The consumer SSD market is about to make another significant change. Samsung released the 840 EVO SSD over a year ago with the industry's first 3bits per cell NAND flash (TLC). It took some time, but a year later, Micron released its TLC competitor product, 16nm MLC flash. At Flash Memory Summit last month, we previewed Toshiba's TLC flash paired with a Silicon Motion controller, but this month we get to test the first non-Samsung retail SSD with TLC flash, SanDisk's Ultra II.
TLC flash is cheaper to manufacture on a capacity basis since each die holds more data. The initial wafer costs are the same regardless of the flash for the most part, so adding more data capacity per square inch reduces the overall cost. In turn, it also means flash makers can produce more flash capacity and that too reduces the cost to consumers.
At the time of writing, the SanDisk Ultra II 240GB SSD with 550 MB/s sequential read performance and 500 MB/s sequential write performance sells for just $99.99 at some e-tail outlets. Clearly TLC flash is doing what it's designed to do, reduce the cost of SSDs.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
At the time of writing, SanDisk has two Ultra II products on the market and an additional two more on the way. You can currently purchase the 120GB and 240GB models at Amazon, Newegg and other online shops, and the larger 480GB and 960GB models will follow in mid-October. The two smaller capacity drives use 4-channel Marvell flash controllers, while the two larger capacity drive use 8-channel Marvell flash controllers. All four capacity sizes rate at the same 550 MB/s sequential and 500 MB/s sequential write performance. Random performance escalates as the capacity increases. The 240GB model we're testing today measures 91K random read IOPS and 83K random write IOPS. On the next page, we'll discuss how the Ultra II with X3 (SanDisk marketing speak for TLC) flash is able to achieve these high performance numbers.
Newegg currently shows the Ultra II 128GB at $79.99 and the 240GB model at $109.99. The price for the 240GB model has gone back and forth between $99.99 and $109.99 depending on the e-tailer. Newegg offers free shipping on this series.
Newegg also shows the two large capacity models, but lists the release date as 10/16/2014. The 480GB model is just $219.99. If that price isn't crazy enough, the 960GB model has it beat on a cost per GB basis, just $429.99. To keep the Ultra II prices as low as possible SanDisk only includes a 7mm to 9.5mm adapter shim. The Ultra II SSDs do carry a three-year warranty.
PRICING: You can find the SanDisk Ultra II 240GB SSD for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The SanDisk Ultra II 240GB SSD retails for $110.95 at Amazon.
- Page 1 [Introduction & Specifications, Pricing and Availability]
- Page 2 [Advanced Technology and SanDisk TLC]
- Page 3 [SanDisk Ultra II 240GB SSD]
- Page 4 [Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance]
- Page 5 [Benchmarks - Sequential Performance]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - Anvil Storage Utilities]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - Mixed Read / Write Workloads]
- Page 8 [PCMark 8 Consistency Test]
- Page 9 [PCMark 8 Consistency Test - Continued]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - Power Testing]
- Page 11 [Final Thoughts]
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