|OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD SSDMXRE100|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 01 June 2010|
Page 1 of 12
OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE SSD Review
SSDs are both PC and Mac friendly, which is great news since Apple Computers have made significant progress taking up market share over the past decade. Although Mac computers can be expensive, Other World Computing offers hardware upgrades at prices that compete with the PC market. One such product, the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE, is one of the most affordable SandForce-based SSD's available. SandForce-based SSDs are getting tremendous attention from the industry, and products based on the SF-1222 controller have demonstrated exceptional operational performance and speed. In this article Benchmark Reviews tests the 100GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE, model SSDMXRE100, against some of the fastest storage solutions on the market.
SandForce is the hot ticket in SSD controller technology for 2010, offering outstanding bandwidth speed and operational performance. OWC utilizes the SandForce SF-1222TA3-SBH (SF-1200) processor in their Mercury Extreme Pro RE enthusiast MLC SSD series, which features hand-picked high-performance NAND flash memory modules. SandForce RAISE technology provides redundant protection for single SSD computer systems, while data is automatically secured with AES-128 encryption. With transfer speeds nearly saturating the SATA-3GB/s interface, and operational IOPS performance reaching SLC-NAND levels, it makes sense for OWC to use the new industry leader.
As of June 2010, the SandForce SF-1200 SSD controller has already found its way into many of the fastest SSDs available: ADATA S599, Corsair Force F100, RunCore Pro-V, Patriot Inferno, PhotoFast G-Monster 2, OCZ Agility-2, OCZ Vertex-2, Mach Xtreme, and now the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE. As we've discovered with our previous SandForce reviews, operational performance and SSD bandwidth speed is very similar across the spectrum. Selling virtually identical products has forced manufacturers to offer other consumer incentives, such as an extended warranty periods and custom SandForce firmware.
The biggest mistake PC hardware enthusiast make with SSDs is grading them by their speed. File transfer speed is important, but only so long as the operational IOPS performance can sustain that bandwidth under load. Benchmark Reviews tests the 100GB OWC Mercury Extreme Pro-RE against some of the most popular storage devices available and demonstrates that 4K IOPS performance is more important than speed. Additionally, Benchmark Reviews has used two similar SSDs to publish our SandForce SF1200 RAID-0 SSD Performance review.
For decades, the slowest component in any computer system was the hard drive. Most modern processors operate within approximately 1-ns (nanosecond = one billionth of one second) response time, while system memory responds between 30-90 ns. Traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) technology utilizes magnetic spinning media, and even the fastest spinning desktop storage products exhibit a 9,000,000 ns - or 9 ms (millisecond = one thousandth of one second) initial response time. In more relevant terms, The processor receives the command and waits for system memory to fetch related data from the storage drive. This is why any computer system is only as fast as the slowest component in the data chain; which is usually the hard drive.
The theoretical goal for achieving optimal performance is for system memory to operate as quickly as the central processor, and the storage drive to operate as fast as memory. With present technology this is an impossible task, so enthusiasts try to close the speed gaps between components as much as possible. Although system memory is up to 90x (9000%) slower than most processors, just consider that the hard drive is an added 1000x (100,000%) slower than that same memory. Essentially, these three components are as different in speed as walking is to driving and flying.
Solid State Drive technology bridges the largest gap. The difference a SSD makes to operational reaction times and program speeds is dramatic, and takes the storage drive from a slow 'walking' speed to a much faster 'driving' speed. Solid State Drive technology improves initial response times by more than 450x (45,000%) for applications and Operating System software, when compared to their HDD counterparts.
Bandwidth Speed vs Operational Performance
As we've explained in our SSD Benchmark Tests: SATA IDE vs AHCI Mode guide, Solid State Drive performance revolves around two dynamics: bandwidth speed (MB/s) and operational performance (IOPS). These two metrics work together, but one is more important than the other. Consider this analogy: operational IOPS performance determines how much cargo a ship can transport in one voyage, and the bandwidth speed is to fast the ship moves. By understanding this and applying it to SSD storage, there is a clear importance set on each variable depending on the task at hand.
For casual users, especially those with laptop or desktop computers that have been upgraded to use an SSD, the naturally quick response time is enough to automatically improve the user experience. Bandwidth speed is important, but only to the extent that operational performance meets the minimum needs of the system. If an SSD has a very high bandwidth speed but a low operational performance, it will take longer to load applications and boot the computer into Windows than if the SSD offered a higher IOPS performance.
About OWC: Other World Computing
Other World Computing (OWC) has been providing quality hardware products and support to the computer industry since 1988 and features one of the largest online catalogs of computer, iPod, and iPhone enhancement products through its e-commerce portal www.macsales.com. As a Premiere Level Apple Developer Connection member, OWC also provides extensive US based technical support for Macintosh users around the world as well as Internet access via www.fastermac.net and www.owc.net.