It's a lazy Saturday, my wife is on her vacation in sunny Florida and my boys are lost in multiplayer Dead Island. The Barrett Jackson So-Cal Auction is on Speed in the background and every now and then, I peek over to see the exotics rolling through the auction block. Looking past the car I see people on a mission. Their mission is to sift through the hundreds of cars to find the one deemed worthy of their dime, the collector car of their dreams. This year at Computex Taipei 2012 in Taiwan I too was on a similar mission.
Two months ago a very special SSD made headlines in Asia, a true muscle SSD with performance that can only be described as exotic. Within minutes of reading about the SuperSSpeed S301 Hyper drive, I fired off an email to every SuperSSpeed email address I could find. After not hearing back in 24 hours I hit the social networking sites and resent emails in Google Translation Chinese. The replies were still non-existent. At that point, SuperSSpeed went to the top of my list of companies to visit at Computex.
So, what is so special about the S301 for the world's top volume SSD reviewer to make it such a high priority? The answer is simple, performance. The SuperSSpeed S301 Hyper uses the SandForce SF-2281 controller, the top performing Flash Storage Processor on the market today, but we see SF-2281s every time we turn around. What makes this SSD special is the flash, Intel Single Level Cell (SLC) to be exact.
Five years ago, SLC flash was still turning up on prosumer SSDs still, but the cost of a 64GB SLC SSD was around $1200. Just after that, SLC all but disappeared as the reign of low cost Multi-Level Cell took off. Since then, if you wanted a SSD with SLC you had to purchase an enterprise product from a specialty manufacturer, the kind of company that doesn't sell on Newegg or publish their price list. If you had to ask about the cost, then it wasn't for you.
We all know MLC flash prices have taken a serious nosedive in the last couple of months. NAND flash makes up the bulk of the cost of a SSD so when the flash decreases, SSD prices decrease as well. IMFT and Toshiba have increased their efficiency and are getting more grade A dies per wafer. Until now, we've only heard about the status of MLC flash, but it appears that SLC flash is riding the flash pricing coaster with MLC and at least for now, SLC is what I'd consider affordable.