Indilinx - Setting the Pace, Slow but Steady
Until a little over a year ago we hadn't even heard of Indilinx. These guys just popped up on the radar and swarmed the consumer SSD market. Of all the solid state drives we have reviewed here at TweakTown, I would have to say that 80% or more have been based on Indilinx's Barefoot controller. The Barefoot has proven to be a very versatile controller with the ability to use both SLC and MLC flash.
Certainly the award for the craziest SSD with a Barefoot controller goes to the PhotoFast G-Monster V5. The 256GB sample we received from DVNation used dual custom 128GB SSDs and a custom RAID controller. Everything was stuffed inside of a single 2.5 inch, standard notebook height (9mm) form factor drive and laughed at every other SATA II SSD on the market.
Indilinx has released an updated version of the Barefoot in recent months, the Barefoot Eco. So far only G.Skill has released a SSD based on the updated Eco version of Barefoot and we reviewed the Falcon II last month. The biggest standout for the Eco version is its ability to use the joint Intel / Micron 34nm flash that allows SSDs to be manufactured at a reduced cost.
The Successor to Barefoot, Jet Stream Takes a Nose Dive
The successor to Indilinx's popular Barefoot controller is code named Jet Stream. Indilinx has a small section on their website dedicated to upcoming projects. In it we found the following information about Jet Stream.
Jet Stream is an SSD that Reaches the speed of 500 MB/s based on the memory cells integrated by high-speed interface, memory architecture and nano-technology through significantly improving NAS flash memory technology, which has not shown much difference for the last 17 years.
Due to the functional limitations of all kinds of NAND flash memory so far commercialized, it has been impossible for SSDs to save and search massive amounts of data. However, Jet Stream will support SATA 3.0 (6.0Gbps) interface and will support next generation flash memory interface such as ONFI and DDR type. With these features, Jet Stream will achieve the high-speed SSDs by overcoming the technological limitations of existing SSDs and help you establish storage systems with greatest-level stability and performance.
A prototype will be developed by the second half of 2009 for examination of basic operations.
As you can see, Jet Stream is not merely a reworked Barefoot, but a completely new controller that can only be defined as next generation and beyond. We have learned that Jet Stream failed to meet the "Second half of 2009" sampling date and this stage has been pushed back into 2010, meaning that we will not see retail consumer products until late Q1 or even Q2 2010.
We have high hopes for the Jet Stream, but it is looking like Marvel will have a SATA 3.0 (6Gb/s) controller to the market in mid Q1 2010 and that will dilute Indilinx's market share. We will be interviewing the Indilinx SATA 3.0 product manager in the coming weeks to gain some additional insight on Jet Stream and other upcoming Indilinx technology.