So, what do we really have going on with the Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue? Let's start with the easy stuff; pricing and availability. Western Digital has a vast network of resellers and I wouldn't be surprised to see the SiliconEdge Blue sitting on a shelf at Best Buy in the next couple of weeks. You can pretty much insert the name of the shop where you buy computer parts and get a wide range of WD parts there, the distribution is that good. When it comes to the cost, we have a little something to worry about, because as it sits right now the MSRP is in line with the Indilinx Barefoot drives....when they were released last year! - We all know that MSRPs don't hold their water for most products after the first week or two of the product being on the market, but the real question comes down to how fast e-tailers will be in selling the drives at midrange Barefoot levels.
Everyone's biggest competitor, OCZ Technology has already released the Solid 2 with Agility parts still on the market, both selling for quite a bit less than the MSRP of the SiliconEdge Blue. With next generation SSDs like those powered by the SandForce 1200 and Marvell SATA 6G, getting near the mid range is going to get a performance boost and Barefoot prices are going to drop even lower.
It wasn't that long ago when I reviewed the WD Caviar Green 2TB shortly after it was released and gave it a poor score in the value category because of its selling price at the time of the review. By the time the WD GP4 2TB was released the Caviar Green had dropped in price by nearly 50%. At that time the Caviar Green was one of the best buys on the market. All of this took place within a few short months. With the knowledge from that experience it is difficult to really say where the SiliconEdge is going to end up by June.
One really nice thing we have found with SSDs is that their performance is often increased with age. Companies dedicate entire teams of engineers who are consistently revising firmware allowing consumers to get performance improvements every few months. At this time Western Digital does not get the benefit of a track record following this model since the SiliconEdge Blue is their first solid state release after acquiring an SSD dept.
I feel that WD is a straight shooter from many years of reviewing their products and they will fall in line with this "new money" way of doing things. If not, then I don't think WD will have much of a future in the SSD market. I can already sense a super duper VelociRaptor like bite out of my behind coming in a few years since as a company WD has the ability to eventually take over the high performance solid state drive market. WD bought their way into this market and didn't simply start rebranding other manufacturers parts and rely on others to do the difficult tasks that lead to early Jmicron like issues.
As we have seen in the past and I am sure we will see more of in the future, the advanced solid state products are going to turn our synthetic benchmarks into useless bits that only take up space. Our real world tests of the SiliconEdge Blue shows what the drive is capable of, but there is still a little concern when it comes to write operations. At the time of writing the SiliconEdge Blue has been in our lab for less than 24 hours and it has yet to have an OS installed on it. That will come in the morning and allow us to literally feel the drive out for issues when writing data.
As for performance, we were able to determine that in real world use the SiliconEdge Blue is able to compete and in a few cases perform better than Indilinx Barefoot drives. At this point the Barefoot firmware can be considered mature and really close to the best we can get from the controller. The SiliconEdge Blue is fresh and just starting its lifecycle. With WD engineers there is no telling just how fast the drive can become once the final chapters are written.
Look for a follow up article in the coming weeks with a full report on how the Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue performed in our daily use notebook. I will be removing the Crucial RealSSD M225 256GB Indilinx Barefoot drive and replacing it with the Blue.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [Specifications, Pricing and Availability]
- Page 3 [The Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue]
- Page 4 [Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance]
- Page 5 [Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - Everest Random Access Time]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - Crystal Disk Mark]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk Tests]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - AS SSD]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - Passmark]
- Page 11 [Final Thoughts]