The hits just keep coming for Plextor. Last year, the company launched the M6 Pro that was later recalled for losing customer data. When a fix was ready, the new firmware failed to drive satisfactory performance consistency when pushed hard. Plextor claimed the fifth firmware for M6 Pro fixes all of the issues, but we've yet to test our drives for the fifth and final time to find out. Then again, you would never know about the issues if you read the staggering number of reviews that issued awards for the M6 Pro, many written when the drive was chewing through customer data like Cookie Monster.
Plextor added a new enthusiast class product last year as well, the M6e. This product used a Marvell PCIe 2.0 x2 AHCI controller and outperformed competing SATA-based products. Samsung also released a native PCIe SSD for the client market around the same time, the XP941. The Samsung product cost less than Plextor's M6e and nearly doubled the performance in some measurable metrics. The M6e needed a boost, so the company slapped a heatsink over the same M.2 drive, changed the PCB color to black, and called it the "M6e Black Edition." The new "gamer" model looked the part, but aside from a firmware update and new DRAM cache software, the two M6e products were the same.
Fast forward to Computex 2015, and Plextor again claimed to have a competitive enthusiast product based on Marvell's Altaplus controller. The Altaplus uses PCIe 2.0 with four lanes and was first demonstrated by Marvell at CES in 2014. The controller was also used in Kingston's Predator PCIe SSD, but in our tests, we determined the controller was unable to keep pace with Samsung's less expensive SM951 AHCI SSD.
Plextor was supposed to bring the M7e Altaplus product to Flash Memory Summit 2015, but the product was a no-show. The M7e would have kicked off the M7 series, but the company chose to introduce the value-focused M6V product to North America instead. The M6V uses Toshiba's 15nm TLC flash and was introduced in Europe over a month ago. Apparently, North American readers are unable to read tech websites in Europe now; in the sole review online, Plextor claimed the M6V was shipping as of last month, but we are still unable to purchase the drive in Europe or in the land of the free.
That was quite a buildup to get to the meat of the story. We recently learned that Plextor canceled the M7e with Altaplus because it's not competitive with Samsung's SM951 SSD that has shipped for the last six months. While some may not care, we were actually looking forward to the M7e, because the drive scales to 1 TB of NAND flash capacity in an M.2 22110 form factor. Samsung has yet to release a 1 TB PCIe client SSD. Maybe Plextor heard the rumors about the 950 Pro coming to market soon.
Either way, the M7e is another failed product in the Plextor portfolio. Plextor can nudge Marvell hard enough to get Eldora and Eldora Lite to market before we go through another year and another product category dominated by Samsung, though.