With each year, the decline of hard drives continues on its inexorable course, bringing down the fortunes of the companies that manufacture them. In light of this, both Seagate and Western Digital have sought to diversify their portfolio to include NAND and other flash storage technologies. For Seagate though, the transition appears to have hit them heavily.The firm has cut their revenue projections for the quarter by $100 million.
In addition to the reduced revenue, the more important margins have also shrunk by 4%, though they are still respectable at 23%. Revenue has been dropping steadily over time as well, down 22% year over year. Much of the decline comes from the weakening PC market but some of it also comes from Seagate own market position. In order to boost margins, Seagate has chosen to leave the low capacity HDD market, read 500GB and below, as they aren’t cost competitive against SSDs. This is because it is nigh impossible for a HDD to drop below $40 due to part cost, making low capacity HDDs a bad bargain against SSDs of the same capacity.
The big holdout for HDDs remains high-capacity drives which offer untouchable GB/$. Still, Seagate can’t rely on those forever so the hope is that their own SSDs gain a foot hold in the market. Another consideration is when will their SandForce purchase finally pay off with new SSD controllers. I love SMI, Phison and Marvell as much as the next guy, but give me some SandForce compression magic!
The solid state drive that I’m taking a look at today is one that I’ve actually had around for a while, but couldn’t test up until now. I’m taking the tiny 1.8-inch KC380 SSDnow from Kingston for a spin on my test bench to see how well this tiny SSD can perform. While it isn’t the newest model anymore, I still think it’s a valid drive to test and one that quite a few people will consider for their netbooks and similar devices that only have the option for 1.8-inch drives such as this one.
As a 1.8-inch SATA drive, the KC380 uses a Micro-SATA connector that doesn’t match anything you’ll find in a normal PC. The SATA data connector is the same as you’re used to, but the power connector won’t match anything you’ll find or a default power supply and as such it can’t be used in a normal system. That is also the reason that this review got so much delayed, I had to find a working adapter to convert it to normal SATA connectors. The first I bought was broken and made the drive crash out during load and the second could only deliver SATA2 speeds for some reasons. However, third time is the charm and the third adapter that I got, and that I’m using for this test, works like a charm and as it should: Bridge the pins to a different layout.
The 1.8-inch SATA form factor isn’t the most common and most people will never even have a system that can use these drives. There are however quite a few hard disk based netbooks on the market, and around the world in different homes, that could benefit hugely from an upgrade with an SSD like the Kingston SSDnow KC380.
We shouldn’t expect a blasting performance as such, simply due to the generation of the drive and its small capacity. Those are both things that will have an effect among others, but it still a drive that promises a good performance. The drive is rated for a sequential performance up to 550MB/s while reading and 520MB/s while writing. The maximum random performance rating for this 120GB model is set to 86K IOPS reading and 48K IOPS writing.
The Kingston SSDnow KC380 consumes less power and generates less heat than a traditional HDD at a fraction of the cost of a new system. It offers advanced data integrity protection and a second-generation SandForce SSD controller with DuraClass technology. DuraClass features include DuraWrite and advanced wear-leveling to extend the life of the drive and garbage collection and over-provisioning for consistent performance and a longer life for your SSD and your data.
Opening up the drive and we reveal that it actually is an mSATA drive that is hiding inside the drive and that it uses an mSATA to MicroSATA adapter board to become what it is. A natural choice for Kingston that already had the mSATA in the lineup. This saves costs and broadens the market opportunities.
The top of the actual SSD contains a Kingston sticker with all the relevant information about the drive. It also covers two of the four Toshiba NAND chips used on the drive. The last two NAND chips are found on the rear where we also find the SandForce SF-2241 solid state drive controller. Overall, a simple design that gives a lot of options.
Kingston backs the KC380 SSD with its well-known warranty and in this case it’s for three years. That also includes free technical support for the duration.
Fast — dramatic performance increase for any system upgrade
Endurance — Data Integrity Protection featuring DuraClass technology
Durable — DuraWrite optimizes writes to extend endurance
Multiple capacities the right capacity to meet your storage needs
Supports SMART — monitors the status of your drive
Supports TRIM — maintains maximum performance on compatible operating systems
Guaranteed — three-year warranty, free technical support
Packaging and Accessoires
The Kingston SSDnow KC380 comes in a blister packaging that displays both the drive itself and the basic information about it right on the front. We can see the capacity, the name, and brand as well as the performance rating.
The rear of the drive contains all the fine-print that isn’t really relevant. Basically, it tells you that you’ll notice a huge improvement over traditional mechanical drives.
Adata has launched their newest line of Server SSDs, the SR1010. While this drive is designed with server environments in mind, there is nothing that holds a quality minded enthusiast back from using these drives. After all, every one likes the best data security possible, but it comes with a premium price.
The new Adata SR1010 features the very important Power-Loss Protection (PLP) that helps prevent data crashes caused by system failures. The drive also supports SMART for easy hardware monitoring and has an ECC Recovery that can correct up to 55 bits per 512-byte sector (BCH). It also comes with a guarantee to work great with pretty much every enterprise system you could think of. For the Linux users it supports both SUSE Enterprise and Red Hat Enterprise, for Windows it is WHQL certified and the virtual environments are covered with both Citrix and WMWare certifications.
Adata used the Seagate (SandForce/LSI) SF-2581 controller and Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND Flash Memory with enhanced NAND sorting methodology. This helps these drives to reach sequential read/write speeds of up to 550/550 MB/s. They can also achieve 4KB random read/write speeds of up to 73,000/45,000 IOPS. There are three available capacities to choose from: 100GB, 240GB and 480GB. These disks should be great in anything from data centres and embedded devices all the way to the data-safety minded individual.
The power consumption is 2.25 watts in idle and 4.1 watts when in use. You should be able to depend on these drives for a very long time as Adata only used the best components in these drives. To back that statement, the Adata SR-1010SS come with a 5-year warranty and are rated for up to 2 million hours of MTBF. The drives have a default 2.5-inch form-factor, are 7mm high and weighs 63 grams.
There is no word on availability or pricing yet but judging by its predecessor, they aren’t going to be cheap, but you get what you pay for.
Thank you Adatafor providing us with these information
Over recent years, mSATA drives have typically been a component that has not been on the forefront of the consumer market, seen only really by OEM manufacturers or by those who opened up their systems. With the market shifting towards smaller and smaller systems, and advances in technology allowing for denser storage and computing power as a whole, we are now seeing mSATA drive appear on the consumer market in greater numbers and more importantly, bigger capacities.
This is not the first time I’ve looked at an mSATA drive, a few months back I had a look at one of ADATA’s smaller capacity drives, the SP300 24GB – aimed more for SSD caching and small OS footprints that require little read and write speeds such as POS systems.
With speeds and capacities now at a level that most users would deem acceptable for day to day use, and the number of systems and motherboards that support them such as laptops and ASUS’ ROG motherboards growing and more importantly the introductions of Intel’s Next Unit of Computing (NUC), seeing what is out there in the mSATA market is something very worth while.
As a manufacturer, ADATA need little to no introduction as they are known to be one of today’s leading manufacturers with products ranging from flash drives to system memory for both the desktop and server markets, as well as SSDs in many different forms plus much more. Having spent such a long time in this field of engineering, ADATA knows what it takes to build a quality product, both on the performance side, as well as the pricing side of things as well.
Moving over to today’s product in hand, the SX300 256GB mSATA SSD, those who took a out NUC review a couple of moths back with recognise this as one of our third party components that we used to test these next generation systems out. and from the outside, the performance that we experienced from the drive didn’t seem all that bad. What’s important though is getting a more in-depth feel of how well these drives perform – mainly against their full blown 2.5″ counterparts that now dominate the consumer storage market.
Like memory, there is nothing included with the drive as it is an as-is product that requires no additional parts or accessories to be included so sliding the drive out of its case, its a quick installation process with only a couple of screws needed in some cases to hold it in place.
When it comes to SSD line-ups, its safe to say that OCZ has got virtually every inch of ground covered with budget, performance and all round value drives with the Octane, Vertex 3 & 4 and recently the Vector series of drives. At the same time of covering all price points, OCZ have proven reliability and a huge following of users, but now that the SSD has become more mainstream and the number of users that are adopting the faster technology grows, the market is become heavily inundated with new models meaning that for some the choice is too great and for those vendors that have been in the SSD sector for a while now, their now older models are not getting the same attention that they used to.
OCZ’s Vertex line of drives in my option are some of the best selling drives out there and now that they have been around for a good couple of years and then they were one of the pioneers of using MLC NAND flash to store data on their drives, pairing it with one of the most successful controllers of the SSD world – the SandForce SF-2281. Believe it or not, this is the second re-release of the Vertex 3 and this time round OCZ have made the point of making it clear about the update to the drive.
When the Vertex 3 was first released it included 34nm MLC NAND and following the move to 25nm NAND without much of an announcement from OCZ, there was a lot of upset from the consumers with some buying the 34nm drives without a clue that 25nm were also available with some improvements to the performance. Moving forward to now, OCZ are yet again shrinking the size of technology on their drives and we now are seeing 20nm NAND – that’s almost half the original Vertex 3 of two years ago. Not wanting to make the same mistake twice however, OCZ this time round are making it well known that they have updated this drive and this includes a slight tweak to the name to reflect the 20nm NAND – hence Vertex 3.20.
For the end user this shift to newer technology means a drive that is even more affordable than before whilst still retaining the same roots as the original Vertex 3 with great performance and capacity and on the factory side for OCZ this also means reduced manufacturing costs – hence the drop in end user price. Whilst the drive itself will look 99.9% the same on the outside, there is one notable difference to the packaging. We’ve for a long time got used to the small card boxes that OCZ have used that open out to house the drive inside in an anti-staic bag and a set of screws and a drive bay adaptor behind, but with more and more chassis natively supporting SSDs with specific mounting points and trays compatible with 2.5″ drives, OCZ have made the decision to drop the extras and give the user just what they need – a simple no fuss packaging – also another way to reduce the cost overall.
A leaked product roadmap from VR-Zone suggests that Intel is very close to launching its next-generation of performance-orientated consumer SSD. The 530 series of SSDs from Intel will succeed both the 520 and 525 series of SSDs. The 530 Series SSDs from Intel will feature the latest 20nm MLC NAND flash but unfortunately are still stuck using the same LSI-Sandforce SF-2281 controller we have seen on SSDs for the past 2 years or so. Of course this controller will have all the latest revisions and firmware updates allowing it to maximise performance, compatibility and reliability.
The roadmap suggests we should of seen the 530 series last month but apparently the launch was delayed by a month and we will see the new 530 series between the 8th and 12th of July. There will be three form factors for the new SSDs. 2.5″ SATA (7mm), NGFF M2 and mSATA. Capacities will be 80GB, 180GB, 240GB and 360GB for the NGFF M2 and mSATA form factors. The 2.5 inch SATA form factor gets 180GB, 240GB, 360GB and 480GB form factors. Performance and pricing details will come in the next 10 days or so as we get closer to the launch.
High capacity SSDs seem to be coming more and more common these days. Particularly as Crucial recently released their M500 series of SSDs available in a 960GB capacity. Yet we haven’t really seen any other high capacity SSD drives intended for consumer use until now.
KingFast, a Chinese flash memory company, has announced its C-Drive 1TB which TweakTown managed to grab a look at during Computex. This is a drive to rival Crucial’s M500 960GB SSD as it features a 1TB capacity. The drive on the face of things looks exactly like any other drive on the market with a 2.5 inch form factor and a 9.5mm thickness. Yet it is unique as it encloses two individual SSDs in an internal RAID 0 configuration. There are two 512GB Sandforce SF-2281 driven SSDs inside but they both share a single SATA III interface. This means speeds of 559 MB/s read and 532 MB/s write which is actually only marginally faster than current SSD drives on the market.
It is clear that the SATA III interface is limiting these SSDs although the internal RAID configuration is mainly in place to allow the 1TB capacity to be reached easily not to allow the drive to perform faster. KingFast didn’t mention anything else about the drive in terms of pricing, TRIM support, availability and other capacities.
If the 1600GB ADATA SSD we covered at Computex 2013 was your thing then this new Scorpion Deluxe SSD from Mushkin will definitely interest you too. Unlike the ADATA SSD which used a 2.5″ form factor but a PCI Express 4X cable to a PCI Express add-in-card, the Mushkin Scorpion deluxe skips that and goes straight in with a PCI Express interface that us 8X in terms of length. This allows for transfer speeds of up to a staggering 2100MB/s or 2.1GB/s and up to 100K random write IOPS.
Mushkin will be making the Scorpion Deluxe PCI Express SSDs available in 240GB, 480GB, 960GB and 1920GB capacities. Mushkin are using a Sandforce driven SSD controller (SF-2281) and are offering a 3 year warranty. If you’ve got a lot of cash to spend then Mushkin claim these PCI Express SSDs are scalable in up to 4 way configurations.
While these devices certainly aren’t for everyone, the wide variety of sizes does mean the lower capacity drives will be accessible at a consumer level, much like OCZ’s Revo drives. You can get more information here. Mushkin expect these drives to become available from mid-June onwards and pricing has yet to be disclosed but you can expect them to be significantly more expensive than equivalent capacity SATA III SSDs as they are mainly aimed at the content professionals market.
At Computex ADATA revealed an SSD that’d make most PC enthusiasts pretty darn jealous. Their new SX2000 SSD series revealed an absolute gem with a 1600GB model – yes that is 1600GB of SSD storage. This device is certainly no slouch on speeds either as ADATA have opted for a PCI Express Generation 2 4X interface that supports a mammoth 1800-2000 MB per second, meaning you can essentially read or write your entire capacity in 800 seconds – not bad at all. The controller that supports this is the Sandforce SFF-8639 and that is capable of 200,000 random read IOPS.
ADATA also showed off the rest of the series which included 800, 400, 200 and 100GB capacities. These all use the same specifications and have TRIM support, DEVSLP support and SMART support. The PCI express interface works by running a cable to a PCI Express riser card from the SSD drive itself. ADATA didn’t announce pricing or availability but expect these to cost a small fortune, though being aimed at the enterprise market this is hardly unexpected.
ADATA also displayed the SX1000 series alongside the SX2000 series but these are slightly more “normal” with a SATA III 6Gbps interface, a Sandforce SF-2500 or SF-2600 controller and read/write speeds of 550/500MB/s. 75,000 random read IOPS are delivered and the drive is available in 100, 200 and 400GB capacities. ADATA didn’t specify the NAND used in either drives but high-endurance MLC is likely give then 5 year warranties.
Unfortunately we have some sad news for you. We brought you the news yesterday that OCZ were reportedly working on a new SSD, the Vertex 5. However, it turns out that this rumour is mainly incorrect. Initial reports, from the source of the rumour – Nordic Hardware, suggested that we would see a new Vertex 5 SSD from late May that would be based on the Barefoot 3 controller. A lot of people seemed to take to the story quite quickly and positively, suggesting the great enthusiasm in OCZ products of late. However, OCZ have confirmed with The SSD Review that no Vertex 5 series SSD of any kind will be available in Q2 of 2013, ruling out any possible release up to the end of June. This also means no Computex 2013 unveiling of an OCZ Vertex 5 SSD drive.
This isn’t to say that OCZ aren’t working on a Vertex 5 series SSD, because they most likely are, it is just to say that it isn’t near ready enough for these rumours to be true. OCZ did confirm that they are working on a 20nm flash Barefoot 3 controller SSD, but this is most likely to be an updated Vector series SSD not a Vertex 5. As far as the PCB shown in the original rumour goes (which we have put below for convenience) this is apparently just a Vector series SSD PCB with the branding on the controller removed.
Now we’ve had all this activity around OCZ SSDs, we are all probably wondering what is the deal with the Vertex 5? Will we see one by the end of the year? Will it use a Barefoot 3 controller or a Sandforce controller? Who knows. What are your thoughts on this story?
Mushkin are a company who make a lot of SSDs and memory kits for the PC hardware market. Their Chronos range of SSDs are renowned across the industry for the excellent value for money that they provide. Today Mushkin adds another addition to the Chronos series, the GO Deluxe.
You might be wondering what is different or special about these SSDs? If they were just like any other SSD we probably wouldn’t even give them the light of day on our website. What’s interesting about the Chronos GO Deluxe is that they fit into a 1.8 inch form factor, compared to the normal 2.5 inch form factor we find SSDs in.
Mushkin have managed to squeeze 120, 240 and 480GB capacities into this small 1.8 inch form factor. Mushkin claim the GO Deluxe drives are of enterprise quality, reliability and endurance but with the high performance you’d expect from a SATA III SSD.
Expected performance, pricing and availiblity wasn’t disclosed. However, we expect performance will be similar to any other SF-2281 Sandforce based SSD. Mushkin had this to say about their new 1.8 inch Chronos Go Deluxe
“Mushkin continues to push the envelope with higher performance, higher capacity and higher reliability products, and the new line of 1.8-inch Chronos(TM) GO SATA III (6Gbps) SSDs is just one example,” said Nicolas Villalobos, Director of Global Marketing at Mushkin Inc. “With these improvements, the new drives are very well-suited for professionals and for solution providers in demanding environments like digital signage, healthcare and point-of-sale.”
What do you think of this new 1.8″ SSD from Mushkin? Do you have any particular uses for an SSD this small?