They are finally here, a moment I've anticipated since June 2010. Back in June we shut down a booth at Computex to take a sneak peak at a prototype Marvell 88SS9174 SSD controller. At the time we didn't fully realize just how special this new controller was, since we were blinded by record setting sequential data transfer rates.
Those of you that read this site often already know that the Marvell 88SS9174 is the same controller in the Crucial RealSSD C300, but we have to go a little deeper to differentiate the old from the new. The C300 uses the 88SS9174-BJP2, a first generation SATA 6G controller that is known for its high sequential and IOPS performance, but has less than average garbage collection capability. The new 88SS9174-BKK2 is the new second generation SATA 6G controller used in the Corsair Performance 3 Series.
The new 88SS9174-BKK2 is a different animal, one that was built out of necessity. It is hard to imagine that in 2011 we are still talking about TRIM support, or more specifically the lack of TRIM support. This far in the game TRIM shouldn't even be a checkbox or considered a feature. TRIM is as essential to the solid state experience as the gas pedal or head lights are to your car. The reality is that a long string of failures, miscalculations and ignorance has led to us still talking about TRIM and companies like Corsair looking for ways to keep performance high when TRIM is not available.
A SSD controller's ability to cleanse itself of deleted data is called garbage collection. If you are driving your car down an alley full of half empty boxes you need to slow down to move the boxes out of your way. If that alley was already cleared and the boxes were removed, you can put your foot on the floor and go as fast as you needed. Both TRIM and garbage collection remove the half empty boxes, stack them neatly on the sides, compress them into a flat pile and allow you to move freely.
With TRIM you need your operating system, SATA and SSD to support it, and everything has to work perfectly. With garbage collection the SSD is in charge and cleans up after itself. TRIM currently is not available on MAC operating systems, RAID array configurations or most motherboard onboard SATA 6G ports (this is debatable, it might be there but it doesn't work all of the time). So what's left? - Well, if you are lucky and everything is working right you can use Windows 7 with a single SSD on an Intel chipset. Newer AMD chipsets support TRIM, but most of us aren't playing on that field these days.
Let's hop in and take a look at the new Corsair Performance 3 Series 256GB specifications. There we can see all of the specs and features. We haven't even got into what makes this drive so revolutionary, so read on!