When we previously reviewed Kingston’s HyperX SSD, we found it to be a premium model, offering not only the best performance we had seen from a SF-2281 powered SSD but also one of the best track records in regards to stability. Even several months later we consider the HyperX to be one of the finest SandForce powered-SSDs on both counts, with only the more recent SandForce powered Intel 520 Series able to provide any real challenge on that front.
Given its success with the HyperX brand of SSDs, it should be no surprise that Kingston is launching a new model in the family, the HyperX 3K. The 3K isn’t some marketing slogan, instead it stands for one single thing, 3,000 program/erase cycles. That is the rating of the NAND it contains. By comparison the NAND contained in the flagship HyperX is rated for 5,000 program/erase cycles.
“It has incredible sequential read/write throughputs of 555/510MB/s and max random R/W IOPS of 85k/74k. HyperX 3K SSD features SandForce DuraClass technology to provide best in class endurance, and to to maximize life span and durability under the most intensive environments.”
Obviously, performance hasn’t been impacted in the slightest; the only real change is the use of NAND rated for lower P/E cycles. Of course such NAND is also significantly cheaper and will secure the HyperX 3K as the more affordable performance SSD offering in the HyperX family. The 120GB model is expected to retail for $170, although street prices will likely slot in lower given the original HyperX 120GB can be found for $190, a far cry from the original $270 launch price last August.
So just how does the shorter P/E rating of the NAND translate into SSD lifespan? Let’s take a 120GB SSD, and assume an unusually high 12GB of writes a day are placed on the SSD. Assuming a data storage HDD is used, most enthusiasts shouldn’t even come close to 12GB of writes per day on a system. Now for simplicity we’re going to assume a flat 10x write amplification number, but in reality this value will also tend to average significantly lower. (For the more technically curious, the specific controller utilized will have the largest impact on the write amplification number.)
120GB capacity * 3,000 P/E cycles = 360,000
12GB writes per day * 10x write amplification = 120GB writes (at the NAND level) per day.
360,000 divided by 120GB of writes gives us exactly 3,000. (Remember that the P/E rating is an average number applied to each NAND cell.) Since the P/E rating is also 3,000, this means we will use up one full P/E cycle across the entire SSD per day. And yes, we are going to also pretend the spare area present on all SSDs doesn’t exist, again for simplicity’s sake.
So the end result is, 1 cycle a day for 3,000 days… that’s slightly over eight years before we exhaust all P/E cycles available. Suffice to say, it is far more likely a power supply failure, a surge from the power grid, or some sort of other accident will occur and kill the drive long before the NAND inside it wears out. Or given the average enthusiast’s upgrade frequency, the drive would get replaced at some point first, regardless.
In the end, the consumer gets to trade several years of NAND life for a much lower upfront cost, and this may prove to be a welcome trade off to many. Most people wouldn’t plan to be using the same SSD 13 years from now anyway, assuming whatever interface computers use at that time period would even be compatible!
Kingston will be launching the HyperX 3K SSDs in 90, 120, 240, and 480GB capacities as both stand-alone drives and in upgrade bundles. Kingston will also make it easy to distinguish between the drive models by changing part of the SSD housing from a vibrant blue to a sharp black for the 3K models. And just as with the original HyperX family, the HyperX 3K will receive the same three year warranty.