Crucial is well known amongst Mac aficionados for its memory upgrades. But lately, following the company’s purchase by Micron, Crucial has been branching out, developing new technology beyond RAM. The fruits of that development are about to pay off as Crucial earlier this week launched its new RealSSD C300 solid-state drive.
Jim Jardine, Senior Product Manager at Crucial, doesn’t mince his words when it comes to the the new drive. He says, “It’s the fastest hard drive in the world.” With a 6GBps SATA interface and a read speed of 355MBps, the C300 should offer a substantial boost over the typical MacBook Pro hard drive. “It’s like having a computer upgrade” says Jardine. “It’s noticeably faster”.
“We have our own NAND firmware team,” says Jardine. Crucial used a combination of Micron MLC NAND and a Marvell controller inside the C300, and Jardine claims, “we influenced it so far along” that it is effectively a custom build.
With up to 256GB of capacity, it’s clear that SSDs are no longer the smaller cousins of hard drives. There is also a 128GB version if you’re looking for a slightly cheaper option; this has a slightly slower read speed (although the write speed remains the same).
Both the 128GB and 256GB hard drives come in a 2.5-inch and 1.8-inch form factor. The 2.5-inch unit will fit into MacBook and MacBook Pro models (and an Xserve with SSD). However, Jardine couldn’t confirm if the 1.8-inch model will work with a MacBook Air (which uses a 1.8-inch slot).
The lifespan of SSDs is something of a concern for many potential owners (early SSD models had short lifespans of up to 10,000 reads). Crucial is quoting a 1,000,000 hour mean time between failure rate, which effectively means it should last longer than the laptop itself. “The message we’re trying to get across is that you can use this for an ungodly number of hours” says Jardine “and it should outlast a physical drive with a spindle. And even if it does break you’ll still be able to read the data from it, unlike physical media”.
Crucial is also selling a Data Transfer Kit alongside the C300. This consists of a Cable and Apricorn cloning software. The idea is that you connect the C300 to your Mac’s USB drive and launch the Apricorn software. This clones your current hard drive to the new C300 SSD drive so your Mac will be up and running as soon as you start up.
Price is a sticking point. At $800 for the 256GB C300 SSD, the unit isn’t exactly a cheap upgrade. But if it offers the kind of performance upgrade Crucial is boasting, it could be worth it for power users. Crucial also offers a smaller 128GB model for $600.
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