Archive Home arrow Reviews: arrow Storage arrow Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1
Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1 E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage
Written by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 10 February 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1
Features and Specifications
Closer Look: Zalman N-Series 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
HDD vs Hybrid Drive vs SSD
Zalman N-Series SSD Conclusion

HDD vs Hybrid Drive vs SSD

It's been the same argument for over two years now: SSDs offer the best performance, but HDDs still offer the best capacity and price. Now that Solid State Hybrid drives are available, that argument changes. While the optimal blend of bandwidth speed, operational performance, storage capacity, and price value has yet to be delivered, products like the Seagate Momentus-XT offer an ultra-affordable start in the right direction Installed as a primary drive for notebook and value-conscious enthusiasts, the Solid State Hybrid Drive delivers up high-capacity storage space while starting Windows and opening programs like a SSD.

The last days of old technology are always better than the first days of new technology. Never has this saying been more true than with the topic of storage technology, specifically in regard to the introduction of Solid State Drive technology a few years ago. The only things standing in the way of widespread Solid State Drive (SSD) adoption are high storage capacity and affordable price of Hard Disk Drive (HDD) devices. Because NAND flash-based SSD technology costs more per gigabyte of capacity than traditional magnetic hard drives, the benefits of immediate response time, transfer speeds, and operational input/output performance often get overlooked. Like most consumer products, it wasn't a question of how much improvement was evident in the new technology, it was price. I'll discuss product costs more in just a moment, but for now consider how each new series of SSD product employs greater performance than the one before it, convincing would-be consumers into waiting for the right time to buy.

There's also a gray area surrounding SSD performance benchmarks that has me concerned. You might not know this, but SSDs can be very temperamental towards the condition of their flash NAND. My experience testing dozens of Solid State Drives is that a freshly cleaned device (using an alignment tool) will always outperform the same device once it's been formatted and used. A perfect example are Indilinx Barefoot-based SSDs, which suffers severely degraded performance when writing to 'dirty' flash NAND. The reason that all of this will matter is simple: the performance results reported to consumers in product reviews (such as this one) often report the very best performance scores, and the process used to obtain these results is not applicable to real-world usage. This is where garbage collection techniques such as TRIM become important, so that end-users will experience the same performance levels as we do in our tests.

Manufacturer Indilinx Intel JMicron Samsung Toshiba SandForce Marvell
Controller IDX110M00-FC PC29AS21AA0 JMF612 S3C29RBB01-YK40 T6UG1XBG SandForce SF-1200 88SS9174-BJP2
Max Cache 64MB 16MB 128KB+256MB 128MB 128MB Integrated 128MB
Max Capacity 256GB 160GB 256GB 256GB 512GB 512GB 256GB
Read/Write Speed 230/170 MBps 250/70 MBps 250/200 MBps 220/200 MBps 230/180 MBps 260/260 MBps 355/215 MBps
Interface SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-II 3-Gbps SATA-III 6-Gbps
Garbage Collection GC/TRIM None TRIM GC/TRIM GC/TRIM GC/TRIM GC/TRIM

Chart By:

BmR

Garbage Collection (GC) is the current solution for keeping flash NAND in 'clean' condition, while maintaining optimal performance. Windows 7 offers native TRIM support, and most retail SSDs also include this special GC function or at least offer a firmware update that brings the drive up-to-date. For anyone using an Operating System or SSD that does not offer Garbage Collection functionality, you'll be using 'dirty' flash NAND modules and suffering sub-optimal performance for each write-to request. A few SSD manufacturers offers free tools to help restore peak-level performance by scheduling GC to 'clean' used NAND sectors, but these tools add excessive wear to the NAND the same way disk defragmenting tools would. SLC flash modules may resist wear much better than MLC counterparts, but come at the expense of increased production cost. The best solution is a more durable NAND module that offers long-lasting SLC benefits at the cost of MLC construction. Adoption is further stalled because keen consumers aware of this dilemma further continue their delay into the SSD market.

Getting back to price, the changes in cost per gigabyte have come as often as changes to the technology itself. At their inception, high-performance models such the 32GB MemoRight GT cost $33 per gigabyte while the entry-level 32GB Mtron MOBI 3000 sold for $14 per gigabyte. While an enjoyable decline in NAND component costs forced consumer SSD prices down low in 2009, the price of SSD products has been on the rise during 2010. Nevertheless, Solid State Drives continue to fill store shelves despite price or capacity, and there are a few SSD products now priced dangerously close to the $0.79 per gigabyte for the WD VelociRaptor hard drive. Despite being less expensive, the cost of SSDs may still price some budget buyers out of the market. Sales prices notwithstanding, the future is in SSD technology - or possibly a high-capacity SSD hybrid - and the day when HDDs are obsolete is nearing close.



 

Comments 

 
# SSD is the way to goCom-Tek Chris 2011-02-10 20:57
Although I do not currently own this drive my current drive has the Sandforce controller and man does it smoke! I have 2x 120gig OCZ's in Raid 0 and the performance is stellar.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: SSD is the way to goWhyNotV2 2011-02-11 03:42
I agree that SSD is the way to go, but as the reviewer stated, it's the price point that's keeping myself and others away from full adoption. I also don't own the drive reviewed I also don't use one in my desktop as I favor the VelociRaptor 740 (running plenty strong since purchased in 2004) with other WD 7200rpm drives for storage and non-essential programs as a secondary drive(s). I do use a 64GB RunCore SSD in my HP netbook (1030nr) running the full version of Windows 7. I love both products, but while the raptor drives exist and the SSD technology is still young, I can't make the leap. As always, I will keep my eye out for price drops, trim/garbage improvements, etc. (thanks benchmarkreviews!!!) in hopes that in the months/years to come the price, stability, performance and longevity of SSDs nears that of the VelociRaptor drives.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1Robert17 2011-02-12 03:03
Good review. Anything in the included documentation as to this being 34nm technology? I've included an article link below that I found interesting. Maybe the technology is reaching some limits to nand production/performance. Maybe we're about to see rapid (or more rapid) competition of the SSD controller development/deployment. That seems to be amongst the better design improvements anyway.

##nordichardware.com/news/86-storage/42306-25nm-nand-forces-ssd-makers-to-limit-storage.html

It also makes me think that hybrid drive development may get a push when thinking of nand, controllers, price, and real world applications. Any word on the street of upcoming changes in the industry?
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1Olin Coles 2011-02-12 06:59
Sorry Robert, but the Zalman documentation is VERY scarce on information. I had to write to the manufacturer just to find out what the rated IOPS for this drive was. It is unlikely that this SSD is using 34nm technology, as it's physically the same drive as other SF-1200 SSDs. All that separates most SandForce-driven SSDs is firmware licensing.
Report Comment
 
 
# Crucial?JAMF 2011-02-12 03:31
It would be nice if the Crucial RealSSD drives were tested, to see how they stack up.
Report Comment
 
 
# OopsJAMF 2011-02-12 03:35
Was looking at the Random 4k/QD32 results as I wrote this. I wouldn't have thought it be that far down the list.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: OopsOlin Coles 2011-02-12 07:00
Glad you found it. While the Crucial RealSSD C300 is very fast, it's not so great at managing the same operational workload as SandForce SSDs.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1aberkae 2011-02-12 08:17
Anyone know when we will see ssds with sanforce 2500 and 2600 controllers?
The C300 fell in price to $450 for 256 gig, and OCZ vertex 2 is usually on sale for 120 gig for $ 150 after MIR @ newegg. The revo x2 is on sale to as well for $ 564.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: Zalman N-Series Sandforce SSD SSD0128N1Olin Coles 2011-02-12 08:26
March or later. Even then, the new SandForce SSDs are targeted towards enterprise storage.
Report Comment
 
 
# HeightEmilio 2011-05-24 14:22
Hi, can someone tell me the height of this remarkable ssd? Thanks in advance!
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: HeightOlin Coles 2011-05-24 15:52
Measured with calipers for you: 2.75" wide, 0.40" tall, and 3.95" long.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: HeightEmilio 2011-05-24 17:56
Thank you very much for your fast response, but 2.40 inch tall? Is this correct? That is about 60 milimmeters, I was hoping something between 9,5 and 12 milimeters. Perhaps 2.4 is the tall of the box?
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: RE: HeightOlin Coles 2011-05-24 18:03
Oops, that's supposed to be 0.40" tall. I'll fix it.
Report Comment
 
 
# Thanks!Emilio 2011-05-26 11:45
Thank you!!! Im going to buy this SSD for my hp mini 311, wich uses a 0.37" drive. That is less than 1 mm of difference. Dont think it will be a problem. Thanks again.
Report Comment
 
 
# RE: Thanks!Olin Coles 2011-05-26 13:32
What is the make and model of your current hard drive?
Report Comment
 

Comments have been disabled by the administrator.

Search Benchmark Reviews
QNAP Network Storage Servers

Follow Benchmark Reviews on FacebookReceive Tweets from Benchmark Reviews on Twitter