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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.

SOURCE

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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.

SOURCE

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Peripherals

Overview SATA SSD Samsung 860 QVO: 10 thousand per terabyte

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For anybody not a secret that the overwhelming leader in the market of SSDs keeps Samsung. The South Korean company was able to build a highly effective vertically integrated business. It produces for its SSD flash memory, and also she is developing for them, controllers and platforms. And both are doing so diligently, as a result, the memory controller can boast advanced characteristics. So it is not surprising that the resultant of these components drives become leaders in their niches and are extremely popular. And NVMе mass storage device 970 EVO, and a strong middle 860 EVO, and even the flagship 970 PRO Samsung sold huge amounts of all these three products are among the bestsellers in the American market (according to Amazon), and Russia (according to “Yandex.Market”).

Therefore, the share of Samsung in the global SSD market, which last quarter recorded at the level of 38.7 %, seems quite a reasonable achievement. The surprise is quite another. Such impressive success and at least a threefold superiority in terms of supplies over any other manufacturer Samsung was able to achieve, in fact, offering nothing in the budget segment. Any of the popular South Korean SSD company is worth significantly more expensive drives entry-level, but nevertheless, consumers still prefer Samsung.

From time to time Samsung decided to experiment and produces small batches of cheap consumer goods like SSD series 650, 750 or 850 EVO. However, the supply of these drives never wore really massive, and probably should be classified as unsuccessful forays into the lower part of the market. The result to date, Samsung seems to have reached his ceiling on the consumer market: for the expansion of the expansion it requires a full expansion of the model range in the direction of inexpensive devices. Understand it in the Samsung, so the appearance of new products, about which we will speak today of an SSD 860 QVO — it was only a matter of time. Samsung needed a stable product for the budget segment, she had designed. And for him was chosen technologically new filling, allowing do to radically reduce the cost and transfer the drive to another from the point of view of the positioning level. This filling – three-dimensional flash memory with four-bit cells, QLC 3D V-NAND.

If you look at history, we can recall that initially the SSD came on the market as a professional solution for professionals and enthusiasts. And it was largely due to their price: in 2012, the unit cost of “solid state Gigabyte” was approximately us $1.1. But then there have been significant changes, which were provoked by the arrival on the market of SSDs, built with the use of a three-bit memory cells, the TLC NAND. In the period from 2012 to 2016, the price of SSDS has declined by approximately 28 % per year, falling eventually to $0.3 per Gigabyte. In the same period, manufacturers of memory could solve the main problem TLC NAND is low reliability. Here helped the transition into the third dimension and the beginning of production in 2014, layered 3D TLC NAND.

However, in 2016 the price of flash memory and SSDs have almost ceased to decline. The fact that by this time the bulk of the NAND manufacturers have already switched to the production of three-dimensional a three-bit memory, and further price movement down could be initiated only at the expense of any new technologies or approaches. The four-bit memory cells should become the new approach and, as a consequence, to catalyze the extension of the habitat of SSDs. As analysts predict, the emergence of QLC-memory cheaper SSD in the near future will resume and the price to fall by 30% per year will once again be a familiar situation.

The cost of a mechanical HDD is now at $0.03 per GB, and it is believed that opportunities for significant changes in the next few years is not expected. This means that around the end of 2021 we will come to less than three times the gap in the cost of information storage on HDD and SSD. In this way and needs to pull the market new Samsung 860 QVO, becoming not only an attractive offer for buyers with a limited budget, but a price benchmark for other SSD manufacturers. Passing the implementing a QLC 3D V-NAND solves another problem: it opens up opportunities for growth the ultimate capacities of SSDs.

In other words, Samsung 860 QVO is not only an interesting drive with an attractive price, but the revolutionary SATA SSD, laying the Foundation for further market changes. There is only one thing: the transition to the widespread use QLC-memory can adversely affect the basic characteristics — reliability and performance. Does this mean that progress pushes us towards less quality products? Let’s see how QLC drive Samsung 860 QVO looks at the background of TLC predecessors. Our lab just received for testing an instance of a novelty.

#Specifications

No matter how it seemed Samsung 860 QVO innovative and unusual, this drive is logically very similar to the 860 EVO. Of course, it uses a slightly different memory, but in General, all the principles of design remained exactly the same as in the TLC model with SATA interface. To the extent that the new SSD is based on the same eight-channel controller, Samsung MJX, support four-bit memory which is “screwed” by a software – firmware. That is, despite the fact that 860 QVO is a novelty with an innovative four-bit memory inside, no radical alteration to the usual SATA interface extension platform when this did not happen.

And this is pretty good news, especially considering that Samsung MJX controller is always in need of additional DRAM buffer. Because it means that, even though Samsung 860 QVO, and is positioned as entry-level solutions, he is not an unbuffered solution, the hallmark of which is the frustratingly low performance in melkoplodnyj operations. In other words, the purpose of the South Korean developers when creating 860 QVO total savings still has not been, and they are trying to get QLC-new better performance.

However, you need to understand that speed parameters Samsung 860 QVO in any case will be worse than the 860 EVO. The work of the four-bit flash memory is built using not eight, as in TLC-memory, and sixteen different charge levels in the cells to program properly and to recognize which obviously difficult. For this reason, working with an array QLC 3D V-NAND 860 QVO gives rise to higher delays, which ultimately result in lower productivity.

In addition, there is another circumstance. Memory, which Samsung produces for 860 QVO, is a 64 – QLC-layer 3D V-NAND the fourth generation with semiconductor crystals with a capacity of 1 terabit (128 GB). Consequently, the array of flash memory composed of such components, in any case, will have half the degree of parallelism in comparison with an array of the same capacity, but on the basis of modern 64-layer TLC 3D V-NAND, where the capacity of the crystals is 512 GB. Which is also a negative impact on performance.

However, if you refer to the official specs of the Samsung 860 QVO, no particular concern for speed parameters does not arise.

Manufacturer Samsung
Series 860 QVO
Model number MZ-76Q1T0 MZ-76Q2T0 MZ-76Q4T0
Form factor 2.5 inch
Interface SATA 6 GB/s
Capacity, GB 1000 2000 4000
Configuration
Flash memory: type, process technology, manufacturer Samsung 64-layer 1-Tbit QLC 3D V-NAND
Controller Samsung MJX
Buffer: type, volume LPDDR4, 1 GB LPDDR4, 2 GB LPDDR4 4 GB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 550 550 550
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 520 520 520
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 96000 97000 97000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 89000 89000 89000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,03/2,2–3,1
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,5
Resource record, TB 360 720 1400
Dimensions: D × H × d, mm 100,0 × 69.85 mm × 6,8
Weight, g 47,5
Warranty period, years 3
The recommended price $150
10 990 RUB.
$300
21 990 RUB.
$600
43 990 rubles.

However, you need to understand that the declared rated speed consider technology SLC-cache, which is at 860 QVO, of course, is. Moreover, the new drive inherited from 860 EVO corporate samsonovsky algorithm Intelligent TurboWrite. Its essence lies in the fact that in addition to the standard static part of memory, working in a fast SLC mode, it dynamically allocates under SLC cache extension location from the array of main QLC flash memory (subject to the availability of the drive Unallocated user data space). As a result, the amount of information that you can write on the Samsung 860 QVO with high speed are quite sufficient for the vast majority of user scenarios.

TurboWrite Technology Intelligent 860 Samsung EVO
1 TB 2 TB 4 TB
Static SLC cache, GB 6 6 6
Part of the dynamic SLC cache, GB 36 72 72
The maximum amount of SLC-cache, GB 42 78 78

High amounts of fast cache needs to “save” Samsung 860 QVO from attempts to work with memory directly, which, as practice shows, leads to disastrous falling of speed.

For example, we built the graphs of linear recording on a Samsung EVO 860 and 860 QVO capacity of 1 terabyte. And as follows from the obtained data, the volume of the SLC cache for these drives the same, but the performance when writing directly to the memory array in TLC, or QLC-mode is fundamentally different.

While the rate of direct entry in the array of TLC 3D V-NAND from Samsung 860 EVO 1 TB is about 420 MB/s, Samsung 860 QVO 1 TB writes data to your array QLC 3D V-NAND is almost six times slower – at a rate of only about 75 MB/S. the price paid for 33 percent increase in data storage density in QLC-cells and a twofold increase in the volume of crystals is cruel.

But we must bear in mind that the Samsung 860 QVO 1 TB is the slowest option samsonovsky QLC drive was built in just eight devices QLC 3D V-NAND. Version same capacity of 2 and 4 TB on the basis of their architecture, should provide twice higher performance direct recording in four-bit mode. In addition, they have significantly large amount of the SLC buffer, and hence the probability to face a drop in performance when interacting with them much less.

Performance direct writes to the QLC-memory the Samsung 860 QVO 1 TB gives an unequivocal answer to the question why the model number begins with terabytes. To drive this capacity, the controller MJX uses to interact with flash all of its eight channels, but the writing speed is still obtained, to put it mildly, low. So if Samsung decided to release 860 QVO half the size with four-channel array of the flash memory, it would be epically slow drive. So the expansion of the model range down should not wait.

But the launch of the Samsung 860 QVO 8TB is a very real possibility, which is likely to be implemented. MJX controller supports up to 64 NAND flash devices, so to collect on its basis the storage of such capacity, Samsung engineers will be able at any time. Another thing is that it will cost more than $1,000, and today the demand for such a product is unlikely to occur.

Do not think that the QLC transition to 3D V-NAND allows multiple to reduce the cost of SSD. Increasing the bit-depth of cell from three to four is only 33-percent increase in storage density of information, so in the best case (even without considering the immutability of the cost of the rest of the hardware platform controller and DRAM) the cost of Samsung 860 QVO may be less than 860 Samsung EVO, just a quarter. It is so designed official prices for the new drives QLC 3D V-NAND is cheaper symmetrical counterparts on the basis of TLC 3D V-NAND up to 25 %.

But in fairness it should be mentioned that the official price was adjusted at the last moment before the announcement. Samsung originally offered to sell 860 QVO even cheaper, which makes clear that there is a reserve for markdowns QLC-new products in the foreseeable future.

Another sensitive issue concerns the reliability. The work of the QLC 3D V-NAND is built on a two-fold increase in the number of signal States of each cell compared to TLC 3D V-NAND, which means that these cells can be more demanding to wear out faster and stronger to be subjected to the effect of mutual influence. Obviously, all this should be reflected in the life time of the drive, so it is not surprising that Samsung has reduced the warranty on the 860 QVO to three years. In addition, this SSD is more stringent than for the 860 EVO, the scope of the permitted levels of overwriting. So, the manufacturer is ready to take responsibility for their product only if it is for a life time will be overwritten no more than 360 times.

However, it is possible that with the resource 860 QVO it’s not so bad. Applied to the drive QLC 3D V-NAND is exactly the same process that samsonovsky TLC 3D NAND fourth generation with 64 layers. As shown by our tests, copies of drives, built on such a three-bit memory, are very hardy and comparable at the time of life with other SSD manufacturers on the basis of MLC NAND. Therefore, we can assume that Samsung 860 QVO can expect at least no worse reliability than conventional TLC drives. Consequently, keep clear of a new no reason. Especially since this is not the first SSD on the basis of the QLC 3D NAND, and users built on chetyrehbalnoy memory Intel and Crucial SSD 660p P1 about any premature mass loss drives not misleading.

#Appearance and internal structure

Familiarity with the design of the Samsung 860 QVO we conducted on the example storage two versions of volume 1 and 2 TB. However, these differences are small: the only difference in design used on memory chips – they are collected using different numbers stacked inside semiconductor crystals. The rest of the drives are very similar.

External performance members of the series Samsung 860 QVO remained exactly the same as that of the 860 EVO. New SSD placed in the traditional 2.5-inch aluminum casing, the face of which the paint is applied the Samsung logo and a black square is a kind of mnemonic reference facilities of the product to the budget segment. The flip side of the case bears a sticker with the model name, capacity, part number, serial number, date of issue, key PSIM (to reset the encryption password), and other support information. In fact, in the design of a new product only changed color. Earlier Samsung used to paint my 2.5 inch SSD black paint, drives well on the basis of the QLC 3D V-NAND steel graphite grey.

Inside 860 QVO is hardly surprising, anyone who has ever looked under the lid 860 Samsung EVO or at least seen pictures of the “guts” of this SSD. The fact that the size and layout of the PCB is almost not changed: it’s still the same small piece of the PCB on which the controller huddle, two chips of flash memory and DRAM buffer.

But all the same printed circuit Board used in Samsung 860 QVO, is slightly different from circuit Board 860 EVO. In other words, the design of models on the basis of TLC and QLC-memory is not unified, although compatibility with MJX controller four-bit memory is solved only programmatically.

Samsung 860 QVO 1 Тбайт

Samsung 860 QVO 1 TB

 
Samsung 860 QVO 1 Тбайт

Samsung 860 QVO 1 TB

In addition to the dual-core controller Samsung MJX (codenamed MARU) with a frequency of 1 GHz, which is used now in all of the SATA Samsung drives, including the flagship PRO 860, 860 on the Board QVO installed the chip LPDDR4-SDRAM 1866, which need to store a copy of the table of address translation and buffering melkoplodnyj operations. The chip size of dynamic memory depends on the size of the drive is calculated as 1 GB DRAM 1 TB of flash memory.

Actually flash memory in the Samsung 860 QVO recruited one or two chips, each of which can have 8 or 16 stacked stacked 64-layer Terabithia crystals QLC 3D V-NAND in the matter about the drive what size it is. Thus, in younger, terabyte version of array of flash memory has eight-channel structure without alteration of devices, and in versions with a capacity of 860 QVO 2 and 4 TB used twice or fourfold sequence, which determines the differences between them in performance.

Samsung 860 QVO 2 Тбайт

Samsung 860 QVO 2 TB

 
Samsung 860 QVO 2 Тбайт

Samsung 860 QVO 2 TB

Speaking of, how made by Samsung 860 QVO, we should emphasize that the reduction in price, this drive is held completely different way about how this issue fits most other firms. Samsung strategy is to use new to the market four-bit memory with lower cost, but otherwise no signs of pursuit for cheapness not. It is especially important that the South Korean manufacturer did not abandon the DRAM buffer, the abolition of which would lead to serious performance degradation when melkoplodnyj operations.

No 860 QVO and no sign of “saving on matches”. Samsung has kept for its budget SSD sturdy metal housing, assembled with screws, and did not even go for a cheaper SSD retail packaging in blister packs instead of cartons. In other words, to turn on the Samsung 860 QVO looks not worse, than the 860 EVO.

#Software

Mass storage Samsung traditionally supplied software utility on the Magician that, starting with version 5.3, supports including 860 QVO. This utility decided to put an example of what should be accompanied by a consumer SSD, so to make any claim to its functionality or interface is not so easy. However, the set of features is not unexpected.

Samsung Magician 5.3 allows to obtain General information about the drive, the operation mode, firmware version and the amount of recorded data. Also you can see the state of attributes that are returned in S. M. A. R. T.

Utility allows to conduct assessment of the performance of the drive and make sure it is fully compatible with the system in which it is installed.

With the help of a Magician can be manually sent to the drive package TRIM commands, and to adjust the size of the marked up file system space, turning part of the capacity of the SSD in the additional reserve area.

Also using Magician, you manage the built-in Samsung 860 QVO features hardware-based encryption (supported in full even in this entry-level model). Plus to this, the utility allows you to create a boot “stick” for a complete wipe using Secure Erase.

We should also mention that through Samsung Magician can be activated by the corporate mode Rapid software caching requests to the drive in the computer’s memory running on the operating system level.

SOURCE

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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.

SOURCE

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