I always find it odd when a consumer SSD performs better during heavy workloads than moderate workloads. The problem isn't that the drive is faster under heavy load, but that it doesn't provide increased performance during lighter loads. Flash processor designers turned to SLC technology to make 3-bit per cell flash a viable option for PC use -- it increased both performance and endurance. Some companies have paired TLC with MLC flash, but with mixed results. The brief increase in performance works well for desktop use, but the corresponding drop-off hurts heavy workload performance where the focus is on consistency.
The new SC308 is a bit of a throwback to older SSDs, but Hynix based it on an older controller that the company revised over the years to work with new types of flash. Much of the LAMD technology still exists in the SH87820BB controller, and that's what we see in the performance charts. The original LAMD controllers suffered from poor mixed-workload performance, and it's an issue that hasn't been addressed. In synthetic workloads with a single task, the SH87820BB lights the boards up like a star athlete showing off for a college scout. When double teamed, its game falls apart. Addressing the issue would likely require a significant architectural redesign. The SH87820BB uses only two processor cores to compete with products using as many as eight cores. With more processing resources at its disposal, SK Hynix could release a product that's equal or superior to the Samsung SSDs.
Like Samsung, SK Hynix builds and designs all of the components that make an SSD. These products are largely intended for the OEM market. We've yet to see a true aftermarket SSD from SK Hynix. OEM system builders don't want or need an expensive high-performance SSD because they usually don't sell boutique systems to enthusiasts and power users. We would love to see SK Hynix dedicate resources to building two product lines like Samsung does. One division could focus on the OEM market and another could create products that replace the OEM drives in the aftermarket.
There is a lot of push back in the industry towards aftermarket upgrades. SSDs have fallen prey with TLC flash taking over the consumer market, but I don't know many people are shopping for a drive that's slower than one they purchased three years ago. The dream of everyone owning a beige box died long ago, so the larger players are trying to reinvent the idea with a brushed aluminum finish. When it comes to SATA SSDs, they are winning. Your only way to protest is to buy a NVMe drive with MLC flash, but it won't be long before those disappear, too.
SK Hynix designed the SC308 to be a throwback to when SATA SSDs had muscle, but it didn't execute well. The same controller paired with planar TLC flash and an SLC buffer easily outperforms the SC308 under desktop workloads. The SL308 is still a very good drive even though it doesn't deliver consistent performance for professional applications.
To get good sustained performance in 2017 you either need to upgrade to several components that work well with NVMe SSDs, or you need to sacrifice some desktop performance. Niche markets consist of products designed for a specific application or task that isn’t common. That's where the SK Hynix SC308 sits. It's a good SSD for some users, but it's clearly not for everyone.
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