Cavalry Pelican 2.5 in 32GB Solid State Drive Review

ccokeman - 2008-10-29 15:40:09 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: January 4, 2009
Price: $135

Introduction:

Solid state hard drives are the next big thing when it comes to hard drive technology. Without moving parts these drives are the perfect candidates for installation into laptops, as well as being used for portable storage. There is  also the benefit in increased battery life since there are no parts to power up and move. While 32 gigabytes does not seem like much space in this world of one terabyte and larger drives, the Cavalry Pelican should offer up plenty of space for the business user that is storing documents and Power Point presentations. So what exactly is an SSD (Solid State Drive)? It is a flash memory based hard drive that can be made up using one of two designs.  MLC, or multi level cell, or SLC, single level cell. The difference is that the MLC contains two bits per memory cell versus a single bit in the SLC design. Since flash memory wears out over time, the life cycle of the cells is dependent on the drive controller to evenly distribute the write cycles to the individual cells. The MLC design is the less expensive design and should last from 1000 to 10,000 write cycles, where the SLC design using only one bit per cell may be as high as 100,000 cycles. The MLC design has made the transition to consumer level products happen quicker because of the lower cost of entry and large capacities. Making drives such as this one available at a price point that is more attractive and in the less than $100 range.

The Cavalry Pelican 2.5 in SATA II/USB 2.0 32GB SSD is available in both a 32GB and 64GB sizes, as well as both the MLC and SLC designs. This drive is the 32GB MLC design that uses a SATA II or USB 2.0 interface. The drive features a seek time of .1ms, 0db on the noise front and a Mean Time Before Failure of 1,350,000 hours, sequential reads of 80MB/s, sequential writes of 60MB/s and resistant to 20G's worth of vibration. Lets see just how close this drive comes to meeting its specifications.

Closer Look:

The Cavalry Pelican drive comes in a standard retail clamshell. Contents include the Pelican drive and marketing materials. The front view shows the drive, the connectivity options, that the drive can be used in both a Mac and a PC, and carries a one year warranty. Kind of strange when the listed MTBF is closer to 150 years. The rear view gives the specifications in detail.

 

 

 

 

The Pelican drive is a small 2.5 in form factor and can be used in both notebooks and desktops alike. The top view shows the drive with the decal showing the size of the drive prominently (32GB), as well as the model number and the operating systems it can be used with. The back side shows no useful information. The bottom has four mounting holes. The sides contain mounting holes and screws that can be removed to open the drive if you so choose. The end of the drive features the connectivity options. To run this drive as a USB drive all you need to do is connect your USB cable and start transferring data. To use it as a hard drive in a computer, be it laptop or desktop, you will need to connect to the SATA interface and supply power to the drive via the SATA power connection.

 

 

 

Now lets see what the Cavalry Pelican SSD offers in the way of performance in our desktop test system.

 

Specifications:

 

Interface Type
USB 2.0, SATA II
Capacity
32 Gigabytes
Sequential Read:
80 MB/s
Sequential Write:
60MB/s
Random Read:
50 MB/s
Random Write:
12 MB/s
MTBF:
1,350,000 hours
Power Consumption:
390 mA active 300 mA idle
Temperature:
Storage -40C to 85C
Operating 0C to 70C
Humidity:
95% under 55C
Mechanical:
Shock: 1500/0.5ms
Vibration : 20G/20-2000Hz
Acoustic:
0dB
Seek Time:
0.1ms
Operating systems:
Windows 98/2000/XP/Vista
Mac OS9 or later and Linux

 

Testing:

To test the capabilities of the Cavalry Pelican 32GB SSD I will use several benchmarks to test the performance of the drive. I will use SiSoft Sandra 2009 using the file system and physical disk benchmarks. I will use HDTune 2.55 to gauge performance and compare the results of the comparison drives. Since the Cavalry solid state drive has both a USB 2.0 and SATA II connectivity I will test with both connections.

 

 

Comparison Hard Drives:

 

Benchmarks:

  1. HDTune 2.55
  2. SISoft Sandra 2009

 

Testing:

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Lower is Better

 

 

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.

 

File System

 

Physical Disks

 

 

As a portable storage drive the Cavalry Pelican performs at a level much lower than it does when used with the SATA II interface. The access time is on par with that displayed by the Intel SSD. In HDTune the Cavalry performs slightly better in the average read test than the standard hard disk drives, but falls incredibly short when compared to the Intel device. The Sandra testing shows the Pelican to perform better than the standard hard disk drives in three out of four tests.

Conclusion:

The Cavalry Pelican 32GB SSD performed well in comparison to the rest of the hard drives tested. While the drive does not have the burst speed of the standard drives, the average read is a bit higher than that of all the drives, save the Intel SSD. In the Sandra testing, the Cavalry Pelican out shined the rest of the drives save the Intel SSD, again. The access times of less than 1ms help the drive to overcome its slower burst rate. As a system drive, the 32GB size is a little small for use as a single drive. But put two of them together in a RAID 0 array and you are a little bit closer to being in the ballpark. For use in a business application where the amount of items that can be installed is strictly regulated by the IT department, this size should work out just fine. Considering my work computer contains a 40GB HDD and it is far from full, it should work out just fine. When testing with the USB connection, the USB port provided enough power for the drive. This means you could used this as a portable hard drive in an enclosure, albeit an expensive flash drive. The Cavalry Pelican 32GB SSD is a viable option if you are looking to increase the battery life of your laptop.  It also performs at a level close to that (sometimes better) of a standard hard drive with access times that are blazing quick. As the pricing for solid state drives continues to fall, as well as the technology allows for increasing sizes, look for more people to embrace this technology.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: