Over the past few years, the enterprise SSD market has fractured. It wasn’t that long ago that your only choice was an SLC-based SSD that excelled at everything. High write endurance, low latency and excellent performance were the hallmarks of these enterprise SSDs. A single drive class that excelled at everything, but cost. Since then, we have been introduced to no fewer than 4 different SSD classes that are all trying to carve up the market below that upper SLC class. We have read oriented without enterprise features (Samsung 843), read oriented with enterprise features (Intel S3500, SMART 1000), high-endurance eMLC (Intel S3700) and finally, high endurance MLC (Seagate 600 Pro SMART 1000E).
By carving up the sector into so many segments, it becomes very difficult to tell which drives fit where and what to compare them to. It also makes the buying decision extremely hard. With the CloudSpeed 1000 and 1000E, SMART isn’t making the decision any easier.
We spent the majority of our time with the CloudSpeed 1000E and came away impressed. It matched or exceeded every competitor with random read performance. In mixed and server workloads, it stayed with the Intel S3700 that we are so fond of, while running past the Intel S3500 in most tests. When you combine this with excellent write endurance from the 19nm Toshiba MLC NAND and a healthy amount of overprovisioning, the 1000E has a lot to offer.
One thing that we were pleasantly surprised to see was the performance at low queue depths. Even though SMART is targeting servers and the cloud, the 1000 and 1000E would both make excellent workstation drives.
But, and there is always a but, it all comes at a price. If the pricing of Seagate’s 600 Pro line is any indication, the 1000 and 1000E that we tested will have the same, or close to the same, list price. That means that the 1000E will carry a higher price per gigabyte (400GB v 480GB). SMART was tight-lipped on the exact price, but to remain competitive, the 1000E will need to be somewhere between the Intel S3500 and S3700, preferable closer to the former.
We also would have appreciated a little bit better sequential performance along with 512 byte random performance. We don’t feel that these are major flaws and could possibly be improved with subsequent firmware releases.
Overall, we were impressed with both drives. Neither drive is substantially better than other drives in their respective classes, which is why pricing will be so important. With that said, if you are in the market for an enterprise SSD that combines MLC pricing with eMLC performance and endurance, the SMART CloudSpeed 1000E would be a great choice.