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Overview SATA SSD WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D: “3D” – all

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Since Western Digital bought one of the leading players of the market of SSDs, SanDisk, passed almost two years. During this time the largest manufacturer of hard disks was able to take quite a stable position in this new field of activity, and even achieved some success: the share of Western Digital on the market of SSDs are higher than the share enjoyed by SanDisk at the time of its acquisition. So, in 2015, SanDisk could boast only control about 10-12 percent of the market, now Western Digital is europeís second-largest provider of solid-state drives and has a share, reaching 17 to 20 percent.

This remarkable growth was achieved including at the expense of a major transformation of the model range. Western Digital has thinned out a motley assortment of SanDisk and focused on advancing several of the most successful models. At the same time began the production of storage under the trademark WD, and this family included three product understandable for adherents of hard drives Western Digital color differentiation (Black, Blue, Green), and with the best combination of price and performance. All these measures had good effect that one can trace how in the past three years has changed the market share of Western Digital/SanDisk.

Данные TRENDFOCUS, компиляция

Data TRENDFOCUS, compilation

However, to date, Western Digital came to the conclusion that the legacy of SanDisk, is gradually losing its relevance (even in the reformed view). And in order laid, the growth impulse could manifest itself in the future, the required adjustment in the range. Problems here, there are two. The first concerns the fact that among existing Western Digital SSD yet flagship NVMe solutions with a high level of performance. Offer WD Black is among the inexpensive NVMe SSD and is of interest only as offer entry-level in its class. The problem is Western Digital going to solve in the foreseeable future and will begin shipping the recently announced new products – high-performance drives SN720 built on a completely new platform.

The second problem is that the mass model of the company until recently used a somewhat outdated stuffing – planar TLC NAND which is inferior to more modern memory with spatial orientation in all key parameters: performance, reliability, density of information storage and, as a consequence, at cost. But fortunately, for this problem, Western Digital has quite an effective solution. At the end of last year, the company began to gradually transfer your old SSD to a new mass memory – modern BiCS3 NAND, which was developed by technology Alliance Toshiba and Western Digital. This memory, recall, is essentially a TLC 3D NAND with 64-layers, built on the cells with a trap charge, and now it is actively used in all WD and SanDisk that not only made them more favorable in the production, but also improve their consumer characteristics.

This review just focuses on what has changed the most popular SATA SSD Western Digital: model WD Blue and SanDisk Ultra II. Not so long ago they were replaced by the updated WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D, and their widespread emergence in retail sales means that the 3D party was joined by the last of the SSD manufacturer of the first echelon. Recall that to date we have tested almost all models of SATA drives, the market leaders, built on the most modern and advanced 64-layer flash memory: Crucial MX500, 545s Intel SSD, Samsung PRO 860, 860 Samsung EVO , and Toshiba TR200. No attention was only WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D and today we intend to correct this defect.

But before proceeding to a detailed acquaintance with the novelties, a few words should be said about why this article speech about WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D is at the same time. The fact that in the optimization of lineup Western Digital unified platform of WD and SanDisk, and now is actually under two different marketing names it sells the same thing. In principle, the close relationship between WD Blue and the SanDisk Ultra II existed before: after Western Digital bought SanDisk, the drive received a single hardware platform controller Marvell 88SS1074 and planar TLC NAND and differ only in the features of the firmware. But now the differences has worn off completely: WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D the same even at the software level.

The reasons why such models exist side by side, lie in the marketing: they have different positioning. However, from the explanations of the manufacturer, we have not been able to clearly understand for whom intended WD Blue 3D NAND, but for some SanDisk Ultra 3D. Moreover, both models are often sold next to the same stores for about the same price. As such, we thought it was appropriate to combine their study in one review.


WD Blue 3D NAND and his twin SanDisk Ultra 3D is not a brand new SATA drives, and the update was released a year and a half ago, the WD Blue SSD (and similar SanDisk Ultra II). To speak so allows us the fact that new drives are Western Digital, the developers did not implement any new hardware platform, SSD and relied on the time-tested controller Marvell 88SS1074, which was used in the WD Blue. By itself, this chip can not be called to some remarkable solution, but it has two important properties that make it well-suited for use in modern disc drives. First, it lends itself to flexible configuration by firmware, which allows us to provide it support for three-dimensional TLC memory. Secondly, it is on the hardware implemented error correction based on LDPC codes, which not only significantly improves the detection stored in the data cells, but also goes well with modern three-dimensional memory with a three-bit organization.

Controller Marvell 88SS1074 not particularly productive: it was originally focused on inexpensive SSD. It is based on two cores ARM Dragonite and v5 to form an array of flash memory offers a total of four channel. At the same time as all other processors from Marvell, 88SS1074 distributed by developers without reference firmware, which on the one hand, complicates the life of the final designers of the SSD, but on the other — allows you to create a finely optimized solution, squeezing out of the hardware all the juices. So drives on the basis of this chip can be very different from each other.

For example, the best-known products based on the Marvell 88SS1074, in addition to the WD Bluewas Crucial MX300 and Kingston UV400. And they gave dramatically different performance: while the proposals WD and Crucial can be completely attributed to the middle level, the decision of Kingston upset his lethargy. However, with the transition to three-dimensional memory SSD manufacturers began to abandon the use of Marvell 88SS1074 — for example, Crucial MX500 now uses a Silicon Motion controller. But the engineers at Western Digital seem to have found the right approach to hardware platform Marvell continued to work with her. This allows us to hope that the new WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D will be at least no worse than previous versions with planar memory, which is actually already quite enough to make the drives turned out commercially successful.

Especially in combination with Blue, 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D uses three-dimensional BiCS3 memory, which compared to conventional planar TLC NAND has higher throughput and lower latency.

The fact that the translation of such a memory can do to seriously speed up the old platform, we recently saw firsthand, when tested Plextor M9Pe. This can also be seen if you look at the declared by the manufacturer specifications of WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D: these drives are clearly faster than their ancestors on the same controller, but with planar memory.

Passport characteristics of the novelties are as follows.

Manufacturer Western Digital
Series WD Blue 3D NAND
SanDisk Ultra 3D
Model number WDS250G2B0A
Form factor 2.5 inch
Interface SATA 6 GB/s
Capacity, GB 250 500 1000 2000
Flash memory: type, process technology, manufacturer SanDisk 64-layer 256-GB BiCS3 3D TLC NAND
Controller Marvell 88SS1074
Buffer: type, volume LDDR3-1866,
256 MB
512 MB
1024 MB
2048 MB
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 550 560 560 560
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 525 530 530 530
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 95000 95000 95000 95000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 81000 84000 84000 84000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,056/3,8
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,75
Resource record, TB 100 200 400 500
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 100,2 x 69.85 mm x 7.0
Weight, g 57,9
Warranty period, years 3

In comparison to the original WD Blue SSD increased as the speed of sequential operations (1-3 %), and random write speeds (5 %). However, this is a slight decrease in the speed of random read: the old drive on the basis of planar TLC NAND was declared peak indicators at the level of 100 thousand IOPS.

However, long known that the manufacturer’s specifications do not always accurately reflect the real picture. Most drives built in memory with a three-bit cells, SLC practice-caching, which is laid in the passport indicators. In fact feasible therefore, the rapid entry mode is not always effective means of improving performance: it all depends on what algorithms are used in each case and what amount of flash memory allocated by the manufacturer to operate in SLC mode.

To check SLC-caching is arranged in the WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D, we carried out a standard experiment to measure the performance of a continuous serial write on a clean drive. To test was chosen instances of the SSD 500 GB.

Both drives SLC-caching works the same way. The amount of cache to which the entry is made at high speed, determined at the rate of 4 GB each 250 GB total capacity. And this means that compared with the original WD Blue SSD cache on the new models increased. This is one of the main reasons that the updated SATA Western Digital should be better than its predecessors. There, recall, in a fast single-bit mode was only 3 GB each 250 GB capacity of the SSD.

On the graph is visible and another positive change: the rate of direct memory writes, was significantly higher. Through the use of NAND BiCS3 new WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D can write directly to TLC cells with a capacity of about 410 MB/s, while in the “normal” WD Blue SSD speed of direct write was limited by size to 300 MB/s. And by the way, it’s amazing, but, according to the measurements, the speed of 64-ply BiCS3 memory of authorship Toshiba/SanDisk magically coincides with the speed of 64-layer TLC 3D NAND produced by Intel/Micron. It will therefore be natural, if WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D will end up in the same weight category as Crucial MX500 SSD Intel 545s.

No other important user characteristics WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D has not changed. Both series of drives, as before, is given a three-year warranty. And approved by the manufacturer resource rewriting is that the user has the right to overwrite to a third of the capacity of the SSD every day for the warranty period. It should be noted that in this respect, WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D look at the background of competitors is not too great: the same 545s Intel SSD or Samsung EVO 860 promise and guarantee longer endurance and higher.

#Appearance and internal structure

For testing, we traditionally take drives with a capacity of 480-512 GB – these models combine reasonable price and the best lineup in performance. Accordingly, in this survey involved two samples: 3D NAND WD Blue 500 GB and SanDisk Ultra 3D 500 GB.

The relationship between the drives under trademarks WD and SanDisk can be seen in the exterior: case WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D are exactly the same. It consists of aluminum and painted with black paint of the tray which is closed by a black plastic cover. It should be noted that the halves of the case are well fitted to each other and are fastened with screws, whereby the design of the SSD seems monolithic.


3D NAND WD Blue 500 GB


SanDisk Ultra 3D 500 GB

Differences in exterior WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D are caused only by the labels of different brands, glued on both sides of the SSD. The front surface is in both cases close labels with logo and product name. Stickers on the back of the drives – technical and more meaningful: they are given serial numbers, barcodes, part numbers and capacity information of specific instances of the SSD. Funny thing is that the WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D they are not only differently composed, but contain different set of information. For example, WD Blue 3D NAND date of manufacture (in our case it is 24 September last year), and on the label SanDisk Ultra 3D this information is not given at all. But the strangest difference is the country of production. If you believe it is written as like as two drops of water WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D made in different regions: the first in Malaysia, second in China.

The basis for both WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D are identical to the miniature printed circuit Board containing four chips of the flash memory, controller chip and a DRAM buffer. In both cases, the controller chip is closed by a pad, whereby heat generated 28-nm chip Marvell 88SS1074 transmitted to the aluminum part of the case. However, this measure is rather preventive: the controller in the process, is heated very slightly.

It should be noted that the layout of the PCB in WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D is very similar to the layout of the boards in WD Blue. There is even the feeling that the change of planar to three-dimensional memory do not require the developer to make any technical changes and all limited only by modification of the firmware. Is this true, hard to say, but the array structure of the flash memory with the transition to BiCS3 TLC 3D NAND has changed significantly.


3D NAND WD Blue 500 GB


SanDisk Ultra 3D 500 GB

Four-channel array of the flash memory in both of the new drives is composed of the SanDisk chips (the same chips Toshiba), inside of which is Packed with four crystal 64-layer three-dimensional BiCS3-a three-bit memory cells. Please note: these crystals have a capacity of 256 GB, that is, compared to planar TLC NAND, which was used in the original WD Blue, they were twice as roomy. Accordingly, the degree of parallelism of the memory array is reduced by half, and now the controller 500 GB storage available to only a fourfold alternating devices in the channels. But significant advantage of three-dimensional BiCS3 front planar TLC NAND speed fully neutralize the possible negative effect of reduced concurrency.

Of the total volume of the array of flash memory WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra for domestic needs reserved about 9 percent of capacity. They need to work in the SLC cache, and algorithms garbage collection and wear-leveling. This means that the owners of the SSD with the declared capacity of half a terabyte in the operating system sees 465 GB of available capacity.

Has the design considered SSD and DRAM buffer. As usual, he WD Blue 3D NAND and the SanDisk Ultra 3D is used to store a table of address translation and caching melkoplodnyj write operations. The amount and type of the corresponding memory chip standard: 512 MB LPDDR3-1866. However, the manufacturer of the SDRAM in the drives was different. WD Blue 3D NAND chip installed Toshiba and SanDisk Ultra 3D Nanya.


The SanDisk and Western Digital has always attached the service utility SSD Dashboard, which implements all the basic functions for their service. New drives, like their predecessors, fully compatible with it. But there is one funny thing — there are two separate versions of this utility: SanDisk SSD Dashboard, SSD and WD Dashboard. They are quite similar in features, but differ in the visual style of the interface. While utilities work only with SSD, issued under the relevant trademark, and drives the twins to accept refuse. In other words, WD Blue 3D NAND need to be sure to install the WD SSD Dashboard, and the SanDisk Ultra 3D SanDisk SSD Dashboard, and nothing else.

The subsequent screenshots show the WD SSD Dashboard, however, SanDisk SSD Dashboard offers all exactly the same, but not on the blue, and grey background.

Among the main functions of the program — obtaining information about the installed in the SSD system, including information about the remaining resource and the current temperature; monitoring the performance of the drive in real-time; customize TRIM; firmware update via the Internet and from a file; the operation Secure Erase and delete any data from the flash memory by means of forced vanishing; run SMART tests and view SMART attributes.

In other words, the feature set of the SanDisk SSD Dashboard and WD SSD Dashboard is quite standard, nothing unique, they do not offer. For example, in software Western Digital is no way to fine-tune the operating system, or for RAM-caching of accesses to the disk subsystem.


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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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Overview Thecus NAS N5810PRO: five discs under the protection of the UPS

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Choosing the best M. 2 SSD in the 240-256 GB c interface NVMe: great comparative test

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The 3DNews laboratory traditionally focuses on the tests of solid state drives, exploring how performance and reliability of such solutions. And the reason is quite simple: an SSD is one of the most striking technologies of recent times, which is just a few years allowed to increase the responsiveness of personal computers to a new level. Today, no enthusiast will not wonder whether to place the operating system and frequently used programs on the SSD or could be, dispensed in the configuration without new solutions and to limit time-tested HDD. In any Assembly, where the budget allows, get a SSD is mandatory. Somewhere is a small volume of the primary storage, but it working data warehouse with a volume of terabytes, but any modern system (if it’s not quite ultrabudgetary computer) without the SSD simply unthinkable.

Until recently, most computers were SSD with SATA interface is what we have tested and recommended above all. Indeed, such drives are publicly available, widely compatible with existing systems and their value until recently seemed more than justified compared with the options that use high-speed PCI Express bus. But times change, and now more interesting choice begin to appear SSDs with NVMe interface. Yes, they are slightly more expensive, but on the one hand the price gap between SATA and NVMe SSDS steadily declining, and with another – the overpayment for a faster interface eventually pays off with positive emotions, which brings high performance. Of course, the same jump in performance that we experienced when moving from HDD to SSD in this case. But the increasing speed is still significant, and those users who have already tried to work in the system with some good NVMe drive hardly then agree to exchange it for an alternative with SATA interface.

In other words, we came to the understanding that it’s time to finally come to grips with the comparative tests progressive mass NVMe SSD. The growing popularity of these solutions is obvious, and their range is presented in stores, is expanding every day. And if until recently the choice was very simple, because the optimum drive with NVMe interface almost unopposed were 960 Samsung EVO, on the date of its unconditional superiority can be questioned. This, in particular, a recent acquaintance with the Intel SSD 760p new NVMe-a product that at least not worse in performance, and attractive enough for the price. In addition, recently appeared on the market and other interesting options to get around that attention would be at least unfair.

The first big test of the new cycle will be devoted to comparing the most popular options – M. 2 drives with NVMe interface volume 240-256 GB.

#Why NVMe?

Many believe that the NVMe interface, which is gradually moving to solid state drives, is synonymous with speed. Indeed, the peak bandwidth of the SATA interface in its most common version 3.1 is only 600 MB/s, which is clearly below the performance that can give a modern SSD. This is well illustrated by the fact that the performance of linear operations in a variety of modern SATA drives is negligible: it limits the bandwidth of the interface.

At the same time, the current drives with the NVMe interface can offer not only significantly higher, but significantly differing in performance. For example, the best consumer NVMe SSD to give the speed of the serial read and write at the level of 3.5 and 2.7 GB/s respectively, but at the same time more simple NVMe model significantly not up to these indicators. And that means the world NVMe SSD performance is not so emasculated, and devalued characteristics, as in the case of SATA.

This is really an implementation of the interface. For the operation of the NVMe interface at a low level of the selected standard PCI Express serial bus, which not only scales easily by increasing the number of used lines, but even in the variant with one line (version 3.0) may provide the peak throughput of the order of 985 MB/s, that is, at least one and a half times higher than the usual SATA interface. Besides, the vast majority of modern mass NVMe SSD use two or four lines of PCI Express, the final throughput is obtained at 1.97 or even 3,94 GB/s-Based flash memory drives thanks to its multi-channel architecture can use such a fast tire easily, so it turns out that the speed NVMe SSD for sequential operations is significantly higher than SATA SSD.

Specification SATA 3.0 PCI Express 2.0 PCI Express 3.0
The number of lines ×1 ×2 ×4 ×1 ×2 ×4
Bandwidth, GB/s 6,0 5,0 10,0 20,0 8,0 16,0 32,0
Coding 8b/10b 8b/10b 8b/10b 8b/10b 128b/130b 128b/130b 128b/130b
Effective bandwidth GB/s 0,6 0,5 1,0 2,0 0,99 Of 1.97 3,94

However, the original transition SSD with SATA-interface for NVMe thought not only to increase bandwidth, how to reduce latency and add to the work drives multithreading. Opened the possibility of scaling the speed of the serial access become a useful addition. The most important aspect of NVMe that this interface is structurally assigned to work with the drives built on the basis of the non-volatile memory, that is, those which have a multi-channel parallel architecture with fast random access. And it radically differs from the NVMe interface SATA interface of the old hereditary, which came to SSDs from hard disk drives and therefore did not take into account the specifics of the internal structure of the media of the new generation.

In particular, used in the SATA Protocol to AHCI is built around service a shared queue of commands and explicitly assumes that the incoming commands are processed by the device with high access time of storage disks. For this reason, in AHCI contains no concurrency, because the magnetic media read and write data only in sequence. In addition, because even the best HDD I can not offer a delay of less than several milliseconds, in AHCI there are no optimizations to reduce latency. Against the background of high access time the physical media overheads of the Protocol simply does not matter.

It all seemed quite logical and natural for the HDD, but when the SATA interface came to SSD, AHCI Protocol immediately became uncomfortable and even inappropriate. However, despite serious criticism, to abandon it at the first stage proved to be impossible at least due to the fact that there is no other option at the right time simply was not. But even worse, for a while, until the industry has developed and implemented a suitable alternative, SATA, SSD was able to spread widely and approve an inherited interface in the role of a common solution. That is why NVMe storage devices had to open the way to the market with great efforts. Fortunately, to date, all obstacles overcome: NVMe support exists in all modern platforms and operating systems, and it provides a wide range of consumer SSD models that implement this interface.

And at the moment the question of whether the drive what interface should be preferred for advanced system, to arise should not. NVMe is not only benefits in throughput, but is especially suited for the architecture of the SSD, helping to minimise delays when working with data. The fundamental advantages of the two. First, NVMe supports multithreading, allowing you to generate multiple command queues that can be processed by a multi-channel SSD controller in parallel. Secondly, connecting the processor and the storage medium directly, without any intermediaries, NVMe interface brings data to the point of use and removes two unneeded intermediates: the SATA controller and the SATA translator teams, which converts adopted the Protocol AHCI treatment to the sectors and tracks in the data pages of the flash memory.

The maximum queue depth 1 turn
32 teams in the queue
65536 queues
65536 commands per queue
Uncached accesses to the registers (2000 cycles each) 6 teams out of turn
9 in the command queue
2 per team
MSI-X and interrupt management One interrupt
No control
2048 MSI-X interrupt
Concurrency and multithreading To be fixed timing for issuing a command Fixation is not required
Performance for 4K teams Requires two serial request DRAM Requires a single 64-byte request DRAM

All this has a positive effect on delays. As practice shows, the proposed NVMe interface method of access data, which is a natural for solid-state drive, allowing you to reduce overhead expenses almost doubled. This, in particular, opens the way for an alignment with the latency at the level of a dozen microseconds. And here is not a hypothetical argument, such NVMe drives are known: for example, Optane Intel or Samsung SSD Z SSD. Such service is at the SATA interface simply impossible to implement.

  A typical SATA SSD Typical NVMe SSD
The speed of sequential operations Up to 550 MB/s read
Up to 500 MB/s write
Up to 3500 MB/s read
Up to 2500 MB/s write
Speed random operations Up to 100K IOPS read
Up to 90K IOPS write
Up to 400K IOPS read
Up to 400K IOPS entry

If you delve into the technical details, NVMe, you can see a lot of useful solutions that make the interface very simple and responsive. For example, the transfer of the most typical 4-Kbyte blocks it requires submission of only one team instead of two in SATA. And the whole set of control instructions is simplified so that processing at the driver level can significantly reduce CPU usage and associated latency. As for concurrency and scalability, it is assumed NVMe simultaneous servicing of up to 65,536 queues, and each of them can have depth to 65536 commands. Of course, for personal computers, such degree of parallelism impossible, but by the simultaneous operation of multiple applications that are actively communicating with the drive, CPU usage thanks to NVMe can be somewhat reduced.

Thus, from the point of view of the user NVMe is the maximum throughput for a linear access, the maximum performance with random operations and minimal delays when accessing data. As well as some additional facilities like lower load on the processor and lack of performance degradation when multithreaded operations. Give all of that makes no sense, that’s why we decided to come to grips with the tests NVMe SSD.

#Why is M. 2?

Together with the emergence of a wide range of SSDs that use the NVMe interface, widespread new form factors SSD. And this is natural, since NVMe requires a different connection they are connected to the system, not the SATA cable, but via the PCI Express bus. While the industry has not come to a consensus about how it should look NVMe drives in the market you can find three different versions of these products: HHHL PCIe extension card, M. 2 module and 2.5-inch case products format U. 2. But in any case, the NVMe drive for data transport uses the PCI Express bus, which means the type of execution speed performance is not affected. Just different formats of the SSD can be comfortable in different situations.

The most obvious option NVMe SSD, given the use of PCI Express, it is a standard expansion card. HHHL (Half-Height, Half-Length, half-height, half-length) PCIe-card drives like the graphics card are installed in a regular PCIe slots perpendicular to the motherboard and are quite impressive dimensions — 167 x 111 mm. the Disadvantages of this form-factor is obvious: the drives are bulky, require of free slots and obviously can not be used in compact or mobile systems. However, there are advantages: they are without any obstacles can be equipped with an efficient radiator which will provide a high-performance SSD for the necessary cooling. However, due to imposed restrictions drives expansion cards gradually fade into the background.

Even more rare NVMe storage solutions in the form factor of the U. 2. This includes the entire NVMe SSDS in traditional 2.5-inch enclosure, which allows, in particular easy to mount the drives into a standard basket and provide the functionality of “hot replacement”. But this connection is necessary to meet the special PCIe cable standard SFF-8639, and the motherboard needs to have the appropriate connectors SFF-8643. Such an embodiment NVMe SSD in virtue of their nature, are more typical for servers and desktop computers is almost never used.

The most popular in the NVMe SSD for personal computers, format M. 2 modules. Such drives are made in the form of open-frame compact child card with a stab connector that are installed in a special slot M. 2 on the motherboard parallel to the surface. The typical size M. 2 card – 22 x 80 mm (there are also varieties of 22 × 42, 22 × 60 mm and 22 × 110 mm), i.e. it is relatively tiny items, which may find use not only in desktop computers but also, for example, in thin-and-light laptops. Any system based on modern processors, necessarily provided with one or more slots for M. 2 drives, so compatibility issues this form-factor is gradually fade into the background.

However, it should be borne in mind that the M. 2 slot on the motherboard can be summed up not only what the fastest NVMe SSD four lines PCI Express 3.0, but with fewer lines or more lines of the old standard PCI Express 2.0. Moreover, there are M. 2 slot and SATA interface, which PCI Express connection do not support. Usually for outdated or ultrabudgetary configurations, but once again check compatibility of your system with NVMe drives in the M. 2 format, requiring for its operation four (or for some models of SSD or two) lines PCI Express 3.0, before purchasing the SSD will not hurt. This information can be obtained on the website of the manufacturer of the motherboard or in the user manual.

One important caveat to keep in mind when using M. 2 SSD, it is the need of cooling. In high-speed NVMe SSD has a compact design and multiple heat-producing components are concentrated in a small area. Therefore, for normal operation of such products it is recommended to install radiators or to organize an additional air cooling M. 2 module air flow. Otherwise, drives can overheat and not give the expected performance.

Nevertheless, we recommend you to use NVMe SSD in the form factor M. 2. First, if we talk about high-performance models, such drives are prevalent the most. The range of M. 2 NVMe SSD compared to NVMe drives in other form factors is much broader, and to find a suitable combination option is much easier. Second, the M. 2 NVMe SSD is more compact than the other options: they require no wiring and do not change the dimensions of the Assembly after its installation. Thirdly, to adopt M. 2 NVMe SSD ready today almost any modern desktop or mobile system. Compatibility issues with NVMe drives in the form factor M. 2 is currently the least. In addition, for an M. 2 NVMe SSD has a large selection of boards-adapters that allow you to install them not only in specialized connectors, but in a standard PCI Express slots on the motherboard.

#Table of characteristics of the tested SSD

In the laboratory 3DNews consolidated testing was attended by eighteen modern SSDs with NVMe interface. All of them were made in the format of M. 2 modules, and all of them had the volume a quarter of a terabyte, that is from 240 to 256 GB.

A short list of tested models with their main technical specifications, taken from official sources, is given in the following table.

A more detailed description of participants can be found on the next page of the review.


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