When SSD makers want to emphasize their advantages, they often talk about how much engineering resources they put into their products. A typical SSD has three basic constituents: flash memory, controller and firmware. Not all of the firms engaged into SSD business today create these components on their own. On the contrary, the majority of consumer-class SSDs are assembled out of parts manufactured by third parties as if from Lego bricks.
So if we want to rank SSD makers according to how original their products are, we have to start from the SandForce platform. Most of SandForce-based SSDs are merely clones of the reference design that use flash memory from Intel or Toshiba and reference firmware from LSI.
The next tier consists of companies that do not develop and do not manufacture semiconductor components but try to offer original products by means of software optimizations and customized firmware. For example, Corsair and Plextor (Lite-On) assemble SSDs out of popular flash memory types and widespread controllers but deliver products that have no analogs.
Of course, it’s even better to have one’s own flash memory manufacture. Intel, SanDisk and Crucial (Micron) always have some of their own chips in their SSDs, which helps them apply a more flexible pricing policy.
Having one’s own SSD controller is the dream of any SSD maker, though. Developing one calls for some serious engineering resources, but the end result is likely to be superior to competing solutions because any user requirements can be accounted for in this case. OCZ is an example of the company that has its own SSD controller, but it doesn’t manufacture semiconductor components.
Therefore, it is not OCZ but Samsung that takes the top place in our rating. Samsung can build SSDs consisting of 100% Samsung components: an original controller with original firmware and Samsung-made flash memory. Although this doesn’t guarantee success, Samsung does have everything necessary to deliver high-performance, reliable and inexpensive SSDs that many end-users dream of.
That’s why it is with high hopes that we test Samsung SSDs. The previous 830 series had very attractive specifications and was actually among the best for a long time. Later on, the company improved its controller and began to make faster and cheaper flash memory, which resulted in the new and highly promising 840 series. It comes in basic and professional versions, and we have an opportunity to check out both of them today.