When it comes to performance-oriented solutions in the SSD market, you need look no further than MTRON. Considering they have only been around for two years, this is an impressive feat. MTRON is focusing their engineering efforts entirely on Solid State Drives (SSD). We recently looked at the MTRON MSD-S25032 32GB 2.5" product which advertised maximum read speeds of 100 MB/sec, write speeds of 80 MB/sec, and burst speeds up to 150 MB/sec - all that combined with random access speeds of around 0.1ms. Those specifications far exceed any of the latest SanDisk and Samsung consumer SSD products; these boast 67MB/sec read speeds and 45MB/sec write speeds.

Even then, MTRON was already planning their next product with maximum read speeds of 120 MB/sec and write speeds of 90 MB/sec (and the continued random access speeds of around 0.1ms, of course). The new drives would include improved wear-leveling and bad block algorithms along with enhanced power management capabilities. Dubbed the MTRON SSD Pro, this series features the MSP 7000 lineup that targets the enterprise computing market. MTRON designed these products for the Enterprise sector, but they also make great drives for enthusiasts who "need" blinding speeds for their notebook or desktops, benchmarking activities, or other usage - provided they can live with limited capacities that currently top out at 64GB. This sounds similar to the path the Western Digital Raptor series took in the desktop market - albeit with prices that make the Raptor look downright economical.

Our expectations were set to high levels with the S25032 product, now known as the MSD 3000 family. We waited for the MSP 7000 series to arrive, and it finally did late last week. Not only did our good friends at the Neo Store send us a 32GB MSP 7000, they also delivered an extra one for multi-drive testing, and a 64GB drive should arrive soon. The performance differences between the 2.5" and 3.5" models are nil, so we elected to review the 2.5" drives in order to provide results on notebook and desktop systems along with RAID 0/1 numbers.

Our preview today is just that, and it is short. We just mentioned RAID, but testing of that is still in progress, so stay tuned. We are currently testing these drives on a variety of platforms, chipsets, and operating systems to provide you with an in-depth review of this technology in the near future. However, after receiving numerous requests for test results after featuring this drive in our Holiday Buyers' Guide, we decided to post a few early numbers.

One item of concern from our previous SSD reviews is the performance of the Intel ICH9 and ICH8 chipsets that cap sustained transfer rates at around 80 MB/sec. This performance limitation still holds true and Intel is working on a solution. This limitation greatly affects the synthetic programs like HD Tach and HD Tune, but in actual application benchmarks, we see less of a difference (1%~4%) in performance between the NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel chipsets. However, due to the current Intel bottleneck, we are using a test system that consists of an AMD Phenom 9600, Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-DQ6 with AMD 790FX/SB600 chipsets, 4GB of OCZ Reaper PC2-6400, and Windows Vista 64 Ultimate.

Now, let's take a quick look at this drive and see how it compares to the top performing desktop drive, the venerable Western Digital Raptor 150GB.

HD Tach / HD Tune
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  • DougDumitru - Monday, December 03, 2007 - link

    Mtron rates their drives as >140 years @ 50GB write/day. This is 2,555,000 GB (2.5 Petabytes). At 80 MB/sec, this is 32,704,000 seconds or 378 days. So if you are writing linearly at full drive speed 24x7, it takes just over a year to kill the drive.

    I would be hard pressed to imagine an application that does this other than some data logging/capture specialty use. Even with an actively updated data, the drive should still last 5 years. In terms of failure modes, use Raid.
    Reply
  • tynopik - Tuesday, December 04, 2007 - link

    > In terms of failure modes, use Raid.

    if the failure mode is use of write cycles, all the drives in a raid are going to fail simultaneously . . .
    Reply
  • DougDumitru - Tuesday, December 04, 2007 - link

    Flash cells wear out statistically. When a chip manufacturer rates a chip, they will say something like "less than 3% of cell rows will error in fewer than 100,000 erase/write cycles". The SSDs themselves have ECC to correct small errors and extra cell rows for when the errors get too bad.

    This is not a case of a counter that hits 100,000 and everything dies. Different drives will last differing amounts of time, so raid should protect you. Just don't wait too long before replacing a drive.
    Reply
  • DougDumitru - Monday, December 03, 2007 - link

    A lot of people miss what is happening with Flash SSD write performance. When you do linear writes, the drives are very fast. When you do random writes, they are very very slow. How slow depends on the drive. This Mtron drive does about 125 writes/sec for "small" writes (up to about 64K blocks). This is actually very good compared with other drives. Other Flash SSDs that we have tested range from 13 to 40 writes/sec. We even tested one MLC Flash SSD that does 3.3 writes/sec (which is floppy speed).

    You can look at detailed benchmarks for this drive both single and Raid-5 at:

    http://mtron.easyco.com/news/papers/07-12-01_mtron...">http://mtron.easyco.com/news/papers/07-12-01_mtron...

    Bottom line is that, by themselves, Flash SSDs have trouble with small random writes. This in inherent in the organization of the flash cells themselves. If you want to see a "fix" for this, visit:

    http://managedflash.com">http://managedflash.com

    Doug Dumitru
    CTO EasyCo LLC
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, December 03, 2007 - link

    I know we really limited the benchmark results, but the full review will have significantly more content plus RAID results. We wanted to get the base numbers out after receiving a flood of emails about this drive series and others. Power consumption was 0.55W at idle and hit 2.92W at full load under the video streaming tests. PCMark05 total score was 15941 for the MSP7000 32GB drive, 15343 for the previous 32GB drive, and 7546 for the Raptor. We just received an updated Samsung 64GB SSD drive and will have the MTRON 64GB shortly. Also, Super Talent just sent their new high-speed 256GB SSD drive for review. I just got the final specs and it appears the Super Talent drive will offer read speeds around 60 MB/sec and write speeds around 42 MB/sec, not too bad. Reply
  • AnnihilatorX - Monday, December 03, 2007 - link

    When will Intel fix the ICH8/9 chipset problem?

    I am reluctant to really buy the X38/P35 platform because of this
    But I really don't have much choice if I am going for QX6600.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, December 03, 2007 - link

    I hope to have "final" answers from Intel this week, we have been on them for some time now. We thought it was drivers at first, but we have been through three driver sets without any changes to date. I just received a 945GM/ICH7 mobile platform and will see if that works differently. Another website did not have problems with this setup so we will start testing tonight with the same hardware. Reply
  • userfriendly - Sunday, December 09, 2007 - link

    i'd like to second the question of AnnihilatorX. maybe this issue just isn't important for more than a tiny minority, true. but that doesn't help much if one belongs to that exact minority. <_<

    otherwise, can someone tell me why i can't just plug a penryn quadcore into an amd 790fx motherboard? (i'm only half kidding, this would be my dream team right now. alas...)
    Reply
  • AnnihilatorX - Sunday, December 09, 2007 - link

    Would you get the same problem if you buy an P35 board but use the SATA ports from a SATA PCI-E bridge chip, e.g. Marvell? Reply
  • jackedupandgoodtogo - Monday, December 03, 2007 - link

    This SSD would be perfect as an OS/Application installation drive, while using a Raptor as the data drive. Fast read for booting and loading of apps, fast saves/writing using the Raptors as a data drive. Reply

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