Apacer Mixes Fast SLC with MLC Flash on a Single Drive

Virtually every memory vendor has been offering flash SSDs, aka solid state hard drives. Most of them, however, have not been available, or only at extreme prices of several hundred dollars for only 32 GB. Flash SSDs in the price are of $1,000 and up typically reach excellent performance, such as the products by M-Tron and Memoright, which we reviewed in the past months.

All high-performance flash SSDs are typically based on SLC flash memory, as this is the only memory type that delivers high read and also high write throughput. Unfortunately, SLC flash is expensive. MLC is a solution to reach higher capacities, but performance drops from up to 130 MB/s with premium Flash SSDs to as little as 30-50 MB/s. Apacer, needless to say, has to overcome the same issues.

The new CAFD Combo ATA Flash Drive is available at a 96 GB capacity, and it consists of 32 GB SLC high-performance flash and 64 GB MLC flash memory for storage that doesn’t have to perform as well. However, overall performance still isn’t quite what it could be: 35 MB/s reads and 25 MB/s write performance for the SLC flash is not too much, and 22 MB/s read plus 13 MB/s write for the MLC flash segment is pathetically slow if you ask me. Both storage partitions appear as different drives, as the 32 GB SLC flash runs as a master and the 64 GB MLC segment runs as slave on the UltraDMA4 interface (66 MB/s).

Although this product supports built-in ECC, it still isn’t very appealing to us. However, we’ll give it a try if Apacer is willing to provide a test sample for review.