Our visit with Marvell this week at Computex went as expected and we got a bit of an update on their Altaplus M.2 PCIe X4 controller, previously designated as the Altaplus and numbered 88SS9293. Timing right now for Marvell is great as Q4 is going to be a key point in time for M.2 X4 release. LSI expects that the SF3700 will be available around that time which most likely means CES 2014 before we realistically see it in the wild, but there are a few other wildcards such as that we reported on earlier by JMicron, as well as one other we reported on at FMS last year by Phison. An important point to consider is that we haven’t seen the JMicron or Phison controllers in use, and the LSI 3700 still needs to reduce heat to be utilized without the all to familiar heat sink we have seen in every public display. This is a key benefit to Marvell.
Up to this point, the only M.2 PCIe X4 controller that we have seen in use without the need for a heat sink, other than the now available Samsung XP941, is that of the Marvell Altaplus. Marvell is very happy with its progress pin pointing Q4 as a pertinent time period, however contractual obligations would never allow them to speak for the manufacturers that would be in possession of such. We might want to watch Micron/Crucial, Plextor and SanDisk.
Specifications here are very generic and we are aware that 1.4GB/s is an ideal performance point for this controller. As well, a top capacity of 512GB is quoted but there is no doubt that we will be seeing same in 1TB capacities not long after release. This SSD will be ideal for media professionals, especially those working with 4K files, and that 1TB capacity just might be a sweet spot.
Display testing of the Altaplus at Computex resulted in 1.3GB/s performance and this is what it will perform at in the demonstrator Sony Vaio ultrabook on display. We would hazard to guess this controller will even surpass the stated 1.4GB/s eventually. This shot below displays a well used Altaplus in the Sony Vaio.
If anything should be watched this year, it will be timing and the next release will be as important as the much sought after Samsung XP941. We have covered that SSD in several reports and, after our first published report, availability stopped for 3rd party distributors for some time. Only most recently were other reviewers able to acquire a sample and, something we hadn’t seen prior with Samsung is the fact that they have converted the sales direction of this drive to include retail. Only a few weeks ago the XP941 became available from Samsung at Amazon as a retail item, an important step as buyers now would see a Samsung warranty included with that sale we think.