virtue, and Angelbird says that the board will be fully bootable and configurable on both PCs and Macs. You will also be able to create RAID arrays from within the built in OS, or via a software utility.

The real deal is that the Wings board can take up to 4 SSD boards of varying sizes (2 on the front, 2 on the rear). According to our contact at Angelbird, beta testing has revealed that 4 drives will deliver 1081MB/s. read and 945MB/s. write rates, sustained.

Each of the individual SSD "cards" that you snap into the Wings board, utilize SandForce 1200 controllers, which is essentially the current de-facto standard as far as top performance goes for SSDs. The boards also use Intel NAND flash. Also interesting to note that each SSD board also has a built in USB port, allowing users if they so choose, to remove a board and do transfers via USB.

Pricing for Wings will start at $239 for the 16GB version.

The full press-release below:

KANSAS CITY, MO—OCTOBER 12, 2010---- Angelbird releases the Wings PCI-Express SSD card, the first of its kind that offers up to four user installable SSD drives as well as an embedded 16 or 32GB SSD on board. This solution focuses both on performance for the enterprise market and maximum affordability for the consumers.

The developers at Angelbird believed that it was important to somehow move beyond the SATAII 3Gb/sec transfer rate and yet do it economically. Unlike other solutions out there that are fixed in nature and not expandable, with the Wings card, a user has the ability to simply remove one, two, three, or four drives from the card, and add larger and/ or faster drives as they become available or needed. Additionally, the card comes with its own OS called Virtue ( http://www.angelbird.co.uk/virtue ) that will boot on any machine you install the card in. Within Virtue is a disk configuration utility to allow you maximum flexibility in configuring the volumes for all the various OS on the market.

"Wings ( http://www.angelbird.co.uk/wings ) is the first PCIe SSD solution that offers an extra partition that allows the user to put an ISO [disk image] of their OS and any other necessary drivers in a special place that is always readily available, and doesn’t rely on optical units" says Davide Rutigliano, Founder and Chairman of Angelbird. "Until now PCIe SSD solutions have been only available to the enterprise market, or were limited in that they only ran on certain operating systems or were fixed in size. The bootable Wings card changes the game, yet again, by booting on Windows, Linux and OSX, or allows peaceful coexistence and integration of all of the above on the same system, whether it is a PC or a Mac Pro."

Offering both populated and unpopulated cards, starting at $239.99 for the unpopulated card, and the cards are available with 1, 2, or 4 of their own Crest SSD transformable expansion cartridges ( http://www.angelbird.co.uk/crest ) which are SandForce based and 120GB in size. The single drive Wings card is $539.99, the dual drive card is $839.99 and the 4 drive card is $1399.99. The fully populated card has been tested at over 1.02Gb/second for reads and 900Mb/second for writes which is performance not previously seen at this price point, and never previously seen on a bootable PCIe SSD card, let alone an upgradable one.

Angelbird Limited is based in the United Kingdom, its sales and marketing operations based in the United States, and its development offices based in Holland and China thus taking advantage of the varying regions expertise in different portions of the business.

For more information on the Wings card please visit our product page here: http:// www.angelbird.co.uk/wingsform .
AngelBird expects to complete the production of Wings cards by Halloween 2010. Why Halloween? Because it’s scary fast, that’s why.

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Top Comments
  • 30 Hide
    Anonymous , October 19, 2010 1:18 AM
    i need a new dictionary.... my definition of cheap seems obsolete
  • 17 Hide
    wintermint , October 19, 2010 1:07 AM
    Anything that brings prices down for us customers is good. :D 
  • 11 Hide
    ares1214 , October 19, 2010 1:34 AM
    Would be nice if these things could one day be integrated on the mobo.
Other Comments
    Display all 44 comments.
  • 17 Hide
    wintermint , October 19, 2010 1:07 AM
    Anything that brings prices down for us customers is good. :D 
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , October 19, 2010 1:08 AM
    Wonder if it will be bootable on older computers too...
  • 11 Hide
    jazz84 , October 19, 2010 1:10 AM
    This is amazing! Glad to see a low(er) cost solution with some crazy expandability potential. Looks like the scaling goes FAR beyond what most of us would need. This may be a near future investment...
  • 1 Hide
    Pyroflea , October 19, 2010 1:13 AM
    For that kind of performance, that's dirt cheap! Nice to see prices coming down...
  • 30 Hide
    Anonymous , October 19, 2010 1:18 AM
    i need a new dictionary.... my definition of cheap seems obsolete
  • 1 Hide
    Darkerson , October 19, 2010 1:19 AM
    Nice. Seems promising.
  • 4 Hide
    Hard Line , October 19, 2010 1:29 AM
    I agree I feel as though that is much more expensive than current ssd offerings. the performance I think is what the big deal is that is huge performance just extremely small compared to the ssds out there...

    currently you can get a 128GB ssd drive for around 240 +/- compared to 16GB of this for 240... how is that cheap again?
  • 11 Hide
    ares1214 , October 19, 2010 1:34 AM
    Would be nice if these things could one day be integrated on the mobo.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 19, 2010 1:48 AM
    OCZ's cards are cheaper.

    OCZ (OCZSSDPX-1RVD0080) RevoDrive PCI-Express SSD 80GB, Read: 540MB/s, Write: 450MB/s for $299.99 and a $30 mail in rebate for 269.99.
  • 6 Hide
    cadder , October 19, 2010 1:58 AM
    I didn't catch the "on the cheap" part.

    This harkens back to the old days when you could buy a hard drive on a card for your IBM PC.
  • 4 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , October 19, 2010 2:07 AM
    I like the idea of SSD on a PCI-e slot. Less cable clutter in a case is desirable.
  • 3 Hide
    zoemayne , October 19, 2010 2:10 AM
    jupiter optimus maximusI like the idea of SSD on a PCI-e slot. Less cable clutter in a case is desirable.

    yea and there arent that many usefull pcie devices except for sata6 and usb 3.0 and there arent even that many of those.
  • 2 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , October 19, 2010 2:10 AM
    This reminds me of the days of Amiga! I want to see more ingenuity like this!
  • 2 Hide
    Supertrek32 , October 19, 2010 2:16 AM
    It'll be nice in 15 years when drive these fast are $50 a pop.... Unfortunately I don't think I'll have one of these for the majority of that time period...
  • 2 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , October 19, 2010 2:17 AM
    Hard LineI agree I feel as though that is much more expensive than current ssd offerings. the performance I think is what the big deal is that is huge performance just extremely small compared to the ssds out there... currently you can get a 128GB ssd drive for around 240 +/- compared to 16GB of this for 240... how is that cheap again?
    The fully populated card has been tested at over 1.02Gb/second for reads and 900Mb/second for writes which is performance not previously seen at this price point, and never previously seen on a bootable PCIe SSD card, let alone an upgradable one.
  • 0 Hide
    liveonc , October 19, 2010 2:19 AM
    I luv Lego! Reminds me of something Gigabyte made when SSD's were too expensive, using a PCIe card & RAM kept alive with it's own battery. OCZ OCZ RevoDrive $375 for 120GB with 400Mb/sec is still the sweetheart for the next rig I build, if it gets TRIM...
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , October 19, 2010 2:30 AM
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the current limit for a PCIE 1x link is 500 MB/s. The rev 3 spec will double that, but even then how do they get to 1081 MB/s?
  • -5 Hide
    sykozis , October 19, 2010 2:44 AM
    I expect to hear this company went belly up by this time next year.

    The economy in most countries isn't getting any better and apparently the prices of computer components is going to continue to rise for the most part. Startup companies looking to enter the market at high price points, regardless of the product or it's performance, are more likely to fail because most people aren't going to spend the money.
  • 0 Hide
    chickenhoagie , October 19, 2010 3:07 AM
    frustumCorrect me if I'm wrong, but the current limit for a PCIE 1x link is 500 MB/s. The rev 3 spec will double that, but even then how do they get to 1081 MB/s?

    http://www.brighthub.com/computing/hardware/articles/23289.aspx

    read up on that..i think you'll find your answer. i did :) 
  • 0 Hide
    tygrus , October 19, 2010 3:15 AM
    It looks like a PCI-e 4x card not just 1x. 1x could only get 500MB/s max in one direction with PCI-e v2 spec.
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