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SanDisk A110 256GB PCIe M.2 NGFF SSD Review - Final Thoughts

SanDisk A110 256GB PCIe M.2 NGFF SSD Review
Today we take a full look at SanDisk's new A110 256GB PCI Express M.2 2260 solid state drive. Get a look at tomorrow's storage performance today. (NASDAQ:SNDK)
| m.2 SSDs in Storage | Posted: Aug 28, 2013 1:11 pm
TweakTown Rating: 96%Manufacturer: SanDisk

Final Thoughts

 

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Looking at the architecture, the new A110 isn't all that different from SanDisk's Extreme II client SSD. The largest change is the host and it's that change that allows the A110 to move past the SATA III performance limits when reading and writing sequential data and working with random data at high queue depths.

 

In our tests today, we observed the performance that's possible today with technology that's right around the corner. I mentioned a couple of times about potential driver issues with the embedded Microsoft drivers. Drivers are a bit of a hot topic when it comes to next generation storage interfaces that use PCI Express. We still use Windows 7 for testing because we found several issues using Windows 8... and not just the lack of a Start Button. Over the last week, Christian Nay at Ocaholic found and resolved the issues we ran into. Windows 8 has a new AHCI driver so hopefully we'll see better performance. At Flash Memory Summit, we learned that Windows 8.1 will update the AHCI driver again and include at least some optimizations for PCIe based storage. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Windows 8.1 will hit right around the same time that new ultrabook products based on Intel's Haswell architecture arrive.

 

PCIe based M.2 drives don't support DEVSLP, but we now have the ability to test the feature on SATA based drives like the SanDisk X210, and LSI SandForce B02 based drives. Haswell's power savings technology with advances in SSD power states will take new ultrabooks to a new level of battery life. What's amazing is we'll get better battery life and higher performance.

 

On the desktop side, the next step is SATA Express. If you don't want to wait, converting M.2 products designed for notebooks is an option. M.2 products like the A110 will hit the market before SATA Express and the performance should be comparable. At the very least it's a stepping stone as long as you can find an A110.

 

I don't think that'll be a problem in a few months. SanDisk is currently taking orders for A110 from OEMs and it would be difficult for an OEM to hold out much longer. We don't have a final price, but looking at the drive, as long as the Marvell controller didn't increase significantly, the A110 should cost at or lower than the SanDisk Extreme II 2.5" SSD.

 

The SanDisk A110 is a winner no matter what angle you look at it from. We expect the price to be competitive and the performance is already great, and may become better with newer, optimized drivers. Since this is an OEM product, we have to wonder what the SSD aftermarket will look like a year from now.

 

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