60/64 GB SSD Shootout: Crucial, Samsung, And SandForce

Simplfying The SandForce Landscape

As mentioned, we're benchmarking two different SandForce-based drives to help simplify this story a bit. The reasoning here is sound: two SF-22xx-based SSDs of the same capacity will perform almost identically, providing that they both employ the same NAND interface. The thing is, not all vendors use the same NAND, and that's why there is some variation between drives centering on the same controller hardware.

Second-gen SandForce SSDs are available with different flavors of memory, and this is their order of performance, from highest to lowest.

  1. SandForce with Toggle-mode NAND (i.e. Mushkin Chronos Deluxe, Patriot Wildfire, OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS)
  2. SandForce with Synchronous ONFi NAND (i.e. OCZ Vertex 3, Corsair Force GT, Kingston HyperX)
  3. SandForce with Asynchronous ONFi NAND (i.e. OCZ Agility 3, Corsair Force 3, Mushkin Chronos, Patriot Pyro)

Toggle-mode and ONFi are simply interface standards, similar to the way FireWire and USB are. They arose from a design disagreement among NAND manufacturers. Intel and Micron back ONFi, while Toshiba and Samsung support Toggle-mode. However, making a simple performance comparison between the two NAND interfaces isn’t easy. Due to the differences in the signaling architecture, it’s not appropriate to compare their peak bandwidth ratings. With that said, Toggle-mode-equipped SSDs commonly top our performance charts, and are some of the fastest SATA drives that we’ve ever tested. 

However, SandForce SSDs armed with Toggle-mode memory are virtually nonexistent at the 60 GB capacity point. That’s why we’re limiting our round-up to SandForce SSDs with ONFi-compatible flash. Even within that sub-division there are two varieties: asynchronous and synchronous. Distinguishing between them requires looking up the part numbers silk screened on the package. Intel and Micron make both types of ONFi-compatible flash, so knowing the brand won’t help.

While there are inherent signaling differences that separate the two types of flash found in these smaller SSDs, the key to remember is that synchronous interface is faster. It's also going to increasingly replace cheaper asynchronous memory moving forward. We're testing both memory interfaces to help quantify how much performance variance you might expect to see.

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43 comments
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  • what about ocz vertex 3 ?
    -1
  • GhosT94what about ocz vertex 3 ?

    Read page 2.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    6
  • Wow. Absolutely wonderful article. I did second guess my decision on SSD for my next build for a few. But honestly I'm just using it as a boot drive.
    2
  • kixofmyg0tWow. Absolutely wonderful article. I did second guess my decision on SSD for my next build for a few. But honestly I'm just using it as a boot drive.


    Glad to hear that!

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
    TomsHardware.com
    1
  • gr888888!
    0
  • Ok, so I have the whole SSD for boot, HDD for storage and less intensive programs, but I have a practicality question:

    Is there a way to have files and programs automatically downloaded, installed, and run from the HDD without doing it manually every time if I have the SSD as the base drive?
    0
  • rossi004Ok, so I have the whole SSD for boot, HDD for storage and less intensive programs, but I have a practicality question:Is there a way to have files and programs automatically downloaded, installed, and run from the HDD without doing it manually every time if I have the SSD as the base drive?


    You can move your personal folders to your HDD (my documents, my music, downloads, ...), so downloads will end up there automaticaly, but programs will go to your C drive (SSD) by default.
    1
  • james_1978You can move your personal folders to your HDD (my documents, my music, downloads, ...), so downloads will end up there automaticaly, but programs will go to your C drive (SSD) by default.

    Ok, sorry, but actually you can move your program files by editing the registry:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/6643-63-windows-boot-drive-user-files-program-files-normal
    Moving only user files is far easier nevertheless, just using "move" in the folder properties...
    0
  • james_1978Ok, sorry, but actually you can move your program files by editing the registry:Moving only user files is far easier nevertheless, just using "move" in the folder properties...

    "Add an url" didn't quite work for me :-)
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/6643-63-windows-boot-drive-user-files-program-files-normal
    0
  • nice article

    Worth mentioning, plextor PX-M3S are micron based and use toggle nand
    I don't think they make a 64GB version however
    0
  • Are the tests on the m4 with the new firmware, if not then is you update the firmware the m4 is overall better. 120gb sandforce speeds anyone in a 64gb package.
    0
  • Hey great in-depth article Andrew, really liked it!

    BTW: Intel lists different IOPS for its drives. They say, for example, that:
    Random Write (8GB Span)=21000 IOPS
    Random Write (100% Span)=600 IOPS

    Reads seem to be unaffected. What's this about?


    p.s. The graphs in any article (in general) aren't readable using the iOS app :( have to open it in safari then use the reader...and some comments aren't displayed entirely...i'm using an ipod touch, maybe it works fine on a tablet? :O Just thought i'd let someone know, didn't who develops the app...
    0
  • What kind of flash does Super Talent use in their 64GB SATA III drives? They are hardly any slower than the higher capacity drives, which shows lower capacity doesn't always have to mean lower speed.
    0
  • Confirms my good decision to buy the 64GB m4! :)
    0
  • my Nokia 2688 is hot and faitning
    1
  • http://www.hardocp.com/article/2011/08/07/nand_flash_faces_off_synchronous_vs_asynchronous/1

    Something that isn't even mentioned in the article is how full these drives were when benched. A fresh installed SSD with most of its capacity available will perform wonderfully. In real world scenarios where the drive is at 50% capacity however, the asynchronous drives performance falls off the map while the synchronous drives continue to perform well.

    Another issue that really could have been tackled here is RAID0 and performance per dollar of the 60/64GB drives vs their 128/256GB counterparts. I know there is a RAID0 scaling article already out there it would have been nice to see that incorporated here.

    Looking strictly at these benches it would seem as though a 256 m4 is the automatic choice. Maybe straight out of the box, not taking RAID0 into consideration that's the case. Once the drives start filling and considering the near 100% scaling of RAID I think you'd come to a different conclusion.
    2
  • So, it is pretty clear that at the current flash density 64GB is both too slow (even slower than an old-tech HDD in some cases!) and too inconvenient (fits almost nothing you want to be faster).
    If you cannot afford at least 120GB, just wait and save money, with money saving and prices falling soon you will be able to buy it and enjoy your speed with almost everything except videos and backups/archives (for which HDDs are absolutely adequate).
    Or 240GB better yet.
    2
  • *&^*&, should have bought it back on Black Friday when it was $100 bundled with Batman: Arkham City, but didn't had the money at the time.
    0
  • Thanks Andrew.

    I'm getting a Samsung ... this looks to good to miss as a new boot drive, and I'll keep my Momentus XT for storage.

    I'm thinking of 2 of the Seagates in RAID0.

    Does that seem good value for the money ?

    cheers.

    :)
    1
  • I have had a single crucial m4 64 GB running for a little over a year now as a rock solid and fast OS/APP drive
    0