Mach Xtreme Technology, well known for their extensive SSD product line, has announced the release of their low-profile 6Gb/s MX-KATANA Series of drives, which have been developed specifically with cramped quarters in mind. This means they should be a perfect complement to mobile devices such as Apple’s MacBook Air.
Being LSI Sandforce based, the new products will offer Read/Write speeds of up to 510MB/s and 450MB/s respectively, as well as random performance of 60,000 4k IOPS.
The main thing that makes this SSD stand out is, of course, its compact dimensions, which should serve to make integration into Ultrabooks and the like a much simpler endeavor. Indeed, Mach Xtreme considers it an ideal replacement for the MacBook Air’s stock SSD which, thus far, has only been made available from Toshiba and Samsung to certain OEMs. Consumers, it seemed, had no choice but to go through Apple (or eBay) in order to increase their solid state storage capacity, that is, until a little company called OWC decided that the time was ripe to offer a third party replacement. Specifically, when OWC’s Mercury Aura Pro Express was announced, it was (up until now) the only SSD able to serve as a substitute for Apple’s standard fair.
Mach Xtreme has a remedy for OWC’s solitude, however, as their new MX-KATANA looks to have the makings of a major competitor. Considering the new drive is based on the same LSI Sandforce silicon, it comes as no surprise that Mach Xtreme’s latest release has no trouble keeping up with OWC’s once original offering. As is so often the case, the only matter remaining appears to be intimately related to cost. Seeing as OWC’s entries tend to be somewhat more expensive than the competition, it seems that Mach Xtreme may have an eminent advantage in this area. With small form factor SSDs being rather pricey compared to their full sized counterparts, it could be that dollar amounts end up being the basic factor when it comes to buying decisions. I’m sure we’ll get a clearer picture once the MX-KATANA hits the market en masse.
One final element to consider is Asus’ Zenbook, which does its best to emulate the internal layout of the MacBook Air. It’s true, Asus’ look alike even uses a similarly shaped SSD that appears to be interchangeable with what’s inside Apple’s archetype. This circumstance effectively creates the potential for a new market segment, especially if other manufacturers follow Asus’ lead and deliver similar notebook designs. Actually, it’s probably reasonable to expect additional SSD firms to realize Apple is no longer the only game in town, especially if the once proprietary form factor finds its way into more and more Ultrabooks. As such, Mach Xtreme’s new product may prove to be a precursor to the proliferation of what was originally considered an uncommon SSD strain. In any case, this scenario probably won’t have much of an impact on the vast majority of consumers, even if it is a bit like reinventing the wheel.
Overall, it seems that Mach Xtreme may have a real winner on its hands with the MX-KATANA. By delivering performance on par with the only other alternative available at the moment, they’ve just given consumers another option when it comes to upgrading the SSD on their Apple and Asus Ultrabooks. With any luck, the MX-KATANA will be the benefactor of aggressive pricing, serving to catalyze competition in this relatively empty market. If Mach Xtreme plays their cards right, their new weapon could end up ‘cutting’ into the industry more deeply than anyone expected.
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