We have tested a number of relatively fast yet affordable solid state drives recently, such as the OCZ Vertex 3, Kingston SSDNow V300 and Samsung 840. The mass arrival of such products might have been expected because fast synchronous flash memory has been getting cheaper with the introduction of new manufacturing technologies. As a result, SSDs now have a perfect opportunity to expand from their traditional habitat. The price of entry-level SSDs doesn’t frighten potential customers anymore, but they are not much slower than expensive flagship offerings. That’s why there is some agitation in the market of affordable SSDs. New players have arrived that want to attract the customer not only with low prices but also with high performance.
So today we have a chance to check out yet another product that sports an attractive price/performance ratio. Manufactured by SanDisk, the Ultra Plus SSD is far more exciting than the other inexpensive SSDs we’ve tested so far. While the majority of manufacturers create their entry-level products by combining time-tested controllers with cheap flash memory, SanDisk takes a different approach. The innovative SanDisk Ultra Plus features an inexpensive Marvell controller we have never met before, a special variety of flash memory, and customized firmware developed by SanDisk.
SanDisk has its own flash memory manufacture (jointly with Toshiba) but its consumer-class SSDs used to be rather dull. The company’s flagship model, Extreme, is based on the very common LSI SF-2281 controller, uses reference firmware and thus lacks any originality. But now SanDisk seems ready to correct its priorities and take the SSD market as seriously as its flash cards and embedded solutions. The Ultra Plus is the first fruit of the new strategy, which makes it the more exciting.