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CES 2011: Crucial Details C300 Successor

CES 2011: Crucial Details C300 Successor

The m4 uses the same PCB and controller as C300 SSDs, but with revised firmware and 25nm NAND chips.

CES 2011: We caught up with storage and memory specialist Crucial at CES 2011 last week, and were pleased to find out about the imminent release of its second-generation SATA 6Gbps SSD, the Crucial m4.

Building on the success of the C300 range of SSDs that have impressed us over the last twelve months, Crucial’s parent company Micron has decided to portion off the C300 branding for its OEM products, while Crucial's consumer line-up of SSDs has been renamed with a decidedly BMW-esque brand. We wonder if there's a luxury M6 version with leather heated seats coming?

Despite the new naming, though, the C300 and m4 series are surprisingly similar. The same Marvell 9174 dual-core ARM controller chip will be used for the new line-ups of SSDs, but with a more aggressive firmware version to push up the read and write speeds.

At present, Crucial is quoting sequential read speeds of 415MB/sec across the range, and maximum write speeds of 260MB/sec for the 512GB model. As with the C300 line-up, though, write speeds will depend on the capacity of the drive and the accompanying NAND density. The m4 will also benefit from an enlarged DRAM cache, which has been increased from 128MB to 256MB on all but the 64GB model, which retains the original 128MB DRAM cache.

Interestingly, though, Corsair’s Performance 3 series of SATA 6GBps SSDs, also announced at CES 2011 and based on the same Marvell controller, will be shipping with notably higher sequential speeds of 480MB/sec read and 320MB/sec write. This is due to the firmware of Marvell 9174 based drives being the sole responsibility of the drive partner, rather than Marvell, so there’s still potential for Crucial to knock the m4 up a notch before it ships.

Most importantly. though, the m4 series of SSDs will be the first drives to boast 25nm NAND flash chips, thanks to Micron’s co-operation with Intel in developing the new fabrication process. This not only gives Crucial access to higher capacities of NAND, enabling the m4 to cap out at 512GB, but will also hopefully result in lower prices, bringing SSDs closer to mass market adoption.

Could we finally see a £1/GB high-performance SSD? We certainly hope so. The M4 will also be the first drive to market supporting ONFI (Open NAND Flash Interface) 2.2 certification, offering additional commands and greater controller support.

Excited about the second generation of SATA 6Gbps devices? Just bought a C300 and feel burned? Perhaps you're still a hard drive die-hard? Let us know in the forums.

23 Comments

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thelaw 11th January 2011, 12:27 Quote
hmm higher read/write speeds are all fine and dandy thought but i would rather much perfer to see a larger capacity SDD produced that is cheaper for consumers or competitive in a way that is makes a large capacity HDD purchase no longer cost effective.
Farting Bob 11th January 2011, 12:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by thelaw
hmm higher read/write speeds are all fine and dandy thought but i would rather much perfer to see a larger capacity SDD produced that is cheaper for consumers or competitive in a way that is makes a large capacity HDD purchase no longer cost effective.

Dream on. The price of flash is very closely linked to the fab process used. With intel now producing 25nm chips (everyone else is stuck on 32nm or higher) they can produce higher density chips which means lower costs. But they are also less durable (3000 write life expectancy, down from 5000 on 32nm). There will come a point where you cant get any smaller using the same technology without having life span measured in days. If they cant get below 20nm for years, prices wont change much.
Phil Rhodes 11th January 2011, 12:34 Quote
Quote:
Could we finally see a £1/GB high-performance SSD?

That's not, strictly speaking, a very good price, though, is it?
Whitesky 11th January 2011, 12:40 Quote
LOL.. I just bit the bullet and bought the existing C300 128Gb 4 days ago, to replace a slower OCZ Vertex 1 128.

Maybe upgrading during CES wasn't such a hot idea..
r3loaded 11th January 2011, 12:51 Quote
Lol, why the hell would you ditch an Indilinx drive? They're crazy fast as it is anyway. Still hanging on to my Crucial M225 until it dies.
John_T 11th January 2011, 13:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Farting Bob
But they [25nm drives] are also less durable (3000 write life expectancy, down from 5000 on 32nm).

Really? I didn't know that. Why would a die shrink affect the life expectancy? It's not like modern CPU's don't live as long as old CPU's.

3000 doesn't seem like a very big number for a boot drive with various editing software on it...
Phil Rhodes 11th January 2011, 13:16 Quote
Modern CPUs don't contain megabyte after megabyte of NAND flash. It's completely different technology - and it's hard enough to read at the best of times.
thetrashcanman 11th January 2011, 15:43 Quote
oh my good god I can't wait to try one of these drives, they sound awesome, especially the write speeds, and the price drop (fingers crossed) might be able to swap my 64gb for a 128gb ssd now
memeroot 11th January 2011, 16:17 Quote
to fast for my laptop lol so no I dont feel burnt by my purchase of an ssd (it was also tiny)

however I dont really see the need for it on my main pc.
Fordy 11th January 2011, 18:19 Quote
64GB C300 for £64 = Impulse purchase.
John_T 11th January 2011, 22:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Modern CPUs don't contain megabyte after megabyte of NAND flash. It's completely different technology - and it's hard enough to read at the best of times.

I appreciate it's obviously different tech - comparing to CPU's was the only obvious thing I could think of that also experienced die shrinks. I was just expressing my surprise really.

Does anyone know why it affects the lifespan of it? I generally expect new generations of technology to improve on what's gone before, not regress. I'm planning for an entirely new build within the next 2/3 months, and I'm about 90% certain I'll be having an SSD for the OS, (it was going to be a C300 till I saw this) but if longevity is a problem, I think it's something I'll have to look into...
phuzz 11th January 2011, 22:43 Quote
I'm going to be spoilt for choice in a few months when I upgrade, I'll happily drop £150 on a 128Gb high performance SSD.
hmm, decent SATA 6Gb/s is a must on my next mobo then.
Gradius 11th January 2011, 23:32 Quote
I need cheap and superb SSD 1TB right now to say goodbye to old HDDs.

Btw, I have a C300 128GB, love it!
mrbens 12th January 2011, 03:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
Lol, why the hell would you ditch an Indilinx drive? They're crazy fast as it is anyway. Still hanging on to my Crucial M225 until it dies.

Still loving my M225 too :)

Harry, why did you feel the need to add ", though," into every sentence? The last time you even used a full stop instead by accident! "Most importantly. though,"

A , isn't needed before though, just after.
JoeK 13th January 2011, 14:32 Quote
That explains wy the c300 has been dropping in price lately, for the people complaining about the price, do you think the previous gen c300 will drop in price to make it more affordable when the new gen comes out?
Bakes 12th February 2011, 23:48 Quote
To bump this, do we have any further details on said new Crucial drive? I could do with a 512GB SSD in my pc.
Salty Wagyu 12th February 2011, 23:52 Quote
Aye, going to wait until my Intel dies before I'd get an SSD upgrade too. Pretty sure going from a slower SSD to a faster SSD isn't going to be as noticeable as going from HDD to SSD, it's all about the fast 0.1ms seek time that makes the difference.
Fordy 13th February 2011, 01:15 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakes
I could do with a 512GB SSD in my pc.

I could do with that kind of disposable cash.
thelaw 14th February 2011, 02:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakes
To bump this, do we have any further details on said new Crucial drive? I could do with a 512GB SSD in my pc.

Q1 OF 2011 is what is being talked about in other forums, some companies it seems have started production so it will be another month or two i would imagine to see them hitting shops...

Around £160 is being talked about for the 128gb version very much in line with the current c300 prices i would expect..

The 256gb c300 is at £350 there abouts, would hate to see what the 512GB C400 comes out price wise i too wish i had that sort of disposable cash..:)
Bakes 14th February 2011, 20:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordy
I could do with that kind of disposable cash.

You don't, you'd end up wondering what to do with it and eventually just buy expensive SSDs and high end headsets.
thelaw 14th February 2011, 20:30 Quote
lol true upgrading bits because it gives you 12% extra performance off the last high end gaming gfx card you bought 3 monhs earlier, noticed that this forum has a few members like that, wonder if its a actual compulsive medical behaviour or something similar?
Fordy 14th February 2011, 23:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakes
You don't, you'd end up wondering what to do with it and eventually just buy expensive SSDs and high end headsets.

Don't have an SSD or headset at all at the minute - so it wouldn't be a bad thing!


I agree that the compulsive upgrading to latest and greatest isn't worthwhile though, such a little gain in performance each time for a huge lump more of your hard-earned.
Bakes 16th February 2011, 00:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordy
Don't have an SSD or headset at all at the minute - so it wouldn't be a bad thing!


I agree that the compulsive upgrading to latest and greatest isn't worthwhile though, such a little gain in performance each time for a huge lump more of your hard-earned.

Without meaning to sound like a bible basher,
Quote:
Originally Posted by Proverbs 1
Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.

Sums up my predicament fairly well. I know the context is very different in the bible, but I reckon the isolated phrase works fairly well.
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