Articles: Storage

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As opposed to the slowly developing HDD market (our recent roundup covered the entire year), solid state drives are evolving at a much more rapid rate and bringing us more news in a shorter period. There are SSD products with new controllers, with PCI Express interface, with new firmware, etc. We, at X-bit labs, have to be running fast just to stay where we are and keep you in touch with the latest market developments.

So in this review we are going to take a look at an SSD designed as a PCIe controller and check out if it is better than a RAID array built out of two ordinary 2.5-inch SSDs. We will also benchmark low-capacity SSDs based on the SandForce controller.

Testing Participants

Corsair Force F120 CSSD-F120GB2, 120 GB


Based on the popular SandForce controller, this product is already known to us. We include it into this review to check out how good today’s SSDs are in high-speed RAID0 arrays. As you will see shortly, there will be worthy opponents for such a RAID. So, we take two samples of this SSD with firmware version 30CA13F0 and unite them into a RAID0 array using the mainboard’s chipset. The test results of one such SSD will also be published for the sake of comparison.

Crucial RealSSD C300 C300-CTFDDAC256MAG, 256 GB


Crucial has managed to release a product that unnerves the established leaders of this market. The RealSSD C300 is based on an exclusive controller. Inside it, there is an ARM processor with Micron’s firmware which supports SATA 3 mode, i.e. a peak data-transfer rate of 600 MBps. Yes, this is the first serially produced SSD to utilize the new interface. It is specified to have a peak read speed of 355 MBps, though. The ARM processor is accompanied by a 256MB cache memory chip. As becomes a modern SSD, this product supports TRIM.

Our sample’s firmware is version 0002. We will test it in two modes: connected to the chipset (ICH7) in SATA 300 mode and connected to a Marvell 9123 controller in SATA 3 mode. We don’t like the Marvell controller’s drivers, but we don’t have any alternative to it until SATA 3 is implemented in mainboards’ chipsets. We are looking forward to Intel’s introducing the new standard in its platform.

G.Skill Phoenix Pro FM-25S2S-40GBP2, 40 GB

This is one more representative of the large number of SSDs based on the SandForce controller that have appeared over the last half-year. Why are we interested in it? We just want to check out whether low-capacity products based on that highly popular controller are slower than their large-capacity cousins.

Besides the storage capacity, this model is no different from others with the same controller. Our sample reports to diagnostic utilities that its firmware is version 2.1.

Intel X25V SSDSA2M040G2GC, 40 GB


This SSD is well known to us, but we want to include it into this test session as a same-category opponent to the above-described low-capacity G.Skill Phoenix Pro. Its firmware version is 2CV102HD.

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