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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Ender17 - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    I'm not surprised. The 334 MB platter drives are fast.
    Just look at this review of the Samsung F1

    Beats the old ADFD Raptors across the board. And I don't know why anyone expects the Seagate drives to be fast, they're consistently at the bottom in performance.
  • Griswold - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    Why? It has the same platter density.
  • Noya - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    Yes, and I'm using my $59 WD 640gb just for games (the first 150gb of it anyway) and the load time is very quick compared to my old 250gb 7200.8 sata.
  • PlasmaBomb - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    Thats probably because your old drive was nearly full and speed drops off towards the inside of the platter.
  • semo - Saturday, May 17, 2008 - link

    aren't new data stored on the inside tracks of the platter and then move outwards?
  • Zefram0911 - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    Is anyone disappointed in the load times for games? Only beats my old raptors by 3-5 seconds.
  • Calin - Tuesday, May 20, 2008 - link

    Load time for game levels is mostly sequential - I suppose game developers take pains in having the load level as a big sequential read (in which case solid state drives have no advantage). I am surprised about the file compression tests (which have reads and writes from different areas of the disk)
  • retrospooty - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    "Is anyone disappointed in the load times for games? Only beats my old raptors by 3-5 seconds."

    Ya, I have to wonder what the various gaming tests like "Vantage HDD Gaming" are measuring. SSD's consistantly blow HDD's out of the water scoring 300 to 500% higher on those tests (Gary's article is consistent with others I have seen)... Then real world game load and level load times are only like 5% higher.

    What gives?
  • lemonadesoda - Wednesday, May 21, 2008 - link

    It's a very easy answer: file compression. The data files (e.g. maps and textures) on disk require a lot of CPU processing before they are "ready to play".

    A trick used in the days of Quake engines was to unzip the .pk3 files. Then delete the .pk3. This improved load times enormously.

    Perhaps game designers should have an install option to "full unzip game asset data on install". It would require a lot more HDD space. But load times would shrink.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 16, 2008 - link

    It's the nature of the benchmark: access a large amount of data in a fairly random fashion and don't do ANY processing of the data, and you end up with the theoretical performance of the hard drive. That's pretty much what IPEAK-based testing accomplishes.

    Games have been mostly bottlenecked by CPUs, GPUs, and RAM for a long time - load times with 2GB RAM are substantially faster than with 1GB of RAM, and even 4GB of RAM can show some speedup in certain newer games. The reason for the CPU bottleneck on level loads is that most games compress data in order to conserve space; decompressing all the textures and models and such takes a fair amount of CPU power, to the point where the hard drives probably only need to sustain around 15-25MB/s.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now