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SSD Roundup June 2009

SSD Roundup June 2009

G.Skill Falcon 64 GB

G.Skill use a reasonably small box for their Falcon drive with a design which looks classy. On the back there is a list of drive specifications and upon opening the box we see that the SSD is encased in foam. Also included with this drive is a small jumper which is required for firmware flashing.

Shown above is the Falcon SSD, it is a standard 2.5” model with black casing. On the top is a G.Skill sticker which shares the same design as the box and on the base of the drive is another sticker with model details, certification logos and interestingly a note of the Read/Write speeds of the drive. Also visible are the standard SATA-II data and power connectors. As mentioned earlier the drive arrives with a jumper for firmware flashing. This is installed at the side of the SATA data connector on a set of pins which are quite far inside the unit. Given the size of the jumper provided this makes installation or removal very hard as it is essentially tiny, pliers or tweezers are required. G.Skill should really bundle the extra large version which we have shown above.

For those interested in power when in use the Falcon has a rating of 2.0w when active and 0.5w at idle.

By opening the case we can see that G.Skill use a blue PCB for this drive and memory chips are located on one side with the controller and cache on another. The controller is Indilinx’s Barefoot model which uses an ARM chip to manage the SSD and 64mb of Elpida DRAM cache. The 64 GB worth of MLC flash chips installed on this model are manufactured by Samsung (eight K9HCG08U1M parts). The Indilinx controller mixed with the cache and eight flash chips give this SSD a read speed of 230MB/s and write speed of 135MB/s.

As mentioned earlier the firmware is upgradable on the Indilinx controller and currently version 1571 is available. This allows us to take advantage of manual TRIM commands with native Windows 7 support to be added in the future. G.Skill provides instructions with their firmware on how to flash the drive in Windows. Finally, although it is not publicised, the 1571 firmware features NAND cleaning functionality similar to that found on Intel and Samsung SSDs to ensure performance stays as high as possible prior to a full TRIM implementation.

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Stuart Davidson

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