First 512GB SSD drive offered for sale

Others have the capacity, but can they sell one?

Commercial solid state drives (SSDs) have finally started reaching the capacities found in the hard disk world, with the release of a new 512GB drive from US storage startup Super Talent.

The company has announced for sale its 2.5-inch MasterDrive RX range in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities, three of which are based around multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash chips tied to a standard SATA II interface. A further two, based on single-level cell (SLC), are available in 128GB and 256GB capacities.

Sequential read performance for the drives is rated at up to 230MB/ps for all five models, or 160MB/ps for the MLC models, and 200MB per second for the SLC equivalents. The MLC products come with 2 year guarantees, the SLCs with three years.

The company claims that its RAIDSSD technology - basically a way of feeding data to and from the drives using efficient I/O - boost performance compared to a conventional NAND-based SSD.

The drive follows on from last year's first of a 256GB SSD, designed specifically for laptops. Super Talent's claim to be first to the 512GB mark depends on what is considered important. Other vendors have announced such products in the recent months, but without volume commercial availability being confirmed.

"The MasterDrive RX is the latest product utilising our patented RAIDSSD Technology. From a performance standpoint it's like having two SSDs in the space of one, and it extends our standard 2.5 inch SATA-II product line to include a 512GB SSD," said Super Talent's senior product marketing manager, Jeremy Werner.

Prices clearly aim the drives at the high-end and data centre markets, with the 512GB model costing just under $1,500 (1,000) per unit. Prices were not announced for the other capacities, but these would probably run proportionally.

Price aside, the company is the first to offer such a capacity in a shipping product, but that advantage might not last long.

Storage rival OCZ showed a 1TB 'Z drive' enclosure at this year's Cebit Show, based around packing together four of its 256GB MLC-based SSDs. The company has promised 4TB versions, and read performance of up to 600MB/ps, by the end of 2009, which would set a new benchmark for data centre SSDs.

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John E. Dunn

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