Patriot Wildfire 120GB Reviewccokeman - July 11, 2011
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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As Patriot's first SATA 6Gb/s drive, the Wildfire looks to follow the strong performance by last year's Inferno and TorqX 2 drives. Equipped with the latest controller from Sandforce, the Patriot Wildfire series of SATA III drives looks poised to make a run for the title of fastest drive on the market. On paper, the Wildfire features specifications that include sequential read speeds up to 555MB/s and writes of up to 520MB/s with IOPs performance of up to 85,000. These are numbers it took multiple drives in a RAID array to deliver just last year. The Wildfire will be released in drive capacities of 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB to enable end users to purchase this level of performance in a capacity that fits their budget. Pricing is currently $279 at etailers (for the 120GB version), so this performance comes with a price tag that should drop as more manufacturers step into the arena. If past performance is an indicator, then this drive should prove as succesful as Patriot's prior high performance offerings. Let's see if it is indeed the fastest single drive on the market.
The Patriot Wildfire 120GB drive we have is a sample that was shipped before the final graphic was ready for shipment. Even so, this is a retail drive, just without the stickers on the front or packaging. The drive housing is made from aluminum instead of a plastic/aluminum hybrid design. The front is where the Patriot logo and Wildfire naming will be located, while the back side of the drive has a label that carries the Patriot logo, model number (PW120GS25SSDR), form factor (2.5"), and the firmware revision of 3.1.9. Inside, the PCB is free-floating without screws to hold it in place — the clamshell design of the drive keeps the PCB securely in place. The aluminum body should not provide any surprises if you decide to use this drive in your laptop. Mounting bosses are standard for the 2.5 inch form factor with mounting points on the side and bottom of the enclosure.
The PCB has a total of sixteen 32nm Toshiba MLC NAND modules of 8GB apiece for a total capacity of 128GB. There are eight modules per side. 8GB of this space is used for over-provisioning, wear leveling, and replacement of defective cells. You will notice that there is no DRAM module for caching data to add any latency. The Patriot Wildfire is connected to the system via a SATA 6Gb/s data port and SATA power port mounted on the edge of the PCB.
The Patriot Wildfire comes out of the gate with the client class Sandforce 2281 8-channel controller that supports SATA 6Gb/s connectivity, has Trim support depending on the operating system, is equipped with Duraclass technology for improved security with AES encryption, Durawrite that optimizes writes to the NAND for improved performance and reliability, and RAISE for improved error correction. The MLC NAND used on the Patriot Wildfire is Toshiba's 32nm toggle mode flash in an 8GB package that is rated for 133 megatransfers/second (MT/s).
The first drive I tested with Sandforce's SF-2281 controller was a beast and just blew the doors off of drives with aging controllers. The Wildfire looks to be even faster with the use of 32nm toggle mode flash instead of lower cost 25nm MLC NAND.