Prices and New Competitors

It's been a while since I've published on the SSD landscape. Not much has changed. SandForce's popularity has skyrocketed, easily making it the target to beat, while we patiently await Intel's 3rd generation SSDs. Once virtually an OCZ-only supplier, nearly everyone has a SandForce based drive these days. Capacities have also changed. While the original drives allocated nearly 30% of their NAND to spare area, newer extended versions have since appeared that drop the % of spare area down to 12 - 22% depending on the SKU (40/80/160GB drives allocate 22% while 60/120/240 drives allocate 12%). The performance impact of the reduced spare area is nonexistent as we've proved in the past.

Indilinx is still around but undesirable at this point. Performance is no longer competitive and write amplification is much higher than what you get from SandForce at the same cost. Crucial's RealSSD C300 is still trucking, however you do pay a premium over SandForce. Whether or not the premium is justified depends on your workload.

SSD Price Comparison - November 11, 2010
SSD NAND Capacity User Capacity Price Cost per GB of NAND
Corsair Force F40 40GB 48GB 37.3GB $124.99 $2.603
Corsair Force F120 120GB 128GB 111.8GB $229.99 $1.797
Corsair Nova V128 128GB 128GB 119.2GB $219.99 $1.719
Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB 64GB 59.6GB $134.99 $2.109
Crucial RealSSD C300 128GB 128GB 119.2GB $269.99 $2.109
Intel X25-M G2 160GB 160GB 149.0GB $409.00 $2.556
Intel X25-V 40GB 40GB 37.3GB $94.99 $2.375
Kingston SSDNow V Series 30GB 30GB 27.9GB $82.99 $2.766
Kingston SSDNow V Series 128GB 128GB 119.2GB $224.99 $1.758
Kingston SSDNow V+ Series 128GB 128GB 119.2GB $277.00 $2.164
Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 128GB 128GB 119.2GB $278.99 $2.180
OCZ Agility 2 120GB 128GB 111.8GB $229.99 $1.797
OCZ Vertex 2 120GB 128GB 111.8GB $234.99 $1.836
Patriot Inferno 60GB 64GB 55.9GB $149.00 $2.328
Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue 128GB 119.2GB $214.99 $1.680

We broke the $2/GB barrier a while ago. Prices continue to fall as NAND manufacturers transistion to 2xnm processes, the existing 3xnm supplies become cheaper as a result. Surprisingly enough, the most affordable drives actually come from companies who don't own NAND foundries. SandForce's partners who have to pay a big chunk of their margins to SandForce as well as the NAND vendor are actually delivering the best value in SSDs. Kingston and Western Digital also deliver a great value. Not Crucial/Micron and not Intel, which is not only disappointing but inexcusable. These companies actually own the fabs where the NAND is made and in the case of Intel, they actually produce the controller itself.

Within the SandForce camp prices seem pretty consistent. I grabbed data from three different SF partners: Corsair, OCZ and Patriot. At 128GB of NAND both Corsair and OCZ are competitive on pricing. As you look at the smaller capacity drives however, cost per GB goes up dramatically. A 40GB Corsair Force will cost you 44.8% more per GB than a 120GB drive. The same is true when you look at the 60GB Patriot Inferno at $2.328 per GB.

If you're trying to keep total cost down, the best bang for your buck from a capacity standpoint is the 64GB Crucial RealSSD C300. It's more expensive per GB than the larger SandForce drives, but at $134.99 it's a cheap way to get into a decent SSD.

The new Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 is actually more expensive than the Crucial drives from a cost-per-GB standpoint. Traditionally the V series has been the value line while the V+ series have been Kingston's more performance oriented SSDs. In the past however, the performance oriented V+ never seemed to have the performance to back up its price. Perhaps the V+ 100 can change that.

The Test

CPU Intel Core i7 965 running at 3.2GHz (Turbo & EIST Disabled)
Motherboard: Intel DX58SO (Intel X58)
Chipset: Intel X58 + Marvell SATA 6Gbps PCIe
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1015 + Intel IMSM 8.9
Memory: Qimonda DDR3-1333 4 x 1GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: eVGA GeForce GTX 285
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 190.38 64-bit
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows 7 x64
Introduction Random Read/Write Speed
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  • eckre - Saturday, November 13, 2010 - link

    So this seems like a perfect drive for a RAID because of it's aggressive always on garbage collection would make up for lack of TRIM support. ?

    Am I correct? Thoughts?
    Reply
  • JohnWPB - Saturday, November 13, 2010 - link

    I have built probably 10 pc's in the last 2 yrs, and wonder if adding a SSD as a boot drive would be worth the effort.

    I see you guys making lots of comments, but as a newbie on SSD's, I would really like to see a thread on how to introduce a SSD to a system that has a bunch of SATA drives.

    Exactly how does one go about installing Windows XP Pro? I imagine that I should disconnect my SATA drives and just hook up the SSD and then do a CD install?

    Can programs like CasperXP ( mirror imaging program ), be used to do a mirror image backup from an SSD to a Sata drive ( C: boot drive SSD to D: mirror drive SATA ).

    My apologies if this was posted in the wrong thread.
    Reply
  • Out of Box Experience - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - link

    QUOTE:
    Exactly how does one go about installing Windows XP Pro? I imagine that I should disconnect my SATA drives and just hook up the SSD and then do a CD install?
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You are correct as far as I can tell...
    I just spent the past 2 days retesting the copy/paste speed of a Vertex 2 with the alignment tweak recommended by OCZ

    There was no speed benefit resulting from the alignment of the partition as OCZ described

    Copy and paste speed was still a miserable 3.6 megabutes per second

    But just to be on the safe side, I will start using ONLY Intel SSD's with Windows XP

    Anand says Intel controllers are alignment agnostic and should be the best for non-compressible data under XP

    So, untill other SSD manufacturers start making alignment agnostic controllers that are capeable of doing a copy and paste faster than my 5400RPM laptop drive under XP, I think I'll just stick with Intel

    (Better Flash Quality as well)
    Reply
  • Ezekeel - Saturday, November 13, 2010 - link

    Hi Anand,

    you noted that due to the aggressive garbage-collection this SSD will have a large write-amplification, so the flash will wear-out more quickly. What would happen when using this SSD with an OS that supports TRIM? Will TRIM support the internal GC and lead to a smaller write-amplification and thus a longer lifetime of the SSD?
    Reply
  • mpx - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    Can you test how VMs behave on SSD? I understand it's partially there in synthetic IOPS and bandwith tests - that show what can you get max. from these drives. But "normal" load from multiple VMs should be different than normal load from a single OS, so drives that do good at normal load in current test migth be not performant under normal load of multiple VMs.

    This test with few VMs makes sense for larger drives (160, 256GB), as there just won't be enough place for multiple OSes on small drives. Also longevity becomes more important when you have few times larger load.
    Reply
  • tecknurd - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    I use Linux and its TRIM command support is sparse. Finally a drive that does not require the TRIM command. I know it comes at a cost of more wear and tear, but I do not mind because pros out weighs the cons. It will give me no noise from the storage system and it be about 60 times quicker than my hard drive to access files. I do not think $280 for 128 GB is not a bad deal for a SSD that does not require the TRIM command to function great. Though, one thing that comes to mind is does the Kingston SSDNow V+100 come with ECC because all hard drives includes ECC for data integrity. Reply
  • Ezekeel - Sunday, November 14, 2010 - link

    Why sparse? The kernel supports TRIM since 2.6.33 (early 2010). Reply
  • tecknurd - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    True, but the file system also have problems with SSD. Not all file system in Linux are SSD aware. EXT3 and EXT4 does not have good support to handle SSD. Reply
  • Ezekeel - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    Linux filesystems ext3/ext4 are designed for magnetic drives - but that is also true for ntfs and hfs+, so the problems with SSD are not unique to Linux. However, it is true that while at least Windows7 does some automatic optimizations, you have to configure everything manually under Linux. Reply
  • sprockkets - Sunday, November 21, 2010 - link

    All you have to do is format the drive with ext4, add the discard option, and you are set. TRIM is enabled automatically in the background; no need to manually run the command anymore.

    Even with the latest firmwares, this isn't an issue anyway.
    Reply

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