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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 3DNews.ru

Data TRENDFOCUS, compilation 3DNews.ru

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The second problem is that the mass model of the company until recently used a somewhat outdated stuffing – planar TLC NAND which is inferior to more modern memory with spatial orientation in all key parameters: performance, reliability, density of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.

#Specifications

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
SDSSDH3-250G-G25
WDS500G2B0A
SDSSDH3-500G-G25
WDS100T2B0A
SDSSDH3-1T00-G25
WDS200T2B0A
SDSSDH3-2T00-G25
Form factor 2.5 inch
Interface SATA 6 GB/s
Capacity, GB 250 500 1000 2000
Configuration
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
LDDR3-1866,
512 MB
LDDR3-1866,
1024 MB
LDDR3-1866,
2048 MB
Performance
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.

#Software

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.

SOURCE

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Peripherals

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Toshiba XG5

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

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

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

Toshiba XG5 specification is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

#Toshiba XG5-P

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

#Toshiba BG3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Composite testing of microSD memory cards with capacity of 64 GB

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If you want to choose the best memory card for camera or smartphone, but you are not sure, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we talk about differ from one another in-market memory card, and give practical response to the question, what specific memory card may be better in certain scenarios.

In 2018 the memory card is ubiquitous. They are used in many types of consumer electronics ranging from phones and cameras to laptops, drones, and video recorders. Quality work all these gadgets directly depends on how relevant to them is a hand-picked card. And it’s not just in capacity: capacity of memory cards, as their price can vary significantly, and different gadgets impose completely different requirements to the speed of the used media. If the memory card is selected incorrectly, it may directly affect the operation of the gadget — to the point that he even refuses to perform its functions. Therefore, the study of the practical characteristics of memory cards under load of different types is a very important study, which allows you to find the most suitable for each variant, while not overpaying for useless features.

#Is a little about the history and standardization of the SD card

Standard memory cards Secure Digital (SD or briefly) acquired widespread in the early 2000s, after in 1999 the three companies – SanDisk, Panasonic and Toshiba – have decided to unite and develop a unified specification compact removable media based on flash memory. Now, after almost two decades from that moment, you can already confidently say that the goal was achieved. The initiative caught on, and the SD card have actually become a unified industry standard, despite the fact that produce these memory cards dozens of companies. An excellent illustration of the success of standard SD cards may be the fact that now in the development and implementation of this standard is somehow involved more than eight hundred different companies. This is good news.

The bad news is that, despite the existence of a single standardization body, special organization of the SD Association, without zoo of different types of memory cards the deal is still not done. On the market cards are different form factors, capacities and performance classes. Moreover, although in General the devices made in accordance with a common standard and for the most part compatible with each other, they are not interchangeable. Part of on the market cards are better suited to download apps and work in Android smartphones because they have the best performance during operations random read, others are better at sequential operations, which is critical for recording high resolution videos, photos, and more.

The SD Association has done a lot of engineering work to develop a technical standard compact media, but outreach and marketing activities of this Association raises many questions. What, for example, is the fact that each new version of the SD specification were introduced into circulation a new classification of high-speed parameters and added to the existing new variants of marking. In addition, the names of the types of memory cards were added various modifiers, and to date the situation has come to a point where numerous logos on the package flash-cards, even an expert will not be able to define what it is to be expected in practical use. But do not fear: in this article we present a simple and detailed explanation of classification cards, and in addition, we compare the actual performance of the most relevant cards microSD 64 GB.

#Form factors SD card

The simple and clear distinction between different SD cards is their physical size. Despite the fact that at a logical level, no differences between the different form factors, there is three different size memory cards: standard, mini and micro.

It is obvious that the cards of different size are used in different types of devices, and more compact cards are usually used in a more portable gadgets. In this case, since SD, MiniSD and MicroSD are made in accordance with a common standard, they can be interchanged using simple adapters. Thus, the most compact MicroSD cards often come with the adapter that allows their use in full size SD slots, and backward compatibility is not affected. The use of adapter has no effect neither on speed, nor on anything else. So microSD cards are the most versatile option and can be installed in devices with a microSD slot and a normal SD slot.

Card microSD with adapter for standard slots

As for form factor MiniSD, he in modern devices it is almost never used. Moreover, it is not exaggeration to say that today he is dead.

#Capacity and types standard

The capacity of the memory card is, perhaps, another obvious feature. Although SD cards may have a size from 1 MB to 2 TB (and in the future – and even more) confused here is extremely difficult, especially as on any memory card, its capacity in gigabytes is specified in such a large font that not find or correctly read this value impossible.

However, the SD Association has worked hard to ensure that ordinary people got some headache even here. The fact is that depending on the capacity of the SD card refers to the different types are: SDSC, SDHC, and SDXC. This classification is due to the use of different file systems, and as a result each type has its own frame capacity devices.

A standard SD card SDSC (Standard Capacity), first appeared on the market, could have a maximum size of 2 GB, but they understandably outdated and have virtually not found. Larger cards with a capacity from 2 to 32 GB are of type SDHC (High Capacity), and the most capacious today a card type is SDXC (eXtended Capacity), and their size can reach a theoretical limit of 2 TB.

Each of these types has its own file system. Old SDSC used FAT12 or FAT16, SDHC, moved to the FAT32 file system, and in the most modern SDXC exFAT is used. Here it is worth emphasizing that the use of exFAT caused at the time a lot of disputes. The fact that it is a closed file management system that has limited support in operating systems. As a consequence, SDXC cards may not work in some free Linux distributions, and require a relatively fresh variants of Windows (at least XP SP2 or Vista SP1) and Mac OS X (10.6.5 and above). The same reformatting the SDXC card in a different exFAT file system is possible, but can lead to loss of compatibility with the target gadget, for which it was originally intended.

In 2018 to the list of types SD-card added one – SDUC (Ultra Capacity). It identifies the device with maximum capacity from 2 to 128 TB and continues to use the exFAT file system. In the sale of these cards yet, but obviously soon we will have to deal with the fourth type of SD card.

Although the capacity of SD cards and their type there exists a one-to-one correspondence, to think about the variety of purchased cards you still need. The fact that compatibility between devices and different SD-cards is only one sided. So, if the gadget is compatible with SDXC, it will not only support SDXC but SDHC card. But the device without the support of SDXC cards those cards will not work.

#Speed characteristics of the memory card

Devices of different type using a memory card with different intensity and impose different requirements on their speed characteristics. In order to let users easily choose a memory card in accordance with their needs, the SD Association has introduced additional classification of SD cards for performance levels. In theory it’s supposed to help the correct selection of cards, but with each new version of the standard introduced a new ranking scheme of class performance, and to date, determined for five different parameters that illustrate the speed capabilities of the SD card: speed class, UHS, UHS speed bus, speed class video the class performance for applications.

Manufacturers of memory cards can be used as part or all these options for marking their products, which can cause some confusion. But it’s not as difficult as it seems at first glance.

Speed class (normal). Designation normal speed class (Speed Class) in the form of a number in a circle with a gap you can find almost any memory card or on its packaging. Specification defines four different classes – C2, C4, C6 and C10. This quantitative parameter specifies the minimum guaranteed speed of linear recording in megabytes per second. For example, the class 10 speed means that the recording card will provide a performance not lower than 10 MB/s.

Although sales still continue to meet the memory card of the lower classes of speed, almost all the current offers comply with speed class C10. It is believed that such performance is sufficient for recording at least a standard video stream with a Full HD resolution with standard compression.

Because memory cards of lower speed classes C1, C4 or C6, it is clearly outdated products, the choice we suggest is to immediately dismiss such proposals. Fortunately, the market for them remains very little.

UHS speed class (Ultra High Speed). Here two SD Association defines speed class UHS Speed Class 1 and UHS Speed Class 3. They are indicated by a logo with the letter U, inside which is inscribed the number 1 or 3. UHS class 1 corresponds to the minimum speed of the linear record is 10 MB/s and UHS class 3 guarantees a write speed of 30 MB/s.

While UHS class 1 is actually equivalent to the usual tenth of the speed class, UHS class 3 is a guarantee that the card will record video in Full HD with frame rates up to 120 FPS or standard video to 4K.

Speed bus UHS. Although this speed parameter has a similar name to the previous one, actually no relation to him has. We are not talking about the possibility of the array of flash memory running inside of the card and the bus on which the memory card communicates with the device host. Current memory cards use two versions of the external bus – UHS-I or UHS-II. Version UHS-I allows you to transfer data with a maximum theoretical speed of up to 104 MB/s in one direction, and the UHS-II has a maximum throughput of 312 MB/s in one direction or 156 MB/s in full duplex mode. On memory cards and packages version of the tire is indicated by the usual Roman numeral I or II.

Most memory cards, which are presented in the stores, use the bus UHS-I. gradually, However, begin to meet-and higher-speed UHS-II device. They are easy to distinguish not only marking, but also due to the fact that these memory cards have a second row of contacts, by the use of which achieves the speed increase. However, this also means that although cards that support UHS-II and is able to work with devices with the bus UHS-I, use them in such gadgets makes no sense – the maximum speed they will not develop. However, backward compatibility standards in this case is completely smooth, so if the required speed within the bandwidth of the first version of UHS, it is allowed to install UHS-I card in devices that support UHS-II.

Left – UHS-I microSD card; right – UHS-II microSD card

Also worth mentioning that in 2017 the SD Association released the specification of the bus UHS-III, the capacity of which reaches up to 624 Mbps. At the moment of the existence in nature of memory cards or gadgets with support for UHS-III we do not know, but I’m sure with time the market will come with such solutions.

You need to understand that the bus speed UHS – parameter that has no explicit effect on the performance of the memory card. The implemented version of the tire only determines the maximum speed of the interface. Therefore, purposefully chasing UHS-II devices only makes sense in that case, if you really need a speed of about 90-100 MB/s. While providing such a performance when you record only a single SD card of the last generation, the cost of which exceeds the cost of any UHS-I memory card several times.

Speed rating for video. Another additional feature according to which the SD Association proposes to classify memory cards, a point aimed at an audience of users who shoot videos in high and ultra-high 4K and 8K. Speed class for video (Video Speed Class) is denoted by V and a following number, which is the minimum guaranteed write speed to the card. The specification introduces the following classes: V6, V10, V30, V60 and V90, and to them belong the SD card with the sequential write speed is above 6, 10, 30, 60 or 90 MB/s, respectively.

It is clear that different types of classification have intersection. So, V6 corresponds to the ordinary high-speed class 6; V10 is the same as the speed class 10 or UHS Speed Class 1 and UHS-3 speed intersects with the requirements of the V30. However, such a multiplicity of entities not confused by the SD Association, which presses on the fact that additional classes speed video to allow you to choose a memory card for movies in a more universal single rule. It is believed that while the V30 card should be enough for 4K shooting, the maps corresponding to the classes V60 and V90 should be interested in videographers working with image formats 8K at a frame rate of 60 or even 120 FPS.

If you compare all the classes that characterize the sequential write speed, we get the following table, which should be understood as a cross between speed classes, introduced different editions of the specifications for SD cards.

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

Class performance for applications. As soon as memory cards were actively used not only in photo – and videocameras, but also in smartphones or tablets, the SD Association has to think about the necessity of classification from the point of view of their application in such devices. The fact that when using Android devices a critical feature is not only sequential write speed, but the speed of random melkoplodnogo read and write. Operations of this type occur when run from SD-card applications and the storage they work files, and this is a completely different load that has nothing to do with the usual sequential writes.

To rank the cards according to their suitability for installation, storage and running programs was introduced two additional class Application Performance Class A1 and A2. Their logos can also sometimes be detected on SD cards or their packaging.

To quantitatively describe the performance class for applications is not so simple: within these classes are set the minimum speed simultaneously under several loading scenarios.

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

In addition, the memory card corresponding to the class A2 should maintain a number of additional features more specific to SSD. Among them is the caching of data in the internal DRAM, the job queue of queries and a set of tools for maintenance of the array of flash memory (stand-alone garbage collection).

However, the A2 class was determined just a year ago, and the SD card are not on the market. A pity, because due to the implementation of additional functionality they have become devices to a whole new level, closer in its properties to modern high-tech solid-state media.

#Working voltage

Another characteristic on which different SD card, it is used a signal voltage. Until recently, they used a single voltage level is 3.3 V, but last year, the SD Association introduced LVS-card (Low Voltage Signaling) focused on voltage of 1.8 V and is designed for use in economical devices. Such an energy efficient card should be marked with a special logo with characters LV.

The need to transition to a lower voltage associated with the fact that the high-speed memory card that works with the most rapid options bus UHS-II and UHS-III, began to show excessively high levels of heat dissipation. While for a normal map is characterized by the dispersion of 0.5-1 W of heat at maximum load, the heat dissipation of high performance memory cards can go up to several watts, which causes problems with cooling and it is totally unacceptable for most mobile gadgets.

The standard requires that LVS-card should not become a completely separate class of carriers. Specification requires that they will work with any device that uses as low and usual level of signal voltages. Thus, the problems to the owners of LVS-card – they are suitable everywhere. However, for gadgets that require extremely economical SD cards, suited cards only LVS-varieties.

At the moment the vast majority sold in stores memory card does not support low voltage signal. But gradually they will be more widespread, and their existence must remember when choosing the right mobile carrier information.

#Marking

In theory to understand what the properties of one or the other memory card, can be printed on its obverse surface of the characters. Normal at the moment, the set of markings includes the capacity and type of memory card and class speeds (normal). Often in addition to that you can find the logo version bus UHS and UHS-speed class. Speed class for videos and apps rarely indicated, but such cards also occur. The General principle is: the greater role played by the manufacturer in the SD Association, the more different logos he placed on the map. It is therefore not surprising that especially are full of different markings SanDisk memory card.

However, you need to understand that to focus on the logos – not the wisest decision. First, the conformity of the declared classes is only the opinion of the manufacturer of your product, is not confirmed by any independent tests. Second, the speed classes define mainly only one parameter – speed of the linear record, but in reality memory cards vary and other options performance. Thirdly, the ranking adopted by the SD Association classes allows you to get information about the cards is only a very rough approximation.

All understand this and the producers themselves. So some of them stand in marked or indicated in the specifications is not only classes, but also direct high-speed characteristics of its products. However, most often this is done only in the case when the manufacturer wants to boast speed and then some for additional details on speed in this way can be found only for memory cards with high cost.

#Table tested microSDXC memory card 64 GB

For the first tests (and they certainly will be continued) we have collected common in retail card microSDXC capacity 64 GB. Form factor microSD selected on the basis of the greater prevalence and universality of these cards, because in a standard SD slot they can be mounted via an adapter, which in most cases comes with the microSD card in the kit. The capacity of 64 GB – one of the most popular at the moment offers. Maps of this volume help to save approximately 2880 photo resolution 36 MP, more than two hours of 4K video with high bitrate or more than 6 hours of video with a resolution of Full HD.

Today’s test only affects cards with UHS-I interface — as the most common and most popular options. Higher-speed UHS-II cards have begun to appear on store shelves, but now their acquisition is hardly appropriate: they are expensive and the devices that actually need such high-speed characteristics, are extremely rare.

Most of the testing of the memory cards provided with “M. Video” is one of the leading retail chains selling electronics. This allows us to ensure we reviewed the major memory cards available and popular in Russia.

Before proceeding to a detailed familiarity with the tested microSD cards, it is worth noting one important point. Speed memory cards in each case is determined not only of the inherent speed characteristics, but also by how well implemented the UHS interface in the host. There are cases when the performance of SD cards is not revealed is the fault of the reading device, and to sin in this case, the memory card is clearly not worth it. Big set of examples of situations where performance is constrained by memory card that is on the host side, can be observed with an inexpensive card readers unknown origin that flooded domestic outlets and Chinese online stores.

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Specifications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Appearance and internal structure

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

#Software

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

SOURCE

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