Samsung 470 Series SSD 256GB £430
1st Feb 2011 | 17:36
Throwing its hat in the memory controller ring
Samsung 470 Series SSD 256GB: Overview
It's a peculiarity of the current market for solid state drives that a largely unheralded little outfit known as SandForce makes the dominant SSD controller chipset. Not, perhaps, for much longer. The big boys are fighting back and one of the early salvos takes the form of the new Samsung SSD 470 Series 256GB.
In terms of claimed data throughput, it puts Samsung right back in the game with claimed sequential read and write performance of 250MB/s and 220MB/s.
For context, the SandForce based Corsair Force F240 240GB weighs in with theoretical throughputs of 285MB/s and 275MB/s.
As for maximum IOPs, the Samsung SSD 470 Series 256GB is a little further off the pace with ratings of 31,000 for reads and 21,000 for writes.
Corsair says the F240 cranks out 50,000 IOPs.
However, when it comes to SSDs, the official specifications don't always square precisely with real-world performance.
Let's see just what this new Sammy is capable of.
Samsung 470 Series SSD 256GB: Benchmarks
Long term performance is the big worry with SSDs.
Early drives delivered scorching performance out of the box, but quickly went down the toilet with intensive usage.
To simulate a used drive, we install Windows 7 and then stuff each SSD full of data. This used to be enough to make SSDs suffer slow downs. More recent SSDs are much more resilient.
4K random performance
File transfer performance
Samsung 470 Series SSD 256GB: Verdict
First a quick word on physical appearance.
We understand the retail version of the Samsung SSD 470 Series 256GB comes in a sleek brushed alloy chassis. The dowdy black enclosure you see here is purely for the evaluation version of the drive. That's a little odd, but then an SSD's casing doesn't influence performance or the end-user experience in any tangible way.
Regarding performance though, our hopes are high.
For starters, the 470 series benefits from Samsung's latest 30nm flash memory chips. Then there's 256MB of fast (for an SSD) 667MHz DDR2 cache memory. Finally, we have Samsung's latest controller chip, the imaginatively monikered S3C29MAX01-Y340.
As our benchmarks show, the results are pretty impressive.
The 470 actually outstrips Samsung's claims in terms of peak sequential read and write performance, topping 260MB/s in both metrics.
That's very much in the same ballpark as a typical SandForce-powered drive. Random reads and writes, however, are a little off the pace compared to the best current SSDs. That said, the actual end user experience with the Samsung SSD 470 Series 256GB is pretty similar.
As much as we strive to simulate real-world usage scenarios, however, assessing the long term performance of any SSD is tricky. The 470 Series supports the drive-clean TRIM command in Windows 7, which is arguably the most important feature for maintaining performance.
However, the good news for non-Windows 7 users is that Samsung supplies its SSD Magician application for older Windows OSes which does the same job as TRIM. In other words, it cleans out redundant data and keeps the drive fresh.
SSD technology is moving fast, so any brand new drive is always attractive.
Samsung is determined to be a major player in the market and the new 470 Series is definitely an improvement. It's well specified with Samsung's new 30nm flash memory and new controller chipset. All-round performance is solid, too.
The SATA I/O interface is increasingly looking like a performance bottleneck for SSDs, even in 6Gbps trim. So, it's disappointing to find Samsung releasing a brand new high-end drive that makes do with SATA 3Gbps.
Despite the new controller chip, random disk performance is also a little ordinary.
The SandForce SSD controller is due a spanking. Improved as it is, Samsung's latest isn't the drive to do it.