Computex — There's a truly staggering number of solid-state drives on the market these days. However, the number of unique controller, NAND, and firmware combos is actually quite small. Most drive makers are essentially selling different versions of the same thing. Corsair's new Neutron SSD is different, though. The drive uses a controller chip from Link_A_Media Devices (LAMD), a company that's purportedly been making SSD controllers for enterprise products since 2004. This is the first time one of LAMD's controllers will be available in a consumer-oriented SSD.
Corsair has exclusive access to the LM87800 controller for the time being, although it seems other SSD makers will eventually be able to get their hands on the chip. The LM87800 has a 6Gbps Serial ATA interface and support for both ONFI and Toggle DDR NAND. Enterprise-strength error correction routines, combined with advanced signal processing, are claimed to prolong NAND life without resorting to compression trickery. The Neutron also features a NAND redundancy scheme that protects against physical flash failures.
Two Neutron flavors will be available starting in July. The standard model will use 25-nm ONFI flash and cost about as much as Corsair's SandForce-powered Force GT. A higher-end Neutron GTX is set to employ 26-nm Toggle DDR NAND. It'll cost a little more and offer higher performance than the standard model.
The Neutron GTX is rated for 555MB/s sequential reads and 500MB/s writes—numbers confirmed by the benchmark results being displayed by one of Corsair's demo systems. While the vanilla Neutron matches the GTX's sequential read speed, its write speed is pegged at only 370MB/s. Both drives have similar performance ratings for random I/O. The GTX can purportedly crunch 90,000 IOps with random reads or writes. The standard Neutron has the same random read rate but is limited to 85,000 random write IOps. Corsair was quick to point out that the Neutron offers excellent performance with both compressed and uncompressed data.
LAMD isn't exactly a household name in consumer SSD circles, but Corsair hopes the Neutron's five-year warranty will help to allay any fears about the drive's reliability. The company also revealed that it's looking ahead to next-generation 19- and 20-nm NAND. We'll have a full review of the Neutron as soon as we can get our hands on a sample.
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