Sony-Asia this month introduced its first own-brand solid-state drives that it will sell in retail. The decision to start selling consumer SSDs is completely unexpected because Sony has been trying to focus solely on highly profitable and less competitive businesses in the recent years, whereas the competition in the market of consumer storage is fierce. Initially, the company will sell only two SSD models, which means that it is trying to test a new business rather than to become a leader on the market.

Sony’s SLW-M SSDs come in 2.5-inch/7 mm form-factor (a special bracket to install the drives into 9.5-mm bays is included) and feature 240 GB (SLW-MG2) or 480 GB (SLW-MG4) capacities. The drives use SATA-6 Gbps interface and hence Sony can address the vast majority of desktop and laptop PCs with its first-gen SSDs. According to Sony, the SLW-M solid-state drives feature up to 560 MB/s sequential write speed and up to 530 MB/s sequential write speed. Each drives comes equipped with the Acronis True image 2015 and Sony SSD ToolBox software for managing and saving your data.

The Sony SLW-M SSDs are based on the Phison PS3110-S10 controller as well as Toshiba’s TLC flash memory, according to images published by web-site. The SLW-MG2 solid-state drive from Sony features 128 MB DDR3 buffer made by Nanya. Usage of TLC NAND indicates that Sony’s SLW-M are entry-level client solid-state solutions that do not cost a lot to make and are not supposed to be expensive, and based on the specifications listed it's a reasonable guess that performance will be near the similarly-built low-end OCZ Trion 100 series.

Meanwhile with the Sony drives it's worth noting that Phison not only sells controller chips to makers of SSDs, but actual turnkey solutions, which include ASICs, firmware, reference designs of solid-state drives, software, and so on, and this appears to be what Sony is doing. The PCB design of Sony’s SLW-M resembles that of Kingston’s HyperX Savage, Corsair’s Neutron XT and Patriot’s Ignite, while Sony's SSD ToolBox is rebranded Phison ToolBox.

Many new SSD suppliers acquire Phison’s turnkey solutions in order to produce own drives and find out whether they can successfully sell such products to their customers via their sales channels. For example, Zotac last year introduced its first SSDs powered by Phison’s PS3110-S10 controllers and Toshiba’s MLC NAND flash memory.

Sony’s SSD plans are not completely clear. At present, the company only sells its solid-state drives in select Asian markets and it is unknown whether Sony has plans to offer similar products in the U.S. or Europe. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that the company, which has been withdrawing from commoditized markets for years, is trying to sell its own SSDs. Nowadays solid-state drives are not as cheap as HDDs, but in the entry level the competition is fierce and margins are low.

Source: Sony

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  • Ian Cutress - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Should be fixed now!
  • Gunbuster - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Why? Do they have excess production lines sitting around and thought this would be a good experiment? Or are they going the ODM route and sending the Sony logo off to a random Chinese factory to churn out some prefab units? Could of at least jazzed up the packaging a little...
  • nathanddrews - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Sony branding is still worth something to some people. I don't dislike their products.
  • Billy Tallis - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    They're Phison drives, so it's almost certainly just a custom case around the same PCB that can be had from many other brands. Phison has made the barrier to entry almost too low; anybody with a solid brand can start selling Phison drives and be guaranteed at least a few sales from loyal customers, even if there's nothing to differentiate the product other than the logo and some intangible feelings about the probability of good customer support.
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - link

    Even the chassis design is identical to other Phison-based drives. It's a design unique to Phison, so I'm pretty sure it's Phison who's printing the Sony logo on these drives.
  • AlexFeren - Friday, February 12, 2016 - link

    Perhaps some cross-licensing deal - likely, Phison wanted something from Sony.
  • Denithor - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    My guess is that these will be targeted toward PS4 use, the premise being to reduce game loading times or similar. They will silkscreen on the PS logo below Sony and charge 2x the going rate.
  • bill.rookard - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Rootkit pre-installed? Lol.
  • Wolfpup - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    Eh? That's Lenovo that's got the (multiple as it turns out, evne Firmware based) rootkits.
  • Samus - Monday, February 8, 2016 - link

    He is right, Sony was behind the first mainstream distributed rootkit in the form of DRM.

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