In our first roundup of solid-state drives last year, we quickly learned that an SSD can only be as good as the controller that does the magic behind it. This was the last time we reviewed a solid-state drive from G.Skill, better known for its overclock-friendly memory modules.
As you may recall from G.Skill's early entry into the SSD arena, the 128GB Titan was plagued by stuttering due to the small buffer size used by its dreaded JMicron 602B controller. This controller was an improvement over the 16K controller on the original 602A, but pale in comparison to the 256K cache on the Intel X25-M and the 64MB off-chip DRAM supported by the Indilinx Barefoot controller.
It was common knowledge at the time that the lack of a proper cache would result in poor write performance, especially when dealing with small files, as demonstrated in random 4 KB write tests. Manufacturers struggled to sell products with the JMicron chip and quickly switched to newer controllers from Samsung and Indilinx, including G.Skill, which eventually dropped their Titan line in favor of the Indilinx Barefoot-based Falcon series.
Intel then released its second generation X25 M SSDs with newer 34 nm MLC NAND flash memory to increase data density and make the product affordable. And eventually it got more affordable. While the original 80GB X25-M SSD was introduced for around $ 595, the price for the G2 version with the same base capacity is currently between $ 250 and $ 290.
To stay competitive, G.Skill announced the Falcon II series last November. This new line of SSDs features an updated Indilinx ECO controller which, as you might have guessed, includes 34nm NAND flash memory, as well as the latest Indilinx firmware (v1819) with improved support for the Windows 7 TRIM command supported.
It's still difficult to say where these new Falcon II SSDs will be priced to be positioned as they are a little hard to find and none of the larger retailers have inventory on hand. A more in-depth search online revealed that retailer MemoryC.com only sold a handful of these, starting at $ 214 for the 64GB version and $ 365 for the 128GB version. The former should achieve read and write speeds of 220 and 110 MB / s, respectively, while the larger model we're reviewing today is rated at 220 and 150 MB / s, respectively.
Interestingly, at 230 and 190 MB / s, these specifications are below the stated speeds of the original Falcon series. Apparently this has to do with the new v1819 firmware that supports Windows 7's TRIM command.
The performance penalty seems like bad business on paper. However, with TRIM support enabled, the new G.Skill Falcon II SSDs should be able to perform consistently at peak performance over time, rather than suffering from the general degradation issues of previous MLC-based drives. It cannot be stressed enough that controller efficiency is an important factor in solid-state drive performance. We are excited to see how the new Indilinx ECO-based SSD will stand out from the competition. Read on for a detailed look.