Users that would consider this product will have the need for tremendous endurance in heavy write workloads. There are a few drawbacks to the use of client hardware in enterprise scenarios. These typically center on performance, endurance and reliability factors.
The SuperSSpeed S301 does not have an official TBW specification, but with its use of SLC NAND, it is a relatively safe assumption that the NAND itself can stand up to the highest endurance requirements. The SuperSSpeed S301 provides enhanced endurance, but delivering top-notch performance in addition to the increased endurance is important.
During our testing, we found that the SuperSSpeed S301 exhibits expected performance characteristics from an SLC product. The S301 dominated the charts in pure write performance in many tests. In mixed read/write workloads, the SuperSSpeed S301 managed to keep pace with the current SATA MLC SSD enterprise leaders. The SAS equipped SMART Optimus managed to beat the S301 in many of the mixed workload tests.
This really speaks volumes to the increase in performance provided by the current crop of MLC SSDs. In previous SSD generations, MLC NAND would have been easily outclassed. The efforts and innovation of SMART, Intel and Micron overcomes, or matches, many of the performance advantages of SLC in typical real-life workloads.
The S301 obviously thrives in heavy write environments, but also provides excellent sequential read speed, averaging 531MB/s in our 128K test.
While the SF-2281 is due for a refresh, it really seems to come into its own when paired with SLC NAND, providing surprisingly good performance in comparison to other current market leaders. It is important to note that the compressibility of data will affect the performance of LSI SandForce processors, but much of the penalty with incompressible data is reduced with SLC NAND.
To deploy the SuperSSpeed S301 into enterprise environments users will need to be willing to sacrifice some of the premium features of enterprise SSDs in order to gain the extra longevity and superb write performance of SLC NAND. The Micron P400m and the SMART Optimus both offer data parity algorithms that significantly reduce exposure to unexpected data loss. All of the competing SSDs also offer protection from host power-loss.
The SuperSSpeed S301 has disabled RAISE, which removes an extra layer of data protection offered by SandForce SSDs. It also does not feature protection from host power-loss, so users would need to use these SSDs with duplicated data or parity environments, and definitely not mission-critical applications.
With the right pricing, an SLC value alternative, such as the SuperSSpeed S301, could create its own space in SMB environments and professional workstations. Another great usage model for this SSD would be in RAID arrays. Current generation RAID controllers have the power to utilize the performance advantages of SSDs, making the use of SSDs in parity environments a reality. SLC NAND and its enhanced endurance will allow the S301 to withstand the extra wear of parity data.
While I doubt that we will see a mass resurgence of SLC in the datacenter, the SuperSSpeed S301 can provide a value alternative, under the right conditions, for those in need of superior write performance and endurance. The price is very competitive at $2 per GB, but there will be a limitation with only one capacity of 128GB currently available.
We applaud SuperSSpeed and Richmax Technology for their innovative approach to a value SLC SSD for the client market, and we would not be surprised if there were some bleed-through into lower-tier enterprise applications.