SanDisk's Ultra II SSD offers prices as low as 44 cents per gigabyte

Max capacity rises from 256GB to 960GB

SanDisk today announced its latest consumer-class solid-state drive (SSD), the SanDisk Ultra II, which comes with the company's lowest price point to date for a flash drive.

While SanDisk's media presentations and statement on the drive focus on the SSD's improved performance and a new dashboard tool for monitoring performance and SSD health, what stands out the most is the price point: as little as 44 cents per gigabyte of capacity.

The SanDisk Ultra II SSD

The Ultra II follows the Ultra Plus, but the Ultra II is SanDisk's first triple-level cell (TLC) NAND flash-based client SSD aimed at delivering high performance and reliability to the mainstream consumer. Triple-level cell flash simply means the three bits of data is stored per memory cell versus two bits with multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash.

Because TLC flash stores data more densely than MLC, it can achieve a lower price point.

The Ultra II is the follow-up to the SanDisk Ultra Plus SSD released early last year. At the time of its announcement, the Ultra Plus SSD came in capacities from 64GB ($75 retail price) to 256GB ($210 retail price).

The new Ultra II SSD comes in 120GB ($80), 240GB ($115), 480GB ($220), and 960GB ($430).

While the price point on the Ultra II SSD dropped dramatically, performance increased. The new SSD is up to 55MBps faster than its predecessor for writes and 20MBps for reads.

SanDisk Ultra II's read/write performance (Image: SanDisk).

The SanDisk Ultra II has a maximum sequential read/write speed of 550MBps and 500MBps, respectively. The SSD's random read/write performance tops out at 99,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) and 83,000 IOPS, respectively.

By comparison, Samsung's TLC consumer SSD, the 840 EVO, retails for as little as $469 for a 1TB model. Samsung's 840 EVO SSD read/write performance tops out at 540MB/s and 520MB/s, respectively.

As with other consumer-grade SSDs, SanDisk's new drive is designed and being marketed to deliver a cost-effective and upgrade for desktop and laptop users who want to increase performance, battery life and power efficiency.

For example, SanDisk claims the Ultra II SSD can increase laptop battery life by 15% over a system that uses a hard disk drive.

Like SanDisk's higher-end SSDs, the new SanDisk Ultra II comes with SanDisk's nCache Pro firmware, a write cache technology that reduces SSD wear by assembling data to be stored in the most efficient manner prior to being written to the NAND flash.

The SSD also comes with an enhanced SSD Dashboard that offers users visibility into the drive's performance, security and available firmware updates.

"We live in an era where we expect to have information at our fingertips anytime, anywhere, with technology that keeps us connected to both our personal and work lives on devices that won't fail," Dinesh Bahal, vice president of retail product marketing at SanDisk, said in a statement. "The new SanDisk Ultra II SSD, together with the improved SSD Dashboard, provides consumers with an easy, affordable way to ensure that their PC can keep pace with their increasingly connected, information-driven lifestyle."

Read more about ssd in Computerworld's SSD Topic Center.

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