We've been following the evolution of solid-state drives for a while, highlighting the most relevant offerings, and seeing the impact newer controllers have had on the performance improvement. The first and most significant step towards mainstream adoption was taken by Intel in mid-2008 when they released their affordable 50nm MLC-based X25-M drives, which at the time offered significantly better performance than any other competing product.
Shortly thereafter, in late 2008, newer drives appeared with an Indilinx controller called "Barefoot," of which the OCZ Vertex series was the most notable. The barefoot controller closed the performance gap in the Intel X25-M and lowered the SSD prices at the same time.
A new generation of solid-state drives based on a Samsung controller (code name S3C29RBB01-YK40) began around mid-2009. OCZ was quick to release the Summit series. We tested the 120GB model, but found that the Samsung controller delivered mixed results that usually came close to or temporarily outperformed the competition of the Barefoot Indilinx or the Intel X25-M.
Timing didn't really help Samsung when Intel advanced its second generation X25-M drives, killing competing drives like the OCZ Summit in the process. Samsung's first attempt at cracking the SSD market really was over before it started, and OCZ was forced to ditch the Summit range within 6 months of its release.
The next big thing came from a company called SandForce that brought out the SF-1200 controller. This chip is still relatively new and remains one of the best available today. In fact, we prefer drives like the OCZ Vertex 2, which uses the SF-1200 controller, over the Intel X25-M G2.
That leaves only one other real competitor, the fast Crucial C300, which is based on the Marvell 88SS9174 controller. Given the Intel X25-M G3 series, due to be released early next year, and the prospect that SSDs will finally see a price drop after an almost stagnant year, the SSD market will not stand still for long.
Meanwhile, Samsung seems to be back in the game with a new controller that they quietly snuck out the door. Lo and behold, Samsung started selling its new SSDs of the 470 series with capacities of 64 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB at the end of August.
The 470 series is sold exclusively under the Samsung brand name and has not only a Samsung controller, but also Samsung NAND flash memory. The drives offer some impressive specs, for example the 256GB version we're reviewing today claims read throughput of 250MB / s and writes of 220MB / s. There are some amazing numbers on electricity usage too. So without further ado, let's take a closer look at this new drive …