The performances and lifespans of Solid State Drives (SSDs) are becoming more impressive by the year thanks to the continuous advancements in controller IC and NAND Flash technologies and the gradual drop in manufacturing costs. We discussed last year how some of these advancements in SSDs came about by covering some of the latest technology trends in the IC industry. This year, we will be bringing the discussion a step further by testing different SSD products with new evaluation software and assessing their effectiveness under different settings. Our main goal is to determine which products have the better efficiency overall, and which ones' CP values are higher.
Compared to the previous years, today's SSD interface is much more advanced and diverse. Other than the widely used SATA 3 interface, the PCIe (PCI Express) interface is becoming more widely adopted and favored, thanks to its ability to improve desktop performances. The mSATA interface, which is one of the more important SSD formats to be introduced in recent years, is also gaining decent momentum. Likewise, more and more SSDs featuring support for USB 3.0 are becoming popular items in the market. At the moment, the newest formats in the industry worth noting are Intel’s heavily promoted M.2 (NG22) and SATA-IO’s SATA Express. Intel’s M.2 is able to support both SATA signals and PCIe signals, and is thus compatible with different types of conversion equipment in the market.
With the technology in the NAND Flash industry maturing, more and more SSDs are also beginning to utilize different kinds of NAND Flash components. The cheaper but shorter lived TLC-based NAND Flash, for example, has become more popular in the SSD industry following Apple’s use of the component in its 128GB iPhone 6 Plus. Recently, a growing number of manufacturers are also beginning to consider using SLC-based NAND Flash SSDs, which offer much better data protection and security than the mainstream MLC-based SSDs. Although the overall lifespan of TLC-based SSDs has been improved significantly following the recent advances in IC technology, their use is still limited to general consumer products. The MLC-based SSDs by comparison remain a much better and superior fit for server type products, and SSDs featuring SLC-based NAND Flash are typically more suited for manufacturers with less budget and financial concerns.
As an increasing number of SSDs today feature mature and advanced IC technologies, many are expected to begin offering better stability, performance, and lifespans. With the proper use and allocation of DRAM and NAND Flash components, advanced ECC data verification systems, and strong data encryption technologies, it shouldn't be long before SSDs become widely used and heavily sought after in the consumer markets.
In the server industries, SSD technology is likely to also be very useful, due to their potential to help server products carry out more timely web services, maintain large amounts of data, and support fast read and write I/O speeds. The total numbers of server based SSDs procured this year has already begun to increase significantly due to the growing awareness towards these benefits. Much of the details concerning the trends in the SSD industry and the developments of SSD storage capacities are covered in TrendForce’s latest research reports.
For this year, our SSD performance evaluation covers SSDs from the 120 GB, 240 GB, and 480 GB categories. The performances of these SSDs will be explored in more detail in the following articles.
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