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The second problem is that the mass model of the company until recently used a somewhat outdated stuffing – planar TLC NAND which is inferior to more modern memory with spatial orientation in all key parameters: performance, reliability, density of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

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Peripherals

Overview NVMe SSD Crucial P1: NVMe on SATA price

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Peripherals

Overview NVMe-ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro: do no harm

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The last two years was quite a difficult period for SSD manufacturer of the second-the third echelon. On the one hand, in 2017, many of them seriously injured because of a serious shortage of NAND chips, and the other in 2018 has intensified the company of the first echelon in the face of Samsung, Western Digital, Micron and Intel, which have been actively squeezed from the market smaller competitors. The changed situation to quickly put everything in its place, with the result that became very clear which of the SSD manufacturers engaged in this business in so far as, and which are expected to take a worthy place in good faith invested in the development of, reputation and marketing.

A good example of a manufacturer of the second echelon, which did not break any of the difficulties — the notorious ADATA. This company has not only firmly established in the market, not yielding its place to the giants, but was able to significantly expand their business while many of its competitors ceased to do solid state drives. For example, last year she managed to increase sales of SSD by about 15 %, with a significant growth was achieved not only in the segment of entry-level products, but sales of productive drives using the NVMe interface.

The reasons for this success are quite obvious: on the one hand, ADATA reached agreement on stable supply of high-quality 3D NAND with Toshiba, and with another – actively worked on the development of its model range, repeatedly choosing good partners developers controllers. In particular, the most accessible storage company, as their controllers, not disdaining work as with well-established firms scale Marvell and Silicon Motion, and with newcomers like Maxiotek and Realtek. Creating top-level products ADATA consistently relied on platform Silicon Motion — and it turned out to be very wise and farsighted decision.

The fact that over the past few years Silicon Motion could become a leading independent supplier of SSD controllers, the extent of whose business it is easy to appreciate the fact that last year the company shipped to consumers in its six billionth chip. However, how good solutions Silicon Motion in engineering terms, to judge better for others achievements. For example, it can boast of supplying chips for storage the leading manufacturers of the level of Micron and Intel. But even more impressive is that, starting with a low-power controllers for budget SSDS, Silicon Motion over a few years could reach that today her chips almost not inferior to the best solutions Samsung and SanDisk, which has long been considered unattainable for other ideal.

That is what was planned originally our story. We were going to talk about how outstanding the SSD can be constructed, if we take the modern and best platform Silicon Motion (SMI) and fill it solid 64-layer TLC 3D NAND production Micron. To assemble this configuration, of course, could any of the SSD manufacturers, but for some reason we are not surprised that this manufacturer once again proved to be the ADATA. This company has managed to surprise us when he offered to drive XPG SX8200, overplayed performance 970 Samsung EVO. But now she was going to Shine even more and to surpass the latest 970 Samsung EVO Plus, which we recently named best mass SSD with NVMe interface.

That’s just the approach of the ADATA at this time, raises serious questions. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

#Specifications

The main reason why new ADATA XPG Pro SX8200 so interested as computer enthusiasts in General and us in particular, controller SMI SM2262EN. The use of this circuit distinguishes XPG SX8200 Pro from the previous version of the flagship NVMe SSD company – XPG easy SX8200. An array of flash memory in the XPG SX8200 Pro is the same as before, but thanks to the introduction of an upgraded version of the controller from the new drive should be much faster – so presents its new ADATA itself.

And there is a certain logic. Controller SM2262 became the first solution to Silicon Motion, allowing NVMe storage devices manufacturers second tier to reach the highest level of performance. Chip SM2262EN was initially positioned as a corporate (Enterprise) version of the conventional SM2262 with additional algorithms, aimed at improving reliability. But as a result of optimization of the original controller Silicon Motion engineers managed to seriously differ in characteristics, the platform, so the developers have deemed it necessary to offer it to the mass market. This made possible the production of such products as ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro or its close analogues – HP EX950 or Transcend NVMe SSD 220S.

Unfortunately, we do not have detailed information about what was key to the significant growth of the performance characteristics in SM2262EN. The developers say that the basic architecture in an updated version of the controller was left untouched. In this, as before, sold eight channels for the organization of the array of flash memory, supports PCI Express 3.0 x4, and the base is a pair of cores ARM Cortex-R. in fact, the changes relate only to the firmware, and its low-level component, that is, algorithms that the controller uses to read and write analog data of the memory cells and for converting it into digital form.

Itself Silicon Motion claims that SM2262EN they were able to increase sequential write speed by up to 60 % and the performance with random reads and writes at 10-15% and 40% respectively. Speaking specifically about ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro features of this model acquired the following form.

Manufacturer ADATA
Series XPG SX8200 Pro
Model number ASX8200PNP-256GT ASX8200PNP-512GT ASX8200PNP-1TT
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 256 512 1024
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D TLC NAND
Controller SMI SM2262EN
Buffer: type, volume DDR3-1600,
256 MB
DDR3-1600,
512 MB
DDR3-1600,
1024 MB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3500 3500 3500
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1200 2300 3000
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 220 000 390 000 390 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 290 000 380 000 380 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,14/0,33
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 2,0
Resource record, TB 160 320 640
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 80 x 22 x 3.5
Weight, g 8
Warranty period, years 5

Leading performance the specs really grown, and now the linear speed of the older version of the XPG Pro SX8200 getting to close to the bandwidth of PCI Express 3.0 x4 not only when reading but also when writing. Prior XPG SX8200 was with this kind of load is slower almost by half. The same applies to performance under arbitrary operations: for the new model claimed a substantially higher speed, and this primarily applies to the record.

The flash memory is completely innocent. We recently tested an updated drive 970 Samsung EVO Plus, there is the growth of productivity was achieved due to the transition to a more modern memory architecture. But ADATA XPG Pro SX8200 the gains in performance achieved in other ways, because it is based on the same memory as the regular XPG SX8200, – 64-layer TLC 3D NAND, Micron 256-Gigabit chips. Updated controller SM2262EN really adapted including for prospective 96-layer memory, but ADATA decided not to wait for the moment when Toshiba will start mass supply of such flash memory on the open market, choosing the widely available and well proven TLC 3D NAND last, the second generation, with 64 layers.

In other words, the incident, the acceleration really is completely determined by the controller, or rather its algorithms, one of which is a rapid entry algorithm, implemented through the SLC cache. As before, he SX8200 ADATA XPG Pro works in a dynamic scheme, that is, the cache is stored in the main array of flash memory, and the amount of information that you can record in accelerated mode, depends on how much free space is on the SSD. However, in the details of implementation have been significant changes.

What has changed, it is easy to see, if you look at the chart speed continuous sequential write on an empty ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro with a capacity of 512 GB.

To start with the fact that the actual speed of writing data into the array of flash memory the new drive compared to the standard ADATA XPG SX8200 above are not always. In fact, the gain in performance is noticeable only when you record in the fast SLC mode. Last SSD based on controller SM2262 in this case, provided the speed of the order of 1.7 GB/s, and now it has grown to 1.9 GB/s While the write speed in normal TLC mode, on the contrary, decreased. Have ADATA XPG SX8200 it was 550 MB/s, the new drive XPG SX8200 Pro gives only 470 MB/s.

In light of these changes the developers had to completely redraw the strategy of SLC cache. If the earlier drive was filled with an array of flash memory in single-bit mode as long as it is allowed free space, moving to a three-bit recording only when the SLC-mode was no longer available, XPG SX8200 Pro volume SLC cache was half the size. That is, high-speed recording is available now only on half of the free capacity of the SSD. But during long operations, leading to a transition in the TLC mode, the drive is not required immediately resort to consolidation of information previously recorded in single bit mode. As a result, the load on the controller became less, and the end of free space in the cache does not, as before, to decrease the linear velocity of up to 340 MB/s, and the result is one and a half times higher.

Therefore, in the above graph, the linear velocity of the continuous recording on a clean 512 GB ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro it is possible to allocate three stages. The first 80 GB is written in SLC mode at speeds of 1.9 GB/s 240 GB Later recorded in TLC mode with a speed of 550 Mbps. And the last 192 GB is appended already at the TLC-mode with simultaneous compaction of the data previously stored in the single bit mode, in this case, the linear speed drops to 300 MB/s. That is, on a qualitative level ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro compared to the XPG SX8200 offers faster dynamic SLC cache which was less than half capacity and in the best case allows you to speed up the entry of data volume equal to about one-sixth and not one-third of the SSD free space.

But the main news in the strategy of caching XPG SX8200 Pro – not a reduction in the amount of flash memory used for recording in the SLC mode, and the fact that the drive now will cache operations not only write, but read. However, the approach used has no advanced prefetch algorithms, and uses the most stupid logic. Information included in the SLC cache when the entry is transferred from it to the TLC memory with high latency, and this leads to the fact that scenarios in which there is a read-only recorded data are serviced much faster than reading the data stored on the SSD earlier.

In real life reading vegetariani data can hardly be considered a common scenario. Therefore, the strategy implemented in ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro, the benefit of regular users, most likely, will not bring. But it effectively allows you to throw dust in the eyes, and much raise the performance of drive in benchmarks, because it is primarily the typical measurement of speed of reading references to a newly created test file. This means that most of the results of the tests XPG SX8200 Pro does not match the actual performance of this drive – it is possible to see how fast the reading from the SLC cache, while in everyday use the SSD almost all of the data actually read from the array TLC memory.

Not to be unfounded, we conducted a simple experiment which measured the speed of random read fresh file immediately after its creation and after some time the drive was written additional data.

Interpretation of the results is very simple. While the file is only created, and is still in the SLC cache, the drive ensures speed melkoplodnogo read (blocks 4 KB queue of requests) at 57 MB/s. However, as soon as under the influence of subsequent write operations, the file migrates from cache in conventional TLC memory, the read speed drops by about 20 % to 45 MB/s For the displacement of the source file from the cache on a clean drive is enough to record about 60 GB of data, that is, the transfer of old data from the SLC cache to the array normal memory is then when the cache is filled on three quarters.

From this we can draw several conclusions. First, the usual benchmarks that measure the speed, in terms of specially designed for the measurement file, give for ADATA XPG Pro SX8200 incorrect and inflated speed reading. Second, although the dynamic cache of the drive and requires a sufficiently large volume, in most cases, it is three quarters filled with previously recorded data, which reduces its efficiency in write operations.

Perhaps this statement will sound too loud, but it seems that the optimization of caching algorithms in ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro is focused on increasing the results that this drive shows in the tests, and not on productivity growth in real customer scenarios. Therefore, the assertion that the Pro version of the SSD is much faster than ordinary XPG SX8200, we would put under the question mark, the answer to which will help extensive testing to which we now turn.

But consider that all the improvements in XPG SX8200 Pro will only have a “cheat” character, still not worth it. Because some changes do not associated with indicators performance. For example, ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro in comparison with the predecessor received higher capacities that are multiples of 256, instead of 240 GB. As a result, users get an additional 6 percent of the volume, which respectively cut off from the service area of the drive. However, do not be afraid of decreasing reliability: as shown by tests of endurance XPG SX8200for their older SSD models ADATA acquires from Toshiba first-class memory that is able to carry very high load.

In addition, the model number XPG SX8200 Pro promised and dvuhterabaytny modification that were not previously available. However, now its in the sale too, but at least the manufacturer claims that it is the intention to release it later.

But the terms of the warranty on the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro was exactly the same. The drive is given a five-year warranty, and the amount of resolved entries is calculated so that the entire drive can be overwritten a maximum of 640 times. It is quite typical limitation for today’s leading SSD manufacturers.

#Appearance and internal structure

ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro – drive in the form factor M. 2 2280, which operates via the bus PCI Express 3.0 x4 interface and supports the NVM Express version 1.3. For testing, we took a model with a capacity of 512 GB. Due to a significant decline in prices this volume for a performance SSD with NVMe interface has now become one of the most popular choices among enthusiasts.

For the first look at the selected version of the XPG Pro SX8200 becomes clear that this drive is very much inherited from the previous XPG SX8200. Moreover, the old and the new modification use identical PCB, which is possible due to compatibility insights between controllers SM2262 and SM2262EN. In other words, to distinguish XPG SX8200 Pro in appearance, it is necessary to look at the markings of the controller, namely on the letters ENG and not G, at the end of its model number.

Board the double-sided drive, and memory chips located on both sides of it. This means that this drive is fatter popular NVMe SSD major manufacturers (e.g. WD Black or Samsung NVMe 970 EVO Plus), and therefore it may not be suitable for some slim laptops.

 

Two chips on the drive are DRAM buffer. It is assembled on the basis of a pair of 256 MB chips DDR3-1600 production Nanya. This is a very non-standard solution proposed in the new platforms, Silicon Motion, in which the buffer dynamic memory communicates with the controller by the 32-bit and not 16 bit as in the other SSD, the bus. The result XPG SX8200 Pro gets a definite advantage when working with melkoplodnyj operations, where the controller is required to interact with the table of address translation. Circuitry ADATA XPG Pro SX8200 represented by seven chips — such an abundance of components on the drives of format M. 2 uncommon. But the array of flash memory composed of only four chips, which bear the markings ADATA most. The fact that the company buys from the manufacturer of semiconductors solid plate with crystals NAND and their own cuts, sorts and packs in the chip. If we talk about the storage capacity of 512 GB, then each of the four chip flash memory contains within itself four 256-Gigabit crystal 64-layer TLC 3D NAND production Micron, which allows eight-channel controller to access this array to use double alternating devices in each channel. That is why terabyte version XPG SX8200 Pro can be faster polterabayta – fourfold alternation has the best efficiency in write operations.

It is worth mentioning that the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro has a twin brother – XPG Gammix S11 Pro. This is the same product, but with gaming decor — covers the front side of the Board SSD notched aluminum radiator. And I must say, the cooling for that drive too much will not be because heated during operation, it is quite noticeable. So for XPG SX8200 Pro manufacturer also provided a heat-dissipating plate.

But in this case it has no complicated shape and originally on the drive is not attached. To install it is the user’s responsibility — in that case, if the M. 2 slot, which is supposed to use the SSD does not have a regular radiator.

#Software

With the service software from ADATA, the situation is far better. Proprietary tool for storage companies exist, but it is developing very sluggish, and its capabilities and appearance leave much to be desired. For example, every time during testing we greatly annoys her inability to correctly scale your UI on a 4K monitor in accordance with the settings of the operating system.

However, support for new drives ADATA SSD Toolbox is added in a timely manner.

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

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

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

SOURCE

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Peripherals

Overview NVMe drive, Samsung 983 ZET: awesome SSD based on NAND memory with performance like Optane

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Modern solid-state drives for personal computers can be divided into three principally different subgroups according to their level of performance. There is a SATA SSD, the performance of which is limited by the bandwidth of the interface. There is a NVMe SSD, which are a step above, because their performance is no longer determined by the interface, and the bandwidth used in the memory array of the flash memory. Optane is the Intel SSD is an advanced drive built on entirely different principles. It does not apply the NAND chips, and XPoint 3D – non-volatile memory with direct addressing, based on the effect of the phase transition. Due to this Optane SSD offers significantly lower than any flash drives, delays and much higher speed with small data blocks.

I must say that since its inception Optane Intel SSD acts as the object of desire of many enthusiasts. This drive is the best thing that ever happened in the market of data storage systems, and the only major problem preventing him from widely disseminated, is the high price. However Optane SSD perfectly solves another problem of image: it illustrates the potential of promising technologies and clearly shows that Intel is a major innovator, captured the championship in the promotion decisions of future generations on the market media.

However, this role of Intel in whatever was wanted to challenge Samsung, which for many years has been the market leader in SSD, if to speak about sales volumes. In addition, Samsung was able to capture the championship and in terms of performance of traditional solid-state drives with SATA and NVMe, but to Optane SSD with it a fundamentally different memory 3D XPoint to reach for a long time could not. However, since the first appearance of Optane SSD on the horizon the South Korean manufacturer has launched development of a competitor for intelestage flagship, codenamed Z-SSD. And the main intrigue was here that Samsung has set a goal to make the drive, similar to Optane performance, butusing the existing NAND technology, that is, without resorting to the use of memory cells with some other physical principles.

And I must say that in the end Samsung Z-the SSD was not some mythical project, and this materialized in very specific products that are really able to challenge the exceptional status of Optane. Why does this not blow at all angles? The really interesting question, but Samsung for some reason decided not to do based on the technology of Z-SSD drives, which can be interesting for enthusiasts, but targeted exclusively at corporate clients and data centers. However, in the family of Z-SSD includes two of the product, 983, and SZ985, and they come in such performance characteristics, which are not only comparable with the specifications Optane, but even in some aspects superior to them.

That drives on the basis of traditional NAND could be at least as good solutions based on 3D XPoint, it sounds a bit fantastic, so we tried to get some sample of the Samsung Z is the SSD. And we have succeeded in the disposal of laboratory 3DNews got the most simple version Z is the SSD, but even in her case, it will be interesting to see what they are capable of Korean alternative to Optane and how it can be applicable for high-performance desktops. In other words, the main question that is answered by this review, can be formulated as: “do Optane 905P Intel SSD is the fastest drive for extreme configurations, or Samsung really has got something interesting?”

#Specifications

Samsung is not very spread about how the Z drives-SSD at a low level. Nevertheless, a rough picture of how fundamentally provided higher performance and extremely low latency, we still can be, analyzing the cards are ranked in our order of the drive 983 ZET.

And immediately want to tell about the biggest surprise: the Z-SSDS in the face of 983 ZET is not based on any special controller, and the well familiar to us Samsung chip Phoenix. It turns out that a fundamentally new high-performance SSD, which should compete with Intel Optane, uses exactly the same controller as traditional drives Samsung PRO 970 and the 970 EVO Plus, which to the level Optane seriously fall short.

But if you look, there is nothing strange. Controller Phoenix has a huge potential, which drives the 970 series is not fully disclosed. Because it is built on the basis of pachydermia ARM-CPU and has eight channels to work with the array of the flash memory. As we have repeatedly seen in practice, such an Arsenal is quite enough in order to create solutions with a leading level of performance on the basis of MLC and TLC 3D V-NAND.

Z-the SSD should be better than “brothers in controller” because otherwise the filling of the array of flash memory that needs to raise performance to a new level. Itself the Samsung speaks about some special memory, abbreviated as Z-NAND. However, the fact that the Z SSD uses a standard controller, clearly indicates the relationship of the mysterious Z-with the usual NAND 3D V-NAND memory.

Indeed, in a more detailed trial, it appears that Z-NAND, which built Z all-SSD, and Samsung 983 ZET in particular, is a 64-layer three-dimensional V-NAND. But not exactly of the kind to which we are accustomed. It’s not TLC or MLC memory, and SLC single-bit 3D V-NAND, Samsung is specially developed to reduce latency when reading and writing. The second important feature of this memory is a relatively small amount of crystals, which is only 64 GB.

And this means that in a high performance Z-SSD there’s no magic. And there are two objective factors: easy to maintain Nikolaevna single-bit 3D V-NAND array with a very high degree of parallelism, where the controller can use not only all eight channels, but multiple devices alternating in each channel. That simple things really work, indicate the official specifications of the Samsung 983 ZET.

Manufacturer Samsung
Series 983 ZET
Model number MZ-PZA480BW MZ-PZA960BW
Form factor Half-height Half-length (HHHL)
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.2
Capacity, GB 480 960
Configuration
Flash memory: type, process technology, manufacturer Samsung 64-layer 64-Gbit SLC 3D V-NAND (Z NAND)
Controller Samsung Phoenix
Buffer: type, volume LPDDR4, 1 GB LPDDR4, 2 GB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3400 3400
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 3000 3000
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 750 000 750 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 60 000 75 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 5,5/9,0
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 2,0
Resource record, TB 7440 17520
Dimensions: D × H × d, mm Of 167.7 × 69,9 × 18,8
Weight, g 330
Warranty period, years 5

The use of SLC 3D V-NAND will solve another problem – this memory is very hardy. In a time when SSD odnolistovoe memory were in Vogue, the flash memory was attributed to the ability to carry more than 100 thousand cycles program / erase. Since then, it took a lot of time, but the endurance of modern memory cells dobitocii should be not worse. The reduction of technological norms shall be compensated as transition to three-dimensional 64-layer structure, and the development of the controller Phoenix powerful methods of error correction based on LDPC coding.

In other words, Samsung 983 ZET could claim to be as “eternal” storage as Intel Optane. Actually, on this hint, and the manufacturer. For 983 ZET stated exactly the same yield like Optane SSD 905P, which means that a tenfold refilling the entire capacity every day over a five-year warranty period or the ability of the drive for a life time to transfer a total of at least 16-18 thousand cycles complete rewrite.

And in the end it turns out that the characteristics of Samsung 983 ZET looks even better than Intel SSD Optane 905P. At least for the representative of the family of Z-SSB claimed a higher linear velocity and higher performance with random reads. The only weak spot in the specifications 983 ZET – the random write speed. However, you need to understand that in passport characteristics indicated an established rate to be achieved in the long-term process of continuous rewrites data. This value makes sense to evaluate the applicability of the drive in server environments, but if we talk about the possibility of using Z-SSDS in desktops, the speed of random writes will be much higher.

Samsung 960GB 983 ZET Optane 905P Intel SSD 960GB
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3400 2600
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 3000 2200
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 750 000 575 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 75 000 550 000
The latency when reading the ISS 20 10
The latency when you record, ISS 16 10

However, despite the very stated specifications, Samsung 983, and Intel SSD Optane 905P considered synonymous still impossible. In these devices uses a memory with a fundamentally different organization, so that, and the other solution has unique features. While Samsung 983 ZET is a classic SSD’s in General work the same way as any other drive with NAND memory, the memory Optane SSD requires no preparation before recording, and assumes a straight line, and not page access. For this reason, Optane SSD is always at a constant rate, regardless of the condition and occupancy of the 3D array XPoint does not require any special maintenance like garbage collection and not needs TRIM commands from the operating system.

#Exterior and interior design

All members of the family Z SSD is enough overall device. Since they are going out of the NAND chips is relatively small capacity, to fit arrays of flash memory required amount in the form factor M. 2 in this case, it would not be possible. It is not surprising that fell into our hands drive Samsung 983 ZET was made in the form of PCIe-HHHL fees-format (half-height).

 

In General, this fee is very very similar to Optane SSD 900P, and not only in size, but the fact that her entire front surface covered by aluminum heatsink, and the rear side of a steel plate. But Samsung the radiator looks brutal: it has no inscriptions, no beveled or rounded corners. But it is painted in a beautiful deep blue color, so Samsung 983 ZET is still not devoid of a certain charm.

It should be noted that the radiator with such a developed profile – more decorative than really necessary element 983 ZET. Heated Z-SSD not so much, and it is clearly less than, for example, members of the family Optane SSD. The temperature of the drive Samsung during long operations rarely rises above 40 degrees.

Fee 983 ZET suitable for installation in a normal PCIe 3.0 with at least four lines and can be used in both standard and low profile enclosures, for which the package provides two different height tie-down strap. They both have vents and a cutout through which the connector discern technology and several diagnostic LEDs, which can be seen on the drive activity.

Let’s look under the radiator.

Here we will find many interesting things, starting with the fact that between the chips, which it needs cooling, and its internal plane leaving a gap in the good mm, filled with thick pads. And he received them, not all of the chip. Half of the chips flash memory at all in any way with the heatsink not making contact, which once again confirms the thesis of its decorative purpose.

In General, the circuitry of the Samsung ZET 983 480 GB controller generates a Phoenix, used them to buffer table address translation chip LPDDR4 with a capacity of 1 GB, and a set of chips of the flash memory. The SLC array 3D V-NAND version 983 ZET with a capacity of 480 GB is assembled of eight chips, each of which has eight 64-Gigabit crystals. Also on the Board of the drive has a large number of free “landing pads” for extra chips, which if necessary can be increased to 32 pieces.

 

Server orientation Samsung 983 ZET gives not only the performance of the basin in the form of a PCIe card half height, but it has hardware protection against power interruptions. The power supply circuit includes three powerful electrolytic capacitor 270 UF, the charge which should be enough for a clean shutdown of the drive in case of sudden blackout of the system. In other words, the current version of the Z-SSD prepared for use in fairly harsh conditions.

However, a Samsung device 983 ZET does not involve a significant reserve of flash memory, which is often present in the server SSD models. In the model of the drive from the user is “hidden” only 13% of the total memory array and it is typical for the mass storage options overhead cells. In the same Optane SSD, the total volume of the backup memory reaches 21 % of the total drive capacity. This suggests that SLC 3D V-NAND really is extremely resistant to wear even under severe loads, and Z-SSD does not require replacement Fund of significant size.

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