[REVIEW][STORAGE] Crucial m4 64GB SSD

Part 1:

Crucial m4 64GB SSD

Introduction:

Crucial Technology is a consumer brand of the famous Idaho, USA based multinational, Micron Technology, Inc. It is known best for memory unit devices, which includes an array of products consisting of DRAM, flash memory, CMOS image sensing chips, SSDs etc. Micron Technology and the world famous, Intel have joined hands and created a NAND Flash Memory production firm, IM Flash Technologies.

Micron and Crucial were the first SSD manufacturing company to announce an SSD using the SATA III, 6 Gb/s SATA interface.

Crucial and its drives are more commonly known for their reliability in the United States of America, and they are one of the most prominent, as well as leading brands in terms of reliability.

Specifications as per the box:

Packaging and the Drive:

The drive ships out of the factory in various packages. The one we have today is a replacement drive for a laptop, thus it comes without a 2.5" to 3.5" bay and such perks, and is thus cheaper.

The backside of the box provides boldly a description of the core specification outlines of the drive and the support website details, as well as office address in a plethora of languages.

The drive comes in a subsidiary plastic shell. All that is included is a small booklet stating the information that may be needed and installing guides, as such.

The drive comes neatly wrapped in an anti-static plastic. A good addition for enhanced protection.

A closer look at the drive:

The drive has some information printed on the back, which includes the firmware details, as well as other drive particulars. These drives are shipped with the latest firmware versions according to the time of production.

The 'main' drive.

o_O What happened to the rest of the pics.

you only can post 10 pics in one post

[quote=“armada, post:2, topic:16564”]

you only can post 10 pics in one post

[/quote]

Damn.

What about the rest? How do I upload the statistical charts?

Part 2:

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The Marvell 88SS9174-BLD2 controller.

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The assembly lineup.

The spacer bracket, second from the left, is added by the manufacturer in later models to solve the short-circuiting related issues.

Testing:

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Same Windows image was used for a fair result. For comparison purposes, we have added a Seagate 7200.12 1TB HDD, one of the ‘hot favorite’ mainstream mechanical drives in the market.

AS SSD Benchmark

AS SSD Benchmark has a scoring system that is based on the sequential and random read/writes, as well as the access times.

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ATTO

The ATTO Benchmark application is a performance measurement tool that measures storage performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. The software also has a compression benchmark.

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Crucial M4:

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Seagate 7200.12:

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Crystal Disk Mark

Crystal Disk Mark is a utility that is designed to test the performance of hard drives. We tested the Sequential Read and Write through this utility.

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Very interesting review. Thanks for posting it!

How do the Marvell and Sandforce chipets compare for SSDs? Any insights regarding that?

[quote=“Asad, post:5, topic:16564”]

Very interesting review. Thanks for posting it!

How do the Marvell and Sandforce chipets compare for SSDs? Any insights regarding that?

[/quote]

Well this is a topic with mixed opinions. The Marvell controller does not provide a very good medium for the Write controlled area of the SSD, and as can be seen from the SATA II vs SATA III results aswell, I noticed when doing that the results were -almost- same to those (for write speeds only) on SATA III. Thus, the Marvell chip is surely limiting the potential of this SSDs write speed. That said, the counterparts, Vertex Agility 3, Samsung, Corsair Force GT, and now the Intel 520, they all use SandForce, which produces mind boggling write speeds of around 480-520 MB/s. The read speeds are, as also aforementioned, neck and neck. The Marvell drives it to 530 MB/s out of the box (0009 firmware, which produces an increase of 20% results by the box, which shows figures for the 0001 firmware. Not sure about the latest 0309 firmware. Will update it and re-test, though I don’t expect much of a difference as that update is to fix the S.M.A.R.T counter related issues.). Most SandForce driven drives do around 540MB/s when utilized fully, so that’s not much of a difference, but the cost is much higher, at least when I reviewed it.

That said, the only drawback with SandForce is the -very- high failure rate. The DOA rate of the OCZ Vertex 3, the direct competitor of the Crucial m4 in the States is around 35%, with 5% of the drives sold by 25th Dec 2011. That, and the failure rate after 100 hours of usage was VERY high in the SandForce drives. Though I’ve heard the update revision of those drives are now less prone to the issue. Not sure about it, but I’ve heard that on various occasions.

____________________

Part 3:

Windows 7 Boot Up Test

In this test, the time taken for the Windows to boot up after Kernel Loaded till Start Up Programs Executed using a program called ‘Bootracer’ was recorded. The test was carried out 5 times and a mean absolute mark was taken.

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Windows Experience Index

This test shows the rating given by Windows 7 to the ‘Primary Hard Disk’ on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9.

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Conclusion:

The Crucial m4 is indeed a great drive when it comes to performance by read speed and does live up to the expectations, at times crossing the up-to read limit marked by Crucial themselves. However, the write speeds, as compared to the current generation SSD’s is greatly disappointing.

This drive is an ideal SATA III interface based drive considering you will have to import SATA III drives anyway at the moment. Ideal because it has a very, very little failure rate, or what we refer to as ‘Dead On Arrival’ (DOA). That, along with the Marvell(Micron) controller, which works much better in terms of stability and reliability to the SandForce one, resulting in an impressive yet a tad less performance.

The drive is a clear cut recommended at the price available from Amazon ($95 when reviewed). There are, however, better alternatives available in the market (at a higher DOA rate, though), and if you have the money to go for SandForce based ones, they are a much better in terms of the write speeds. The read speeds, though, are neck and neck.

Pros:

- Very good Read Speeds especially on SATAIII

- Great price

- Very good SATA III performance (for read speeds)

- Very low failure rate after 100 hours unlike most SandForce driven drives

- Very low DOA rates (3% compared to 35% of the Vertex counterpart)

- Nice and long warranty period

Cons:

- Limited capacity

- Poor write speeds

- Not available locally

As an added feature of the this review, and to allow a comparison between the question of performance gain by SATAIII vs SATAII in these SSDs, which I’ve been asked by many people, I’ve included the SATAII vs SATAIII results as well. In these tests, all the tests in the previous round were repeated.

AS SSD Benchmark

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ATTO

Crucial m4 SATA III

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Crucial m4 SATA II:

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Crystal Disk Mark

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Windows 7 Boot Up Test

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Windows Experience Index

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35% failure rate of Sandforce drives? :blink::wacko:

SF drives based on MLC flash have a high failure rate, most consumer SSDs are MLC based. SLC on the other hand is reliable but very expensive and not even produced for consumers anymore (correct me if I am wrong on this).

[quote=“StrikerX, post:8, topic:16564”]

SF drives based on MLC flash have a high failure rate, most consumer SSDs are MLC based. SLC on the other hand is reliable but very expensive and not even produced for consumers anymore (correct me if I am wrong on this).

[/quote]

Indeed.

MLCs are cheaper to produce than SLCs

However, SLCs run longer than MLCs becuase naturally their erase/write cycles will be lesser (Since SLCs use one cell to store one bit of data, and MLCs can interpret four times that stored in a single cell). [MLCs die out quicker because every time you program, or say, erase a cel, a voltage is applied. This causes wear and tear, and an electric charge is trapped in the transistor, which causes a shift in the characteristics of that cell after a certain period of time, and in the long run, deems the cell ‘dead’. Thus, the MTBF, which is usually an exaggerated, biased figure.]

As far as the production is concerned, I’m not sure on that one myself. Though I’ve ‘heard’ that Hitachi has released, or is releasing a consumer based SandForce drive with SLCs. If that’s true, I expect the price to be much, comparatively, higher than the competitors. Suffice to say, this cannot work out. I’m sure it’s going to be an enterprise drive, else the research and development aint’ worth it.

Interesting information you shared here can you let me know how much it will be cost to consumer ......................

Khurram Shahzad

Alaziz Online