Thanks to the latest SATA 6Gbps drive interface standard, internal SSD storage is being pushed to the limits of the flash technology inside.
With fast flash chips on one side, and a speedy interface on the other, it’s now just down to the drive’s processor in the middle – the controller – to keep data moving around quickly.
Corsair’s latest high-performance SSD range, the Performance Pro Series, differs quite markedly from its other top-spec SSD products.
The Corsair Force Series and Force Series GT may boast very high sequential read speeds, for example, but they use SandForce’s compression tricks to accelerate transfers; this works well with some synthetic benchmark tools, but getting this kind of performance with real-world computer data is far from assured.
Step up, then, Corsair’s Performance Pro Series. These also advertise the kind of read/write speeds that will make your toes curl – over half a terabyte per second in sequential reads – but thanks to their Marvell controller, we can be more confident that that performance is available on any kind of data that we care to move around.
For some Windows PCs, there is Trim, an OS-level command that pre-erases deleted blocks in a bid to keep write speeds consistent through the life of the SSD.
But even if your chosen OS does not explicitly support Trim, a drive with the Marvell controller should keep healthy even after the SSD has had some heavy use. Marvell controllers have arguably the best garbage collection algorithms in the business. This will be of particular interest to Mac OS X and Linux users.
The Performance Pro itself is a very light SSD, housed in a thin aluminium shell to leave this 2.5in drive weighing just 65g.
In the simple ATTO test on our storage benchmarking PC, the Corsair Performance Pro hit a maximum read speed of 508MBps, and write speed of 441MBps.
But the more revealing results are to be found in the CrystalDiskMark test. Using compressible 0X00 data, for example, the Corsair recorded speeds of 466 and 407MBps for read and write respectively.
Moving to random data, write figures especially barely changed, showing 452 and 406MBps. Compare that to the SandForce-powered Kingston HyperX 240GB, for example, which posted results here of 492MBps, but only 308MBps for sequential writes. The Patriot Wildfire 240GB had even more divergent performance, at 494 and just 255MBps respectively.
Using stacked data, the Corsair could read and write small files very fast. The 4k QD32 test showed scores of 285 and 276MBps.
In the AS SSD benchmark test, the Corsair really stretched its legs. An overall nominal score of 867 points is the highest we’ve ever seen in this test.
Looking more closely, it must have been helped along by very impressive IOPS figures, here nudging 69k for read and 63k IOPS in writes.
Our previous Best Buy in the category, the Crucial M4 256GB, had faster write IOPS of 84k but slower reads at 40k IOPS. And its best sequential speeds (in CDM, random data) seem almost pedestrian now, at 412 and 256MBps for read and write.