We are seeing the SSD market mature quickly from the performance, pricing, and capacity viewpoints. Just over a year ago, the first generation SSD drives had average capacities in the 16GB range with read/write performance around 45/25 MB/s. Pricing for these drives was around the $100 per-GB range and most suppliers explicitly stated the drives were meant for industrial, military, medical, or commercial use.

Last fall, second generation controller technology became available and performance jumped to 60/40 MB/s read/write speeds for the mainstream market along with specialized manufacturers like Mtron and Memoright offering drives in the 100/80 MB/s read/write range. The new capacity standard became 32GB with 64GB performance oriented drives available. Pricing for the mainstream also dropped with costs averaging around $48 per-GB for the performance-oriented drives and around $33 per-GB for the mainstream drives.

These particular drives now had the capacity range to become an alternative in the consumer notebook market or for those enthusiasts on the desktop wanting the absolute best synthetic benchmark performance. While prices were very high, the security of a drive in a portable system not having any moving parts, offering silent operation, greatly reduced thermals, and depending on the situation, improved battery life meant the SSD had arrived as a viable if expensive storage option.

Now, with the latest controller technology we are seeing the new mainstream drives offering performance equal to the best mechanical desktop drives in most cases. The sustained read/write rates have increased to the 100/80 MB/s range. Capacities are now standardizing at 64GB with average pricing dropping to around $16 per-GB for the mainstream sector. The highest performing drives feature 120/120 MB/s read/write speeds with capacities up to 128GB, but pricing is around $29~$32 per-GB. In the high performance sector, we expect to see 150/100+ MB/s read/write performance shortly along with capacities up to 128GB around the current price range.

With that in mind, we are taking our first look at the new "mainstream" SSD technology from Samsung today that also features its fraternal twin from OCZ Technology. From a performance viewpoint, the drives are identical - as they should be since both drives share the same hardware. The only differences are in the front casing design; both feature a brushed aluminum case with the respective corporate names etched on the case. The other difference is availability as you can find the OCZ drive at leading e-tailors with pricing around $1049 for the 64GB model, while the Samsung drive is generally available as an option from leading PC manufacturers with limited retail availability.

Regardless of availability, both drives perform the same on the desktop, as we will see today. We have several other SSD drives arriving in the near future, including the new MLC based units with third generation controllers from SuperTalent, Crucial, and others that might set a new price/performance standard for SSD technology. However, we will test those drives and our samples today in a notebook platform to see how well they compare to the new mechanical drives from Seagate, Western Digital, and Hitachi.

When Smaller is Better
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  • ameatypie - Saturday, January 24, 2009 - link

    i think in one years time, these are going to be the default laptop hard drives. The price of flash memory is going down so fast..... a year ago, a 4GB flash drive was &70 USD or more.... now you can get em for $5. If that sort of trend continues, we are going to have super-quick laptops in no time at all.....
  • Zak - Monday, May 19, 2008 - link

    I remember couple of years ago they were promising huge speed improvement and energy savings but when SSD finally hit the store shelves they're quite underwhelming considering the price. What's most disappointing is almost no improvement in battery life on laptops! At least that's the case with Air. Still, this is new tech so I hope things will get better in the next couple of years, so I'm not writing SSD off yet.

  • FXi - Monday, May 19, 2008 - link

    Would have been helpful if just one fast laptop drive had been included in the mix to see for that segment of users what degree of speedup is gained.

    I figure you'll get to it in time. These kinds of reviews are far from over :)
  • MadBoris - Saturday, May 17, 2008 - link

    This is solid state?
    I don't understand how people can look at this as anything but a good tech demo.

    Comparing actual physical RAM to a Hard drive is night and day and yet somehow a solid state drive can barely compete or even falls short of a hard drive at times.

    Isn't the point of solid state that we all desired for decades the huge performance gains???
    Their is something really wrong with this picture when it still can't compete with a hard drive yet costs 4 times as much.
    Give me a quality RAM Drive on an OS any day, address the volatility of the RAM or load the ram drive on startup of the computer, using the HD as a cache during startup and shutdown just like sleep does.

    Until solid state will improve performance over a hard drive by 2-3 times then it is just a tech demo. I would be happy to have something much smaller and yet much faster memory for installing some programs on, specifically an OS and some main applications, not data.

    The good thing is their is great opportunity for competition and advancement in this market. Wake me up when we get there.
    Nice article although I disagree it is award worthy as a technology regardless how much improvement took place, their is a galaxy of room left for improvement for it to be worthy of consideration above .01% of consumers.
  • Harkonnen - Saturday, May 17, 2008 - link

    I would love to see Anandtech test out this SSD.

  • codeThug - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    About as mainstream as Bigfoot Networks $249.99 Killer NIC M1


  • TheriusDrake - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    I'd love to see the game load times on the fastest Core2 Duo on an Intel and Nivida Mobo to see if there are any major differences in those benchmarks.
  • shabby - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    Who would spend that much money only to receive 1 year of warranty on the ocz ssd?
  • Arbie - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    Do the vendors quote these? Are there any verifications / experience? Not one SSD review I've seen has even raised this issue.

    Of course any drive can fail at any time (random), and all mechanical drives will eventually wear out too. What I'm talking about is unexpectedly near-term, statistically-predictable wearout.

  • chizow - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    Given the storage demands of the latest HD media and PC games, I just don't see how SSD will overcome standard HDD any time soon. I can see them surpassing HDD in speed, but not both speed with increased storage capacity. And that's before considering pricing. I have a hard time justifying even the $1/GB VelociRaptor nowadays given the price to performance of the larger drives, and that's coming from someone who owns two 150GB Raptors.

    I think SSD has a much better future serving the performance sector in that gap between DRAM and conventional HDD storage. I'd like to see them get closer to DRAM speed, keeping capacity lower, but perhaps implementing something like integrated RAID to speed things up. As more people move towards 64-bit OS and multimedia apps and games continue to grow, 8GB of RAM may not be enough in the not too distant future. Games are already spilling onto multiple DVDs with install folders easily surpassing 10GB for a single game after patches and expansions.

    This may pose a problem for board and dimm makers, as it seems increasing memory capacity is a limitation that can't easily be overcome. Current solutions are limited to 4GB per dimm I believe and server boards with additional dimm slots or daughter cards. Mainstream solutions would be reluctant to adopt these changes as they'd increase cost/size significantly. Introducing a fast, hybrid SSD solution could help bridge the gap between system RAM and HDD storage giving programs faster performance as needed.

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