Crucial/Micron RealSSD C300 - The Closest Competitor

While OCZ rushes to be the first to ship these superfast SSDs, Crucial and Micron will soon be shipping their RealSSD C300s. Based on a Marvell controller these drives (Crucial for the channel, Micron for OEMs) are far more traditional in their architecture.

Instead, the innovation comes from the use of ONFi 2.0 MLC NAND flash and a 6Gbps SATA interface. The combination of the two results in some extremely high sequential speeds. A seemingly well architected firmware (and a boatload of DRAM) work together to deliver good random access performance as well.

In testing the C300 it performed very much like a faster X25-M, there was one anomaly that bothered me: maximum write latency.

Like Intel’s X25-M, whenever the C300 goes to write data it also does a bit of cleaning/reorganization of its internal data. The more cleaning the drive has to do, the longer this write process will take. Micron did its best to minimize this overhead but eventually you’ll have to pay the piper. Below you’ll see the average IOPS, average MB/s, average and max write latencies for the C300, X25-M G2 and Vertex LE during my 4KB random write test:

4KB Random Write Performance Average IOPS Average MB/s Average Latency Max Latency
Crucial RealSSD C300 36159 IOPS 141.3 MB/s 0.0827 ms 1277.9 ms
Intel X25-M G2 11773 IOPS 46.0 MB/s 0.255 ms 282.9 ms
OCZ Vertex LE 41523 IOPS 162.2 MB/s 0.072 ms 109 ms

 

While both Crucial and OCZ/SandForce offer incredible average write latencies, Crucial’s max latency is over a second! I haven’t actually seen max write latencies this bad since the JMicron days. But if you look at the average write latency, you’ll see that this max latency scenario basically never happens. I only worry about what happens when it does.

Crucial also warned me that despite the controller’s desire to keep performance as high as possible, if I keep bombarding it with random writes and never let up it may reach a point where it can no longer restore performance to an acceptable level. This sounds a lot like what Intel encountered with the original X25-M bug, although it’s not something I was able to bring about in normal usage thus far. Given the early nature of many of these drives, it’s going to take a lot of consistent use to figure out all of their quirks.

Overall performance of the C300 is excellent. Just like the Vertex LE, it performed admirably in all of our tests. Paired with a 6Gbps controller there’s actual a noticeable improvement in real world performance, although it’s limited to those scenarios where you’re doing a lot of sequential reads from the drive.


6Gbps SATA controller on a PCIe x1 card

The drive’s performance does come at a price. The RealSSD C300 will be available later this month in 128GB and 256GB configurations, priced at $499 and $799 respectively.

OWC - Hot on OCZ’s Heels What’s Intel Doing?
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  • mindless1 - Friday, February 19, 2010 - link

    I meant the above within the context of it using a PCIe, otherwise the SATA600 link would clearly be a bottleneck. Reply
  • mckirkus - Friday, February 19, 2010 - link

    I know what you're saying. But I'm wondering what PCMark scores look like when you remove drive IO as the bottleneck. If the best SSDs are scoring 20,000 would the same system with no disk bottleneck score 25,000? 30?

    In other words, with only SSD scores we're still not sure how close we are to removing the drive bottleneck in system performance. IMO this is an important question and the answer would give these SSD scores some context.
    Reply
  • overzealot - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    I just tried out PCmark on a 2gb ramdrive. My q6600 (stock) had 1 core maxed from about 20% through each test, and got a score of 362,471 in the HDD test. That's with DDR800 folks.
    I'm guessing all the results would be CPU bound so my system is really not the best place to test it.
    Reply
  • overzealot - Monday, February 22, 2010 - link

    Physical Memory: 4 GB (2GB Ramdisk, so really 2)
    Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 5770
    Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate (6.1.7600) 64-bit
    Full suite results:
    PCMark 6,566.0 PCMarks
    Memories 5,596.0
    TV and Movies 4,326.0
    Gaming 5,133.0
    Music 6,085.0
    Communications 5,948.0
    Productivity 6,242.0
    HDD 345,794.0
    The scores for everything would be way too long, here's the HDD results:
    HDD - Windows Defender 1,797,924,224.0 B/s
    HDD - gaming 2,064,242,048.0 B/s
    HDD - importing pictures to Wind 1,810,203,648.0 B/s
    HDD - Windows Vista startup 2,053,050,752.0 B/s
    HDD - video editing using Window 1,549,093,504.0 B/s
    HDD - Windows Media Center 1,607,108,864.0 B/s
    HDD - adding music to Windows Me 1,423,892,096.0 B/s
    HDD - application loading 1,355,910,784.0 B/s
    HDtach rates it at 3GB/s.
    Reply
  • jimhsu - Saturday, February 20, 2010 - link

    There will also be an I/O bottleneck unless the entire dataset can fit directly onto the CPU. The RAM/CPU bottleneck is the Von Neumann bottleneck which is a well known one in computer science (time/space tradeoffs). It's just what's the point at which the bottleneck ceases to become a user issue... Reply
  • srue - Friday, February 19, 2010 - link

    "Despite early messaging to press, the 40GB Kingston SSDNow V Series Boot Drive will never get official TRIM support for Kingston. Luckily some adventurous folks have figured out a way to trick Intel’s firmware updater into thinking Kingston’s drive is worthy of such a gift."

    That first sentence upsets me because I purchased the drive believing TRIM support would eventually come. Granted, I probably would have done the same knowing what I know now, but I thought I was getting a better value.

    Does anyone have a link to the trick mentioned in the second sentence?
    Reply
  • Glenn - Sunday, February 21, 2010 - link

    Here ya go.
    http://www.overclock.net/ssd/656984-how-get-your-k...">http://www.overclock.net/ssd/656984-how...our-king...
    I did this last week and it works great.
    Reply
  • srue - Friday, February 19, 2010 - link

    I found the instructions on overclock.net. Reply
  • mschira - Friday, February 19, 2010 - link

    So I think I would rather go with an intel X25-M

    By the way, what do you guys reckon are two X25-M 80Gb connected to the Intel Motherboard Raid in Raid 0 faster than a X25-M 160Gb?
    Cheers
    M.


    Reply
  • leexgx - Saturday, February 20, 2010 - link

    RAID 0 = no Trim support (maybe get TRIM support)

    160GB SSD would require no fussing to keep the drive tidy (with windows 7 that is standard drivers in AHCI mode) it stay at its advertised speeds as long as the Chipset driver was not installed or the intel matrix driver was Not installed

    i give up for the most part commenting about how pointless RAID 0 with an SSD is, all you get is more data rate speed that you not even notice (unless your messing with Very big files 5-10GB but you lose TRIM so it degrade fast if you Write that much data a lot, One drive would still be faster) SSDs are about 2x data rate (a lot focus on this to much when its random you should be looking at ), 30x random data rate faster or more and the IOPS is 50x faster then an HDD (normally)

    RAID + SSD = Fast for about an week or month then it be slower then 1 SSD
    Reply

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