Crucial m4 solid state drive can be regarded as a veteran of this market. It was launched almost a year ago and in reality is an evolutionary upgrade of another popular product – Crucial RealSSD C300. Moreover, the primary message of the history behind these SSDs indicates clearly that SSD firmware for Marvell 88SS9174 based products is of great importance. Regular firmware updates allow maintaining the performance of Crucial m4 at a very competitive level. During its long-term market success, Crucial m4 firmware has received two very important updates. One of them eliminated critical errors, while another one significantly increased the read speed by anywhere between 12-20%.
However, the hardware configuration of this solid state drive also contributes substantially to its long-lasting career. It has been originally designed with intention to remain up-to-date for a long period of time.
Crucial m4 is built with a PCB carrying two types of memory chips and a Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 controller – the third revision of this chip (from the day it was born).
The first type of memory is MLC NAND flash. For our tests we used a 256 GB drive equipped with sixteen 16 GB Micron flash chips, which is not surprising at all, since this manufacturer owns the Crucial brand. Flash memory chips are marked as 29F128G08CFAAB, which indicates that we are dealing with synchronous ONFI 2.2 interface based on two 64 Gbit semiconductor dies manufactured with 25 nm process.
The second memory type is represented by a single Micron D9LGQ chip, which is none other but a regular DDR3-1333 SDRAM chip with 256 MB capacity. This memory serves as a cache, which is an inalienable part of all solid state drives on Marvell controllers. Although Crucial’s cache is a little smaller in size, than the same cache in other products participating in our today’s roundup.
In conclusion I would like to add that Crucial m4 SSDs are currently priced very affordably: at about $1.3-$1.4 per gigabyte of storage. The stores currently carry 64, 128, 256 and 512 GB models.