Although a seemingly diverse line of 6 Gbps SATA SSDs have been launched in recent months, virtually all of them are powered by the Marvell 88SS9174 or SandForce SF-2200 controllers. The former made its debut with the Crucial RealSSD C300 and has survived longer than expected and has reappeared in Crucial's M4 series. Intel has adopted it for its latest generation products as well. Between these two drives, we prefer the m4, but it's a far cry from today's top contenders.
SandForce's second generation controller got off to a rocky start. OCZ's Vertex 3 stormed out of the gates in April and took control of our performance graphs. Despite an impressive performance, early adopters reported many obvious bugs with SF-2200-based drives. These claims have led OCZ and other manufacturers to release a number of firmware updates.
Fortunately, most of the big issues seem to have been fixed now, and this gives even more vendors like Patriot and Kingston the confidence to bring SandForce-flavored SSDs to market. Despite an increasingly saturated market, OCZ has the competition firmly under control as it still offers the best performance-to-price ratio of any SF-2200 SSD.
Throughout this whole fiasco, a third competitor lurked quietly in the shadows: Samsung. Following the success of the 470 series, the company announced its new 830 series flash drives earlier this year. Little was mentioned about the drive at the time other than that it would use the company's proprietary hardware and software, much like the 470 series did.
As a manufacturer of memory and logic controllers, Samsung has been present in the SSD (OEM) market for years, but it wasn't until the 470 series that the company was able to secure a place in the limelight. With little hype, the 470 series slipped quietly under the radar, only to snap up the Crucial RealSSD C300 and Vertex 2 in many of our tests last year. The drive was impressive enough to deserve our Outstanding award and has so far proven itself in the reliability department.
Unsurprisingly, Samsung's latest offering includes the 6Gbps SATA interface, which advertises 520MB / s reads and 400MB / s writes. The 830 series features a controller and memory manufactured by Samsung and is sold exclusively under the Samsung brand name. With the company's late entry, we hope it has had enough time to evaluate and crush the competition. Will we see a repeat of last year's impressive demonstration? There's only one way to find out …