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.