During the Computex 2014 trade show in Taiwan, Sandisk has launched the Sandisk Extreme Pro 3.5” SSD, which aims at the high-end enthusiast PC/Gaming market. The SSD can reach peak theoretical speeds of 550MBps (read) / 520 Mbps (write) and comes in capacities that reach 1 Terabyte. However, the most important feature for this storage device is its ability to keep its performance around its peak level long after it was first installed.
Typically, the main reason why SSD drives become slow is because of fragmentation. SSD storage is composed of small chunks called Pages (of 4KB for example) which are contained in larger Blocks (of 256KB for example), and as you use the drive, files are being split into many pages over many blocks. In order to store the data, the SSD controller has more work to do over time because the fragmentation becomes messy.
This is not a new problem, and it looks like Sandisk has made some improvements around how it handles the fragmentation issue, and that explains why this new drive would perform faster. Unfortunately, Sandisk didn’t provide any details (like the controller model) other than their internal benchmarks, so at the moment, we will have to take their word for it. The PCMark 8 test used provides an interesting pointer since it tries to mimic real world workload.
SanDisk has also been reluctant to disclose details about its caching technology. We know that Sandisk uses a mix of RAM and Flash, and since RAM could lose data if the power is shut down, it wasn’t clear how the system was architected. That said, one of the solution to that is to keep enough energy in capacitors to finish all pending writes operations.
Speed aside, Sandisk 10-year warranty is pretty impressive too: as you may know, SSD cells do have a limited number of writes, and although this is typically not an issue since they will last for years, it does create some anxiety for some potential buyers. With a 10-year warranty, Sandisk essentially doubles the typical 5-year warranty of most SSD vendors. This is very impressive.
Philippe Williams, the Sandisk executive who presented this new product to Ubergizmo talked about pricing with us as well. The Sandisk Extreme Pro will come in 3 variants: 240GB, 480GB and 960GB which will be priced respectively at $189, $369 and $599.