I then tested the M4 using FutureMark's PCMark Vantage benchmark, which measures performance in 64-bit systems. In this venue, the M4 racked up a 28,668 result, which is nearly 50% higher than SSDs I've tested in the past.
The final series of tests were from ATTO Technology's Disk Benchmark, which measures a storage system's performance with various data packet transfer sizes and run lengths for reads and writes.
Typically, hard drives of any ilk will show a significant preference for reads over writes. This dates back to data handling for transactional databases, where it's more important to retrieve information and have it on the screen while talking to a customer than it is to write data back to the drive. Today, especially for mainstream drives, writes have increased in importance for video and graphic rendering and for music, video and image uploads.
According to the ATTO results, the M4 is more balanced in its read/write performance than the last generation of SSDs. There's still a read preference, but Crucial has done a better job of equalizing the performance between its read and write operations than I've seen in the past.
Finding its place
If you're looking to upgrade your drive or drive array, it's important to know that you're getting a better bang for the buck. I compared the M4's test results against those from last year's 256GB Western Digital Silicon Edge Blue SSD (representing the previous generation of SSDs) and found that the M4 is significantly faster.
At a Glance
Micron Technology Inc.
Price: 64GB ($130), 128GB ($250), 256 ($500)
Pros: Faster than previous generation; competitive pricing
Cons: More expensive than larger-capacity mechanical disk drives
As for its place among the current generation of SSDs, that's a bit more difficult to determine. SSDs within the same generation and price bracket as the M4 would probably only show incremental differences at best. It would be an important comparison if you needed absolute maximum performance, but generally, testing for this would be an intellectual exercise outside of that parameter.
Crucial's M4 has significantly increased the performance gap between it and the previous generation of SSDs. And by pushing write performance -- for video capture and editing, graphical imaging, etc. -- the M4 provides an economical option for disk-intensive environments.
Bill O'Brien has written a half-dozen books on computers and technology. He has also written articles on topics ranging from Apple computers, PCs and Linux to commentary on IT hardware decisions.