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The best microSD card with capacity of 128 GB: comparative test 20 models

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This year, our lab decided to do tests memory cards microSD. These are based on flash memory miniature media information has become ubiquitous and is actively used not only in all sorts of gadgets to capture photos and video, but in the portable devices based on the Android operating system in smartphones and tablets. Consequently, their proper choice arose great interest that we have in process of forces and possibilities to meet.

The first article in the series was devoted to the comparison of microSD cards with capacity of 64 GB. To start with this volume we decided, based on its popularity, sales statistics says that, although the most popular goods are rather cheap memory cards 16 and 32 GB, the interest in the 64-Gigabyte cards are also considerable. But most importantly, the customers, the 64-Gigabyte cards treat them much more picky. A significant influence on the choice starts to have is not so much the price of the device, as its performance characteristics, reliability, warranty and brand reputation.

In the comments to our first material many readers requested to conduct similar tests and memory cards microSD larger volume of 128 or even 256 GB. We decided to ignore the request and move along axis of the container on. Of course, memory cards with capacity of 128 GB cannot be considered as popular choices as the 64-Gigabyte microSD cards: they are more expensive, and because they buy about half as often. However, if you look at the sales statistics for last year interest to a roomy microSD cards has increased almost four times. And that means that a 128-Gigabyte storage media for portable devices could from decisions of interest to only a especially demanding consumers, to turn into a quite popular product.

That is why the second article of the cycle affects memory cards with capacity of 128 GB. And immediately it should be clear that these cards are very different from the 64-Gigabyte, and their individual testing makes sense. Important features there are two. First, the composition of the products, available in capacity of 128 Gbytes, is different from the range 64-Gigabyte cards. Spacious microSD card is more difficult to manufacture, so offer them only to those manufacturers that have advanced technology and have the opportunity to purchase the latest types of flash memory. Second, the speed parameters of memory cards vary according to their capacity. More capacious options of microSD cards are built on more stacked cards inside the crystals NAND, which gives the opportunity to implement various techniques of alternating access, which increases the efficiency of the array of flash memory. As a result, the higher card volume are usually faster, but the relationship is not direct, because so much depends on the Manager, the flash memory controller.

#MicroSD memory cards: what you need to know

Nonetheless to reminisce about the past testing of memory cards today we will have repeatedly. After all that time we have not only identified the most attractive proposals among the 64 GB microSD card (then won Samsung EVO Plus), but also learned a lot about the current state of the market as a whole. The understanding of previously obtained results allows to approach more systematically and to better understand which features microSD are more critical and which signs you should pay the most attention.

First and foremost, we learned that almost all modern microSD card, running on the bus UHS-I read speed rests in the bandwidth of the interface. The situation here is the same as with a SATA SSD when any such drive will provide the same speed of linear reading. The only difference is that the bus UHS-I has a theoretical bandwidth of 104 Mbytes/s, this sets the maximum read speed with UHS-I microSD cards. In practice, almost any card will issue a sequential read speed of at 95-100 MB/s. Deviation is only possible for two reasons: either the device that uses the map has its own speed limit, or talking about some old or just a bad sample. For example, in the past testing the 64-Gigabyte microSD card low speed when reading was detected only in Kingston Canvas Select, from the cheapest of the cards SONY Russian-made and outdated models of Transcend cards.

Exceeding 100 MB/s speed performance for linear reading is possible only with the next version of the interface — UHS-II. Cards that use this already available for sale, but we do reserve outside the focus of attention for two reasons. First, they are quite rare and much more expensive UHS-I cards. Second, the gadgets, which support UHS-II cards are not so widely that ultimately makes the UHS-II cards niche or even a niche offer.

A second General conclusion concerns the fact that the main characteristic on which microSD card do differ is the speed of the linear record. Actually, it in most cases depends on whether the card to save the video stream at a particular resolution, or how it will manifest itself in serial photography. And at first glance here it seems all very clear, after all, the standardization organization of the SD Association, has developed a simple system of marking classes which describe the building of a map.

The standard stipulates three characteristics, the ranking speed of the linear record: speed class, UHS speed class and speed class for the video. They were introduced into circulation successively, and therefore set their minimum speed intersect. However, if the manufacturer indicates in the description of the card, what class speed it relates to choose the appropriate option seems to be a very simple task.

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

But there it was. As shown, the correct description of high-speed classes are almost never found. But it’s not that manufacturers are overly optimistic about the capabilities of their products, quite the contrary. Speed classes are declared in most cases is conservative, promising more low, than is actually performance. Moreover, many manufacturers confine myself to an indication of the speed class and the UHS speed class, and the parameter “speed class” video in General is lowered. More or less follows the established ranking system only SanDisk, while the bulk micro SD products from other manufacturers explicitly promises only belong to classes C10 and U3, which means a guaranteed write speed at 30 MB/s. In reality, the recording speed can exceed this value and twice, and three times, but to learn about it on formal grounds in advance is not always possible.

Sometimes more specific indicators of performance memory cards when recording can be found on the websites of their manufacturers. But the practice detailed description microSD cards, which are perceived by many as a simple accessory for consumer electronics, not as a high-tech device based on flash memory, cannot be called universal. In other words, without thinking to find out which memory cards will work faster when recording data, not so easy. This task can hardly be solved, while in the store, and the answer to the question “What to choose?” can only give tests like those conducted on our website.

An even more serious problem arises if you need to know not the linear speed, and performance maps for arbitrary reading and writing. These characteristics are critical in the case when the card is used in Android-device for storing programs and user files, but usually they are not addressed at all. Generally speaking, in the specification, the SD Association provides the class definitions of the speed for applications A1 and A2 for the performance under arbitrary operations, but in fact I use them even less frequently than classes of speed for video.

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

When we tested the 64-Gigabyte microSD card, class A1 was specified for only three of the seventeen cards, but tests showed that in fact, under its requirements fit more than half of the tested cards. Thus, the performance in random read – option carries even more uncertainty. And adopted the industry classification system speeds while the issue of choice is absolutely not facilitated.

Past testing of memory cards allowed to find out one more interesting detail. It turns out that the memory card based on MLC NAND, is still present in the market. However, they take approximately the same position as the SSD of two-bit memory. Keep them in your range only a few manufacturers (especially Samsung and Transcend), while most of the market options – the microSD card on the basis of TLC 3D NAND. Such exclusivity of products with two-bit memory, allowing you to position them as specialized high-reliability solutions, e.g. for video recorders, time continuous use which can total several years. Resource entries when it is artificially restricted by lowering the speed, so often as the microSD card having the name or description of the phrase High Endurance (“high reliability”), are typically slower than standard cards with TLC-memory inside, despite the higher price.

Now that we briefly know what generalized conclusions we came to when testing memory cards microSD 64 GB, it’s time to move on to a memory card twice the volume, test, that you kindly asked after the last of the material.

#Table tested microSDXC memory card 128GB

Thus, this test includes microSDXC card with UHS-I interface and a capacity of 128 GB.

Recall that these memory cards are the most versatile. They are suitable for compact devices that have slots for microSD installation initially, but can be placed in devices that support regular SD cards. There are special adapters that manufacturers microSD cards are often included in the package. It should be emphasized that all such adapter is a passive component that does not have any logic inside. They provide only mechanical compatibility and therefore do not affect performance, and there is no reason to avoid using them are there.

Participants test their stated manufacturers specifications listed in the following table.

For this test we’ve tried to gather all the relevant options microSDXC card with UHS-I interface and a capacity of 128 GB available. And as you can see, we almost succeeded. Not included in testing only memory cards are small producers of the third echelon, whose sales are insignificant on the General background. In other words, we checked all major memory cards available and popular in Russia, and they were many – two dozen.

SOURCE

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Peripherals

Review of WD Blue SN500 NVMe SSD: mainstream new rails

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For the last five years, the situation on the market of solid-state drives for consumer level has changed dramatically. More recently, a limit of dreams for many enthusiasts was the SATA SSD of small capacity, and today such proposals are not even to consumer goods, and ultrabudgetary options. The decline in prices for flash memory and as a result, based on her media radically changed the whole situation. Now increasing demand from buyers are not even familiar SATA SSDS and the new-fangled drives with the NVMe interface, which are more compact, easier to use and more productive.

It is quite natural that the growth of this market sector leads to its segmentation. Some time ago any NVMe SSD could be considered the premium product for high-performance systems, but today, among such solutions, there are expensive and fast-acting models, and modifications, offering a balance between speed and price. Many producers, especially if we are talking about major players in the SSD market, try to have in your assortment of not one, but at least a couple of diverse NVMe-devices for personal computers. For example, the Samsung is 970 PRO, 970 EVO Plus and EVO 970, Intel – 760p and 660phave ADATA – XPG SX8200 Pro, XPG SX6000 Pro and XPG SX6000 Lite, and so on. The meaning of this division in the following: older models are intended for those seeking maximum performance, and ready generously to pay it, and cheap NVMe SSDS are a more modern alternative to SATA drives with better performance, but with almost the same retail value.

Models, which can be attributed to the class NVMe SSD, recently divorced abound. And this is logical, because now there are many ways in order to release the drives, the cost of which is lower than the SATA models, and improved productivity. In conditions when flash memory continues to become cheaper, such products allow manufacturers to earn good money, and therefore it is not surprising that the direction of the budget NVMe SSD is on the rise. In the course of actively the controllers are simplified with the reduced functionality, the configuration does not involve the use of DRAM buffer, and even cheap QLC-memory with questionable reliability. However, ultimately benefit consumers, because, despite the variety inherent in the budget NVMe SSD compromises, among them, inevitably found and very decent options.

Today our lab has got a new product from the category budget NVMe SSD – solid state drive WD Blue SN500, which is designed and made by one of the market leaders, company Western Digital. Solutions that created a vertically integrated producers, among which belongs the firm, rarely are unsuccessful. But because WD Blue SN500 interest. It uses exclusively native components Western Digital, which she has developed and produced without any assistance: signature TLC and 3D NAND, and designed within the company with a basic controller. The same components which companies have to buy on the side, such as dynamic memory chips (DRAM), this SSD do not exist. This means that the cost for Blue SN500 low, and the manufacturer, if desired, has the opportunity to make it truly accessible and mass solution.

In other words, WD Blue SN500 is unbuffered NVMe SSD, which seriously pretends to be one of the most popular choices for installation in personal computers average. He made a famous firm, is based on flash memory with good reliability, promises significantly higher performance compared to SATA model, and its recommended price is such that potentially it can be among the most affordable offers with NVMe interface, playing in the same League with the Intel SSD 660p, P1, Crucial, ADATA XPG SX6000 Pro and Kingston A1000. It remains only to check whether cheap NVMe is the solution from Western Digital turned out exactly as expected. That is going to do this.

#Specifications

After the market introduction of the new Blue SN500 NVMe SSD in stock Western Digital was formed two “blue” SSD (SATA and NVMe) and two drives with the NVMe interface (Black and Blue). However, no confusion at this. If we talk about the line Blue, new WD Blue SN500 legally considered as a solid-state device of the third generation under this brand after the two SATA drives on the basis of planar and three-dimensional TLC-memory, which switched to the use of more advanced interface. In the space NVMe products Western Digital hierarchy is even clearer. WD Black SN750 is the flagship device for enthusiasts, and WD Blue SN500 – the low-end model aimed at the mass user.

Quite revealing that SN750 WD Black and WD Blue SN500 in this case are based on the same flash memory. Here and there applied the usual 64-layer TLC 3D NAND (BiSC3) manufactured at the production facilities SanDisk. Despite the fact that Western Digital announced the start of the supply of 96-layer TLC memory a year ago, in any retail products of the company, it has not yet found. The same can be said about QLC 3D NAND. Its production started even earlier, but its use in mass products Western Digital is in no hurry.

The relationship between WD Black and WD Blue SN750 SN500 can be traced not only in the flash memory. These models also use controllers with the same basic architecture. In 2018 Western Digital has translated a series of NVMe drives WD Black to a new controller of its own design. And it was immediately laid modular design: proprietary chip was constructed so that on the basis of its constituent parts can be collected and any other device variants with improved or, conversely, reduced performance and functionality.

Thus, the base control chip, which is the basis of WD Blue SN500, is a derivative of the controller from the older model of the drive, but after deduction of the functional blocks. More specifically, the simplification is to disable half of the channels in the array of flash memory, seizure of the DRAM controller and the narrowing of the external interface to the PCI Express 3.0 x2. This means that in the end, Blue SN500 can be considered as the unbuffered version of the flagship model with the reduced performance of the array flash memory and limited bandwidth of the external bus.

This approach allowed to obtain the necessary for WD Blue SN500 inexpensive controller a little blood, but there was one catch: despite the absence of this SSD DRAM buffer, add support for HMB (Host Memory Buffer) did not work. The use of computer memory for caching the table of address translation would require the addition of some new functional blocks and bother extra the design in the plans of developers is not included. So in the end support, HMB WD Blue SN500 never appeared, and when interacting with the table of address translation, he can only rely on the available in the controller’s own buffer memory with the volume increased to 4 MB. This is another reason why the performance of Junior NVMe models have been limited.

However, WD Blue SN500 still significantly outperforms the “blue” drives with the SATA interface. This follows directly from the specifications.

Manufacturer Western Digital
Series WD Blue SN500 NVMe SSD
Model number WDS250G1B0C WDS500G1B0C
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x2 – NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 250 500
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer SanDisk 64-layer 256-GB BiCS3 3D TLC NAND
Controller SanDisk 20-B2-007010
Buffer: type, volume No
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 1700 1700
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1300 1450
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 210 000 275 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 170 000 300 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,025/5,94
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,75
Resource record, TB 150 300
Dimensions: D × H × D, mm 80 × 22 × 2,38
Weight, g 6,5
Warranty period, years 5

Generally speaking, the stated performance characteristics WD Blue SN500 look pretty good and the background performance of many NVMe models, at least in terms of velocity random melkoplodnyj operations. One gets the feeling that the developers cut the external interface Blue SN500 to PCI Express 3.0 x2 just for the fact that this drive did not work too good.

Roughly the same conclusion can be drawn looking at the WD Blue SN500 working with its SLC cache in continuous sequential write.

WD Blue SN500 used a simple static SLC cache size is 3 GB of the drive capacity of 250 GB and 6 GB – 500 GB modification. The speed of the linear record in accelerated mode, which we received for polutoraletnego SSD, amounted to slightly more than 1.3 GB/s the Performance of an array of flash memory in normal TLC mode when it is in the area of 750 MB/s. If to speak not about absolute but about relative performance, we can say that the SLC cache WD Blue SN500 small and not too fast, but the speed of the array of flash memory is well compensated. Performance direct writes to the TLC 3D NAND consider WD Blue SN500 can easily compete with the Intel SSD 760p, Samsung 970 EVO and ADATA SX8200 Pro.

However, we should not delude ourselves ahead of time. Symptoms that we are dealing with a drive of this class, it is easy to see in other characteristics. For example a lineup that includes only two drive with a minimum capacity – 250 and 500 GB. Even terabyte version of the WD Blue SN500 not provided, despite the fact that the SATA version of the WD Blue 1 TB SSD exists in nature.

But the manufacturer did not limit the allowed resource overwriting. Warranty for Blue SN500 is given for five years, and the drive is considered to be designed for 600 full rewrites during its life cycle. The same resource is declared for the older model of the drive Western Digital, Black SN750, which is hardly surprising, since SN750 Black and Blue SN500 are based on identical crystals 64-layer TLC 3D NAND.

#Appearance and internal structure

The appearance of WD Blue SN500 — and we have to tests have been the high model capacity of 500 GB — very strange. The fact is that on the Board this drive installed just two chips – controller and one-chip flash memory. However, the form factor of this SSD M. 2 2280, and half of the PCB remains completely empty. It looks as if the drive was originally going to do half as long, but then suddenly caught himself, then what have nowhere to stick the label.

And actually the story with the sticker far from the truth. The fact that WD Blue SN500 is a retail and a bit enhanced on the level of firmware version came out a year ago OEM drive SN520. This product is really produced in the format M. 2 2230, but for the mass market Western Digital saw fit the more popular form factor M. 2 2280. Therefore, for Blue SN500 payment was extended, but its layout remained essentially old. That is why it turned out that a substantial part of the area of the PCB novelties carries only the label — and nothing else.

 

Both chips, which are assembled WD Blue SN500, placed on the front side of the Board. The controller chip has a very small size — it is about four times smaller in size than the controller on the WD Black SN750. But flash memory is the same as on the flagship models of Western Digital, just a little more densely Packed on the chip. The entire array of flash memory Blue SN500 consists of sixteen 256-Gigabit crystals 64-layer 3D TLC NAND (BiCS3) produced by SanDisk, which are stacked in a single chip. And that’s it: chip dynamic memory on the drive is really undetectable, because WD Blue SN500 – cheap and UN-buffered solution, albeit with an NVMe interface.

Will tell you more about external performance WD Blue SN500 nothing special. Unless you can pay attention to the slightly unusual configuration of the knife connector. It has two cut-key: “type B” and “type M”, while familiar to us NVMe SSD usually have only one slot in the position M. This is due to the fact that WD Blue SN500 is not only compatible with M. 2 slots, where supplied four lines PCI Express 3.0 (Socket 3), but with those slots where there is only two such lines (Socket 2).

#Software

The Western Digital hard drive always attached the same brand service utility SSD Dashboard, which implements all the basic functions for their service. It works with WD Blue SN500, but in the usual blue-white, not black gaming notebook, which appears only when you install the WD Black SN750.

Main features of the SSD Dashboard: get 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; firmware update via Internet or from a file; the operation Secure Erase and delete any data from the flash memory by means of forced vanishing; execute SMART tests and view SMART attributes.

It should be noted that the possibility of interpretation of the parameters SMART, laid in SSD Dashboard, somewhat richer than the information that can be obtained from independent third-party programs.

 

But the branded NVMe driver NVMe drives Western Digital does not exist. So working with them will have a standard operating system driver, in the properties which to increase capacity and performance in popular benchmarks, it is recommended to tick the option “Disable flushing of the buffer cache Windows account for this device”.

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Peripherals

A review of the drive, the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD: the size of the illumination is not a hindrance

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Today’s review is curious at least for two reasons. First – we SSD released by Gigabyte, which drives absolutely not associated. All the same, this Taiwanese manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards systematically expands the range of devices, adding a range of new and new types of computer equipment. Not so long ago we tested released under the brand name Aorus, Gigabyte the PSU, monitor and RAMand now is the turn to SSDs.

However, to be completely correct, it is necessary to mention that the Toshiba SSD delivers under its own brand for quite a long time. The first drives with the SATA interface it introduced a year ago, but it was not very interesting budget model c quite ordinary characteristics. Now Gigabyte decided to release a real SSD for enthusiasts with a modern interface NVMe 1.3, flagship performance RGB led branded gaming style. That’s why the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD, which will be discussed later, and caught our attention.

The second reason that forced us to get more information about this novelty, is that it is based on a relatively new hardware platform, which we have not yet had to face. In the Gigabyte Aorus RGB controller is used PS5012-E12 independent of the Taiwanese company Phison, the development of which in recent times found only in the lower price segments and in high-speed drives do not fall for a long time. But now, apparently, Phison strategy has changed, and the company expects to regain a foothold in consumer drives a higher level.

Actually Phison focused on budget platforms SSD it is not because of some marketing reasons. Her problem was the fact that the process of final debugging and output products to the market, took lots of time, and the proposed Phison decisions were often obsolete. This forced the firm to fight for a place in the market only with the help of low prices, which led to the formation of platforms around its image again.

Such history threatened to repeat itself and with the controller PS5012-E12, as it was first demonstrated at CES 2018 a year and a half ago. However, this time the developers have time to finish your product to its obsolescence. The beginning of deliveries of the platform E12 company Phison announced in September, and now the first actual products based on it and finally got to store shelves.

The appearance of another controller for consumer NVMe drives are very important and need to market the event. Unfortunately, so far nobody has been able to offer a platform for NVMe SSD, which would allow to create a storage class 970 Samsung EVO Plus. New developments of Silicon Motion and Western Digital, as we have seen, are at a lower level. And this means that the South Korean company was able to monopolize the segment of high-performance NVMe SSD, keeping to their flagship drives high prices. That’s why we wait for Samsung EVO Plus 970 and 970 PRO will have some real alternatives, able to do advanced disk performance more accessible to consumers.

On the one hand, characteristics that Phison claims their new controller PS5012-E12, allow us to hope that the power it is at least not worse than Samsung Phoenix. On the other the desire to use this chip in their products have already stated at least two dozen manufacturers of the second and third tier. So, if all goes well, the market for consumer NVMe SSD can be a serious and pleasant for users to change. But don’t be in a hurry, and before you give vent to joy, let us analyze how really good the Gigabyte Aorus RGB platform Phison E12.

#Specifications

Usually the drives on the controller Phison represent typical products, similar to each other in basic characteristics, regardless of which company delivers them to the market. Actually, just like is the case of the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD – this SSD is used templated hardware and software architecture with a brand-typical set of components. This means that the characteristics of the considered storage device is similar to any other SSD based on Phison controller PS5012-E12, for example MP510 Corsair, Team Group MP34, Silicon Power P34A80 or Patriot VPN100. You may have drives from different manufacturers can be some individual characteristics, but usually they affect only the exterior.

As for hardware designs, in any of the SSD controller Phison PS5012-E12 is applied to one and the same array of flash memory composed of 256-Gigabit devices BiCS3 (64-crystal layer TLC 3D NAND) manufactured by Toshiba. It is worth mentioning that this is a good flash memory, which is able to provide high performance. For example, similar to the array of flash memory used in drives WD Black SN750, which can be described as NVMe solid-solution average. But Western Digital’s own controller, Phison PS5012-E12 is a completely different story.

Until now, Phison had time to check two basic chips for NVMe SSD. First, PS5007-E7, was intended to create a planar drives based on MLC memory, however, despite the eight-channel architecture, was not very productive and was used in a fairly small number of models. The following controller, PS5008-E8, focused on support for 3D TLC NAND and won much popularity, but it was a frankly budget solution with four channels for the organization of the array of flash memory, a stripped-down PCI Express 3.0 x2 and without LDPC coding.

Phison PS5012-E12 on the background of previous chips – the solution to a completely different kind, designed from scratch. Here everything is done in accordance with modern standards. Supported PCI Express 3.0 x4 bandwidth to 3.94 GB/s and NVMe Protocol 1.3. The array of the flash memory is formed on a productive eight-channel scheme. It supports not only modern, but also promising types of flash memory. Support powerful methods of error correction based on LDPC codes. As the DRAM buffer can be used not only for DDR3L and DDR4 memory. Finally, for the production of chips PS5012-E12 used 28-nm process technology by TSMC, while earlier chip Phison ordered from UMC, where they were made on 40-nm standards.

Its new development Phison estimates are so optimistic, that does not hesitate to promise the performance of up to 600 thousand IOPS on deeply pipelined melkoplodnyj operations. And if this number is true, it can be argued that the theoretical power PS5012-E12 is much larger than the SMI SM2262EN, and almost reaches the level of Samsung Phoenix. In reality, however, believe that the performance of the controller PS5012-E12 hard enough. The fact that it is based on the ARM processor with only two cores, while the Samsung solution is based on pachydermia design.

And this is reflected in the characteristics of products that inform providers of final decisions on the chip Phison PS5012-E12. For example, for the drive of Gigabyte come in the following specifications.

Manufacturer Gigabyte
Series Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD
Model number GP-ASM2NE2256GTTDR GP-ASM2NE2512GTTDR
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 256 512
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 256-Gbit 3D-NAND TLC (BiCS3)
Controller Phison PS5012-E12
Buffer: type, volume DDR4-2400,
512 MB
DDR4-2400,
512 MB
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 3100 3480
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 1050 2000
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 180 000 360 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 240 000 440 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 0,272/5,485
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,8
Resource record, TB 380 800
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 22 × 80 × 10
Weight, g 28
Warranty period, years 5

Despite the fact that Phison has touted its platform as a solution to E12 flagship level, the formal characteristics of the performance of the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD noticeably weaker indicators not only 970 Samsung EVO Plus, but these drives as WD Black or SN750 ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro. And it’s not immediately sets in a positive way in relation to innovations.

Not encouraging, and the work Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD technology SLC-cache. The engineers at Phison in its new platform and are unable to develop a progressive dynamic algorithms and continue to rely on static SLC cache that the drive capacity of 256GB has a capacity of 6 GB, and 512 GB version – 12 GB. Specifications recording speed according to tradition belong to the accelerated mode, if to speak about direct writes to the TLC memory, its performance is about three and a half times lower. We illustrate this with a traditional schedule speed continuous sequential write on an empty Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD with a capacity of 512 GB.

The speed entries in the SLC cache reaches 2.0 GB/s, but this performance is very long, on the main array of flash memory write speed is only about 560 MB/s And this, incidentally, is considerably lower than the speed that produces a similar brand architecture of the array of flash memory WD Black SN750. Ultimately, to fully populate Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD 512 GB, you need to spend about 15 minutes, while the flagship NVMe drive Western Digital you can record one and a half times faster.

In addition, Phison adopted from Silicon Motion the idea of using SLC cache for “cheating” – increase the measurement speed reading benchmarks. Information included in the SLC cache, linger in it for a while to provide the best performance when accessing files that were recorded just. You can see this with a simple experiment, during which we check the speed of random melkoplodnogo read data from a file created on the Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD 512 GB, as immediately after the recording and after this the SSD was recorded some more information.

As can be seen from the graph, when a fresh test file is excluded from the SLC cache and then write additional 12 GB data read speed is reduced by about a quarter. This means that the simple benchmarks that measure the performance when using applications with a newly created file will display for the Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD to significantly inflated performance compared to the performance that is possible in actual use this drive.

In the end, the familiarity with the platform underlying the Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD leaves a reasonable doubt that the drive is legitimate to put on a par with the flagship NVMe SSD. However, this is obviously not a budget option, because the configuration of these drives does not involve any explicit savings in design. Moreover, if we talk specifically about the Gigabyte drive, it is sold much more expensive alternatives on the basis of the SMI controller SM2262EN, the performance of which can be attributed to the average level.

In addition, the Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD shows up pretty good warranty conditions. The warranty period is five years, and during this time the drive is allowed to overwrite the approximately 1500 times. This allowed even higher than the flagship drives, the manufacturers of the first echelon.

At the end of the story about the technical characteristics remains to notice an odd detail. The model number of the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSDS consists of two versions – 256GB and 512GB. No option for 1 Tbyte looks very suspicious: such capacity is not only popular among customers, but could allow to obtain better performance by increasing the degree of parallelism of the array of flash memory. Obviously the reason for its absence lies not in the features of the platform Phison E12, as other manufacturers offer and even dvuhterabaytnye terabyte drives based on it.

#Appearance and internal structure

For testing RGB Aorus M. 2 NVMe SSD AMD has provided elder and more powerful modification with a capacity of 512 GB. The drive was made in a typical form factor M. 2 2280, but its appearance can hardly be called ordinary.

Developers of Gigabyte showed remarkable imagination and has equipped its product with a massive radiator RGB led in a corporate style. Due to this, Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD not only markedly different from any other platform Phison E12, but is one of the most original NVMe SSD on the market, at least if we talk about the exterior.

Radiator mounted in the Gigabyte Aorus RGB NVMe M. 2 SSD, it seems very effective solution. It is not usual in such cases, a thin aluminum plate, and a fairly massive bar with two sawn along the edges of the grooves.

 

In reality, however, removes heat from drive, it mediocre, because the developers of Gigabyte does not care about its tight fit to the cooled components. Due to the fact that the height of the controller IC is lower than the height of chip flash memory, core chip SSD that radiator is almost not cooled. In addition, no heat sink is forced to do the memory contained on the reverse side of the M. 2 module. In other words, the entire cooling system is more of a decoration.

However, the scenery was quite spectacular: at the center of the radiator flaunts a logo Aorus – head eagle – with RGB led backlight. When the logo cyclically pulsates different colors. Strictly speaking, the backlight can be configured using the utility RGB Fusion 2.0, but this feature is available only for selected models of Gigabyte motherboards. In the compatibility list includes only the fee Aorus Intel Z390 and fee X299 Aorus Master. On any other motherboards algorithm of the backlight control does not work.

Usually all the drives are built on platforms Phison, use the same PCB design, provided by the authors of the controller. However, the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD received a slightly modified PCB. On the Board added two holes for screw fastening of a radiator and three RGB LEDs, which illuminate the Aorus logo. But otherwise the layout of the printed circuit Board corresponds to the reference.

 

On the PCB the drive is an eight-channel Phison controller PS5012-E12 with concomitant 512-megabyte chip DDR4-2400 SDRAM Hynix production required to store a working copy of the table of address translation. The array of the flash memory formed from four chips labelled TA7AG55AIV which are located on the front side of the Board as on the back. Such chips by order of the Phison company manufactures PTI, which procures semiconductor stuffing directly from Toshiba. End up in every chip flash memory, posted on the Gigabyte Aorus RGB M. 2 NVMe SSD is four 256-Gigabit crystal Toshiba TLC 3D NAND with 64 layers, but the cutting and sorting these crystals of semiconductor wafers in charge of the Taiwan intermediary.

Thus, it seems that the Gigabyte drive should be used semiconductor crystals of relatively good quality. Such a conclusion can be drawn from the stated high-resource SSD with a small volume of the reserve space. After formatting, the owner of a 512-Gigabyte drive will be available approximately 476 GB of storage, 36 GB is a SLC cache, so a replacement Fund is just nothing.

#Software

Today almost all SSD manufacturers offer a utility service that allows you to monitor the status and manage their SSD. Gigabyte this role is assigned to the SSD utility Tool Box, but from the point of view of functionality should be included among the worst examples of similar programs: it is not able to practically nothing.

The only thing you can do with this utility is to see General information about the SSD to access its S. M. A. R. T.-telemetry, and run Secure Erase. The interface also provides the Optimization tab, but to choose it is not available.

SOURCE

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Peripherals

Budget NVMe SSD Samsung EVO vs 860: review of the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite

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As follows from statistics that are eager to share key SSD manufacturers, the supply of the usual 2.5-inch SSD with SATA interface as a percentage is gradually decreasing, and come to the fore more advanced products with NVMe interface. Yet SATA hard drives hold the lead in sales, but, in the unanimous opinion, the change has to happen in the course of this year, and should facilitate this ongoing active reduction of prices on the NVMe model.

What NVMe drives are getting cheaper now much more active than a traditional SATA SSD, it is not surprising. Initially on high-speed products using the PCI Express bus architecture, manufacturers have established additional fees. Now, however, they have to give. As NVMe segment grows, it comes to an increasing number of players who do not want to lose its sphere of influence promising direction and are prepared to wage aggressive fight. However, the current situation is that the fight over the attention of buyers due to the speed or functionality of NVMe products today are capable of very few. Leading positions in consumer NVMe SSD in terms of speed and functionality firmly seized offers Samsung. As we have repeatedly seen in the tests, a couple of Samsung PRO 970 and the 970 EVO Plus demonstrates a very convincing superiority over any alternatives, and any large or small competitors of South Korean company failed to construct any similar performance decision. As a result, most firms have no choice but to try to attract users and to get involved in a fierce price war.

This, of course, plays into the hands of buyers. A characteristic feature of today was the fact that among the variety of NVMe SSD formed a significant number of proposals with prices more specific to models with the SATA interface. Simple example: right now the stores are just a few options NVME drives, which are cheaper than the popular SATA model 860 Samsung EVO. And among them not only based on QLC 3D NAND solution in the face of Intel SSD 660p and Crucial P1 — included in this list and SSD c three-dimensional TLC-memory, using both a cut-down PCI Express 3.0 x2 (for example, Kingston A1000 and its similarity on the basis of the controller Phison PS5008-E8) and a full-fledged PCI Express 3.0 x4 (for example, Transcend MTE110S and analogs on the controller SMI SM2263XT).

We try not to overlook this kind of budget, but not trimmed on architecture NVMe SSD, which promise is clearly the best combination of price and performance than SATA drives. Today we consider it necessary to draw attention to one very interesting product – ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite. This SSD is the cousin of the recently reviewed ADATA XPG SX6000 Prowhich produced a very good impression against other budget proposals with NVMe interface. But now ADATA a little dance with the configuration and offers about the same thing, but noticeable 15% cheaper. As it turned out — we just try to find out in this review. After all, if you believe the manufacturer, the new ADATA XPG Lite SX6000 does not change either the base controller or the type of flash memory. And if this is true, then we have a very attractive model that is extremely affordable NVMe SSD to PCIe 3.0 x4, based on TLC 3D NAND and obviously superior in speed, any SSD with SATA interface.

#Specifications

Speaking about ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite, we do often will do the references to XPG SX6000 Pro. The manufacturer does not deceive when he says that it’s close relatives. Both the drive are based on the same controller Realtek RTS5763DL and use the same three-dimensional 64-layer TLC 3D NAND second generation manufactured by Micron. Why ADATA has released two (almost) identical drive on a different price and how did she seriously throw off the price of the Lite model? The answer to these questions is very simple: the cheaper versions applied a cheaper memory, which, on the one hand, has a lower gradation in quality of semiconductor crystals, and with another – increased to 512 GB, the volume of the crystals. The first reduces the resource and the second performance. And here before us there SX6000 XPG Lite, at first glance, the same as the XPG SX6000 Pro, but really – is completely different.

However, if we talk about the architecture of the considered innovations, in the address XPG Lite SX6000 difficult to make any special claims. Moreover, at first glance, this drive is almost too good to be one of the most affordable NVMe SSD on the market. Although controller Realtek RTS5763DL that serves as its basis, is found in the mass drives are extremely rare, this chip is quite worthy to occupy this place.

In essence, the budget RTS5763DL indicates only one thing – he is deprived of the DRAM controller, which eliminates the feasibility of the drives on the basis of traditional buffering table of address translation. But it is supported by buffering non-traditional, technology-based HMB (Host Memory Buffer). This means that RTS5763DL in Windows operating system 10 is capable of use for their needs part of the normal RAM that is available to him through the DMA mode of the PCI Express bus. Regarding other features, the controller is quite typical: it has four channels to communicate with flash memory, supports LDPC coding for error correction and uses four lines PCI Express 3.0 to enable the system. In other words, it is quite possible to compare with the same SMI SM6263XT, which created a long NVMe SSD.

Nevertheless, do not forget: XPG SX6000 Lite developers saved on the flash memory. Increased to 512 GB size crystals 3D TLC NAND is not as scary as QLC, but nevertheless negative influence of this factor can be seen even in passport characteristics.

Manufacturer ADATA
Series XPG SX6000 Lite
Model number ASX6000LNP‑128GT‑C ASX6000LNP‑256GT‑C ASX6000LNP‑512GT‑C ASX6000LNP‑1TT‑C
Form factor M. 2 2280
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
Capacity, GB 128 256 512 1024
Configuration
Memory chips: type, interface, process technology, manufacturer Toshiba 64-layer 512 GB TLC 3D NAND
Controller Realtek RTS5763DL
Buffer: type, volume No
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 1800 1800 1800 1800
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 600 600 1200 1200
Max. speed of random read (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 100 000 100 000 180 000 220 000
Max. speed random write (blocks 4 KB) IOPS 130 000 170 000 200 000 200 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W N/a
MTBF (mean time between failures), million h 1,8
Resource record, TB 60 120 240 480
Dimensions: Ghvhg, mm 80 x 22 x 3.58
Weight, g 8
Warranty period, years 3

If we compare the characteristics of the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite specifications with the XPG SX6000 Pro, it becomes immediately clear that the low cost of new items will be traceable in all aspects. Diminished even the declared speed that drives manufacturers usually try to inflate all possible ways, given the technology SLC-cache, and as deep pipelining of requests. Thus, performance in reading has lost 12-15 %, and the record is 17-20 %.

That performance has decreased due to the decreased degree of parallelism of the array of flash memory (this is caused by the transition to a more capacious crystals), it is easy to see and the reduction in the rates of direct entry to bypass the SLC cache. In order to clarify how the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite technology works rapid entry, we carried out a standard experiment with a continuous filling of the 512-Gigabyte version of the SSD by sequential writing. The results can be seen in the graph below.

SLC-caching ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite works on a simple dynamic algorithm — on-the-record in high-speed mode uses all available free memory. Therefore, clean the drive in SLC mode, able to record about 170 GB (one-third of the total). Performance at SLC record reaches 1.2 GB/s but then it drops sharply to about 130 MB/s, and with a very strong scatter in the instant figures. For comparison, the speed of the array of flash memory XPG SX6000 Pro was 20-25% higher. This way is manifested the penalty associated with a halving of parallelism of the array of flash memory from a cheaper model of drive. In the result in order to fill the 512 GB version of the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite completely, you need to spend about 45 minutes. And it is very long: for example, 970 Samsung EVO Plus a similar volume can be completely down in 10 minutes.

At the same time, it should be noted: dynamic caching is good because it maximally protects the user from seeing the true speed of the array of flash memory in TLC mode. If you leave the drive has enough free space, even a slow SSD like XPG SX6000 Lite will be able to provide acceptable write speed. However, there is another “but”. This drive doesn’t have its own DRAM buffer is used for buffering tables of address translation memory system, the speed of XPG SX6000 Lite when working with large volumes of data can be reduced even for this reason. As practice shows, a significant drop in the speed parameters from XPG SX6000 Lite (like XPG SX6000 Pro) occurs when random operations on files or groups of files larger than 4 GB.

In other words, we should not forget that the ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite is still a budget NVMe drive, and if you decide to save, you will have to put up with some features. Moreover, such compromise in this case is considerably greater than in the case of XPG SX6000 Pro. And it’s not only about performance. For example, a cheaper version of the SSD you’ll be the worst warranty and lower the declared resource of the flash memory. While for XPG SX6000 Pro warranty period is 5 years on the Lite version is only reduced to three years warranty, is not peculiar to drives with NVMe interface, including model on the base of QLC-memory. In addition, for SX6000 XPG Lite warranty may only 480 times overwrite the amount of drive, while the ADATA XPG SX6000 Pro during operation, you can completely overwrite 600 times. However, as we know, such requirements have a formal character and to practice have a rather distant relationship.

In fairness it should be noted: some ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite is still superior to the XPG version of SX6000 Pro. Lineup of this new product includes four representatives, and the minimum capacity of the SSD is only 128 GB. However, the performance of the younger of the modifications is at a very low level. The 128-Gigabyte model, where the array of flash memory runs in dual channel mode, is unlikely to please the owners of superiority over SATA SSDS. That is why capacity XPG SX6000 Pro began with a 256-Gigabyte mark.

#Appearance and internal structure

For testing we used a representative lineup ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite with a capacity of 512 GB. On the one hand, this version has the sufficient degree of parallelism of flash memory and promises good performance, and on the other is a little more than 5 thousand rubles.

First look at this SSD enough to understand that this is really a close relative of the XPG SX6000 Pro. As Pro memory, new XPG SX6000 Lite is a unilateral module in the form factor M. 2 2280 with a black PCB, but also equipped with the same set of components distributed across the Board is absolutely in the same way. Differs only in the range of chip flash memory, which on XPG SX6000 Lite 512 GB turned out to be two and not four, as on a more expensive SSD.

 

Actually, in this lies the main feature of XPG SX6000 Lite. If XPG SX6000 Pro used chips collected most of ADATA 256-Gigabit 64-layer semiconductor crystals TLC 3D NAND, purchased from Toshiba, now on-chip flash memory emblazoned marking SpecTek. And this is a clear sign, well describing the complexity of the drive, because SpecTek, a subsidiary of Micron, through which American manufacturer of semiconductors, so as not to tarnish his reputation, sells products with reduced quality grades. However, the TLC 3D NAND chips, which are mounted on XPG SX6000 Lite, belong to the category of Full Spec for SSD (100%), that is, they are pre-tested and still recognized by the manufacturer fit for use in SSDs.

Each chip flash memory contains within itself the four semiconductor crystal TLC 3D NAND with increased up to 512 GB capacity, and this means that the four-channel controller Realtek RTS5763DL in poltorabatko drive is able to use only a two-fold alternation of the devices in the channels. That is why the model number XPG SX6000 Lite performance with growth increases up to a maximum versions of the SSD capacity of 1 terabyte.

All circuitry ADATA XPG SX6000 Lite fits in three chips. In addition to the flash memory on the Board is a basic and controller Realtek and no more additions and are not required. On the Board are empty “landing pad” under additional chips flash memory, but they are utilized exclusively for the senior modification. Usual same chip dynamic memory here is not needed at all, because we consider the SSD relies on the unbuffered architecture and technology HMB.

Although XPG SX6000 Lite and is among the most affordable NVMe SSD, which finds a direct reflection in its hardware design, ADATA suddenly paid some attention to the heat sink. The SSD comes complete with aluminum heat distribution plate with an adhesive layer, which the user can optionally attach to the surface of the chip.

However, its small thickness and the sleek profile is unlikely to provide a high efficiency of heat dissipation, but even this option is still better than nothing.

#Software

With the service software from ADATA, the situation is far better. Proprietary tool for storage companies exist, but is it extremely sluggish, but its features and interface leave much to be desired. Moreover, a number of users who activated the zoom function of the interface in Windows, in General, she can not use.

However, the basic functionality utility ADATA SSD Toolbox still provides.

 

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

 

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

 

In addition, after registration, acquired XPG SX6000 Lite 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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