SSD Reliability Study Shows SLC No Better than MLC

The first SSDs we had all used SLC or single level cell, holding 1 bit per cell. As SSDs grew more and more common and advanced,  different tech like MLC (multi-level cell) and TLC (triple-level cell) grew more common, with 2 and 3 bits per cell respectively. While consumers have mostly used MLC and TLC due to cost reasons, some, especially in the enterprise have stuck with SLC due to performance or reliability concerns. From a recent study though, it looks like the second factor really isn’t all that different between SLC and MLC.

According to the researchers from the University of Toronto and Google, over a 6 year period, SLC and MLC drives failed at about the same rate. This meant that despite a significantly lower durability to writes for MLC, it was still able to keep up with SLC. The biggest reason for failures was due to the age of the SSD and not the number of writes. This is somewhat expected as many SSD durability experiments have shown, that controller, firmware, NAND defect or other failures are more likely to take place before the NAND actually dies from too many writes.

The study also found that Uncorrectable Bit Error Rate specifications weren’t useful at all while Raw Bit Error Rate was, though the manufacturers were too conservative with their estimates. The biggest concern is that 30-80 percent of SSDs develop at least one bad block and 2-7 percent develop at least one bad chip in the first four years of deployment. This means while SSDs are unlikely to lose all their data at once like HDD failure does, they do tend to lose snippets of data here and there.

All this being said and done, most SSDs should be able to recover data from bad blocks and have enough spare that it doesn’t matter too much. The study was also done with enterprise drives which are used more often and hit harder. One big takeaway is that unless you want speed MLC is the way to go. The biggest takeaway is that instead of worrying about writes to your SSD, worry more about its age and keep a good backup plan going.

Transcend Introduces Full SLC SSD Lineup

Transcend revealed their SSD570 almost three months ago and now they’re ready with the full lineup surrounding the SSD570 SLC SSD and with most current form factors. SLC NAND has quite a few advantages over MLC and TLC NAND, but it also comes at a higher price and with less capacity. MLC NAND is used in mainstream and enthusiast drives while TLC NAND is used in the newer budget oriented drives for three times the capacity per chip used over SLC.

But Transcend’s new lineup is full of SLC drives that have the superior performance and reliability. There are normal 2.5-inch slim SSD drives and half sized case-less drives as well as mSATA and M.2 of various sizes. The 2.5-inch, half-slim, and mSATA versions come as both SATA3 and SATA2 drives while the M.2 come in two different lengths, 42 and 80 mm, but both SATA3 models and the default 22mm wide.

SLC NAND has a higher durability than MLC that is found in most consumer products and SLC can withstand up to 50,000 program and erase cycles at the same time as it can perform with up to three times the speed of MLC flash. On top of that comes a lower power consumption and error rates, making these perfect for mission critical applications.

The drives feature all the normal features such as S.M.A.R.T. function to monitor the drives health status, but they also feature more advanced features such as DevSleep. DevSleep is the newest power saving feature that sets the drive into the lowest possible power state. Transcend also added error correction code (ECC) and wear-leveling algorithms to these SLC SSDs. The final feature is necessary when we’re talking mission critical data, and that is the Power Shield function that ensures data integrity in the event of a sudden power loss.

The new line contains the SATA3 SSD570K and SATA2 SSD520 2.5-inch drives, the HSD570 SATA3 and SSD25H-S SATA2 half-slim SSDs. The SATA 2 and SATA3 mSATA SSDs are called MSA520 and MSA570 respectively while the M.2 drives are called MTS870 and MTS470.

Transcend Develops SuperMLC NAND Technology

Here I sat thinking that I knew all the terms for the different NAND technologies and then Transcend comes along with a new one that they have called SuperMLC. SuperMLC was developed as a more cost effective solution to SLC NAND with a performance that comes very close. In fact, the write performance is up to four times better than traditional MLC-based products.

Okay, I have to be honest right away and say that this technically isn’t a new form of NAND, we’re still dealing with Multi-Level Cell NAND chips. The difference comes down to how this NAND is handled by the SSD controller and its firmware. By using high-quality NAND chips and reprogramming the firmware, Transcend essentially created a cell-based RAID setup where the same data is stored in both bits in the same cell instead of having different data stored in the two. This naturally decreases the available capacity per NAND chip by half, but it also allows the drives to deliver a much better performance. In fact, the new SuperMLC has up to four times the sequential write performance when compared with traditional MLC NAND. It also brings better lifetime expectancy with up to 30,000 P/E cycles.

Transcend will release new drives based on this technology in early 2016 and they are all aimed at the enterprise sector where both initial costs and total costs of ownership really matters. That doesn’t mean that you can’t purchase these drives and use them in your personal setup, if that is something you are considering. Among the upcoming products with this brand new SuperMLC technology are a 2.5-inch SSD (SSD510K), an mSATA SSD (MSA510), a half-slim SSD (HSD510), and two M.2 SSD models. (MTS460 & MTS860).

What do you think of this way to utilize the NAND chips? Would this be an option you would be interested in, or do you prefer the normal MLC NAND for capacity or SLC NAND-based products for their reliability and performance? Let us know in the comments.

ADATA Launches the ICFS332 CFast Card with SLC and 560MB/s Throughput

Industrial grade products gain their name because they are able to work in much harsher environments than ordinary parts and that is no different when it comes to storage. AData just released a new ICFS332 industrial grade CFast card for that delivers SSD performance and reliability in a very compact form factor.

The ICFS332 CFast card utilizes the SATA3 interface to deliver speeds up to 560MB/s while reading and impressive 400MB/s when writing. The ICFS332 uses SLC NAND that also provides the best reliability, also visible in the 2 million hour mean time before failure rating.

As previously mentioned, industrial applications are run in environments that are a lot harsher, which isn’t a problem for the Adata ICFS332 CFast card that can operate in temperatures between minus 40 degrees and plus 90 degrees Celcius. The cards allow for long-term deployment in these conditions, making the optimal system drives here.

The AData ICFS332 is available in 4GB to 64GB capacities and employs a full range of technologies including ECC and S.M.A.R.T. for high-reliability data transfer and improved security, but also more advanced wear leveling technology to extend the longevity. They come with open API (application programming interface) support that allows customer implementation of intuitive interfaces to easily manage data, monitor storage health, customize features, and integrate web services.

Addonics Announces Complete Family of Industrial or Enterprise Grade SSDs

Addonics announced a new family of SSDs that support the CFast, mSATA and M2 form factors in both Industrial or Enterprise class grades. The difference between the two types is the type of NAND used. The Industrial class modules are built with SLC NAND where the Enterprise class modules are made with MLC NAND.

These new storage modules are all rated for operation in industrial temperatures ranging from minus 45 to plus 80 degrees Celcius. They are also some of the most reliable SSDs on the market, a thing that easily can be spotted in the TBW and MTBF ratings. For example, a 64GB SLC mSATA modules comes with a TBW rating of 3448 TB and the same module with MLC NAND has a TBW of 635TB for the 256GB model. All come with an MTBF of over 3 million hours.

Which type you pick is down to the operations they need to perform. MLC is more energy-efficient, has more capacity, and it is faster, but the SLC has more durability and a longer lifetime expectancy. Addonics new Industrial and Enterprise SSDs range from 4GB to 256GB capacity and Addonics also offers a full line of converters, readers, and duplicators for the most common SSD form factors.

Suggested retail prices of the Addonics Industrial grade mSATA Flash SSD is $325 for 32GB. The Enterprise class mSATA SSD starts at $54 for 32G. You can also check out the full details on the official new landing page for Addonics Flash media and SSDs: http://addonics.com/category/fm-ssd.php

Transcend Launches CFast 2.0 CFX700 Memory Cards

Transcend’s newest memory card may not be the largest with a capacity of just 16GB and 32GB, but it is definitely a fast one with transfer speeds of up to 530MB/s and the new Transcend CFX700 memory cards based on the new CFast 2.0 technology can be proud of that.

The new memory cards are built using SLC NAND and utilize the SATA3 interface, which is why they can perform as great as they do. The sequential read speed can reach up to 530 MB/s and the sequential write reaches 260 MB/s on the 32GB Transcend CFX700 memory card. The cards also come with a lot of features you normally find in SSDs, such as S.M.A.R.T., global wear leveling, built-in ECC functionality, and Device Sleep.

The new Transcend CFX700 series is designed for use in embedded systems where they can enhance the overall performance greatly. They are also designed to run in harsh environments and have a working temperature between  -5°C and 70°C. The memory cards provide superb performance here and would be optimal suited as a boot disk, making it a great alternative of a SSD in regards to its lower power consumption and higher portability while they still perform just as good.

Transcend’s CFast 2.0 CFX700 memory cards are available in 16GB and 32GB capacities and are backed by a three-year limited warranty. If you rather want a card with MLC NAND instead, Transcend already has that covered with the CFX600 memory cards.

 

Toshiba Introduces Q300 and Q300 Pro SSDs

Toshiba announced two new internal solid state drive series with large capacity and great performance. The two new drives are the Q300 series built for a balance of performance and value and the Q300 Pro series aimed at the enthusiasts and gamers. Both drives are built with Toshiba’s own controllers and NAND, and they use Adaptive Sized SLC cache technology to increase the performance.

The Toshiba Q300 series is built with Triple-Level-Cell (TLC) NAND and it uses the TC358790 controller. The Q300 comes with capacity options up to 960GB, making it an ideal upgrade from that old, slow, and loud mechanical hard drive. This SSD delivers quiet operation, low power consumption, and tough shock resistance for greater long-term durability. All in a 7mm 2.5-inch design and backed by a 3-year warranty.

The Toshiba Q300 Pro series is built for those that need that extra bit of performance. It has a Toshiba TC58NC1000 controller and Toshiba’s own 2-bit MLC NAND on the insides. That brings greater performance over the TLC NAND, but also a capacity reduction and the Q300 Pro is only available up to a size of 512GB.

The sequential performance is almost equal between the two drives. The Q300 can read with 550MB/s and write with 530MB/s while the Q300 Pro reads and writes with 550MB/s and 520MB/s. When we look at the random performance, we see that the drives aren’t so equal anymore. The Q300 has a random performance rating up to 87K/83K IOPS read/write where the Q300 Pro does 92K/63K IOPS.

The endurance rating is another place where the two differentiate. The 512GB Pro model has an endurance of 320TB total bytes written while the Q300 480GB drive only has a rating of 120TB total bytes written. That is a difference. The Pro model also consumes less power, making it a more optimal choice for notebook users. The last difference between the two is the warranty and the Q300 Pro offers an additional 2-years, making it 5-years in total for the Q300 Pro versus the 3-years for the Q300.

The new Toshiba Q300 and Q300 Pro series SSDs are available now. The MSRP for the Q300 Pro Series is $124.99 for 128GB, $199.99 for 256GB, and $389.99 for 512GB. The Q300 Series has an MSRP of $99.99 for 120GB, $159.99 for 240GB, $309.99 for 480GB, and $449.99 for 960GB.

Plextor Demonstrates M7V TLC SSD With SLC Mode at Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – The last drive displayed by Plextor was running on a test-bench to showcase the performance straight out. The new TLC based SSD with SLC mode is called the Plextor M7V and it is a perfect mixture of aesthetics and performance.

The live benchmark shows us some great performance figures from the SATA-based drive in CrystalDiskMark. Note the great 4KQ32 read results that easily is the double of what other drives perform. The 512K score is also higher than many other drives and easily adds 25-30% on top.

TDK Launches SDS1B Series SSDs

TDK is a company that I haven’t thought of in years, actually many years as I don’t think I’ve seen the name since the time of audio cassettes (MC), but they’re still around and still producing a lot of products in various regions of the electronic sectors. One of their newest products is a SATA III SSD built around their own in-house SSD controller, the SDS1B series of SSDs.

TDK developed their own controller for this drive, working from the base of their old controllers. The new GBDriver GS1 NAND flash controller features the recovery and refresh functions of the old controllers as well as a power interruption tolerance algorithm and integrated power supply protection circuit; it will work with both MLC and SLC NAND flash memory.

The new SSDs presented here come without a DRAM or other type of cache, meaning they will run slower than what we’re used to from consumer class drives. The new product can achieve read access speeds up to 440 MB/s and write access speeds up to 240 MB/s with MLC and up to 340 with SLC flash.

These drives are intended for embedded and industrial applications and reliability is more of an issue than the extra speed. Each feature and chip added to something is another part that can fail and stop the drive from functioning and by not adding a caching function, TDK eliminates one more of these.

TDK SDS1B features include global static wear leveling algorithm for the entire drive and improved power interruption tolerance with an internal power supply protection circuit to prevent collateral data errors. The auto-refresh function reads all data including little-used data and automatically performs error correction (ECC) when needed and TDK also added a function for specifying a data range and completely deleting all data in it. The drives feature AES 128/265-bit hardware encryption and also TDK’s proprietary security function that requires mutual authentication from both host and SSD. SMART and TRIM are also present as it should be on any drive.

TDK will demonstrate the drive at the Embedded Systems Expo (ESEC) to be held in Tokyo this week and the new products will be available from August 2015.

Super Talent Updates Capacity on the Popular CFast Pro to 256GB

Super Talent Technology announces its 256 GB CFast Pro Flash Media Card, a double up from the previous available capacity. These cards aren’t cheap, but they deliver the speeds needed for professional and high fps recording without delay or lag.

The CFast Pro is one of Super Talent’s highly popular flash media card solutions for consumer and commercial media storage. Previously, Super Talent only offered the CFast Pro up to 128 GB but now that capacity has increased to 256 GB. Users can now record even more data, photos, and longer movies at the highest quality settings.

Super Talent also provides a compatibility chart for these cards for those unsure if the CFast Pro cards will work with existing equipment. Those using high-end cameras from ARRI and Blackmagic Design can take full advantage of CFast cards available on the market today for their media needs.

Thanks to SuperTalent for providing us with this information

Super Talent Launches DuraDrive AT7 for in-Vehicle-Infotainment

Super Talent Technology announced its updated DuraDrive AT7 Solid State Drive built for approved automotive In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI) systems. While the drive is built for IVI systems, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be used other places. It just means that some aspects of the drive have been improved upon specifically to suit an automobile environment.

The DuraDrive AT7 can operate at temperatures from minus 40°C and up to plus 85°C with a humidity between 5% and 98%, withstand vibration up to 16G, and hold up to a 1500G shock impact. Other than that, it’s a pretty normal 2.5-inch SATA3 SSD that comes in capacities from 32GB and up to 1TB.

The details about the individual drives aren’t available yet and there are several varieties in the lineup as Super Talent uses both SLC and MLC NAND, but without specifying anything closer. The performance is rated up to 500 MB/s at reading, 400MB/s at writing, and the DuraDrive AT7 comes with a 1ms response time.

Thanks to SuperTalent for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of SuperTalent

 

Mach Xtreme MX-ES SLC 32GB Flash Drive Review

Introduction


Late last year I had a look at one of the latest flash drives to roll off the Mach Xtreme production line, featuring 16GB of SLC NAND within its slim read body and a suitably reasonable price tag to go along with it. Now, nearly a year on, I’m going to be taking a look at the 32GB SKU of the same MX-ES SLC drive that I looked at last year.

As a brief re-run over the history of Mach Xtreme, they are one of the leading storage manufacturers for flash products and over the last couple of years, they have been focussing on the MX-ES line of drives with its SLC NAND design.For a few people out there, SLC is common knowledge, but for those that do not know, this refers to the build up of the NAND flash, in this case with a Single Level Cell in instead of a Multi Level Cell design that we typically see in flash drives. Over the MLC design, SLC does not suffer from the same high wear rates and at the same time offers up a better write performance. The downside of this is that SLC NAND takes up a greater space over the much denser MLC and also the production costs are also higher.

As we’ve seen before, the MX-ES drive comes attached to a card with a plastic cover. The front side of the card is packed with information of the drive, including its five year warranty, SLC flash design and that it is ‘optimised’ for Asus motherboards – although the latter we showed to be inconclusive last time round with our testing.