Meet Silicon Motion's new flash agnostic controller

Subject: Storage | March 3, 2015 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, SM2256, slc, silicon motion

You may remember the Silicon Motion SM2256 SSD controller that Al reported on during CES this year, even if you do not you should be interested in a controller which can work with 1x/1y/1z nm TLC NAND from any manufacturer on the market.  The SSD Review managed to get a prototype which uses the new SM2256 controller, Samsung’s 19nm TLC planar NAND flash and a Hynix 440Mhz 256MB DDR3 DRAM chip.  In benchmarking they saw 548MB/s sequential reads and 484MB/s writes, with 4K slowing down to 38MB/s for read and 110MB/s for write.  Check out the rest of the review here as well as keeping your eyes peeled for our first review of the new controller.

618x412xSilicon-Motion-SM2256-Main-1024x683.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.MsJr8DUd2Dl19vb5ls7F.jpg

"Controllers are the heart and soul of every SSD. Without one, an SSD would be a useless PCB with some components slapped on it. It is responsible for everything from garbage collection and wear leveling to error correction and hardware encryption. In simple terms, all these operations can be quite complicated to implement as well as expensive to develop."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Don't forget the 1TB Crucial BX100 costs less than $400

Subject: Storage | February 23, 2015 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SM2246EN, sata, micron, crucial, BX100, 1TB

It has been about a week since Al posted his review of the 256GB and 512GB models of the Crucial BX100 and what better way to remind you than with a review of the 1TB model, currently a mere $380 on Amazon (or only $374 on BHPhoto.com!).  Hardware Canucks cracked open the 1TB budget priced consumer level SSD for your enjoyment right here, as well as running it through a gamut of tests. As expected their results are in line with the 512GB model as they both use a 4 channel controller, which does mean they are slower than some competitors drives.  On the other hand the BX100 also has a significantly lower price making the 1TB model much more accessible for users.  Check out their post here.

board2_sm.jpg

"Crucial's BX100 combines performance, endurance and value into one awesome budget-friendly SSD The best part? The 1TB version costs just $400."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Samsung Promises Another Fix for 840 EVO Slow Down Issue

Subject: Storage | February 20, 2015 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Samsung, 840 evo

Some of you may have been following our coverage of the Samsung 840 EVO slow down issue. We first reported on this issue last September, and Samsung issued a fix a couple of months later. This tool was effective in bringing EVOs back up to speed, but some started reporting their drives were still slowing down. Since our January follow up, we have been coordinating with Samsung on a possible fix. We actually sent one of our samples off to them for analysis, and have just received this statement: 
 
In October, Samsung released a tool to address a slowdown in 840 EVO Sequential Read speeds reported by a small number of users after not using their drive for an extended period of time. This tool effectively and immediately returned the drive’s performance to normal levels. We understand that some users are experiencing the slowdown again. While we continue to look into the issue, Samsung will release an updated version of the Samsung SSD Magician software in March that will include a performance restoration tool.
 
image.jpg
 
A look at the reduced read speeds of stale data on an 840 EVO which had the original fix applied. Unpatched drives were slowing much further (50-100 MB/s).
 
So it appears that Samsung is still looking into the issue, but will update their Magician software to periodically refresh stale data until they can work out a more permanent fix that would correct all affected 840 EVOs. We have not heard anything about the other TLC models which have been reported to see this same sort of slow down, but we will keep you posted as this situation develops further.
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Crucial

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Micron's Crucial brand has been cranking out some great low cost SSDs for the past several years now. While their early drives pushed into the SATA 6Gb/sec interface before most of the competition, their performance was inconsistent and lagged behind some of the other more nimble solutions available at that time. This pattern was broken around the time of the M550 and MX100 launches. Those two drives were heavily competitive in performance and even moreso in pricing. Actually the pricing is probably the bigger story - when they launched, one of our readers caught a 512GB MX100 on sale for $125 ($0.24/GB)! We are coming up on a year since the MX100, and at CES 2015 Micron launched a pair of SSD models - the BX100 and MX200. Today we are going to look at the BX100 series:

150212-172437.jpg

Crucial aims to make the BX100 as their lowest cost/GB SSD ever - even cheaper than the MX100. Since Micron makes the flash, the best way to drive costs down is to use a lower cost controller. The Silicon Motion SM2246EN is cheaper to procure than the equivalent Marvell part, yet still performs rather well.

SM2246EN Block Diagram.jpg

The Silicon Motion SM2246EN SSD controller

This is a great controller, as we have seen in our prior review of the ADATA SP610, Corsair Neutron LX, and Angelbird SSD WRK. From the specs, we can see that Micron has somehow infused their variant with increased write speeds even though it appears to use the same flash as those competing models listed above. We'll see how this plays out as the review progresses.

Read on for the full review!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Plextor
Tagged: ssd, plextor, pcie, 256GB

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Plextor launched their M6e PCIe SSD in mid-2014. This was the first consumer retail available native PCIe SSD. While previous solutions such as the OCZ RevoDrive bridged SATA SSD controllers to PCIe through a RAID or VCA device, the M6e went with a Marvell controller that could speak directly to the host system over a PCIe 2.0 x2 link. Since M.2 was not widely available at launch time, Plextor also made the M6e available with a half-height PCIe interposer, making for a painless upgrade for those on older non M.2 motherboards (which at that time was the vast majority).

With the M6e out for only a few months time (and in multiple versions), I was surprised to see Plextor launch an additonal version of it at the 2015 CES this past January. Announced alongside the upcoming M7e, the M6e Black Edition is essentially a pimped out version of the original M6e PCIe:

DSC07414_resize.JPG

We left CES with a sample of the M6e Black, but had to divert our attention to a few other pressing issues shortly after. With all of that behind us, it's time to get back to cranking out the storage goodness, so let's get to it!

Read on for the full review!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Today Samsung has lifted the review embargo on their new Portable SSD T1. This represents Samsung's first portable SSD, and aims to serve as another way to make their super speedy VNAND available. We first saw the Samsung T1 at CES, and I've been evaluating the performance if this little drive for the past week:

150115-125412.jpg

We'll dive more into the details as this review progresses.

Specifications:

specs-2.png

Packaging:

150115-124803.jpg

150115-124922.jpg

The T1 comes well packaged, with a small instruction manual and a flat style short USB 3.0 cable. The drive itself is very light - ours weighed in right at 1 ounce.

Continue reading our review of the Samsung Portable SSD T1 500GB unit!

Upgrade your car with an SSD?

Subject: Storage | January 19, 2015 - 05:05 PM |
Tagged: super talent, DuraDrive AT7, ssd, SM2246EN

If you have an entertainment system in your car, why not go whole hog and upgrade it with a specially designed Super Talent DuraDrive AT7 SSD.  Unfortunately you will be hard pressed to find one as they will generally be sold directly to the auto manufacturers but The SSD Review's look at it is interesting because it is the first look at Silicon Motion's new SM2246EN 6Gbps 4 channel controller.  The ATTO results when connected to an X99 motherboard were impressive, peaking at 554MB/s read and 446MB/s write.  It will be interesting to see which manufacturers install this in their vehicles and what usage scenarios would require this kind of throughput.

SuperTalent-DuraDrive-AT7-1TB-SSD-PCB-Front.png.pagespeed.ce_.W-whe2TDzgnoX4D6qalq.png

"Every now and then, we are fortunate to have SSDs reach our bench that one might not normally find within every day PC systems or servers. Our review today of the Super Talent DuraDrive AT7 SSD is just that; a SSD fully intended for the automobile industry, and more specifically In-vehicle Infotainment Systems."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

CES 2015: OCZ shows off new JetExpress SSD controller, Vector 180, Z-Drive 6000

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2015 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: Z-Drive 6000, Vector 180, ssd, SFF-8639, sata, pcie, ocz, NVMe, M.2, JetExpress, CES 2014, CES

At CES, we stopped by OCZ and were briefed on their new SSD controller, the JetExpress:

DSC07253_resize.JPG

As indicated on the placard, the JetExpress supports M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 (M.2 is typically PCIe 2.0), and natively supports both SATA and PCIe / NVMe connectivity.

DSC07255_resize.JPG

I found out some more goodies about this new controller. Aside from being configurable during production to support SATA or PCIe, this is actually a 10 channel controller (SSDs are typically limited to 8 channels). The controller can support LDPC *in addition to* BCH error correction. This is important as LDPC requires more compute power and is slower than BCH, so OCZ is baking in the capability to use BCH early on, and transition over to LDPC as the flash wears to the point where BCH can no longer efficiently correct bad pages. This means the JetExpress should be able to maintain very high performance while extending flash life out with LDPC only when it's needed.

DSC07262_resize.JPG

Above is the Vector 180, which is launching soon. We are under NDA on this product, but nothing is stopping you from checking out the pic of what they had displayed above :).

DSC07267_resize.JPG

Here's the Z-Drive 6000, an SFF-8639 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 2.5" enterprise SSD. The PMC Sierra controller supports NVMe connectivity and power modes are switchable to enable even higher performance. Performance looks to be very competitive with the Intel P3700, rated at 3GB/sec reads and 2GB/sec writes, as well as 700,000 4k random read and 175,000 4k random write IOPS. Our next OCZ review should be of the Vector 180, but samples are not out yet, so stay tuned!

OCZ's press blast for the JetExpress launch appears after the break.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: OCZ

CES 2015: Silicon Motion SM2256 seen in action, capable of hybrid TLC/SLC caching

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 01:17 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2015, silicon motion, SM2256, ssd, tlc, slc

We first saw the Silicon Motion SM2256 controller at Flash Memory Summit, but now we've seen it live, in action, and driving several different types of TLC NAND.

DSC06942_resize.JPG

Silicon Motion had this live demo running on a testbed at their suite:

DSC06936_resize.JPG

The performance looked very good considering the 2256 is designed to efficiently push TLC flash, which is slower than MLC. As their representative was explaining that the SM2256 is currently being tested with Samsung, Toshiba, and SK Hynix TLC flash, I noticed the HDTune write trace:

DSC06939_resize.JPG

Those familiar with HDTune and Samsung SSDs with Samsung's TurboWrite cache (from the 840/850 EVO) will recognize the above - the SSD begins writing at SLC speed and after that cache is full, the SSD then drops to writing at TLC speed. I specifically asked about this, as we've only Samsung flash provisioned with an SLC portion of each die, and the answer was that Toshiba and SK Hynix TLC flash also supports such a subdivision. This is good news, as it means increased competition from competing SSDs that can accomplish the same SLC burst writes as the Samsung EVO series.

We heard from a few vendors that will soon be launching SM2256 equipped SSDs this year, and we eagerly await the opportunity to see what they are capable of.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2015: Mushkin launches Striker SSD, teases 4TB consumer PCIe, new M.2 and SandForce SSDs

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 01:00 AM |
Tagged: Striker, ssd, Mushkin, ces 2015, CES

At CES 2015, Mushkin launches their Striker 2.5" SSD product line:

DSC07432_resize.JPG

The Striker is based on the Phison S10 controller, which should perform comparably to the Neutron XT that we reviewed back in November. We should point out that in the above photo, the Striker is sitting next to the Reactor, which is currently selling for $0.36/GB on Newegg.

DSC07425_resize.JPG

This is a prototype of looks is to be a monster of a budget PCIe SSD. Using a Marvell SATA RAID chip to link four Silicon Motion controlled SSDs together in RAID-0, this beast is to (hopefully) be available in 960GB all the way up to 4TB capacities, and Mushkin is targeting $0.50/GB or lower when it launches later this year.

DSC07427_resize.JPG

Details are slim here, but Mushkin is smartly jumping on the M.2 bandwagon.

DSC07428_resize.JPG

SandForce has had their new controller in the works for far too long (we saw silicon demos like this last CES in fact), but we are hoping to see actual product released this year. Note this delay is solely due to delays in SandForce's development process.

Full press blast for the Striker after the break.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Mushkin