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Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 01 June 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100
Features and Specifications
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD
SandForce SF-1200 SSD Controller
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
SSD vs Hard Disk Drive
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE Conclusion

SandForce SF-1200 SSD Controller

The SandForce SF-1200 SATA-3GBps controller is new to the industry, but many manufacturers are already hailing it as the replacement for Indilinx's industry-leading Barefoot processor. Both are second-generation SATA products limited to 3.0 GB/s transfer speeds, and both offer similar specifications. SandForce adds DuraClass technology to their SF-1200 processor, which claims to provide best-in-class endurance, performance, and lower power consumption. DuraWrite technology extends the endurance of MLC-NAND memory by providing at least five year lifecycles measured with 3000-5000 cycle MLC flash. Additionally, SandForce RAISE technology provides RAID-like protection for single SSD computer systems, and data is secured with AES-128 automatic encryption.

SandForce has hit the 2010 SSD industry with full force, much the same way that Indilinx did back in 2009. Finished-goods companies can utilize the SandForce SF1200 processor in their own product line, which then receives a "SandForce Driven" badge. The SandForce SF-1222 processor is presently available in the ADATA S599, Corsair Force, RunCore Pro-V, Patriot Inferno, OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE, G.Skill Phoenix Pro, OCZ Vertex-2, PhotoFast G-Monster 2, OCZ Agility-2, and Mach Xtreme SSD series.

SandForce_SF-1200_SSD_Processor_Top.jpg

From the view above the printed circuit board (PCB), it doesn't look like there's anything dramatically innovative on the SandForce Solid State Drive. Eight flash NAND modules make a horseshoe around the SandForce SF-1200 SSD processor, and plenty of electronics fill in the remaining space atop the printed circuit board. But once the SandForce SSD board is turned to expose the underside, the difference is obvious: SandForce has used their DuraClass technology to remove the DRAM buffer.

SandForce_SF-1200_SSD_Processor_Bottom.jpg

The 2nd-generation SATA-3.0GBps SandForce SF-1222TA3-SBH processor is part of their SF-1200 family of SSD controller chips, and SSDs will utilize either the SF-1200 processor for retail consumers or SF-1500 for enterprise devices. All SandForce SSD controllers offer native TRIM support in Microsoft Windows-7, Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with 32 command slots, and Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (SMART) command set. While not directly important to transfer speeds or operational performance, SandForce utilizes a Tensilica Diamond Core DC_570T CPU inside the SF-1200 processor.

SandForce_SF-1222TA3-SBH_Processor.jpg

Another benefit of SandForce's SF-1200 architecture is that the SSD keeps all information on the NAND grid and removes the need for a separate cache buffer DRAM module. The result is a faster transaction, albeit at the expense of total storage capacity. SandForce SSDs utilize over-provisioning technology, which allocates a portion of NAND for data storage and the remainder reserved for transaction and cache buffer space. SandForce has also marketing custom firmware to the finished-goods companies that sell their SSDs, which remove performance restrictions.

The SF-1200 SSD processor provides ECC data protection and includes SandForce's unique RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology. RAISE provides the protection and reliability of RAID on a single SSD drive, thanks to flash architecture, without the significant write overhead of parity. The SandForce DuraClass technology automatically stores data in AES-128 encrypted format, preventing data extraction directly from the physical flash memory modules.

Micron-Intel_DRAM_29F64G08CAMDB.jpg

Sixteen multi-layer cell Intel 29F64G08CAMDB flash NAND modules are joined to the SandForce SF-1200 controller. On professional-level 28% over-provisioned SandForce SSDs, these NAND modules may combine for 128GB of physical storage space yet only 100GB of this capacity is designated for data. Consumer-level SandForce SSDs receive 7% over-provisioning and 128GB devices will yield 120GB of usable storage space.

Because the SandForce SF-1200 SSD processor inside the many SSDs is a non-exclusive component available market-wide, Benchmark Reviews expects to see many new solid state storage products using this controller in the near future. Please continue on for details and performance results for this Solid State Drive...



 

Comments 

 
# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100David Ramsey 2010-06-01 20:31
It's true that OWC has supported the Mac for many years; and it's also true that the very latest Snow Leopard operating system does not support TRIM. This is especially annoying when you consider that Apple was one of the first (if not the first) company to ship an SSD in their computer-- the original MacBook Air.
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# RE: OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100v_lestat 2010-06-02 02:57
not sure how you can say its one of the most affordable when clearly it is not.
the agility 2, Vertex 2 and, i might be wrong, but the corsair are all cheaper.

the mistake here being that it is sold on a MAC website, which, instantly means you will pay more for it, because it is pushed as a MAC product.

she's fast, or dear is she fast, but its not the cheaper of the SF-1200 controllers.
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# Apples and orangesJohn 2011-01-01 14:12
You are comparing to lower end drives. If you want a price comparison, you should compare to the Vertex 2 pro which is closer is specs, etc... If you compare to drives meeting similar specs you will find this is fairly attractive for entry level enterprise. The drives are you are comparing to will not last for high-abuse data server systems. Drop the RE from the product and you will get a lower cost model that closer compares.
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# ChiefGlitchJames Yafchak 2010-07-07 14:18
I?m exceedingly satisfied with my 60GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSD drive. It replaced my 250GB MacBook HHD.

Boot up time is more then twice as fast as before. Prior boot up average 52.6 seconds. Boot up average now 22.1 seconds. Applications even faster !


AS of 7/05/10 23.79gb Used 35.89gb Free Total 59.68gb.
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# Grobius MalverannoGosmond 2010-07-19 13:39
I second that -- just installed the 60GB OWC Mercury Pro Extreme SSD in my Mac Mini 3,1 (late 2009), and am impressed with the overall improvement in real-world performance.

Boot time reduced by about 40 to 50%.
At start up, the 7 or 8 apps I have set to auto-launch ALL open together within one or two bounces. I never used auto-launch at login before because it used to be so slow.
Even apps like OpenOffice 3.2 and Filemaker Pro 11 launch within 1 or 2 dock bounces. Mail launches and is usable within .5 second of clicking on it. Paging through large PDFs in preview is smooth and almost seamless, as is Coverflow or iPhoto preview of large groups of photos or PDFs.

Best upgrade I've made to any computer I can ever recall owning; been using them since the Timex Sinclair 1000 in 1980.
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# Wrong PerceptionRebert 2011-09-21 02:58
through the years, What I know memory ram and cpu are the most important to open fast and load the windows...now i know it's the SSD !! Geez hw many years wasting time for memory and cpu ideology!
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