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

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

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

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

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

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

#Specifications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Appearance and internal structure

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#Software

Mass storage Samsung traditionally supplied software utility on the Magician that, starting with version 5.2 compatible in the 970 EVO. This utility decided to put an example of what should be accompanied by a consumer SSD, so to make any claim to its functionality or interface is not so easy.

 

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

 

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

 

With the help of a Magician can be manually sent to the drive package TRIM commands, and to adjust the amount of Unallocated file system space, moving some of the capacity of the SSD in the additional reserve area.

 

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

SOURCE

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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.

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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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