MyDigitalSSD Introduction

The consumer SSD market is quite similar to the DRAM market. There are only a handful of NAND manufacturers (most of which make DRAM as well) but there are dozens, if not hundreds of SSD OEMs. Compared to DRAM there are obviously more components involved because on top of the NAND you'll also need a controller and possibly DRAM as well. Thanks to Marvell, Phison and especially SandForce you don't need a huge team of engineers to make an SSD because you can buy and license everything from third parties. Even manufacturing can be outsourced so basically what you're left with is distribution and marketing. That, of course, is if you choose the easiest route, which isn't necessarily the ideal option because there are already plenty of other companies using the exact same strategy.

MyDigitalSSD is one of the not-so-well-known SSD companies. They don't have a presence on NewEgg or many of the other major online stores, though you can find some of their products at Amazon. Since MyDigitalSSD doesn't have the resources it takes to build their own controller or firmware, they are left with using commercial controllers, SandForce and Phison in this case. Unlike many other SSD OEMs, MyDigitalSSD's aim is to provide something for everyone. Typically SSD OEMs, regardless of how big they are, only offer a few products that are almost without exception 2.5" SATA drives. MyDigitalSSD's approach is totally different as they offer SSDs ranging from standard 2.5" SATA drives to PATA SSDs and half-slim SATA SSDs. We don't often see such form factors used but there are laptops that rely on some of these uncommon SSD solutions. Of course if you're buying in volumes big enough (like Apple), then anyone will build you whatever you like; that makes finding upgrade parts difficult, so MyDigitalSSD is specifically targeting that market. 

MyDigitalSSD sent us their 256GB SATA 6Gbps mSATA SSDs in for reviewing. Complete specifications are in the table below:

  SMART BP3
Capacities (GB) 64, 128, 256 32, 64, 128, 256
NAND 25nm synchronous MLC (IMFT?) 24nm Toshiba Toggle-Mode MLC
Controller SandForce SF-2281 Phison PS3108-S8
Sequential Read 550MB/s 560MB/s
Sequential Write 530MB/s 470MB/s
4KB Random Read 35K IOPS 30K IOPS
4KB Random Write 86K IOPS 45K IOPS

MyDigitalSSD's SMART SSD is a standard SF-2281 based mSATA SSD and there are other OEMs such as Mushkin and ADATA offering similar products. What is more interesting (at least from a novelty standpoint) is the BP3 ("Bullet Proof 3"). It uses a new SATA 6Gbps controller from Phison, a company that's more known for their USB flash stick controllers. Our first encounter with Phison was with Crucial's v4 SSD, which wasn't very pleasant as the v4 was one of the slowest SSDs we have reviewed in years. As far as the specs go, the PS3108 seems to provide a much needed improvement to the random IO performance segment; we'll see how the PS3108 holds out in real world in just a second.

There aren't all that many commercially available mSATA SSDs because most are sold directly to OEMs, so most SSD manufacturers have chosen not to have a retail mSATA SSD lineup. MyDigitalSSD doesn't have presence at NewEgg or other major online resellers, but they do have their own store called MyDigitalDiscount which is also at Amazon. I took MyDigitalSSD prices from MyDigitalDiscount whereas the rest are from NewEgg:

Price Comparison (1/21/2013)
Capacity 60/64GB 120/128GB 240/256GB
MyDigitalSSD BP3 $65 $100 $180
MyDigitalSSD SMART $85 $140 $270
Crucial M4 mSATA $70 $115 $185
Mushkin Atlas $95 $110 $210
ADATA XPG SX300 $80 $125 $260

In terms of pricing, the BP3 is very appealing. It's easily the cheapest mSATA SSD that I could find and by a fairly large margin. The SMART, on the other hand, is one of the most expensive mSATA SSDs so MyDigitalSSD is clearly trying to position the BP3 at the low-end while offering the SMART for the high-end.

Meet the Drives
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  • nathanddrews - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    I have a JMicron-based G.SKILL FM-25S2S-64GB sitting around doing nothing. It has a USB port so I sometimes use it as a thumb drive. I am more than happy to donate it to the cause. Just tell me where to send it. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, January 26, 2013 - link

    I bet sending the drive to Finland will cost more than the drive itself ;-) Anand should have some older SSDs, so I'll ask if he could run some tests Reply
  • nathanddrews - Saturday, January 26, 2013 - link

    I just checked estimates from FedEx and UPS... You are not kidding! I thought it would cost about $25, not $125.

    Anand lives in southern USA, doesn't he? That should be very cheap. If he doesn't have one of these kickass drives, I'll send it to him. ;-)
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Saturday, January 26, 2013 - link

    Anand lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. He still has JMicron based drives (just asked him) and he'll run some tests once he finds one, so no need to send one :-) Reply
  • nathanddrews - Saturday, January 26, 2013 - link

    Cool, can't wait to see the results. Thanks, Kristian! Reply
  • Per Hansson - Thursday, January 31, 2013 - link

    That's nice Kristian!
    I'm looking forward to seeing those results :)
    Reply
  • Tjalve - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    Ive actually done some testing on performance consistency for my reviews over att Nordichardware.se
    http://www.nordichardware.se/SSD-Recensioner/svens...
    Theese tests are NOT done on a steady state drive though. But theese nuymbers give an indication on how I/O Latency are reflected i a real-world situation.
    AND the graphs include some crappy drives like the Verbatim SSD 128GB and the Teamgroup L2 128GB.
    I actually have steady state 4K Write perormance numbers (similiar to the ones here) on most drives aswell, but i havet published them just yet.
    Reply
  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Workstation laptops. Going mSATA for OS often leaves you two other spindles for large spinning storage, another SSD or a combo of both.

    Why? For Hyper-V devs or content creators.
    Reply
  • madmilk - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    Workstation laptops and DIY upgrading is quite a niche scenario. Most workstation owners (that is, businesses) would just build-to-order with the SSD, instead of risking downtime just to save a couple hundred bucks. Reply
  • critical_ - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I own a Dell M6700 with the ADATA SX300 mSATA SSD (256GB) and 3 Hitachi 7200RPM 2.5" 1TB drives in RAID5. While I'd like to think I'm the only person in the world with this configuration, that would be silliness on my part. :) Reply

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