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Although a seemingly diverse array of SATA 6Gb/s SSDs have launched in recent months, virtually all of them are powered by the Marvell 88SS9174 or SandForce SF-2200 controllers. The former made its debut with the Crucial RealSSD C300 and has survived longer than anticipated, surfacing again in Crucial's m4 series. Intel also adopted it for its latest-generation products. Between those two drives, we favor the m4, but it's far from today's top contender.
SandForce's second-generation controller got off to a rocky start. OCZ's Vertex 3 stormed out of the gates in April, seizing control of our performance graphs. Despite an impressive showing, early adopters reported many glaring bugs with SF-2200-based drives. Those claims sent OCZ and other manufactures scrambling to release a series of firmware updates.
Fortunately, most of the major kinks seem to have been ironed out now and that's given even more vendors, such as Patriot and Kingston, the confidence to launch SandForce-flavored SSDs. Despite an increasingly saturated market, OCZ has maintained a stiff grip on the competition as it still offers the best performance versus price ratio of any SF-2200 SSD.
Through that whole fiasco, a third competitor has been quietly lurking in the shadows: Samsung. Following the success of its 470 Series, the company announced its new 830 Series flash drives earlier this year. At the time, little was mentioned about the drive except that it would utilize the company's in-house hardware and software, much like the 470 Series.
As a maker of memory and logic controllers, Samsung has been present in the SSD (OEM) market for years, but it wasn't until the 470 Series that the company earned a seat in the limelight. With little hype, the 470 Series quietly slipped under the radar, only to snipe the Crucial RealSSD C300 and Vertex 2 in many of our tests last year. The drive was impressive enough to deserve our "Outstanding" award and so far it's proven itself in the reliability department.
Unsurprisingly, Samsung's latest offering embraces the SATA 6Gb/s interface, touting 520MB/s reads and 400MB/s writes. The 830 Series carries a Samsung-crafted controller and memory, and it will be sold exclusively under the Samsung brand name. Considering the company's delayed entry, we hope it's had plenty of time to assess and annihilate the competition. Will we see a repeat of last year's impressive demonstration? There's only one way to find out...