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Overview SATA SSD Plextor M8V: the original recipe

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After the second half of last year all the major manufacturers of flash memory has started to produce multilayer chips with 64 layers, we began to actively look at a variety of SSD, using exactly the same semiconductor base. As you know, Samsung uses in its own storage 3D NAND chips in different levels of integration for a long time, and based on them products cause only positive emotions. But other manufacturers of flash memory, particularly Toshiba, Intel, Toshiba and Sandisk, until recently lagged considerably behind South Korean firms to improve their own versions of the three-dimensional flash memory. To catch up with the leader they did it only when moving to 64-layer design 3D NAND that Samsung competitors received a dramatic improvement compared to previous versions. So today we can say that the key benefits of the products on the basis of the three-dimensional memory manifest itself in any solid-state drive based on the 64 layer 3D NAND, regardless of the memory of some of the manufacturers used in each case. In other words, focusing on products, built on a 64-layer 3D NAND, you are likely to get productive and very reliable drive with a fairly attractive price.

The only problem is that until a new generation of three-dimensional memory is not widespread. Apparently, manufacturers there are some production difficulties that do not allow 64-layer memory to begin expansion on a broad front. And at the moment drives based on this memory, I suggest either only by manufacturers of NAND chips, or their very close associates. For example, if we talk about SATA SSD, the stores are only a few built on a 64-layer 3D NAND mass models: 860 Samsung EVO, Crucial MX500, 545s Intel SSD, Kingston UV500, SanDisk Ultra 3D, R Puls, Western Digital Blue 3D NAND and Toshiba TR200. And half the models on this list available is very limited.

In these circumstances the appearance on the market some new models, built on current versions of the three-dimensional memory, can only be welcomed. Fortunately, the number of suppliers of the SSD gradually join the producers of the second echelon. One of the first to work with the 64-layer memory purchased from Toshiba, Plextor. Being a subsidiary of a major OEM manufacturer Lite-On, Plextor has a strong engineering capabilities, and its SSD each time represent a very original and very interesting on the characteristics of the products. It happened at this time. The first SSD based 64-layer TLC 3D NAND Toshiba (BiCS3), Plextor released, became NVMe drive Plextor M9Pe, which was quite good for an inexpensive solution with PCIe 3.0 x4. But today we will talk about the second brainchild of the engineers of Plextor, which followed M9Pe designed a more public model M8V SATA.

Immediately is to say that from a technological point of view, Plextor M8V – a very interesting and unique solution. The fact that it BiCS3 Toshiba memory operates under control of controller Silicon Motion, which is usually only used memory Intel or Micron. But the developers of Plextor managed to combine the components before us to be seen together never had. That is why Plextor M8V and caught our attention. SATA drives based on BiSC3 memory, tested in the laboratory 3DNews before, used the Marvell or Phison controllers and showed relatively good performance. However, Silicon Motion recent progress in the development of their controllers stronger competitors, so we do not exclude that Plextor M8V will be the best demonstration of the advantages BiCS3 NAND. It only remains to verify in practice.


The basis Plextor M8V elected controller Silicon Motion SM2258. It is not the latest SATA controller the developer, but the most common. The first time we ran into him at the beginning of 2016, and now it is widely used in SSDS with 32-layer 3D NAND flash from Intel or Micron. In addition, it is possible to find promising innovations, for example, Crucial MX500 drive of the latest generation, built on a 64-layer 3D NAND Micron authorship. The popularity of chip SM2258 is due to the best combination of performance and price. This controller relates to a number of relatively low-cost solutions: it is based on a single-core 32-bit RISC processor for interaction with an array of flash memory offers only four channels. However, the finished product usually obtained is quite good from the point of view of performance: this software helps in optimization with a focus on minimal latency when processing mixed operations and technology dynamic SLC caching.

At the same time, together with Toshiba BiCS3 memory one can use the controller SM2258 never tried, and Plextor in this regard – a pioneer. In theory no problems with it should not be. On the one hand, in the controller there is support for technology NANDXtend, within which strong algorithms of error correction based on LDPC codes, which should be a guarantee of the reliability of the platform. On the other – is itself BiSC3-memory is a kind of 64-layer TLC 3D NAND, provides a good level of performance, especially when compared with planar flash memory. In this we see when testing, for example, drive R Puls. Most importantly, unlike the Samsung, Toshiba proposes to install in SATA SSD crystals NAND capacity of 256 GB, which allows to obtain arrays of flash memory with a high degree of parallelism.

The result M8V Plextor boasts of the following set specification:

Manufacturer Plextor
Series M8V
Model number PX-128M8VC PX-256M8VC PX-512M8VC
Form factor 2.5 inch
Interface SATA 6 GB/s
Capacity, GB 128 256 512
Flash memory: type, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 256-GB BiCS3 3D TLC NAND
Controller Silicon Motion SM2258
Buffer: type, volume DDR3L-1600,
256 MB
512 MB
1024 MB
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 560 560 560
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 400 510 520
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 60000 81000 82000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 70000 80000 81000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W N/a
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,5
Resource record, TB 70 140 280
Dimensions: D × H × d, mm 100 × 69.85 mm × 6,8
Weight, g 60,0
Warranty period, years 3

To be honest, the Datasheet doesn’t look too promising. Plextor has included in the lineup M8V only version of the small volumes (less than half a terabyte), and this clearly indicates that the company believes the new entry-level product that should find its place in a relatively cheap builds. Does not emit much optimism and announced the terms of the warranty. Three years is a typical value for a storage low level, though allowed amounts of rewriting is relatively good. The hypothetical user is allowed to overwrite the half of the SSD capacity daily.

It turns out that the position of the SATA Plextor flagship M8V attack and does not intend, and this is reflected including in the announced performance. If you believe these numbers, then at the moment M8V Plextor is one of the weakest SATA SSD, built on a 64-layer TLC 3D NAND. Even budget drive Toshiba TR200, in which the array BiCS3 devices is controlled by dual-channel UN-buffered controller Phison S11, the list of passport characteristics promises higher performance.

However, declared by the manufacturers characteristics of the performance not always depict a picture adequately, because they did not report the implementation of the technology rapid entry has become an integral attribute of a modern SSD. To get clarity on this question, we conduct a special test, in which check the performance of continuous serial write on a clean drive. In the case M8V Plextor 512GB dependence is the following.

And here it turns out two important circumstances.

First, the engineers of Plextor hacked at the root one of the important advantages of the controller SM2258 – dynamic SLC caching. In M8V instead implemented quite ordinary static SLC cache, which is not available in the user region of the array of flash memory. And this cache has a relatively small size. The storage capacity of 512 GB with only 4 GB. So, in versions M8V a capacity of 256 and 128 GB SLC cache has a capacity of 2 and 1 GB respectively.

Second, the array of flash memory-based devices BiCS3 works under control of the controller SM2258 clearly not the best way. So, M8V Plextor 512 GB speed direct linear memory writes is about 330 MB/s. But at the same time similar in composition and organization of the array of flash memory for use with the Phison S10 controller produces 450 MB/s (for example, Smartbuy Puls), and the array of the 64-layer devices Toshiba 3D NAND TLC when working with the controller SM2258 able to receive data at a speed of 420 MB/s (e.g., Crucial MX500). It turns out that by combining the Silicon Motion controller with a three-dimensional memory Toshiba, the developers of Plextor’s absolutely nothing won, but rather lost, at least from the point of view of the performance of the linear record.

However, to classify the Plextor M8V among the outsiders also should not be. Write speeds of 330 MB/s is not so little. For example, the new Samsung EVO 860 in polterabayta the volume is even slower array of the flash memory. Besides, Plextor did not skimp on the DRAM buffer, and even more, did it twice more capacious compared to the typical size. This means that M8V can be a good solution for arbitrary melkoplodnyj loads, for which the controller is actively used memory.

#Appearance and internal structure

Discuss in this review the drive exists in two versions: in the traditional 2.5-inch form factor (M8VC) and M. 2 2280 module with SATA interface (M8VG). Both of these modifications are functionally identical. Therefore, getting acquainted with the 2.5-inch model, we automatically generalize all findings to all family M8V.

For the tests we were given the option of drive capacity of 512 GB is the eldest and the most productive model in the family. This SSD 2.5-inch version was not surprised by its appearance: it Plextor have not changed for the last few years. The casing is made of unpainted aluminium, with traces of processing. On the front side of the paint manufacturer’s logo, the back has a sticker with technical information.


Note that Plextor does not hide the label nor a release date drive or uploaded at the factory firmware version.

The housing mounted circuit Board, occupying slightly less than half of the internal space. Full Board in modern drives are no longer used: manufacturers of flash memory have learned to do such chips NAND, which can accommodate up to 1 TB of memory a few crystals of NAND, so to squander the PCB makes no sense. Capacious SSD can be done using two or four chip flash memory.

This is the case and Plextor M8V volume of 512 GB. Despite the fact that it is the older version in the lineup, an array of NAND in it, typed four TSOP-chips Toshiba TH58TFT0T23TA2H. Each chip is Packed in four 256-Gigabit semiconductor crystal 64-layer BiCS3-a three-bit memory cells. This means that the four channel array of the flash memory in M8V 512GB uses a fourfold alternating devices in the channels.


Manages the array controller SMI SM2258. The design M8V uses exactly the same version controller as in Crucial MX500. That is, no modifications to implement support BiCS3 in a base chip to do not have: compatibility achieved software-only effort. Note that Plextor M8V controller without any pads. However, this is not a problem: SSD temperature during operation remains very low.

In addition to the NAND chips and controller on the motherboard M8V placed and released by Samsung chip DDR3L-1600 SDRAM used as a buffer when melkoplodnyj operations and to store a copy of the table of address translation. 512-Gigabyte drive this chip has a capacity of 1 GB. Plextor often uses in his drives, DRAM buffer is increased in size, and M8V exception to this rule is not.

Interesting also worth noting is the presence of on-Board storage marking CV8-CE512. It is a reference to the name of identical models produced under the brand name Lite-On. That is, M8V, like many other products of Plextor, has a twin brother in the lineup of the parent company.

It is worth noting that the declared capacity of the representatives of the lineup of Plextor M8V multiples of 128 GB. This means that the manufacturer gives a 93 percent capacity of the array of flash memory, and operating system 512 GB SSD will offer 477 GB free space. The remaining one-third of the volume of activated SLC cache, and two-thirds are involved in the technology of garbage collection and wear-leveling, and is also used as a replacement Fund.


Before the Plextor was paid to software support for their products very much attention. For storage, the company has developed an extensive set of programs, including “conventional” service tool, and additional tools for caching, compression, and data encryption. However, in early 2017 further development of these software tools was abandoned, but at the moment the old version is quite cope with the tasks assigned to them and even remain compatible with new products, in particular with Plextor M8V.

The main utility for SATA SSDS production Plextor is called PlexTool. By today’s standards, it is not rich in functionality and looks too pretentious, but the basic questions about the drive it reply. Using PlexTool can learn General information about SSD, read the contents of SMART, and get control over the flow of the TRIM command.


In addition, the utility can upgrade the firmware of the SSD is estimated to test the performance and serve to drive Secure Erase command.

Another utility, PlexTurbo, you can provide an additional level of caching disk operations using the computer’s memory. This gives you the opportunity to increase the speed of operations is often sagastume files and reduce the load on the drive. However, such software solutions are fraught with potential danger: in the event of unplanned outages or failures of computer data that failed to be written from the RAM cache on the SSD, of course, will be lost.

In addition, storage series M8V PlexTurbo utility functions in abbreviated form: the maximum amount of the generated in-memory cache is limited by the size of 1 Gbytes.

Another program from a set of Plextor – PlexCompressor. This utility is an add-on file system which performs automatic compression of unused files, freeing up extra disk space. Moreover, this compression works very selectively. In order not to create excessive load on the CPU, it affects only those files that are not used by the user at least during the last 30 days. In the same case, when this compressed file will be hit, it will be returned to its original state.

The last utility, which you must tell is PlexVault. It proposes to realize the drive’s data encryption. However, you need to understand that we are not talking about hardware-based encryption, which M8V not implemented, and pure software algorithms, which, when their work load on the CPU.

PlexVault can create one or more encrypted containers, and in normal conditions they are visible only in the program authorized users who know the “secret” key combination and password. However, to use such a tool in serious applications, we still wouldn’t advise — at least because the Plextor not share any information about the used encryption algorithms and does not conduct independent audits of its cryptographic solutions.


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Overview NVMe drive, Samsung 970 PRO: MLC decides

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New flagship NVMe drive, Samsung, 970 PRO, got to a very difficult history. If his predecessor, 960 PRO, everything was crystal clear, and it simply was the fastest SSD on the market, now the title of leader among consumer drives categorically went to Optane Intel SSD 900P/905P. Although 970 PRO and faster than the previous version, to compete with intelliskin solution based on a revolutionary memory 3D XPoint he obviously can’t. The main advantage Optane SSD – very high random read performance, and to do something like that, a classic technology NAND not fit because of the page organization of such a memory. This means that now Samsung will have to persuade buyers in the direction 970 PRO not slogans about outstanding performance, and something else.

That something could well be the ratio of performance and price, because to buy some of Optane SSD, you need at least to be constrained in funds. The cost of the 960 and 970 PRO PRO the same capacity more than two times lower. However, there is a significant nuance: consumers chasing the best combination of qualities storage devices, PRO-series, Samsung would rather cheaper, but still fast NVMe drives like 970 Samsung EVO, Intel SSD 760p or ADATA XPG SX8200.

However, the South Korean manufacturer, it seems, still managed to figure out how to present the new PRO 970, to one side he looked organically against other existing proposals, and on the other seemed attractive to buyers. Now as the main advantage of the drive is presented by the fact that it is the only (with a few reservations), the consumer-level drive, which uses a full-fledged modern flash memory with two-bit cells. And it’s true: in the pursuit of increasing data storage density in the array of NAND SSD manufacturers almost universally refused to issue MLC-models and even start to stare at QLC-memory. Though now on sale you can still find options for drives on the basis of a planar 15-nm MLC flash memory by Toshiba and on the basis of MLC 3D NAND first generation, Micron, to regard them as ideological rivals Samsung 970 PRO is absolutely impossible. C drives MLC flash memory Toshiba has completed its life cycle and soon will leave the market, and that with two-bit memory cells, which is offered by ITC, most of the advantages of MLC NAND is actually devoid because of its production waste is used TLC-memory – semiconductor crystals that have not been validated in a three-bit mode.

In other words, those who believe in the benefits of MLC-memory and ready for them to pay a little extra in the near future will really be only one choice – the Samsung 970 PRO. Whether in this case MLC NAND that is artificially and severely limit yourself when choosing – the question is rather philosophical. Yes, this memory is faster and ultimately more reliable. But modern TLC drives successfully compensate for the lower speed of the memory array caching technologies, and their reliability is such that qualitative models quietly transferred the recording to a petabyte of data. That is, Samsung 970 PRO in any case – the solution is not for everyone. However, a certain sense in buying a SSD can really exist. Overpayment compared to the same 970 EVO will be only 20 percent and the gain in consumer qualities invisible does not name.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: a detailed analysis of what exactly Samsung 970 PRO is better competing options built on TLC 3D NAND last generation, the focus of this article.


To talk about how Samsung PRO 970, will not have long. It is assembled at the standard scheme of already known components, which, in fact, makes it fast and reliable solution.

As the basic controller PRO is used in the 970 chip Phoenix. This is a new pachydermia controller internal development Samsung, which she now puts into all of its current NVMe SSD, including in the previously reviewed 970 EVO. This controller is a further development of previously used Polaris with an increased (primarily due to the increase in clock frequency) performance, and support for new versions of the Protocol NVM Express 1.3. It is worth noting that brute computing power Phoenix obviously superior to all similar decisions of other developers. A good illustration of the underlying potential may be the fact that perspective drives the family Z SSD that Samsung is preparing to contrast the Intel SSD Optane will also rely on this chip. In other words, even being used in the flagship (for now) Samsung 970 PRO controller Phoenix bottleneck architecture absolutely is not.

Thus, the performance of the SSD in question is determined primarily by the memory array, which in the 970 PRO is composed of a proprietary 64-layer MLC 3D V-NAND. Turning to the new technology of three-dimensional flash memory, Samsung, contrary to global market trends, decided to save the crystal production c two-bit cells, and it now provides the source material for drives PRO 860 and 970 PRO. It is important to note that interface extension 64-layer MLC 3D V-NAND is made regardless of the TLC 3D V-NAND, and the resulting crystals have a capacity of 256 GB. This allows the manufacturer to form arrays of flash memory with a high degree of parallelism and traditional structure – up to eight channels and two or four striping.

However, as was the case previously – 960 PRO, subjected to 48-layer MLC 3D V-NAND. However, the new flagship model of the drive promises a fairly serious performance boost. In particular, according to the official specifications, the random read speed increased by 15% and the write speed is on the order of 30 to 40 percent. And most of this benefits, especially in terms of write speed, can be attributed to approximately time and a half reduction in the latencies of the devices NAND that occurred in the transition to 64-layer design. As for the growing speed of random reads, then there is a positive role undoubtedly played a new controller Phoenix. However, the claimed performance of linear reading Samsung 970 PRO remained at the same level, the entire bandwidth interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 could use last drive, 960 PRO.

As a result, specifications Samsung 970 PRO is as follows:

Manufacturer Samsung
Series 970 PRO
Model number MZ-V7P512BW MZ-V7P1T0BW
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 512 1024
Flash memory: type, process technology, manufacturer Samsung 64-layer 256-Gbit MLC 3D V-NAND
Controller Samsung Phoenix
Buffer: type, volume LPDDR4, 512 MB LPDDR4, 1 GB
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3500 3500
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 2300 2700
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 370 000 500 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 500 000 500 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,03/5,7–8,5
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,5
Resource record, TB 600 1200
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 80,15 × 22,15 × 2,38
Weight, g 10
Warranty period, years 5

Interestingly, the difference Samsung announced PRO 970 in performance from the more affordable and based on TLC 3D V-NAND drive 970 EVO is not so noticeable: they lie in the range of 8-10 percent. However, you need to understand that the older model that we’re talking about today, is able to give these figures without any tricks like TurboWrite technology. This means that the speed parameters 970 PRO constant throughout the volume of the array of flash memory, and no drop in performance when exhaust volume SLC cache will not be here.

If you continue to compare 970 c 970 PRO EVO, the most important differences will be found, perhaps, in the terms of warranty. On the older model of a consumer NVMe SSD is allowed to write twice as much data, which is equivalent to a full rewrite two thirds of the full capacity of the drive daily for a five-year warranty period. More generous scope of allowed resource overwriting promised only to Optane Intel SSD, which uses the memory running on other physical principles.

However, 970 PRO, 970 is superior to the EVO after all, not all senior lineup was stripped of drives, the smallest and largest volumes. And if the absence of modifications 970 PRO version to 256 GB is still possible to explain the positioning, to understand why Samsung decided not to release the 970 PRO with capacity of 2 TB. Especially if we remember that the modification PRO 960 with a capacity of 2 TB previously existed. Most likely the version that Samsung as a matter of principle not releasing NVMe drives with two-way design, and 970 PRO 2 TB unilateral performance was impossible. Previously, the company, to place four NAND chips on one side of the Board form factor M. 2 2280, embedded DRAM in a single package c controller, but now this practice she refused. Two same chips more than 1 TB of flash memory and 256-Gigabit devices will not fit. However, still want to believe that dvuhterabaytny drive cross delivered completely and later the range 970 PRO still to be completed.

#Appearance and internal structure

As in the case of 970 EVO drives Samsung PRO 970 exist in only one version – in modules M. 2 form factor 2280 that are installed in the appropriate slot on the motherboard and is used for connecting four lines PCI Express 3.0. Any version in the U. 2 or HHHL format is not assumed. However, any significant problem is no longer. All modern systems, and especially the upper price range for which designed Samsung PRO 970, have at least one M. 2 slot.

Another is more interesting: printed circuit Board, on the basis of which going drives series 970 PRO has the same circuit design as the 970 EVO Board. This means that after a recent update NVMe drives Samsung on the basis of TLC and MLC 3D V-NAND have become standardized, and the differences between them are determined exclusively by the type of the installed chipset. As a result, motherboard 970 PRO is located only four chips: the Polaris controller, DRAM buffer and a couple of chips, which is located inside the flash memory. This whole set is mounted on the front side of the circuit Board of the drive, the reverse side has 970 PRO chips free. As a result, 970 PRO, 970 EVO and compliant 2280-S3-M, which means that installation of such devices in thin slots that are found in ultrabooks.


On both sides of the Board 970 PRO placed stickers. On the front side of the label with the product name, labelling, items, and rooms, and on the reverse – with the logos of various certifications. The label on the back, is not as simple as it seems at first glance: among other things, it acts as a kind of heat spreader, which helps to cool the device. The fact that one of her layers of copper foil, a material with high thermal conductivity.

A controller installed on the motherboard Samsung 970 PRO, exactly the same as the 970 EVO: this is Phoenix, easily recognizable by Nickel-plated heat dissipating cover. Accompanies him DRAM buffer, high speed LPDDR4 chip with a typical amount rate of 1 MB RAM 1 GB flash memory. Recall that in 960 PRO memory housed in one package (MCM – Multi-chip package) with a controller, but now these semiconductor devices is physically divided into two chips.

Chips flash memory installed on the Samsung 970 PRO, include 8 or 16 crystals (depending on the amount of storage) 64-layer MLC 3D V-NAND. Therefore, eight-channel controller Phoenix PRO 970 uses either a twofold or a fourfold alternating devices in each channel (in 512 and 1024 GB versions SSD, respectively). This in particular explains the fact that a terabyte drive is faster than polterabayta.

The declared volume of the series 970 PRO is a multiple of 512 GB, which means that the user is available, approximately 94 percent of the total amount of installed flash memory. The reserved space is used by the controller for internal needs – for garbage collection, wear-leveling and under the reserve Fund.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that the Samsung 970 PRO, like all other consumer SSDS the South Korean manufacturer that supports the main standards hardware encryption (TCG Opal and Encrypted Drive IEEE1667) and can be used for “transparent” data protection by AES-256 algorithm without any influence on disk performance. The cryptographic engine is compatible including those with standard Self-Encrypting Drive, which means that a convenient hardware-based encryption using BitLocker utility in Windows operating system.


Drives Samsung has traditionally supplied the brand service utility Magician that, starting with version 5.2, familiar including with the 970 PRO. 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.


Samsung Magician 5.2 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 amount of Unallocated file system space, turning part of the capacity of the SSD in the additional reserve area.


Also using Magician performs management functions hardware-based encryption. And besides, the utility allows you to create a boot “stick” for a complete physical wipe using Secure Erase.


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Overview NVMe-ADATA XPG SX8200: faster Samsung cheaper Samsung

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Manufacturer ADATA
Series XPG SX8200
Model number ASX8200NP-240GT ASX8200NP-480GT ASX8200NP-960GT
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 240 480 960
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D TLC NAND
Controller SMI SM2262
Buffer: type, volume DR3-1600,
512 MB
1024 MB
2048 MB
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3200 3200 3150
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1100 1700 1700
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 200 000 310 000 310 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 240 000 280 000 280 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,14/0,33
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 2,0
Resource record, TB 160 320 640
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 80 x 22 x 3.5
Weight, g 8
Warranty period, years 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Appearance and internal structure

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

So, in addition to issuing full diagnostic information about SSD, ADATA SSD Toolbox allows you to inspect the flash memory drive, send him a package of TRIM commands, or perform the automatic adjustment of operating system settings (disabling Superfetch, Prefetch and Defrag).

Also using ADATA SSD Toolbox to upgrade the firmware and perform a Secure Erase procedure.

In addition, after registration, acquired XPG SX8200 on the website of the manufacturer you can get the key to a popular program for cloning data Acronis True Image HD 2013/2015.


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Review drive Samsung EVO 970: the long-awaited update of the mass NVMe SSD

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Samsung is considered to be the undisputed leader in the market of consumer solid-state drives. Especially if we are talking about high-performance SSD with NVMe interface. Presented to the South Korean giant more than two years ago model PRO 960 and 960 EVO was so successful from the point of view of consumer characteristics that in the past year, has managed to become a kind of “gold standard” SSD for productive systems that had no decent alternatives.

But time does not stand still, and in 2018 960 960 PRO and EVO don’t seem so excellent and brilliant as before. The leading position of the flagship model of Samsung is actively challenged Intel with its solutions, built on innovative memory 3D XPoint, and the position of mass 960 EVO actively and successfully attack new SSDS, built around the platform Silicon Motion SM2262, for example, we recently tested the Intel SSD 760p. This means that if Samsung wants to continue to remain number one among SSD manufacturers, it’s time to replace the old version of NVMe drives with something better.

It just happened. Three weeks ago Samsung-to the public was made the new range of products with the NVMe interface, and may 7, kicked off their worldwide sales. Two novelties: PRO 970 and the 970 EVO. As before, the first “professional” model is a based on MLC 3D V-NAND expensive storage with maximum performance, and the second, “evolutionary”, which uses TLC 3D V-NAND offers a compromise between performance and price, providing nevertheless a very decent speed. However, it should be mentioned: the flagship Samsung 970 PRO competitor for Intel Optane SSD obviously is not. For this role, in the depths of the laboratories of Samsung raise another fighter, code-named Z-SSD, but we’ll talk about it another time. Svezheanonsirovannaya same 970 PRO is just the successor to the 960 PRO with improved characteristics, and it represents a local maximum, which can be obtained without large-scale revision of the technology that is relying on the usual NAND.

The immediate topic of this article is not PRO 970, and his younger brother – 970 EVO. The leitmotif of the emergence of this product, like the recently released SATA Samsung 860 and 860 PRO EVO, is the transition of the South Korean manufacturer on the widespread use of proprietary three-dimensional memory of the fourth generation. However, to talk about the 970 EVO how about the ordinary update 960 EVO by replacing the last version of the flash memory on a 64-layer TLC 3D V-NAND would be unlawful. Actually the change is much more, starting with the fact that the 970 EVO settled a new base controller, to serious increase of the authorized resource and warranty period. In the extensive list of improvements and got the growth performance. This means that Samsung needs to be able to repel the daring attack by opponents, who finally learned to create products that fall within one weight class from last mass NVMe storage company, 960 EVO.

According to the vision of Samsung, the new 970 EVO is a productive drive that is better than any other SSD suitable for the vast majority of games and operating systems. And in this review we will check whether the new interface extension become a worthy follower of 960 EVO and take the place of the new “number one” in the segment of mass NVMe SSD, despite all the changes in the environment.


Usually, when the market of new generations of some of the computer equipment, the range is formed by a simple principle: in the most expensive product is laid the maximum possible specifications, and the models standing in the hierarchy below, reduced frequency, blocked some parts, and sometimes even turn off certain features. However, the approach to the Samsung SSD is not the same, and to think about the 970 EVO, how about a stripped-down version 970 PRO, completely wrong. The philosophy that guided the developers when creating the Samsung NVMe SSD mass, was to answer the question: “What can you squeeze out of TLC 3D V-NAND, if by to exert maximum effort?” In other words, the correct definition EVO 970, as 970 PRO should also include the word “leader”. Just 970 PRO is the flagship on the basis of MLC 3D V-NAND, and 970 EVO is the flagship, with a three-bit memory, as I imagine it to Samsung.

This can be illustrated by the story selected for the 970 EVO controller. The basis of this drive, as in the 970 PRO is a new Phoenix chip, which is a further development of the Polaris model of the previous generation, 960 and 960 PRO EVO. As the last controller, Phoenix is based on five cores with ARM architecture, and one of the nuclei is exclusively engaged in operations with the host. But the frequency of the cores in Phoenix compared to Polaris increased, and in addition, the new controller added compatibility with the Protocol NVM Express 1.3, making it the most powerful Foundation for consumer NVMe SSD at the moment.

The Phoenix chip used by Samsung 970 EVO, was not subjected to any procedures for artificial degradation in performance. It’s here exactly the same as the 970 PRO: for communication with an array of flash memory it uses all eight channels, and communication with the system occurs through the interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 with peak bandwidth of 3.9 GB/s. Therefore, there is no doubt that the bottleneck in the architecture of the 970 EVO is not the controller. Especially that exactly the same basic chip Samsung is going to apply even in its promising product Z-SSD, where it is expected a very different level of performance.

The performance, which is capable of 970 EVO, 99 percent is determined by the flash memory. However, there should not look for any pitfalls. The most current version with a three-bit memory cells from Samsung is now a 64-layer TLC 3D V-NAND for mass production where the company last year opened a special plant in Pyeongtaek, and that it is used in the 970 EVO. However, there is one important caveat. In SATA drives 860 EVO, is also transferred to the memory, the company uses a 512-Gigabit NAND devices, which have lower cost, but reduce the degree of parallelism of the array of flash memory and limit performance. For 970 EVO, where high performance is supplied at the forefront, the company decided to choose a shorter, a 256-Gigabit crystals. Thus, the compromise managed to avoid here.

As a result, when compared with 960 EVO, the performance of 970 Samsung EVO official specs really increased.

Manufacturer Samsung
Series 970 EVO
Model number MZ-V7E250 MZ-V7E500 MZ-V7E1T0 MZ-V7E2T0
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 250 500 1000 2000
Flash memory: type, process technology, manufacturer Samsung 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D TLC V-NAND Samsung 64-layer 512 GB 3D TLC V-NAND
Controller Samsung Phoenix
Buffer: type, volume LPDDR4, 512 MB LPDDR4, 1 GB LPDDR4, 1 GB
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3400 3400 3400 3500
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1500 2300 2500 2500
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 200 000 370 000 500 000 500 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 350 000 450 000 450 000 480 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,03/6,0–10,0
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,5
Resource record, TB 150 300 600 1200
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 80,15 × 22,15 × 2,38
Weight, g 10
Warranty period, years 5
Recommended price, RUB.
7 390 13 990 27 990 54 990

If we talk about the version with a capacity of 500 GB and above, where the power of the new controller is revealed most fully, we can note a 6% increase in the stated rate of sequential read, about 30% increase in sequential write speed, increasing the speed of random read in the range of 12 to 32 percent, and more than a 25 percent performance improvement in random write. In other words, the progress is more than obvious.

In this case, improved not only productivity. Samsung finally paid attention to the warranty terms, which have 960 EVO, was, frankly, absurd. The new drive 970 Samsung EVO was in this respect much more competitive. Now the warranty period has been increased from three to five years, and the amount of permitted entries that the user can shamelessly overwrite to a third of the capacity of the SSD daily during the whole period of five years.

Another important change concerns the volumes of the representatives of the model range. As you can see, the reality of the 970 EVO in the volume of 2 TB. Samsung representatives justify his appearance is the fact that the maximum terabyte version 960 EVO was a very good demand, and it seems that many users are ripe to move to more capacious NVMe SSD. Moreover, thanks to the use of TLC 3D V-NAND is a fourth generation manufacturer will be able to provide dvuhterabaytny model a very attractive price (the recommended price in Russia – 54 990 rubles). From a technological point of view, the release of this SSD form factor M. 2 2280 is also not a problem: application to dvuhterabaytny version 970 EVO large 512-Gigabit crystals TLC 3D V-NAND allowed to design it even in a unilateral design.

One of the reasons why EVO 960 loved users were Intellegent TurboWrite technology, in which the drive offered ample SLC-cache, significantly accelerates write operations. The new 970 EVO this technology has been preserved in full. As before, the cache is formed from two segments: static, size 3 or 6 GB, and dynamic, the size of which can be several times more. While the static segment is located in a redundant area of the array of flash memory, the dynamic part uses the unoccupied part of the main array of flash memory, and therefore its size may vary depending on how much free space is on the drive.

Storage capacity, GB 250 500 1000 2000
The total volume of the SLC cache, GB 3-13 3-22 6-42 6-78
The static part, GB 3 3 6 6
The dynamic part, GB To 9 To 18 36 Up to 72

To illustrate the work of Intellegent TurboWrite is easy with graphics speed continuous sequential write version 970 Samsung EVO different containers (the measurements were carried out in the most advantageous situation – free SSD).

The size of the SLC cache at 970 EVO in comparison with the predecessor has not changed, but the speed to write data to it has grown substantially. At the same time performance with direct memory writes (without caching) 970 EVO was exactly the same as was at 960 EVO. Moreover, the 250-Gigabyte version of the new items with the lowest degree of parallelism of the array of flash memory, in linear recording is not faster SATA drive 860 EVO. However, if we take into account the significant capacity of the SLC cache to imagine the work of 970 EVO without rapid entry hard enough.

#Appearance and internal structure

970 Samsung EVO comes in a single variant – in M. 2 module format: 22 × 80 mm. the drives of different capacities are absolutely identical: they are made on black PCB, are one-sided performance and carry four chips: the controller, DRAM buffer and two chips of flash memory.


On both sides of the 970 EVO Board placed stickers. On the front side is a label with the product name, labelling, items, and rooms, and on the reverse – with the logos of various certifications. The sticker attached on the back, is not as simple as it seems. One of the layers acts as a copper foil, which helps more efficient distribution and dissipation of heat generated by the drive during operation.

Will Samsung make the temperature regime of the new model as a more sparing and can be seen on closer acquaintance with the device. For example, for the first time in the practice of the Samsung controller chip of the SSD got a metal containing Nickel cover. However, the dissipation controller Phoenix compared to the Polaris has slightly increased, so it is possible, without such additional teplonositelya was simply not enough.

Otherwise, 970 Samsung EVO looks familiar. Pay attention to is, except for the fact that this SSD as DRAM buffer was used more modern and high-speed LPDDR4 memory. The size of this buffer is standard: it is determined by the rate of 1 MB DRAM 1 GB flash memory.

What one or two terabyte of flash memory from Samsung quite fit in the two chips, we have already seen, when tested 860 EVO. The company has long mastered the technology of stacking in a single chip up to 16 crystals flash memory and actively uses it. As a result, Samsung is one of the very few manufacturers who can offer a one-sided drives in the form factor M. 2 2280 with a capacity of 1 TB or more.

While varieties of 970 Samsung EVO with a capacity of 250, 500 and 1000 TB are assembled on 256-Gigabit 64-crystal layer TLC 3D V-NAND. Larger crystals with a size of 512 GB (that is used in EVO 860) modification 970 EVO up to a terabyte inclusive not get, and thank God, because reduced capacity NAND allows the drive controller to operate in full-speed eight-channel mode, and the models on polterabayta and higher in addition to use a striping device in each channel. That is why maximum performance in the model number Samsung promises 970 EVO version of the SSD capacity of 1 terabyte.

It is appropriate to recall that almost all of the 960 EVO also came with a devices NAND capacity of 256 GB, and thus the throughput of the array of flash memory, the new drive should be similar. However, for the variant with a capacity of 960 EVO 250 GB Samsung specially produced 128-Gigabit crystals, which was one of the reasons for the good performance of this model. With an output of 970 EVO Junior model of its privileged status lost, and got exactly the same filling as a larger SSD. And it may not the best way affect its performance.

The declared volume of the series is a multiple of 970 EVO 250 GB, and thus available to the user approximately 91 percent of the total amount of installed flash memory. Still about 2.5-4.5 per cent of the capacity is given under a static SLC cache is working in the technology Intellegent TurboWrite. The rest of the space is used by the controller for internal needs – for garbage collection, wear-leveling and under the reserve Fund.


Mass storage Samsung traditionally supplied software utility on the Magician that, starting with version 5.2 compatible in the 970 EVO. 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.


Samsung Magician 5.2 allows to obtain General information about the drive, its mode of operation, firmware version and amount of recorded data. Also you can see the state of attributes that are returned in S. M. A. R. T.


The program allows you 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 amount of Unallocated file system space, moving some of the capacity of the SSD in the additional reserve area.


Also using Magician, you manage the existing 970 Samsung EVO features hardware encryption AES-256 which are compatible with the full scope of relevant standards (including Microsoft eDrive/ Encrypted Drive-TCG Opal, and IEEE1667). In addition, the utility allows you to create a boot “stick” for a complete physical wipe using Secure Erase.


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