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SandForce SF-1200: Does Lower Capacity Mean Lower Performance? (Page 1)

Does lower capacity always have to mean lower performance with SSDs? Four different capacity OCZ Vertex 2 drives should let us know.
By: Chris Ramseyer from Jun 21, 2010 @ 23:08 CDT
Manufacturer: My Digital Discount



Up until now we have observed SSD manufacturers quoting different performance numbers for each capacity size in a product line. The most obvious came in 2009 when some manufacturers listed as many as four distinct performance envelopes in their Indilinx Barefoot products with all divided by capacity. The Indilinx Barefoot products weren't the only ones listing footnotes about performance, Intel had a few of their own as well.

There are many reasons why smaller capacity drives can be generally slower than higher capacity drives. Without boring you with technical details, we will just briefly touch on technical side. The first possible reason a smaller drive performs less than a higher capacity drive can be linked directly to the flash memory itself. Some smaller drives use smaller flash memory that does not perform as well as larger capacity flash. The next issue and what we saw mostly in 2009 and early 2010 were smaller than 128GB drives that were using less of the available channels on the controller. You can think of these channels as being like Serial ATA (SATA), a point to point connection, just this time between controller and flash memory. If you reduce capacity simply by reducing the number of memory chips, then most likely you are not able to run all of the channels available in a controller.

The Intel V Series is a very good example of this. If you go back through the SSD reviews where we took the drives apart, you can see that some of the 64GB drives had open spots on the PCB that were not occupied by flash. The 128GB drives used all of the available PCB openings and the 256GB drives double stacked the flash. At that point you can think of each available spot on the PCB as being its own IDE connector with a master and slave. The tech doesn't come out to that exactly, but you can kind of get the picture this way.

So here we are in 2010 and there are two players on the enthusiast field at this time, Marvell and SandForce. We have already shown that even though the Crucial RealSSD C300 (that uses the Marvell controller) has a blazing fast read speed for both the 128 and 256GB capacity sizes, the write speed changes with the capacity. We will be able to see this in the benchmark performance charts today, but if you want a full breakdown with all of the details please be sure to read our review of the Crucial RealSSD C300 128GB.

Let's take a look at the Vertex 2 specifications, get in some pricing information from our sponsor and get started with testing.

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