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Newsletter 1-26-2008


Today´s newsletter is going to cover solid state hard drives. I´ve seen enough requests to put out something official.

For solid state drives (SSD´s), they come as 2 primary flavors: MLC & SLC. Multi-level cell or Single-level cell. MLC is always cheaper, and always slower. You will find the larger capacities for reasonable prices as MLC. 99% of our customers will be needing MLC when they ask about a SSD. SLC is the crazy fast stuff, with small capacities. This is geared for the gamers with unlimited budgets, or an enterprise level customer that needs insanely fast database performance.

Next, what brand of SSD to pick? I have easy access to Supertalent branded SSDs, but most SSDs out there are the same. Supertalent, OCZ, G.Skill, Corsair, etc - all based on the same MLC stuff with something known as the “JMicron Controller”. JMicron is a Taiwanese company that creates all sorts of little IC´s, such as SATA controllers, sound chips, and… flash controllers. Their first run of flash controllers were total crap and flawed, and unfortunately - most of the initial SSD´s released used it. What would happen is this: when someone was writing too much random stuff to disk (the SSD), the SSD´s buffer would fill up. While the SSD was sorting out the chaos, the entire operating system would freeze. This ruined the image of the “fast” SSD. In reality, the problem was with the buffer. Since then, this has been fixed. That´s why you will see capacities such as 40GB, 80GB, 160GB, instead of 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, etc. That extra amount of space is chopped off and set aside as a “buffer” to prevent the freezing. The fastest SSD´s currently are Intel´s own. Kingston just released theirs, which is publicly known as a rebranded Intel drive. If I were you, I would quote Intel MLC drives. If you MUST go cheap, Supertalent drives will suffice.