It's that time of year again. Computex is just days away, and my email box is full of little bits and pieces of rumor news, like a potential Samsung 850 SSD launch. Computex is also a time when we get to go hands-on with SSDs still in early testing. In years past, we've had a booth section roped off for a very public beta test, had SSDs handed to us with a nod and a wink, and walked through an actual SSD manufacturing plant to see how SSDs are made.
We already have several unreleased SSDs waiting for our arrival. Computex beta testing will be epic this year. JMicron, the company responsible for making DRAM buffers a marketable feature on solid state drives, thought ahead and delivered four reference boards in advance of Computex. All four SSDs use the new JMicron JMF667H controller, the same controller we tested already in the Kingfast C-Drive F8 and, more recently, the Transcend SSD340. Yes, we have already tested this controller twice in two retail products. This whole leak thing is something new for JMicron, but they are making an effort.
The four samples we are testing today are actually new, but in firmware and different flash configurations. Our retail samples shipped to us with an earlier firmware. One had Toshiba 19nm (26x19mm die) flash and the other had Micron 20nm L85. Today, we're using updated firmware paired with Toshiba's new A19 (19mm x 19.5mm die), IMFT's L85A, and IMFT's L85C flash. The new firmware is different on all four drives since it's custom tuned for each flash type.
We've talked about Toshiba's new A19 flash before. The short version is Toshiba shrunk the die size, but it's still considered 19nm. Nailing down the difference between L85A and L85C was a bit tricky.
L85C is interesting because it brings SLC mode to the table, much like SanDisk's nCACHE and Samsung's Turbo Write. Just having the ability for the flash to work in SLC mode isn't that great of a feat for a manufacturer, unless the controller can take advantage of it.