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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.

 

SOURCE

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Peripherals

The 2018: SSDS

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In the last few years to talk about what is happening in the SSD market in the final articles was not very easy. Major changes of global character, on which to focus in such reporting, it was very little, and everything had to be kept to a review published during the year specific products that are, however, rarely able to offer any fundamental change in architecture or performance.

However, 2018 is much more eventful, which can be called a turning point in the development of the whole SSD market. We may not have witnessed the emergence of some innovative technologies like 3D XPoint happened at least three very important things that will certainly have a strong influence on what will now happen with solid-state drives over the next years. First, all the NAND manufacturers have ceased production of the planar flash memory and have relied on memory with three-dimensional layout. Second, flash memory has finally stopped growing for 2018 showed a significant drop in prices that made and continues to make solid state drives more affordable mass product. And thirdly, 2018 was the year of the appearance of four-bit (QLC) memory, which soon needs to be available in consumer SSD high capacity. Look at these events in more detail.

#64 layer 3D NAND is becoming a mass

Three-dimensional NAND is no longer a new technology, but until recently really the full release of this flash was only the Samsung. Other manufacturers experimented with 3D NAND, but did not do much betting on their multi-layered products of the first generations. The reason was that despite the fact that 3D NAND in any case allows to increase the storage density, the benefits of a memory begins to emerge fully only after the transition to 64-layer design. Production of 3D NAND is more complicated and costly than the production of a planar flash memory. In addition, the release of 3D NAND requires conversion of the production lines, so in the end, made for aggressive 15/16-nm norms planar memory has a lower cost than 32 – or 48-layer 3D NAND. In the case of 64-ply memory investment is already paying off, and this fact has pushed all manufacturers to a long-awaited transition to large-scale production of 3D NAND.

A pioneer in the implementation and promotion of three-dimensional flash memory, Samsung company, delivers the end products, based on 64-layer 3D NAND, even with the third quarter of 2017. In the past year, it gradually expanded the range and volumes of supplies of a memory, seeking to maintain its 35 percent market share and ranks the leading manufacturer of NAND. In addition, in the second half of 2018, the company began the gradual introduction of memory of the fifth generation, with a 96-layer design. However, the overall slowdown in the growth of the NAND market and falling prices halted the process. It is obvious that in 2019, the majority of flash products will use 64-layer memory, though speaking specifically about Samsung, the company has already started delivery storage 860 series EVO with a 96-layer memory, and soon this way will update and 970 EVO.

The second largest manufacturer of flash memory, SK Hynix, focused primarily on the supply of chips for mobile devices, but, nevertheless, he made a bid for the production of multilayer memory. Designed this firm the technology is designed to produce 72-layer memory, and that this 3D NAND is the major share of SK Hynix products. It should be noted that the company intends to expand its presence in the segment of SSD and memory to solid state drives account for up to 20% in the structure of supply. In the future, the plan is to expand this type of product transition to the end of the year 96-layer design of chips.

Flash memory with 64 layers already by mid-year became the main type of products supplied by the company Toshiba. Moreover, in the near future, Toshiba is going to continue to increase the supply by expanding the production base. It is worth Recalling that in the middle of the year, the company introduced to the market debut drive XG6, which was tested more dense, 96-layer memory, but according to reports, the delivery of a variety of 3D NAND continue to carry only a pilot character, and before the mass distribution of a 96-layer memory of the Japanese manufacturer is still far away.

Approximately the same situation is and Western Digital, its 64-layer memory widely used in their own drives around the end of 2017, and the company is now ready to start production of the 96-layer memory. However, a rapid transition should not wait – at the moment, Western Digital has decided to limit capital investments in development of production and, consequently, this will limit the availability of its 96-layer 3D NAND on the market over the next few quarters.

Since the beginning of last year, has full supply 64 layer 3D NAND and Micron. Drives based on it are widely presented both under its own brands of Crucial and Micron, and in range of numerous partners. Along the way, Micron is preparing to transition to the memory issue of the third generation with 96 layers, but now the emphasis is on increasing the density of storage by increasing the number of layers, and through the implementation of four-bit cells QLC. In this regard, one should not expect a quick switch to release 96-layer and memory from Micron. In addition, the company’s strategy involves the reduction in the supply of 3D NAND to third-party SSD manufacturers, so the term prevalence Micron memory in solid state products of third-party companies may even decrease.

In the beginning of 2018, Intel broke off a partnership with Toshiba to develop advanced technologies of flash memory, however 64-layer and a 96-layer 3D NAND are not affected. It is therefore not surprising that 64 layer 3D NAND is also widely represented in the assortment of Intel: about the middle of last year, this memory has become dominant in a flash products of this company. Intel is now busy with expansion of production at its factory in Dalane, and the promotion of the 64-layer 3D NAND QLC. As for increasing the number of layers and the release of SSDs on the basis of the memory of the third generation, this will clearly not happen in the near future.

#Is a long-awaited reversal of the price trend

What all manufacturers of flash memory has prepared its production facilities to produce a 64-layer 3D NAND around the same time in the beginning of 2018, has played with them quite a cruel joke. In the previous few quarters, the demand for NAND chips exceeded supply. And it was connected at one end with the rapid increase in the consumption of flash memory data centers and mobile market, and with another – with the limited supply of such memory due to the fact that the producers were engaged in re-equipping its plants with a view to their transfer to the production of three-dimensional memory. Since the beginning of 2018, the situation began to radically change.

In the past year, manufacturers of smartphones has decreased the need for flash memory. New models of vehicles stopped aggressively increase the internal storage capacity, flagship smartphones were sold worse than expected, and the entire consumer electronics market has finished growing as fast as before, rate. On this is superimposed the decline in PC sales, exacerbated by including owing to the shortage of Intel processors.

However, speeding producers of flash memory had become unstoppable. After a reorientation to the production of 3D NAND, they continued to increase production throughout 2018. Ultimately, the annual increase in production of NAND chips in a capacitive equivalent reached polutorakratnoe size.

Поставки чипов NAND

The supply of NAND chips

It is quite natural that to absorb all this excess capacity on a flash memory the market was not able to, and all of this caused a deep crisis of overproduction of NAND chips. The proposal was to significantly exceed demand, and the price of flash memory has gone down.

Изменение стоимости чипов памяти производства Samsung

The change in the cost of memory chips made by Samsung

Изменение стоимости чипов памяти производства SK Hynix

The change in the cost of the memory chips production SK Hynix

And it was a very pleasant surprise for buyers, because after the flash, which after a long period of constant appreciation was losing in price from 10-15 % over the quarter, stretched, and prices on solid state drives. So, if you look at the dollar prices of a popular mass SSD, you will notice that in 2018, they declined by about half.

Изменение цены Samsung 860 EVO 500GB на Amazon.com

Change 860 Samsung EVO 500GB on Amazon.com

Изменение цены Crucial MX500 500GB на Amazon.com

Change Crucial MX500 500GB on Amazon.com

In fact, now SSD are cheaper than ever in its history, which should have a positive impact on their distribution. Moreover, a pleasant trend does not end, and further reduction in price of SSDs will continue. It is projected that in 2019 the price of NAND chips will fall by another 25-30 %. And there is a logical explanation. Memory consumption by manufacturers of smartphones and tablets is not increased, the PC market is still in decline, and data centers is capable of generating such a high demand to absorb the entire produce flash memory. Especially considering the fact that all of its manufacturers continue capital investment in production and do not give up their plans to introduce QLC-cell and 3D NAND with a large number of layers, that once again raise the density of chips and will increase the supply of flash memory.

Also now in the equation adds two more unknowns, a trade war between the US and China, plus the forthcoming launch of Chinese enterprises for the production of NAND-owned Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC).

If in 2018 the average unit price of GB capacity of the SSD has dropped from $0.35 to $0,23, in the next year it may drop to the value of about $0,16, especially given the emergence of market drives, built on QLC 3D NAND. I think the cost to buy terabyte SATA SSD for $100 will be possible in mid-2019.

#QLC the emergence of 3D NAND

It was the beginning of distribution QLC 3D NAND, we tend to be the third most important event in 2018. This memory stores four bits of information in the cell, allowing it to increase storage density by 33% relative to the usual TLC 3D NAND. Moreover, this change does not require any special modifications in the production process: everything you need to increase the density of the cells, in fact, implemented on the software level. Moreover, Samsung, Micron and Intel, which has already started the implementation of their drives QLC 3D NAND, used for output of four-bit memory of the same processing line, as in the case with 3D TLC NAND. The ability to store the cells for more bit – on the one hand, the result of the “aging” process and improve the quality of semiconductor crystals, and on the other – a consequence of the introduction of the SSD controllers more advanced algorithms of digital processing and error correction.

Clearly, the need for recognition in cell QLC NAND 16 levels of voltage instead of 8 to TLC is detrimental to reliability. And so far, QLC 3D NAND manufacturers declare three times lower endurance compared to TLC 3D NAND and the worst data security in an off state. This makes modern drives with four-bit memory more suitable for low loads and scenarios of type WORM (write once, read many). But it is worth mentioning that a similar road traveled by the TLC memory. Her first choices were not too reliable and gave buyers a well-founded suspicion. Now TLC 3D NAND is going to take place durable and high quality toppings. that in the near future will completely replace MLC-memory.

The same stages of adoption, must go through the QLC 3D NAND. Moreover, its distribution is directly linked future expansion of the habitat SSDS in personal computers. Estimates today, solid-state media identified only in 55 % of their existing user systems, but the prospects for significant price reduction, it is expected a convincing increase this share up to 90% by 2023. And drives on the base of QLC-memory may play an important role, because this memory significantly reduces the cost of SSD.

In addition, QLC 3D NAND solves another problem: it allows you to increase the capacity of solid state drives, including those made in a compact form factor. As example, the 2-terabyte version of the drive the Intel SSD 660p, which not only has a standard size M. 2 2280, and the same is made in a unilateral design. And speaking of 2.5-inch drives, the Samsung series 860 QVO there is already a model with a capacity of 4 TB, but the manufacturer promises that if there is demand lineup may be supplemented by versions for 8 and 16 TB.

However, it is impossible not to mention that QLC 3D NAND not only loses TLC 3D NAND from the point of view of endurance, but also significantly worse performance. This is due to the increase in the volume of crystals and more complex processing procedure stored in the data cells. However, the old rule that any SSD is faster than HDD, a priori, thus is not broken. The developers have learned quite effectively to mask the shortcomings of the slow flash memory using SLC caching, and this approach is working successfully in case of QLC drives based on 3D NAND. Moreover, the pilot model on chetyrehbalnoy memory – Intel SSD Crucial 660p and P1 is a NVMe SSD, it is normally protruding against the cheap TLC alternatives with high-speed interface.

#Flourishing NVMe, SATA sunset

Definitely talk about what drives advanced close to to displace old SATA SSD, is clearly premature. The demand for SATA hard drives remains very high and this is not surprising, because this interface is standard for systems of past generations, and the Park of such systems is huge. Additionally, SATA SSDS offer higher capacity, easier going in RAID and just cheaper. Therefore, such decisions would remain in the sale for many years.

However, the phrase about the decline of the SATA in the title not just. The fact that any sort of evolutionary development of such storage for a long time not happening. SATA SSDS have reached their “ceiling” a couple of years ago and all new models released in the last year, offer at best all the same as their predecessors. At worst, their characteristics degrade over taken by most manufacturers rate on the translation of the SATA proposals in the budget segment. As a result, the bulk of the SATA novelties, which appeared in 2018 – it drives with those or other technical defects: either unbuffered or limited parallelism of the array of flash memory, or both.

Against this background, would like to highlight only two of the SATA product which was released last year. The first is 860 Samsung EVO, which is a further development of the 850 EVO in a new controller and a new 64 – or 96-layer flash memory.

Samsung 860 EVO

860 Samsung EVO

And the second Crucial MX500 – drive, assembled on the basis of the 64-layer flash memory Toshiba and a good controller SMI. From the point of view of the performance of these SSDS, at least not inferior to their predecessors (true, except for the 500 GB EVO 860), and offer enough for everyday use and reliability.

Crucial MX500

Crucial MX500

But NVMe drives were able in 2018 to take new heights. A year ago, the benchmark for consumer NVMe SSD was made by Samsung EVO 960, demonstrating better performance compared to any other option, then in 2018, all changed radically. And despite the fact that the South Korean manufacturer has updated its core offering, releasing improved 970 EVO, today is the best in terms of price and performance NVMe SSD must be sought not in the range Samsung. There are currently at least two alternative platforms, storage devices on the basis of which can offer at least the worst consumer qualities.

First developed by Western Digital and is used in the latest version of WD Black NVMe SSD, which, together with the new corporate controller received and the original 64-layer TLC 3D NAND. In sum, as Western Digital was surprisingly attractive offer, which also often sold at more profitable than Samsung, price.

WD Black NVMe

WD Black NVMe

However, the main star in consumer NVMe SSD was still not the WD drive. Public controller that can compete with the decisions of Samsung and Western Digital suddenly released Silicon Motion, which immediately opened the way for the emergence of high-quality products by the manufacturers of the second-the third echelon. And they were not long in coming: again all was ADATA, offered on the basis of the 64-layer TLC 3D NAND, Micron drives, and the XPG Ultimate SX8200 Gammix S11, which provide performance at least not worse than the 970 Samsung EVO, but at a much more affordable price.

ADATA XPG Gammix S11

ADATA XPG Gammix S11

By the way, the efforts of Silicon Motion on consumer drives and there are still one interesting class of products – budget NVMe SSD with the price approaching the average SATA SSD, but with significantly higher performance. First, such products were already mentioned Intel and Crucial SSD 660p P1, which uses a new 3D QLC NAND produced by Intel and Micron, respectively. Secondly, appeared on the shelves and curious unbuffered NVMe SSD based on TLC 3D NAND. Makes them particularly interesting is the fact that the lack of DRAM buffer for NVMe storage devices often is not a problem. Progressive models get support for HMB (Host Memory Buffer), which allows for connected PCI Express storage to use for their needs the main memory of a computer, and this largely negates the lack of a platform own SSD DRAM.

Crucial P1

Crucial P1

In the end, NVMe drives for 2018 become faster, more diverse and more accessible. But it is obvious that the ongoing process will go on. Bandwidth interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 leaves space for growth, the improvement in performance when melkoplodnyj operations can be carried out at the expense of technology improvement of flash memory. And here we should recall the existence of a product such as the Intel SSD Optane, which cannot be called a massive decision due to the prohibitive high cost, but which shows the potential of the NVMe interface in reducing the latency of operations. Of course, the Optane SSD performance is largely determined by the use of innovative memory 3D XPoint direct, and not page access. However, comparable results are achievable and on the basis of the classic SSD NAND to confirm it in your Samsung drive family Z-SSD.

In other words, in 2018 only laid the Foundation for the further development of NVMe SSDS, and ahead of us a lot of interesting events.

#Meanwhile in Russia

In the final part of the reporting material we decided to talk about how global market trends solid state drives lay on the Russian soil. The fact that the domestic market SSD has its own specifics, connected with at least two circumstances: that against the cheaper NAND here is played by the gradual reduction of the national currency, as well as the excessive conservatism of the Russian buyers, which refer to any new technology with a strong distrust.

However, despite the negative economic factors, a significant drop in the price of SSDs could feel and consumers in Russia. According to the report of the analytical Agency GfK Rus, collect and process sales data SSD retail channels, unit price of the GB average SSD for the period from January to December 2018 fell from $0.5 to $0,26, that is almost half.

However, the Russian buyer noted this nice trend in its own way. Instead against the background of lower prices to start to move to SSD with a larger capacity, our customers decided to use a cheaper SSD for savings spent on components of the budget. As a result, while a year ago the average price of purchased in stores SSD was about 5900 rubles, by the end of 2018 the average check for a new SSD dropped to 3800 rubles.

However, in fairness it should be noted that the overall sales of SSDS in Russia during that time has grown in quantitative terms, more than 80 %. In other words, falling prices still affected the penetration of SSDs in the system and increased the mass introduction of SSD. Another thing is that the most popular option was, and still drives 120-128 GB. In 2017 and in 2018 they hit 51 % of all sales (in units).

However, the shift of interest of buyers in the direction of a more capacious models are still observed. Share SSD with the capacity of 240-256 GB compared to 2017, the company grew in sales from 32% to 35%, and the relative number of sold drives of polterabayta for the same period increased by a quarter and reached the share of 7 %. Noticeable strong increase in demand for products of higher capacities, although their sale in the General background remains small. Along with this has significantly decreased the number of sold retail SSD with a capacity of 64 GB or less. Attention to this category is supported only by family caching drives Intel Optane Memory. Classical same SSD with the same volume, actually, is not present to buyers the slightest interest.

Gradually begin to fight their place in the market and high-speed drives with NVMe interface. According to the collected statistics, such SSD on average 45 % more expensive than SATA models (with the same capacity), but nevertheless, every twentieth Russian buyer SSD went in 2018 from the store with NVMe product. Moreover, these buyers are more willing to spend on a more capacious modification. All this led to the fact that by the end of last year the share of NVMe drives in the Russian market in monetary terms increased by one third and reached 12 %.

The three most popular in the Russian market of manufacturers of SSD over the past year has not changed, but Russian buyers again showed their distinctive character. The fact that in Russia, this trio consists of Samsung, Kingston and Western Digital, which at year-end took 32 %, 15 % and 11 % of domestic market of solid state drives, respectively (in monetary terms). At the same time on the world market, the three leaders include Samsung, Western Digital and Toshiba, and Kingston products in popularity is only in seventh place. The reason for this imbalance is obvious: in the Kingston range is dominated by the budget proposals, and in Russia, the company maintains a very aggressive promotional strategies.

However, the percentage Kingston even on the Russian market over the past year has fallen dramatically. As in the whole world, in Russia the systematic increase of its influence can boast of only those producers who has its own manufacture NAND flash memory: Samsung, Western Digital, Intel. Manufacturers of the second and third tier gradually losing ground to the giants. But to this rule there is one interesting exception. To increase the impact on the Russian market are SSD ADATA to offer in 2018, a very strong lineup, which included the best ratio of price and performance drives with SATA and NVMe.

Another interesting trend of the domestic market is that in 2018 it began to be traced to the specialization of producers in certain price segments. So, Samsung and Intel has taken the leading position as providers of high quality and expensive products, while Western Digital, Kingston, ADATA and many manufacturers of the second-the third echelon began to primarily focus on sales of low-cost mass models. Due to this, the number sold in the past year, SSD Kingston could even surpass Samsung.

Why it happened, it is easy to understand if you look at those drives which have been most popular among domestic buyers. The most popular SSD proved to be A400 Kingston 120 GB of cheap unbuffered storage device on the basis of the two-channel controller Phison S11.

Kingston A400

Kingston A400

Second place in sales took the WD Green SSD 120 GB – approximately the same characteristics unbuffered model, like the Kingston A400, but on my controller the Western Digital/SanDisk. A full drive with a DRAM buffer and an eight-channel array of a flash memory able to hold the sales only third place, and 860 Samsung EVO 250 GB. Curiously, in the amount of purchased retail copies A400 Kingston 120 GB bypassed 860 Samsung EVO 250 GB is half that is a great illustration of how important it is for Russian users low price. For comparison it is worth mentioning that according to the statistics of the online store Amazon.com buyers from the opposite hemisphere the most popular models are polterabayta and terabyte Samsung EVO 860, and the notorious Kingston A400 120 GB is in the list of preferences only the fifteenth place.

Full top 10 SSDs on the results of Russian sales for 2018 is as follows:

  1. A400 Kingston 120 GB;
  2. WD Green SSD 120 Gbytes;
  3. 860 Samsung EVO 250 GB;
  4. Samsung 850 120 GB;
  5. A400 Kingston 240 GB;
  6. WD Green, SSD 240 GB;
  7. Kingston SSDNow 120 GB UV400;
  8. Ultimate SU650 ADATA 120 GB;
  9. Silicon Power Slim S55 120GB;
  10. Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB.

In the above list, there is no drive interface NVMe, but this is not surprising, given their considerably higher cost. However, the noteworthy and the most popular in Russia, high-performance model with a modern interface. So, the most sold NVMe SSDS for the year was 960 Samsung EVO 250 GB.

Samsung 960 EVO

Samsung EVO 960

In second place – 970 Samsung EVO 250 GB, and the third – 970 Samsung EVO 500 GB. In other words, the South Korean manufacturer has managed to capture just has an overwhelming advantage in the segment of NVMe drives in Russia. Most popular NVMe SSD from some other supplier – 760p is the Intel SSD 256 GB, but the number of copies sold, he concedes 960 Samsung EVO 250 GB exactly four times.

#Conclusion

Our story about the development of the situation with solid-state drives in 2018 is almost not affected by new solutions like Optane Intel or Samsung SSD Z SSD. And it is quite natural: in the past year, such nicoletia drives never gave me reason really remember them. They continue to exist in your parallel world, staying for its exorbitant cost ofonly niche solutions primarily for the server market. Besides as reduce the cost classic SSD, these drives separation from reality is becoming more and deeper. Apparently, the imminent recognition Optane Intel and Samsung SSD Z SSD can not wait: at the moment, 3D technology XPoint and Z NAND look unsuitable for use in consumer media.

The main plot on the market of SSDs in 2019 will obviously be a further decline in SSD prices and increasingly confident displacement of their mechanical hard drives. It is obvious that in the coming year, the cost of flash memory will fall below the psychologically important level of $0.1 gigabytes that will be a clear signal to the emergence of SSD with the capacity of 8 TB. In addition, cheaper entry-level models will come to the point that users will get the opportunity to purchase polterabayta SSD for the price of a terabyte HDD, and it will be another weighty argument in favor of a total rejection of the use of traditional mechanical hard drives.

From a technological point of view, no special breakthroughs are not yet in sight. SATA hard drives will remain popular for a long time and sunset this area in 2019 is clearly not threatened. As for NVMe models, they will probably continue to gradually move in the direction of utilizing all of the capabilities of the interface, which consumer drives while clearly not fully disclosed, even when using four lines of standard PCI Express 3.0.

So, 2019 seems to be a battleground for pricing but not for the technological war. However, certain new items, we still wait with great anticipation. So, in the near future will appear the next novelty from Samsung, as well as a curious hybrid drive Intel, combining the XPoint QLC 3D and 3D NAND. 3DNews traditionally will continue to follow closely what is happening in the SSD market.

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Peripherals

Review Toshiba S300 hard drives (10 TB) and V300 (2 TB)

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The hard drive market today belongs to three companies — Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba. However, users of home PCs are often dealing with products Seagate and WD, while Toshiba works more for the corporate buyer. The Japanese company has a huge range of server disks with the interface SAS and OEM models with SATA ports, but only in the last two or three years, Toshiba has started to pay attention to the retail market internal HDD. At the moment Toshiba offers cover basic usage scenarios in the home and small office, including the X300 drives for workstations and series N300 NAS — one of the last model we tested last year.

The only thing that was missing in the consumer catalog Toshiba is drives for recording and broadcasting video content. All HDD manufacturers have already purchased these products, and for good reason. Desktop SSD still do not offer such a price and volume to replace magnetic drives in DVR (digital video recorders) and video surveillance systems. In addition, the drives designed for such tasks, have special functions for recording of multiple data streams that are not in the drives for desktop and NAS.

This year Toshiba introduced hard drives badged S300 — large storage capacity, designed for servers video surveillance and a series of budget Winchester V300 for HTPC (Home Theater PC) and DVR. Today we will explore the practical test two of the new models: Toshiba S300 volume of 10 TB, Toshiba V300 capacity of 2 TB.

#Specifications, price

Toshiba S300 family includes models with capacity from 4 to 10 TB. Disks 6, 8 and 10 TB built on the platform of MD06ACA-V spindle speed 7200 rpm (these HDD first appeared in OEM catalog Toshiba): the first two plates equipped with payload 1333 GB, while the 10-terabyte S300 contains seven plates at 1429 GB. It is noteworthy that Toshiba without helium for the production of hard drives this volume: they are all performed in a standard ventilated enclosure. We were not able to figure out the younger models Toshiba S300 volume 4 and 5 TB, but judging by the sustained bandwidth of 157 Mbytes/s and a spindle rotation speed of 5400 rpm, the inside may be a plate with a capacity of 1 TB.

Manufacturer Toshiba
Series S300
Model number HDWT140UZSVA HDWT150UZSVA HDWT360UZSVA HDWT380UZSVA HDWT31AUZSVA
Form factor 3.5 inch 3.5 inch 3.5 inch 3.5 inch 3.5 inch
Interface SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s
Capacity, GB 4 000 5 000 6 000 8 000 10 000
Configuration
The spindle rotation speed, Rev/min 5 400 5 400 7 200 7 200 7 200
The useful storage density, GB/plate ND ND 1 333 1 333 1 429
The number of plates/heads ND ND 5/10 6/12 7/14
Buffer size, MB 128 128 256 256 256
Sector size, bytes 4 096 4 096 4 096 4 096 4 096
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 157 157 241 241 248
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 157 157 241 241 248
Burst rate, read/write, MB/s ND ND ND ND ND
Internal data rate, Mbytes/s ND ND ND ND ND
Average seek time: read/write, MS ND ND ND ND ND
Track-to-track seek time: read/write, MS ND ND ND ND ND
Full stroke seek time: read/write, MS ND ND ND ND ND
Reliability
MTBF (mean time between failures), h 1 000 000 1 000 000 1 000 000 1 000 000 1 000 000
AFR (annualized failure rate), % ND ND ND ND ND
The number of cycles Parking the heads 600 000 600 000 600 000 600 000 600 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 4,0/7,5 4,0/7,5 Of 5.59/of 7.88 6,33/8,61 7,15/of 9.48
Typical noise level: idle/search dB 26/ND 26/ND 34/ND 34/ND 34/ND
Maximum temperature, °C: drive on/drive is disabled 70/70 70/70 70/70 70/70 70/70
Impact resistance: included disk (read) /disk disabled 70 g (2ms) / 300 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 300 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 250 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 250 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 250 g (2 MS)
Dimensions: D × H × D, mm 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1
Weight, g 720 720 770 770 770
Warranty period, years 3 3 3 3 3
Average retail price (US without tax) $ 151 (amazon.com) ND ND ND ND
The average retail price (Russia), RUB. 9 180 (market.yandex.ru) ND 14 504 (market.yandex.ru) 18 897 (market.yandex.ru) 24 747 (market.yandex.ru)
Manufacturer Toshiba
Series V300
Model number HDWU105UZSVA HDWU110UZSVA HDWU120UZSVA HDWU130UZSVA
Form factor 3.5 inch 3.5 inch 3.5 inch 3.5 inch
Interface SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s
Capacity, GB 500 1 000 2 000 3 000
Configuration
The spindle rotation speed, Rev/min 5 700 5 700 5 700 5 940
The useful storage density, GB/plate 1 000 1 000 1 000 1 000
The number of plates/heads 1/2 1/2 2/4 3/6
Buffer size, MB 64 64 64 64
Sector size, bytes 4 096 4 096 4 096 4 096
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s ND ND ND ND
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s ND ND ND ND
Burst rate, read/write, MB/s ND ND ND ND
Internal data rate, Mbytes/s ND ND ND ND
Average seek time: read/write, MS ND ND ND ND
Track-to-track seek time: read/write, MS ND ND ND ND
Full stroke seek time: read/write, MS ND ND ND ND
Reliability
MTBF (mean time between failures), h ND ND ND ND
AFR (annualized failure rate), % ND ND ND ND
The number of cycles Parking the heads 300 000 300 000 300 000 300 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 3,0/5,7 3,0/5,7 3,3/4,7 4,2/5,4
Typical noise level: idle/search dB 19/ND 19/ND 22/ND 24/ND
Maximum temperature, °C: drive on/drive is disabled 65/70 65/70 65/70 65/70
Impact resistance: included disk (read) /disk disabled 70 g (2ms) / 300 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 300 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 250 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 300 g (2 MS)
Dimensions: D × H × D, mm 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1
Weight, g 450 450 680 680
Warranty period, years 2 2 2 2
Average retail price (US without tax) $ ND ND ND ND
The average retail price (Russia), RUB. 3 580 (market.yandex.ru) 3 823 (market.yandex.ru) 5 380 (market.yandex.ru) 6 690 (market.yandex.ru)

The S300 series drives are drives network attached storage with access 24/7 and a decent resource of MTBF. By mounting the spindle on both sides and active compensation of rotational vibration is possible to install up to eight HDD in one chassis (models of 4 and 5 TB) or more (discs 6, 8 and 10 TB). Extension data transfer Protocol for ATA Streaming Command Set allows simultaneous video recording from 32 (4-5 TB) or 64 (6-10 TB) surveillance cameras. But note that ATA SCS should be supported on the server side if the user is interested in the most stable latency recording.

As for drives Toshiba V300, the appearance of the body can accurately identify a platform that went from Toshiba to Hitachi in 2012. The V300 family includes drives from 500 GB to 3 TB plates with a useful capacity of 1 TB. Due to the low spindle speed (5400-5700 rpm) these models have relatively low power consumption and noise level. At the same time, the device V300 as the older S300 series, willing to work 24/7, allow the installation of up to four HDDs in one NAS and record eight streams from surveillance cameras.

The warranty period Toshiba S300 is three years, and Toshiba V300 or two. Retail price of new items belong to the middle category — not cheaper and not more expensive than most drives the respective volume.

 

Toshiba S300 10 TB (HDWT31AUZSVA)

 

Toshiba V300 2TB (HDWU120UZS5A)

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Peripherals

Overview of external storage, Samsung Portable SSD X5: champion wire

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Not that we often wrote about devices that use Thunderbolt 3. However, this does not mean that this interface is unpopular. Moreover, one could even argue that right now Thunderbolt 3 has become the de facto standard for portable computers. This interface can be found in the latest laptops from most leading manufacturers, especially if to speak about models of the upper price category. However, the problem with a clear lack in the number of devices on this interface can be connected, yet will not go away. Compatible gadgets currently produced not so much, and the bulk of such devices or boxes for connecting external graphics cards, or media, or monitors.

To enter this market and decided the South Korean company Samsung, which sensibly decided that the possibility of Thunderbolt 3 are great for connecting SSDs with NVMe interface. External storage, Samsung Portable SSD X5, which will be discussed further in this review, and as a steward of this vision to life. We recently reviewed the SSD Samsung Portable SSD T5, outdoor portable version of SATA drive 850 EVO. X5 Portable SSD is also an external portable model SSD, but it all made differently. Instead of the USB interface is a Thunderbolt 3, while the inner stuffing is not used SATA, and NVMe drive.

As a result, Samsung managed to build not just a very fast and advanced at the speed of an external SSD. Unlike other manufacturers that produce 3 Thunderbolt drives based on PCIe 3.0 x2-bridge development company Phison, Samsung did not depict the only advanced components. They include Intel’s Thunderbolt of a 3-axle Alpine Ridge and high-end SSD like the 970 EVO.

This is what allows you to say about the Samsung Portable SSD X5 as the best solution in its class. However, there is a negative side – the resulting product is not cheap. For version X5 500 GB asking for 28 990 rubles, terabyte drive, you need to pay 49 990 RUB., and the older version of X5 with a capacity of 2 TB is estimated at 99 990 rubles. under what circumstances external SSD can be not a pity to pay that kind of money, we’ll talk further.

#External performance and features

Surprisingly, Samsung does not adhere to a single style in the design of their external drives. The new X5 quite similar to the earlier T5 and T3. If before the designers gravitated to the strict form, the Portable SSD X5 has much more bold colors and frivolous faired with a cigar-shaped profile. Seems using the exterior Samsung wants to give us a scoop on a race car.

In addition, a new device with Thunderbolt 3 is bigger and heavier than its predecessors: it weighs 150 grams and has dimensions of 116 × 60 × 18 mm. In overview Samsung T5 we did not hesitate to use the epithet of “miniature”, but today will have to abstain: X5 – pocket, but it is not lightweight and not compact.

As explained by Samsung itself, the choice of dimensions and materials for the housings is based on purely utilitarian considerations. After all, the body not only solves the problem of attracting attention to the product, but also other tasks: he must reliably protect the filling and effectively remove it from the heat. It is therefore not surprising that the design is somewhat unusual material. Let the case halves look dissimilar, but the lower half of which is painted in glossy paint “wet asphalt”, and the top, which is red in color, made of the same metal.

And this is not a traditional aluminium, and lighter, yet more durable magnesium. As a result, the manufacturer promises that the body of the Samsung Portable SSD X5 can withstand a fall from a height of 2 meters. But we should not throw the drive in the water – moisture protection for him is not provided.

With the end of the device is the only plug – USB Type-C with internal Thunderbolt interface 3. Data transmission and power supply device by a single cable. Next to the USB Type-C casing is a white led, showing the activity of the drive. Supplied with the drive includes a Thunderbolt cable with a length of 45 cm, but no more accessories in the box with the X5 is not, which is somewhat unusual for a device with such value.

The interfaces used for connecting external drives, has seriously evolved in the past few years. The first external SSD, Samsung T1, connected via USB 3.0, and could offer performance on the level of several hundred megabytes per second. The next product in the series, Samsung T3, moved to USB 3.1 Gen 1 with a connector Type-C, but it has not brought much improvement in speed. But the T5 model has raised the bar higher linear speeds up to 540 MB/s. the Secret was the introduction of the next version of the interface – USB 3.1 Gen 2 with a theoretical throughput of 10 GB/s.

That the latest model of the external drive Samsung made the transition to Thunderbolt, it is not surprising. Even the first version of this interface provides the same 10 GB/s and USB 3.1 Gen 2. A modern version of the Thunderbolt 3 faster and four times its bandwidth is 40 Gbit/s, which obviously should suffice for the needs of the fastest consumer-level SSD. Samsung claims that the new X5 provides the speed sequential read and write up to 2.8 and 2.3 GB/s, respectively. That is at least five times faster portable SSD compared to T5.

But you need to keep in mind that, despite the use of the usual connector Type-C, Thunderbolt 3 is not backwards compatible with the USB. That is to connect the Samsung Portable SSD X5 and see the promised speed only on those machines that support Thunderbolt 3. In addition, this computer must be running a relatively fresh operating system: Mac OS X version 10.12 or above, Windows 10 version 1703 and above.

In General, the specifications considered portable SSD is as follows.

Samsung Portable SSD X5
Capacity 500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB
Interface Thunderbolt 3 (40 Mbps)
Sequential read speeds Up to 2,800 MB/s
Sequential write speed 500 GB up to 2100 MB/s
1 and 2 of TB – up to 2300 MB/s
Size 119 × 62 × 19,7 mm
Weight 150 g
Encryption Hardware AES-c 256-bit key
Guarantee Three years
Price (official) 500 GB – 28 990 rubles.
1 TB – 49 990 RUB.
2 TB – 99 990 rubles.

The big advantage of the Samsung X5 is that it supports data encryption algorithm AES256 without the imposition of any penalty on performance. Encryption management is performed through the utility Samsung Portable SSD.

I must say that the proprietary tool is a very stripped-down functionality: it can only enable encryption — and nothing more. Accordingly, to see her through any diagnostic information will not work. But for these purposes it is possible to use third-party programs — for example, fit CrystalDiskInfo.

Mind you, despite the fact that we are talking about an external device, CrystalDiskInfo shows the used Protocol NVM Express 1.3. This is indirect confirmation of the use of inside X5 standard component is based on 3D TLC NAND drive Samsung 970 EVO.

However, without constraints, the case is still not complete. For example, from the testimony of CrystalDiskInfo, it follows that X5 has no TRIM support, although it would seem, Thunderbolt 3, which is an add-on PCI Express bus should be absolutely transparent. All the matter in the file system. The drive comes formatted in exFAT, and if you reformat to NTFS, then TRIM support will appear.

But it should be borne in mind that this recipe is suitable only for computers that runs exclusively under the Windows operating system. External drives formatted in NTFS, in Mac OS X is recognized only for reading.

#Internal device

To create a portable SSD drives often use the same scheme: to some of the traditional serial product adds an additional bridge to provide compatibility with an external interface.

It is done so and Samsung Portable SSD X5. The basis for this SSD supports the OEM version of the familiar NVMe drive, Samsung EVO 970 (PM981) with modified firmware. And this means that Samsung X5 applied 64-layer TLC 3D V-NAND, which is managed by the latest eight-channel controller Samsung Phoenix. In other words, inside the X5, you can detect the real M. 2 drive is installed in the slot, soldered on a common motherboard devices.

However, to combine NVMe drive with Thunderbolt 3, motherboard X5 installed another important chip – bridge Intel Alpine Ridge. Thanks to this bridge the speed of the 970 EVO that uses the interface PCI Express 3.0, not cut, and internal NVMe SSD has an access to all 40-Gigabit bandwidth Thunderbolt 3. However, the appearance on the data path, the secondary node in the form of Alpine Ridge still causes little damage to performance and formal characteristics of the Samsung X5 is a little slower than the original 970 EVO. But the damage this isn’t too big — it fits in 10-15 %.

But Samsung X5 is characterized by all the usual technologies from desktop product: first of a two-stage SLC TurboWrite cache Intellegent. The essence of this technology accelerated recording is that the SLC cache drive consists of two parts: static and dynamic. In sum, as the Samsung Portable SSD X5 is capable of high speeds, large amounts of information that an external drive is even more important than for domestic.

We tested Samsung X5 capacity of 1 terabyte, and the total capacity of SLC cache made it about 36 GB. This should be enough for average usage scenarios, but still need to keep in mind that the exhaustion of free space in the SLC cache, the write performance drops by about half: from 2.3 to 1.0 GB/s. This is illustrated in the following graph copying on SSD large file.

If you talk about how Samsung X5 are designed from the viewpoint of mechanical design, attention should be paid to the fact that it has done much to improve cooling. This is logical: the heat dissipation of high-speed NVMe SSD – quite a sensitive issue, so all the chips inside X5 which are heated during operation, through the contact pads or metal parts of the enclosure, or with a massive metal heat distribution plate installed in the X5.

This layering not only positively impact on the thermal regime, but also ensures that the body of Samsung X5 will always have a comfortable temperature and will not cause thermal burns.

However, in the process, the case Samsung X5 can be heated to 40-45 degrees. But higher temperature does not rise. This is followed by another proprietary technology – Dynamic Thermal Guard, which inhibits the frequency controller operation Phoenix cases when it warms up above 55 degrees. Naturally, this decreases performance, but as soon as the thermal regime returns to normal, it is restored to its original state.

In other words, overheating Samsung X5 should not be afraid. The drive works correctly raising the temperature, and monitor their condition.

Curiously, for some reason Samsung has limited the warranty period for Portable SSD X5 three years. On internal storage 970 EVO and gives five-year warranty. However, external portable SSD is not established borders at full load. Apparently, Samsung suggests that in real life, an external SSD could be used more intensively than internal.

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