Hynix Enters Consumer SSD Market with SandForce Based SSDs - 20nm NAND is Also Here UPDATE: It's actually 26nmby Kristian Vättö on June 25, 2012 9:48 PM EST
Hynix has been in the SSD industry for years but their SSDs have been available only to OEMs. Their NAND is used in various other brand SSDs but Hynix has not had a consumer SSD lineup until now. Strangely enough, the SSD series does not carry any name or model, Hynix is simply calling it a client SSD.
Last week, Hynix acquired a controller firm Link A Media Devices (LAMD). One would automatically expect that this series would be using a controller from LAMD, but this is not the case. The same series was actually announced in Asia over a week ago and Hermitage Akihabara's review reveals a SandForce SF-2281 controller inside the chassis. This isn't actually a surprise because Corsair has exclusivity to LAMD for an unpublished period of time (the Neutron series is not even out yet, so it should be obvious that the exclusivity is still on).
Another interesting aspect of Hynix' SSD series is the fact that it's the first consumer SSD to utilize 20nm MLC NAND. The drive uses Hynix' own NAND and it appears that Hynix has beaten IMFT in the race for 20nm NAND. We should, however, start seeing 20nm IMFT NAND very soon since it has been in mass production for over six months now. Hynix has not published any datasheets of their 20nm NAND so specifics such as P/E cycle count are unknown, though if IMFT's 20nm NAND gives any clue we should still expect 3,000 P/E cycles.
Update: The NAND used is actually 26nm, not 20nm as we initially reported. Hynix' press release mislead us because it says "20nm class process", which actually means 2Xnm and not 20nm.
Hynix is offering standard 2.5" SATA models along with mSATA ones. There are actually two mSATA models, the second one being a 32GB SATA 3Gb/s SSD (most likely based on SF-2141 or SF-2181). Below is a table summarizing the specifications:
|Hynix Consumer SSD Series Specifications|
|Form Factor||2.5" SATA||mSATA|
|Interface||SATA 6Gb/s||SATA 3Gb/s|
|Capacities (GB)||128, 256||64, 128||32|
|NAND||20nm Hynix MLC NAND|
|4KB Random Read||55K IOPS||21K IOPS||12K IOPS|
|4KB Random Write||85K IOPS||37K IOPS||44K IOPS|
Performance is pretty much what you would expect from SF-2281 based SSDs with ONFi NAND. Sequential speeds are a bit lower than we normally see with SandForce SSDs but it's possible that Hynix is just being more conservative than most other OEMs. mSATA models have noticeably lower random speeds but that is due to the limited amount of NAND packages and smaller capacities (and hence the use of fewer channels).
Pricing and US availability are both unknown. The drives are already retailing in Japan and Hynix is currently working on bringing their SSDs to market in the US and Korea. There is no word on availability in other regions, though.
Sources: Hynix Press Release, Hynix SSD Product Page
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RaistlinZ - Monday, June 25, 2012 - linkThe market is already saturated with Sandforce 2281 drives. Why bring another into the fray? The specs aren't even at the top of the pack of other drives that have been out for a long time now.
Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - linkI think Hynix is doing this to build distribution channels for their future LAMD based drives. It's easier to begin with a lower volume product and test several distributors and then choose the best one. LAMD based SSDs definitely have potential to sell like hot cakes if the performance figures are to believe, so you don't want to screw up supply because of distribution issues.
Or at least this is one way of looking at this.
mckirkus - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - linkLarge Array of Mechanical Donkeys (LAMD) in case anybody was wondering.
surt - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - linkIt's microscopic, not mechanical. What kind of sense does mechanical donkeys make?
artifex - Friday, July 13, 2012 - linkAt least in the mSATA form factor there is not an overabundance of vendors.
Speaking of, it'd be really nice to see a comparison among some of them.
XJDHDR - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link"Another interesting aspect of Hynix' SSD series is the fact that it's the first consumer SSD to utilize 20nm MLC NAND."
There is the reason they bothered. With 20nm NAND, it should be cheaper than any other SandForce SSD available right now, which still use 25nm NAND.
Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - linkWell, it doesn't always work like that. While you get more dies per wafer (assuming each die is still 64Gb), your yields are lower at first. 25nm process is now mature and yields are better than ever. Demand can also be high compared to supply, which keeps prices high.
Smaller process node does not mean an immediate price drop. I would say NAND price drops are fairly linear.
XJDHDR - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - linkYeah, that's why I said that it should be cheaper. Another factor you didn't mention is that this is so far the only known SSD to use 20nm NAND, which means there would be no competition in this area. Hence, there would be little reason to not charge a price that is only marginally lower until someone else introduces their own SSD with 20nm NAND.
The reason you posted above though is also reasonable and I didn't consider it. I guess I assumed that Hynix already knows who they want to distribute stuff through.
shompa - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - linkSmaller process does not mean cheaper prices. This myth need to die.
Waffer prices goes up with smaller process.
That is why Marjory of micro processors are produced in 65nm or larger.
About 2-3% is 28nm or less.
(not counting Intel. Since intel owns its owns fabs, they are not impacted in the same way with waffer prices)
XJDHDR - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link>Smaller process does not mean cheaper prices.
First of all, I said it should be cheaper, not will be. On the contrary, it does. If it weren't (eventually) cheaper to use smaller process nodes, there would be absolutely no point in using them. Sandy Bridge vs Ivy Bridge is a good example. IB CPUs are better in every way, yet they are basically sitting at the same prices as SB before IB's release. Not a cheaper price but definitely more bang for your buck.
>Waffer prices goes up with smaller process.
I assume you mean wafer, as I have never heard of a waffer. At first, yes. Eventually, however, the cost of fabricating chips at any particular process node drops to lower than the one before.
>That is why Marjory of micro processors are produced in 65nm or larger.
I assume you mean majority since marjory is also something I've never heard of. Otherwise, I find that hard to believe. Intel, AMD and Nvidia have been releasing all of their microprocessors at smaller nodes since 2009. There is also the fact that virtually every consumer SSD uses NAND smaller than 65nm.
>About 2-3% is 28nm or less.
Ignoring the fact that every SSD I know uses 25nm NAND and has done so since at least 2011, it is only recently that nodes smaller than 29nm became mature enough to move microprocessor fabrication to it. Hence, it's quite obvious that very few processors in use today would be using a node less than 29nm, if your figures are accurate that is.