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Crucial M225 128GB SSD

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Posted September 10, 2009 by Jake in Storage, HDs & SSDs

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by Jake
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SSD Technology

For those who may be unfamiliar with Solid State Disk drives (SSDs), let’s have a quick recap to briefly explain some of the characteristics and benefits that differ from traditional mechanical hard drive counterparts.

First, it is important to note that SSDs are currently designed to meet connectivity standards of HDDs; they use the same SATA ports and power connectors, and may even fit the same drive bay racks and computer towers that we’re all accustomed to using. Many SSDs do, however, come in a smaller 2.5" form factor, same as notebook drives, which is a bit smaller than the traditional 3.5" size that most of us have. In short, SSDs can fit anywhere HDDs can, and in most cases the SSDs are even smaller. But most SSDs have mounting holes for adapters that can accommodate either a horizontal or vertical mounting position. Because the drive runs absolutely silent since there are no moving or mechanical parts, you can literally install the drive anywhere in your case with some double-sided tape or Velcro.  You won’t need to worry about any vibrations or even heat being produced, so you could even just tape it to the bottom of your case if you’re so inclined.

The other advantage of an SSD over a HDD is its durability; solid state drives are far more rugged, able to withstand up to 1500G over a 5 ms time frame.  So you don’t really need to worry about dropping it, though I didn’t actually toss any of our SSDs out a 7-storey window to test it.  Call me unadverturous but running the risk of trashing a fast new SSD isn’t my idea of a fun time. Lastly, Solid State Drives have exceptionally fast response times which are almost instantaneous, while even the fastest hard disk drives on the market are downright sluggish by comparison. The Crucial SSD is supposed to have a response time of less than one millisecond, which is lightning quick and many times faster than even the most speedy hard drive on the market.

When pulling apart an SSD (which will void your warranty, so think twice before doing it) you’ll see that SSDs contain NAND Flash chips that are used with a wear-leveling algorithm to ensure the erase and rewrite cycles are spread across all of the storage chips. Therefore, should you have the misfortune of having a sector become corrupted, your previous data won’t be lost; it simply means that data can’t be written over again there. Consequently, this means that there shouldn’t be degradation of data in a physical sense, and when the drive’s lifespan is reached then you should have all your data still fully intact before the drive finally just wears out.

It is important to remember that SSDs are still a developing technology with their fair share of bumps and blips along the way. Some drives have jumpers to update their firmware (the Crucial M225 does). However, as far as we know, all Indilinx-based drives now ship with Firmware 1.3 and updates can be done jumperless.

So we essentially have a drive that is smaller, faster, quieter, cooler, and draws less power.  What’s not to like?  The price.  Solid State Drives are currently very expensive compared to mechanical hard drives, many times the magnitude of price per megabyte of storage.  Even within the SSDs market, there is quite a range of prices, with the Crucial M225 128GB SSD costing approximately $319 USD at the time of this review.  This represents a cost of approximately $2.50 per gigabyte, and is on par with most other SSDs on the market. Currently the Crucial M225 is on of the most "affordable" Indilinx-based SSDs on the market for this storage capacity. It would seem that Crucial is positioning themselves in the more "mainstream" market segment, though this is probably a bit of a misnomer. The reason for this is that all Indilinx-based SSDs are extremely fast (and we’ll check this during testing today) but at a price of $319 the M225 isn’t exactly "mainstream", though it is quite a bit cheaper than most of Indilinx drives.

The M225 is approaching a very attractive "affordable" threshold for mainstream use.  It is still not cheap, however, and the cost difference between an SSD and HDD is obvious. They remain at the upper end of "affordable", relegated to enthusiast users with healthy budgets and an insatiable desire for speed and performance. However, as prices continue to drop, we’re not far off from far more widespread adoption for a greater number of users, which likely makes memory manufacturers that carry SSDs very happy with such a huge potential market share increase looming on the horizon.

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