Coming off of the heels of last week’s Flash Memory Summit, today a familiar entity is throwing its hat back into the ring for retail SSDs: SK Hynix. This morning the company is announcing a new line of SSDs, the SuperCore series, which will be sold directly at retail. Kicking off the family will be the Gold S31, a 2.5-inch SATA drive with capacities ranging from 250GB to 1TB.

At a high level, the retail SSD market has remained an odd hodge-podge of collection of vendors. Many first party NAND manufacturers, such as Samsung, Intel, and Toshiba, all produce their own drives in-house for the consumer market. And, for a time, this included SK Hynix as well, who produced and sold their Canvas series of drives. However, the drives were never officially released in North America, and while they can still be found on the grey market, SK Hynix’s retail ambitions have fallen by the wayside as they’ve remained more focused on selling raw NAND and OEM drives.

But after essentially being absent from the retail market for the last couple of years, SK Hynix is going to be re-entering it with some new consumer SSDs. Leading off SK Hynix’s revised consumer lineup is their Gold S31 SSD. This is a 2.5-inch SATA SSD, which is based on SK Hynix’s own NAND and SSD controller.

Unfortunately, SK Hynix isn’t going into a lot of detail about the drive here, so we don’t know which generation NAND and controller they’re using. However there’s a very good chance that this is a retail version of one of their recent OEM drives, as there’s little need to develop a new drive for the retail market, especially the already-overstuffed market for 2.5-inch SATA drives.

SK Hynix Gold S31 Specifications
Capacity 250 GB 500 GB 1 TB
Form Factors 2.5" 2.5" 2.5"
Controller SK Hynix "Quartz" (4th Gen SATA Controller)
Sequential Read 560 MB/s
Sequential Write 525 MB/s
Endurance 200 TBW 300 TBW 600 TBW
Warranty Five years
MSRP $49.99 $77.99 $123.99

What little we do know is that the drives will come in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities. And with the SATA interface bottlenecking performance, SK Hynix’s 560MB/sec read and 525MB/sec write speeds are right up there with pretty much every other major SATA SSD. Meanwhile, not listed in the company’s official press release but tucked into the retail listings, these confirm that the drives have DRAM, so the Gold S31 drives appear to be aimed at the mainstream market rather than the budget market and the DRAMless drives that are typically found there.

Moving down the spec list, the retail listings for the drive also confirm that the 1TB model is rated for 600 TB Written. Spreading this out over the drive’s 5-year warranty period, we end up with 0.3 drive writes per day, both of which are comparable to arch-rival Samsung’s EVO drives.

All told, while SK Hynix is reentering the retail market, they are still doing so in a fairly conservative manner. The company is starting things off by selling their drives exclusively in North America through Amazon, with plans to expand into Europe and widen their distribution network next year. The company has also mentioned that they’ll have a PCIe drive next year as well, though they aren’t offering any further information on that drive at this time.

Finally, taking a look at pricing, all 3 Gold S31 drives are already available on Amazon. With the 250GB drive starting at $50 and reaching $124 for the 1TB drive, SK Hynix has launched the drives at a small premium over other mainstream SATA drives. Ultimately, I suspect the company is looking to get some value for its brand name, but given just how competitive and oversaturated the SATA SSD market is, making a dent in the market without joining the race to the bottom in drive prices is going to be difficult task.

Source: SK Hynix

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  • Greg100 - Friday, August 16, 2019 - link

    I also checked prices of the 2TB drives:

    and WOW...

    SanDisk Ultra 3D 2TB, SATA
    € 187,90 (Mindfactory - Germany)

    Yes, this price include 19% VAT., does anyone still want to produce SSDs with a maximum capacity of only 1TB?


  • DyneCorp - Friday, August 16, 2019 - link

    If you knew anything about the current SSD market, you'd know the vast majority of consumers don't purchase 4TB SSDs. Choosing 4TB's is silly as a general metric.

    Choosing an insanely expensive Intel Optane SSD for an OS drive is reasonable? You can't be serious.
  • DyneCorp - Friday, August 16, 2019 - link

    U.2 is not good enough? What? Are you trolling? Or do you know nothing about U.2?
  • Xajel - Sunday, August 18, 2019 - link

    U.2 is just a a cabled M.2.. that's it.

    But the point with M.2/U.2 is the fact that at the motherboard level, you have to select 1x, 2x, 4 lanes for the port. OCuLink is more flexible on this regard, you can have a single 4x lane port, then split it with a cable to 4x 1xLanes ports for 4 drives of lower bandwidth, a PCIe 4.0 x1 lane can give you 2GB/s max. So that's a lot of bandwidth already.

    SATA became cheap because you still get good bandwidth for mechanic drives, while not so much with SSD's.
    A 1x lane PCIe 3.0 / 4.0 will give you 1~2GB/s bandwidth for mechanical drives and low cost SSD's, if you don't need 4x lanes SSD's you can also have 2x lanes or even 1x lanes depending on your needs.

    Technically also, you can have 8 drives by just two OCuLink ports on the motherboard by splitting each port to 4x 1x lanes, saving space on the motherboard and less cable management also, it's like using a mini SAS cable where you can get 4x SATA drives using a single port on the motherboard/controller.

    The point is, you don't need the full bandwidth of 4x lanes of PCIe 3 or even 4 for your drives, normally you'll have 2~3 drives with full bandwidth needed (OS, main data, and a third for other stuff like cache or so), the rest of drives anyone might have are almost like a storage devices where you don't need the full bandwidth. Usually even people with all SSD storage will just use the lowest priced SSD they can have here with good reliability.

    Ofcourse splitting the lanes of the port must be supported by the PCIe controller from the beginning, ie PCIe bifurcation like how the first x16 slot in a motherboard can be splitted to x8 + x8 to serve the second slot also.
  • urbanman2004 - Friday, August 16, 2019 - link

    At those prices it's a hard pass for me. I had just bought an ADATA 1TB 2.5-inch SSD the other day for $91 if that means anything.
  • MASSAMKULABOX - Wednesday, August 21, 2019 - link

    Sata SSD are pretty much good enough for 90% ? You can always sell people "faster" but who neds it? The big leap was going from HDD to SSD. IN the daatacentre however, faster is more money.
    You gotta wonder .. How long before we get an amazon Basics SSD..
    1tb for £80 ..

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