The SuperSSpeed S301 Hyper Gold SLC SSD is an interesting crossover product, with the notable characteristic of being an SLC SSD geared for the client market. SLC is disappearing in all but niche applications in the datacenter due to high pricing in relation to MLC products, and is nearly non-existent in the consumer arena.
SuperSSpeed is a regional ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) that also markets SSDs under their own flag. SuperSSpeed and their parent, Richmax Technology, also have deep roots as NAND distributors. This provides them a bulk pricing advantage to sell Intel 25nm SLC-powered SSDs at prices lower than many thought possible.
One of the redeeming characteristics of the LSI SandForce SF-2281 controller is that it offers a modular building block that allows manufactures to easily create and sell their own SSDs. The SuperSSpeed S301 was initially a regional product from Hong Kong, but with some influence from TweakTown's Chris Ramseyer, our Consumer Storage Editor, the SuperSSpeed has made its way to American shores as well.
It is important to note that LSI SandForce SF-2281, typically utilized in consumer applications, is employed in the S301. The SF-2582 and 2682 are the SandForce enterprise controller variants, but the reliable SF-2281 responds very well to the use of SLC NAND, even removing much of the performance penalty incurred with incompressible data.
The SuperSSpeed S301 and its SF-2281 controller feature beefy stats, with 550/520 MB/s of sequential read/write speed. The S301 is no slouch in the IOPS category either, rated for 80,000/60,000 IOPS in 4K random read/write.
With the high pricing of SLC NAND pushing it out of many datacenter applications, we were surprised to find this SSD competing with client MLC SSDs at the comparatively low price point of $2.00 per GB. The high price of SLC NAND is not always at the heart of the exorbitant pricing of most SLC products. SLC SSDs also tend to have other features, such as enhanced firmware for end-to-end data protection, and capacitors for power fail protection, that drive up costs. By stripping away these features, SuperSSpeed is able to deliver an SLC SSD at a competitive price point.
We have been noticing a trend towards the deployment of consumer MLC SSDs into datacenter applications to realize upfront benefits in acquisition costs. The concept of users taking a more value-oriented approach to SLC SSDs certainly is not entirely out of bounds. For users with heavy workloads that would typically require a higher endurance solution than enterprise-class MLC SSDs, it would not be too far of a jump to deploy a consumer SLC product.
In light of the fact that there is a lack of a few notable enterprise-class features, mentioned above, these SSDs would certainly not be best suited for mission-critical applications. Users employing the rip-and-replace model rarely use value-oriented SSDs in this manner, typically only storing redundant data. Another niche for high-endurance SSDs is in parity RAID arrays. SLC, due to its inherently superior write latency and endurance, is well suited for this type of application.
The SuperSSpeed S301 competes in the consumer market, but today we are pulling no punches, taking it against the current leaders in the enterprise SSD market.