So roughly two weeks ago Corsair added two new products in its Performance Series SSD family: the P128 and P64 high-performance solid-state drives.
I say added here of course; they are based on the same technology as the recently introduced P256 SSD. The Corsair P128 boasts the same 220MB/sec read speeds and 200MB/sec write speeds. The cheapest model will be the P64 which comes with a slightly different read speed of up to 220MB/sec and write speeds (lower) of up to 120MB/sec.
All these models feature 128MB onboard cache tied to a controller made by Samsung.
We have seen that most budget MLC based SSDs have a JMicron controller with very little cache (16KB), then the next best step is a SSD drive like the OCZ Vertex and G.Skill Falcon with an Indilinx controller and 32 or 64MB cache memory, which is a horrendously good product series honestly.
But the reality is that there is a controller even better suited for SSD technology (at this time), and that controller comes from Samsung. This is what the P128 we are testing today is based on, a Samsung S3C29RBB01 controller with Samsung NAND flash memory (MLC). This choice will give this product several advantages in terms of overall speed and performance thanks to some additional bandwidth, reduced latency and overall throughput.
Now please do not make a mistake and get confused, the controller itself is not slower, faster or massively better than the Indilinx or even JMicron, but the one thing that is important is cache memory. SSDs need to fight off a bad habit; slow write times for a lot of small and petit files, that is where the sore bottleneck of SSD drives is to be found, and large data-caches can solve that issue very well.
The trick is that the P128 has a big phat SDRAM buffer, 128MB to be precise, and that my friends helps big-time in tackling the small write access issues I just mentioned. Have a look at the innards the P128:
In the above photo we see the SSD all nekkid. To the right the Samsung flash memory chips, to the upper left the Samsung controller chip and just below it 128MB cache memory from Samsung. All combined they form the heart and soul of the Corsair P series SSD.
We stated it many times and explained this a lot. But the seek time on these puppies is just short from amazing; at less than 1ms -- 0.1ms as we actually can measure. The average seek time for a traditional HDD is roughly 9ms. Do the math, hey no more moving and spinning mechanical components are the keys here.
These Samsung controller based SSD drives are more expensive though, they cost you roughly 100 USD/EUR per 32GB. The flash memory NAND type used is MLC.
I just checked a couple of prices and here in Europe this SSD is listed at roughly 310 for the 128GB model and 575 for the 256GB model.
So then, 220MB/sec read performance and a write performance of nearly 200 MB/sec, that speed will certainly increase your overall PC experience, as the vertebrae of overall system speed and performance is your boot drive. The traditional HDD is a limiting factor on the overall PC experience you guys. Also, storage performance like this would, for example, greatly enhance load times of games.
Not bad for a product weighing 77 grams. Here are some features:
Maximum sequential read speed 220MB/s
Maximum sequential write speed 200MB/s
Samsung controller and MLC NAND flash for compatibility and consistent performance
No moving parts for increased durability over standard hard disk drives
Decreased power usage for cool and quiet operation and increased laptop battery life
100+ Year Life Expectancy (MTBF)
Two year warranty
A new feature - Self Healing
The new tested P128 series drive, and drives shipping to retailers come with the latest firmware and that includes a nice new feature: a self-healing function.
In layman wording the firmware detects blocks that contain invalid data (data that has been deleted by the file system, but has yet to be physically erased/overwritten with new/valid data) and erases them to ensure future file operations are performed at maximum speed.
The function works automatically after a normal power off/cold boot and the user simply needs to leave the system idle for up to 1 hour (the time varies depending on the condition of the drive), during which time the SSD will heal itself.
The function only works for NTFS-based file systems, and there must be at least 15% free space on the drive for it work too.
Available in 64, 128 and 256MB capacities*
128MB Onboard Cache
Seek Time: <0.1ms
Slim 2.5" Design
99.8 x 69.63 x 9.3mm
Operating Temp: -10C ~ +70C
Storage Temp: -45C ~ +85C
Low Power Consumption: 2W in operation, 0.5W in standby
Shock Resistant 1500G
2 year warranty
Read: Up to 220 MB/s
Write: Up to 200MB/s (125 MB/s for 64GB model)
Corsair also labels the product a MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure). I mentioned this a couple of times already but that really is a highly statistical figure and I just wish SSD manufacturers would just drop this value. fact is, nobody really knows.
It would be more interesting to see a value in terms of lifespan based on operation. E.g. if you write 10GB of data per day, how long would it take before a drive would wear out completely. Some numbers say with average daily usage, the MLC drives will last ten years. But only the future will tell really. Also, a traditional HDD can die within 2 years just as well.
Warranty then, Corsair will give you two years warranty on this product. And for a SSD of this caliber we feel that is a little on the shy side. OCZ already bumped the Summit series SSD (nearly the same product) towards three years, which we feel is a more convenient warranty. We do hope to see that changed.
But we mentioned MLC/SLC etc, lets walk through some of that technology.
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