In the editorial, I stated TweakTown has plans to stop any other reviews from having this happen again. We plan to ask each manufacturer if each SSD we review has a flexible BOM for the major components and report the official response. Changes to the build of materials happen; we know that and see it firsthand all of the time. PNY went beyond a routine change by changing the main component of the Optima.
What if the flash changed from synchronous 3K P/E cycle MLC to asynchronous 1.5K P/E cycle MLC? Could that actually happen and a product retain the same model number? It has happened before, and that is why we can no longer recommend the Kingston V300 SSD. These are just two examples, but there are more. The Mushkin Chronos Deluxe started out with 3xnm Toshiba Toggle Mode flash, then moved to 25nm ONFi from IMFT when we used it to break a Vantage World Record, and now ships with 20nm ONFi flash. These changes are not subtle.
I would love to have manufacturers send us a certified letter with a notarized statement about BOM flexibility, but that will never happen. If we are not able to get a straight answer about the product in question from the manufacturer, then we may turn to the nuclear option. This is already on the table here at TweakTown, and others have already taken steps to limit exposure from smaller SSD resellers and manufacturers.
The nuclear option is very simple. In order to protect our reputation as a media outlet, we will only review SSDs from NAND flash manufacturers and those with a strong market position. Those companies include Crucial / Micron, Intel, SK Hynix, SanDisk, Samsung, and Toshiba / OCZ on the NAND flash side. Companies with a strong position in the market have firmware capabilities like Plextor. We have to group in AVANT companies as well due to their manufacturing capabilities and brand recognition.
Other companies like MyDigitalSSD, Corsair, and SuperSSpeed produce exciting products that go against the grain and often times offer superior corner case performance. Seagate's recent purchase of SandForce also puts the company on the list, but we would include both Seagate and Western Digital since both meet the multiple criteria points.
The SSD wild-wild west days are over.
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