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

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

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

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

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

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

#Specifications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Exterior and interior design

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

 

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

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

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

Let’s look under the radiator.

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

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

 

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

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

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Peripherals

A review of the drive, the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD: the size of the illumination is not a hindrance

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Today’s review is curious at least for two reasons. First – we SSD released by Gigabyte, which drives absolutely not associated. All the same, this Taiwanese manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards systematically expands the range of devices, adding a range of new and new types of computer equipment. Not so long ago we tested released under the brand name Aorus, Gigabyte the PSU, monitor and RAMand now is the turn to SSDs.

However, to be completely correct, it is necessary to mention that the Toshiba SSD delivers under its own brand for quite a long time. The first drives with the SATA interface it introduced a year ago, but it was not very interesting budget model c quite ordinary characteristics. Now Gigabyte decided to release a real SSD for enthusiasts with a modern interface NVMe 1.3, flagship performance RGB led branded gaming style. That’s why the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD, which will be discussed later, and caught our attention.

The second reason that forced us to get more information about this novelty, is that it is based on a relatively new hardware platform, which we have not yet had to face. In the Gigabyte Aorus RGB controller is used PS5012-E12 independent of the Taiwanese company Phison, the development of which in recent times found only in the lower price segments and in high-speed drives do not fall for a long time. But now, apparently, Phison strategy has changed, and the company expects to regain a foothold in consumer drives a higher level.

Actually Phison focused on budget platforms SSD it is not because of some marketing reasons. Her problem was the fact that the process of final debugging and output products to the market, took lots of time, and the proposed Phison decisions were often obsolete. This forced the firm to fight for a place in the market only with the help of low prices, which led to the formation of platforms around its image again.

Such history threatened to repeat itself and with the controller PS5012-E12, as it was first demonstrated at CES 2018 a year and a half ago. However, this time the developers have time to finish your product to its obsolescence. The beginning of deliveries of the platform E12 company Phison announced in September, and now the first actual products based on it and finally got to store shelves.

The appearance of another controller for consumer NVMe drives are very important and need to market the event. Unfortunately, so far nobody has been able to offer a platform for NVMe SSD, which would allow to create a storage class 970 Samsung EVO Plus. New developments of Silicon Motion and Western Digital, as we have seen, are at a lower level. And this means that the South Korean company was able to monopolize the segment of high-performance NVMe SSD, keeping to their flagship drives high prices. That’s why we wait for Samsung EVO Plus 970 and 970 PRO will have some real alternatives, able to do advanced disk performance more accessible to consumers.

On the one hand, characteristics that Phison claims their new controller PS5012-E12, allow us to hope that the power it is at least not worse than Samsung Phoenix. On the other the desire to use this chip in their products have already stated at least two dozen manufacturers of the second and third tier. So, if all goes well, the market for consumer NVMe SSD can be a serious and pleasant for users to change. But don’t be in a hurry, and before you give vent to joy, let us analyze how really good the Gigabyte Aorus RGB platform Phison E12.

#Specifications

Usually the drives on the controller Phison represent typical products, similar to each other in basic characteristics, regardless of which company delivers them to the market. Actually, just like is the case of the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD – this SSD is used templated hardware and software architecture with a brand-typical set of components. This means that the characteristics of the considered storage device is similar to any other SSD based on Phison controller PS5012-E12, for example MP510 Corsair, Team Group MP34, Silicon Power P34A80 or Patriot VPN100. You may have drives from different manufacturers can be some individual characteristics, but usually they affect only the exterior.

As for hardware designs, in any of the SSD controller Phison PS5012-E12 is applied to one and the same array of flash memory composed of 256-Gigabit devices BiCS3 (64-crystal layer TLC 3D NAND) manufactured by Toshiba. It is worth mentioning that this is a good flash memory, which is able to provide high performance. For example, similar to the array of flash memory used in drives WD Black SN750, which can be described as NVMe solid-solution average. But Western Digital’s own controller, Phison PS5012-E12 is a completely different story.

Until now, Phison had time to check two basic chips for NVMe SSD. First, PS5007-E7, was intended to create a planar drives based on MLC memory, however, despite the eight-channel architecture, was not very productive and was used in a fairly small number of models. The following controller, PS5008-E8, focused on support for 3D TLC NAND and won much popularity, but it was a frankly budget solution with four channels for the organization of the array of flash memory, a stripped-down PCI Express 3.0 x2 and without LDPC coding.

Phison PS5012-E12 on the background of previous chips – the solution to a completely different kind, designed from scratch. Here everything is done in accordance with modern standards. Supported PCI Express 3.0 x4 bandwidth to 3.94 GB/s and NVMe Protocol 1.3. The array of the flash memory is formed on a productive eight-channel scheme. It supports not only modern, but also promising types of flash memory. Support powerful methods of error correction based on LDPC codes. As the DRAM buffer can be used not only for DDR3L and DDR4 memory. Finally, for the production of chips PS5012-E12 used 28-nm process technology by TSMC, while earlier chip Phison ordered from UMC, where they were made on 40-nm standards.

Its new development Phison estimates are so optimistic, that does not hesitate to promise the performance of up to 600 thousand IOPS on deeply pipelined melkoplodnyj operations. And if this number is true, it can be argued that the theoretical power PS5012-E12 is much larger than the SMI SM2262EN, and almost reaches the level of Samsung Phoenix. In reality, however, believe that the performance of the controller PS5012-E12 hard enough. The fact that it is based on the ARM processor with only two cores, while the Samsung solution is based on pachydermia design.

And this is reflected in the characteristics of products that inform providers of final decisions on the chip Phison PS5012-E12. For example, for the drive of Gigabyte come in the following specifications.

Manufacturer Gigabyte
Series Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD
Model number GP-ASM2NE2256GTTDR GP-ASM2NE2512GTTDR
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 256 512
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D-NAND TLC (BiCS3)
Controller Phison PS5012-E12
Buffer: type, volume DDR4-2400,
512 MB
DDR4-2400,
512 MB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3100 3480
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1050 2000
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 180 000 360 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 240 000 440 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,272/5,485
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,8
Resource record, TB 380 800
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 22 × 80 × 10
Weight, g 28
Warranty period, years 5

Despite the fact that Phison has touted its platform as a solution to E12 flagship level, the formal characteristics of the performance of the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD noticeably weaker indicators not only 970 Samsung EVO Plus, but these drives as WD Black or SN750 ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro. And it’s not immediately sets in a positive way in relation to innovations.

Not encouraging, and the work Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD technology SLC-cache. The engineers at Phison in its new platform and are unable to develop a progressive dynamic algorithms and continue to rely on static SLC cache that the drive capacity of 256GB has a capacity of 6 GB, and 512 GB version – 12 GB. Specifications recording speed according to tradition belong to the accelerated mode, if to speak about direct writes to the TLC memory, its performance is about three and a half times lower. We illustrate this with a traditional schedule speed continuous sequential write on an empty Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD with a capacity of 512 GB.

The speed entries in the SLC cache reaches 2.0 GB/s, but this performance is very long, on the main array of flash memory write speed is only about 560 MB/s And this, incidentally, is considerably lower than the speed that produces a similar brand architecture of the array of flash memory WD Black SN750. Ultimately, to fully populate Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD 512 GB, you need to spend about 15 minutes, while the flagship NVMe drive Western Digital you can record one and a half times faster.

In addition, Phison adopted from Silicon Motion the idea of using SLC cache for “cheating” – increase the measurement speed reading benchmarks. Information included in the SLC cache, linger in it for a while to provide the best performance when accessing files that were recorded just. You can see this with a simple experiment, during which we check the speed of random melkoplodnogo read data from a file created on the Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD 512 GB, as immediately after the recording and after this the SSD was recorded some more information.

As can be seen from the graph, when a fresh test file is excluded from the SLC cache and then write additional 12 GB data read speed is reduced by about a quarter. This means that the simple benchmarks that measure the performance when using applications with a newly created file will display for the Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD to significantly inflated performance compared to the performance that is possible in actual use this drive.

In the end, the familiarity with the platform underlying the Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD leaves a reasonable doubt that the drive is legitimate to put on a par with the flagship NVMe SSD. However, this is obviously not a budget option, because the configuration of these drives does not involve any explicit savings in design. Moreover, if we talk specifically about the Gigabyte drive, it is sold much more expensive alternatives on the basis of the SMI controller SM2262EN, the performance of which can be attributed to the average level.

In addition, the Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD shows up pretty good warranty conditions. The warranty period is five years, and during this time the drive is allowed to overwrite the approximately 1500 times. This allowed even higher than the flagship drives, the manufacturers of the first echelon.

At the end of the story about the technical characteristics remains to notice an odd detail. The model number of the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSDS consists of two versions – 256GB and 512GB. No option for 1 Tbyte looks very suspicious: such capacity is not only popular among customers, but could allow to obtain better performance by increasing the degree of parallelism of the array of flash memory. Obviously the reason for its absence lies not in the features of the platform Phison E12, as other manufacturers offer and even dvuhterabaytnye terabyte drives based on it.

#Appearance and internal structure

For testing RGB Aorus M. 2 NVMe SSD AMD has provided elder and more powerful modification with a capacity of 512 GB. The drive was made in a typical form factor M. 2 2280, but its appearance can hardly be called ordinary.

Developers of Gigabyte showed remarkable imagination and has equipped its product with a massive radiator RGB led in a corporate style. Due to this, Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD not only markedly different from any other platform Phison E12, but is one of the most original NVMe SSD on the market, at least if we talk about the exterior.

Radiator mounted in the Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD, it seems very effective solution. It is not usual in such cases, a thin aluminum plate, and a fairly massive bar with two sawn along the edges of the grooves.

 

In reality, however, removes heat from drive, it mediocre, because the developers of Gigabyte does not care about its tight fit to the cooled components. Due to the fact that the height of the controller IC is lower than the height of chip flash memory, core chip SSD that radiator is almost not cooled. In addition, no heat sink is forced to do the memory contained on the reverse side of the M. 2 module. In other words, the entire cooling system is more of a decoration.

However, the scenery was quite spectacular: at the center of the radiator flaunts a logo Aorus – head eagle – with RGB led backlight. When the logo cyclically pulsates different colors. Strictly speaking, the backlight can be configured using the utility RGB Fusion 2.0, but this feature is available only for selected models of Gigabyte motherboards. In the compatibility list includes only the fee Aorus Intel Z390 and fee X299 Aorus Master. On any other motherboards algorithm of the backlight control does not work.

Usually all the drives are built on platforms Phison, use the same PCB design, provided by the authors of the controller. However, the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD received a slightly modified PCB. On the Board added two holes for screw fastening of a radiator and three RGB LEDs, which illuminate the Aorus logo. But otherwise the layout of the printed circuit Board corresponds to the reference.

 

On the PCB the drive is an eight-channel Phison controller PS5012-E12 with concomitant 512-megabyte chip DDR4-2400 SDRAM Hynix production required to store a working copy of the table of address translation. The array of the flash memory formed from four chips labelled TA7AG55AIV which are located on the front side of the Board as on the back. Such chips by order of the Phison company manufactures PTI, which procures semiconductor stuffing directly from Toshiba. End up in every chip flash memory, posted on the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD is four 256-Gigabit crystal Toshiba TLC 3D NAND with 64 layers, but the cutting and sorting these crystals of semiconductor wafers in charge of the Taiwan intermediary.

Thus, it seems that the Gigabyte drive should be used semiconductor crystals of relatively good quality. Such a conclusion can be drawn from the stated high-resource SSD with a small volume of the reserve space. After formatting, the owner of a 512-Gigabyte drive will be available approximately 476 GB of storage, 36 GB is a SLC cache, so a replacement Fund is just nothing.

#Software

Today almost all SSD manufacturers offer a utility service that allows you to monitor the status and manage their SSD. Gigabyte this role is assigned to the SSD utility Tool Box, but from the point of view of functionality should be included among the worst examples of similar programs: it is not able to practically nothing.

The only thing you can do with this utility is to see General information about the SSD to access its S. M. A. R. T.-telemetry, and run Secure Erase. The interface also provides the Optimization tab, but to choose it is not available.

SOURCE

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Peripherals

Budget NVMe SSD Samsung EVO vs 860: review of the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite

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As follows from statistics that are eager to share key SSD manufacturers, the supply of the usual 2.5-inch SSD with SATA interface as a percentage is gradually decreasing, and come to the fore more advanced products with NVMe interface. Yet SATA hard drives hold the lead in sales, but, in the unanimous opinion, the change has to happen in the course of this year, and should facilitate this ongoing active reduction of prices on the NVMe model.

What NVMe drives are getting cheaper now much more active than a traditional SATA SSD, it is not surprising. Initially on high-speed products using the PCI Express bus architecture, manufacturers have established additional fees. Now, however, they have to give. As NVMe segment grows, it comes to an increasing number of players who do not want to lose its sphere of influence promising direction and are prepared to wage aggressive fight. However, the current situation is that the fight over the attention of buyers due to the speed or functionality of NVMe products today are capable of very few. Leading positions in consumer NVMe SSD in terms of speed and functionality firmly seized offers Samsung. As we have repeatedly seen in the tests, a couple of Samsung PRO 970 and the 970 EVO Plus demonstrates a very convincing superiority over any alternatives, and any large or small competitors of South Korean company failed to construct any similar performance decision. As a result, most firms have no choice but to try to attract users and to get involved in a fierce price war.

This, of course, plays into the hands of buyers. A characteristic feature of today was the fact that among the variety of NVMe SSD formed a significant number of proposals with prices more specific to models with the SATA interface. Simple example: right now the stores are just a few options NVME drives, which are cheaper than the popular SATA model 860 Samsung EVO. And among them not only based on QLC 3D NAND solution in the face of Intel SSD 660p and Crucial P1 — included in this list and SSD c three-dimensional TLC-memory, using both a cut-down PCI Express 3.0 x2 (for example, Kingston A1000 and its similarity on the basis of the controller Phison PS5008-E8) and a full-fledged PCI Express 3.0 x4 (for example, Transcend MTE110S and analogs on the controller SMI SM2263XT).

We try not to overlook this kind of budget, but not trimmed on architecture NVMe SSD, which promise is clearly the best combination of price and performance than SATA drives. Today we consider it necessary to draw attention to one very interesting product – ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite. This SSD is the cousin of the recently reviewed ADATA XPG SX6000 Prowhich produced a very good impression against other budget proposals with NVMe interface. But now ADATA a little dance with the configuration and offers about the same thing, but noticeable 15% cheaper. As it turned out — we just try to find out in this review. After all, if you believe the manufacturer, the new ADATA XPG Lite SX6000 does not change either the base controller or the type of flash memory. And if this is true, then we have a very attractive model that is extremely affordable NVMe SSD to PCIe 3.0 x4, based on TLC 3D NAND and obviously superior in speed, any SSD with SATA interface.

#Specifications

Speaking about ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite, we do often will do the references to XPG SX6000 Pro. The manufacturer does not deceive when he says that it’s close relatives. Both the drive are based on the same controller Realtek RTS5763DL and use the same three-dimensional 64-layer TLC 3D NAND second generation manufactured by Micron. Why ADATA has released two (almost) identical drive on a different price and how did she seriously throw off the price of the Lite model? The answer to these questions is very simple: the cheaper versions applied a cheaper memory, which, on the one hand, has a lower gradation in quality of semiconductor crystals, and with another – increased to 512 GB, the volume of the crystals. The first reduces the resource and the second performance. And here before us there SX6000 XPG Lite, at first glance, the same as the XPG SX6000 Pro, but really – is completely different.

However, if we talk about the architecture of the considered innovations, in the address XPG Lite SX6000 difficult to make any special claims. Moreover, at first glance, this drive is almost too good to be one of the most affordable NVMe SSD on the market. Although controller Realtek RTS5763DL that serves as its basis, is found in the mass drives are extremely rare, this chip is quite worthy to occupy this place.

In essence, the budget RTS5763DL indicates only one thing – he is deprived of the DRAM controller, which eliminates the feasibility of the drives on the basis of traditional buffering table of address translation. But it is supported by buffering non-traditional, technology-based HMB (Host Memory Buffer). This means that RTS5763DL in Windows operating system 10 is capable of use for their needs part of the normal RAM that is available to him through the DMA mode of the PCI Express bus. Regarding other features, the controller is quite typical: it has four channels to communicate with flash memory, supports LDPC coding for error correction and uses four lines PCI Express 3.0 to enable the system. In other words, it is quite possible to compare with the same SMI SM6263XT, which created a long NVMe SSD.

Nevertheless, do not forget: XPG SX6000 Lite developers saved on the flash memory. Increased to 512 GB size crystals 3D TLC NAND is not as scary as QLC, but nevertheless negative influence of this factor can be seen even in passport characteristics.

Manufacturer ADATA
Series XPG SX6000 Lite
Model number ASX6000LNP‑128GT‑C ASX6000LNP‑256GT‑C ASX6000LNP‑512GT‑C ASX6000LNP‑1TT‑C
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 128 256 512 1024
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 512 GB TLC 3D NAND
Controller Realtek RTS5763DL
Buffer: type, volume No
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 1800 1800 1800 1800
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 600 600 1200 1200
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 100 000 100 000 180 000 220 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 130 000 170 000 200 000 200 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W N/a
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,8
Resource record, TB 60 120 240 480
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 80 x 22 x 3.58
Weight, g 8
Warranty period, years 3

If we compare the characteristics of the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite specifications with the XPG SX6000 Pro, it becomes immediately clear that the low cost of new items will be traceable in all aspects. Diminished even the declared speed that drives manufacturers usually try to inflate all possible ways, given the technology SLC-cache, and as deep pipelining of requests. Thus, performance in reading has lost 12-15 %, and the record is 17-20 %.

That performance has decreased due to the decreased degree of parallelism of the array of flash memory (this is caused by the transition to a more capacious crystals), it is easy to see and the reduction in the rates of direct entry to bypass the SLC cache. In order to clarify how the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite technology works rapid entry, we carried out a standard experiment with a continuous filling of the 512-Gigabyte version of the SSD by sequential writing. The results can be seen in the graph below.

SLC-caching ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite works on a simple dynamic algorithm — on-the-record in high-speed mode uses all available free memory. Therefore, clean the drive in SLC mode, able to record about 170 GB (one-third of the total). Performance at SLC record reaches 1.2 GB/s but then it drops sharply to about 130 MB/s, and with a very strong scatter in the instant figures. For comparison, the speed of the array of flash memory XPG SX6000 Pro was 20-25% higher. This way is manifested the penalty associated with a halving of parallelism of the array of flash memory from a cheaper model of drive. In the result in order to fill the 512 GB version of the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite completely, you need to spend about 45 minutes. And it is very long: for example, 970 Samsung EVO Plus a similar volume can be completely down in 10 minutes.

At the same time, it should be noted: dynamic caching is good because it maximally protects the user from seeing the true speed of the array of flash memory in TLC mode. If you leave the drive has enough free space, even a slow SSD like XPG SX6000 Lite will be able to provide acceptable write speed. However, there is another “but”. This drive doesn’t have its own DRAM buffer is used for buffering tables of address translation memory system, the speed of XPG SX6000 Lite when working with large volumes of data can be reduced even for this reason. As practice shows, a significant drop in the speed parameters from XPG SX6000 Lite (like XPG SX6000 Pro) occurs when random operations on files or groups of files larger than 4 GB.

In other words, we should not forget that the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite is still a budget NVMe drive, and if you decide to save, you will have to put up with some features. Moreover, such compromise in this case is considerably greater than in the case of XPG SX6000 Pro. And it’s not only about performance. For example, a cheaper version of the SSD you’ll be the worst warranty and lower the declared resource of the flash memory. While for XPG SX6000 Pro warranty period is 5 years on the Lite version is only reduced to three years warranty, is not peculiar to drives with NVMe interface, including model on the base of QLC-memory. In addition, for SX6000 XPG Lite warranty may only 480 times overwrite the amount of drive, while the ADATA XPG SX6000 Pro during operation, you can completely overwrite 600 times. However, as we know, such requirements have a formal character and to practice have a rather distant relationship.

In fairness it should be noted: some ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite is still superior to the XPG version of SX6000 Pro. Lineup of this new product includes four representatives, and the minimum capacity of the SSD is only 128 GB. However, the performance of the younger of the modifications is at a very low level. The 128-Gigabyte model, where the array of flash memory runs in dual channel mode, is unlikely to please the owners of superiority over SATA SSDS. That is why capacity XPG SX6000 Pro began with a 256-Gigabyte mark.

#Appearance and internal structure

For testing we used a representative lineup ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite with a capacity of 512 GB. On the one hand, this version has the sufficient degree of parallelism of flash memory and promises good performance, and on the other is a little more than 5 thousand rubles.

First look at this SSD enough to understand that this is really a close relative of the XPG SX6000 Pro. As Pro memory, new XPG SX6000 Lite is a unilateral module in the form factor M. 2 2280 with a black PCB, but also equipped with the same set of components distributed across the Board is absolutely in the same way. Differs only in the range of chip flash memory, which on XPG SX6000 Lite 512 GB turned out to be two and not four, as on a more expensive SSD.

 

Actually, in this lies the main feature of XPG SX6000 Lite. If XPG SX6000 Pro used chips collected most of ADATA 256-Gigabit 64-layer semiconductor crystals TLC 3D NAND, purchased from Toshiba, now on-chip flash memory emblazoned marking SpecTek. And this is a clear sign, well describing the complexity of the drive, because SpecTek, a subsidiary of Micron, through which American manufacturer of semiconductors, so as not to tarnish his reputation, sells products with reduced quality grades. However, the TLC 3D NAND chips, which are mounted on XPG SX6000 Lite, belong to the category of Full Spec for SSD (100%), that is, they are pre-tested and still recognized by the manufacturer fit for use in SSDs.

Each chip flash memory contains within itself the four semiconductor crystal TLC 3D NAND with increased up to 512 GB capacity, and this means that the four-channel controller Realtek RTS5763DL in poltorabatko drive is able to use only a two-fold alternation of the devices in the channels. That is why the model number XPG SX6000 Lite performance with growth increases up to a maximum versions of the SSD capacity of 1 terabyte.

All circuitry ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite fits in three chips. In addition to the flash memory on the Board is a basic and controller Realtek and no more additions and are not required. On the Board are empty “landing pad” under additional chips flash memory, but they are utilized exclusively for the senior modification. Usual same chip dynamic memory here is not needed at all, because we consider the SSD relies on the unbuffered architecture and technology HMB.

Although XPG SX6000 Lite and is among the most affordable NVMe SSD, which finds a direct reflection in its hardware design, ADATA suddenly paid some attention to the heat sink. The SSD comes complete with aluminum heat distribution plate with an adhesive layer, which the user can optionally attach to the surface of the chip.

However, its small thickness and the sleek profile is unlikely to provide a high efficiency of heat dissipation, but even this option is still better than nothing.

#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. Moreover, a number of users who activated the zoom function of the interface in Windows, in General, she can not use.

However, the basic functionality utility ADATA SSD Toolbox 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 SX6000 Lite on the manufacturer’s website you can get the key to a popular program for cloning data Acronis True Image HD 2013/2015.

SOURCE

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Peripherals

Overview NVMe SSD-drive Transcend MTE220S: cheap – not so bad

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It just so happens that the manufacturers of SSDs, which until now has not got its own teams of controllers, but do not want to overlook the market for SSD enthusiasts, no particular choice today. Suitable option for them, allowing to organize the Assembly really productive drives with the NVMe interface that offers only one company is Silicon Motion, which is ready to deliver integrated solutions from your controller and firmware ready for everyone. Public base IC to build NVMe drives and there are other firms, for example, the same Phison or Realtek, but that Silicon Motion has taken the lead in this area, offering partners not only more functional, but much more fast acting solutions.

At the same time, among the huge variety of NVMe drives based on controllers Silicon Motion, of interest to enthusiasts can imagine not all models. This company produces a wide range of microchips with a fundamentally different level of performance, but performance worthy of an SSD for advanced or maximum configuration, can provide only selected platforms. In particular, last year we spoke about the controller SM2262: by the standards of 2018, he really looked very attractive, enabling drives based on it act on an equal footing with the best consumer NVMe SSD manufacturers of the first echelon, including Samsung, Western Digital and Intel.

But this year the situation has changed, as leading manufacturers have updated their mass top-level model. In response, Silicon Motion began to offer our partners an improved version of last year’s controller, SM2262EN, which also promises increase in performance – primarily in recording speed. It turns out, that storage devices based on this chip should be interested buyers who expect to get a more modern and fast NVMe drive, but do not want to overpay for the possession product A brand.

Until recently, the new controller SM2262EN used in their products is not so many manufacturers. In fact, the choice boiled down to two options: ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro and HP EX950. But now appeared the third storage device based on this chip – it has mastered the production of the company Transcend. With this new product, called Transcend MTE220S, we’re going to explore in this review.

Inputs to this familiarity are. HP EX950 not available in Russia, and ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro in our recent testing nothing trumps not demonstrated, suggesting that the performance of drives on the last controller SM2262. And this means that, despite the emergence of new versions of the Silicon Image controller, no NVMe SSD that would be able to compete with fresh 970 Samsung EVO Plus , we have not yet seen. Will Transcend MTE220S more interesting in comparison with ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro version, we are going to find out in this review. But it should be emphasized that, even if this SSD and not flash high-speed parameters, it can still be quite interesting. Because Transcend was going to sell it at a surprisingly low price — at least low for a full drive PCI Express 3.0 x4 DRAM buffer and a three-dimensional TLC-memory.

#Specifications

Details about what is a controller SM2262EN, we talked when you met ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro. On the technical side, this chip is built on two ARM Cortex cores, uses an eight-channel interface for controlling the flash memory has a DDR3/DDR4 interface for buffer and supports the bus PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVM Express Protocol 1.3. In other words, it is a modern and complete solution for NVMe drives, which also has a very good performance theoretical performance and supports advanced error correction techniques.

Initially, the controller SM2262EN was submitted in August of 2017, along with the “simple” SM2262, however, was presented as his “advanced” version, delivery of which was to begin later. Apparently, Silicon Motion was going to hold it up to the market introduction of the 96-layer TLC 3D NAND then to offer accelerated comprehensive solutions with a denser flash memory. However, this plan fell through due to changing market trends: NAND chips began to fall in price rapidly, and manufacturers of memory decided to delay the introduction of new technologies. The result is Silicon Motion got tired of waiting and released SM2262EN as an update to SM2262 as part of the platform, oriented to work with a 64-layer TLC 3D NAND.

In this case, according to the formal specifications, version platform controller SM2262EN still promises performance improvements of up to 9% sequential read, up to 58 % – sequential writes, up to 14 % – with random reads, and up to 40% at random writes. But if to believe these numbers with great caution. The developers say directly – no modifications in the hardware structure SM2262EN implies, it uses exactly the same architecture as conventional SM2262. All the benefit is based on changes in the software part: platform with a new controller uses more sophisticated algorithms to record and SLC-caching. In other words, we are talking about some attempt to cut corners, not that the engineers managed to make a breakthrough in the mechanisms work.

What this means in practice, we have seen, when tested ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro based controller SM2262EN. This drive was faster than its predecessor the chip SM2262 only in benchmarks, but offered no noticeable improvement in real performance. However, Transcend MTE220S the story is somewhat different. This drive has no close relatives in the lineup, and to Transcend this brand new model. In light of the fact that early in the lineup of this manufacturer was only NVMe SSD entry-level passport characteristics MTE220S look very impressive.

Manufacturer Transcend
Series MTE220S
Model number TS256GMTE220S TS512GMTE220S TS1TMTE220S
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 DDR3-1866,
256 MB
DDR3-1866,
512 MB
DDR3-1866,
1024 MB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3500 3500 3500
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1100 2100 2800
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 210 000 210 000 360 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 290 000 310 000 425 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W N/a
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,5
Resource record, TB 260 400 800
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 80 × 22 × 3,5
Weight, g 8
Warranty period, years 5

Interestingly, the claimed performance Transcend MTE220S slightly below those speeds promised for your similar drive based controller SM2262EN ADATA. Apparently this is due to the fact that although MTE220S and uses the same hardware and software platform, its design differs from the reference. For your drive, Transcend has designed its own printed circuit Board, where in order to reduce abandoned the use of 32-bit DRAM interface buffer in favor of more cost-effective, 16-bit connections. The result is lower top speed of random read and write, and this is especially noticeable in the version of the drive capacity of 512 GB.

However, SLC caching to Transcend MTE220S works exactly the same as other drives with the controller SM2262EN. The cache uses a dynamic scheme when one bit in a crash mode translates the part of the TLC memory from the underlying array. The cache size is chosen so that in the SLC-mode worked about half of the free flash memory. Thus, high speed MTE220S you can record the amount of data, the size of approximately a sixth of the available space on the SSD, then the speed will be significantly reduced.

This can be illustrated by the following graph, which shows how the performance of a continuous sequential write to blank Transcend MTE220S a capacity of 512 GB.

In accelerated mode, when the recording is performed in the SLC-mode, a 512-Gigabyte version MTE220S provides the performance level of 1.9 GB/s In TLC mode, the array of flash memory runs significantly slower, and after the exhaustion of free space in the SLC cache, the speed is reduced to 460 MB/s. On the chart is visible and the third option is speed – 275 Mbps. To the point performance when sequential write is reduced in the case when the free flash memory is longer, and in order to put some additional data the controller you first need to translate the cell is used for SLC-cache in normal TLC mode. The result is that the average speed of continuous recording on a Transcend 512 GB MTE220S “from the beginning to the end” is about 410 MB/s, and to fill up this drive data is necessary to spend at least 21 minutes. It is not too optimistic: for example, the same 970 Samsung EVO Plus you can completely clog the eyeballs in just 10 minutes.

While SLC-cache Transcend MTE220S characterized by the same unique feature we found in ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro. Data is transferred in conventional memory is not immediately, and only when it is filled more than three quarters. This allows to increase the speed of reading when referring to files that were recorded just. This option makes little sense in real-world use of the SSD, but it helps a lot to drive in synthetic benchmarks, which are practicing scenarios of the “record — reading”.

How this looks in practice can be assessed according to the following schedule speed random reads when accessing the file immediately after you created it when following this file in the SSD was recorded some amount of information.

Here very clearly seen the moment when the controller moves the test file from the SLC cache to the main flash memory, because the speed melkoplodnogo reading at this point drops about 10 %. With such a reduced speed and will have the business users in the vast majority of cases, since there are no reverse algorithms move data from TLC memory in the SLC cache in the firmware Transcend MTE220S not provided, and to stay in SLC-cache files just in case, if the drive is in the process of operation remains free more than 90 percent.

In other words, the work of SLC-cache Transcend MTE220S little different from other drives based on controller SM2262EN. But this does not mean that it is similar to ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro in all. The Transcend offers a significant advantage of a different order – a higher allowed by the terms of the guarantee the amounts of rewriting. Without loss of drive can be completely overwritten data 800 times, and the version of 256 GB is more than 1000 times. Such parameters of the declared resources allow to hope for MTE220S manufacturer of purchased the flash memory of the higher gradation of quality, and this means that the actual reliability of the drive can make even those users who still belong to TLC 3D NAND with a large grain of salt.

#Appearance and internal structure

For a detailed acquaintance by tradition the model has been chosen to Transcend MTE220S of 512 GB. No surprises its good looks, it is not presented, it is the usual storage form factor M. 2 2280, which operates via the bus PCI Express 3.0 x4, and supports the NVM Express Protocol version 1.3. However, the type of packaging and delivery MTE220S evoke stable Association with cheap consumer goods. Even budget UN-buffered SSD MTE110S the company sold in a full box, and the novelty is positioned as a solution to a higher level, were Packed in blister packs, in which, in addition to the M. 2 card storage, no nothing. This is all very reminiscent of the kind available on the market microSD card, and obviously serves the purpose of reducing overhead costs. However, hardly anyone still chooses SSD packing.

Not an impressive appearance and consider myself an SSD. In its design there are no radiators, and the sticker does not have a layer of heat-conducting foil. And in General Transcend MTE220S looks more like an OEM product, rather than as a solution for enthusiasts. Emphasizes this impression is PCB PCB is almost forgotten already green and purely utilitarian label, which has no signs of design, and contains only service information.

The layout of the Board MTE220S not be called model — it, apparently, Transcend the engineers have modified for their own needs. At least previously reviewed the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro despite using the same hardware platform, looked quite different. However, the bilateral arrangement of the components of the new Transcend preserved, therefore, for “low profile” slots M. 2, which occur in thin laptops, MTE220S may not be suitable.

 

An array of flash memory located on MTE220S 512GB scored four chips with their own marking Transcend. Know that within each of these circuits is four 256-Gigabit crystal 64-ply Micron memory TLC 3D NAND second generation. Transcend buys such a memory from Toshiba in the form of solid plates, but cutting, testing and packaging of silicon chips in the chip takes over, which allows to achieve additional production savings.

Attention should be paid and a chip DDR4-1866 SDRAM, next to the chip base controller SM2262EN. It serves as a buffer to store a copy of the table of address translation, but it is important here that in the drive there is only one such chip, manufactured by Samsung, with a capacity of 512 MB. We specially pay attention to it, as other SSD controller SM2262EN fast DRAM buffer typically consists of a pair of chips less than half volume. As a result, Transcend MTE220S work with DRAM buffer occurs via a 16-bit, not 32-bit bus, which in theory can hurt performance when melkoplodnyj operations. However, the influence of this factor should not be overestimated: a 32-bit bus for the RAM is a unique feature of the platform SM2262/SM2262EN, while the other controllers to use SSD DRAM buffer with 16-bit bus and absolutely do not suffer from this.

#Software

For service drives its own production the company produces special utility Transcend SSD Scope. It’s almost typical for software of this class, but some familiar features for some reason are not supported.

 

SSD Scope allows you to monitor the overall status of your drive and assess his health, referring to the telemetry S. M. A. R. T. utility available, simple tests of speed and also check the firmware version and its updates.

 

Also, the utility includes a tool to clone the contents of disks, which enables quick and painless to transfer the operating system and installed applications on freshly bought SSD. Plus, the SSD Scope is able to control the transmission to the drive the TRIM command.

 

For SATA SSD Scope may also offer validation of the array of flash memory for errors or performing a procedure “reliable cleaning” flash memory Secure Erase. But with Transcend MTE220S both of these functions for some reason do not work.

SOURCE

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