Coming off of the heels of last week’s Flash Memory Summit, today a familiar entity is throwing its hat back into the ring for retail SSDs: SK Hynix. This morning the company is announcing a new line of SSDs, the SuperCore series, which will be sold directly at retail. Kicking off the family will be the Gold S31, a 2.5-inch SATA drive with capacities ranging from 250GB to 1TB.

At a high level, the retail SSD market has remained an odd hodge-podge of collection of vendors. Many first party NAND manufacturers, such as Samsung, Intel, and Toshiba, all produce their own drives in-house for the consumer market. And, for a time, this included SK Hynix as well, who produced and sold their Canvas series of drives. However, the drives were never officially released in North America, and while they can still be found on the grey market, SK Hynix’s retail ambitions have fallen by the wayside as they’ve remained more focused on selling raw NAND and OEM drives.

But after essentially being absent from the retail market for the last couple of years, SK Hynix is going to be re-entering it with some new consumer SSDs. Leading off SK Hynix’s revised consumer lineup is their Gold S31 SSD. This is a 2.5-inch SATA SSD, which is based on SK Hynix’s own NAND and SSD controller.

Unfortunately, SK Hynix isn’t going into a lot of detail about the drive here, so we don’t know which generation NAND and controller they’re using. However there’s a very good chance that this is a retail version of one of their recent OEM drives, as there’s little need to develop a new drive for the retail market, especially the already-overstuffed market for 2.5-inch SATA drives.

SK Hynix Gold S31 Specifications
Capacity 250 GB 500 GB 1 TB
Form Factors 2.5" 2.5" 2.5"
Controller "SK Hynix Controller"
NAND SK Hynix 3D NAND
Sequential Read 560 MB/s
Sequential Write 525 MB/s
Endurance 200 TBW 300 TBW 600 TBW
Warranty Five years
MSRP $49.99 $77.99 $123.99

What little we do know is that the drives will come in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities. And with the SATA interface bottlenecking performance, SK Hynix’s 560MB/sec read and 525MB/sec write speeds are right up there with pretty much every other major SATA SSD. Meanwhile, not listed in the company’s official press release but tucked into the retail listings, these confirm that the drives have DRAM, so the Gold S31 drives appear to be aimed at the mainstream market rather than the budget market and the DRAMless drives that are typically found there.

Moving down the spec list, the retail listings for the drive also confirm that the 1TB model is rated for 600 TB Written. Spreading this out over the drive’s 5-year warranty period, we end up with 0.3 drive writes per day, both of which are comparable to arch-rival Samsung’s EVO drives.

All told, while SK Hynix is reentering the retail market, they are still doing so in a fairly conservative manner. The company is starting things off by selling their drives exclusively in North America through Amazon, with plans to expand into Europe and widen their distribution network next year. The company has also mentioned that they’ll have a PCIe drive next year as well, though they aren’t offering any further information on that drive at this time.

Finally, taking a look at pricing, all 3 Gold S31 drives are already available on Amazon. With the 250GB drive starting at $50 and reaching $124 for the 1TB drive, SK Hynix has launched the drives at a small premium over other mainstream SATA drives. Ultimately, I suspect the company is looking to get some value for its brand name, but given just how competitive and oversaturated the SATA SSD market is, making a dent in the market without joining the race to the bottom in drive prices is going to be difficult task.

Source: SK Hynix

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  • shabby - Thursday, August 15, 2019 - link

    I think my grandma is going to introduce a sata ssd soon, stay tuned! Reply
  • Holliday75 - Thursday, August 15, 2019 - link

    LOL Reply
  • Operandi - Thursday, August 15, 2019 - link

    Does your grandma make her own NAND flash and or controller? If not she probably shouldn't bother. Hynix does FYI so it makes sense for them to get into the retail market. Reply
  • regsEx - Thursday, August 15, 2019 - link

    Most sub $1000 notebooks with SSDs comes with Hynix SSDs. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, August 16, 2019 - link

    Shut up and take my money! Reply
  • Anonymoussy - Thursday, August 15, 2019 - link

    How soon can we expect a review? Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Friday, August 16, 2019 - link

    They haven't sent me a tracking number for the samples yet, so I probably won't have it to start testing until later next week. And there are enough other reviews in my queue at the moment that this one probably won't be ready until late September, depending on the order I finish up the reviews. A fully SK Hynix SSD is definitely novel, but I also have some Realtek and Maxio-based drives in the pipeline. Reply
  • CaedenV - Thursday, August 15, 2019 - link

    Curious.
    On the SATA high end we have Samsung with 500GB at ~$80. On the low end, Microcenter's home-brew brand is selling 120GB SSDs for $15 each. If this drive really sells for full MSRP then it should be about Sammy's performance... I have doubts... but look forward to reading a review that proves me wrong :)
    Reply
  • Xajel - Friday, August 16, 2019 - link

    I really wish a true successor to SATA comes quickly.

    U.2 is not good enough and manufacrers are abandoing it for the consumer market. And I see potential with OCuLink. Mainly the flexibility of splitting the 4x lanes to multi 2x or 1x lanes depending on needs which will make wonders for low cost/end SSD's. But it seems SATA holds it place tightly. Maybe a new PCIe based protocol for older mechanical drives will come to the rescue?
    Reply
  • Greg100 - Friday, August 16, 2019 - link

    What makes something a real successor to SATA?

    1. Faster transfer?
    2. Lower price?

    Both these parameters are met by the U.2 SSDs.

    If we compare 4TB SSDs and above drives with TLC, what do we get?

    Cheapest 4TB+ TLC U.2 SSD:
    Western Digital Ultrastar DC SN630 - 0.8DWPD 7.68TB, ISE, U.2

    ab € 957,06 [Xitra - Germany, include 19% VAT]
    (124,617/TB)

    Cheapest 4TB+ TLC SATA SSD:
    SanDisk Ultra 3D 4TB

    ab € 499,99 [SanDisk at amazon.de, include 19% VAT]
    (124,998/TB)

    Why did I choose TLC? In today's low prices of SSDs it is not worth looking for QLC.

    Why did I choose 4TB and bigger drives? For personal data such capacity is in my opinion the minimum, and if someone wants to have a smaller, separate SSD for OS then anyway the only reasonable choice is Intel’s 3D XPoint and here again we have U.2...
    Reply

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