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There have been changes in the SandForce realm. Products with old 32nm Toggle NAND flash memory have given way to the new generation of SSDs with 24nm Toggle Mode HBL memory. In this review we’ve tested the first representative of that generation, the 240GB Extreme SSD from SanDisk, but other brands will surely follow suit soon.

According to our tests, the SF-2281 controller works well with 24nm Toggle Mode NAND flash. This combination of components results in a competitive product with typical SandForce features. However, the new SSDs are not identical to their predecessors with 32nm Toggle NAND. The 24nm memory is designed as 64-gigabit dies, limiting the controller’s ability to interleave memory access. As a result, these new SSDs the SanDisk Extreme is an example of are not as fast as the older ones with 32nm Toshiba chips (such as OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS, Patriot Wildfire or Mushkin Chronos Deluxe). On the other hand, they are still faster than mainstream SSDs with synchronous memory and ONFI interface, even though this advantage has shrunk to a minimum.

From an end-user’s point of view, it is important that the new manufacturing technology helps make the end product cheaper, so the new SSDs with 24nm Toggle Mode NAND can be positioned in the same market segment as inexpensive SandForce-based products with synchronous memory. Considering their performance, this may lead to SSDs with a highly appealing price/performance ratio, like the SanDisk Extreme. This specific model has one downside, though. It suffers a heavy performance hit as it transitions from its out-of-box to steady state. This downside can be eliminated by firmware updates although SanDisk doesn’t seem too eager to do that. So, the SanDisk Extreme is an attractive product potentially, yet we wouldn’t recommend buying it right now. It’s wiser to wait for similar products from other brands.

Some time ago we started to fill in a summary table with test results of various SandForce-based SSDs. Now that there are other controllers available, we add them into that table as well. So, the updated table contains the basic hardware information about the tested SSDs and allows to quickly determine the general position of a particular model among its competitors in terms of relative performance.

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