G.Skill has been doing fairly well in the SSD market even though they rarely get such credit. Their previous three generations of products were some of the first to market and all three were cheaper than competing products on the e-tail market at the time of the product launch. The last drive we looked at from G.Skill, the Falcon II was the first to bring Indilinx's Barefoot ECO to consumers and for at least three months was the only ECO drive offered in the US. The ECO allowed G.Skill to use new, lower cost flash memory and this resulted in G.Skill having the lowest priced Barefoot class product on the market. The only problem was that the G.Skill Falcon II had an e-tail cost that was around 30 USD less than other Barefoot class products and was quickly sold out everywhere. When new stock arrived it was quickly sold leaving users to give up on finding a Falcon II and paying more for something else. When it really comes down to it, G.Skill failed to deliver the Falcon II in the quantities needed to satisfy the demand.
Unlike the Falcon and Falcon II, the G.Skill Phoenix is not the first SSD we have received using a common controller from the manufacturers. In this round Indilinx is out and SandForce is in and it is in with everyone. Name any SSD manufacturer and as long as their name isn't Crucial then they have a SandForce SSD coming to market, if not already on the market. There are so many companies making consumer SSDs with the SandForce SF-1200 I needed to come up with a name that encompasses them all. Team SandForce is what I call them and since most of these products are using identical firmware and hardware, grouping them together is fairly accurate. There are of course a few exceptions like the OCZ Vertex with an exclusive firmware that raises the 4K write IOPS to around 50K and the Corsair Force that uses a pre-release firmware that also allows the 4K IOPS to remain at the enterprise level 50K. So far all the rest have been about the same except for the drives we have looked at with pre-release firmware. For the Team SandForce drives the only way to distinguish one product from another has been on price. This price war has led to SandForce SF-1200 drives, currently the fastest 100 to 128GB drives on the market, to dip in price rapidly.
When the G.Skill Phoenix 100GB drive arrived I was a bit surprised by the timing since the Falcon and Falcon II were some of the first Indilinx and Indilinx ECO drives we tested and found for sale. As always, I wanted to take a look at the new drive, but in the back of my mind I was thinking that the Phoenix would be just another run of the mill, Team SandForce product. To back that up I took a look at G.Skill's product page and sure enough, nothing special was listed and the specs sheet gave us the same impression. Even when the drive arrived it had Team SandForce written all over it. That determination was actually not from what was printed on the package, but the lack of any special mentions that clearly stated that the Phoenix was different. The package and the website were wrong and I didn't pick up on it until the PCB was removed.
Let's check out the specifications and get into why the G.Skill Phoenix is not just another Team SandForce product.