Plextor is getting its share of attention these days. Plextor established a leadership position in storage device technology beginning with optical disc CD-ROM drives in the early Nineties. Although they still make some of the best optical drives available today, much of their focus has shifted to the growing solid state drive market. One thing that has stayed the same is their short and sweet business philosophy that pretty much says it all: “Never compromise, always think quality.”
Plextor has been building a niche reputation in the SSD market with products that consistently exceed expectations of reviewers and users alike. After all—and this is a key point—an SSD is a carefully chosen component to enhance a system rather than an impulse or loss leader purchase.
Plextor realizes that their customers will scrutinize every model for improvements that make a difference in 1) speed, 2) reliability, and 3) price, for these are the three factors that are most important to the SSD buyer.
The New Plextor PX-M5S
To date, Plextor SSDs generally cost more than competing SandForce-based SSDs since they use a more expensive server-grade controller from Marvell, exclusive firmware, high quality flash memory from Toshiba, and surface mount components built by Japanese firms that settle for nothing less than obsessive tolerances.
And, before leaving the factory, all Plextor SSDs go through rigorous benchmark testing with simulated real world environments. As a result, Plextor SSDs have a 0.59% average annual failure rate, which is one of the lowest in the industry.
The Plextor PX-M5S uses a different NAND supplier, and is priced more competitively than the previous M3 Series of SSDs, while still upping the bar in performance. For the M5S, Plextor turned to Micron to supply 25nm synchronous NAND flash, a product of equal quality to Toshiba Toggle NAND, but more available than the 24nm Toshiba Toggle Mode flash used on the M3S and M3 Pro. The end result, Plextor is demonstrating the capability to develop a high-quality product while keeping pace with the market trend of declining SSD prices.
Differences in NAND Flash
Now, before selecting an SSD product, it’s important to understand that not all NAND flash is created equal:
The key component of an SSD is NAND Flash Chips. (In brief—NAND Flash is a non-volatile memory chip with a configuration of memory cells that resembles a “No AND Gates” in logic diagram and that’s why it’s called NAND.) Every NAND Flash manufacturer initially has unique designs and protocols. Today, the NAND market has consolidated into two major camps: ONFI Group vs. Toggle Group.
Toggle technology is primarily used by Toshiba and Samsung, and carries data at a speed of 133MB/s. (Toshiba and Samsung also has a legacy mode NAND with a lesser transfer rate of 40MB/s.) In the ONFI (Open NAND Flash Interface) camp, the key manufacturers are Intel, Micron and Hynix, and there is ONFI 1.0 and ONFI 2.0 standards: ONFI 1.0 (or Asynchronous NAND) is limited to a 50MB/s transfer rate, but ONFI 2.0 (called Synchronous NAND) has a transfer rate of 133MB/s. The key difference between ONFI 1.0 (Async) and ONFI 2.0 (Sync) NAND is its interface speed and, remember, speed counts with SSD users.
Just to highlight, not all NAND are created equal, and not all SSD are created equal. When you are ready to select a SSD, check the controller, check the NAND, and of course, check the manufacturer
So there you have it—a fast, reliable Plextor SSD with an MSRP that can out-maneuver the competition in all areas including price. The M5S could be lethal. Production is said to be ramping up in August for release to e-tailers. So you can wait and see or take your place now on the starting line. Ready, set, go . . .