This may be one of the longest previews you've read and it will certainly be the longest I've ever wrote. Today, we have one circuit board sporting two new significant parts. Solid state drives are made up of a controller, NAND flash and little bits and pieces that are not as fun to talk about.
The controller is a bridge from your motherboard to the flash. It plays a significant role in the SSD since, as the name implies, it controls everything going in and out, as well as keeping your data safe. The R&D board we are using today has a fresh controller from Silicon Motion (SM2256) that was just publicly announced a few days ago. We'll cover the new SM2256 in detail on the following page.
You may wonder why SMI would release a new controller so soon after launching the SM2246 controller now found on a number of new consumer SSD products like the Corsair Force LX, PNY Optima and ADATA SP610. The answer is simple, it's the flash.
I think most of you already know the second significant part of an SSD is the NAND flash, the memory that holds your data. Flash makes up a large percentage of the overall SSD cost, some say around 90%. Any reduction in the cost of flash carries over into a lower priced final product, or at least it should.
The drive we're testing today uses Toshiba 3-bits per cell flash, also commonly referred to as triple-level cell or TLC. This is the first time a R&D board came to us with Toshiba TLC flash, and this preview will serve as the first third-party public test of Toshiba's new A19 TLC product.
We have a lot of information to cover today, so let's dive in and look at the controller, then the flash and follow up with some tests, and a breakdown on how this combination will affect your next SSD purchasing decision.