The SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD currently sits at the top of every High-Performance SATA slot in our Best SSDs of 2015 ranking. The drive is an amazing performer that retains its high performance even under extreme load. Because of that, we've chosen it over Samsung's 850 Pro that can lose performance after heavy use. The Extreme Pro has everything you would expect to find in a workstation SSD, so seeing them at mid-level prices gets us excited.
For the last several days, we've seen the prices plummet on Extreme Pro SSDs. The 480 GB model appears to be the best value, with prices dipping down to $165 at more than one etailer. The 240 GB drive has been as low as $65, but we were not able to find that price when we wrote this article. Currently, the Extreme Pro 960 GB sells for $330, around $30 more than many of the new very low-cost TLC-based SSDs that make up the entry-level, but $15 less than the 850 EVO, the product that all entry level SSDs are compared to.
Clearing Out Inventory?
The last time SanDisk was aggressive with an Extreme Series SSD was nearly two years ago with the Extreme II. Extreme II prices had the same sudden and large price drop off prior to the Extreme Pro launch. There was a one- to two-month window to purchase an Extreme II at low price levels before warehouse stock depleted.
It's reasonable to assume that SanDisk has a new flash weapon ready to display at CES 2015. We've talked to people deep inside the company and heard a few rumors about what may come to market. SanDisk's new high-performance SSD could be two new models that utilize 15nm lithography. The first should be a new SATA 6 Gb/s model to replace the Extreme Pro. The second is a bit more interesting.
Using Fusion-IO IP?
It's long been rumored that SanDisk will release a new client-based SSD using Fusion-IO technology, which SanDisk acquired in 2014. Fusion-IO is no stranger to client SSDs; in 2009, the company released the ioXtreme (MSRP $895) and ioXtreme Pro (MSRP $1,499) for high-performance enthusiasts and power users. The drives never gained popularity with users due to high cost and the inability to boot Windows off of the drives as the primary storage volume.
The drives used Xilinx FPGA controllers over a PCIe 2.0 x4 interface to deliver up to 700 MB/s of sequential read performance. In 2009, flash was very expensive. Since then, lithography shrinks have reduced the cost of flash, and Fusion-IO controllers have also increased in performance in that time. The Xilinx FPGA controller used on the ioXtreme featured 25 channels with a dedicated channel to ECC. Modern Fusion-IO SSDs scale to 6.4 TB in capacity and deliver significantly more performance than those released in 2009.
It will be interesting to see what SanDisk cooks up for the annual CES BBQ that is just a few months away. Until then, we just have to live with very low cost Extreme Pro SSDs. We're not going to turn that down.