Micron Technology announced the RealSSD C400 SSD series yesterday and we had a chance to check out this drive in person today. The current Micron C300 line uses 34nm process technology; the C400 uses 25nm technology, which has enabled Micron to double maximum capacity to 512GB. There are three other capacities available: 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB. All four products stay with the 6Gb/s SATA III interface and use 25nm multi-level cell (MLC) technology. The Micron C400 SSD has a top sequential read speed of 415MB/s and that is 17 percent higher than the C300’s peak read speed of 355MB/s. The best sequential write speed is the 512GB C400 is 260MB/s, which is slightly more than 20 percent above the best that the 256GB RealSSD C300 can do. This SSD has impressive numbers, but when we heard that Micron had the drive at Storage Visions we had to stop by and take a look at the drive in person.
The Micron C400 SSD looks very similar to the original C300 SSD Series as it still uses a Marvell controller and Micron MLC NAND Flash memory. Micron said the controller is a newer revision and that they have placed more IP into the controller to help out performance and the reliability of the drive. Micron also says that they plan on still allowing end user firmware updates that will be non-destructible. Early adopters of the Micron C300 might remember that the first firmware update for the C300 was destructive and all the data on the drive was lost. Micron still cringes when that firmware revision is brought up and said those types of firmware updates are a thing of a past and that having data safe updates is a priority for their SSDs.
The Micron RealSSD C400 looks the same from the outside and that doesn’t make for a very interesting story. We were able to get Justin Sykes, Director of SSD marketing for Micron Technology to give us a live demo of the new 256GB C400 versus a traditional 5400RPM hard drive in a pair of identical IBM notebook PCs that are fairly common among business travelers.
The demo shows that the Micron RealSSD C400 is able to boot and a movie and 25 high-definition images in photoshop much quicker than a 5400RPM drive on an identical system. The demo shows you what you can expect from an SSD in the real world. We should mention that the laptops are both running on a SATA II interface which is actually limiting the capability of the C400.
Micron is currently working with notebook manufacturers to qualify its new RealSSD drives under the C400 product name. With samples of the RealSSD C400 drives available now to manufacturers, Micron expects mass production to begin in February. Bringing the drives to business customers and consumers on the retail market will be Crucial, a division of Micron. Crucial will begin selling the portfolio under the name, Crucial m4 SSD. The Crucial m4 SSD product line is expected to be available sometime in the first quarter of 2011. Pricing will be set around the times are released. You can expect a full review of the Micron RealSSD C400 and/or the Crucial m4 SSD in the near future.