Patriot Pyro in Detail

Although we keep calling it a "budget" solution, the Pyro series is still meant for enthusiasts -- it's just a bit more wallet-friendly than the Wildfire or Vertex 3 for reasons partially explained in the introduction. As mentioned, the Pyro is based on SandForce's popular SF-2200 (SF-2281) controller and they come in three models: 60GB, 120GB and 240GB.

The 120GB and 240GB units get 555MB/s reads and 515MB/s writes while the 60GB model is reduced to 520MB/s and 490MB/s. Like most SSDs, the Pyro adheres to the 2.5" form factor, measuring 10.1 x 6.9 x 9.3mm and weighing 118.3g. It consumes 2.0 watts of power in use and only 0.45 watts in standby, which is the same as the Wildfire series.

Naturally, using the SATA 6Gb/s interface is essential to achieving those speeds. The only issue with this is that Sandy Bridge is the only platform in Intel's arsenal to provide native SATA 6Gb/s support -- and it does so with only two ports. Likewise, AMD only just recently launched a chipset with native SATA 6Gb/s support, though it can handle six ports.

Third party embedded solutions such as the Marvell 88SE9128 can provide motherboards with SATA 6Gb/s connectivity, but offer very poor results compared to Intel's implementation. That said, there is a new Marvell 88SE9182 controller that can mimic the performance of Intel's 6 series chipsets, so support for the 6Gb/s SATA is improving.

The Pyro series comes loaded with Micron 29F64G08CBAAA MLC NAND (25nm) flash memory. Our review sample has sixteen 8GB NAND ICs for a total capacity of 128GB. As you might be wondering, Patriot advertises the drive as a 120GB SSD because 8GB is reserved for data parity, garbage collection, and block replacement.

Once formatted in Windows, the original 120GB drops to 111GiB, meaning you lose 7.5% from the GB to GiB conversion. With a retail value of $205 the Pyro 120GB costs $1.70 per gigabyte, which is pretty decent by flash drive standards.

Like the original SF-1200 controller, the second-gen SF-2200 uses data compression technology called DuraWrite that's designed to help lower write amplification and extend the drive's life by using fewer program-erase cycles. The upside is that this doesn't require a memory buffer, while the downside is that it occupies more storage space.

The SF-2200 uses the same Tensilica DC_570T CPU as its predecessor and although the chip remains unchanged hardware-wise, the compression engine has improved. The second-gen SandForce controllers have a bigger block of silicon dedicated to DuraWrite, while the garbage collection algorithms have also been improved.