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Overview NVMe-ADATA XPG SX8200: faster Samsung cheaper Samsung

In our recent review of a new potential hit, 970 Samsung EVO, we said that the market situation NVMe SSD this year has changed dramatically, and for an interface extension of a novelty, unlike its predecessor, there are certainly decent in terms of price and performance alternatives. Said it was not for the effect: these claims are related to the fact that the staff of the laboratory 3DNews at that time already had heard about the imminent release of a promising public platform for solid-state drives, which should allow manufacturers the second-the third echelon to gather products, not inferior in characteristics svezheanonsirovannaya mass offer Samsung. This platform was developed by company Silicon Motion, and was formally presented at the beginning of this year, and to date it has reached maturity and is finally ready for full-scale implementation.

Part of a promising Silicon Motion platform includes a family of basic controller and SM2262 SM2262EN and three-dimensional 64-layer flash memory of the second generation Intel or Micron. In fact, the harbinger of mass occurrence of storage devices based on this platform, we are familiar with. For the first time the SMI controller SM2262 noted in the Intel SSD 760p – NVMe drive, which we immediately attributed to the number of very interesting and noteworthy options. However, to judge by enterostomy the product of what may be other SSD on the basis of SM2262, not quite true. The fact that the Intel SSD is used 760p firmware developed by engineers microprocessor giant completely independently, while the rest of its partners with Silicon Motion offers a very different reference firmware.

Learn what characteristics can provide a SSD and use both hardware and software components of the new platform Silicon Motion, we were only able to slightly later, when the American market there are made on the reference design drive HP EX920. Much to our surprise, the tests of foreign colleagues showed that performance, it even outperforms the Intel SSD 760p. The intrigue has become even stronger, and we eagerly waited for the moment when something like HP EX920 will appear in Russian stores.

And that’s happened. In sale there NVMe-ADATA XPG SX8200 – another media platform SMI SM2262 in its standard form. Of course, the emergence of such a promising NVMe SSD that can compete with the 970 Samsung EVO at a lower recommended price, we skip could not. And as soon as the opportunity came, took a review of the product.

#Specifications

The fact that the new controller Silicon Motion SM2262 allows you to create drives, a rival productivity solutions Samsung, looks like a miracle. Remember, in controller-based Samsung Polaris Phoenix pachydermia used a powerful ARM processor, and SM2262 is based only on two cores with the architecture ARM Cortex. In addition, Silicon Motion controller, not an impressive pedigree: the previous NVMe controller of this team, SM2260, used exclusively in the products of initial level, which steadily lost all competitors in all comparisons. Does not inspire faith in the potential of SM2262 and a story of developers about the fact that this chip is an improved version SM2260 in which optimization occurred mainly on the software component.

However, some improvement is still there and hardware. The new chip has a compatibility with the NVMe Protocol 1.3, added enhanced error correction using LDPC encoding, and a built in DRAM controller gained support for DDR4 SDRAM. Apparently, Silicon Motion simultaneously increased and the clock frequency. Otherwise to explain the fact that in a fixed number of channels to work with flash memory (eight of them) declared performance SM2262 compared to SM2260 increased significantly on random operations, and at least a third of linear, impossible.

Part of the merit of how successful the new platform Silicon Motion, lies on the flash memory. The new controller is optimized for 64-layer TLC 3D NAND second generation Intel or Micron. And that the memory of these manufacturers was very successful, we have repeatedly seen in various examples. It is no exaggeration even to say that any of the SSD wherever he came this memory is much better than the predecessors, and platform SM2262 only develops this trend.

The main advantage of three-dimensional memory Intel/Micron second-generation lies in her more natural from the point of view of the SSD controller of the organization. It is made in the form of semiconductor crystals the optimum capacity of 256 GB, which allows to obtain arrays of flash memory with a sufficient degree of parallelism for that controller could reveal its full potential.

And the amount of turns a giant leap forward. If you compare the features of the new ADATA XPG SX8200 where you use the controller SM2262 and 64-layer TLC 3D NAND, Micron’s second generation, with the specs of the ADATA XPG SX7000, which used a chip SM2260 three-dimensional and a three-bit memory Micron first generation, it appears that productivity jumped 1.8–2.4 times. Improved and other parameters.

Manufacturer ADATA
Series XPG SX8200
Model number ASX8200NP-240GT ASX8200NP-480GT ASX8200NP-960GT
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 240 480 960
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D TLC NAND
Controller SMI SM2262
Buffer: type, volume DR3-1600,
512 MB
DDR3-1600,
1024 MB
DR3-1600,
2048 MB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3200 3200 3150
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1100 1700 1700
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 200 000 310 000 310 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 240 000 280 000 280 000
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

However, given the table of numerical values of performance compared to the nameplate characteristics 970 Samsung EVO does not look too convincing. But then we must remember an important point. Terms of peak speed drive Samsung really powerful at least because its underlying controller has much greater computing resources. But products like ADATA XPG SX8200 plan to not win by brute force, and accents in the optimization. So, the controller SM2262 does not guarantee record results with a deep queue of requests, but promises high speed at the load, typical average desktops – with little pipelining, and mixed operations.

In addition, we should not forget that behind the numbers in official specs of hiding important nuances concerning technology rapid entry, which has become a fixture of all modern consumer drives, built and flash memory with a three-bit cells. In ADATA XPG SX8200, in particular, SLC-cache does not work in static and dynamic principle. This means that it is placed 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. For example, the net storage volume SLC-Kesha comes to a quarter of the total capacity.

To illustrate the work of the SLC-caching easy with graphics speed continuous sequential write to ADATA XPG SX8200 with a capacity of 480 GB (measurements performed on the free SSD).

Here we see the usual three-step line, which is typical of SSDS with dynamic SLC cache. The first step – recording in an accelerated mode, which is performed at a speed of about 1.7 GB/s. This is somewhat less than the speed of SLC cache 970 Samsung EVO, but you need to keep in mind that the SLC cache at the ADATA XPG SX8200 allows you to record with high performance is about six times more data.

The second stage that shows the write speed at 340 MB/s – speed recording, which offers XPG SX8200 after the end of the free space in the cache. However, you need to understand that in this case the drive controller at the time of enrollment in the TLC memory is seal data that was stored in the SLC-mode, and that is why the performance obtained so low. However, in real life, it has only a distant relationship, as the need for simultaneous continuous recording of vast amounts of information to imagine hard.

As for the speed of the memory array in the “simple” TLC-mode, it can be estimated on the third level, which is visible at the end of the SSD fill test. Eight-channel array of Micron TLC 3D NAND second generation in a three-bit mode provides the write speed of 550 MB/s, and it is also slightly less than the speed of the array of flash memory in 970 Samsung EVO. In General we get the following picture: in order to use the continuous linear recording full “score” capacity ADATA XPG SX8200 480 GB, it takes about 18 minutes. At the same time, the volume of 970 Samsung EVO 500 GB in the same introductory is filled in 13 minutes, that is, integral array of the flash memory implemented by Samsung, with a “dumb” sequential write runs faster.

But this does not prevent ADATA to position the new product as sufficiently high level. Strictly speaking, in the lineup there is ADATA product, formally standing higher in the hierarchy XPG SX8200 is – XPG SX9000 on the Marvell controller. But now the company plans to make XPG SX8200 new flagship, and the thousandth production model complete. In light of this, it is not surprising that for XPG SX8200 offers a very good warranty. His term is set to 5 years and allowances record is calculated from the condition of refilling to 3/8 full capacity of the SSD every day for the entire warranty period. This, by the way, about the warranty on the Samsung 970 EVO.

However, among the characteristics of the ADATA XPG SX8200 there are still many aspects on which this drive is inferior to the “reference” 970 Samsung EVO. For example, ADATA does not offer the option of your SSD capacity of 2 TB. And the capacity of the other models is a multiple of 240, not 250 GB. This allows XPG SX8200 to contain a very large reserve, which is given to 13 % of the total size of the array of flash memory. But what is it so extensive, especially considering that the SLC cache is not in use, it is not entirely clear. Traditional purposes: garbage collection, wear leveling and replacement Fund, the consumer model SSD’s so obviously not needed. And the drives on the controller SM2262 other manufacturers give the user a 6.7 % of space.

#Appearance and internal structure

For testing, we traditionally chose a version of the ADATA XPG SX8200 with a capacity of 480 GB. The choice of this option justifies the obvious arguments. Performance polutoraletnego drive is not limited to the parallelism of the array of flash memory as in the case of the 240 GB version, and more capacious modification XPG SX8200 960 GB is simply not yet on sale.

ADATA is trying to multiply the effect, and all of its NVMe drives have only one option in the form of an M. 2 module form factor 2280 PCI Express 3.0 x4. In other words, if you want to install a XPG SX8200 in a full-sized PCI Express slot, but not in M. 2 adapter will have to be purchased separately. However, at least one connector M. 2 can now be found on any modern motherboard. Therefore, the advantage of a full-size SSD HHHL version compatibility is no longer relevant, leaving only an advantage in cooling. But the creators of the XPG SX8200 have something to argue on it: the drive comes complete with aluminum plate which can be glued to the surface of the chips and to thus achieve more efficient removal and dissipation.

PCB design ADATA XPG SX8200 – reference, the engineers of the company did not make any changes to it and used the experience of specialists Silicon Motion. This means that the Board consider the two-way drive and memory chips located on both sides of it.

 

Backside of the drive is thus closed by the label which declared article and serial number of the drive. No information about date of production or the factory set the firmware on the sticker there.

Circuitry ADATA XPG SX8200 represented by seven chips: such an abundance of chips on a small Board M. 2 2280 square 17 cm2 uncommon. The array of flash memory – it’s only four chips of the whole set. And deserve to be treated separately, because these chips carry coded not Toshiba, and ADATA. This means that in fact the company buys from Micron uncut plate with the crystals NAND, and issues of their dismemberment, sorting, and placing in the chips does itself. The 480 GB version of the drive in each of them gets four 256-Gigabit semiconductor device TLC 3D NAND c 64 layers. This means that the eight-channel controller in XPG SX8200 uses two-time interleaving of devices.

It should be noted that such autonomy ADATA in the final Assembly of the memory chips – a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the manufacturer saves a few SSD with purchase, and gets the opportunity to offer end customers more favorable prices. But with another – it in its sole discretion may change the quality standards, and in the pursuit of profit to put a flash memory, Micron which she’d married. However, in relation to XPG SX8200 the manufacturer claims that this model will only be the most qualitative and reliable NAND chips, questionable, the same device settings will go to the budget and not in the flagship products.

Two chips on the drive are DRAM buffer. For this purpose, chose the ADATA 512-MB chips DDR3-1600 production Nanya. Despite the fact that the controller SM2262 can work with DRAM buffer on the basis of DDR4, this opportunity the developers decided not to use it. But they realized another benefit of the new platform Silicon Motion: RAM in XPG SX8200 not only has twice the volume but also communicates with the controller via 32-bit (not 16-bit) bus. This is one of the important factors that should help XPG SX8200 to beat other drives melkoplodnyj operations.

The last, seventh chip-on-Board ADATA XPG SX8200 is the actual controller SM2262. Here we see him regular version: no intelestage branding, both on the Intel SSD 760p. The controller has exactly the same dimensions as its predecessor, SM2260, and similarly closed at the top by a Nickel-plated copper plate, designed to help the heat sink.

#Software

With the service software from ADATA, the situation is far better. Proprietary tool for storage companies exist, but is it extremely sluggish, but its features and interface leave much to be desired.

However, the utility SSD Toolbox with the new XPG SX8200 compatible and the basic functionality still provides.

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 on the website of the manufacturer you can get the key to a popular program for cloning data Acronis True Image HD 2013/2015.

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Peripherals

Review of the Intel SSD drive Optane 905P and its comparison with Optane SSD 900P and 800P, and Samsung 970 PRO

The question of which of the commercially available solid-state drives should be considered to be the fastest, today there is a definite answer. This answer is, without a doubt Optane Intel SSD introduced last year, the media family information, which uses at its core a fundamentally new nonvolatile memory 3D XPoint. Although the older decisions in the family Optane somewhat inferior to the flagship SSD drives on the basis of conventional NAND memory in linear speeds, they provide a completely different level of performance with very low latency, which is several times less than a traditional SSD. In this lies the magic Optane SSD: lightning fast access to the data provides a completely different experience and making the computers that use such systems of information storage, more nimble and responsive than the configuration with the conventional solid-state drives based on NAND-flash.

We have analyzed in detail the strengths Optane SSD in special review. In a nutshell, the drives of this class are more advanced compared to conventional SSD architecture, which is determined by the memory 3D XPoint. Cells of a memory built on different physical principles: the effect of the phase transition. Thanks to this 3D XPoint in its properties dramatically different from NAND: it allows a direct bitwise and not page access to stored data and before recording, does not require any preliminary preparation of the cells in erase operations. Optane SSD effectively exploit these advantages, and therefore, the revolutionary Intel drives dramatically outperform the flagship SSD with the usual architecture, at least in the speed of processing melkoplodnyj operations.

Meanwhile, even the most complex models Optane SSD belonging to the series Optane SSD 900P, not without serious flaws, which the new technology is not yet able to hack their way to the mass market. The main problem, of course, is the price: the release of 3D XPoint in terms of specific capacity is several times more expensive than NAND. As a result, while Optane SSD drives come only in selected systems of higher price range, and to output successive generations 3D XPoint with a higher density of cells that will not happen before the end of 2019, this situation obviously will not change.

However, nothing prevents Intel to slowly eliminate other problems. And the first step in this direction has already been done. In addition to Optane SSD 900P on the market appeared one series of such drives – SSD Optane 905P. Despite the fact that the index number in its name suggests only minor changes, in fact more than enough. Besides, some of them make a new product considerably more attractive and can not be classified as minor.

First, in a series Optane SSD 905P, a model with increased capacity, which has reached typical consumer drives the magnitude of 960 GB. Secondly, by optimizing the firmware, Intel engineers increased the performance on both linear and random loads. Thirdly, optimization and improved energy efficiency: drives with a new design promises to be less hot. Fourth, taking into account modern trends of the consumer market, Intel has rethought strict appearance XPoint 3D products for the enthusiast, and added them to RGB led lighting. And fifth, the company implemented the possibility of including Optane 905P SSD to your system using the M. 2 sockets and connectors U. 2 or PCIe slots.

Ignore the long list of changes it would be wrong, so we tested Optane SSD 905P, comparing it with other Optane SSD and a classic storage upper level, and are ready to share the results.

#Specifications

A story about what constitutes Optane SSD 905P will be short-lived. The release of this model, Intel added the previously formed Optane family of SSD 900P, so one side of the novelties do not expect any major architectural improvements, and with another – the lineup Optane SSD 905P breadth is no different.

But certain features have Optane SSD 905P still there, although the drive is, like its predecessor, continues to be based on the same seven-channel controller SLL3D own antalovsky development, and as the memory uses the usual two-layer 128-Gigabit chips 3D XPoint of the first generation, which are produced by Intel’s 20-nm technology. The main differences lie in the software part: Optane SSD 905P written new optimized firmware, which on the one hand differs from the viewpoint of power management, and with another – brings the controller to a higher frequency and uses advanced algorithms to service melkoplodnyj operations. This subject benefits Optane 905P SSD in performance and energy efficiency.

While the lineup’s new flagship solutions based on 3D XPoint consists of two models: 480-GB SSD 2.5-inch version 2 with u-interface and 960 GB HHHL card (half length, half height) slot PCIe x4. In sum, with the existing three models Optane SSD 900P it turns out that users are now becoming available versions of “big Optane SSD” volume 280, 480 and 960 GB in the form of a PCIe add-in cards, and a volume of 280 and 480 GB 2.5-inch format. But those modifications that carry the name Optane SSD 905P, promise a slightly better characteristics, which is explicitly reflected in the specs:

Manufacturer Intel
Series Optane SSD 905P
Model number SSDPE21D480GA SSDPED1D960GA
Form factor 2.5 inch U. 2 HHHL PCIe x4 card
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.1
Capacity 480 GB 960 GB
Configuration
Flash memory: type, process technology, manufacturer Intel 20-nm, 128-GB 3D XPoint
Controller Intel SLL3D
Buffer: type, volume No
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 2600 2600
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 2200 2200
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 575 000 575 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 550 000 550 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 3.3 V/12,8 6/16,4
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,6
Resource record, TB 8760 17520
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 101 × 70 × 15 68,9 x 17.2 x 168,0
Weight, g 140 230
The warranty period 5 years

The main thing to take from this table: according to the manufacturer’s promises Optane SSD 905P faster than its earlier counterpart by about 10 percent when the write operations and 4 percent in reading. In addition, the updated models have 1-2 watts lower heat dissipation. These measures, of course, is not enough to Optane SSD 905P been able to achieve with sequential throughput of PCI Express 3.0 x4. And catch the best SSD based on NAND-memory speed of linear read and write, he can not. But the improvement is still nice, especially that no additional charges after him was not done. As before, the 480 GB drive is the new version, according to the manufacturer should cost $600, and 960-Gigabyte model priced at $1300.

No significant differences in the other characteristics. In particular, Intel did not increase the allowed resource overwriting the warranty period. The company expects that daily ten-overwrite full capacity within five years, and so it is absolutely excessive restriction for desktop users, and promise even more makes no sense.

But noticeable (including literally) innovation affected the appearance of the older version of the Optane 905P SSD 960 GB. She, unlike his predecessors, got built into the radiator RGB led backlight. But this applies only to the maximum volume of the model. Version of the drive with capacity of 480 GB in the U. 2-the performance of any spectacular design elements not received.

 

Lot of expectations was due to the fact that in the new series Optane SSD 905P a version that can be installed in the M. 2 slot. Moreover, examples of the storage capacity of 380 GB even was shown at Computex. But still selling them there, but Intel has proposed an alternative solution, as can be plugged into the M. 2 slot is “big Optane” volume 480 GB. One of the delivery options Optane SSD 905P in the U. 2-the format comes with a special cable for coupling located on the drive connector SFF-8639 directly with the M. 2 slot.

Since both U. 2 and M. 2 offer only a wrapper for the four lines of PCI Express, the direct switching does not cause surprise. But those users who are deprived of U. 2 ports and did not have available PCIe slots in the end still get access to the flagship Optane SSD large capacity. This is definitely good news for supporters of computers Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX.

#Appearance and internal structure

For testing were selected Optane 905P SSD with a capacity of 480 GB. Because of this, we were able to compare two flagship Optane SSD pertaining to the different model series. However, the performance at Optane from the SSD storage capacity is not affected. The controller used in this device class, the alternation in the memory access, as well as any intermediate buffering is not used, and all operations are maintained synchronously. However Optane 905P SSD 480 GB interesting in its execution, because it is a drive in a rare format U. 2.

Generally, a form factor 2 U. is more a server issue. The traditional 2.5-inch size U. 2 drives with a thickness of 15 mm is selected in order for such SSD was convenient to use in a typical server-side baskets. That is why the dimensions of the Optane SSD 905P not differ from the dimensions of any mechanical drive with a SAS interface. But this does not mean that Optane SSD 905P fail to put in a desktop housing: it is included in both the default location for the SATA SSD.

It is easy to solve the issue with the connection. First option: U. 2-you can connect the drive to the U. 2 port on the motherboard. However, consumer boards, such connectors are rare, so this option will not cover everyone. In this case, fit the second option: you can use the adapter that allows you to set U. 2 drive into the slot PCI Express 3.0 x4 slot on the motherboard. Such adapters are very simple in structure and abundance, for example, Aliexpress.com.

There is a third option: if you carefully comb through Aliexpress.com it is possible to find other adapters, which transform into the connector U. 2 M. 2 slot.

However, if you want to connect 2 U. drive through M. 2, it is better to buy a modification Optane 905P SSD 480 GB unit SSDPE21D480GAM3. To it includes a cable to connect U. 2 drive in the M. 2 slot on the motherboard without the aid of any intermediate links. However, in this case the drive will need external power SATA cable from your power supply will need to stick to “outgrowth” of the interface cable U. 2.

In the end U. 2 version, despite its unfamiliarity, it seems even more convenient option in the form of expansion cards for PCI Express: ways to connect 2 U. drive the system is even more.

Look at 905P Optane SSD 480 GB somewhat peculiar. 2.5 inch aluminum housing, this drive serves as a giant radiator: the top and bottom surface generously plowed deep furrows to increase surface area. However, to say that Optane SSD any noticeable hot, is absolutely impossible. Even with heavy use and without additional cooling air flow case temperature does not rise above 45 degrees.

 

Inside U. 2 version of the Optane 905P SSD 480 GB is the same stuffing, as in the drive Optane 900P SSD 480 GB, which we tested. This means that all the improvements in the newer version do have the software-only nature. From a hardware point of view nothing has changed: the proprietary Intel controller SLL3D manages a seven-channel array of the 35 memory devices 3D XPoint. This means that “raw” memory in the 480-Gigabyte version of the SSD Optane total of 560 GB, and the “extra” gigabytes used to store metadata, the implementation of RAID 5-like parity and replacement Fund. Please note: we are not talking about garbage collection, because 3D XPoint does not require any preliminary preparation for the subsequent recording, and Optane SSD this process is not incorporated.

At the same time 905P Optane SSD 480 GB Intel switched to the use of chips of larger capacity. While in the previous version of drive was installed chips with one or two crystals inside, but now the manufacturer uses including chips, which are stacked four terminal device 3D XPoint. This is what has allowed Intel to fit inside a 2.5-inch enclosures 480-plus GB memory. But larger than 480 GB version, the storage class Optane SSD while possible only in the form of HHHL-boards, which provide chips for more planting space.

 

Speaking about the internals Optane 905P SSD 480 GB, it is worth noting two more interesting details. First, abundant application in the design of the storage pads. They are equipped without exception, all of the chips: not only the controller but also the XPoint 3D chips.

Second, among the fifteen circuits, the components of the circuitry of the drive is not visible the usual chip dynamic memory. And there is nothing strange: any of Optane SSD is really complete without a DRAM buffer. The XPoint 3D architecture is fundamentally different from a NAND architecture at the logical level, and memory array composed of XPoint 3D devices with direct access, does not require complex addressing with the use of a table of address translation. In addition, the XPoint 3D memory is by orders of magnitude lower compared to NAND latency. All this allows you to opt-in to Optane SSD is an additional layer in the form of DRAM.

#Software

Intel traditionally supplies its drives quite functional SSD Toolbox, which is compatible with Intel SSD Optane 905P. In General, it is similar to other similar programs, but you need to understand that because of the peculiarities of XPoint 3D memory are many common service functions of the SSD in this case is not necessary. In particular, Optane SSD no need for special set up or transfer to the drive, the TRIM command, so some of the capabilities of the Intel SSD Toolbox in system with such storage is not available.

 

Nonetheless, the utility allows you to get detailed information about the drive status and the values of its parameters S. M. A. R. T.

 

In addition, the SSD Toolbox has the ability to diagnostic scan, during which you can check the status and operability of a memory array. The scan runs as fast and full mode – the difference is that will affect testing the entire memory array or only some part of it.

 

Also use the SSD Toolbox to check the relevance used by the drive firmware and initiate the Secure Erase operation (only on Windows 7).

 

Signature feature antalovsky service utilities – System Tuner. With it, you can see the critical settings related to the disk subsystem includes the operating system, as well as to obtain recommendations for changes.

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Peripherals

Browse SSD WD Black NVMe, version 2018: forget about the past

The transition to the widespread use of 3D NAND TLC – one of the major trends this year at the consumer SSD market, and we got used to it so much that we almost do not touch the news of the appearance of some of the next generation solid-state drives based on multi-layered memory. However, in a continuous stream of similar announcements still come across an interesting and unexpected novelty — the only problem is that sometimes they are difficult to recognize.

That is exactly what happened with the new NVMe-solution company Western Digital, which passed us by almost unnoticed. But, with a translation of the old NVMe drive WD Black to use native 64-layer BiCS3 memory (3D TLC NAND), the company completely redesigned its hardware platform. Therefore, appearing on the shelves at the moment products series WD Black NVMe – does not like the WD Black, whom we met at the end of last year. The new flagship series of drives, Western Digital is not simply moved to a more modern flash memory, but have much better performance. And although Western Digital for some reason decided not to give the updated version a new name, the current WD Black NVMe – this is not a compromise solution, and one of the really advanced SSD, which should be able to compete with ADATA XPG SX8200, Intel SSD 760p and 970 Samsung EVO.

These developments are striking. The original SSD WD Black at best deserved a lenient characteristics of the “consumer NVMe SSD entry-level”. They were based on the public controller Marvell Eldora and staffed with planar TLC NAND, produced by 15-nm process. This configuration gave a relatively low productivity, and, according to our tests, the WD Black has occupied the position of one of the slowest SSD with NVMe interface, competing in this area unless another outsider, Intel SSD 600p. However, the “black” model still enjoyed a certain popularity among buyers as the Western Digital showed a very sensible approach to pricing.

But now Western Digital can count on the success of its flagship drive for another reason. Generally, all of them can be brought under one definition: vertical integration. The fact that in the new WD Black NVMe brand BiCS3 three-dimensional memory manages innovative proprietary controller of its own design. And it means that Western Digital no longer depend on any third-party partners for the release of the WD Black NVMe components she now develops and produces its own. As a result, in the hands of the company were all tools for deep technical optimization of the product, and extremely flexible the price control. And this recipe is usually born and hits like a textbook 970 Samsung EVO.

In other words, “the second coming” WD Black NVMe promises to give us one of the favorite among consumer NVMe SSD, so to avoid what happened the update, we simply could not. The fresh WD Black NVMe already reached the Russian stores, and therefore the time to understand how the new drives are better than their predecessors of the same name and whether they are able to outdo the NVMe offerings from Samsung, which is considered to be the best choice a priori. In addition, the process information we will also answer another burning question: like when you purchase a WD Black not to be trapped and to carry out of the store the correct drive with new stuffing and the best speeds.

#Specifications

A key component of the latest version of the WD Black NVMe sample 2018 is a new internal controller development. Its creation involved the court a team of engineers from SanDisk, Western Digital inherited in the takeover of this company in 2016. It is curious that neither before the transition under the wing of Western Digital, or after him any special achievements on the field controller, the SanDisk did not stand out. Comes to mind only a relatively simple chips that the engineers of this company have created for the budget (U110) and caching (ReadyCache) models. Therefore, the development of high-performance controller for the flagship drive is a kind of experiment.

But the experiment with far-leading consequences. Western Digital says plainly that the resulting chip is a modular solution which the company will, on the one hand, to introduce the private NVMe different price categories, and on the other to develop and modernize for the possibility of integration in future products. The implications of this initiative are well understood: the Western Digital products are immediately unique and has no analogues. The company walks away from any dependence on third-party developers and has focused the optimization of the hardware platform under its own memory with the BiCS architecture, which ultimately may give an advantage in performance and cost of production.

From a hardware perspective, the controller for the new WD Black NVMe is similar to many such decisions of other developers. It is based on dual-core processor (presumably built on nuclei ARM Cortex-R), produced by 28-nm process technology. This means that the computational power of this chip is clearly higher than the dual-core Marvell Eldora, which was used in the previous version of WD Black. However, the leadership Samokovsko controller Phoenix solution the Western Digital challenge is unlikely: South Korean developers prefer pachyderma design.

However, speaking about performance, the developers pay attention to that part of operations that SSDS have traditionally been addressed programmatically in the controller Western Digital delivered to specialized hardware blocks. In particular, reading data from the flash memory and processing of a substantial part of NVMe commands do not create strain on the ARM-core, and due to this, the controller Western Digital quite organically fits into the flagship drives with NVMe interface.

Fully hardware block in the controller is supported, and error correction based on LDPC coding. Moreover, its implementation is a layered three-level character. During normal operation the controller uses a relatively simple algorithm that is not too efficient from the point of view of error correction, but it works very quickly and with a minimum expenditure of energy. More strong versions of the algorithm (they provided two) the chip switches only in case of real necessity, when the resource of the memory cells begins to come to an end.

The controller Western Digital four lines PCI Express 3.0 to communicate with the system and at the level of logical interface supported latest Protocol NVM Express 1.3. The communication of the controller with the flash memory takes place via eight channels, but the chip can be easily switched to a more lightweight configuration. The manufacturer is going to use it as in the flagship WD Black NVMe and NVMe over simple products like SN520, where the external interface and internal parallelism cut in half.

The current version of the controller is focused on working exclusively with three-dimensional BiCS memory, which is produced in factories SanDisk and Toshiba. Therefore, all the current NVMe products Western Digital will soon be fully converted to 64-layer BiCS3 c TLC organization. The old version of the WD Black with planar TLC memory after depletion of inventory will disappear from the market. Not so long ago Western Digital announced the start of mass production of the next generation of its three-dimensional of a memory, BiCS4 with 96 layers, but in a consumer NVMe drives to install this memory company in the near future (at least until the end of the year) are planned.

So it turns out that the hardware component of the modern version of WD Black NVMe has absolutely nothing to do with the last version of the same product. The same can be said about the software part. It is quite obvious that the work with the new controller and BiCS3 memory required a radical rework of the firmware. So do not be surprised, and that at the same time changed the whole logic of the drive, including SLC-caching.

Working with TLC memory as SLC through the intermediate buffer is a standard practice used in all consumer SSDS. But algorithmsuite these operations in different ways. In the new WD Black NVMe to work with the SLC buffer is implemented proprietary technology nCache 3.0 instead of the second version of this technology used in the WD Black original. Essentially, this means that, although SLС cache remained in static storage, in the logic of the SSD added, the direct writing mode in TLC memory (direct-to-TLC). And now the overflow SLC-cache does not entail a significant decline in performance.

Visually it can be represented in the following graph, which shows the performance of the upgraded polterabayta WD Black NVMe continuous sequential write.

The size of the SLC cache is still the same as they were before: with high speed of SSD with the capacity of 500 GB you can record only about 5 GB of data. Accordingly, for every 250 GB capacity WD Black NVMe allotted 2.5 GB of high speed memory, translated in SLC-mode. She manages to provide a linear recording speed of the order of 2.4 GB/s.

In the exhaustion of the volume of the SLC cache, the linear recording speed is reduced to 840 MB/s, which is actually still pretty decent. As an example, it may be recalled that the first version of the WD Black could not reach such a performance even when data is written to the cache. And even more, speed records at the TLC memory NVMe consider the WD Black is faster than 970 Samsung EVO. It’s really a surprise.

It is quite natural that the fundamental difference of the first and second versions of the WD Black is reflected in the official specifications. Now on the Western Digital website are the following characteristics of the flagship product:

Manufacturer Western Digital
Series WD Black NVMe SSD
Model number WDS250G2X0C WDS500G2X0C WDS100T2X0C
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 250 500 1000
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer SanDisk 64-layer 256-GB BiCS3 3D TLC NAND
Controller SanDisk 20-82-007011
Buffer: type, volume DDR4-2400,
256 MB
DDR4-2400,
512 MB
DDR4-2400,
1024 MB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3000 3400 3400
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1600 2500 2800
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 220 000 410 000 500 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 170 000 330 000 400 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,14/9,2
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,75
Resource record, TB 200 300 600
Dimensions: l x h x d, mm 80 x 22 x 2,38
Weight, g 7,5
Warranty period, years 5

Here, everything has changed. Even the model range: it incorporates a modification to terabytes, and volumes were multiples of 250 GB, not 256 GB as it was before. But the greatest changes have affected performance. Speed random operations have a fresh version of “black” on its own SSD controller, Western Digital has tripled the sequential write speed has increased fourfold, and the linear reading of the new version has reached the limitations set by the bandwidth of PCI Express 3.0 x4! Against this background, almost lost incident the permitted resource rewrite, but he also increased about two times, allowing the user to overwrite every day, more than half of the full capacity of the drive.

In the end, specifications and characteristics of the WD Black NVMe does not like testing in a new market, but as a Mature and fully competitive product, capable seriously to compete with the most interesting NVMe flash storage devices from other manufacturers coming in the SSD business much earlier than Western Digital.

#Appearance and internal structure

Up to this point, the narrative became quite clear that after the appearance of the second version of the WD Black NVMe to buy the old version of the NVMe storage drive, Western Digital, not that that makes no sense and is just silly. To distinguish the new version from the old not so difficult even at the stage of superficial acquaintance with the range of products offered to a specific merchant.

WD Black SSD: сверху – новый, снизу – старый

WD Black SSD: top new, bottom old

First, the range of “correct” drives formed from volumes of 250, 500 and 1000 GB at a time before changing the platform Western Digital offered NVMe SSD with a capacity of 256 and 512 GB. Secondly, the end of the article number of the new models become kind of a “2X0C”, but before marking ends in “1X0C”. Thirdly, in the lower part of the front surface boxes new WD Black NVMe added the icon “3D NAND” and a clear indication of an increase in productivity “Up to 3400 MB/s read”.

Changed the look of the drive. The most obvious change: the SSD that Western Digital calls the black is now really black. The first version of the WD Black, oddly enough, had the PCB is blue.

 

SSD got sided design that involves the installation in a “low profile slots. Chips located on the front side are closed by the label. Sticker this is the most ordinary, inside it there are no layers of foil. But it is very informative: here you can find not only the article and serial number, and date of production. In addition, on the label specified and the alternative name of the WD Black NVMe, which is used by the manufacturer in the supply of the SSD using the OEM channels – SN700. By the way, the new version of the WD Black NVMe there is a third person – this drive is also available under the trademark under the name of SanDisk Extreme Pro.

The label hides another characteristic feature of the WD Black NVMe is a special PCB design. Corporate controller SanDisk 20-82-007011 here is the center, and two chips of flash memory divorced at the edges of the M. 2 module. It is made specifically the Western Digital engineers found that with this arrangement at the printed circuit Board is a more simple topology and efficiently solved the problem with the heat sink.

As for the actual chip, the array of flash memory WD Black 500 GB NVMe recruited two chips, each of which concluded with eight 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D TLC NAND-crystal SanDisk. Therefore, eight-channel controller in the present drive uses two-time interleaving of devices in each channel. Usually this is enough for the hardware platform SSD could reveal its full potential.

Next to the controller chip set DRAM buffer needed to quickly work with a table of address translation. It is the only component in the composition of the WD Black NVMe, which is purchased by the manufacturer on the side. In this case, we use the Micron chip capacity of 512 MB, and a bet is made on relatively high-speed memory – DDR4-2400.

Given the fact that the stated capacity of the considered modifications of the WD Black NVMe is 500 GB, the user in the operating system will be available capacity 466 GB. The remaining 44 GB are used by the controller to the SLC-caching (15 GB), replacement Fund, wear-leveling and garbage collection.

#Software

The Western Digital hard drive always attached the service utility SSD Dashboard, which implements all the basic functions for their service. The new version of the WD Black NVMe, despite the change of controller and memory, it is fully compatible.

The ability of the utility for the last year practically has not changed, and surprise someone, it is unlikely. Nevertheless claims to SSD Dashboard no no: she remains one of the most full-featured service utilities of this kind.

 

Main features of the SSD Dashboard: get information about the installed in the SSD system, including information about the remaining resource and the current temperature; monitoring the performance of the drive in real time; firmware update via Internet or from a file; the operation Secure Erase and delete any data from the flash memory by means of forced vanishing; run SMART tests and view SMART attributes.

 

It should be noted that the possibility of interpretation of the parameters SMART, laid in SSD Dashboard, somewhat richer than the information that can be obtained from independent third-party programs.

 

But the branded NVMe driver NVMe WD Black is not provided. So working with them will have a standard operating system driver, in the properties which to increase capacity and performance in popular benchmarks, it is recommended to tick the option “Disable flushing of the buffer cache Windows account for this device”.

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Peripherals

Overview of the NAS WD My Cloud Pro PR2100: the best iron for your money

From a home user network attached storage company Western Digitalusually associated with something simple, not demanding to understand network technologies and offering only a basic set of functions for personal data storage and remote access. But the model number NAS of this manufacturer for a long time already there are models that are not inferior in its capabilities and characteristics to other players in the market for personal file storage. One of these patterns found in our lab. We are talking about a two-Bay NAS WD My Cloud Pro PR2100, which is a whole lot of different interesting features, but costs less than its competitors.

#Supplied

 

The package WD My Cloud Pro PR2100

WD My Cloud Pro PR2100 comes in a compact cardboard box with color printing — this is easy to carry from store to home in his arms, but she handles no. Inside, in addition to the drive, was found to have the following accessories:

  • power adapter with detachable cable;
  • Ethernet cable;
  • a sheet with the sequence of actions by putting the device into operation.

A detailed user manual in Russian and other languages if necessary you can download from the manufacturer’s website. Also note that the WD My Cloud Pro PR2100 comes without pre-installed hard drives and disks with a total capacity of 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 TB on the user’s choice. In our instance was equipped with two WD Red WD20EFRX adapted to work with NAS, with a capacity of 2 TB each.

#Specifications

WD My Cloud Pro PR2100
HDD 2 × 3.5″ SATA II/III HDD
File system Internal hard drives: EXT4;
External storage: FAT32, NTFS, HFS+J exFAT
RAID level JBOD Mode join drives, RAID 0/1
Processor Intel Pentium 1.6 GHz N3710
RAM 4 GB DDR3L
Network interfaces 2 × Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45
Additional interfaces 2 × USB 3.0
Protocols AFP, NFS, FTP, WebDAV, iSCSI, SSH, SNMP, Samba, HTTP
Customers Windows 7 and more modern, Mac OS X 10.8 and more modern;
iOS 7 and more modern Android 4.0 and more modern
Cooling system 1 × fan 70 × 70 mm
Dimensions, mm 217 × 109 × 148
Guarantee, months.
(with pre-installed HDD / without HDD)
36 / 24
Estimated price*, RUB
(without HDD / 4 / 8 / 12 / 16 / 20 TB)
33 353 / 49 890 / 59 220 / 67 284 / 77 312 / 86 619

*Average price in “Yandex.Market” at the time of this writing.

 

The main motherboard WD My Cloud Pro PR2100

The word Pro in the name of the drive attached for a reason. The fact that the basis of this device is the processor Intel Pentium N3710 is the most powerful Intel Braswell. NAS from other manufacturers, this processor can be found only on the most expensive models, costs and capabilities which significantly exceed those for WD My Cloud Pro PR2100. The processor has the architecture Airmont, made on 14-nanometer process technology and operates with a base clock speed of 1.6 GHz with the ability to increase to 2.56 GHz. He has a 2 MB cache second level, and another difference — very low heat dissipation: only 6 watts.

Центральный процессор со снятым радиатором

The CPU with removed radiator

This processor has an integrated graphics core Intel HD Graphics 405 eighth generation with sixteen actuators operating in the frequency range from 400 to 700 MHz. For home NAS will probably be important that the adapter works with the 4K UHD resolution of 3840 × 2160 pixels (2160p) at a frequency of 30 Hz or 2560 × 1600 for 60 Hz, and can also carry out the decoding of data at the hardware level H. 264 (AVC) MPEG-4 Part 2, MPEG-2 and VC-1. He still has the HDMI interface, but the NAS the output is not provided.

 

Memory modules Samsung K4B4G1646E-BYK0

Intel Pentium N3710, like other models of Intel Braswell processors, has an integrated dual channel memory controller. It works with DDR3L-1600 memory, and its maximum amount is limited to 8 GB. On the motherboard WD My Cloud Pro PR2100 coming with eight modules of Samsung K4B4G1646E-BYK0 capacity of 512 MB each. Thus, WD My Cloud PR2100 Pro has 4 GB of RAM DDR3L-1600. To increase the amount of RAM in this case is not possible.

Микроконтроллер ARM STM32F0

The ARM STM32F0 microcontroller

On Board of the NAS has two Gigabit network interface represented by the widespread controllers Realtek RTL8111H with the PCI Express bus. The SATA controller built into the processor. It works with two interfaces 6 GB/s, which fully corresponds to the specifications of the NAS. The external eSATA ports of the novelty, but there is two USB 3.0 ports, which are also implemented with built-in CPU controller. It remains to note that to control the device on the motherboard of processor ARM STM32F0 from the company STMicroelectronics.

Hardware WD My Cloud Pro PR2100 largely very unusual. So unusual to see in a NAS of this class Intel Pentium. But even more amazing to know that this NAS zadublirovanny power connector – just like very expensive models, designed for continuous operation in the big office! Supplied with the device there is only one power supply, but if you want you can always buy a second. In General, the circuitry not only meets the stated technical characteristics, but also deserves profound respect for originality, and elaboration.

#Appearance

 
Внешний вид WD My Cloud Pro PR2100

Appearance WD My Cloud Pro PR2100

Unlike the vast majority, and expensive, and not network drives on the market today, the product is made not in plastic and metal body, painted in Matt black. The device looks expensive and noble. Only front panel with compartments for discs, traditionally made of plastic. Unpainted left only the back and lower part of the body. On the side metal walls, closer to the front panel, placed vents through which air enters the device. Well, on the lower surface of the pinned soft legs that allow the device to slide on a table or shelf, and dampen vibration.

Лицевая панель

The front panel

On the front panel can be seen as a practical matte plastic and decorative glossy. Two-thirds of its area is a disk compartment. Instead of common doors used here, separate opening panels with ventilation grilles for each disk. Under the panels is written numbers, and to inform the user about the activity or malfunctions with an led indicator. To the left of the disk-chamber is placed a decorative panel with the round power control button, the rectangular button to initiate the copy process from the connected external media storage and a USB 3.0 port for connecting to these carriers.

Задняя панель

Rear panel

All other specifications of the interfaces located on the rear surface of the device. In one vertical row they built two connectors to connect power adapters, two Ethernet RJ-45 port, a USB 3.0 port and recessed deep into the body reset button the device. Just above is a hole for attaching a security lock such as the Kensington. Well, almost all of the remaining space taken up by a ventilation grille, behind which hides a 70-mm fan. The cooling system is arranged according to the classical scheme of air sucked by the fan through the holes on the faceplates of the disk skids and side walls, passes through the inside of the shell is heated, cooling the drives and electronic components, and exits through the ventilation grille on the rear wall of the housing.

#Installation of hard drives and internal structure

Unlike most other NAS in the design of the WD My Cloud Pro PR2100 missing disk sled. It deprives him of the ability to install a 2.5-inch hard drives and SSD, but greatly simplifies the Assembly and disassembly of conventional, 3.5-inch disks. In addition, the design without the slide in this case it is harmonious, no unnecessary elements subject to vibration.

 

Disc compartment

The door of the disk compartment have a combined design with large rubber grip in the center, ensuring reliable contact of the disk with the connectors on the Board and not allowing it to vibrate during operation. The quality of execution of each element is worthy of the highest rating discs cling to nothing, neither during installation nor when dismantling.

 

The internal structure of the body

Disassemble your case your WD My Cloud Pro PR2100 the user does not have — the device has no removable memory modules, and disks are installed from the front panel. However, make it quite easy. More interesting. Removing the outer u-shaped casing, we expected to see under it a rigid frame of metal profiles. Imagine our surprise when inside actually showed one case with Tselikov metal panels. Such a structure makes the device extremely rigid and protected from various external influences. To break or damage the metal double wall accidentally will be very difficult. This is another plus in the Treasury of the merits associated with the reliability of WD My Cloud Pro PR2100.

Крепление системной платы

Motherboard mounting

The inner housing can also be disassembled. To one of its sidewalls a vertically mounted motherboard. Additional system Board interface connectors for the hard drives mounted on a transverse metal partition. In General, the internal structure of the novelty causes a feeling that this device was not done in a hurry, and saving on materials and production technologies is not intended in the first place and had no impact on quality and reliability. Cheaper mechanical design sin today almost all manufacturers of NAS and Western Digital, to the surprise of all, demonstrates the opposite. It is very nice.

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