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


View All Comments

  • alantay - Tuesday, December 4, 2007 - link

    I'm hoping to see FusionIO's offer early next year. They target a $30/GB price and offer pci cards up to 640 GB and 700MB/s reads and 600MB/s writes. It seems like this is the technology that will matter in 2-3 years, if they get the price down (to $5/Gb maybe).

  • mckirkus - Monday, December 3, 2007 - link

    There is a good reason why they haven't released an IRAM 2.0. It would completely destroy the performance hard drive market and 150GB Raptors are cash cows.

    Think about it. With a SATA2 interface you would get well over 200MB/s sustained write and read and random read/write would be a non issue. Plus RAM doesn't wear out like flash.

    And with RAM approaching $20 a gig you could have the fasted 32Gig HDD ever created for well under $1000. I would like to see Anadtech do a review of the HyperDrive4 as well. Gigabyte probably gets a cut of the revenue from WDs Raptors as long as they agree not to release an IRam 2.0.

    That's not a conspiracy, it's just business.
  • mckirkus - Monday, December 3, 2007 - link

    Did some digging. This thing at 32GB is $37 a gig.
    RAM is going for $19 a gig on NewEgg

    Granted you need a device to hold the RAM and some battery backup but the performance is not even in the same league and the cost is about half of flash. An external SATA2 RAM drive with 32GB of 2GB RAM sticks would cost $600 for the RAM and more for the device. Why doesn't this thing exist? Any theories?
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, December 4, 2007 - link

    Your conspiracy would work, except there are numerous other problems with the iRAM. For example, the fact that you need to save the data to permanent storage before shutting down, and you need to initialize the data stored on the iRAM before it can be useful. Even then, most users rarely encounter situations where they are truly storage speed limited.

    That game you only get 12FPS running almost certainly loads all of the necessary data for a level into RAM if you have a 2GB machine, so the fastest storage system in the world is only going to be a bit faster. Even level load times might not improve much, as frequently loading levels involves a lot of additional logic like object instantiation, data parsing, and decompression routines.

    The ideal approach would be a setup where you have a huge RAM cache that sits between the storage subsystem and the mass storage. Put some smarts on the cache so that it tries to keep the most useful stuff in memory, give it a battery backup, and commit writes to the actual drives as soon as it is reasonable to do so. That's basically how a lot of SCSI controllers work (and other top-end NAS type configurations).

    iRAM was an interesting idea that really needs more work and tuning, and it's still quite expensive. Why limit transfers to SATA when even the slowest current RAM can sustain probably 10 times that data rate? Even better, get a 64-bit OS, figure out a way to add oodles of system RAM, and hopefully the OS can intelligently handle caching. *Hopefully!*
  • ChronoReverse - Tuesday, December 4, 2007 - link

    Eh? The i-RAM has a rechargeable battery pack. DDR2 uses even less power than DDR1 so that pack will last even longer.

    Furthermore, if you simply Shut Down your computer, the battery pack isn't even needed. The i-RAM is kept alive with the standby power. The battery pack is only used when you unplug the computer completely or take out the i-RAM for which it'll last about 10 hours.
  • Ocire - Monday, December 3, 2007 - link


    while crawling the net I found some interesting offers from Hama (a german company who mainly does Flash Memory etc.):
    They sell a 64GB SSD (3.5", SATA) with a claimed 120/90 read/write for less than 1200 € (1700 US$) and the 32GB version for less than 700 € (1000 US$).
    Are those relabeled Mtrons or is it their own product? How is their benchmark performance?
    Here links to Hama and a german store who sells them:
    http://www.hama.de/portal/articleId">http://www.hama.de/portal/articleId*159787/action*2563 (you can choose the language at the left, right above the customer login box, a little tricky to find ;-))
    http://www.alternate.de/html/product/details.html?...">http://www.alternate.de/html/product/de...articleI... (unfortunately they don't seem to have an english version, maybe google or babelfish could either help or confuse you more ^^)
  • sparkuss - Monday, December 3, 2007 - link

    Are you planning on adding any of the RAM drives to the equation? Such as the HyperOS HyperDrive 4. Or are they in a different class/economy to compete here?

  • Reflex - Monday, December 3, 2007 - link

    A couple years ago I worked with flash devices extensively, and it was fairly easy to run out of write operations. We could kill a SSD in about a week of stress testing, which translated by our estimates to about a year or two of typical desktop use. Thats not a very good lifespan for a $1200 product with so little storage space. Furthermore, in most cases when the writes ceased you could no longer read data from the device, which is even worse since there is no real warning.

    I'd really like someone to develop a true stress test for these types of devices. I would want a minimum of five years, with a warning when my writes are nearly finished.
  • PandaBear - Monday, December 3, 2007 - link

    It is common to all NAND flash that the maximum amount of erase/program is about 100k for SLC, and down to as low as 500 for MLC (yes, 500, not 500k).

    Wear leveling is the key to the survival of these drive. Enterprises that use them for highly randomized read would have the best result. On the other hand, it is not really much of an advantage compare to a well designed system that runs on DRAM with battery backup and automatic hard drive fail over. I don't think I have seen these products personally yet, but I suspect it would be much better performance wise, but more expensive since you need to add a real HD and all the fail safe logics.

    As we go into 50nm and 40nm process, the life will just get worse although the price get lower. I wouldn't be surprised if one day MS will provide a utility in windows that shrink your flash drive's capacity to get more life out of it. Or even better, provide a non-LBA based file system that reduce a whole lot of meta data / FAT table updates that slow down write and waste write cycles.
  • MrPickins - Tuesday, December 4, 2007 - link


    It is common to all NAND flash that the maximum amount of erase/program is about 100k for SLC, and down to as low as 500 for MLC (yes, 500, not 500k).

    Where did you come up with a figure of 500? All the documentation I see shows a typical endurance of 10k read/write cycles for MLC NAND.

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