PCIe SSDs - The Honorable Mentions
The first PCIe solid state drive we tested was the Fusion-io ioDrive. This drive still holds the speed crown for our lab, but the 3,000 USD price tag for the tested 80GB drive will never fly for desktop use. Just last month Fusion-io released their ioXtreme and ioXtreme Pro drives for power users, enthusiasts and those with more money and PCIe slots than most.
The two ioXtreme Products are quite a bit different from the enterprise class ioDrive we looked at last year. To start with, the ioXtreme Series uses MLC flash memory that is able to achieve reads of 700MB/s, but the write speeds are only 280MB/s (Editor's Note: "Only"). Fusion-io has yet to deliver a bootable product and even though the ioXtreme is marketed to power users, the 900 Dollar price for 80GB of extremely fast capacity is still a tough pill to swallow. We may feel differently after testing the ioXtreme and seeing how well it performs in our tests and we get a chance to feel real world performance.
OCZ Technology and PhotoFast both have their own PCIe SSDs. We tested the PhotoFast G-Monster-Promise PCIe SSD back in August of 2009 and found that it performed very well; this despite the fact that it was only four consumer class SSDs attached to a Promise SATA/SAS RAID controller on the inside. We were hoping for ioDrive performance, but walked away disappointed knowing that PCIe 2.0 controllers were on the horizon and these would open up the data path for higher speeds. We are hopeful that innovators like OCZ and PhotoFast will be able to make use of PCIe 2.0 RAID controllers in their next round of PCIe interface SSDs.