Recently, Corsair Memory launched its first Solid State Disk, with 128GB capacity. Since the performance wasn’t earth shattering (as opposed to already-established memory, power supplies and memory sticks), I expected that this first product was nothing else but tapping into the highly lucrative market. However, after reading the press release, a statement from John Carlton, Corsair’s VP of Marketing stood out like supernova in otherwise dark universe: “Our engineering team is currently hard at work on even higher performance and higher-capacity drives with read and write-speeds expected to be in in excess of 200MB/s. Even more exciting is a version for the hardcore enthusiast that will utilize the PCI Express bus and promises speeds in excess of 400 MB/sec read and 325 MB/sec write.”
Whoops – Corsair goes after Fusion-io? In order to develop ultimate SSD drives, Corsair obviously feels that SATA and even SAS aren’t the real solutions for enthusiasts and that PCI Express-based SSD is the way to go. Looking at raw specs, PCIe x1 Gen2 connector guarantees 500MB/s per lane (Gen1 is 250MB/s). In order to reach 400MB/s for read and 325MB/s for write, Corsair doesn’t need x4 Gen2 connector, present on current Fusion-io products – a single x1 Gen2 would suffice.
Thus, we could see future Corsair SSD line-up consisting out of mainstream drives such as already launched 128GB one, enthusiast line exceeding 200MB/s and the ultimate, PCI Express card in true “Dominator GT” style. Instead of enthusiasts dreaming of being able to pay $7200 for Fusion-io 160GB drive, Corsair is probably making a similar product that will cost a fraction of that price, but just don’t expect that “drive” to come cheap.
Unfortunately, CeBIT came and OCZ launched its 1TB PCIe based SSD. According to OCZ’s official picture, their 1TB drive takes up three slots. We’ll see what Corsair will come up with.
All in all, regardless of current state of affairs between Corsair and OCZ, I just can’t shake the feeling from my head that these two companies are the next Seagate and Western Digital. Conventional drive makers just dropped the ball, and Corsair, OCZ and similar memory vendors are now preparing for a major shakeup in storage market. Will these dinos wake up or risk being overtaken in commercial segment by smaller and more nible competitors? Only time will tell.