December 12, 2013, 2:13 AM — SSD technology remains a work in progress and you can see some of the changes coming next year. The 2.5-inch form factor that has dominated SSD is starting to give way to mSATA, which is a pluggable card. This allows them to fit into super thin form factors, like the MacBook Air and ultrabooks.
Up to now, mSATA drives have been 64GB and 128GB, but that looks to be changing. A leaked Intel roadmap obtained by the folks at Hot Hardware shows that Intel is planning on some very large capacity mSATA drives and high-end SSD drives for next year.
Next year, Intel looks to bring out three new drive families: the SSD Pro 2500 Series (codenamed "Temple Star"), the DC P3500 Series ("Pleasantdale") and the DC P3700 Series ("Fultondale"). Temple Star will replace current mSATA drives for ultrabooks and tablets. The will come with a new form factor that allows for more space on the board and can interface with PCIe, SATA, and USB 3.0-attached storage.
The DC P3700 will have capacity as high as 2TB in both 2.5-inch drive or PCI Express form factors, much higher than the 800GB max in the older DC S3500. Performance will also get a huge bump. The DC S3700 series offers 500MBps writes and 460MBps reads, while the DC P3700 will offer 2800MBps read and 1700MBps writes.
The big difference between Pleasantdale and Fultondale is that the DC P3700 families will use a new type of Intel memory, called High Endurance Technology (HET) MLC, while the DC P3500 family will use the traditional multilevel cell (MLC) design.
HET is Intel's method of improving the reliability and endurance of MLC chips. They can handle much more write activity and for a much longer period. HET was introduced with the DC S3700 last year and the 800GB drive had a projected life span of 200 years.
So this will be generation two of HET, but its first time on 20nm. Generation one of HET memory was on 25nm memory. Smaller nodes means you can cram more chips into a space, but it also, in theory, reduces life span. Given that most enterprise servers have a lifespan of three to five years, it's probably a safe bet that HET drives will last, but we'll see. In three to five years.
Samsung has its own next generation mSATA drives as well. It just announced the new 840 EVO mSATA line with drive capacities up to 1TB. The new 840 EVO drives also come in 120GB, 250GB, and 500GB capacities.
Samsung has not revealed prices, and won't until they ship later this month, but let the $1 per gigabyte rule for SSD be your guide. The current highest capacity drive on the market is the Mushkin Enhanced Atlas Series 480GB drive and that commands a $479 price tag.