We've looked at the SuperSSpeed S301 SSD before on a few occasions. The first time we had a very early sample with firmware 5.0.1, one of the less than perfect SandForce releases. We liked the drive so much we worked with SuperSSpeed to make the first TweakTown branded product ever, the TweakTown Chris Ramseyer Signature Edition SSD, limited to just 50 now sold out units. SuperSSpeed took some of the ideas from our drive and wrapped them in the final form of the product. With everything nailed down all SuperSSpeed needed to do was import a bunch of them so you can order and have your drive delivered just days after. SuperSSpeed has S301 SLC drives in stock and ready to go.
SuperSSpeed doesn't go into a lot of detail in its spec sheet. The S301 is available in two capacity sizes, but only one was available at the SuperSSpeedUS.com website, the 128GB model we're looking at today. You can purchase the 128GB SLC SSD at either Amazon or on SuperSSpeedUS.com. Both list the drive at $250. This is less than the Special Edition drive, but more than any other 128GB consumer SSD on the market today.
The reason for the higher price is simple; the S301 uses very expensive SLC NAND flash from Intel. SLC or single-level cell is generally reserved for high-end enterprise products costing thousands of dollars. SLC is very expensive and even enterprise SSD markers are starting to shy away from the technology for all but their most extreme drives designed for tier 0 use.
SLC has two program states, on or off. MLC flash has four states and TLC flash has eight. SLC's dual state on or off is very easy to read and write thus it's faster and requires less 'thinking' or overhead by the controller. Imagine doing math problems, 100 problems on each page. On the SLC page your combinations are 0 and 1 - so either 0+0=0, 1+0=1 or 1+1=2. Those are the only combinations available. You would be able to do 100 problems very quickly. With MLC you have 0, 1, 2 and 3 so a little more thought goes into each problem so you wouldn't finish the 100 questions as fast.
SLC with only two states also lasts longer than MLC flash, up to 100K PE cycles is the starting point. MLC flash is rated for 3K, 5K and the best MLC is rated at 10K PE cycles. New TLC flash comes in at roughly 1K PE cycles, but few outside of the lab have actually run tests on new TLC flash. As you know, SSDs are all about latency. This is another area where SLC flash performs better than MLC and TLC. Reducing latency increases user experience and was one of the reasons why we choose to work with SuperSSpeed to make a TweakTown Edition of the S301.
Every time we published performance data of the S301 we were asked about comparing the drive to 256GB models since they are priced about the same. For this round we use the S301 with firmware 5.0.3 (the TRIM fix firmware), and compared it to the newest 240/256GB models on the market.
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