OCZ: Super-Affordable Core Series SSDs Use MLC Flash, Will Reach 256GB
When memory-manufacturer OCZ announced its new “Core Series” line of low-cost, high performance solid-state drives, our resident storage nuts went bonkers with the prospect of securing wallet-friendly SSDs. Naturally, our inquisitive minds began to wonder how OCZ could crank out 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB solid-state drives for $169, $259, and $479, respectively, while maintaining read/write speeds of at least 120MBps/80MBps. So we spoke with OCZ CEO Ryan Petersen about these potentially game-changing SSDs. In our interview, Peterson confirmed that the drives are made Multi-Level Cell (MLC) flash, and that they will be available for purchase July 12th or shortly thereafter. Because MLC flash memory has a reputation for being less reliable than SLC, we asked OCZ a follow-up question about estimated number of write cycles to failure, and we’re still waiting for an answer beyond the 1.5 million hour MBTF number quoted in their specs. Our interview is below. How did you manage to get the prices so low on the Core Series? The biggest barrier to SSD adoption has been price, and we have been exploring ways to bring down the price without sacrifices in performance. With the Core Series SSD drives are able to take advantage of lower cost multi-level cell technology in a multiple channel configuration and when coupled with new proprietary firmware we can maximize the speed while simultaneously lowering the cost. The previous issues with using MLC technology in SSD limited the write speeds, reducing the overall performance to that below current high speed HDDs, with the core series this is no longer an issue. Does OCZ manufacture its own flash memory chips? If not, who is the supplier? OCZ, while not a foundry, is able to leverage our existing relationships with partners, in this case Samsung to bin flash ICs for the highest possible write and read speeds. Who is the target audience for the new Core Series drives? Desktop users? Laptop upgraders? The Core Series is designed to bring SSDs down to a price point where mainstream users can benefit from the technology. Our target with this series is generally anyone who wants to take advantage of increased speed and reliability. Of course, SSD technology provides these. Our singular mission and the reason we entered the SSD market was to develop products that suit the needs of end user, but at an affordable price point. Basically to give the end users the products that they ask for, and ones that we would personally want to buy ourselves. Do you think a lot of laptop users will buy Core Series drives to replace their laptop hard drives? We hope that users will enjoy the performance advantages, and there are a number of benefits to notebook users including the added reliability of having no moving parts. Will you sell the Core Series drives to any OEMs? Yes. Will you continue to sell your original, more expensive SSD models, the OCZSSD2-1S32G and OCZSSD2-1S64G? Why would a consumer want them? While our focus will be on the new Core SSD drives we will continue to sell the original products to select OEMs who require the slightly faster write speeds for their specific applications. Will you be able to meet high demand for these drives? We are ramping up production now and fully expect to be able to satisfy the demand for the products. Which U.S. retailers will stock the OCZ Core series drives? We are making the Core Series available through our existing channel which includes the vast majority of major retailers and all the top e-tailers. Is there a plan to release higher capacity SSDs? Absolutely, increasing the capacity of the drives is just as important as maintaining speeds and bringing down the costs to consumers. We are currently planning up to 256GB drives in the near future.