In 2010 Crucial enjoyed the title of having the only SATA 6G SSD available on the market. Write speed reductions left the 64GB and 128GB drives to fight it out with the Team SandForce products, but in the 256GB size the Crucial RealSSD C300 dominated all challengers. Fast forward to today and Crucial's dominance is disappearing in this capacity size as SATA 6G capable controllers are starting (well, will be) the norm for enthusiasts and power users. Crucial is taking this challenge head on and is working to make the new m4 as honorable as the C300. Personally I think the competition will pull more out of Crucial in the form of more firmware releases (The C300 only saw one major firmware update) and a lower price point.
In the article we left a couple of things for the conclusion. The first has to do with flash. Micron has their own flash production facilities and will only be using Micron flash. A few of the next generation products we've seen and read about use Toshiba flash. Toshiba has already released a statement saying that they were largely unaffected by the tragedy in Japan, but at this point can anyone say they are unaffected in Japan? - Toshiba's announcement came just a day after the earthquake and a lot has happened since then. If there is going to be an interruption in the flash market everyone without their own flash manufacturing facility is going to be in a pinch. The Corsair Performance 3 is just one example of an SSD using Toshiba flash. Kingston and many others use Toshiba flash and even the OCZ Vertex 3 PRO (the enterprise version) sampled with Toshiba flash. Before the tragedy in Japan some MSRP prices were released on next generation drives, but with everything going on we will need to wait and see if those targets are hit.
The other area we left you to wait for in the review has to do with one of the new Marvell controllers ability to perform at nearly the same speeds at all times; when filled with data or in a clean state and the other, as used in the Crucial m4, not having the same ability. When both the Crucial m4 and the Corsair Performance 3 are populated with data their speeds are nearly identical. The season is still young though and I think this is going to lead to some aggressive firmware releases as Crucial attempts to pull more speed out of their m4 product line.
Be sure to check back in early April for full reviews of the retail drives. By then we will have pricing information, accessory bundle lists and even more data collected from some of our new tests. Look for an article real soon that describes the new testing procedures and the 2011 TweakTown Storage Product Test System.
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