SATA 6Gb/s SSD shows speed gains

December 14, 2009 | 13:36

Tags: #6gbs #marvell-ssd #sata #sata-30 #sata-6g #sata-6gbs #solid-state-device #solid-state-disk #solid-state-storage #ssd

Companies: #marvell

For those of you uncertain as to when storage technology will develop to the point where the new 6Gb/s SATA standard will actually offer a benefit, check out the latest SSD based around Marvell's new controller board.

The guys over at PC Perspective have been lucky enough to get their hands on an engineering sample of Marvell's latest SATA 6Gb/s-ready SSD controller, and ran it through its paces - to finally see if there are any devices that can really make the most of the new 6Gb/s motherboards hitting the market.

Before getting to the results, there is an important caveat to bear in mind: the engineering sample is simply to demonstrate the performance of the controller, as Marvell doesn't actually make entire SSDs - just the controllers. Accordingly, PC Perspective was only able to do a read test, owing to Marvell using cheaper read-only memory chips instead of the fully writable NAND flash memory usually found in SSD devices.

With that in mind, the figures for the controller itself are impressive - but should be taken with a grain of salt, as it remains to be seen if the NAND flash memory itself can keep up with Marvell's improvements. Even so, with burst read rates of 351.2MB/s and average sustained read rates of 314.5MB/s Marvell's prototype leaves other devices in the dust.

Indeed, even Seagate's SATA 6Gb/s-ready XT series of mechanical drives is resoundingly beaten in the tests, managing just 253.4MB/s burst rate and a poor 114.1MB/s average read rate. As an example of the improvement offered by the SATA 6Gb/s bus and Marvell's new controller, the figures obtained by the prototype even beat Intel's X25-M G2 SSD - which is fast enough to saturate the SATA 3Gb/s bus it was connected by.

While these figures demonstrate the power of the controller more than anything else, it's a vindication for anyone who has invested in a SATA 6Gb/s-ready motherboard. For those who haven't, fret not: the tests used a PCI-Express add-in board that PC Perspective promises will be available "in the form of a PCIe x4 add-on card from Asus for as low as $30 (£19) that will give you two SATA 6G ports and two USB 3.0 ports." How long before SSD manufacturers put the performance of their NAND chips to the test by pairing it with Marvell's speedy new controller remains to be seen.

Has this testing convinced you that SATA 6Gb/s will be your next upgrade, or are you waiting for an actual device to use the controller before getting excited? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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