Corsair Explains Change From 34nm To 25nm Related To SSDs

Much like hard drives, which cannot be over a certain size in 32-bit machines and have to be formatted a certain way to be visible to certain operating systems, SSDs are also complex beasts. There was a lot of confusion early on about just how reliable these would be in long-term usage patterns, and while TRIM has come to the rescue to some extent, there's still a lot of voodoo behind the scenes that many average consumers just don't "get." Thankfully, Corsair is helping us all out by giving a very detailed description of how impending changes will affect their drives and your performance.

As things continue to shrink from a process level, Corsair is looking to transition SSD production from 34 nanometer to 25 nanometer flash chips. Here's the deal: Flash memory manufacturers are transitioning to using 25nm process for fabrication, allowing them to boost capacity and reduce costs, which in turn will allow SSD suppliers to pass those savings to the consumer. The downside is that SSDs built using 25nm flash ICs may require more over-provisioning (a technique used to ensure reliability) which lowers the capacity of the SSD and may also see a reduction in performance.

In turn, Corsair has been working hard with SandForce to minimize those downsides. In the Corsair Labs, using the ATTO synthetic benchmark, only a small reduction in performance (roughly 3-4%) was seen when testing Force Series SSDs built with 25nm flash. Real-world tests, such as copying groups of files or measuring Windows boot times, support the ATTO results and show little to no performance loss. However, the over-provisioning needed means that in some cases the capacity of the drives will be reduced.

Jared Peck, Global Product Marketing Manager for SSDs at Corsair, explained it this way: "So that our customers are perfectly clear about what they are getting, we will be changing the model numbers on all 25nm based drives and transitioning the drive capacities we offer where necessary. For example, a drive that would have been sold as 120GB when built with 34nm flash will be launched as a 115GB version. All Force Series drives built with 25nm flash will also have a ‘-A’ suffix on the part and/or model number, making it easy to determine exactly what you’re getting."

Force Series 115GB and 80GB 25nm drives will be available by the end of February, with the F115-A selling for $215 and the F80-A for $160. We get the feeling things will just get more confusing, but at least this groundwork makes it somewhat easier to "get."
Via:  Corsair
Tags:  SSD, Corsair, SandForce
inspector 3 years ago

lol yes because adding a -A to the end of the part number will get people to realize what they are getting. How many of you even look at the part number when buying something? I mean like on newegg all i would look at is the name and the specs.

Joel H 3 years ago

This situation is the result of several interlocking variables. As process technology shrinks, gate-length also shrinks.The smaller the gate-length, the greater the degree of leakage. This means that 25nm devices will not (statistically speaking) hold data as long as 34nm devices. I think the current 25nm retention length is around a year. That sounds fine for most things, but there's no reason a properly stored HDD wouldn't still be able to access archived information ten years from now.

The more a cell "leaks", the harder it is for the switch to tell the difference between a 1 and a 0. This can be compensated for by increasing the size of the charge that's used to provide the "1". Problem is, the stronger the charge, the greater the wear on the memory cell.

These factors, in aggregate, are why SSDs based on Flash memory won't ever completely replace hard drives. There's no magic solution that keeps prices flowing ever-downward while simultaneously delivering performance, data longevity, and drive longevity.

rapid1 3 years ago

To tell you the truth Inspector I always look at the part number. Of course I have also been employed as a professional warranty technician back in the day, so that was already in my conscience by default (part details), and I have been an online purchaser of equipment for a long time as well, so I know there are differences even within a single part series, and those are usually found with the part number.

Of course another thing is used to be (no I did not have to walk to school uphill in the snow) it was the only way to know you were even getting the right thing, at least in many cases. So I by default pay attention.

The thing I am kind of wondering here is I thought OCZ is using nm chips that were lower than 25nm measurement chips on there 3 series drives, with sata3/6. They seem to not be using either on this drive build so I am automatically assuming these will be a lost model build before they even hit the market! I am also wondering why they(OCZ) had no difficulty in making super high performance drives, with more size as well, but Corsair seems to be even though they to are working with Sandforce on there drives.

CDeeter 3 years ago

If retention of data has dropped to only a year as Joel says, then for me we have already reached the point of diminishing returns with this tech. There are files on my hard drive that are way older than a year.Not too mention that SSDs are still way out of my price range considering I can get at least 1 TB for the price of a 80 GB SSD.

Does the data on a SSD get refreshed like RAM? If so, the situation might not be so bad, otherwise I would be looking at reinstalling the OS once a year or so yes?

Joel H 3 years ago


My mistake for not clarifying. So long as the drive is powered, it retains data. The problem manifests itself if you use SSDs for long-term storage. I own several hard drives that I've used to make substantial backup archives, for example. The other day I had occasion to need data from 2001 that I'd neglected to transfer as I updated systems.

I was able to pull the WD800JB drive I was using then and load the data no problem, even though I hadn't used that drive in at least 8 years. You can't do that with a 25nm SSD at present; I'm not sure if a 34nm drive would hold data that long, either. Even if we assume it would, the comments on diminishing returns still apply.

For typical consumers, a year is more than enough time at this point. My general understanding is that this becomes a major issue at 22nm and possibly a show-stopper at 16nm. I'm fairly confident someone will figure out a fix before then, but it's still a good example of why SSDs won't be able to match HDD prices for a very long time--if ever. Flash is a good SSD solution for now, but I think we'll see companies pursuing other methods of solid-state storage over the next ten years.

CDeeter 3 years ago

Thanks for the clarification, and I will remember to use traditional hard drives for long term storage.

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