Although SSD prices have fallen rapidly over the last few years, they haven't fallen rapidly enough some might say. According DigiTimes' all-seeing, ever-elusive "industry sources in Taiwan," many large players concur with that sentiment -- albeit for reasons none too charitable. The market is currently flooded with drives from manufacturers both big and small. Leading SSD makers such as Kingston, OCZ, Intel and Crucial are competing with littler firms for your cash and, apparently, they don't like that.
According to insiders, the big fish have hatched a plan to fry their minnow-sized rivals. In a cutthroat game of limbo, the large manufacturers want to see how low the small ones can go. Or as DigiTimes puts it, "major SSD firms have initiated price reductions to reflect falling prices for NAND flash chips. The move is also aimed at triggering a price war in the market in an attempt to squeeze out smaller peers."
The sources didn't mention what companies are at risk of being eliminated, but noted that many of them are channel retailers which usually sell commodity memory products such as flash drives and memory cards. A cursory glance at internal SSD vendors listed on Newegg reveals many outfits which at least partially fit that description, including SanDisk, Verbatim, Patriot, PNY, Pretec, Wintec and Zalman.
Besides obvious competitive incentives for smothering their adversaries, the larger manufacturers are supposedly concerned about smaller ones introducing inferior products that "disrupt the development of the market." DigiTimes didn't elaborate on this point. The bigger players also hope to accelerate the transition from SATA 3Gb/s to SATA 6Gb/s by shrinking the price gap between the two segments.
The Intel SSD 520 Series is aimed at performance buffs with initial SF-2281-based models offering capacities of 60GB, 120GB, 180GB, 240GB and 480GB. It also has a slim design, measuring 100 x 69.85 x 9.5mm and weighing up to 78 grams. The 60GB model packs read and write speeds of 550MB/s - 475MB/s, while the larger 120GB version provides 550MB/s reads and 500MB/s writes. The 180GB, 240GB and 480GB models are slightly faster again as the write performance is boosted to 520MB/s. Naturally, using the SATA 6Gb/s interface is essential to achieving those speeds.
The OCZ Vertex 4 Series 64GB model packs read and write speeds of 460MB/s and 220MB/s. The 128GB version is much faster with 550MB/s reads and 420MB/s writes. The 256GB and 512GB models feature the same 550MB/s reads, but writes are boosted to 465MB/s and 475MB/s, respectively.
The RealSSD C400 represents a mild performance gain over last year's C300 during light workloads, it's handily dispatched by competing drives from OCZ and Intel when it comes to heavy multitasking, but that's okay if the C400's price reflects its inferior performance and it does -- there's nothing wrong with delivering an entry-level product.
The Kingston HyperX SSD has a slim 2.5" design, measuring 10.1 x 6.9 x 9.3mm and weighing 94 grams. It consumes 2.0 watts of power when in use and just 0.455 watts in standby. The HyperX touts read and write speeds of 550MB/s and 520MB/s using SATA 6Gb/s.
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