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Composite testing of microSD memory cards with capacity of 64 GB

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If you want to choose the best memory card for camera or smartphone, but you are not sure, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we talk about differ from one another in-market memory card, and give practical response to the question, what specific memory card may be better in certain scenarios.

In 2018 the memory card is ubiquitous. They are used in many types of consumer electronics ranging from phones and cameras to laptops, drones, and video recorders. Quality work all these gadgets directly depends on how relevant to them is a hand-picked card. And it’s not just in capacity: capacity of memory cards, as their price can vary significantly, and different gadgets impose completely different requirements to the speed of the used media. If the memory card is selected incorrectly, it may directly affect the operation of the gadget — to the point that he even refuses to perform its functions. Therefore, the study of the practical characteristics of memory cards under load of different types is a very important study, which allows you to find the most suitable for each variant, while not overpaying for useless features.

#Is a little about the history and standardization of the SD card

Standard memory cards Secure Digital (SD or briefly) acquired widespread in the early 2000s, after in 1999 the three companies – SanDisk, Panasonic and Toshiba – have decided to unite and develop a unified specification compact removable media based on flash memory. Now, after almost two decades from that moment, you can already confidently say that the goal was achieved. The initiative caught on, and the SD card have actually become a unified industry standard, despite the fact that produce these memory cards dozens of companies. An excellent illustration of the success of standard SD cards may be the fact that now in the development and implementation of this standard is somehow involved more than eight hundred different companies. This is good news.

The bad news is that, despite the existence of a single standardization body, special organization of the SD Association, without zoo of different types of memory cards the deal is still not done. On the market cards are different form factors, capacities and performance classes. Moreover, although in General the devices made in accordance with a common standard and for the most part compatible with each other, they are not interchangeable. Part of on the market cards are better suited to download apps and work in Android smartphones because they have the best performance during operations random read, others are better at sequential operations, which is critical for recording high resolution videos, photos, and more.

The SD Association has done a lot of engineering work to develop a technical standard compact media, but outreach and marketing activities of this Association raises many questions. What, for example, is the fact that each new version of the SD specification were introduced into circulation a new classification of high-speed parameters and added to the existing new variants of marking. In addition, the names of the types of memory cards were added various modifiers, and to date the situation has come to a point where numerous logos on the package flash-cards, even an expert will not be able to define what it is to be expected in practical use. But do not fear: in this article we present a simple and detailed explanation of classification cards, and in addition, we compare the actual performance of the most relevant cards microSD 64 GB.

#Form factors SD card

The simple and clear distinction between different SD cards is their physical size. Despite the fact that at a logical level, no differences between the different form factors, there is three different size memory cards: standard, mini and micro.

It is obvious that the cards of different size are used in different types of devices, and more compact cards are usually used in a more portable gadgets. In this case, since SD, MiniSD and MicroSD are made in accordance with a common standard, they can be interchanged using simple adapters. Thus, the most compact MicroSD cards often come with the adapter that allows their use in full size SD slots, and backward compatibility is not affected. The use of adapter has no effect neither on speed, nor on anything else. So microSD cards are the most versatile option and can be installed in devices with a microSD slot and a normal SD slot.

Card microSD with adapter for standard slots

As for form factor MiniSD, he in modern devices it is almost never used. Moreover, it is not exaggeration to say that today he is dead.

#Capacity and types standard

The capacity of the memory card is, perhaps, another obvious feature. Although SD cards may have a size from 1 MB to 2 TB (and in the future – and even more) confused here is extremely difficult, especially as on any memory card, its capacity in gigabytes is specified in such a large font that not find or correctly read this value impossible.

However, the SD Association has worked hard to ensure that ordinary people got some headache even here. The fact is that depending on the capacity of the SD card refers to the different types are: SDSC, SDHC, and SDXC. This classification is due to the use of different file systems, and as a result each type has its own frame capacity devices.

A standard SD card SDSC (Standard Capacity), first appeared on the market, could have a maximum size of 2 GB, but they understandably outdated and have virtually not found. Larger cards with a capacity from 2 to 32 GB are of type SDHC (High Capacity), and the most capacious today a card type is SDXC (eXtended Capacity), and their size can reach a theoretical limit of 2 TB.

Each of these types has its own file system. Old SDSC used FAT12 or FAT16, SDHC, moved to the FAT32 file system, and in the most modern SDXC exFAT is used. Here it is worth emphasizing that the use of exFAT caused at the time a lot of disputes. The fact that it is a closed file management system that has limited support in operating systems. As a consequence, SDXC cards may not work in some free Linux distributions, and require a relatively fresh variants of Windows (at least XP SP2 or Vista SP1) and Mac OS X (10.6.5 and above). The same reformatting the SDXC card in a different exFAT file system is possible, but can lead to loss of compatibility with the target gadget, for which it was originally intended.

In 2018 to the list of types SD-card added one – SDUC (Ultra Capacity). It identifies the device with maximum capacity from 2 to 128 TB and continues to use the exFAT file system. In the sale of these cards yet, but obviously soon we will have to deal with the fourth type of SD card.

Although the capacity of SD cards and their type there exists a one-to-one correspondence, to think about the variety of purchased cards you still need. The fact that compatibility between devices and different SD-cards is only one sided. So, if the gadget is compatible with SDXC, it will not only support SDXC but SDHC card. But the device without the support of SDXC cards those cards will not work.

#Speed characteristics of the memory card

Devices of different type using a memory card with different intensity and impose different requirements on their speed characteristics. In order to let users easily choose a memory card in accordance with their needs, the SD Association has introduced additional classification of SD cards for performance levels. In theory it’s supposed to help the correct selection of cards, but with each new version of the standard introduced a new ranking scheme of class performance, and to date, determined for five different parameters that illustrate the speed capabilities of the SD card: speed class, UHS, UHS speed bus, speed class video the class performance for applications.

Manufacturers of memory cards can be used as part or all these options for marking their products, which can cause some confusion. But it’s not as difficult as it seems at first glance.

Speed class (normal). Designation normal speed class (Speed Class) in the form of a number in a circle with a gap you can find almost any memory card or on its packaging. Specification defines four different classes – C2, C4, C6 and C10. This quantitative parameter specifies the minimum guaranteed speed of linear recording in megabytes per second. For example, the class 10 speed means that the recording card will provide a performance not lower than 10 MB/s.

Although sales still continue to meet the memory card of the lower classes of speed, almost all the current offers comply with speed class C10. It is believed that such performance is sufficient for recording at least a standard video stream with a Full HD resolution with standard compression.

Because memory cards of lower speed classes C1, C4 or C6, it is clearly outdated products, the choice we suggest is to immediately dismiss such proposals. Fortunately, the market for them remains very little.

UHS speed class (Ultra High Speed). Here two SD Association defines speed class UHS Speed Class 1 and UHS Speed Class 3. They are indicated by a logo with the letter U, inside which is inscribed the number 1 or 3. UHS class 1 corresponds to the minimum speed of the linear record is 10 MB/s and UHS class 3 guarantees a write speed of 30 MB/s.

While UHS class 1 is actually equivalent to the usual tenth of the speed class, UHS class 3 is a guarantee that the card will record video in Full HD with frame rates up to 120 FPS or standard video to 4K.

Speed bus UHS. Although this speed parameter has a similar name to the previous one, actually no relation to him has. We are not talking about the possibility of the array of flash memory running inside of the card and the bus on which the memory card communicates with the device host. Current memory cards use two versions of the external bus – UHS-I or UHS-II. Version UHS-I allows you to transfer data with a maximum theoretical speed of up to 104 MB/s in one direction, and the UHS-II has a maximum throughput of 312 MB/s in one direction or 156 MB/s in full duplex mode. On memory cards and packages version of the tire is indicated by the usual Roman numeral I or II.

Most memory cards, which are presented in the stores, use the bus UHS-I. gradually, However, begin to meet-and higher-speed UHS-II device. They are easy to distinguish not only marking, but also due to the fact that these memory cards have a second row of contacts, by the use of which achieves the speed increase. However, this also means that although cards that support UHS-II and is able to work with devices with the bus UHS-I, use them in such gadgets makes no sense – the maximum speed they will not develop. However, backward compatibility standards in this case is completely smooth, so if the required speed within the bandwidth of the first version of UHS, it is allowed to install UHS-I card in devices that support UHS-II.

Left – UHS-I microSD card; right – UHS-II microSD card

Also worth mentioning that in 2017 the SD Association released the specification of the bus UHS-III, the capacity of which reaches up to 624 Mbps. At the moment of the existence in nature of memory cards or gadgets with support for UHS-III we do not know, but I’m sure with time the market will come with such solutions.

You need to understand that the bus speed UHS – parameter that has no explicit effect on the performance of the memory card. The implemented version of the tire only determines the maximum speed of the interface. Therefore, purposefully chasing UHS-II devices only makes sense in that case, if you really need a speed of about 90-100 MB/s. While providing such a performance when you record only a single SD card of the last generation, the cost of which exceeds the cost of any UHS-I memory card several times.

Speed rating for video. Another additional feature according to which the SD Association proposes to classify memory cards, a point aimed at an audience of users who shoot videos in high and ultra-high 4K and 8K. Speed class for video (Video Speed Class) is denoted by V and a following number, which is the minimum guaranteed write speed to the card. The specification introduces the following classes: V6, V10, V30, V60 and V90, and to them belong the SD card with the sequential write speed is above 6, 10, 30, 60 or 90 MB/s, respectively.

It is clear that different types of classification have intersection. So, V6 corresponds to the ordinary high-speed class 6; V10 is the same as the speed class 10 or UHS Speed Class 1 and UHS-3 speed intersects with the requirements of the V30. However, such a multiplicity of entities not confused by the SD Association, which presses on the fact that additional classes speed video to allow you to choose a memory card for movies in a more universal single rule. It is believed that while the V30 card should be enough for 4K shooting, the maps corresponding to the classes V60 and V90 should be interested in videographers working with image formats 8K at a frame rate of 60 or even 120 FPS.

If you compare all the classes that characterize the sequential write speed, we get the following table, which should be understood as a cross between speed classes, introduced different editions of the specifications for SD cards.

The minimum speed of the linear record, MB/s Speed class UHS speed class Speed class video
2 C2
4 C4
6 C6 V6
10 C10 U1 V10
30 U3 V30
60 V60
90 V90

Class performance for applications. As soon as memory cards were actively used not only in photo – and videocameras, but also in smartphones or tablets, the SD Association has to think about the necessity of classification from the point of view of their application in such devices. The fact that when using Android devices a critical feature is not only sequential write speed, but the speed of random melkoplodnogo read and write. Operations of this type occur when run from SD-card applications and the storage they work files, and this is a completely different load that has nothing to do with the usual sequential writes.

To rank the cards according to their suitability for installation, storage and running programs was introduced two additional class Application Performance Class A1 and A2. Their logos can also sometimes be detected on SD cards or their packaging.

To quantitatively describe the performance class for applications is not so simple: within these classes are set the minimum speed simultaneously under several loading scenarios.

Class performance for applications Minimum speed of random read IOPS Minimum speed of random writes IOPS The minimum speed of the linear record, MB/s
A1 1500 500 10
A2 4000 2000 10

In addition, the memory card corresponding to the class A2 should maintain a number of additional features more specific to SSD. Among them is the caching of data in the internal DRAM, the job queue of queries and a set of tools for maintenance of the array of flash memory (stand-alone garbage collection).

However, the A2 class was determined just a year ago, and the SD card are not on the market. A pity, because due to the implementation of additional functionality they have become devices to a whole new level, closer in its properties to modern high-tech solid-state media.

#Working voltage

Another characteristic on which different SD card, it is used a signal voltage. Until recently, they used a single voltage level is 3.3 V, but last year, the SD Association introduced LVS-card (Low Voltage Signaling) focused on voltage of 1.8 V and is designed for use in economical devices. Such an energy efficient card should be marked with a special logo with characters LV.

The need to transition to a lower voltage associated with the fact that the high-speed memory card that works with the most rapid options bus UHS-II and UHS-III, began to show excessively high levels of heat dissipation. While for a normal map is characterized by the dispersion of 0.5-1 W of heat at maximum load, the heat dissipation of high performance memory cards can go up to several watts, which causes problems with cooling and it is totally unacceptable for most mobile gadgets.

The standard requires that LVS-card should not become a completely separate class of carriers. Specification requires that they will work with any device that uses as low and usual level of signal voltages. Thus, the problems to the owners of LVS-card – they are suitable everywhere. However, for gadgets that require extremely economical SD cards, suited cards only LVS-varieties.

At the moment the vast majority sold in stores memory card does not support low voltage signal. But gradually they will be more widespread, and their existence must remember when choosing the right mobile carrier information.

#Marking

In theory to understand what the properties of one or the other memory card, can be printed on its obverse surface of the characters. Normal at the moment, the set of markings includes the capacity and type of memory card and class speeds (normal). Often in addition to that you can find the logo version bus UHS and UHS-speed class. Speed class for videos and apps rarely indicated, but such cards also occur. The General principle is: the greater role played by the manufacturer in the SD Association, the more different logos he placed on the map. It is therefore not surprising that especially are full of different markings SanDisk memory card.

However, you need to understand that to focus on the logos – not the wisest decision. First, the conformity of the declared classes is only the opinion of the manufacturer of your product, is not confirmed by any independent tests. Second, the speed classes define mainly only one parameter – speed of the linear record, but in reality memory cards vary and other options performance. Thirdly, the ranking adopted by the SD Association classes allows you to get information about the cards is only a very rough approximation.

All understand this and the producers themselves. So some of them stand in marked or indicated in the specifications is not only classes, but also direct high-speed characteristics of its products. However, most often this is done only in the case when the manufacturer wants to boast speed and then some for additional details on speed in this way can be found only for memory cards with high cost.

#Table tested microSDXC memory card 64 GB

For the first tests (and they certainly will be continued) we have collected common in retail card microSDXC capacity 64 GB. Form factor microSD selected on the basis of the greater prevalence and universality of these cards, because in a standard SD slot they can be mounted via an adapter, which in most cases comes with the microSD card in the kit. The capacity of 64 GB – one of the most popular at the moment offers. Maps of this volume help to save approximately 2880 photo resolution 36 MP, more than two hours of 4K video with high bitrate or more than 6 hours of video with a resolution of Full HD.

Today’s test only affects cards with UHS-I interface — as the most common and most popular options. Higher-speed UHS-II cards have begun to appear on store shelves, but now their acquisition is hardly appropriate: they are expensive and the devices that actually need such high-speed characteristics, are extremely rare.

Most of the testing of the memory cards provided with “M. Video” is one of the leading retail chains selling electronics. This allows us to ensure we reviewed the major memory cards available and popular in Russia.

Before proceeding to a detailed familiarity with the tested microSD cards, it is worth noting one important point. Speed memory cards in each case is determined not only of the inherent speed characteristics, but also by how well implemented the UHS interface in the host. There are cases when the performance of SD cards is not revealed is the fault of the reading device, and to sin in this case, the memory card is clearly not worth it. Big set of examples of situations where performance is constrained by memory card that is on the host side, can be observed with an inexpensive card readers unknown origin that flooded domestic outlets and Chinese online stores.

SOURCE

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Peripherals

Overview NVMe SSD Crucial P1: NVMe on SATA price

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Peripherals

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.

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Peripherals

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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