Solidigm P44 Pro in the test: One of the fastest PCI Express SSDs
Some may ask: Who is Solidigm? As you may have noticed, Intel has sold its flash business to South Korean storage giant SK Hynix. Intel SSDs are now Solidigm SSDs and as far as we can tell SK Hynix is not changing anything, not even the employees, as all known former Intel SSD employees have now become Solidigm SSD employees. Up until now, we assumed that Solidigm would function primarily as SK Hynix’s business arm, as Intel’s roots are deep in these market segments. Today’s test object proves the opposite, because it is a pure SK Hynix SSD. In fact, this SSD under the Solidigm label corresponds in hardware terms to an SK Hynix Platinum P41 built by SK Hynix. What’s it all about? Seems somehow superfluous, but such a rebranding is often found among SSDs. Well, maybe not considering the P44 Pro is technically a client SSD intended for installation in a wide range of OEM PCs and also happens to be available in retail stores.
Solidigm P44 Pro: Technically identical to the SK Hynix Platinum P41
So what exactly is the difference between an SK Hynix Platinum P41 and the Solidigm P44 Pro? Very simple: the P44 Pro can be made faster thanks to newer firmware and its own Windows driver and is usually the cheaper option. While the Solidigm P44 Pro is literally the same SSD as the SK Hynix Platinum P41, it uses different firmware and, more importantly for performance, is fully compatible with Solidigm’s proprietary NVMe driver. Apart from that, the SK Hynix Platinum P41 is no longer on the market.
Solidigm’s Intel DNA shines through here, as it’s always been about performance that matters, and that’s exactly what Solidigm’s NVMe driver brings. Solidigm states that its proprietary NVMe driver offers up to 12 percent better random read performance than the Windows NVME driver. That’s the main reason the P44 Pro is said to be faster than the Platinum P41. Our comparisons between Windows and manufacturer drivers indicate a minimal increase in performance when everything is running at full potential, but which is hardly measurable and certainly not noticeable. That in advance.
On the hardware side, it ranks between other top SSDs, so it has the latest 176-layer TLC-NAND from SK Hynix and a proprietary controller with a dedicated DRAM cache. This also applies to other models from the top league, such as one Samsung SSD 990 Pro, WD Black SN850X or Corsair MP600 Pro XT – just to name a few top SSDs. Samsung and WD Black also have specially developed controllers. Corsair, Seagate or other brands rely on the Phison E18, which is in no way inferior to in-house developments. In fact, you can’t judge which PCI Express 4.0 controller is currently the best based on the minimal differences. For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that other manufacturers also offer a similarly powerful controller model, such as Innogrit or Silicon Motion.
The Solidigm P44 Pro has an MTBF of 1.6 million hours and an endurance rating of 1,200 TBW for the high-capacity model. It also offers AES 256-bit encryption and TCC Pyrite support. The P44 Pro comes with a 5-year warranty and comes with an MSRP of $79.99 (512GB), $129.99 (1TB) and $234.99 (2TB) appeared on the market. We tested the 1 TB variant.
Solidigm claims sequential read speeds of up to 7 GB/s and write speeds of 6.5 GB/s for the new SSD for all capacities, with the exception of the 512 GB write speed, which is specified at 4.7 GB/s. And all this with a maximum power consumption of only 5.3 W. Still, these are rather modest numbers when looking at the performance-oriented SSD space, as the Samsung 990 Pro was rated at 7.45 GB/s read and 6.9 GB/s write. But such up-to-date information, also from the manufacturer, is not meaningful. It should be said that Solidigm mentions in the press material that it has already measured higher transfer rates than the specified 7 GB/s. We have no idea why the 7.37 GB/s is not specified right away. Incidentally, we measured a maximum throughput of 7.38 GB/s. Now these values are doing well in marketing, so we now come to our practical test course.