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MLC SSDs to Challenge Faster SLC Drives

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 15 comments
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A company called SandForce is in the last stages of prepping its new SF-1500 SSD processor for the mainstream. According to SandForce, its new SSD processors will give lower-cost, and slower MLC-based SSD drives a huge performance boost.

Right now, you can opt for two types of SSDs, SLC and MLC drives. With SLC drives, you'll get faster performance but you lose out on capacity, and prices are significantly higher. This is the main reason why SLC drives, like the Intel X25-E, remain largely in the hands of enterprise customers. Consumer SSD drives are largely based on MLC technology, which uses stacked memory cells to achieve higher capacity at the expense of performance.

SandForce claims that its new SF-1500 controller will not only introduce smart wear-leveling technology, but boost performance significantly. At this time, the controller supports drives up to 512 GB over 3 Gb/sec. SATA with native command queuing (NCQ). The controller will also support SLC drives.

According to the specs:

Max Capacity Supported: 512GB* (using 32Gb/die components)
Performance: Sequential Read Transfer:  250MB/s (@128K blocks)
Sequential Write Transfer:  250MB/s (@128K blocks)
Random Read & Write IOPS:  30,000 (@4K blocks)

We spoke to Intel, and were informed that its MLC based X25-M does 35,000 IOPS for random access, which is still a bit faster than SandForce's numbers. The controller does give a good boost in sequential write performance when compared with drives using IndilinX controllers like OCZ's new Vertex SSD, which tops out at 180 MB/sec. for its 120 GB Vertex.

Hopefully this brings the death of Jmicron's controller.

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  • 6 Hide
    Rancifer7 , April 13, 2009 4:05 PM
    Anything that will bring the price down and performance up for these drives is a good thing in my eyes. Now lets see if what they are saying has any real world merit.
  • 0 Hide
    pbrigido , April 13, 2009 4:17 PM
    Awsome
  • -5 Hide
    judeh101 , April 13, 2009 4:41 PM
    smart wear level... now, everyone will need that technology!
    it's like having a re-allocated sector in SMART.
  • 1 Hide
    SpadeM , April 13, 2009 4:52 PM
    "with native command queuing (NCQ)." How can it have NCQ when that is a feature made specifically for old school hdds that have moving parts.
  • 1 Hide
    TheFace , April 13, 2009 4:54 PM
    I thought that wear leveling technology was common in previous drives. The drawbacks of not having it are well known, as the write/erase cycles in MLC drives are limited to around 100k. If I recall correctly, I'm pretty sure the intel controller has this already, and I would be surprised at any controller that didn't.
  • -2 Hide
    lamorpa , April 13, 2009 5:19 PM
    SpadeM"with native command queuing (NCQ)." How can it have NCQ when that is a feature made specifically for old school hdds that have moving parts.

    1) Look up NCQ 2) Study it's meaning 3) Then comment.
  • 0 Hide
    judeh101 , April 13, 2009 5:39 PM
    NCQ means doing things in order to make it operate more efficiently.
    but however, this may slow down hard dives, I dunno about SSDs.
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , April 13, 2009 5:45 PM
    I am still waiting for these SSDs to cost $70 for 500 GB.
  • -1 Hide
    judeh101 , April 13, 2009 5:47 PM
    falchardI am still waiting for these SSDs to cost $70 for 500 GB.

    I agree with falchard
  • -6 Hide
    thomasxstewart , April 13, 2009 6:15 PM
    BE O/s BEOS, Batch Enhanced O/S. One "Native" command is BEEP. Whoaboi, Complex, when beeptime arrives, you canmake it longer, higher, repeateded multi beeping & even echo, You Choose from code libary, YOU MAKE QUE OF INSTRUCTIONS. In NCQ, Memorysystem Takes Over For You, Forward Slash / is Optional in Script-file BEEP. This was trouble with Batch Enhanced, You or your program Had To Write something, Sometimes or default, while software might NOT Be Coded Correctly in first place or Fragmentation. NCQ is ALL Machine.oPERATOR hAS no IDEA iF tHERE aRE even aNY /, Its Procol Demands NCQ RUN Correctly, ahso, SATA 6Gb/s should double speed OF ABOVE UNIT. It'll just be nice if it works, odds are VERY STRONGLY on NCQ. Other Cueing Protocols seldom are useful,Even if Primary; are disordered & disarraryed at ALL Times, while NCQ Just Keeps Hammering.

    Signed:p HYSICIAN THOMAS STEWART von DRASHEK M.D.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 13, 2009 7:39 PM
    Well,now we can be happy if the prices for 250GB SSD's with these speeds as mentioned above will arrive under $500!

    I'd probably purchase one, once the price gets under $1 per GB; mostly for it's powersaving feats for my notebook.

    about NCQ, it'll be interesting to see how it will work on a SSD indeed; since it basically is a protocol to read the data closest or nearest to the read arm on the HD.
    SSD's mean no moving parts, so does it mean that this SSD is able to read multiple sectors at once? Hope tom's will follow up on the details!
  • 0 Hide
    Tindytim , April 14, 2009 1:18 AM
    SpadeM"with native command queuing (NCQ)." How can it have NCQ when that is a feature made specifically for old school hdds that have moving parts.

    NCQ is also used in newer solid-state drives where the drive encounters latency on the host, rather than the other way around. For example, Intel's X25-E Extreme solid-state drive uses NCQ to ensure that the drive has commands to process while the host system is busy processing CPU tasks.
  • 1 Hide
    baov , April 14, 2009 4:37 AM
    Okay, in what way is this article about "MLC SSDs to Challenge Faster SLC Drives"?
  • 0 Hide
    JeanLuc , April 14, 2009 8:23 AM
    When with Toms Hardware publish their new SDD round up that you were talking about last month?
  • 0 Hide
    snotling , April 14, 2009 12:10 PM
    baovOkay, in what way is this article about "MLC SSDs to Challenge Faster SLC Drives"?

    hey, you know man... the challenge. It's the great challenge...