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Choosing the best M. 2 SSD in the 240-256 GB c interface NVMe: great comparative test

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The 3DNews laboratory traditionally focuses on the tests of solid state drives, exploring how performance and reliability of such solutions. And the reason is quite simple: an SSD is one of the most striking technologies of recent times, which is just a few years allowed to increase the responsiveness of personal computers to a new level. Today, no enthusiast will not wonder whether to place the operating system and frequently used programs on the SSD or could be, dispensed in the configuration without new solutions and to limit time-tested HDD. In any Assembly, where the budget allows, get a SSD is mandatory. Somewhere is a small volume of the primary storage, but it working data warehouse with a volume of terabytes, but any modern system (if it’s not quite ultrabudgetary computer) without the SSD simply unthinkable.

Until recently, most computers were SSD with SATA interface is what we have tested and recommended above all. Indeed, such drives are publicly available, widely compatible with existing systems and their value until recently seemed more than justified compared with the options that use high-speed PCI Express bus. But times change, and now more interesting choice begin to appear SSDs with NVMe interface. Yes, they are slightly more expensive, but on the one hand the price gap between SATA and NVMe SSDS steadily declining, and with another – the overpayment for a faster interface eventually pays off with positive emotions, which brings high performance. Of course, the same jump in performance that we experienced when moving from HDD to SSD in this case. But the increasing speed is still significant, and those users who have already tried to work in the system with some good NVMe drive hardly then agree to exchange it for an alternative with SATA interface.

In other words, we came to the understanding that it’s time to finally come to grips with the comparative tests progressive mass NVMe SSD. The growing popularity of these solutions is obvious, and their range is presented in stores, is expanding every day. And if until recently the choice was very simple, because the optimum drive with NVMe interface almost unopposed were 960 Samsung EVO, on the date of its unconditional superiority can be questioned. This, in particular, a recent acquaintance with the Intel SSD 760p new NVMe-a product that at least not worse in performance, and attractive enough for the price. In addition, recently appeared on the market and other interesting options to get around that attention would be at least unfair.

The first big test of the new cycle will be devoted to comparing the most popular options – M. 2 drives with NVMe interface volume 240-256 GB.

#Why NVMe?

Many believe that the NVMe interface, which is gradually moving to solid state drives, is synonymous with speed. Indeed, the peak bandwidth of the SATA interface in its most common version 3.1 is only 600 MB/s, which is clearly below the performance that can give a modern SSD. This is well illustrated by the fact that the performance of linear operations in a variety of modern SATA drives is negligible: it limits the bandwidth of the interface.

At the same time, the current drives with the NVMe interface can offer not only significantly higher, but significantly differing in performance. For example, the best consumer NVMe SSD to give the speed of the serial read and write at the level of 3.5 and 2.7 GB/s respectively, but at the same time more simple NVMe model significantly not up to these indicators. And that means the world NVMe SSD performance is not so emasculated, and devalued characteristics, as in the case of SATA.

This is really an implementation of the interface. For the operation of the NVMe interface at a low level of the selected standard PCI Express serial bus, which not only scales easily by increasing the number of used lines, but even in the variant with one line (version 3.0) may provide the peak throughput of the order of 985 MB/s, that is, at least one and a half times higher than the usual SATA interface. Besides, the vast majority of modern mass NVMe SSD use two or four lines of PCI Express, the final throughput is obtained at 1.97 or even 3,94 GB/s-Based flash memory drives thanks to its multi-channel architecture can use such a fast tire easily, so it turns out that the speed NVMe SSD for sequential operations is significantly higher than SATA SSD.

Specification SATA 3.0 PCI Express 2.0 PCI Express 3.0
The number of lines ×1 ×2 ×4 ×1 ×2 ×4
Bandwidth, GB/s 6,0 5,0 10,0 20,0 8,0 16,0 32,0
Coding 8b/10b 8b/10b 8b/10b 8b/10b 128b/130b 128b/130b 128b/130b
Effective bandwidth GB/s 0,6 0,5 1,0 2,0 0,99 Of 1.97 3,94

However, the original transition SSD with SATA-interface for NVMe thought not only to increase bandwidth, how to reduce latency and add to the work drives multithreading. Opened the possibility of scaling the speed of the serial access become a useful addition. The most important aspect of NVMe that this interface is structurally assigned to work with the drives built on the basis of the non-volatile memory, that is, those which have a multi-channel parallel architecture with fast random access. And it radically differs from the NVMe interface SATA interface of the old hereditary, which came to SSDs from hard disk drives and therefore did not take into account the specifics of the internal structure of the media of the new generation.

In particular, used in the SATA Protocol to AHCI is built around service a shared queue of commands and explicitly assumes that the incoming commands are processed by the device with high access time of storage disks. For this reason, in AHCI contains no concurrency, because the magnetic media read and write data only in sequence. In addition, because even the best HDD I can not offer a delay of less than several milliseconds, in AHCI there are no optimizations to reduce latency. Against the background of high access time the physical media overheads of the Protocol simply does not matter.

It all seemed quite logical and natural for the HDD, but when the SATA interface came to SSD, AHCI Protocol immediately became uncomfortable and even inappropriate. However, despite serious criticism, to abandon it at the first stage proved to be impossible at least due to the fact that there is no other option at the right time simply was not. But even worse, for a while, until the industry has developed and implemented a suitable alternative, SATA, SSD was able to spread widely and approve an inherited interface in the role of a common solution. That is why NVMe storage devices had to open the way to the market with great efforts. Fortunately, to date, all obstacles overcome: NVMe support exists in all modern platforms and operating systems, and it provides a wide range of consumer SSD models that implement this interface.

And at the moment the question of whether the drive what interface should be preferred for advanced system, to arise should not. NVMe is not only benefits in throughput, but is especially suited for the architecture of the SSD, helping to minimise delays when working with data. The fundamental advantages of the two. First, NVMe supports multithreading, allowing you to generate multiple command queues that can be processed by a multi-channel SSD controller in parallel. Secondly, connecting the processor and the storage medium directly, without any intermediaries, NVMe interface brings data to the point of use and removes two unneeded intermediates: the SATA controller and the SATA translator teams, which converts adopted the Protocol AHCI treatment to the sectors and tracks in the data pages of the flash memory.

  AHCI NVMe
The maximum queue depth 1 turn
32 teams in the queue
65536 queues
65536 commands per queue
Uncached accesses to the registers (2000 cycles each) 6 teams out of turn
9 in the command queue
2 per team
MSI-X and interrupt management One interrupt
No control
2048 MSI-X interrupt
Concurrency and multithreading To be fixed timing for issuing a command Fixation is not required
Performance for 4K teams Requires two serial request DRAM Requires a single 64-byte request DRAM

All this has a positive effect on delays. As practice shows, the proposed NVMe interface method of access data, which is a natural for solid-state drive, allowing you to reduce overhead expenses almost doubled. This, in particular, opens the way for an alignment with the latency at the level of a dozen microseconds. And here is not a hypothetical argument, such NVMe drives are known: for example, Optane Intel or Samsung SSD Z SSD. Such service is at the SATA interface simply impossible to implement.

  A typical SATA SSD Typical NVMe SSD
The speed of sequential operations Up to 550 MB/s read
Up to 500 MB/s write
Up to 3500 MB/s read
Up to 2500 MB/s write
Speed random operations Up to 100K IOPS read
Up to 90K IOPS write
Up to 400K IOPS read
Up to 400K IOPS entry

If you delve into the technical details, NVMe, you can see a lot of useful solutions that make the interface very simple and responsive. For example, the transfer of the most typical 4-Kbyte blocks it requires submission of only one team instead of two in SATA. And the whole set of control instructions is simplified so that processing at the driver level can significantly reduce CPU usage and associated latency. As for concurrency and scalability, it is assumed NVMe simultaneous servicing of up to 65,536 queues, and each of them can have depth to 65536 commands. Of course, for personal computers, such degree of parallelism impossible, but by the simultaneous operation of multiple applications that are actively communicating with the drive, CPU usage thanks to NVMe can be somewhat reduced.

Thus, from the point of view of the user NVMe is the maximum throughput for a linear access, the maximum performance with random operations and minimal delays when accessing data. As well as some additional facilities like lower load on the processor and lack of performance degradation when multithreaded operations. Give all of that makes no sense, that’s why we decided to come to grips with the tests NVMe SSD.

#Why is M. 2?

Together with the emergence of a wide range of SSDs that use the NVMe interface, widespread new form factors SSD. And this is natural, since NVMe requires a different connection they are connected to the system, not the SATA cable, but via the PCI Express bus. While the industry has not come to a consensus about how it should look NVMe drives in the market you can find three different versions of these products: HHHL PCIe extension card, M. 2 module and 2.5-inch case products format U. 2. But in any case, the NVMe drive for data transport uses the PCI Express bus, which means the type of execution speed performance is not affected. Just different formats of the SSD can be comfortable in different situations.

The most obvious option NVMe SSD, given the use of PCI Express, it is a standard expansion card. HHHL (Half-Height, Half-Length, half-height, half-length) PCIe-card drives like the graphics card are installed in a regular PCIe slots perpendicular to the motherboard and are quite impressive dimensions — 167 x 111 mm. the Disadvantages of this form-factor is obvious: the drives are bulky, require of free slots and obviously can not be used in compact or mobile systems. However, there are advantages: they are without any obstacles can be equipped with an efficient radiator which will provide a high-performance SSD for the necessary cooling. However, due to imposed restrictions drives expansion cards gradually fade into the background.

Even more rare NVMe storage solutions in the form factor of the U. 2. This includes the entire NVMe SSDS in traditional 2.5-inch enclosure, which allows, in particular easy to mount the drives into a standard basket and provide the functionality of “hot replacement”. But this connection is necessary to meet the special PCIe cable standard SFF-8639, and the motherboard needs to have the appropriate connectors SFF-8643. Such an embodiment NVMe SSD in virtue of their nature, are more typical for servers and desktop computers is almost never used.

The most popular in the NVMe SSD for personal computers, format M. 2 modules. Such drives are made in the form of open-frame compact child card with a stab connector that are installed in a special slot M. 2 on the motherboard parallel to the surface. The typical size M. 2 card – 22 x 80 mm (there are also varieties of 22 × 42, 22 × 60 mm and 22 × 110 mm), i.e. it is relatively tiny items, which may find use not only in desktop computers but also, for example, in thin-and-light laptops. Any system based on modern processors, necessarily provided with one or more slots for M. 2 drives, so compatibility issues this form-factor is gradually fade into the background.

However, it should be borne in mind that the M. 2 slot on the motherboard can be summed up not only what the fastest NVMe SSD four lines PCI Express 3.0, but with fewer lines or more lines of the old standard PCI Express 2.0. Moreover, there are M. 2 slot and SATA interface, which PCI Express connection do not support. Usually for outdated or ultrabudgetary configurations, but once again check compatibility of your system with NVMe drives in the M. 2 format, requiring for its operation four (or for some models of SSD or two) lines PCI Express 3.0, before purchasing the SSD will not hurt. This information can be obtained on the website of the manufacturer of the motherboard or in the user manual.

One important caveat to keep in mind when using M. 2 SSD, it is the need of cooling. In high-speed NVMe SSD has a compact design and multiple heat-producing components are concentrated in a small area. Therefore, for normal operation of such products it is recommended to install radiators or to organize an additional air cooling M. 2 module air flow. Otherwise, drives can overheat and not give the expected performance.

Nevertheless, we recommend you to use NVMe SSD in the form factor M. 2. First, if we talk about high-performance models, such drives are prevalent the most. The range of M. 2 NVMe SSD compared to NVMe drives in other form factors is much broader, and to find a suitable combination option is much easier. Second, the M. 2 NVMe SSD is more compact than the other options: they require no wiring and do not change the dimensions of the Assembly after its installation. Thirdly, to adopt M. 2 NVMe SSD ready today almost any modern desktop or mobile system. Compatibility issues with NVMe drives in the form factor M. 2 is currently the least. In addition, for an M. 2 NVMe SSD has a large selection of boards-adapters that allow you to install them not only in specialized connectors, but in a standard PCI Express slots on the motherboard.

#Table of characteristics of the tested SSD

In the laboratory 3DNews consolidated testing was attended by eighteen modern SSDs with NVMe interface. All of them were made in the format of M. 2 modules, and all of them had the volume a quarter of a terabyte, that is from 240 to 256 GB.

A short list of tested models with their main technical specifications, taken from official sources, is given in the following table.

A more detailed description of participants can be found on the next page of the review.

SOURCE

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Peripherals

Overview NVMe SSD Crucial P1: NVMe on SATA price

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Overview NVMe-ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro: do no harm

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The last two years was quite a difficult period for SSD manufacturer of the second-the third echelon. On the one hand, in 2017, many of them seriously injured because of a serious shortage of NAND chips, and the other in 2018 has intensified the company of the first echelon in the face of Samsung, Western Digital, Micron and Intel, which have been actively squeezed from the market smaller competitors. The changed situation to quickly put everything in its place, with the result that became very clear which of the SSD manufacturers engaged in this business in so far as, and which are expected to take a worthy place in good faith invested in the development of, reputation and marketing.

A good example of a manufacturer of the second echelon, which did not break any of the difficulties — the notorious ADATA. This company has not only firmly established in the market, not yielding its place to the giants, but was able to significantly expand their business while many of its competitors ceased to do solid state drives. For example, last year she managed to increase sales of SSD by about 15 %, with a significant growth was achieved not only in the segment of entry-level products, but sales of productive drives using the NVMe interface.

The reasons for this success are quite obvious: on the one hand, ADATA reached agreement on stable supply of high-quality 3D NAND with Toshiba, and with another – actively worked on the development of its model range, repeatedly choosing good partners developers controllers. In particular, the most accessible storage company, as their controllers, not disdaining work as with well-established firms scale Marvell and Silicon Motion, and with newcomers like Maxiotek and Realtek. Creating top-level products ADATA consistently relied on platform Silicon Motion — and it turned out to be very wise and farsighted decision.

The fact that over the past few years Silicon Motion could become a leading independent supplier of SSD controllers, the extent of whose business it is easy to appreciate the fact that last year the company shipped to consumers in its six billionth chip. However, how good solutions Silicon Motion in engineering terms, to judge better for others achievements. For example, it can boast of supplying chips for storage the leading manufacturers of the level of Micron and Intel. But even more impressive is that, starting with a low-power controllers for budget SSDS, Silicon Motion over a few years could reach that today her chips almost not inferior to the best solutions Samsung and SanDisk, which has long been considered unattainable for other ideal.

That is what was planned originally our story. We were going to talk about how outstanding the SSD can be constructed, if we take the modern and best platform Silicon Motion (SMI) and fill it solid 64-layer TLC 3D NAND production Micron. To assemble this configuration, of course, could any of the SSD manufacturers, but for some reason we are not surprised that this manufacturer once again proved to be the ADATA. This company has managed to surprise us when he offered to drive XPG SX8200, overplayed performance 970 Samsung EVO. But now she was going to Shine even more and to surpass the latest 970 Samsung EVO Plus, which we recently named best mass SSD with NVMe interface.

That’s just the approach of the ADATA at this time, raises serious questions. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

#Specifications

The main reason why new ADATA XPG Pro SX8200 so interested as computer enthusiasts in General and us in particular, controller SMI SM2262EN. The use of this circuit distinguishes XPG SX8200 Pro from the previous version of the flagship NVMe SSD company – XPG easy SX8200. An array of flash memory in the XPG SX8200 Pro is the same as before, but thanks to the introduction of an upgraded version of the controller from the new drive should be much faster – so presents its new ADATA itself.

And there is a certain logic. Controller SM2262 became the first solution to Silicon Motion, allowing NVMe storage devices manufacturers second tier to reach the highest level of performance. Chip SM2262EN was initially positioned as a corporate (Enterprise) version of the conventional SM2262 with additional algorithms, aimed at improving reliability. But as a result of optimization of the original controller Silicon Motion engineers managed to seriously differ in characteristics, the platform, so the developers have deemed it necessary to offer it to the mass market. This made possible the production of such products as ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro or its close analogues – HP EX950 or Transcend NVMe SSD 220S.

Unfortunately, we do not have detailed information about what was key to the significant growth of the performance characteristics in SM2262EN. The developers say that the basic architecture in an updated version of the controller was left untouched. In this, as before, sold eight channels for the organization of the array of flash memory, supports PCI Express 3.0 x4, and the base is a pair of cores ARM Cortex-R. in fact, the changes relate only to the firmware, and its low-level component, that is, algorithms that the controller uses to read and write analog data of the memory cells and for converting it into digital form.

Itself Silicon Motion claims that SM2262EN they were able to increase sequential write speed by up to 60 % and the performance with random reads and writes at 10-15% and 40% respectively. Speaking specifically about ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro features of this model acquired the following form.

Manufacturer ADATA
Series XPG SX8200 Pro
Model number ASX8200PNP-256GT ASX8200PNP-512GT ASX8200PNP-1TT
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 256 512 1024
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D TLC NAND
Controller SMI SM2262EN
Buffer: type, volume DDR3-1600,
256 MB
DDR3-1600,
512 MB
DDR3-1600,
1024 MB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3500 3500 3500
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1200 2300 3000
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 220 000 390 000 390 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 290 000 380 000 380 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,14/0,33
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 2,0
Resource record, TB 160 320 640
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 80 x 22 x 3.5
Weight, g 8
Warranty period, years 5

Leading performance the specs really grown, and now the linear speed of the older version of the XPG Pro SX8200 getting to close to the bandwidth of PCI Express 3.0 x4 not only when reading but also when writing. Prior XPG SX8200 was with this kind of load is slower almost by half. The same applies to performance under arbitrary operations: for the new model claimed a substantially higher speed, and this primarily applies to the record.

The flash memory is completely innocent. We recently tested an updated drive 970 Samsung EVO Plus, there is the growth of productivity was achieved due to the transition to a more modern memory architecture. But ADATA XPG Pro SX8200 the gains in performance achieved in other ways, because it is based on the same memory as the regular XPG SX8200, – 64-layer TLC 3D NAND, Micron 256-Gigabit chips. Updated controller SM2262EN really adapted including for prospective 96-layer memory, but ADATA decided not to wait for the moment when Toshiba will start mass supply of such flash memory on the open market, choosing the widely available and well proven TLC 3D NAND last, the second generation, with 64 layers.

In other words, the incident, the acceleration really is completely determined by the controller, or rather its algorithms, one of which is a rapid entry algorithm, implemented through the SLC cache. As before, he SX8200 ADATA XPG Pro works in a dynamic scheme, that is, the cache is stored in the main array of flash memory, and the amount of information that you can record in accelerated mode, depends on how much free space is on the SSD. However, in the details of implementation have been significant changes.

What has changed, it is easy to see, if you look at the chart speed continuous sequential write on an empty ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro with a capacity of 512 GB.

To start with the fact that the actual speed of writing data into the array of flash memory the new drive compared to the standard ADATA XPG SX8200 above are not always. In fact, the gain in performance is noticeable only when you record in the fast SLC mode. Last SSD based on controller SM2262 in this case, provided the speed of the order of 1.7 GB/s, and now it has grown to 1.9 GB/s While the write speed in normal TLC mode, on the contrary, decreased. Have ADATA XPG SX8200 it was 550 MB/s, the new drive XPG SX8200 Pro gives only 470 MB/s.

In light of these changes the developers had to completely redraw the strategy of SLC cache. If the earlier drive was filled with an array of flash memory in single-bit mode as long as it is allowed free space, moving to a three-bit recording only when the SLC-mode was no longer available, XPG SX8200 Pro volume SLC cache was half the size. That is, high-speed recording is available now only on half of the free capacity of the SSD. But during long operations, leading to a transition in the TLC mode, the drive is not required immediately resort to consolidation of information previously recorded in single bit mode. As a result, the load on the controller became less, and the end of free space in the cache does not, as before, to decrease the linear velocity of up to 340 MB/s, and the result is one and a half times higher.

Therefore, in the above graph, the linear velocity of the continuous recording on a clean 512 GB ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro it is possible to allocate three stages. The first 80 GB is written in SLC mode at speeds of 1.9 GB/s 240 GB Later recorded in TLC mode with a speed of 550 Mbps. And the last 192 GB is appended already at the TLC-mode with simultaneous compaction of the data previously stored in the single bit mode, in this case, the linear speed drops to 300 MB/s. That is, on a qualitative level ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro compared to the XPG SX8200 offers faster dynamic SLC cache which was less than half capacity and in the best case allows you to speed up the entry of data volume equal to about one-sixth and not one-third of the SSD free space.

But the main news in the strategy of caching XPG SX8200 Pro – not a reduction in the amount of flash memory used for recording in the SLC mode, and the fact that the drive now will cache operations not only write, but read. However, the approach used has no advanced prefetch algorithms, and uses the most stupid logic. Information included in the SLC cache when the entry is transferred from it to the TLC memory with high latency, and this leads to the fact that scenarios in which there is a read-only recorded data are serviced much faster than reading the data stored on the SSD earlier.

In real life reading vegetariani data can hardly be considered a common scenario. Therefore, the strategy implemented in ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro, the benefit of regular users, most likely, will not bring. But it effectively allows you to throw dust in the eyes, and much raise the performance of drive in benchmarks, because it is primarily the typical measurement of speed of reading references to a newly created test file. This means that most of the results of the tests XPG SX8200 Pro does not match the actual performance of this drive – it is possible to see how fast the reading from the SLC cache, while in everyday use the SSD almost all of the data actually read from the array TLC memory.

Not to be unfounded, we conducted a simple experiment which measured the speed of random read fresh file immediately after its creation and after some time the drive was written additional data.

Interpretation of the results is very simple. While the file is only created, and is still in the SLC cache, the drive ensures speed melkoplodnogo read (blocks 4 KB queue of requests) at 57 MB/s. However, as soon as under the influence of subsequent write operations, the file migrates from cache in conventional TLC memory, the read speed drops by about 20 % to 45 MB/s For the displacement of the source file from the cache on a clean drive is enough to record about 60 GB of data, that is, the transfer of old data from the SLC cache to the array normal memory is then when the cache is filled on three quarters.

From this we can draw several conclusions. First, the usual benchmarks that measure the speed, in terms of specially designed for the measurement file, give for ADATA XPG Pro SX8200 incorrect and inflated speed reading. Second, although the dynamic cache of the drive and requires a sufficiently large volume, in most cases, it is three quarters filled with previously recorded data, which reduces its efficiency in write operations.

Perhaps this statement will sound too loud, but it seems that the optimization of caching algorithms in ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro is focused on increasing the results that this drive shows in the tests, and not on productivity growth in real customer scenarios. Therefore, the assertion that the Pro version of the SSD is much faster than ordinary XPG SX8200, we would put under the question mark, the answer to which will help extensive testing to which we now turn.

But consider that all the improvements in XPG SX8200 Pro will only have a “cheat” character, still not worth it. Because some changes do not associated with indicators performance. For example, ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro in comparison with the predecessor received higher capacities that are multiples of 256, instead of 240 GB. As a result, users get an additional 6 percent of the volume, which respectively cut off from the service area of the drive. However, do not be afraid of decreasing reliability: as shown by tests of endurance XPG SX8200for their older SSD models ADATA acquires from Toshiba first-class memory that is able to carry very high load.

In addition, the model number XPG SX8200 Pro promised and dvuhterabaytny modification that were not previously available. However, now its in the sale too, but at least the manufacturer claims that it is the intention to release it later.

But the terms of the warranty on the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro was exactly the same. The drive is given a five-year warranty, and the amount of resolved entries is calculated so that the entire drive can be overwritten a maximum of 640 times. It is quite typical limitation for today’s leading SSD manufacturers.

#Appearance and internal structure

ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro – drive in the form factor M. 2 2280, which operates via the bus PCI Express 3.0 x4 interface and supports the NVM Express version 1.3. For testing, we took a model with a capacity of 512 GB. Due to a significant decline in prices this volume for a performance SSD with NVMe interface has now become one of the most popular choices among enthusiasts.

For the first look at the selected version of the XPG Pro SX8200 becomes clear that this drive is very much inherited from the previous XPG SX8200. Moreover, the old and the new modification use identical PCB, which is possible due to compatibility insights between controllers SM2262 and SM2262EN. In other words, to distinguish XPG SX8200 Pro in appearance, it is necessary to look at the markings of the controller, namely on the letters ENG and not G, at the end of its model number.

Board the double-sided drive, and memory chips located on both sides of it. This means that this drive is fatter popular NVMe SSD major manufacturers (e.g. WD Black or Samsung NVMe 970 EVO Plus), and therefore it may not be suitable for some slim laptops.

 

Two chips on the drive are DRAM buffer. It is assembled on the basis of a pair of 256 MB chips DDR3-1600 production Nanya. This is a very non-standard solution proposed in the new platforms, Silicon Motion, in which the buffer dynamic memory communicates with the controller by the 32-bit and not 16 bit as in the other SSD, the bus. The result XPG SX8200 Pro gets a definite advantage when working with melkoplodnyj operations, where the controller is required to interact with the table of address translation. Circuitry ADATA XPG Pro SX8200 represented by seven chips — such an abundance of components on the drives of format M. 2 uncommon. But the array of flash memory composed of only four chips, which bear the markings ADATA most. The fact that the company buys from the manufacturer of semiconductors solid plate with crystals NAND and their own cuts, sorts and packs in the chip. If we talk about the storage capacity of 512 GB, then each of the four chip flash memory contains within itself four 256-Gigabit crystal 64-layer TLC 3D NAND production Micron, which allows eight-channel controller to access this array to use double alternating devices in each channel. That is why terabyte version XPG SX8200 Pro can be faster polterabayta – fourfold alternation has the best efficiency in write operations.

It is worth mentioning that the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro has a twin brother – XPG Gammix S11 Pro. This is the same product, but with gaming decor — covers the front side of the Board SSD notched aluminum radiator. And I must say, the cooling for that drive too much will not be because heated during operation, it is quite noticeable. So for XPG SX8200 Pro manufacturer also provided a heat-dissipating plate.

But in this case it has no complicated shape and originally on the drive is not attached. To install it is the user’s responsibility — in that case, if the M. 2 slot, which is supposed to use the SSD does not have a regular radiator.

#Software

With the service software from ADATA, the situation is far better. Proprietary tool for storage companies exist, but it is developing very sluggish, and its capabilities and appearance leave much to be desired. For example, every time during testing we greatly annoys her inability to correctly scale your UI on a 4K monitor in accordance with the settings of the operating system.

However, support for new drives ADATA SSD Toolbox is added in a timely manner.

So, in addition to issuing full diagnostic information about SSD, ADATA SSD Toolbox allows you to inspect the flash memory drive, send him a package of TRIM commands, or perform the automatic adjustment of operating system settings (disabling Superfetch, Prefetch and Defrag).

Also using ADATA SSD Toolbox to upgrade the firmware and perform a Secure Erase procedure.

In addition, after registration, acquired XPG SX8200 Pro on the manufacturer’s website you can get the key to a popular program for cloning data Acronis True Image HD 2013/2015.

SOURCE

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Overview NVMe drive, Samsung 983 ZET: awesome SSD based on NAND memory with performance like Optane

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Modern solid-state drives for personal computers can be divided into three principally different subgroups according to their level of performance. There is a SATA SSD, the performance of which is limited by the bandwidth of the interface. There is a NVMe SSD, which are a step above, because their performance is no longer determined by the interface, and the bandwidth used in the memory array of the flash memory. Optane is the Intel SSD is an advanced drive built on entirely different principles. It does not apply the NAND chips, and XPoint 3D – non-volatile memory with direct addressing, based on the effect of the phase transition. Due to this Optane SSD offers significantly lower than any flash drives, delays and much higher speed with small data blocks.

I must say that since its inception Optane Intel SSD acts as the object of desire of many enthusiasts. This drive is the best thing that ever happened in the market of data storage systems, and the only major problem preventing him from widely disseminated, is the high price. However Optane SSD perfectly solves another problem of image: it illustrates the potential of promising technologies and clearly shows that Intel is a major innovator, captured the championship in the promotion decisions of future generations on the market media.

However, this role of Intel in whatever was wanted to challenge Samsung, which for many years has been the market leader in SSD, if to speak about sales volumes. In addition, Samsung was able to capture the championship and in terms of performance of traditional solid-state drives with SATA and NVMe, but to Optane SSD with it a fundamentally different memory 3D XPoint to reach for a long time could not. However, since the first appearance of Optane SSD on the horizon the South Korean manufacturer has launched development of a competitor for intelestage flagship, codenamed Z-SSD. And the main intrigue was here that Samsung has set a goal to make the drive, similar to Optane performance, butusing the existing NAND technology, that is, without resorting to the use of memory cells with some other physical principles.

And I must say that in the end Samsung Z-the SSD was not some mythical project, and this materialized in very specific products that are really able to challenge the exceptional status of Optane. Why does this not blow at all angles? The really interesting question, but Samsung for some reason decided not to do based on the technology of Z-SSD drives, which can be interesting for enthusiasts, but targeted exclusively at corporate clients and data centers. However, in the family of Z-SSD includes two of the product, 983, and SZ985, and they come in such performance characteristics, which are not only comparable with the specifications Optane, but even in some aspects superior to them.

That drives on the basis of traditional NAND could be at least as good solutions based on 3D XPoint, it sounds a bit fantastic, so we tried to get some sample of the Samsung Z is the SSD. And we have succeeded in the disposal of laboratory 3DNews got the most simple version Z is the SSD, but even in her case, it will be interesting to see what they are capable of Korean alternative to Optane and how it can be applicable for high-performance desktops. In other words, the main question that is answered by this review, can be formulated as: “do Optane 905P Intel SSD is the fastest drive for extreme configurations, or Samsung really has got something interesting?”

#Specifications

Samsung is not very spread about how the Z drives-SSD at a low level. Nevertheless, a rough picture of how fundamentally provided higher performance and extremely low latency, we still can be, analyzing the cards are ranked in our order of the drive 983 ZET.

And immediately want to tell about the biggest surprise: the Z-SSDS in the face of 983 ZET is not based on any special controller, and the well familiar to us Samsung chip Phoenix. It turns out that a fundamentally new high-performance SSD, which should compete with Intel Optane, uses exactly the same controller as traditional drives Samsung PRO 970 and the 970 EVO Plus, which to the level Optane seriously fall short.

But if you look, there is nothing strange. Controller Phoenix has a huge potential, which drives the 970 series is not fully disclosed. Because it is built on the basis of pachydermia ARM-CPU and has eight channels to work with the array of the flash memory. As we have repeatedly seen in practice, such an Arsenal is quite enough in order to create solutions with a leading level of performance on the basis of MLC and TLC 3D V-NAND.

Z-the SSD should be better than “brothers in controller” because otherwise the filling of the array of flash memory that needs to raise performance to a new level. Itself the Samsung speaks about some special memory, abbreviated as Z-NAND. However, the fact that the Z SSD uses a standard controller, clearly indicates the relationship of the mysterious Z-with the usual NAND 3D V-NAND memory.

Indeed, in a more detailed trial, it appears that Z-NAND, which built Z all-SSD, and Samsung 983 ZET in particular, is a 64-layer three-dimensional V-NAND. But not exactly of the kind to which we are accustomed. It’s not TLC or MLC memory, and SLC single-bit 3D V-NAND, Samsung is specially developed to reduce latency when reading and writing. The second important feature of this memory is a relatively small amount of crystals, which is only 64 GB.

And this means that in a high performance Z-SSD there’s no magic. And there are two objective factors: easy to maintain Nikolaevna single-bit 3D V-NAND array with a very high degree of parallelism, where the controller can use not only all eight channels, but multiple devices alternating in each channel. That simple things really work, indicate the official specifications of the Samsung 983 ZET.

Manufacturer Samsung
Series 983 ZET
Model number MZ-PZA480BW MZ-PZA960BW
Form factor Half-height Half-length (HHHL)
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.2
Capacity, GB 480 960
Configuration
Flash memory: type, process technology, manufacturer Samsung 64-layer 64-Gbit SLC 3D V-NAND (Z NAND)
Controller Samsung Phoenix
Buffer: type, volume LPDDR4, 1 GB LPDDR4, 2 GB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3400 3400
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 3000 3000
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 750 000 750 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 60 000 75 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 5,5/9,0
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 2,0
Resource record, TB 7440 17520
Dimensions: D × H × d, mm Of 167.7 × 69,9 × 18,8
Weight, g 330
Warranty period, years 5

The use of SLC 3D V-NAND will solve another problem – this memory is very hardy. In a time when SSD odnolistovoe memory were in Vogue, the flash memory was attributed to the ability to carry more than 100 thousand cycles program / erase. Since then, it took a lot of time, but the endurance of modern memory cells dobitocii should be not worse. The reduction of technological norms shall be compensated as transition to three-dimensional 64-layer structure, and the development of the controller Phoenix powerful methods of error correction based on LDPC coding.

In other words, Samsung 983 ZET could claim to be as “eternal” storage as Intel Optane. Actually, on this hint, and the manufacturer. For 983 ZET stated exactly the same yield like Optane SSD 905P, which means that a tenfold refilling the entire capacity every day over a five-year warranty period or the ability of the drive for a life time to transfer a total of at least 16-18 thousand cycles complete rewrite.

And in the end it turns out that the characteristics of Samsung 983 ZET looks even better than Intel SSD Optane 905P. At least for the representative of the family of Z-SSB claimed a higher linear velocity and higher performance with random reads. The only weak spot in the specifications 983 ZET – the random write speed. However, you need to understand that in passport characteristics indicated an established rate to be achieved in the long-term process of continuous rewrites data. This value makes sense to evaluate the applicability of the drive in server environments, but if we talk about the possibility of using Z-SSDS in desktops, the speed of random writes will be much higher.

Samsung 960GB 983 ZET Optane 905P Intel SSD 960GB
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3400 2600
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 3000 2200
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 750 000 575 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 75 000 550 000
The latency when reading the ISS 20 10
The latency when you record, ISS 16 10

However, despite the very stated specifications, Samsung 983, and Intel SSD Optane 905P considered synonymous still impossible. In these devices uses a memory with a fundamentally different organization, so that, and the other solution has unique features. While Samsung 983 ZET is a classic SSD’s in General work the same way as any other drive with NAND memory, the memory Optane SSD requires no preparation before recording, and assumes a straight line, and not page access. For this reason, Optane SSD is always at a constant rate, regardless of the condition and occupancy of the 3D array XPoint does not require any special maintenance like garbage collection and not needs TRIM commands from the operating system.

#Exterior and interior design

All members of the family Z SSD is enough overall device. Since they are going out of the NAND chips is relatively small capacity, to fit arrays of flash memory required amount in the form factor M. 2 in this case, it would not be possible. It is not surprising that fell into our hands drive Samsung 983 ZET was made in the form of PCIe-HHHL fees-format (half-height).

 

In General, this fee is very very similar to Optane SSD 900P, and not only in size, but the fact that her entire front surface covered by aluminum heatsink, and the rear side of a steel plate. But Samsung the radiator looks brutal: it has no inscriptions, no beveled or rounded corners. But it is painted in a beautiful deep blue color, so Samsung 983 ZET is still not devoid of a certain charm.

It should be noted that the radiator with such a developed profile – more decorative than really necessary element 983 ZET. Heated Z-SSD not so much, and it is clearly less than, for example, members of the family Optane SSD. The temperature of the drive Samsung during long operations rarely rises above 40 degrees.

Fee 983 ZET suitable for installation in a normal PCIe 3.0 with at least four lines and can be used in both standard and low profile enclosures, for which the package provides two different height tie-down strap. They both have vents and a cutout through which the connector discern technology and several diagnostic LEDs, which can be seen on the drive activity.

Let’s look under the radiator.

Here we will find many interesting things, starting with the fact that between the chips, which it needs cooling, and its internal plane leaving a gap in the good mm, filled with thick pads. And he received them, not all of the chip. Half of the chips flash memory at all in any way with the heatsink not making contact, which once again confirms the thesis of its decorative purpose.

In General, the circuitry of the Samsung ZET 983 480 GB controller generates a Phoenix, used them to buffer table address translation chip LPDDR4 with a capacity of 1 GB, and a set of chips of the flash memory. The SLC array 3D V-NAND version 983 ZET with a capacity of 480 GB is assembled of eight chips, each of which has eight 64-Gigabit crystals. Also on the Board of the drive has a large number of free “landing pads” for extra chips, which if necessary can be increased to 32 pieces.

 

Server orientation Samsung 983 ZET gives not only the performance of the basin in the form of a PCIe card half height, but it has hardware protection against power interruptions. The power supply circuit includes three powerful electrolytic capacitor 270 UF, the charge which should be enough for a clean shutdown of the drive in case of sudden blackout of the system. In other words, the current version of the Z-SSD prepared for use in fairly harsh conditions.

However, a Samsung device 983 ZET does not involve a significant reserve of flash memory, which is often present in the server SSD models. In the model of the drive from the user is “hidden” only 13% of the total memory array and it is typical for the mass storage options overhead cells. In the same Optane SSD, the total volume of the backup memory reaches 21 % of the total drive capacity. This suggests that SLC 3D V-NAND really is extremely resistant to wear even under severe loads, and Z-SSD does not require replacement Fund of significant size.

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