While it's not a final revision product at the time of writing, we expect the SM2246EN controller to hit the market in retail form SSDs around Q4 2013 or Q1 2014. CES would be a good time to launch since it's a massive trade show, but then again, Silicon Motion runs the risk of being overshadowed by a potential LSI SandForce SF-3000 launch. If Silicon Motion can get drives to market through third party customers like Corsair, ADATA, Super Talent and so on, they can take advantage of holiday shopping season. If Silicon Motion manages to hit the price points we're guessing, we'll all have 512GB SSDs under the tree!
The new controller has a lot going for it and we expect it to be a big success for mainstream users. The low power consumption makes it a great controller for use in notebooks and the high performance makes it an option for power users and enthusiasts right now.
What's unknown is how long it will take manufacturers to convert their PCIe based M.2 products to desktop products for enthusiasts. We've talked to a few companies about PCIe SSDs for desktops using M.2 designed controllers and it was like the thought was never even considered before we brought it up. Native PCIe based drives will all but lock SATA based products out of the enthusiast and power user market, except for users building RAID arrays. That could take a large portion of the DIY market out of Silicon Motion's reach, but numbers wise, the notebook upgrade market is where the volume is with DIY.
Surely Silicon Motion has reference design drives in every big box OEM on the planet. It will be interesting to see who makes a product with this controller and where the drives end up. One thing is certain, if you buy a notebook or desktop with the storage performance we saw today from the reference design, it would be difficult to find a product that would compel us to spend money to replace the SilMo reference drive.
We're looking forward to the final release products, especially those pairing this controller with TLC flash. TLC will bring SSDs deeper into the mainstream thanks to lower prices and increase capacity. The performance is still questionable with TLC, but the clock is ticking - we won't have to wait long.