Corsair Performance Pro
Corsair has long had a full lineup of SSDs based on SandForce controllers. However, not everyone is happy with the reputation of these controllers and therefore the drives that is why in the end of last year Corsair decided to offer an alternative to those, who weren’t certain about going with a SandForce based product – a new series of high-performance products based on a Marvell controller. The new Performance Pro series became a logical continuation of the already out-dated Performance 3 family, which is no longer a true “performance” series even in formal specifications, although it uses almost the same hardware components.
The new Performance Pro lineup looks very promising even in terms of formal specifications offering speeds comparable with those of the fastest second-generation SandForce based products. Our tests will show how true that is, and in the meanwhile let’s take a closer look at the actual 256 GB Corsair SSD based on Marvell controller.
First of all I would like to stress that the looks of Corsair Performance Pro make it stand out among other products from this manufacturer. While SandForce based drives are designed in black or red cases, the alternative SSD uses an unpainted aluminum case with rough machine marks.
Inside the case we find a PCB. There is a Marvell 88SS9174-BKK2 controller on one side – a second revision of an original Marvell chip with improved performance. I would like to point out that inside an assembled SSD the controller is pressed against the case using a layer of thermal interface, which means that Corsair requires improved heat dissipation for their drive.
The reverse side of the PCB is allocated completely for the memory chips. There are eight Toshiba flash chips marked as TH58TVG8D2FBA89. They are referred to as “Supercharged Synchronous NAND” on the official Corsair web-site, but it is a purely marketing term. In reality we are dealing with MLC chips with synchronous Toggle-Mode 1.0 interface and 32 GB capacity, each containing eight 32 Gbit NAND devices. Although this memory is manufactured with 32 nm process, it is one of the fastest modifications of MLC flash available today used in mainstream SSDs. They provide super high speed due to the fact that the eight-channel Marvell 88SS9174 controller accesses memory using eight-way interleaving instead of four-way one like in other 256 GB SSD models.
In addition to flash memory, Corsair Performance Pro also has a DDR3-1333 SDRAM based cache. In this case it is implemented using two NANYA NT5CB128M16BP-CG chips with a total capacity of 512 MB.
Although they use Toggle Mode NAND, which we normally see in more expensive SandForce based SSDs (such as OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPs), Corsair Performance Pro are sold at a relatively affordable price. Their price per gigabyte is anywhere from $1.4 to $1.6 depending on the total size of a specific model: a 128 GB or a 256 GB one.