Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Meet Crucial's m4, Micron's RealSSD C400

Crucial m4 And Intel SSD 320: The Other SSD Competitors
By

Crucial's m4: Not Old, Not New

Similar to the SSD 320-series, Crucial's newest drive is more of a refresh than a completely new product. These two product launches are really driven by the shift over to 25 nm NAND flash.

Beyond the rebranded name and memory, there isn't much difference between m4 and its predecessor (Crucial's RealSSD C300 review). The improved specs are primarily the result of the new 25 nm process. Sequential read performance sees a small bump up to 415 MB/s, while sequential write performance is now 260 MB/s. In comparison, random read performance has dropped to 40 000 IOPS, but random writes have increased to 50 000 IOPS.


Crucial RealSSD C300 128 GB
Crucial RealSSD C300 256 GB
Crucial m4 128 GB
Crucial m4 256 GB
Sequential Read
Up to 355 MB/s
Up to 355 MB/s
Up to 415 MB/s
Up to 415 MB/s
Sequential Write
Up to 140 MB/s
Up to 215 MB/s
Up to 175 MB/s
Up to 260 MB/s
4 KB Random Read
Up to 50 000 IOPS
Up to 60 000 IOPSUp to 40 000 IOPSUp to 40 000 IOPS
4 KB Random Write
Up to 30 000 IOPS
Up to 45 000 IOPSUp to 35 000 IOPS
Up to 50 000 IOPS
Cache
256 MB
256 MB256 MB256 MB
NAND Flash Components
34 nm MLC, ONFI 2.1
34 nm MLC, ONFI 2.125 nm MLC, ONFI 2.225 nm MLC, ONFI 2.2
Raw NAND
128 GB
256 GB
128 GB
256 GB
Interface
SATA 6Gb/s
SATA 6Gb/s
SATA 6Gb/s
SATA 6Gb/s


Inside Crucial's m4

Micron tells us this is the same Marvell 8SS9174 controller seen in Crucial’s C300, with a slight revision for ONFI 2.2 compatibility. Architecturally, nothing has changed. Even though the labels suggest three different generations, this is more a matter of firmware.

At the controller's core, there are two ARM9 processors which operate in tandem; one handles host request and other handles NAND requests. Some load balancing occurs when demand on one processor gets too high.

Crucial's RealSSD C300Crucial's RealSSD C300Intel's SSD 510Intel's SSD 510Crucial's m4Crucial's m4

Micron has carried the massive 256 MB cache employed on the C300 over to the m4. Only the 64 GB models have 128 MB. The cache is used mostly for temporary functions, such as table mapping and write tracking. Whenever a write occurs, the controller performs a bit of cleanup to ensure there are enough clean blocks to prevent any performance slow-down, and when the drive sits idle, some garbage collection occurs. This functions independently of the OS, and it's a recipe that Micron believes best preserves performance.

We are still waiting on pricing information for the m4. We are told that the new drives won't be as expensive as the C300's launch prices, but that's fairly vague. The C300 hit the scene with a suggested price of $149.99 (64 GB model), $299.99 (128 GB model), and $599.99 (256 GB model). At close to $2.50 per gigabyte, it was a fair deal, but nothing we would get excited over. Today, the C300 hits close to $2 per gigabyte, and we are hoping the m4 introduces further drops to the C300's price.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 33 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 0 Hide
    rainwilds , March 28, 2011 2:23 PM
    Oooo, Crucial or Vertex? Decisions, decisions!
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 28, 2011 3:28 PM
    Could you expand on the Full Disk Encryption capabilities of the Intel 320?
    If you can actually use hardware FDE on that drive (rather than just secure erase), that's a winner for me.
  • 0 Hide
    bto , March 28, 2011 3:31 PM
    Why does the Intel 510 250GB appear to have two scores in crystalmark? (469.4 and 259.7) on the top benchmark on page: "Benchmark Results: CrystalDiskMark Streaming Performance" the specs are identical for both.
  • 2 Hide
    poppasmurf , March 28, 2011 3:42 PM
    Great lil tidbit, wonder what the difference will be between other SSD's with different interface connections other than physical appearance and the interface connection. More on the lines of pro's and con's between the SSD interface connections I'm referring to the OCZ PCI-e drives vs. SATA 6GB just a thought to stir up the hoop la of ssd's :p 
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , March 28, 2011 4:13 PM
    I am beginning to wonder if we haven't reached the point where the human eye and brain are finding it harder to differentiate performance among ssd's. Some mainstream benchmarks seem to suggest that. Some of the benchmarks in this review seem to indicate the same. There are some very tight groupings.
  • 2 Hide
    henryvalz , March 28, 2011 4:49 PM
    At the speed points that SSDs are functioning, I'm beginning to think that durability and reliability might be the best basis for decision. I would also really like to see some boot times from Windows 7, or loading time for games.
  • 1 Hide
    kev_stev , March 28, 2011 5:13 PM
    Does anyone know when the vertex 3 and M4 are going to actually be available? I have heard rumors that the vertex 3 will be released "any day now" since mid march...
  • -1 Hide
    iamtheking123 , March 28, 2011 7:35 PM
    I'll go SSD in my next build, probably in a year and a half. Right now I'm satisfied with Raid 0-ed 1TB Caviar Blacks.
  • 0 Hide
    foscooter , March 28, 2011 8:19 PM
    No mention of a release date. When will they be "in stores?" Q2 isn't exact enough.
  • -1 Hide
    zerapio , March 28, 2011 8:20 PM
    Alert! Spelling police is coming and their PISSED

    (yes, it was intentional)
  • 0 Hide
    microking4u , March 28, 2011 8:23 PM
    Why are the I/O's for this drive way off on your review compared to others such as Anand and PCPer?
  • 0 Hide
    groberts101 , March 28, 2011 9:00 PM
    Would have been interesting to see those Vantage marks on a Vertex 3 that hadn't already been hammered into a throttled state by all the previous tests. While it obviously shows the stamina and expected performance of the V3 after extremely heavy usage, the test doesn't take into consideration what many will see on newly installed drives that are used moderately. From that standpoint, the testing protocol is flawed, IMO.

    IOW, the testing protocol in reverse would have been more interesting to see typical Vantage scores from an unthrottled controller. I know for fact through personal beta-testing of the V3 that they would have been much higher.

    Or even better yet would be too take into account the special Durawrite throttling which the Sandforce drives STILL have built into the firmware(though not nearly as aggressive as the V2). Would surely give a nice little boost to SF through secure erase cleansing. If done at the 50% point it would show the potential in certain portions of the test suite that most WOULD see when not hitting thier drives with benchmark after benchmark in some sort of "hammer em' till the dust settles" protocol.

    Decent enough writeup though and all the review sites will eventually get it figured out, I guess.
  • 0 Hide
    PraxGTI , March 28, 2011 9:39 PM
    Our SQL server has done more than 5*10^25 I/O Write Bytes in its 3 years lifespan. I really doubt the reliability of SSDs in a corporate server, although the IOs would be nice since our server can be crippled to 500% disk usage with disk queue sizes up to 8 at times.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 29, 2011 12:27 AM
    praxgtiOur SQL server has done more than 5*10^25 I/O Write Bytes in its 3 years lifespan. I really doubt the reliability of SSDs in a corporate server, although the IOs would be nice since our server can be crippled to 500% disk usage with disk queue sizes up to 8 at times.


    How did you work that one out,

    10^24 bytes is a 1 yobibyte = 2^80 bytes = 1208925819614629174706176 bytes = 1,024 zebibytes

    1 zebibyte = 270 bytes = 1180591620717411303424 bytes = 1,024 exbibytes

    1 exbibyte = 260 bytes = 1152921504606846976 bytes = 1,024 pebibytes

    All of the data in the world on every hard drive is estimated at around 500 exbibytes.

    even in bits you are in order of several magnitude off
  • 1 Hide
    acku , March 29, 2011 12:28 AM
    Quote:
    Would have been interesting to see those Vantage marks on a Vertex 3 that hadn't already been hammered into a throttled state by all the previous tests. While it obviously shows the stamina and expected performance of the V3 after extremely heavy usage, the test doesn't take into consideration what many will see on newly installed drives that are used moderately. From that standpoint, the testing protocol is flawed, IMO.

    IOW, the testing protocol in reverse would have been more interesting to see typical Vantage scores from an unthrottled controller. I know for fact through personal beta-testing of the V3 that they would have been much higher.

    Or even better yet would be too take into account the special Durawrite throttling which the Sandforce drives STILL have built into the firmware(though not nearly as aggressive as the V2). Would surely give a nice little boost to SF through secure erase cleansing. If done at the 50% point it would show the potential in certain portions of the test suite that most WOULD see when not hitting thier drives with benchmark after benchmark in some sort of "hammer em' till the dust settles" protocol.

    Decent enough writeup though and all the review sites will eventually get it figured out, I guess.


    Hi groberts101,

    The test are actually run backwards. We just have help in a different order in the review. :) 

    Cheers,
    Andrew
    TomsHardware
  • 0 Hide
    acku , March 29, 2011 12:29 AM
    Quote:
    Why does the Intel 510 250GB appear to have two scores in crystalmark? (469.4 and 259.7) on the top benchmark on page: "Benchmark Results: CrystalDiskMark Streaming Performance" the specs are identical for both.


    I think there is a legend in the lower right hand corner. One is using the 6Gb/s port and one is using the 3Gb/s port.
  • 0 Hide
    acku , March 29, 2011 3:46 AM
    Quote:
    Why are the I/O's for this drive way off on your review compared to others such as Anand and PCPer?

    Which ones are you referencing?
  • 0 Hide
    ww2003 , March 29, 2011 4:35 AM
    From what i have been hearing the new vortec 3 is going to be the best SSD on the market with faster speeds the any other one has right now.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , March 29, 2011 5:13 AM
    I like the part in the conclusion that one not need the fastest SSDs out there especially for desktop uses.
    In my opinion, Intel has a point with their new products and pricing, enable bigger capacities at lower capacities.
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , March 29, 2011 5:16 AM
    I meant prices. :p 

    zodiacfmlI like the part in the conclusion that one not need the fastest SSDs out there especially for desktop uses. In my opinion, Intel has a point with their new products and pricing, enable bigger capacities at lower capacities.

Display more comments