There's another terabyte SSD in town. SanDisk's new X300s runs the gamut from 64GB all the way up to 1TB. It's based on the second generation of 19-nm MLC NAND developed by SanDisk's joint flash fabrication venture with Toshiba. This "1Y" NAND shortens the cell size from 19 x 26 nm to 19 x 19.5 nm, delivering a 25% reduction in area—not bad for an incremental shrink.
Although the X300s addresses the bulk of its flash with two bits per cell, a small slice is treated as single-bit SLC NAND. This portion of the flash is devoted to nCache, which bundles small writes into larger blocks that are then passed along to main storage. SLC NAND has extremely fast write speeds and high endurance, making it well-suited to caching applications.
The caching scheme is managed by custom firmware running on an off-the-shelf controller. SanDisk wouldn't reveal the identity of that controller, but the company suggested that I wouldn't be surprised. Marvell controllers are found in SanDisk's last-gen drives, so there you go. The X300s probably uses the updated Marvell chip found in the Crucial M550. It's an eight-channel design with a 6Gbps Serial ATA interface.
The X300s is aimed primarily at corporate users, so it's loaded with encryption features. Bits are scrambled in hardware using a 256-bit AES algorithm. The drive supports the Windows eDrive and TCG Opal encryption standards, and it's compatible with a range of management software from McAfee, Symantec, WinMagic, and others. The new SSD utility software accompanying the X300s even devotes a section of the interface to encryption-related shortcuts.
What about specs? SanDisk claims the X300s hits 520MB/s with sequential reads and 460MB/s with sequential writes. Random I/O rates peak at 96k IOps for reads and 79k IOps for writes. Also, the drive is said to be good for 80TB of total writes, which works out to about 45GB per day for five years. At least on paper, the X300s looks fast enough—and durable enough—for most needs. With DevSleep support and an average power rating of 100 mW, it should be easy on notebook batteries, too.
At least initially, the X300s will be limited to larger PC vendors. We're told the drive will eventually make its way into the channel, though. It's coming in 2.5" and M.2 2280 flavors, but only the 2.5" version will go all the way up to 1TB. Pricing hasn't been announced.
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