Testing is nearly complete on the last Corsair SSD that came my way, but this morning UPS dropped off another surprise: the Corsair Force SSD. Based on a derivative of the controller in the OCZ Vertex LE I reviewed earlier this year, the Force uses the mainstream version of SandForce's technology. Here's how it breaks down. Last year's Vertex 2 Pro used a SF-1500 controller, the Vertex LE uses something in between a SF-1500 and SF-1200 (closer to the SF-1500 in performance) while the Corsair Force uses a SF-1200.

The SF-1200 has all of the goodness of the SF-1500, just without some of the more enterprise-y features. I haven't been able to get a straight answer from anyone as to exactly what you give up by going to the SF-1200 but you do gain a much more affordable price. The Vertex LE is only low in price because it is using a limited run of early controllers from SF, presumably so SandForce can raise capital. The SF-1200 based SSDs should be price competitive with current Indilinx offerings.

You'll notice that like the Vertex LE there's no supercap on the Force's PCB. There's also no external DRAM cache thanks to a large amount of on-die cache and SandForce's real time data compression/deduplication technology. As you may remember from my Vertex 2 Pro and Vertex LE reviews, SandForce achieves higher performance by simply reducing the amount of data it has to write to NAND (similar to lossless compression or data deduplication). 

I've got the Force on my SSD testbench now and I should have the first results by the end of the day today. This one is exciting as it could give us a preview of what the performance mainstream SSD marketplace will look like for the rest of 2010.

More pics of the drive in the Gallery!

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  • SandmanWN - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    "3G off native X58 is better than 6G off PCIe 1.x."
    Well duh, but who would actually put a 6G controller in a much older PCIe 1.x slot???

    You seem to be biasing your decision based on your own desire for random access in a desktop environment, but not every application has the same needs and these drives are not intended for the desktop level. Any setup that depends on raw throughput would certainly benefit greatly from 6G.File servers and Streaming media servers are obvious ones to take advantage of 6G.

    Not sure what you are getting on about with the implementation line. Its a standard, its only implemented one way. Maybe you mean drive manufacturers should increase random performance, but I don't know what that has to do with the 6G implementation.
    Reply
  • Voo - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    You really think that any drive today will be bottlenecked by PCI 1.0 speeds? That may bottleneck the theoretical performance (e.g. SATA3 protocoll could transport more), but there's no drive who comes close to those speeds.. at least non raided. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    Just because you support a standard doesn't mean you support it *well*. The Intel X58 SATA 3G implementation is done very well; the P55 implementation is actually inferior to X58. Likewise, AMD's implementation in the 890GX of SATA 6G is not the same as the Marvel implementation. Sure, they conform to the same standard, but they don't perform the same because the devil is in the details. Right now, 6G is a brand new technology and as with any bleeding-edge technology there are some bugs and optimizations to work out.

    What I'm suggesting is that down the road we'll see 6G implementations in the Northbridge (or even ones off a PCIe 2.0 connection) that will outperform the current 6G controllers. It's happened with every technology in the past, and it will happen again here as well. But of course, we need 6G SSDs before 6G controllers will get better--one pushes the other, and vice versa.
    Reply
  • SandmanWN - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    I see what you are getting at. There is always a controller that can squeeze a little more performance to edge closer to the theoretical limit.

    Isn't there supposed to be drop-in SSD's with SAS connectors coming out this year for HDD SAS replacement? SAS has had 6G speed for some time. I don't have any Enterprise class servers with SATA, its all SCSI and SAS. Any word on SSD SAS drives in the pipeline?
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    I think you read, but didn't comprehend what I said.

    If you're going to buy a motherboard and your SSD is SATA3 and capable of breaking 3Gbps speeds, get the SATA3 mobo. From the mere facts of what's stated, you will NEVER have a drive that's been clocked at speeds greater than 3Gbps, perform better on SATA2 interface. There might be some parts of the test that will perform better, but it had to exceed 3Gbps at some point.

    While random write speeds are important the drives that are capable of exceeding the 3Gbps barrier, do not have bad writes. For those motherboards that have some issues with the SATA3 controller, it will mature and BIOS updates will fix them -- and as Anand has pointed out, there are other alternatives using PCIe, etc.
    Reply
  • ergo98 - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    In real-world use you won't see any difference between 3G and 6G with the current crop of high end drives. You just won't. The difference barely even appears in entirely artificial benchmarks.

    I/O is where it's at, and these drives deliver that in spades.
    Reply
  • Luke212 - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    none of these drives perform at 250-300mb/s in real world small block or random operations. only large block sequential ops go that fast. so i dont think you will see any benefit outside the benchmarks. Reply
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    This actually perks my curiosity. I thought the SF1200 was going to be an extreme under-performer, compared to the SF1500.

    If that's not the case and the cost is cheaper, then I am also baffled by the price. Perhaps they are going to be using lower performing and/or cheaper RAM?

    vol7ron
    Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    Not related to the article, but is anyone else having issues getting RSS working for Anandtech or Dailytech? Since the site change, none of my readers pickup the updates. I can't even pull up the feed info. Reply
  • vol7ron - Tuesday, April 13, 2010 - link

    I've got an RSS feed for my Win7 desktop gadget - it's working fine. I had to subscribe through IE8, though, to get the feed to the gadget. Reply

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