While writing this review I found an advertisement from Hong Kong for the SuperSSpeed S301 SLC SSD. In the advertisement, it shows the drive and lists the 120GB model $1999 HKD. The 60GB lists for $1099 HKD. Using Google I learned the 120GB, after conversion, comes out to just over $258 USD and the 60GB is around $141 USD. This was a SuperSSpeed advertisement in a magazine so those are most likely MSRP prices. I'm not going to hold this as gospel just yet, we'll wait till they tip up for sale in this part of the world, but at the very least, this is a very good sign that 2x MLC prices for SF-2281 / SLC is possible. For that price, hell for twice that price, I'm in for a handful to run in RAID.
With the price out of the way we can turn our attention to what really counts, performance. Clearly the SuperSSpeed S301 Hyper SLC is the fastest 120GB consumer SSD on the planet. At this time it isn't even close in the 120/128GB category. We don't want to limit the drive to just the 120/128GB category because it's faster than the 240/256GB drives as well. We've said the SandForce SF-2281 is the fastest consumer controller on the planet at this time and when you pair it with SLC flash, it really shines.
Just to break this down a bit deeper let's look at some of the details that bring me to this conclusion. The SF-2281 controller outperforms every other consumer SSD controller with the drives filled to 25%, 50% and 75% of user capacity. The Plextor M3 Pro 128GB gets very close in this size category, but no cigar. That is with MLC flash and not even factoring in SLC flash. With SLC flash, the performance increases quite a bit since that pesky read, erase, write cycle is reduced from 600 micro-seconds (MLC Type 78) to just 220 micro-seconds (SLC Type 74). The read access speed for this SLC flash is 25 micro-seconds, half that of MLC flash. This explains the reduced read access times we observed with the SuperSSpeed S301.
Audio/video professionals have taken issue with SandForce's architecture that can underperform when working with files that were previously compressed. This is a valid argument if you don't factor in the speed of the drives with data present. The SuperSSpeed S301 SLC removes that argument almost entirely. In our testing we observed a very small incompressible data tax, but nothing like when 2281 is paired with MLC or even Toshiba Toggle flash. This may be the greatest benefit of using SLC with this controller in a consumer environment. There is very little performance loss when working with compressed files.
The 4K and native command queuing performance is also off the chart, even when compared to larger capacity drives. We've yet to talk about the enterprise aspect of the S301, but we'll save that for a future article from Paul. SLC flash does have a P/E count of 100,000 cycles. Most MLC drives use 10K flash and several drives are shipping today with 5K cycles. The longevity difference is massive, but as I stated in the review, most enthusiasts won't even reach 10K cycles before replacing their SSD with the latest and greatest.
Latest and greatest, that is a good place to take this article. The SuperSSpeed S301 Hyper 120GB drive isn't listed for sale just yet so it is the latest and the performance, longevity and even the price vs. performance ratio make it the greatest 2.5" SSD to ever hit our lab. Expect to see more from this innovative SSD manufacturer who has the resources and charisma to actually produce a class leading consumer SLC drive at an amazing price.