Under the Hood
It's a very simple procedure to open up the outer casing. Four simple screws are quickly removed and the top slides off without latches or strange plastic attachments.
The first thing that you see upon removal of the top are 2 of the 8 Samsung K9HCGZ8U5M SCK0 MLC NAND chips. As you can see from the photograph these look quite lonely in the centre of the board on the 64GB model but there is plenty of room for the additional chips used in the larger capacity models. This modular design helps to keep costs down as the boards are interchangeable throughout the entire range. Anything that helps reduce the cost of SSDs is always a good thing.
Turning the board over reveals the other 6 memory chips, alongside the Samsung S3C29RBB01-YK40 controller and the Samsung K4X1G323P0-8GC6 128MB cache chip, more on those below.
The Samsung NAND memory chips are very popular, being used in many SSD solutions. They are 48-pin multi-layer ICs rated at 2.7-3.6V and 25ns speed. By being lead-free they are RoHs compliant, ensuring that having been environmentally friendly during their life with low power requirements, they will also be safe to the planet when finished with.
Time to take a closer look at the Samsung controller, the heart of the Kingston SSDNow V+ drive.
The Samsung S3C29RBB01-YK40 controller is rated to a theoretical write speed of 200 MBps and a speed of 220MBps. Heady numbers indeed and it's clear why this is one of the most popular solid state controllers in the mid-range SSD market..
Most importantly the Samsung controller comes with a feature Samsung call "Self-Healing". This is very similar to the "Garbage Collection" that has recently appeared in some OCZ firmware. MLC NAND chips require the OS to clear the space before the data can be written if you're over-writing a previously written block, otherwise the drives gradually grind to a halt. The Samsung controller cleans these deleted portions automatically without an OS request, ensuring speedy drive operation even after years of use.
The Samsung K4X1G323P0-8GC6 128MB chip which is used for the cache is rated at 1.8v CL3 and in combination with the controller has proven itself to eliminate the stuttering that plagued early SSDs as they couldn't hand the data as fast as they were asked to.
In case this all seems a little familiar the combination of the S3C29RBB01 YK40 controller, K4X1G323P0 8GC6 cache and K9HCGZ8U5M SCK0 NAND chips are also available in the Samsung PB22-J, the OCZ Summit and the Corsair P series of SSDs. This means we already know that it should provide very good speeds indeed, good reliability and be free from the aforementioned stuttering problems.
With the Kingston drive coming in about £20 cheaper than the other three drives it could prove interesting if the main parts of the unit can attain the same performance level for a much lower price point.
In fact its theoretical performance is such that it could be the perfect balance between performance and price that will ensure we all seriously consider the move across to SSD.
Time for a look at the Kingston technical specifications and the test system we'll be using today.