SanDisk's Extreme II is no stranger to TweakTown. We've reviewed the Extreme II more extensively than just about any drive I can think of. Well, we're back with more. This time, we're going to see what kind of performance we can extract from two- to six-drive arrays. More importantly, though, we're going to see how well the Extreme II 240GB does in a head-to-head competition with our two current performance leaders.
SanDisk's Extreme II is the successor to their highly successful Extreme series of SSDs. The Extreme II supplanted the Extreme series and brought with it some newer hardware as well as new technology. The original Extreme series leveraged SandForce second generation controller technology combined with SanDisk's own 25nm Toggle NAND technology. This was a very potent combination when it was launched, and like the Extreme II, the Extreme was a TweakTown favorite and one of the fastest drives ever made when it launched.
The Extreme II carries forward the Extreme's enthusiast pedigree. Geared toward power users and enthusiasts, SanDisk designed the Extreme II to deliver bleeding-edge performance in any user environment. Unlike the original Extreme, the Extreme II does not rely on compression technology to generate peak performance. The Extreme II performs equally well whether or not data can be compressed. This is important in today's world where nearly every piece of data comes in a compressed form.
As NAND technology progresses, lithography necessarily shrinks. Shrinking lithography as it relates to components like CPUs generally brings with it a performance increase. Lithography shrinkage as it relates to NAND Flash Memory is quite the opposite. As NAND lithography shrinks, performance as well as endurance shrinks along with it. Technologies are being developed to mitigate the performance and endurance issues that are inherent to NAND lithography shrinkage. One of the leading technologies is programming an emulated single bit per cell (SLC) caching layer into multi bit per cell (MLC) flash memory.
SanDisk was first to introduce the world to emulated SLC technology. SanDisk calls their emulated SLC technology "nCache". SanDisk utilizes this technology on the Extreme II to increase endurance as well as performance by caching small random writes on an emulated SLC layer and flushing them sequentially to the drive's MLC NAND array.
The Extreme II is born of the latest technologies and, as we've documented many times, is one of today's elite performance oriented SSDs. We've seen the Extreme II set many a lab record, but we have a new test that we consider the ultimate in determining whether or not an SSD can deliver consistent high performance over time or if it's just a benchmark babe.
The purpose of today's review is threefold. First, we're going to see how well we can get two- to six-drive Extreme II arrays to scale on the limited bandwidth available from Intel's Lynx Point chipset. Second, we are going to see if the Extreme II performs well when blasted by our new consistency test. The Extreme II is going to face off against our current performance champions in a head-to-head competition. Third, SanDisk and TweakTown are teaming up to give away five Extreme II 240GB SSDs to five of our lucky readers.
This is going to be good, so let's get started!
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