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Overview NVMe drive Transcend SSD 110S: happy life without DRAM buffer possible

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Until recently, SSDs with NVMe interface was perceived by many only as niche solutions for enthusiasts of high performance. Despite the fact that the architecture NVMe SSD provides a noticeable increase in speed performance, as is typical for such products form factor M. 2 is compact and easy to use, wide dissemination of such devices has been discouraged by high price. Manufacturers do not hesitate to set for NVMe drives additional and considerable margins, justifying them by the fact that this SSD is premium solutions high-class, interesting only to a small elite of computer community.

However, now the situation is drastically and rapidly changing. A fresh trend that is gradually beginning to determine and direct what is happening in the SSD market global processes, is gaining momentum reduced cost of flash memory. After a prolonged shortage caused by the long and thorny industry transition to 3D NAND, flash memory beginning to grow too rapidly. Today there is no doubt that in the coming months, the industry will face severe crisis of overproduction. That, in turn, will be a valid reason for falling prices of solid state drives: the forecasts say that over the next 12 months the SSD will drop in half or even more. And what’s more, the process in this direction is already underway.

It affects not only the ubiquitous SATA SSD, but the SSD with NVMe interface. For example, the recently released Samsung 970 EVO since the beginning of summer has managed to lose in price quite a noticeable 13 percent. Thinking about the need of lower prices for consumer NVMe products and other manufacturers. Moreover, in the market gradually formed a subclass available NVMe SSD, whose members pretend to begin to dislodge from the typical configuration of personal computers the usual SATA drives and become really massive solutions. The occurrence of this subclass is fueled not only by the fall in the cost of NAND memory, but also the fact that an independent Taiwanese developers of the controllers in the face of Phison and Silicon Motion have begun supplying low-cost basic NVMe-chip that allows you to save on the cost of the other components.

So, in the past few months, in the range from Phison appeared dual-core Quad-channel NVMe controller PS5008-E8, which was taken into use Kingston, Patriot and Corsair, and in response to Silicon Motion has prepared a four-dual core NVMe-chip SM2263XT, which was used in the production of HP and Transcend. Drives built with these platforms, at a price very close to the SATA SSD and because of this attract attention to themselves.

But one of the listed manufacturers cheap SSD interface with the NVMe turned out better? To answer this question we try in today’s test, in which you detail will get acquainted with the Transcend SSD 110S – available standard NVMe storage on the new platform SMI SM2263XT. Through the study of its performance, we compare the results obtained with the performance of one of the cheap USB flash drives on the controller Phison PS5008-E8, and thus determine which of the models NVMe SSD offers the best combination of price and performance.

#Specifications

This year, Taiwanese developer of Silicon Motion controllers have managed to make a giant step forward and brought to market a new range of chips for the base NVMe SSD with a very worthy characteristics. With the senior controller in it, we are already familiar, it is – SM2262, which allowed manufacturers not conducting internal development of proprietary solutions, to get to the big leagues. The most revealing example in this regard ADATA: this company took the reference version of the platform SM2262 with minimal optimizations, and this alone was enough to drive XPG SX8200 Gammix and S11 were able to withstand such eminent rivals as Samsung 970 EVO or WD Black NVMe.

But SM2262 is not the only promising option, which can adopt SSD manufacturers. Along with Silicon Motion and delivers more SM2263XT – a cheaper chip that can be successfully used in low-cost drives with NVMe interface. Compared to SM2262 it has reduced to four the number of channels to connect flash memory and also prednaznachalas for unbuffered solutions, deprived of the DRAM interface.

However, based on SM2263XT is exactly the same as in the older chip, dual-core processor architecture ARM Cortex, which is reinforced with a full set of key specialized units, including corporate engine NANDXtend designed for hardware implementation of algorithms for error correction based on LDPC codes. This means that the platform SM2263XT, despite the retrenchment of the relatively SM2262, has good processing power and therefore can become the basis for a rather interesting incarnation.

Scares is it just the lack of DRAM buffer, but here Silicon Motion offers a curious innovative payment technology HMB (Host Memory Buffer, the buffer on the host side). This means that solutions based on SM2263XT should be similar on unbuffered drives initial level, which we have seen to date. And here’s why.

Most modern SSDs traditionally have three main components: controller, flash memory and DRAM buffer. Fast dynamic memory is required in order to work with the table of address translation is a special data structure, which allows you to map logical addresses of sectors of the disk subsystem is the physical address in the array of flash memory drive. This table is a key element of the SSD appeals which occur during any read operation to find the desired data in the array of flash memory, and any entry to find free space for saving new information.

Quite naturally, for high-speed SSD, it is critical that access this table were performed as quickly as possible, this is due to the placement of its working copy to a dedicated SDRAM in the vicinity of the controller. Typically, the amount of DRAM buffer in SSD is set at the rate of 1 MB per 1 GB of storage capacity. This ratio allows you to arrange table as a binary tree, which can be used to quickly search. Intelligently implemented and placed in the DRAM, the translation table allows, on the one hand, efficiently reduce the latency when accessing the SSD, and on the other to ensure consistency of performance under prolonged heavy loads.

But sometimes developers employ another approach is to use storage tables broadcast not allocated DRAM and native flash-memory drive. This usually is done to reduce the cost of the final product, however, as we saw when meeting with the numerous models UN-buffered, SATA SSD, any good it does not. The flash memory is much slower than dynamic, resulting in delays in melkoplodnyj operations increase substantially, and storage design having a DRAM, generally fundamentally are inferior in performance to the full solutions.

The NVMe 1.2 specification to these two traditional options allocation table broadcast has added a third, “intermediate” option – the technology of HMB, which has found application in SM2263XT. Its essence lies in the fact that the allocated dynamic memory inside the SSD it doesn’t take and store quick working copy of the table of address translation to use the main memory of the computer. Direct access to DDR4 SDRAM connected to the CPU – one of the features of PCI Express, so for drives with the NVMe interface this architecture – it is a natural configuration. Of course, the use of memory is accessed through a PCI Express bus, causes some overhead, and HMB are not can be an alternative DRAM buffer inside the tape drive in terms of performance. But HMB is still significantly better solution than to store a table of address translation in the array of flash memory. That is why this technology has very good prospects in the segment of inexpensive NVMe SSD.

However, there have HMB, another serious limitation to the sole use of a large area of RAM not SSD may be a buffer allocated in the framework of this technology, usually has a significantly reduced size. For example, in modern implementations HMB we are talking about outsourcing to drive several tens of megabytes of main memory PC, while the internal DRAM buffer, located in the SSD may have a volume of from hundreds of megabytes to several gigabytes. Therefore, as part of HMB in memory is only a certain amount of entries in the table of address translation, such as the one to which you target most often. And this, in turn, means that a relatively high access speed storage devices, HMB can demonstrate not always, and if only for calls to a particular piece of data.

However, under typical consumer loads and subject to proper allocation of table entries address translation in RAM and flash memory a serious problem this is. We just need to understand that the technology of HMB is typically a “domestic” decision, and it is obviously not suitable for high load scenarios, the server character involving massive disk operations.

However, the performance of the SSD is endowed with the technology of HMB, can vary greatly depending on whether the drive controller to cope with the processing of the request, without referring to parts tables of address translation in the flash memory. And how all this looks from the outside user may feel that in addition to the SLC cache drive added another level of caching: operations with relatively small volumes of data (recorded and read) from the SSD with the technology of HMB will be held with the usual level of performance, but in adverse cases, the performance melkoplodnyj operations may decline to the level of UN-buffered SSD.

Transcend SSD 110S – one of the first drives of this kind, which used the controller SM2263XT, no DRAM buffer, but support HMB. And this combination could work, especially since the array of flash memory SSD 110S built from well-proven three-dimensional TLC 3D NAND second generation of the company Acer, which has quite high performance and easy to handle crystal size of 256 GB. The result of speed characteristics Transcend SSD 110S look quite “level” and are not given that we are talking about unbuffered model.

Manufacturer Transcend
Series PCIe SSD
Model number TS128GMTE110S TS256GMTE110S TS512GMTE110S
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 128 256 512
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D TLC NAND
Controller SMI SM2263XT
Buffer: type, volume No
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 1600 1800 1800
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 400 800 1450
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 90 000 110 000 180 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 90 000 95 000 150 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W N/a
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,5
Resource record, TB N/a N/a 150
Dimensions: D × H × d, mm 80 × 22 × 3,58
Weight, g 8
Warranty period, years 5

However, no capture the imagination of high-speed indicators in the table are not visible. Compared to the flagship models of consumer NVMe drives Transcend SSD slower 110S somewhere twice. Chetyrehbalnoy array flash memory has the speed of sequential operations, the lack of dedicated DRAM buffer somewhat limits the performance of random reads and writes.

But this does not mean that the Transcend SSD 110S no interest. The fact that the manufacturer decided to stick with unusual pricing policy, and this SSD is intended for installation in the M. 2 slot with PCI Express 3.0 x4 is much cheaper than its NVMe-counterparts. In fact, we can even talk about the fact that the Transcend SSD 110S is a NVMe drive with almost SATA price. Moreover, it is clear that the establishment of this drive for low prices is not a one-off event to mark the start of sales. The cost of SSD 110S is low due to cheap controller, and the lack of a DRAM buffer, and therefore, the new Transcend will be one of the most affordable NVMe SSD in the future.

Besides, do not forget that the performance of drives that use a three-bit memory cells, largely depends on the implementation algorithm of the caching. And here Transcend SSD 110S favorably with many expensive alternatives. SLC-cache it is organized by a dynamic principle. That is, the drive can accept high speed not some predetermined amount of data, and to one-third of the free volume. And in most cases, the entry of large volumes of files will occur on the Transcend SSD 110S with a good pace that will quickly and significantly decrease, as is often the case with a static SLC SSD-cache.

In General, to illustrate the work of the SLC-caching you can use a velocity curve continuously recording data on the Transcend SSD 110S with a capacity of 512 GB (measurements performed on the free SSD).

The write speed of the Transcend SSD 110S in SLC-mode reaches about 1.4 GB/s, and to free drive with such performance, you can record about 167 GB of data. In a slow TLC-mode consider SSD only goes after that. Moreover, simultaneously with the recording of new data in TLC-mode controller, you also need to release free – to condense data that have been recorded in a single bit SLC mode. As a result, the write speed is not only reduced to the level of about 130 MB/s but loses any stability. Fortunately, under normal home use such situations will have to face often – they can occur only when continuous recording very large amounts of data.

It is easy to trace and how affects the performance of the fact that in-memory with fast access from the Transcend SSD 110S is only part of the table address translation. It is enough to observe the rate at random melloblocco reading, which requires multiple search matches in the table of address translation. For example, we measured the dependence of the speed of random read from the volume the amount of data, in which queries are performed.

To interpret these results is very simple. As long as the volume of files that the drive controller remains that all the necessary part of the table of address translation is placed in the HMB-buffer in RAM, we see the constant speed random read (queue requests) at 57 MB/s. But as soon as the active part table in HMB buffer fit ceases, the performance immediately drops. In the worst case, the speed of random access can be reduced by about half, to a very modest level 28 MB/s.

Based on these data, we can assume that for his HMB-buffer Transcend SSD 110S reserves a memory region of about 25-30 MB. So with 16 GB set of files it works with good speed and expansion of the capacity up to 32 GB is already leading to a drop in performance. This feature of the architecture of the drive should also be kept in mind.

Incidentally, it is for this reason in the model number of the Transcend SSD 110S no versions of more than 512 GB. The increase of storage capacity inflates the size of the table of address translation, but the amount of RAM that can pick up to fit your needs drive as part of HMB, is limited to a fairly strict framework. Therefore, high-volume models built on such principles, may be too slow in actual operation, and their production impractical.

To the above we must add that the Transcend SSD is given 110S five-year warranty, however, the limitations on the maximum volume of records, which are the conditions it is quite tough. The standard today has become twice higher than the declared resource.

#Appearance and internal structure

For testing we received from Transcend sample 110S SSD capacity of 512GB. This is the most interesting from the point of view of performance, because version smaller volume are low and the optimal degree of parallelism of the array of flash memory, and therefore offer lower performance.

Familiarity with the physical execution of various NVMe drives in the form factor M. 2 is gradually turning into a routine procedure. They differ little from one another in appearance, especially if the manufacturer did not pay any special attention to the heat sink. Transcend SSD 110S is precisely this: for reasons of economy, everything in it is made simple. The drive is a ordinary M. 2 module size 2280, made on the classic green PCB and is designed for installation in a slot with four painted lines PCI Express 3.0.

On the front side of the Transcend SSD 110S pasted a small, not very colorful label with printed model number and serial number of the drive. In General, consider a SSD in your appearance produces rather the impression of product for OEM, not retail products aimed at an audience of retail buyers. Moreover, its previous NVMe SSD Transcend has placed diagnostic LEDs, and now not even them.

On closer acquaintance with the circuitry it is possible to discern some characteristic features of Transcend SSD 512 GB 110S. For example, the fact that the array of flash memory assembled of eight chips, which are posted on both sides of the M. 2 module. This means that such devices have a relatively simple internal organization: there is only two 256-Gigabit crystal TLC 3D NAND second generation Acer. Thanks to this Transcend had the opportunity to save additional money by shifting the Assembly operations chip flash memory on its own production lines. In other words, the company buys from Micron uncut plate and for cutting, testing and packaging does. That is why the marking on the chips looks so weird and does not contain any references to the name of the author of silicon.

 

A four-chip SMI SM2263XT which controls the operation of the array of flash memory, also looks very familiar. He is small for NVMe controller dimensions: dimensions are only 12 × 12 mm, which indirectly indicates its simplified internal structure. However, Silicon Motion did not refuse to supply the younger of the chip in the lineup of heat-dissipating metal cap that has become a hallmark of the controllers in this company.

IC DDR3 or DDR4 SDRAM the Transcend SSD 110S do not. As mentioned above, instead, the drive uses the technology of HMB. However, it should be borne in mind that this approach, involving the placement of the table of address translation in RAM the PC requires special support from the operating system. At the moment it can only offer Windows 10 version later than 1709, or Linux, starting with the release 4.14. In all other cases (for example, Windows 7) Transcend SSD 110S will work in “compatibility mode” – as a very slow, UN-buffered memory.

#Software

No special drivers to complete the work Transcend SSD 110S are required. In fact, they are not provided by the manufacturer. In the new builds of Windows 10 technology HMB supports a standard NVMe driver out of the box. No additional inclusion or configuration of this technology is not necessary – all is activated itself immediately. However, there are also disadvantages: to verify the host in-memory copy of the table of address translation or to adjust the allocations under this region impossible. It remains only to rely on the fact that the operating system does everything right by definition.

Does not offer any information on the work of the HMB technology and corporate service utility Transcend SSD Scope. It features typical for software of this class, and the fact that 110S SSD – particular drive, it is not taken into account.

 

SSD Scope allows you to monitor the overall status of the drive and evaluate its health appeal to telemetry S. M. A. R. T. utility available, simple tests of performance, but also implemented a number of service opportunities: scanning the array of flash memory for errors, the procedure “reliable cleaning” flash memory Secure Erase, and check the firmware version and update it.

 

Also, the utility includes a tool to clone the contents of disks, which enables quick and painless “move” to the freshly bought SSD. Plus, the SSD Scope is able to control the flow of a TRIM command.

 

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Peripherals

The best microSD card with capacity of 128 GB: comparative test 20 models

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This year, our lab decided to do tests memory cards microSD. These are based on flash memory miniature media information has become ubiquitous and is actively used not only in all sorts of gadgets to capture photos and video, but in the portable devices based on the Android operating system in smartphones and tablets. Consequently, their proper choice arose great interest that we have in process of forces and possibilities to meet.

The first article in the series was devoted to the comparison of microSD cards with capacity of 64 GB. To start with this volume we decided, based on its popularity, sales statistics says that, although the most popular goods are rather cheap memory cards 16 and 32 GB, the interest in the 64-Gigabyte cards are also considerable. But most importantly, the customers, the 64-Gigabyte cards treat them much more picky. A significant influence on the choice starts to have is not so much the price of the device, as its performance characteristics, reliability, warranty and brand reputation.

In the comments to our first material many readers requested to conduct similar tests and memory cards microSD larger volume of 128 or even 256 GB. We decided to ignore the request and move along axis of the container on. Of course, memory cards with capacity of 128 GB cannot be considered as popular choices as the 64-Gigabyte microSD cards: they are more expensive, and because they buy about half as often. However, if you look at the sales statistics for last year interest to a roomy microSD cards has increased almost four times. And that means that a 128-Gigabyte storage media for portable devices could from decisions of interest to only a especially demanding consumers, to turn into a quite popular product.

That is why the second article of the cycle affects memory cards with capacity of 128 GB. And immediately it should be clear that these cards are very different from the 64-Gigabyte, and their individual testing makes sense. Important features there are two. First, the composition of the products, available in capacity of 128 Gbytes, is different from the range 64-Gigabyte cards. Spacious microSD card is more difficult to manufacture, so offer them only to those manufacturers that have advanced technology and have the opportunity to purchase the latest types of flash memory. Second, the speed parameters of memory cards vary according to their capacity. More capacious options of microSD cards are built on more stacked cards inside the crystals NAND, which gives the opportunity to implement various techniques of alternating access, which increases the efficiency of the array of flash memory. As a result, the higher card volume are usually faster, but the relationship is not direct, because so much depends on the Manager, the flash memory controller.

#MicroSD memory cards: what you need to know

Nonetheless to reminisce about the past testing of memory cards today we will have repeatedly. After all that time we have not only identified the most attractive proposals among the 64 GB microSD card (then won Samsung EVO Plus), but also learned a lot about the current state of the market as a whole. The understanding of previously obtained results allows to approach more systematically and to better understand which features microSD are more critical and which signs you should pay the most attention.

First and foremost, we learned that almost all modern microSD card, running on the bus UHS-I read speed rests in the bandwidth of the interface. The situation here is the same as with a SATA SSD when any such drive will provide the same speed of linear reading. The only difference is that the bus UHS-I has a theoretical bandwidth of 104 Mbytes/s, this sets the maximum read speed with UHS-I microSD cards. In practice, almost any card will issue a sequential read speed of at 95-100 MB/s. Deviation is only possible for two reasons: either the device that uses the map has its own speed limit, or talking about some old or just a bad sample. For example, in the past testing the 64-Gigabyte microSD card low speed when reading was detected only in Kingston Canvas Select, from the cheapest of the cards SONY Russian-made and outdated models of Transcend cards.

Exceeding 100 MB/s speed performance for linear reading is possible only with the next version of the interface — UHS-II. Cards that use this already available for sale, but we do reserve outside the focus of attention for two reasons. First, they are quite rare and much more expensive UHS-I cards. Second, the gadgets, which support UHS-II cards are not so widely that ultimately makes the UHS-II cards niche or even a niche offer.

A second General conclusion concerns the fact that the main characteristic on which microSD card do differ is the speed of the linear record. Actually, it in most cases depends on whether the card to save the video stream at a particular resolution, or how it will manifest itself in serial photography. And at first glance here it seems all very clear, after all, the standardization organization of the SD Association, has developed a simple system of marking classes which describe the building of a map.

The standard stipulates three characteristics, the ranking speed of the linear record: speed class, UHS speed class and speed class for the video. They were introduced into circulation successively, and therefore set their minimum speed intersect. However, if the manufacturer indicates in the description of the card, what class speed it relates to choose the appropriate option seems to be a very simple task.

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

But there it was. As shown, the correct description of high-speed classes are almost never found. But it’s not that manufacturers are overly optimistic about the capabilities of their products, quite the contrary. Speed classes are declared in most cases is conservative, promising more low, than is actually performance. Moreover, many manufacturers confine myself to an indication of the speed class and the UHS speed class, and the parameter “speed class” video in General is lowered. More or less follows the established ranking system only SanDisk, while the bulk micro SD products from other manufacturers explicitly promises only belong to classes C10 and U3, which means a guaranteed write speed at 30 MB/s. In reality, the recording speed can exceed this value and twice, and three times, but to learn about it on formal grounds in advance is not always possible.

Sometimes more specific indicators of performance memory cards when recording can be found on the websites of their manufacturers. But the practice detailed description microSD cards, which are perceived by many as a simple accessory for consumer electronics, not as a high-tech device based on flash memory, cannot be called universal. In other words, without thinking to find out which memory cards will work faster when recording data, not so easy. This task can hardly be solved, while in the store, and the answer to the question “What to choose?” can only give tests like those conducted on our website.

An even more serious problem arises if you need to know not the linear speed, and performance maps for arbitrary reading and writing. These characteristics are critical in the case when the card is used in Android-device for storing programs and user files, but usually they are not addressed at all. Generally speaking, in the specification, the SD Association provides the class definitions of the speed for applications A1 and A2 for the performance under arbitrary operations, but in fact I use them even less frequently than classes of speed for video.

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

When we tested the 64-Gigabyte microSD card, class A1 was specified for only three of the seventeen cards, but tests showed that in fact, under its requirements fit more than half of the tested cards. Thus, the performance in random read – option carries even more uncertainty. And adopted the industry classification system speeds while the issue of choice is absolutely not facilitated.

Past testing of memory cards allowed to find out one more interesting detail. It turns out that the memory card based on MLC NAND, is still present in the market. However, they take approximately the same position as the SSD of two-bit memory. Keep them in your range only a few manufacturers (especially Samsung and Transcend), while most of the market options – the microSD card on the basis of TLC 3D NAND. Such exclusivity of products with two-bit memory, allowing you to position them as specialized high-reliability solutions, e.g. for video recorders, time continuous use which can total several years. Resource entries when it is artificially restricted by lowering the speed, so often as the microSD card having the name or description of the phrase High Endurance (“high reliability”), are typically slower than standard cards with TLC-memory inside, despite the higher price.

Now that we briefly know what generalized conclusions we came to when testing memory cards microSD 64 GB, it’s time to move on to a memory card twice the volume, test, that you kindly asked after the last of the material.

#Table tested microSDXC memory card 128GB

Thus, this test includes microSDXC card with UHS-I interface and a capacity of 128 GB.

Recall that these memory cards are the most versatile. They are suitable for compact devices that have slots for microSD installation initially, but can be placed in devices that support regular SD cards. There are special adapters that manufacturers microSD cards are often included in the package. It should be emphasized that all such adapter is a passive component that does not have any logic inside. They provide only mechanical compatibility and therefore do not affect performance, and there is no reason to avoid using them are there.

Participants test their stated manufacturers specifications listed in the following table.

For this test we’ve tried to gather all the relevant options microSDXC card with UHS-I interface and a capacity of 128 GB available. And as you can see, we almost succeeded. Not included in testing only memory cards are small producers of the third echelon, whose sales are insignificant on the General background. In other words, we checked all major memory cards available and popular in Russia, and they were many – two dozen.

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Peripherals

Review of an external SSD drive, Samsung Portable SSD T5: pocket 850 EVO

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Range of products of Samsung, is based on the flash memory is not limited to the internal SSD. Yes, SATA and NVMe SSD is one of the most popular and popular products for Samsung users of computer technology, but its proprietary 3D V-NAND memory, the South Korean manufacturer applies for the production of and other categories products: memory cards and external portable SSD. And these products is not related suggestions made on the principle of “to be”, and it is high quality and interesting characteristics of the products in their respective categories to fight for the leadership.

The right to say so came out of nowhere. Recently we tested the microSD card and came to the conclusion that Samsung EVO Plus is one of the best media for photo/video equipment and mobile devices. Today we talk about the Samsung Portable SSD T5 – external portable data carrier, which according to formal characteristics, also seems to be the leader among all similar solutions. At least if we talk about those drives which have a USB interface.

Besides, T5 is not a pen test, and the result of the evolutionary development of the respective hardware platform. South Korean developers involved in the design and construction of portable SSD since the beginning of 2015, when the world saw the first Samsung external drive – T1. T5, in turn, is already the third edition of the Samsung pocket drive with USB interface. It appeared about a year ago, but to this day remains a very relevant proposal. Looming just on the horizon new external SSD called the Samsung X5 is not a mass and does not replace the T5 product for the reason that it relies on rare Thunderbolt interface. Samsung T5, unlike the X5, you can use everywhere – not just any computers, but even with tablets and smartphones based on Android operating system.

#Specifications

In General, the SSD – not too popular decisions. As the proliferation of various cloud services, the need for such devices declined markedly. However, high-speed Internet at your fingertips is not always the case, and in this case Samsung T5 able to help. The basic idea, which is embedded in the hardware design of this drive is quite simple: the external SSD have to offer about the same features that ensure the internal SSD. T5 was created with an eye to users when communicating with them had about the same experience as working with a normal SATA SSD.

This is achieved in a fairly simple way: the Samsung Portable SSD T5 is a variation popular in the last internal drive 850 EVO, adapted to work via the USB interface. It is therefore not surprising that the hardware of the external model consists of a 64-layer flash memory 3D TLC V-NAND the fourth generation (this memory was used in 850 EVO is the third version and is used in 860 Samsung EVO) which is controlled by a standard controller Samsung MGX. However, as external link Samsung T5 is not used SATA, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 with theoretical bandwidth up to 10 Gbps, which allows the T5 to offer roughly the same performance characteristics as the 850/860 EVO.

Samsung Portable SSD T5
Capacity 250 GB, 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB
Interface USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) backwards compatible
Data transfer rate Up to 540 MB/s
Size 74 × 57,3 × 10.5 mm
Weight 51 g
Mode UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) Supported
Encryption Hardware AES-c 256-bit key
Guarantee Three years
Price (official) 250 GB — 7 490 rubles.
500 GB — 9 990 RUB.
1 TB — 19 990 rubles.
2 TB — 39 990 rubles.

Lineup Samsung T5 includes four SSDS with capacities from 250 GB to 2 TB and overall characteristics of the corresponding models coincide with those specifications that were declared for the Samsung 850 EVO: in particular, the maximum speed of sequential access is limited to the value of 540 MB/s. Yes, it is not up to the bandwidth of USB 3.1 Gen 2, but T5 will still obviously more productive than those outside the SSD, which are based on the last version of USB 3.1 Gen 1 – there is a maximum data transfer rate is limited by the value of 450 MB/s.

Based on the bandwidth of USB 3.1 Gen 2, Samsung T5 could be faster, but the problem is that it is based on MGX controller, originally designed to work with SATA. T5 is implemented is not the most elegant solution to sum up this drive, with USB 3.1 Gen 2, it added the additional host bridge SATA-USB. This approach increases delay and does not fully use the entire bandwidth of the latest version of the USB interface, but it allows Samsung to unify the SATA and USB drives and reduce the cost of T5.

In addition to the use of additional front-end of the bridge, the Samsung Portable SSD T5 is different from internal drives and another fundamental point – the type of the default file system. Initially, the external drive is formatted with exFAT and not under the usual for Windows users NTFS. This is done with a specific intent: NTFS is a closed file system that does not have full support in operating systems Linux (e.g. in MacOS or Android), so to extend the T5 compatibility with different devices, developers have relied on a more common alternative. The result is your Samsung external drive without any problems can be used not only with computers but also with mobile devices, game consoles, media centers, smart TVs and so on. However, nothing prevents the user in case of need to reformat to NTFS and T5.

The rest of Samsung T5 quite predictable. What we saw in the Samsung 850 EVO, one way or another is available in the drive. For example, in the T5 uses a standard SSD technology is Samsung SLC TurboWrite cache as well as SATA SSD to visually see her work only in version external SSD with a capacity of 250 GB. More capacious versions of the T5 have a sufficient degree of parallelism of the array of flash memory that allows you to demonstrate writing speed 500 MB/sec for the entire capacity of the SSD.

Unlike many other external drives, Samsung T5 under the Protocol UASP (USB attached SCSI) supports the TRIM command, which allows him to demonstrate consistently high recording speed, is not subject to any degradation as you use.

However, it requires support from the operating system. For example, if we talk about Windows, the flow TRIM it to exFAT file system is not possible. So if you are going to use the T5 primarily with Windows computers, reformat it to the NTFS file system is not devoid of meaning.

However, even in the case of a standard T5 for exFAT file system, typical for external drives linear operations performance degradation due to the exhaustion of the pool of free pages on flash memory is not observed. The firmware this drive has been optimised to maintain the constancy of the speed of sequential writes, and she is very good at it. No drops write performance on Samsung T5 large files is not observed, at least if we are talking about storage capacity of 500 GB and above, where the array of flash memory has a sufficient degree of parallelism.

Like their desktop counterparts, Samsung T5 supports encryption with AES-256. To activate a hardware cryptographic engine to the program (in versions for Windows, Mac OS and Android), which is encrypted SSD hidden in a special read-only partition of the drive capacity of 81 MB.

Encryption uses the hardware features of the controller Samsung MGX, and its inclusion does not lead to any performance degradation.

Have with Samsung T5 and quite detailed S. M. A. R. T. diagnostics, which has a complete set of characteristic drives the South Korean manufacturer settings. In particular, available data about the development of the resource and the condition of the cells of the flash memory. However, keep in mind that compatibility with T5 have not all the programs for monitoring the disk subsystem, but only those who understand the Protocol UASP.

#Appearance and internal structure

Design the Samsung Portable SSD T5 corresponds to its purpose. The drive has a fairly small size (slightly more than half of the usual 2.5-inch SATA SSD – 74 × 57,3 × 10.5 mm) and light weight (about 50 grams). Made of the considered SSD in a flat metal case with rounded edges, allowing you to carry it in your pocket and not damage clothes. In addition, the body made of metal, makes the T5 solution is very reliable in mechanical terms is to break it during transport or use almost impossible. And the ability of the drive to endure the fall with two-meter height made in the specification. However, moisture not declared.

To connect the drive on one of its ends is located the slot of the USB Type-C. the Necessary connecting cables are included in the package. Samsung has not stinted on two USB cable: cable with two plugs Type-C on both ends and the cable, one end of which ends with plug Type A. this means that the T5 comes with everything needed for its interface as with desktop computers, and mobile devices. However, it should be noted that the wiring length is only 45 cm.

Next to the USB connector on the end of the drive is disguised as a blue led, illustrating the performance and activity of the gadget.

Case T5 has two color variations depending on the volume SSD. Blue colors are provided for versions with a capacity of 250 and 500 GB, black same color is used for the terabyte and dvuhterabaytny model.

For detailed acquaintance with the device Samsung T5 us was dismantled modification capacity of 500 GB. And no wonder – the inside of this external SSD proved to be very interesting. The fact that he was assembled from two separate parts: the adapter from the USB 3.1 Gen 2 mSATA and a full drive in the mSATA version.

The adapter is made on the basis of single-chip bridge ASMedia ASM235CM: on the one hand it carries USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, and on the other is equipped with a mSATA slot that you are installing to a SATA drive a corresponding form factor. An important feature of this adapter – redundant power scheme in which there are three capacitor of 100 microfarads, is needed to prevent data loss when sudden power outages T5 from a computer or external device.

As for the set in the adapter mSATA drive, that’s a regular Samsung 850 EVO third version in the mSATA version. In this case, the drive capacity is 500 GB, it really is based on a 64-layer TLC 3D V-NAND recruited two chips K9OMGY8H5A equipped with Samsung MGX controller and LPDDR3 memory-buffer in size of 512 MB.

Special about this Samsung 850 EVO just firmware. She has an obvious optimization for the sequential operations and adapted to the exFAT file system.

It is worth noting that e-filling Samsung T5 does not use aluminum casing for its cooling: no termoenergetyczny pads, allowing the heat away from the chip controller and flash memory in the design is not provided. And it is in vain: when recording on an external SSD large amounts of data it can overheat. Upon reaching the temperature of the drive 65-degree mark turns on the throttle, resulting in a temporary drop in performance of the drive by about half.

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Peripherals

Overview NVMe drives Toshiba: XG5-P, XG5 and BG3

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Speaking of storage, the Toshiba company can be safely attributed to the number of leading players at least because it has not only a flash memory but with the development Department engaged in the creation of controllers and original designs SSD. Such vertical integration to date, has mastered only a few. But in addition, Toshiba was able to win a significant enough market share, which in the last quarter unexpectedly exceeded 10 percent and that Toshiba came in third place for the supply of the SSD after Samsung and Western Digital. I must say that for the layman such statistics sounds surprising, since the Toshiba drives come in-assembled computers very rarely, and just not common in retail. However, the fact remains: the power Tohisba is the ability to work with OEM manufacturers, and ready-made computers and laptops from manufacturers such as, for example, Dell or MSI solid state drives this company really are very frequent.

However, from time to time Toshiba has attempted to expand its presence in the retail market. So, with this purpose, it in 2013 was bought by American brand OCZ, under which the company began to sell their featured products. In parallel but separate model drives Toshiba is trying to promote under its own brand, and, interestingly, a one-to-one correspondence between sentences of OCZ and Toshiba is not. Moreover, with the popularity of the NVMe interface as a means of connecting SSD drives, Toshiba began to use their traditional Japanese brand. As a result, the current lineup NVMe drives Toshiba really deserves a detailed acquaintance: on the one hand, it includes interesting consumer characteristics of the products, on the other, albeit limited, but its representatives still meet on the shelves of local stores.

Today we will get acquainted with up to three NVMe SSD Toshiba: XG5-P, XG5 and BG3. All of them have in common is that they are based on a proprietary 64-layer TLC 3D NAND, which the company produces under the marketing name BiCS3 (Bit Cost Scalable). We have already met several times with drives from other vendors, built on the basis of a memory, and experience suggests that three-dimensional memory Toshiba has everything you need to be a good Foundation for a SSD with a good combination of performance and price. Particularly revealing example in this regard recently tested in our laboratory WD Black NVMe. This drive showed that BiCS3 memory at least is not inferior in performance to the 64-layer flash memory competitors, and with the right approach and optimization algorithms it can be an excellent basis for high-performance solutions.

However, confuses one “but”. We all remember that of all the options the 64-layer TLC 3D NAND memory Toshiba is demonstrating in tests not too optimistic endurance. However, private drives, the Japanese manufacturer is and may well not deal with: there is a high likelihood that products sold under its own name, chooses the best Toshiba semiconductor crystals, selling at way less good silicon.

As a result, today’s testing can be a source of new revelation: we will look at actual fast NVMe drives Toshiba, which claim to compete with the recognized leaders. At least, this is evidenced by their price: are SSD, Toshiba’s expensive and how it is justified, we will see below.

#Toshiba XG5

XG5 at the moment is the base NVMe-range Toshiba. Now the company has a more advanced model XG6, which uses freshly-96-layer memory BiCS4, but until the supply of these novelties are only a trial, since the production of three-dimensional memory of the fourth generation are running the Toshiba only in pilot mode.

As for Toshiba XG5 is fully debugged and streamlined design, which uses components produced commercially and in large quantities. The display is its own controller Toshiba TC58NCP090GSD developed by the engineers of the Japanese company. Little is known about him, but, judging from the markings, it can be assumed that this controller is a further development of the chip TC58NCP070GSB used in the OCZ RD400. This may mean that some support for the development of a new platform was provided by company Marvell, but no official confirmation of this.

An array of flash memory in Toshiba XG5 assembled at the eight-channel scheme, it is made up of the TLC 3D NAND devices of the third generation ( Toshiba BiCS3). Architecture BiCS3 defines two sizes of crystals – 256 and 512 GB, and both variations of this are used to XG5. Memory with less cores is placed in version storage volume of 256 and 512 GB, and memory cores a capacity of 512 GB gets into the terabyte modifications. Therefore, Toshiba is working to increase the level of parallelism of the array of flash memory, and even the younger version XG5 can offer quite high performance.

Toshiba XG5 specification is as follows:

Manufacturer Toshiba
Series XG5
Model number KXG5AZNV256G KXG5AZNV512G KXG5AZNV1T02
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.2
Capacity, GB 256 512 1024
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D-NAND TLC (BiCS3) Toshiba 64-layer 512 GB TLC 3D NAND (BiCS3)
Controller Toshiba TC58NCP090GSD
Buffer: type, volume DDR3L-1866, 256 MB DDR3L-1866, 256 MB DDR3L-1866, 512 MB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 2700 3000 3000
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1050 1050 2100
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS N/a N/a N/a
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS N/a N/a N/a
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,003/4,5
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,5
Resource record, TB N/a N/a N/a
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 80 x 22 x 2,23
Weight, g 7,3
Warranty period, years N/a

Curiously, Toshiba has decided not to specify for XG5 indicators performance melloblocco load. Usually this comes for UN-buffered SSD designs to ahead of time not to shock the potential buyers, but XG5 tactic of “partial silence” is rather linked to something else. DRAM buffer in the drive is provided, however, it has several lower-than-usual volume, and per Gigabyte of storage capacity has 512 KB of RAM.

Another interesting detail of the specifications of the duality of performance: in addition to the base level Toshiba leads the other slightly lower. The fact that XG5 is available with two versions of the firmware and the manufacturers of laptops, for which it is important an operating time from batteries, can request for a slower version with reduced energy appetites.

As in any other consumer drive on the basis of a three-bit memory cells, high speed when you record data provided by the SLC algorithms-caching. The XG5 cache implemented on a static scheme, and its size is very small. For example, in version SSD 1 TB cache size was about 3 GB. And this means that when writing significant amounts of data, the SSD will have to face a drop in performance. This is clearly seen on the graph showing the speed of continuous linear recording XG5 capacity of 1 terabyte large file.

The memory array assembled from 16 devices BiCS3 (as in the XG5 512GB or 1TB), can provide pretty good speed and in live recordings in TLC mode – about 900 MB/s. But it is below the speed of direct memory writes from the best models of competing NVMe SSD, such as NVMe WD Black or the Samsung 970 EVO.

Externally, the Toshiba drive XG5 looks quite unassuming. No heat sinks, and heat-dissipating labels in standard not provided. Moreover, it shows that it is an OEM product: on the label on the drive, given only the article, and nowhere marketing the product name.

Special mention deserves the fact that all the chips on the XG5 is located on one side of the M. 2 card form factor 2280. This design is useful for use in thin laptops, where the often used “low” slots. To achieve the same compactness engineers Toshiba have due to the placement of all the semiconductor crystals BiCS3 that make up the array of flash memory, only two chips. For example, in tested in our laboratory version of the SSD capacity of 1 terabyte each chip flash memory contained inside 8 crystals.

 

According to the requirements of corporate customers, XG5 and supports encryption. The label is the PSID is the key. But implemented in the firmware of the cryptographic engine is responsible only to the TCG OPAL standard, that is, work with Windows BitLocker is not supported.

#Toshiba XG5-P

XG5-P is the advanced version of the previous drive, which Toshiba introduced a little later, the original version. At the announcement of this model was said about improved speeds melkoplodnyj operations and the expansion of the model range upwards to limits. So, with the release XG5-P was the available storage capacity of 2 TB, though in this case the updated a series not included the Junior version.

In the end, the specifications XG5-P got the following.

Manufacturer Toshiba
Series XG5-P
Model number KXG5APNV1T02 KXG5APNV2T04
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.2
Capacity, GB 1024 2048
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D-NAND TLC (BiCS3) Toshiba 64-layer 512 GB TLC 3D NAND (BiCS3)
Controller Toshiba TC58NCP090GSD
Buffer: type, volume LPDDR3-1866, 1 GB LPDDR3-1866, 2GB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3000 3000
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 2100 2200
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS N/a 320 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS N/a 265 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,003/4,9
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,5
Resource record, TB N/a N/a
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 80 x 22 x 2,23
Weight, g 7,3
Warranty period, years N/a

Here are Toshiba already did not hesitate to report the performance for random reads and writes, but the high will not name them: they are about one and a half times less than promises 970 Samsung EVO WD Black or NVMe. As for the speed of linear operations, compared to XG5 they have not changed.

Improved performance in XG5-P passed with relatively little rework on the hardware level. It does not change either the base controller or PCB design. The growth performance is due to three fairly simple steps. First, the introduction of microprogram optimization. Secondly, increasing the degree of parallelism of the array of flash memory. And third, by increasing the capacity of DRAM buffer.

If older versions XG5 in the chip was Packed in 8 units BiCS3, XG5-P they are already 16. Due to this the drive controller got the opportunity to use more effective fourfold alternating devices in their channels. In addition, the DRAM buffer is increased in volume by half and purchased a standard size calculated according to the formula “1 MB to 1 GB”.

In this case the engineers decided not to touch the algorithms SLC-caching, which in the previous version caused some criticism due to the small amount of cache. But even on a 2-terabyte version XG5-P high speed can be recorded just the same 3 GB of data. Here’s how it looks on the chart performance of linear continuous recording:

Speed direct sequential write to the flash memory XG5-P increased compared to XG5 about 10 percent, but this can hardly be considered a major achievement.

Externally, XG5-P is almost indistinguishable from the XG5. Gives a new modification only using DDR3 chips made by Samsung, and not the Nanya. But this is a minor change.

Most importantly, even 2-terabyte version XG5-P has retained one-sided design. So, releasing a SSD drive, Toshiba met the inquiries of the manufacturers of slim laptops who want to install in your system SSD the high capacity. Moreover, according to the specifications, XG5-P was neither more greedy nor more than hot.

 

#Toshiba BG3

BG3 is a very special and unique in many ways NVMe-product of Toshiba. Initially it is a single chip drive BGA (Ball Grid Array), focused on the OEM market. The idea behind SSD is that the controller and the crystals NAND placed in a single BGA package size of 16×20 mm can be mounted directly on the printed circuit Board in miniature devices is usually applied in such cases eMMC devices. However, in addition to the BGA-version, Toshiba has decided to offer a “custom” option BG3, is made in the standard M. 2 module, but with very small sizes to suit the form factor 2230 (22×30 mm).

Generally speaking, form factor M. 2 2230 is supported in hardware are rare. Therefore, Toshiba BG3 is a specific product. Have BG3 is more convenient to use in mass systems version with size 2242, it is sold under the name Toshiba RC100. However, for this review we received from the manufacturer is BG3, and therefore see firsthand: drives M. 2 2230 support not every motherboard.

Toshiba develops range of drives in the BGA-version with 2015. BG3 is the most relevant SSD of this kind, which, as described above and XG5 XG5-P uses in its design, the flash memory Toshiba BiCS3 – TLC 3D NAND the third generation with 64 vertically spaced layers. For such drives the developers of Toshiba use some special controllers, about the device which do not have any details. However, apparently it is quite intelligent in its solution properties.

Although a single chip design and SSDS seem to be quite an interesting discovery, you need to understand that such miniaturization is not cost free. Such drives have limited capacity, and in addition, they can use a wide front end tires. So, Toshiba BG3 is connected to the system with only two lines PCI Express 3.0. The maximum volume of such a device is 512 GB. Another limitation is the lack of the design of the drive DRAM buffer. So BG3 is a compromise between size and performance. But a clear advantage is achieved in heat dissipation and power consumption. The same BG3 somewhere in half to two times more economical than any other NVMe SSD.

We should not think that the Toshiba BG3 is very bad for performance the drive. Its specifications given below, and it is clear that it will quickly some full-fledged desktop solutions, for example, the same Kingston A1000.

Manufacturer Toshiba
Series BG3
Model number KBG3AZMS128G KBG3AZMS256G KBG3AZMS512G
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x2 – NVMe 1.2
Capacity, GB 128 256 512
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 512 GB TLC 3D NAND (BiCS3)
Controller Toshiba
Buffer: type, volume No
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 1300 1400 1500
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 600 800 1000
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS N/a N/a N/a
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS N/a N/a N/a
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,005/3.3 V
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,5
Resource record, TB N/a N/a N/a
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 30 x 22 x 2,38
Weight, g 2,6
Warranty period, years N/a

The secret ingredient unbuffered Toshiba BG3 lies in support for NVMe Host Memory Buffer (HMB), which is discussed in detail in the review of the Transcend SSD 110S. The bottom line is that in the compatible operating systems (for example, in current builds of Windows 10) BG3 can use for their needs the main memory when it is accessed directly via the PCI Express bus in the DMA mode. This allows the drive does not lose performance when melkoplodnyj operations, as occurs with other SSD models dispossession of DRAM. In addition, regarding the consumption of main system memory, do not worry: the drive is reserved for their needs just about 10 MB.

Helps to raise productivity and technology SLC-cache. In BG3, as in other Toshiba drives, it is implemented in a static scheme, but the amount of cache is increased: record in accelerated mode possible for very large amounts of information. So, when sequentially writing data to a free BG3 with a capacity of 512 GB, you can observe the following picture of performance.

The entry in SLC-mode is performed at a speed of around 900 Mbps and on a clean drive at a pace you can record approximately 16 GB of information. In TLC mode the speed of the linear record falls to more typical SATA SSD 400 MB/s, but in fairness it should be noted that normal users hardly face.

It turns out that although on-chip performance, BG3 is a normal budget NVMe drive using to connect the bus PCI Express 3.0 x2. Its main feature – not an unusual performance, and appearance. And look at it definitely is: the much smaller size of the SSD in our lab has not happened.

 

Do: on a printed circuit Board mounted just one chip that fit all. In addition to the controller chip shown in the photos of the drive capacity of 512 GB is eight crystals BiCS3 memory with capacity of 512 GB. However, in fairness it should be noted that it BG3 is still present some additional electronic components that implement the power plan. But still, the size of the drive is comparable with the size of the SD card, and it’s impressive. Such a tiny SSD is certainly suitable not only for compact mobile computers, but also, for example, for IoT devices.

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