Samsung's 256GB SSD offers capacity, speed

But tests yield slower read speeds than Samsung claims

I was deeply in techno-lust when I opened a UPS box the other day and pulled from it Samsung's new 256GB, SATA II laptop solid-state disk (SSD) drive -- stainless steel all around and oh-so-sleek. It sat in front of me and veritably screamed, "a quarter of a terabyte on flash memory." I didn't care that I didn't need that much storage capacity on my laptop. I wanted it anyway.

Samsung is marketing this 2.5-in, 256GB SSD as a drive with more than double the performance of its earlier 64GB and 128GB SSDs. It also claims this drive has the "highest overall performance in the personal computer industry." I tested that claim.

I put the drive is up against Intel's X25-M SSD, which I consider the industry leader for SSDs when it comes to performance. Intel gets tremendous throughput on its SSD by interleaving NAND flash chips and using 10 parallel channels and optimized firmware, and it sips CPUs with just 2 percent utilization.

For my testing, I used a Dell Latitude D830 laptop with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running Windows XP Professional SP2.

Like Intel's X25-M, Samsung's SSD is based on multi-layer cell NAND flash memory, which means it packs two or more bits per cell versus more efficient, but lower-capacity single-layer cell memory, which only lays down one bit per cell. Samsung also has a multi-channel interleaving chip architecture with 8 parallel channels. And the company said it has upgraded this model's firmware and controller.

I also compared the Samsung SSD to a spinning hard disk drive: Western Digital's Velociraptor. While the Velociraptor comes in a 3.5-inch enclosure, which won't fit in most laptops, it's actually a 2.5 inch disk inside the larger enclosure. Either way, it's the fastest consumer-grade hard disk drive we've ever tested at Computerworld, so I thought it fitting to compare it with the newer technology of SSD.

From the start, Samsung's drive has an advantage in my mind over Intel's SSD in that it offers more than three times the capacity of the 80GB X25-M.

In our tests using Simpli Software's HD Tach, Intel's X25-M turned in I/O burst speeds of 256.7MB/sec. and an average read speed of 230.2MB/sec. Intel said its X25-M has a two million hour mean-time before failure (MTBF) rating, or 100,000 write cycles -- the same number of writes offered by more expensive single-layer cell NAND memory. According to Brian Beard, SSD product manager for Samsung Semiconductor, the MTBF for the 256GB SSD drive is one million hours. Beard said that "if writing a large amount of data to the drive, say 20GB a day, our 256 SSD would last over 100 years."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags SSDstorage backupsamsung

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucas Mearian

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?