Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction

Samsung has certainly been pushing the envelope in the SSD field. For the past two years straight, they have launched class leading storage products, frequently showing outside-the-box thinking. Their 840 PRO series was an impressive MLC performer to say the least, but even more impressive was the 840 EVO, which combined cost-efficient TLC flash with a super-fast SLC cache. The generous SLC area, present on each die and distributed amongst all flash chips within the drive, enabled the EVO to maintain PRO-level performance for the majority of typical consumer (and even power user) usage scenarios. The main win for the EVO was the fact that it could be produced at a much lower cost, and since its release, we've seen the EVO spearheading the push to lower cost SSDs.

All of these innovations might make you wonder what could possibly be next. Today I have that answer:

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If you're going "Hey, they just changed the label from 840 to 850!", well, think again. This SSD might have the same MEX controller as its predecessor, but Samsung has done some significant overhauling of the flash memory itself. Allow me to demonstrate.

Here's standard (2D) flash memory, where the charge is stored on a horizontal plane:

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..and now for 3D:

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The charges (bits) are not stored at the top layer. They are stored within all of those smaller, thinner layers below it. You're still looking at a 2D plane (your display), so here's a better view:

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Read on as we dive even deeper into this awesome new 3D flash technology!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Plextor

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

You might not expect it from who was originally an optical drive company, but Plextor has been cranking out SSDs for a while now. We will be taking a look at the recent wave of releases from Plextor, starting with the M6M:

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This SSD contains the same Marvell 88SS9188 controller seen in the Crucial M550, MX100, and ADATA SP920 SSDs, but with additional firmware tweaks claimed by Plextor.

Let's dive right in. Read on for our full review!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Crucial
Tagged: ssd, sata, mx100, crucial, 16nm

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Back in July of last year, Micron announced production of 16nm flash memory. These were the same 128gbit dies as the previous gen parts, but 16nm means the dies are smaller, meaning more dies from a single wafer, ultimately translating to lower end user cost.

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It takes a bit of time for those new flash die shrinks to trickle into mainstream products. Early yields from a given shrink tend to not have competitive endurance on initial production. As production continues, the process gets tweaked, resulting in greater and longer enduring yields.

Continue reading for the full scoop!!

A tale of two SSDs; Crucial and ADATA's twins

Subject: Storage | April 3, 2014 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SP920, sata, Marvell, adata

Sticking with ADATA today, The Tech Report has also put together a review of the Premiere Pro SP920 which was eerily familiar to them.  The Marvell controller, Micron MLC NAND and DRAM cache all mirrored the Crucial M550 which they reviewed last month.  One difference they noted right off the start was support for third party utilities to read the SMART data, with which they had far more success than with Crucial's drive.  Their performance results were not surprising; the two drives performed the same which leaves price and support as the determining factor when purchasing one of these two twins, something that The Tech Report offers advice on in their conclusion.

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"Adata's latest Premiere Pro SP920 SSD bears an uncanny resemblance to a big-name drive that was released recently. This isn't a straight copycat, though. Read on to see what makes the SP920 different."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: ADATA
Tagged: ssd, SP920, sata, Marvell, adata

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

ADATA has been in the storage market for a good while now. I like to think of them as the patient underdog. They don't necessarily come out with the shiny new controller or flash technology. Instead they tend to sit back and wait for a given set of hardware to mature and drop in price a bit. Once that happens, they figure out how to package the matured technology into a device of relatively low cost as compared to the competition. They have done so again today, with their new Premier Pro SP920 lineup:

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As hinted at earlier, this line does not use the newest Marvell controller, but as Marvell controllers have been very capable SATA 6Gb/sec units for a long time now, that is not necessarily a bad thing. In addition, Marvell controllers have a track record of gaining significant performance margins as their firmware matures, which makes ADATA's later entrance more of a good thing.

Continue reading for the full scoop and performance benchmarks of all available capacities!!

OCZ is still putting out; revisit the Vertex 460

Subject: Storage | March 17, 2014 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: vertex 460, ssd, sata, ocz, Indilinx Barefoot, 19nm

If you had any questions left after Al's review of the new OCZ Vertex 460 series then you can take another look at it today.  This tiny 7mm drive is perfect for Ultrabooks and other slim devices as well as fitting into any system that wants a boost to storage speeds.  The 240GB model that Hardware Canucks reviewed sports two 256MB DDR3-1333 DIMMs for cache to keep the Barefoot 3 M10 controller working full out transferring data between the 19nm NAND storage.  Those of you who have not yet upgraded to a SATA 6Gbps controller may be especially interested in the SATA II performance which is covered in the full review.

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"OCZ has begun a major turn-around and the Vertex 460 is meant to be their price / performance leader. With a barefoot controller and 19nm MLC NAND, it certainly has what it takes. "

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

A second look at the TOCZshiba Vertex 460

Subject: Storage | January 24, 2014 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: 19nm, Indilinx Barefoot, ocz, sata, ssd, vertex 460

Legit Reviews also had a chance to try out the new OCZ 460 that Al reviewed recently, on a system with a different Z77 motherboard and slightly slower processor.  Not many of the benchmarks overlap so you can gain a bit more insight into the performance of this drive before you purchase it.  In the end their conclusion is similar, this is one of the best SSDs they've encountered and should be available at a very decent price per gigabyte.

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"Legit Reviews is checking out the new OCZ Storage Solutions Vertex 460 SSD today! We received a 240GB version this time around for evaluation which is pretty much the typical size of a review sample anymore. The Vertex 460 carries the same Barefoot 3 M10 controller we saw in the Vertex 450 and is now paired with 19nm Toshiba MLC NAND. The performance specifications are impressive for what is essentially an entry-level ‘performance’ drive with reads hitting 545MB/s max and 525MB/s writes max. Read on to see how it performs!"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

As of yesterday, the OCZ we all knew was officially acquired by Toshiba. They are now referred to as OCZ Storage Solutions, acting as a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba Group:

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This deal has been in the works for a while now, and while some suspected OCZ might be going under, they have continued to release new drives. The acquisition is more beneficial to OCZ than you might think, in that they now have much better access to Toshiba flash memory. Further, they can likely purchase it at better costs than available to those outside of the new parent companies' umbrella.

Today is no different, and OCZ is ringing in the pairing with a new product launch:

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Lets jump right into the specs:

Specifications:

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OCZ also provided a comparison against prior models:

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This new model, just like the Vector 150, sports Toshiba 19nm flash. It's a slightly newer version of the Barefoot 3 controller, but with a lower endurance spec and warranty period.

Continue reading our review of the OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD!!

Silicon Motion introduces new SM2246EN SATA SSD controller, promises lower power for mobile devices

Subject: Storage | August 12, 2013 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, silicon motion, sata, controller

You may very well have never heard of Silicon Motion (SMI), a major priducer of flash memory controllers, even if you've followed the SSD industry for a while. This is primarily because the vast majority of their products have been tailored for the devices that folks tend to not crack open during review, namely USB memory sticks, eMMC devices, and SD / CF cards:

silicon motion controller history.png

Creating controllers in those arenas will tend to force a company to do a few things very well:

  • Handle a very limited number of flash channels with the greatest speed possible, due to packaging requirements for very small devices.
  • Operate at the lowest power draw possible as to meet the current draw limits of the host interface.

This has resulted in SMI developing a 6Gb/sec SSD controller, dubbed the SM2246EN, using the above techniques:

SM2246EN Block Diagram.jpg

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The block diagram shows what appears to be a fairly standard 4-channel configuration, though there are fewer steps in the pipeline as compared to SandForce and other controllers, which should help decrease latency and improve efficiency. There is also no compression engine, which means power consumption should be further reduced.

Read on for further details on specs and power consumption, followed by the full press blast.

New Samsung 840 EVO employs TLC and pseudo-SLC TurboWrite cache

Subject: Storage | July 17, 2013 - 10:12 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, slc, sata, Samsung, cache, 840 evo

Samsung's release of the 840 EVO earlier today likely prompted some questions, such as what type of flash does it employ and how does it achieve such high write speeds. Here is the short answer, with many slides in-between, starting off with the main differences between the 840 and the 840 EVO:

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So, slightly increased specs to help boost drive performance, and an important tidbit in that the new SSD does in fact keep TLC flash. Now a closer look at the increased write specs:

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Ok, the speeds are much quicker, even though the flash is still TLC and even on a smaller process. How does it pull off this trick? Tech that Samsung calls TurboWrite.

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A segment of the TLC flash is accessed by the controller as if it were SLC flash. This section of flash can be accessed (especially written) much faster. Writes are initially dumped to this area and that data is later moved over to the TLC area. This happenes as it would in a normal write-back cache - either during idle states or once the cache becomes full, which is what would happen during a sustained maximum speed write operation that is larger than the cache capacity. Here is the net effect with the cache in use and also when the cache becomes full:

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For most users, even the smallest cache capacity will be sufficient for the vast majority of typical use. Larger caches appear in larger capacities, further improving performance under periods of large write demand. Here's the full spread of cache sizes per capacity point:

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So there you have it, Samsung's new TurboWrite technology in a nutshell. More to follow (along with a performance review coming in the next few days). Stay tuned!