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[] OWC Releases 960GB Mercury Electra MAX 3G SSD - - different look at memory


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Old 26-06-2012, 01:11 PM   #1
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[] OWC Releases 960GB Mercury Electra MAX 3G SSD

OWC has released a 960GB version of their Mercury Electra 3G SSD series. The drive uses two SandForce SF-2181 controllers, configured in RAID 0 using Silicon Image's RAID controller. There is actually 1024GiB of NAND flash on the board, 512GiB per controller, but as is usual with SF-2281 64GiB in total is dedicated to RAISE and another 71GB is for spare area. Here are the full specs.

OWC Mercury Electra MAX 3G (960GB) Specifications Raw NAND Capacity 1024GiB Formatted Capacity 894GiB NAND 2Xnm Asynchronous MLC NAND Controller 2x SandForce SF-2181 RAID Controller Silicon Image SteelVine Sil5923CNU Sequential Read 254MB/s Sequential Write 250MB/s Price $1,270 OWC has not published any random read/write figures so analyzing performance at this point is rather difficult. Basically, we are looking at two SandForce SSDs in RAID 0 but throughput is handicapped by the SATA 3Gb/s interface. OWC told us that there are some architectural limitations which is why the drive uses SATA 3Gb/s instead of 6Gb/s.

If you have been following the SSD market, you have probably noticed that 2.5" consumer SSDs top out at 512GB. The only other 1TB SSD is OCZ's Octane, but unfortunately we don't know what OCZ has done to achieve such capacity (and I couldn't even find a single review of the 1TB model). Once Intel's 128Gb 20nm MLC NAND die hits the market sometime in 2013, 1TB SSDs in 2.5" form factor should become more common as special tricks like RAIDing two controllers will no longer be needed.

I'm very happy to see OWC making unique products but I'm not too keen on the idea of RAID 0. The risk of failure is twice as high because if one controller goes bad, all data will be lost. Furthermore, unless OWC has done something else, TRIM support will not be available. In this case performance gains are limited because especially sequential read and write speeds will be handicapped by the SATA 3Gb/s bus.

The pricing, on the other hand, is actually not too bad. The 1TB OCZ Octane costs $2,500, so you could buy two 960GB Mercury Electras for the price of one 1TB Octane. Sure, it's still noticeably more than what smaller SSDs cost in terms of price per GB, but there is extra expense coming from the second controller and there isn't much competition either. The 960GB Mercury Electra definitely has its niche since there are people who want an SSD but need more than 512GB. Desktop users can always put smaller SSDs in RAID 0 but laptop users are often limited to one 2.5" drive, which is where the market for 960GB Mercury Electra is.

We have already asked OWC for a review sample, so stay tuned for our review.

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