After the success of its SF-1200 (1222) controller, practically every SSD manufacturer wanted to get into the SandForce Express. That train continued last year when the second generation SF-2200 (2281) powered many of the notable flash drives of 2011 – including OCZ's Vertex 3. Even Kingston, who previously used Toshiba chips, took over the SF-2200 from SandForce, starting with last year's HyperX line.
With so many drives with the same parts, it was difficult to buy an SSD last summer. At the time, HyperX and Vertex 3 offered virtually identical performance for the same price. Although SandForce-based drives are still dominating the market, things get interesting as OCZ has finally started using its own Indilinx controllers, among other things, and SandForce was acquired by LSI for $ 370 million in January.
It's unclear when the next SandForce controllers will arrive, but in the meantime, companies seem to be making the most of their second-generation chips. Kingston, for example, has released a pair of new SF-2281-based drives designed to emphasize speed and affordability: the HyperX 3K and SSDNow V + 200. The former is aimed at enthusiasts and uses synchronous storage, while the latter uses cheaper asynchronous storage.
Both drives reduce costs by using 25 nm Intel memory with just 3,000 program / erase cycles. The number of program / erase cycles a block of memory can process determines how long it takes before data can no longer be stored. For example, Intel's 50 nm MLC NAND flash memory was designed for 10,000 cycles. This was reduced to 5,000 cycles at the transition to the 34 nm process and further reduced to 3,000 to 5,000 p / e cycles at 25 nm.
Using technologies like scuff compensation and garbage collection, one P / E cycle on a 100 GB drive is roughly equivalent to 10 GB of data writes. For example, if you write an average of 10 GB per day, a 100 GB 3,000 p / e drive will last over eight years, while a 5,000 p / e drive will last about five years longer. Since you'll likely be upgrading your SSD long before that, opting for a 3,000 p / e device should be an easy way to save money without sacrificing performance …
Kingston HyperX 3K 240 GB
The HyperX 3K series is still aimed at enthusiasts. The 90 GB, 120 GB and 240 GB models offer the same read and write performance of 555 MB / s as the original HyperX series. The 480 GB drive is a bit slower with reads and writes of 540 MB / s and 450 MB / s, respectively. The drive measures 69.85 x 100 x 9.5 mm, weighs 97 grams and consumes 2.05 watts when writing data, 1.60 watts when reading and only 0.455 watts when idling.
The HyperX 3K series is equipped with a 25 nm Intel MLC NAND flash memory that is designed for 3000 p / e cycles. Our test device contained 16 NAND ICs with 16 GB and a total capacity of 256 GB. However, it is marketed as 240 GB as 16 GB is reserved for data parity (8 GB for RAISE), garbage collection, and block replacement. After formatting in Windows, 240 GB drops to 224 GB, so you lose about 7% when converting GB to GiB.
Retailing at $ 280 ($ 290 with an upgrade kit), the HyperX 3K 240GB costs $ 1.16 per gigabyte – a steal by SSD standards. For comparison, the standard 240GB HyperX drive costs around $ 330, or $ 1.37 per gigabyte.
According to Kingston, the 240 GB version has a Total Bytes Written (TBW) rating of 153.6 TB. To do that in three years, you'd have to write 140GB of data per day, which just won't happen. Even with the 90GB HyperX 3K, you'd have to write 52GB of data per day to hit the TBW rating of 57.6TB. Assuming you only have an average of 10 GB of writes per day, the 90 GB HyperX 3K should last up to 15 years, according to Kingston's calculations.
In any case, if the HyperX 3K dies due to natural causes, in this case p / e cycles, it should be longer than you need it to be. The HyperX 3K comes with a three-year warranty, which is widely used in the competition.