With SSDs seemingly advancing by leap and bounds everyday, it’s crucial for companies to be able to get their products out to market quickly. By being on the bleeding edge, companies can exploit process and controller advantages to increase their margin or lower prices. First unveiled and announced a little over 2 months ago, Plextor’s M6S Plus series of SSDs will finally reach market and become available for purchase.
As a 2016 update of the M6S, the M6S Plus uses the newer 15nm MLC Toggle NAND from Toshiba instead of the A19nm found in the M6S. This will help Plextor bring prices down and become more competitive. The drive continues Plextor’s relationship with the 4-channel Marvell 88SS9188 with custom firmware support for TrueSpeed, TrueProtect, PlexTurbo and PlexCompressor. The drives it boasts random access speeds of up to 90,000 IOPS reads and 80,000 IOPS writes, with sequential speeds of up to 520 MB/s read and 300 MB/s, 420 MB/s, and 440 MB/s writes depending on capacity.
Given the time it took to bring the M6S Plus to market, we can expect the M7V, announced a week ago, to drop sometime in May/June. That drive features the newer 4-channel Marvell 88SS1074B1 controller paired with 15nm TLC Toggle NAND from Toshiba. Interestingly, the M7V actually features higher write speeds despite being TLC. Perhaps this is due to an improved SLC caching mechanism. Lastly, the budget M6V with the SMI 2246EN controller and 15nm MLC has also popped up alongside the M6S Plus as well.
Today’s review is a special one for me as it is the first time I get to review a PNY SSD. I got the XLR8 CS2211 2.5-inch gaming branded SSD on the test bench today and it will be interesting to see how well it does. The PNY CS2211 SSD is available in three capacities from 240GB over 480GB to 960GB from which I’ll be testing the 240GB model today.
PNY is no stranger in the SSD market and they created some great drives in the past for all sectors of the market, but they’re probably most known for their graphics cards. But we aren’t here to talk about graphics cards, it is about storage today. PNY has taken what they have learned from their previous drives and created the XLR8 branded CS2211 drive, and it shows in the performance ratings.
The drive is rated for a sequential performance of up to 565 MB/s reading and 540MB/s writing, which is about as good as it gets on the SATA3 interface. The random input-output performance is equally impressive with 95K IOPS ratings for both reading and writing. Those are at least the ratings for the larger models and the small 240GB version can’t keep fully up with that. It still comes with impressive ratings despite being a little slower ,with an 87K IOPS rating and a drop in sequential writes to 470MB/s.
It is no surprise that the drive has such good ratings as it is built with only the best components. It utilizes 15nm Toshiba MLC NAND and a Phison PS3110-S10 controller aided by 256MB DDR3 cache package
PNY gave the CS2211 the XLR8 styling as a gaming product, but the design has been toned down a bit in comparison to the previous XLR8 drive design. It is a beautiful design that makes the drive stand out and also makes in an optimal candidate for systems that proudly shows what components they are made off.
There are a lot of products that get a ‘gaming’ label in order to appeal to that market segment, but the CS2211 does deserve this label. It is a perfect gaming drive thanks to its high IOPS performance on top of the high sequential performance. You’ll copy fast, load fast, and should experience even less loading times in-game.
Feature wise we find the basic Trim and SMART capabilities, but the CS2211 also comes with background garbage collection, end-to-end data protection, and error correction code for up to 120 bits per 2K sector. Overall, we see a drive that presents itself very well and PNY agrees with a 2 million hours mean time before failure rating and a full 4-year warranty.
The 7mm slim drive is perfect for usage in both desktop and notebook systems where it also will fit well in 9.5mm drive bays thanks to the included adapter bracket. The SSD doesn’t feature the DevSleep function that I really like to see in drives, but that isn’t a deal breaker and most gamers don’t want power saving features, they want pure and raw performance which the CS2211 delivers.
Aside from the beautiful brand sticker on the top, the drive is built with a standard 2-piece snap-together enclosure that holds the PCB and doesn’t require any screws that could loosen themselves over time in high-vibration environments.
The PCB itself is a two-thirds length one with a total of eight NAND chips distributed over the front and back. The Phison PS3110 S10C controller sits firmly in the middle of the PCB. Next to it we also see the Nanya DDR3 cache chip that helps the drive to achieve the great speeds that it can.
Part Number: SSD7CS2211-240-RB
Form Factor: 2.5 inch
Interface: SATA-III 6Gb/s; backward compatible with SATA-II 3Gb/s
Max Sequential Read Speed: 560 MB/s
Max Sequential Write Speed: 470 MB/s
Max Random Read Speed: 87,000 IOPS
Max Random Write Speed: 95,000 IOPS
NAND Type: MLC
Ideal For: Gaming, Hard disk drive replacement, photo and video storage, and boot drives
Packaging and Accessories
The PNY XLR8 CS2211 solid state drive came packed in a simple black box with the PNY logo on the side.
Inside the box is the SSD itself as well as a 9.5mm adapter for usage in notebooks and laptops designed for the 9.5mm thick drives. By adding the adapter to the drive, you make sure that it’s firmly seated in the system and doesn’t rattle around.
Normally you’d get the drive in a more colourful wrapping and with an included registration key for the Acronis True Image cloning software. Review samples like this one sometimes come with a few things missing because the company is in a hurry to get the drives to us so we can test them for you – and they know that we don’t need the extras.
Solid state drives have progressed at an extraordinary pace during the last few years and the latest NVMe products are capable of read speeds well beyond 2000MB/s. In comparison, the traditional SATA interface has a theoretical limit of 6Gb/s and offers significantly lower numbers than extreme M.2 drives. This is evident by the price differences between fairly affordable SATA SSDs and extreme grade NVMe products. Even though SATA drives with capacities up to 500GB can be relatively cheap, it’s still a significantly greater price to capacity ratio when compared to mechanical hard disks.
As a result, enthusiasts often purchase a 250-500GB SSD as a boot drive and mechanical disk for mass storage purposes. This exemplifies the fact that it’s going to be a while before high-capacity solid state drives become the norm and supersede mechanical alternatives. Furthermore, user data demands are increasing at a rapid rate due to 4K video and complex games. Despite this, Plextor is trying to offer more affordable options and decided to launch the M7V range. The drives are available in either an M.2 or 2.5-inch form factor and utilize the SATA3 interface. Plextor will launch 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB products which all use a Marvell 88SS1074B1 processor, wired to Toshiba 15 nm TLC NAND flash memory, and DDR3 DRAM caches of 256 MB, 512 MB, and 768 MB, respectively.
The 512GB M.2 variant features a higher 1GB DRAM cache and each model offers impressive transfer rates. More specifically, each model can achieve sequential reads up to 560MB/s and a maximum write of 500MB/s, 530MB/s and 530MB/s across each capacity. Depending on the capacity, you get a manufacturer rated TBW tolerance of 80 TB, 160 TB, or 320 TB.
Despite the budget focus, Plextor didn’t provide any details about the M7V’s pricing. Although, I expect this information to be revealed soon once it hits retail channels.
Today we are taking a closer look at fast external storage, more specifically Lexar’s newest portable SSD called the D512. Lexar also offers the drive in a smaller D256 version with 256GB capacity, but I have the pleasure to have to big 512GB model on the test bench today.
Right away we see that we have a small and compact drive which is perfect for a portable unit. On top of that, it is also a very light drive that you barely will notice when you have it packed next to the rest of your items. So we have a strong portable drive right of the start, but what about the performance. Performance has to match and that’s where a portable SSD shines over a flash drive. Both types of drives use NAND technology, but other than that there are big differences.
Lexar’s portable SSD is capable of sequential transfer speeds up to 450MB/s when reading and 245MB/s writing which is pretty nice for a portable storage solution that is as small and light as the D512. The is no official rating for random performance, but we’ll naturally have a look at that once we get the benchmarks rolling.
The tiny D512 provides plenty of space for you while you are on the go and travel about. Whether you want to take along you movie collect, music library, and photos, you’re covered with plenty of storage. It is also an optimal drive to unload all your vacation photos onto from memory cards and portable capture devices.
One of the unique things that come with the D512 is the capacity meter on the front. The first five LEDs act as such and will light up as the drive gets filled with data. This allows you an instant view on the drive fillage as soon as you plug it into your system. The second unique feature works in conjunction with Lexar’s other Workflow products. The new portable SSD uses the same form factor and connector which makes it compatible with the Workflow drive hubs. Just plug the drive in and you are good to go. I love the Workflow system so much and use it almost every day for my work here at eTeknix.
The drive is also highly compatible when it comes to volume setup as it supports both NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. On its own, the drive is fully plug-and-play and doesn’t require any drivers or tools of any sort. This naturally originates from USB standard that is plug-and-play by definition.
Lexar is part of the Micron Group which also means that the drive is equipped with some of the best NAND flash on the market and that has undergone high-grade quality checks before assembly.
SSD-level performance — up to 450MB/s read and 245MB/s write speeds
Sleek and compact design
Available in 256GB and 512GB capacity options
LED capacity meter displays available storage space
Great for use with Lexar Professional Workflow line products
Two-year limited warranty
Package and Accessories
Lexar packed the 512GB Portable SSD in a neat white box that shows the drive’s look and basic specifications on the top.
The bottom of the box also has the system requirements, which is a USB port, as well as the basic specification again, but in several languages.
Inside the box, you will find the portable SSD itself as well as a USB 3.0 cable.
Both sides of the drive are covered with a protective plastic film to make sure it arrives scratch-free in your hands. It also gives you that little bit of joy it is to remove the film from your brand new device.
Solid state drive manufacturer Renice has unveiled its new X9 R-SATA 2TB solid state drive, which is scheduled for an official release in April 2016. What makes this SSD special apart from its generous storage capacity is the fact that it incorporates something called Rugged SATA technology, which was designed as a solution for vibration and shock problems that cause intermittent contact or signal spikes. These issues usually arise because of shock and vibration in the SATA gold finger connector, and as you can probably imagine, they can become quite bothersome.
Due to its incredible storage capacity and reliability, the Renice X9 R-SATA SSD is an ideal candidate for industrial use, especially since it incorporates Renice’s own SATA3 controller named RS3502-IT. This controller guarantees a product lifespan of two to three times longer when compared to similar products, all thanks to its original NAND flash control algorithm. At the end of the day, it’s worth remembering that this SSD offers a viable solution for data loss caused by capacitor aging, and that’s a big deal because no other manufacturers are currently offering such solutions right now. Hopefully, these technologies (or at least variations of them) will be implemented in a wider array of SSDs soon.
OCZ introduced us to the Trion series about half a year ago and the first drive already impressed us with its performance versus value offering and now OCZ is back with the next generation of Trion drives. The newly released Trion 150 series brings the newest in TLC NAND technology coupled with a great controller in order to provide an amazing drive for people on a budget. Today I’m taking a closer look at this series as I’ll be testing the 240GB and 480GB models.
The OCZ Trion 150 SSD is aimed at people who want to make the move from traditional mechanical hard disk drives and into the modern flash-based storage. There is no comparison when it comes to performance and access speeds, the SSD wins this by miles. Traditional storage does however have the benefit of more capacity per dollar and that is where TLC-NAND based drives come into play. They offer a great capacity at a lower price compared to MLC or SLC-based drives.
The new drives are built around Toshiba’s own controller and their latest Triple-Level-Cell NAND. This combination allows the drive to achieve a performance up to 550 MB/s when reading and 530MB/s when writing while the random performance still provides up to 91K IOPS reading and 64K IOPS writing. With a performance like this, you’ll seriously decrease your system’s boot-up times as well as any other loading process. It’s also one of those upgrades every system should have, an SSD.
The OCZ Trion 150 is available in a wide variety of capacities which means that there is a size for everyone’s need. It is available in capacities of 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB. One of the downsides to TLC NAND is that it doesn’t have the same endurance as MLC and SLC NAND, but that isn’t something that should scare you away as a normal user. Despite the lower endurance, these drives will easily outlive their time of operation in most systems and it shouldn’t be something you need to worry about. The Trion 150 has an endurance rating of up to 240TB total bytes written which should be plenty for almost any normal scenario.
The new 15nm Toshiba TLC NAND used in this series is quite a bit better than the previous 19nm thanks to the optimized manufacturing processes and it shows in this drive. Ordinary flagship drives can easily handle write loads of 50GB data at once, but that’s a problem for most TLC drives. They are just as fast with small area writes as the bigger brothers, but when they have to write more than a few GB in one instance, they suffer some performance loss. To combat this, a part of the NAND is being run in SLC mode as a kind of burst area. You can easily copy large amounts of data to the drive at once, but once the SLC cache has been exceeded, the performance will drop a little bit. The good news here is that the new series offers almost twice the write speed that the Trion 100 was able to offer during these scenarios. That’s a bold statement and one that will be interesting to see if the drive can live up to in the tests.
Despite being a budget drive, the OCZ Trion 150 is still backed by a 3-year warranty and it isn’t just a normal warranty either. OCZ gave the Trion 150 the ShieldPlus Warranty for the entire time and it’s pretty much the best drive warranty you can get anywhere. Especially for free and included. In the unlikely event that a drive needs to be replaced, you got a worry-free customer service experience which eliminates all the hassle and cost surrounding traditional support and warranty claims consumers often have to deal with; OCZ has you covered.
OCZ packed the Trion 150 series with the basic features such as Trim, Garbage Collection, and SMART monitoring, but other than that they don’t feature much. They are, after all, basic drives.
As most SSDs these days, the Trion 150 is also built with a snap-together screwless case that holds the PCB in place. The two drives look the same once I got them opened, but there are a few differences. The most noticeable difference is actual not a difference – the amount of NAND chips. Despite the capacity difference, OCZ used the full set of chips in both models. That’s most likely also one of the reasons that these drives promise as great a performance as they do.
Once we remove the PCBs from the case, we also find another difference on the other side. The 480GB model is utilizing a Micron cache chip while the 240GB has a Nanya chip. Both drives use the same Toshiba controller and 15nm NAND chips.
Next Gen TLC Technology
Superior balance of price and performance
100% Toshiba technology
Optimized for lower energy consumption
The Trion 150 comes in a colourful box showcasing the drive design as well as the capacity on the front.
The rear of the box lists the drives features as well as little about OCZ and the Trion 150 drive itself.
Inside the box is a reminder not to return the drive to the shop where you bought it and instead handle possible RMAs through OCZ directly as well as a setup guide and naturally the drive itself.
During our visit to CES last month, we had a first look at Zotac’s first PCI-Express based solid state drive and we already liked what we saw there. Now Zotac officially announced the new drive and gave it the Sonix branding. The Sonix PCI-Express SSD will initially be released as a 480GB drive, but we can be pretty sure that more options will become available down the line.
Zotac displayed their specifications on the low-end when they first showcased the drive during CES 2016 and the final version got a 100MB/s bump on both the sequential read and write speed specifications. The Sonix 480GB PCIe SSD has a rating of up to 2600 MB/s reading and 1300 MB/s writing. Weirdly enough, Zotac didn’t specify any kind of random read and write performance so far, so we’ll have to wait for independent reviews to learn about those.
The Zotac Sonix is built with a 512MB DDR3 RAM buffer, Toshiba MLC flash memory, and a Phison E7 controller which then is coupled to your system via an NVMe 1.2 PCIE Gen3 interface with x4 lanes. The card in itself is a low-profile card and it also comes bundled with a low-profile bracket for use in SFF systems. Feature wise the drive comes with advanced technologies such as End-to-end Data Path Protection and Dynamic Wear Leveling.
The Sonix isn’t just a great performing drive, it also looks great with its full metal chassis. This is also a feature that will help the drive staying cool by acting as a giant heatsink. Drives of this kind can get quite warm depending on the airflow in your system and it’s a great extra safety to have.
Zotac didn’t reveal any pricing nor official availability date at this time, but I’m sure that we don’t have to wait long for either. Let’s just hope that it will be a competitive price as we definitely need more PCIe NVMe drives on the market.
In today’s storage review, I’m taking a closer look at a solid state drive from a company that we don’t test quite as often, but it isn’t the first MyDigitalSSD drive have tested either. The newest MyDigitalSSD drive is the BP5e that stands for Bullet Proof 5 Eco and it is a 7mm slim solid state drive that will fit into pretty much any system for a performance boost over a mechanical hard disk drive. The new BP5e series comes in capacities from 240GB and up to 960GB, and the large size is one that becomes more and more popular due to decreasing prices. I’m however taking the 240GB drive for a spin today, a perfect entry-level drive.
There were a few hints in the first paragraph such as Eco and mechanical drive replacement, so you might already have guessed that this isn’t a new flagship drive but rather a budget drive for those that wish something that is faster than a traditional hard disk drive, but don’t want to spend a lot of money at the same time.
The new MyDigitalSSD BP5e drive is built with Triple Level Cell (TLC) NAND which lowers the production cost at the same time as it increases the possible capacity on the same size, but it does come with a few drawbacks. TLC NAND doesn’t have the same endurance as MLC and the performance of long-lasting copies will be affected, how much will be shown in our benchmarks on the following pages.
The TLC NAND is made my Toshiba and it is their TLC Toggle 2.0 NAND. It is paired with Phison’s newest S10 controller (PS3110-S10) with the latest firmware for optimal performance. The two coupled should provide some great reading speeds as well as writes. The drive is rated for up to 565MB/s speeds, but that’s just when reading.
MyDigitalSSD ships each BP5e drive over-provisioned for improved Random Read/Write performance and IOPS, extended performance endurance to minimize sluggishness as the drive fills with data, prolonged drive life, added drive reliability, and low power consumption.
The BP5e in itself is a very simple drive composed of a black two-piece snap-together enclosure with a sticker on the top. Inside we find a 2/3-long PCB that only utilizes the one side with four Toshiba TLC NAND chips, the Phison S10 controller, and a Nanya 128MB DDR3 cache chip.
Unequaled price to performance ratio
PHISON PS3110 controller
Toshiba TLC Toggle Flash
Large storage capacity
High-speed SATA 6Gb/s (SATA III) interface – Backward compatible to SATA 3Gb/s (SATA II)
Withstand extreme shock and vibration
Support DDR3 I/O interface
Power management supported
NCQ command set. TRIM, RAID, and SMART support
The package is quite colourful and presents a full-colour image of the drive itself along with the name and what it can do right on the front.
The rear of the box has a little more information about the drive itself along with a feature list and a capacity sticker to show what model is inside.
Inside the box, we only find the drive itself and no other accessories. Not like we need a long installation guide to connect a storage drive, it’s not rocket science. A penny saved on production can make the difference in the retail pricing.
When we report on storage news as well as in our reviews, we use a lot of terms and features that might not be familiar to everyone. The words and acronyms sound good and you chose your products based on whether they are present or not. But what do they actually mean? That is something that I’ll try to explain a little more today. I think there is a little bit for everyone here, whether you’re an advanced system builder or new to the area.
First I’ll start out with the basic features that are present in almost any storage drive these days, whether it’s a flash drive, hard disk drive, or solid state drive, and then slowly move on to the more exclusive features further down.
S.M.A.R.T. is the most basic feature that you’ll find and at the same time it is one of the most useful ones. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology and it is a way for the drive to keep track of itself and let you have access to the information too. There are many tools out there that can read out the information for you and most systems can also keep track of them trough BIOS and chipset functions. A simple and free tool to get access to the information is CrystalDiskInfo.
Most SMART values are can be two values, either good or bad, but there are a few that keep track of total reads, writes, and power-on hours as well. An application like CrystalDiskInfo will also show you the expected health status as you can see in the image above.
S.M.A.R.T. can also include self-tests that can be run manually or scheduled by a lot of systems. The short and long tests will check electrical and mechanical performance and are basically identical. The short will only test small parts of the area where the long test will test the entire surface of the disk with no time limit.
TRIM, also know as a Trim command, is a way for the operating system to inform a solid state drive which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped. Internally, SSD operations are quite a bit different from HDD operations and TRIM was created because of that. The typical way in which operating systems handle deletes and formats would result in progressive performance degradation of write operations on SSDs.
With TRIM, the SSD is able to handle the garbage collection itself and free up the cells for new writes. We all know that a deleted file in the operating system doesn’t mean a deleted file on the drive, not until the physical location of the file has been overwritten. A mechanical drive handles a write and an overwrite action the same way, but an SSD doesn’t. It would first need to erase the area before it can write there again. It also means that a deleted file is gone ones the Trim command has processed the area.
There are manual tools to trigger the Trim command, but they’re aren’t needed if you got a modern operating system. There are independent tools for it and pretty much any SSD toolbox and software also has a button to send the command to the drive. This is a thing that we can expect to see removed from such software in the future as it’s fully automatic now.
Garbage collection is basically the same function, except that the garbage collection is performed on a drive level where TRIM is an operating system function. In return, it means that it also works on systems that don’t support TRIM and helps to keep the performance up.
I could go a lot into detail about how it works, but then we’re missing the point of easy information in this article. Without TRIM or garbage collection, the SSD doesn’t know what files have been marked as deleted and aren’t no longer needed. Those deleted data might still be moved around on the drive itself when it is optimizing and that will result in a lot of extra writes. There are many ways this is implemented in drives and it comes down to the drive itself, the controller, and manufacturer how exactly it works.
There are two types of wear leveling, dynamic and static. Static is also sometimes referred to as global wear leveling and it is this type that we usually find in solid state drives. Dynamic wear leveling, on the other hand, is mostly found on flash drives. Both types will attempt to use all physical flash equally so one chip doesn’t burn out before the rest and render the drive useless. Where the static will do this on the entire drive, the dynamic will only do this with memory blocks that get replacement data. The static wear leveling is a little slower but gives the drive a longer life expectancy. It doesn’t just help to prolong the life of the drives, it also helps with a more even performance.
DevSleep, DevSlp, or Device Sleep are all words for the same thing and it is the newest and most effective way for drives to enter a low-power sleep mode. In traditional low-power modes, the SATA link still needed to remain powered on to allow the device to receive a wake-up signal again. With DevSlp, the rarely used 3.3 V power connection is used instead to send the signal, allowing the drive to enter an even deeper sleep state by turning off more functions. The return is an even faster response time when it wakes up again and less power consumption. This is particularly useful for notebook users.
PFM+, IPS, and more
These are all synonyms for basically the same function, so I’ll stick with one that is present in one of the drives that we’ve recently reviewed: Power failure management plus (PFM+) that is present in OCZ’s Vector 180 series. With different names, they all perform the same function: get as much data safely to the storage drive in case of a power failure. There are extra capacitors in the drive that store currency in order to flush more data to the flash cells before all the power is gone. The capacitors also ensure that all metadata is safe and that the drive will continue to operate normally after a power loss, i.e. the NAND mapping table won’t be lost, which can brick the drive or at least slow down the next boot up as the drive has to go through a recovery process. This used to be a feature reserved to enterprise class drives, but we see it enter more and more enthusiast drives too.
ECC or Error Correction Code is present in a lot of devices and it is no different for solid state drives. It is an extra code that allows the drive to correct minor errors in sector reads and to recover data from sectors that have gone bad while storing that data in the spare sectors. It is basically what it says it is. It corrects errors.
Low-density parity-check (LDPC) is the go-to standard today for multiple reasons that I won’t go to much into here. In the past, it was rather BCH that was used, but that isn’t an effective method for modern SSDs. To say it short, LPDC allows you to correct more errors for the same ratio of user data to ECC parity. With ECC, fewer actions have to be repeated in case something goes wrong which in return gives a better overall performance.
Continuing our reviews of the Silicon Power solid-state drives, we’ve gotten to the Slim S70, a mid-ranged performance drive in the 7mm thin Slim series perfect for notebooks as well as desktop systems.
The Silicon Power Slim S70 is available in 5 capacity version all the way up to 960GB. The smaller capacities available are 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB and I am taking a closer look at the 240GB model today. The drive is rated for a sequential read performance up to 550MB/s reading and 500MB/s writing, which shouldn’t be any trouble to achieve for the hardware inside.
The Silicon Power Slim S70 SSD is built with a Phison S10 controller which has proven itself in numerous drives and comes with synchronous NAND flash. The Slim S70 has all the basic features that an SSD needs to have, including S.M.A.R.T., TRIM, Garbage collection, NCQ, and wear leveling. It is also RAID ready for those who want even faster setups with all the features available. Silicon Power also included error correction code to guarantee data transmission reliability.
Making the upgrade from a mechanical hard disk drive to a solid-state drive is something that everyone needs to experience, there simply isn’t any comparison. An SSD isn’t just a lot faster, it also consumes less power which is great for stationary systems as well as mobile ones. There are no moving parts and thereby no noise or vibration and it makes it more shockproof than traditional storage drives. You also eliminate latency delays and seek errors.
The SP Slim S70 is also available as upgrade kits that include a shockproof enclosure, screwdriver, and NTI Echo cloning software for an easy upgrade in three steps. It also allows you to use your old drive as an external portable drive afterward. The included enclosure provides rugged protection against shocks, scratches, and abrasions, and it features a cable wrap-around design for easy portability.
Inside the two-piece screwless enclosure, we find a 2/3 sized PCB with four NAND chips on each side. The controller is a Phison PS3110-S10 and the NAND should be Toshiba 19nm MLC NAND from the DP58G5LAPA inscription. There is also a Nanya 128MB cache chip on the top. Funny enough, it looks to be the exact same layout and parts as we saw in the SP Slim S60.
7mm slim design suitable for Ultrabooks and Ultra-slim notebooks
SATA III 6Gbps backward compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
Supports TRIM command and Garbage Collection technology
NCQ and RAID ready
Equipped with wear leveling, to extend endurance
Implemented with ECC technology to guarantee data transmission reliability
Built-in with SMART monitoring system
Low power consumption
Shockproof & Anti-Vibration
Noiseless operation, no latency delay and no seek error
The Silicon Power Slim S70 comes in a simple blister package displaying the included drive itself on the front. At the same time, it also displays the main features, 5-year warranty period, and slim drive height.
The rear of the package has the basic feature list in multiple languages as well as the average performance increase one would gain compared to a mechanical drive.
The leaflet inside the package opens up for a simple installation guide, feature list, and specification.
The drive uses a SATA 6Gbps interface and is based around 15nm MLC NAND flash technology from Toshiba – a minority shareholder in Fixstars – but with a proprietary Fixstars controller that boasts faster sequential read and write speeds of up to 580/520 MB/s. The random read/write speeds are yet to be revealed.
The SSD-13000M will be sold directly via the Fixstars website, and not through other retailers. While Fixstars sees the drive as appealing to enterprise and business customers, anyone with $13k to burn can get their hands on one.
Competitors in the SSD market have indicated that they don’t plan to release a drive to compete with Fixstars’ 13TB drive in the immediate future, with SanDisk launching 6TB and 8TB SSDs this year, and Samsung releasing a 4TB SSD.
Fixstars has also revealed a 10TB iteration, the SSD-10000M, which is also expected to be priced at around $1-per-gigabyte. The release date for both SSDs is yet to be confirmed.
With more and more of our purchases being online these days, it is ever more important to have a good RMA and warranty policy in case something goes bad. In a major but not unsurprising move, OCZ Storage Solutions has expanded their ShieldPlus warranty program for their SSDs. Tripling the number of countries by going from 33 to 99, it means more OCZ customers will be able to benefit from the advanced warranty program.
ShieldPlus is one of the better warranty programs for SSDs out there right now. When a drive becomes defective, owners merely have to provide the details of the issue as well the serial number. Once technical support confirms the defect is with the drive, OCZ will give the customer a prepaid shipping label and cross-ship a replacement drive within 24 hours for no charge. This is generally better than most policies that require the customer to send the defective product on their own dime.
A few years back OCZ suffered from a high failure rate for their SSDs and the company ended up being acquired by Toshiba. Since then OCZ has fixed their drives up and have made a strong comeback. With the extension of this warranty to more countries, there is all the more reason for users to consider OCZ these days. The ShieldPlus program currently covers the Vertex 460A, Vector 180, AMD R7, ARC 100 and Trion 100.
While the cost of solid state drives (SSDs) has been falling incrementally for the last three years, it still costs 18 cents per gigabyte more to buy an SSD than a hard disk drive (HDD). However, if price continue to plummet at the present rate then that difference could drop to a difference of 11 cents per gigabyte by 2017, according to the DRAMeXchange. While SSDs are unlikely to ever be cheaper than HDDs, the differential could become negligible.
Alan Chen, Senior Manager of DRAMeXchange, has presented figures that predict that 2.5-inch SSDs will cost 17 cents per gigabyte – compared to HHDs’ 6 cents per gigabyte – by 2017, and that SSD adoption rates in laptops and notebooks should represent 42% of the market during the same year.
“Branded PC vendors and channel distributors are holding back on their SSD purchases due to lower-than-expected notebook sales,” Chen told Computer World. “However, 256GB SSDs will be moving close to price parity with mainstream HDDs in 2016, so the adoption of SSDs in the business notebook segment will rise.”
Though SSD prices have consistently dropped over recent years, HHD prices have remained rather consistent, dropping only 3 cents per gigabyte from 2012 to 2015.
It has been almost a year since Crucial introduced the BX100 SSD and set a new standard for how much SSD you could get for your money; bringing large capacity and fast storage in the reach of more people who were dissatisfied with the slow performance of their mechanical hard disk and didn’t want to sacrifice capacity with a smaller SSD. Today I’m taking a closer look at the next step on Crucial’s goal as they just released the Crucial BX200 SSD in three capacities and at a more than good price.
The Crucial BX200 is the perfect entry-level SSD for anyone who wants to take the step away from mechanical storage, but it isn’t exclusive for those people. It could also be a great choice for people who purchase their third, fourth, or fifth SSD as you get more capacity than you are used to. The Crucial BX200 is 13 times faster than a hard drive and at the same time it is 40 times more energy-efficient. It also boots your system a lot faster and almost instantaneously on a modern operating system. Even older systems will reap the benefits of the fast boot times and it also decreases your application and game loading times significantly.
The BX200 isn’t just Crucial’s first drive to use Micron’s 16nm TLC NAND, it is the first overall drive to use Micron’s new TLC NAND. Triple-Level-Cell NAND is capable of storing more bits per cell and thereby reduce both power consumption and costs, but it does cost a little performance and endurance. The two downsides to this should however not be anything that any normal user ever will notice nor be affected by.
Crucial also used a newer controller in the BX200 over the predecessor. The new BX200 comes with a SiliconMotion SM2256 controller where the BX100 used the SM2246. The Crucial BX200 comes with a good performance rating, both when it comes to sequential and random performance. The sequential read performance is rated to 540MB/s reading and 490MB/s writing. The random performance is rated to 66K IOPS reading and 78K IOPS writing. These figures are almost all better than the predecessor, only the random read performance went down a little bit.
As previously mentioned, TLC NAND does affect performance a little bit, but not much and when used the right way it’s barely noticeable. In return, you get a great efficiency and low power consumption where the 480GB model is rated for just 150mW power draw when active, 65mW when idle, 4.6W maximum, and just 10mW when DevSleep is activated.
The Crucial BX200 comes with a mean time before failure (MTBF) of 1..5 million hours, same as the BX100 and MX200 series do. The total bytes written (TBW) rating is set to 72TB. The most important factor in this area is however the warranty and Crucial are backing the BX200 with a 3-year warranty. My personal opinion is that this is more than enough as you’re most likely going to upgrade to a newer drive after that time.
The BX200 comes in a default 2.5-inch form factor and with a height of 7mm. It is available in three capacities, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB and the drives come with a respective MSRP of £66.49 ($84.99), £116.99 ($149.99), and £234.49 ($299.99). The drives all come with a 9.5mm adapter bracket to make it better suited for laptops that require this size and they all come with a copy of Acronis True Image HD included. Acronis True Image is a very useful cloning and backup program to have and it makes the move between your old and new drive a lot easier. A few clicks, a little wait, and you’re ready to rock on with faster speeds.
Crucial also updated the Crucial Storage Executive at the same time as they released the new BX200. The SSD Toolbox helps you to keep the firmware updated and shows you the drive’s status and health. It also enables encryption reset and burst performance with momentum cache mode. New in this version is the user configurable over provisioning for enhanced endurance and performance, something quite a few people will welcome the ability to manage themselves.
Inside the SSD we find a simple PCB that is well utilized with 16 Micron 16nm TLC NAND chips, two Micron Cache chips, and the Silicon Motion SM2256 SSD controller.
The casing is the simple snap-together casing that we’ve seen a lot on SSDs over the past couple of years and it works completely without screws and eliminates another weak point in that direction.
Multistep Data Integrity Algorithm
SLC Write Acceleration
Active Garbage Collection
Self-Monitoring and Reporting Technology (SMART)
Error Correction Code (ECC)
Device Sleep extreme low power mode (DEVSLP)
Crucial’s SSDs always come in a beautiful wrapping and it is no different this time. The front of the box displays the drive itself, the series, and the capacity size that has been packed inside.
The rear of the box contains a little more information such as the drive size and what’s included in the box. It also provides all the different certification logos and a link where to find more resources for the drive.
Inside the box is a 9.5mm drive adapter next to the drive itself as well as a leaflet with your Acronis True Image HD software activation code.
Transcend announced a new SSD and this one is designed more for industrial and embedded applications than consumer systems. The new Transcend SSD570 solid state drive is built with SLC NAND for reliability and comes with a great feature set.
The Transcend SSD570 features the normal SMART, TRIM, Garbage collection, and wear leveling features that we find in all SSDs these days, but it also comes with the newer Device Sleep mode to decrease power consumption when idle as well as IPS function to prevent loss of data. The Intelligent Power Shield (IPS) function assures more data volume being written into flash chips in the event of sudden power loss. IPS function prolongs the time before the SSD enters write protection mode at the onset of power cut-off to ensure data integrity and to prevent the SSD from damage during a sudden power failure or blackouts. The Transcend SSD570 also features built-in ECC to give it a complete feature set for its designated field of operations.
The SSD570 is built with Transcend’s own TS6500 SSD controller and high-quality SLC NAND flash. It can perform sequential reads with up to 510MB/s and writes up to 450MB/s. The use of SLC NAND over MLC NAND should give higher stability in data retention and longer endurance as well as lower error rates.
Transcend SSD570 is available in 64GB and 128GB and backed by a three-year limited warranty.
It has been quite a while since we had any of Patriot’s drives on our test bench and it is as such a pleasure to be able to put the 480GB capacity Patriot Ignite through the paces. The Patriot Ignite is available in several versions and capacities, both M.2 and 2.5-inch form factors and it is also available in various capacities.
Patriot named the drive Ignite because that is its goal, to ignite and enhance your computers performance. The more traditional form factor and SATA3 connection makes it compatible with almost any system and would be a great upgrade from a traditional mechanical disk drive.
The drive measures 7mm in height and that also makes it perfect for ultrabooks and laptops that usually are limited to that height in their 2.5-inch drives. Patriot’s Ignite 2.5-inch SSD comes in two large sizes that provide plenty of space from a single drive: 480GB and 960GB.
The Ignite doesn’t just offer a lot of capacity, it also offers great transfer speeds. The drive series is rated for up to 560MB/s while reading and 545MB/s while writing. The random performance is equally impressive with 80K IOPS while reading and 75K IOPS while writing.
The Patriot Ignite doesn’t just come in a traditional form factor, the same goes for the design. The drive itself is packed inside a black enclosure and it features a sticker on each side. The top shows the drive name and company logo as well as the capacity while the bottom sticker shows pretty much the same information on a white sticker.
Feature wise the drive packs everything you’ll want. You got the basic TRIM and Advanced Garbage Collection, but the drive also feature Smart ECC that’s able to recover 115bits/2KB, end-to-end data path protection (ETEP), and Advanced wear leveling together with Smart Refresh. Overall a feature list that should make sure that the drive runs stable for a long time.
Inside the drive, we find a short PCB featuring the Phison S10 series controller paired with MLC NAND for a great performance. The 480GB model that I’m taking a closer look at today features 512MB DRAM Cache while its bigger brother with 960GB capacity features a full GB of cache.
The Patriot Ignite is backed by a 3-year warranty and has a mean time before failure rating of 2 million hours. It sure sounds like a great drive, so lets put it to the test.
Phison S10 Series SSD Processor paired with qualified MLC NAND flash for best performance value and reliability
DRAM Cache: 480GB = 512MB
SATA3 6Gbps/SATA2 3Gbps
TRIM support (O/S dependent)
End-to-end data path protection (ETEP)
Advanced Garbage Collection
Operating Temperature – 0° ~ 70°C
Native Command Queuing (NCQ) – Up to 32 commands
ECC Recovery: Up to 115bits/2KB
MTBF: 2,000,000 hours
The Patriot Ignite comes in a beautiful blue box that showcases the important features on the front as well as the drive itself through a window in the packaging.
The rear of the package features a few more information and more details on each.
Inside the package isn’t much besides the drive itself. There is a small install guide, but no other accessories.
While Intel probably was the company that drew most headlines with their 750 SSD NVMe drive, Samsung’s SM951 NVMe SSD has been the go-to choice for a lot of enthusiasts. It convinced everyone with its M.2 form factor and great performance. Samsung is now ready to follow up on that drive with their brand new 950 Pro M.2 NVMe SSD.
The Samsung 950 Pro M.2 SSD is quite impressive, but there are some disappointments too, at least to begin with. Initially, the drive will be released in two capacities, 256GB and 512GB. These are currently the most wanted drive capacities when it comes to SSDs and as such it’s a logical choice. It is, however, a bit disappointing that there aren’t any larger drives available yet, especially after the recently revealed 2TB consumer SSDs. The second disappointment might follow right away for users that need other form factors than the 2280 as that is the only form factor that will be released initially.
The Samsung 950 Pro M.2 utilizes the same UBX controller as the SM951 does, but it uses the latest version of their own 3D V-NAND technology as well as having support for the Magician software. The 512GB model is rated for up to 2500MB/s read and 1500MB/s write as well as 300K IOPS at random reads and 110K at random writes. The 256GB model is a little slower, but not much. The 950 Pro also features 256-bit hardware encryption.
The Samsung 950 Pro drive is backed by a 5-year warranty and are expected to hit retail shelves on October 15th for an MSRP of $199.99 and £349.99 respectively. 1TB and 4TB versions are planned for next year sometime and will be built with the upcoming 48-layer V-NAND that will enter products later this year.
Thank You TomsHardware for providing us with this information
The solid state drive that I’m taking a look at today is one that I’ve actually had around for a while, but couldn’t test up until now. I’m taking the tiny 1.8-inch KC380 SSDnow from Kingston for a spin on my test bench to see how well this tiny SSD can perform. While it isn’t the newest model anymore, I still think it’s a valid drive to test and one that quite a few people will consider for their netbooks and similar devices that only have the option for 1.8-inch drives such as this one.
As a 1.8-inch SATA drive, the KC380 uses a Micro-SATA connector that doesn’t match anything you’ll find in a normal PC. The SATA data connector is the same as you’re used to, but the power connector won’t match anything you’ll find or a default power supply and as such it can’t be used in a normal system. That is also the reason that this review got so much delayed, I had to find a working adapter to convert it to normal SATA connectors. The first I bought was broken and made the drive crash out during load and the second could only deliver SATA2 speeds for some reasons. However, third time is the charm and the third adapter that I got, and that I’m using for this test, works like a charm and as it should: Bridge the pins to a different layout.
The 1.8-inch SATA form factor isn’t the most common and most people will never even have a system that can use these drives. There are however quite a few hard disk based netbooks on the market, and around the world in different homes, that could benefit hugely from an upgrade with an SSD like the Kingston SSDnow KC380.
We shouldn’t expect a blasting performance as such, simply due to the generation of the drive and its small capacity. Those are both things that will have an effect among others, but it still a drive that promises a good performance. The drive is rated for a sequential performance up to 550MB/s while reading and 520MB/s while writing. The maximum random performance rating for this 120GB model is set to 86K IOPS reading and 48K IOPS writing.
The Kingston SSDnow KC380 consumes less power and generates less heat than a traditional HDD at a fraction of the cost of a new system. It offers advanced data integrity protection and a second-generation SandForce SSD controller with DuraClass technology. DuraClass features include DuraWrite and advanced wear-leveling to extend the life of the drive and garbage collection and over-provisioning for consistent performance and a longer life for your SSD and your data.
Opening up the drive and we reveal that it actually is an mSATA drive that is hiding inside the drive and that it uses an mSATA to MicroSATA adapter board to become what it is. A natural choice for Kingston that already had the mSATA in the lineup. This saves costs and broadens the market opportunities.
The top of the actual SSD contains a Kingston sticker with all the relevant information about the drive. It also covers two of the four Toshiba NAND chips used on the drive. The last two NAND chips are found on the rear where we also find the SandForce SF-2241 solid state drive controller. Overall, a simple design that gives a lot of options.
Kingston backs the KC380 SSD with its well-known warranty and in this case it’s for three years. That also includes free technical support for the duration.
Fast — dramatic performance increase for any system upgrade
Endurance — Data Integrity Protection featuring DuraClass technology
Durable — DuraWrite optimizes writes to extend endurance
Multiple capacities the right capacity to meet your storage needs
Supports SMART — monitors the status of your drive
Supports TRIM — maintains maximum performance on compatible operating systems
Guaranteed — three-year warranty, free technical support
Packaging and Accessoires
The Kingston SSDnow KC380 comes in a blister packaging that displays both the drive itself and the basic information about it right on the front. We can see the capacity, the name, and brand as well as the performance rating.
The rear of the drive contains all the fine-print that isn’t really relevant. Basically, it tells you that you’ll notice a huge improvement over traditional mechanical drives.
Team Group just launched their all new L3 EVO SSD that thanks to its SATA3 interface is compatible with almost any system. While M.2 and U.2 along with PCIe might be what the future looks like right now, SATA is still the most compatible interface out there and the one that most people can take advantage of.
The name, L3 EVO, suggest a budget drive and it is, but the Team Group L3 EVO still provides some good performance figures. The drive is also available in a wide variety of capacities, ranging from 120GB over 240GB and 480GB onto the biggest version with 960GB capacity.
The bigger the capacity, the better the performance rating. The 120GB model is rated up to 530MB/s read and 400MB/s write while the 960GB version can read with the same, but write with up to 500MB/s. The figures look about the same when we look at the random performance where the 120GB model can do 70/20K IOPS in 4K read/write benchmarks and the 960GB model performs with up to 85K/60K IOPS.
The new Team Group L3 EVO series has an MTBF of 1 million hours and comes backed by a 3-year warranty. Team Group didn’t announce what NAND or controller they used at this time and a release date and price wasn’t revealed either.
Crucial launched their MX200 series quite a while ago and you might remember our reviews of the 2.5-inch SATA3 models in the series. Crucial has now supplied us with this M.2 version of the drive and today I am giving it a good spin on our test bench to see if it can perform as good as the 2.5-inch versions did. The Crucial MX200 M.2 SSD that I’m taking a closer look at today is the 500GB version (CT500MX200SSD4), an impressive capacity considering the size and even more so considering the amount of chips used, but that is something you’ll see further into the review.
The MX100 series originally set new standards for SATA SSDs and Crucial continued that with the MX200. It boasts great features and a great performance, and it does all that are a very reasonable price. One of the features that help the MX200 push ahead of many competitors is the Dynamic Write Acceleration technology. It uses an adaptable pool of high-speed, single-level cell flash memory for a consistent and fast performance rather than a fixed cache of multi-level cell flash.
The Crucial MX200 M.2 500GB drive is rated with a sequential speed of up to 550MB/s when reading and 500MB/s when writing. The random read performance is rated at 100K IOPS while the write performance has an impressive 87K IOPS. That is pretty sweet considering that we have a drive that’s only 22mm wide and 80mm long.
Crucial also made sure that the MX200 will survive for a very long time and it comes with a total bytes written (TBW) rating of 160TB. That equals to 87GB per day for a 5 year period, which should be more than sufficient and at that time you’ll want to upgrade with a more modern drive anyway. Sounds like a safe bet and a purchase where you can’t do much wrong.
Once we peel off the sticker, we see that this 500GB SSD only uses two NAND chips, one controller, and one RAM chip. Removing the sticker also removed most of the print on the NAND chips and it was almost impossible to take a photo where it was properly readable. The rear of the module isn’t used at all, which is what I referred to in the beginning. It’s all done with just two NAND chips.
This is the best I could do on the Micron NAND chips used on this drive. It isn’t the world’s best photo, but it appears to read 51C22 NW659 and the Micron logo is clearly visible.
The controller used is the Marvell 88SS9189-BLD2, a great choice for its features. You get AES 256-bit hardware encryption, it is TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE-1667 compliant, and compatible with Microsoft’s eDrive. Other features include Power Loss and Adaptive Thermal Protection, Active Garbage Collection and TRIM support, ECC error checking code and SMART monitoring technology as well as Exclusive Data Defense.
Crucial backs the MX200 series with a 3-year limited warranty and the drive has a life expectancy of 1.5 million hours mean time before failure. The drive also comes bundled with Acronis True Image HD backup and cloning software.
• AES 256-bit encryption
• TCG Opal 2.0-compliant
• Compatible with Microsoft eDrive
Data Transfer Software – Includes Acronis True Image HD software for free data transfer
Redundant Array of Independent NAND (RAIN)
Exclusive Data Defense: Adaptive Thermal Protection, Power Loss Protection, and Data Path Protection
Self-Monitoring and Reporting Technology (SMART), Error Correction Code (ECC), TRIM Support, and Active Garbage Collection
An M.2 2280 module doesn’t require much of a packaging at all and it comes in the same type blister package that we know from memory modules; and even that is large for this module. The front carries a sticker with the drive type and capacity while the rear displays the included Acronis True Image HD Software.
Inside the tiny box you’ll find the above-mentioned leaflet with the Acronis True Image HD Software Activation key, which can be downloaded from the internet, two screws in case you misplaced the ones from your motherboard or PCIe adapter card and naturally the M.2 Type 2280 500GB Crucial MX200 SSD.
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.
It hasn’t been going that well for Plextor’s solid state series even though the M6e Black Edition was an amazing drive. Although it wasn’t a top-performer, the looks and software made up for it in my opinion. At Computex 2015 we saw Plextor announce the follow-up to that drive, the M7e, a drive built on Marvell’s Altaplus controller. It looked great in itself and I for one was really looking forward to this new PCIe solid state drive.
Now the sad news is that it looks like we won’t get this drive at all. Plextor was supposed to bring the M7e products to the Flash Memory Summit, but the product was a no-show. It looks like the drive just couldn’t compete with what the competition put on the market, mainly Samsung’s SM951 SSD, and there simply isn’t any point in bringing a product to the market that can’t compete. Instead, Plextor chose to go back to the drawing board and work on the Eldora based M8e drive. I for one wish Plextor the best of luck with this new drive and hope that they can land another success with it.
While one SSD less on the market probably won’t create the big ripples in users, it will be missed for a while because it was scalable up to 1TB capacity on the M.2 22110 form factor (22mm wide, 110mm length).
Toshiba announced three new families of solid state drives that are fitted with high.speed PCIe interfaces that provide high.bandwidth point-to-point links with the processor and reduce system bottlenecks. That is thanks to the use of the NVMe protocol and they come for various systems. All versions are built with Toshiba’s own MLC NAND flash memory.
We’ve previously seen the PX4P family that is designed for server applications in its 2.5-inch form factor, but the M.2 drives are new. Most newer motherboards feature an M.2 connector and the drives are also used in netbooks and ultrabooks thanks to the small form factor.
The XG3 family is the one aimed at the broader audience and it is an impressive drive. It is an M.2 Type 2280 drive and comes with the industries highest capacity of up to 1TB. It supports up to four PCIe 3.1 lanes and a maximum bandwidth that is six times that of the SATA3 interface. There will also be a 2.5-inch SATA-Express version of this drive. The XG3 series is equipped with Toshiba’s QSBC (Quadruple Swing-By Code) error-correction technology and also features lower power state modes. It is also the first Toshiba product to support the Trusted Computing Group security specification, Pyrite (TCG Pyrite).
The second M.2 type drive that Toshiba Announced, is the BG1 SSD family, the world’s smallest NVMe SSD. It measures just 16 by 20 mm thanks to the M.2 Type 1620 form factor and will also be available as a Type 2230 removable module with up to 256GB capacity. This drive is designed for thin notebooks and 2-in1 systems that are naturally limited in physical space. The BG1 series also supports the TCG Pyrite and features the low power state modes that the larger XG3 family has.
Along with these information, we also learned that the PX04P series, with its incredible low 18 watts max power draw, also will be available as HHHL (half-height half-length) add-in card next to the SFF-8639 12Gbps connector. Samples of the new drives are expected in Q4 2015, so expect the actual drives sometime during the start of 2016.
The NVMe protocol is amazing and we’ve seen what great performance it can bring when we reviewed the Intel 750 SSD and that is thanks to the way it works and with Lite-On’s customized firmware, commands are bypassed and subsequently result in improvement for multiple queues and higher queue depths while the CPU is used to its full potential instead of bottlenecking the IOPS with single core limitations.
The new EP2 series delivers a great performance with up to 250K IOPS at reading operations and 25K IOPS at writing. The ultra-low latencies of 35/35 μs ensure the fastest response times for the commands. Feature wise, the drive comes with all the basics as well as power loss protection (PLP) and end-to-end data protection. That is sadly about the only information that we get so far, but that will change next week.
“Lite-On storage takes pride in quality, innovation, and performance for all of our storage products. I’m happy to announce our next generation EP series SSD. The EP series utilizes the latest NVMe protocol, which is combined with our proprietary firmware. This removes the bottleneck on SATA hardware and creates at least 1.4x throughput improvements for all workloads. We are committed in continuing to bring innovative products to meet today’s storage demands and stay competitive in the growing market,” said Darlo Perez, Managing Director of Lite-On Americas region.
Lite-On will also bring its new ER1 and EM1 SATA SSDs along to the Flash summit. These drives are designed to address the capacity and performance needs of hyper scale computing and virtualized data centers that require rigorous I/O operations. Both the ER1 and EM1 double the maximum capacity and will be presented with up to 4TB capacity. The ER1 and EM1 come in two form factors, 1.8-inch and the more default 2.5-inch size.
Mushkin announced its latest addition to the ATLAS family of products, the new ATLAS VITAL M.2 2280 Series for Ultrabooks, notebooks, and small form-factor PCs. Atlas Vital is said to be suitable for mobile gamers, professionals, or general end-users looking to take their computing experience to the next level with solid state storage.
The drive comes in a quite a few capacity versions, but all in the M.2 2280 form factor. There will be 120GB, 140GB, 250GB, 480GB, and 500GB versions of this SandForce SF-2000 series based solid state drive. It seems like somewhat of a weird choice to go with a SandForce controller these days, as there are far better ones available. It isn’t a bad controller either and the Atlas Vital drive can perform sequential speeds up to 550MB/s while reading and 535MB/s while writing. The random 4K performance is rated up to 86K IOPS for low-latency and high throughput.
The Atlas Vital is aimed at the value-minded users looking to improve their experience over traditional hard drives and that also explains the choice of controller. It is a cheaper controller that allows Mushkin to create a better performing drive at a lower price, but at the costs of a few features.
Mushkin did not announce the availability or price of the drives yet, but those information are sure to follow very soon.
Plextor has made some amazing storage drives and we’ve not been disappointed with them yet. Along with the M6 Pro, they also launched the PlexTurbo intelligent caching software and later expanded it to support more products such as the M6e PCIe and M.2 drives.
Now they’re gearing up for the third version of the software that will improve even more on the performance as well as bring new features and more options for the end-user. Along with the new version of PlexTurbo comes the new PlexCompressor software and PlexVault software to add even more functionality and benefits to your SSD.
PlexVault allows you to completely hide your data for even more privacy and full control of your local drives. Once PlexVault is activated, the hidden data cannot be found by device manager, file explorer, or even the disk management utilities. The hidden data is activated by hotkeys and PlexVault also provides password protection as a second security feature.
PlexCompressor is similar to other and already built-in tools in the way that it compresses old data that’s rarely been accessed, effectively giving you more storage space. Once activated, this technology increases SSD capacity in the background by automatically compressing unused files. The compression and decompression of data are said to be completed without adversely affecting user experience and performance. If that’s the case, then there isn’t any reason not to run it, that is if you have a Plextor SSD.
PlexTurbo 3.0 brings a lot of new features that make the tool even better. It comes with Pre-Load that automatically pre-loads files before they’re needed, during bootup for example. The drive knows what files are being accessed and when and it might as well load them before being asked for it. Cache sharing now works across multiple volumes no matter how many Plextor SSDs the system is equipped with and whether they’re SATA or PCIe. The cache can now be defined by the user and so can the clearance time.
Not all Plextor drives support all features and with as much cache. PlexVault will work for the M6 Pro and M6e M.2 and PCIe drives where PlexCompressor works on the same as well as the M6s drives. The only exception for both is the M6V. The PlexTurbo maximum cache amount also depends on the drive. The M6 Pro and M6e drives allow for the most with up to 16GB while the M6s allows for 4GB and the M6V for 1Gb.
PlexVault and PlexCompressor are available at the end of July, while PlexTurbo is expected to be available at the beginning of August.
Samsung have been incredibly successful with their 840 and 850 series of drives in the consumer market and the drives have been well received for their performance vs price ratio. But Samsung also makes drives for the more business oriented sector and they’ve just introduced the latest high-performance SATA solid state drives for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), the Samsung PM864 and SM863 SSDs.
The PM863 and SM863 solid state drives are the ideal solution for SMBs as they offer a much higher density in the 2.5-inch form factor which in return saves IT managers precious real estate in the data center without sacrificing power or performance.
The PM863 and SM863 deliver outstanding performance and reliability thanks to the V-NAND technology. The 3-bit MLC V-NAND-based PM863 is developed for mixed pattern applications and ideal for use in content delivery networks and streaming or Web servers. Alternatively, the write-intensive SM863 based on 2-bit MLC V-NAND is an optimal choice for online transaction processing (OLTP) and serves as an ideal choice for email and database servers.
There are plenty and great capacity choices in these two drive series. The Samsung PM863 comes in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, 1.9TB and 3.8TB capacities and offers sequential read speeds up to 540 MB/s and random read speeds of up to 99,000 IOPS.
The Samsung SM863 provides more options for configurable over-provisioning and is available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, and 1.9TB capacities. It features read speeds up to 520 MB/s and write speeds up to 485 MB/s. Both drives will be available to SMBs in early August 2015 and are already available for the enterprise customers now.
The price isn’t all that bad, but it is of course a premium price over ordinary desktop drives such as the Samsung 850 series. The PM863 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, 1.92TB, and 3.84TB capacities have an MSRP of $124.99, $159.99, $289.99, $1099.99, and $2199.99 respectively. The SM863 drives will cost you $139.99, $179.99, $329.99, $869.99, and $1259.99 respectively for the 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB and 1.92TB drives.