We’ve heard some concerns about the speed of the 16GB Voyager GT and Survivor GT flash drives. As you may be aware, our “GT” line is our premium product line with a guaranteed speed boost over standard flash drives. Previous products in this line were made with SLC, or “Single-Level Cell” NAND flash chips. These chips are more expensive to produce but tend to be a bit faster. Last year, the fastest ICs in the market were made by Samsung. All our previous GT products have been based on Samsung SLC chips for optimum performance.
When Samsung transitioned to 50nm technology near the end of last year, they shifted their manufacturing emphasis from SLC to MLC. MLC allows the flash manufacturer to pack more density in a smaller space. As a result, the SLC uses a lot more die area and ends up costing 2X as much to manufacture as MLC for the same density. Samsung could not afford to continue selling SLC at MLC prices. So they drastically reduced supplies of SLC, which drove up the cost of SLC to 2X that of MLC, and caused severe SLC flash shortages. In addition, when Samsung transitioned the existing SLC products to 50nm, the resulting parts were substantially slower than previous generation SLC parts had been.
Because of the above issues, Corsair made the decision to discontinue the existing GT product line. However, there was still demand for a higher capacity, reliably “fast” flash device among our customer base. So we tried to find a way to accommodate it. It is not possible to make a 16GB SLC based flash drive. The “standard” flash drive form factor of nearly every drive on the market is setup to accommodate two pieces of flash in a dual channel configuration. Samsung did not take advantage of the 50nm shrink to make a higher density SLC product. The largest SLC flash chip on the market continues to be 4GB. So the largest possible SLC based drive in a standard form factor continues to be 8GB.
There was no way to make a 16GB SLC drive, but the new generation of MLC parts are substantially faster than the previous generation. Further, the higher density allows the use of more die per package which in turn enables aggressive interleaving in addition to the dual channel configurations. All of this combines to make faster MLC devices possible. So Corsair set out to benchmark every available flash and controller configuration we could find.
The 16GB GT products are based on Samsung’s fastest MLC chips, and use the fastest controller we could get (currently from SMI). The speeds are 30-31 MB/s reads, and 16-17 MB/s writes. This is tested on HDBench with file sizes of 100MB on two platforms: A DFI Lanparty NF4 Ultra-D and an Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe, both tested under Windows XP SP2. The 16GB GT drives utilize dual channel technology as well as interleaving to incorporate the best performance possible from a 16GB drive. We are currently having problems sourcing the flash used in the 16GB GT. As a result, there is limited availability, but we will not substitute any other flash in this device. This is what the “GT” on this drive guarantees.
The GT line is the fastest drive on the market for its density. There isn’t a faster 16GB flash drive out there, to our knowledge. And if we can make it faster, we will. Corsair is always striving to make the best products possible for our customers, and we know that without enthusiasts we wouldn’t exist. The Voyager GT and Survivor GT are enthusiast products, they outperform the competition in both speed and durability. We hope this clears up any confusion there might have been.
Our intent was to build the fastest 16GB flash drive possible, and offer it to our customers who were very eager for exactly that. We apologize that we did not communicate this clearly enough. If you feel you were misled, and are unhappy with your 16GB GT drive, please contact our customer service department to return the device, and we will refund you the amount that you paid.
This offer applies only to those who purchased 16GB Voyager GT or Survivor GT drives before March 31st, 2008.
Thanks, and have a good day.