Crucial's new MX300 SSD; new NAND means new sizes

Subject: Storage | September 6, 2016 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: crucial, MX300, 1050GB, sata ssd, M.2, 88SS1074, tlc

The MX300 series utilizes Micron 384G-bit, 32 tier floating gate, 3D TLC NAND which means that the capacities are a little different than we are used to.  1050GB is an odd number, the 978GB available after formatting even more so, but in the end the actual number matters less than the performance.  The SSD Review tested this drive which uses a four channel Micron 88SS1074 controller and sports eight NAND packages with Micron LPDDR3 1333MHz DRAM for a cache.  They tested a single drive as well as setting up two in RAID 0, the single drive could hit 535MB/s read and 516MB/s write and RAID 0 did indeed come close to doubling that.  Drop by to see their full results.

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"Due to the new 384G-bit TLC 3D NAND, the MX300 line up is now offered in 275GB, 525GB, 750GB, 1050GB, and 2TB options. From this announcement, the 2TB option intrigued us the most, however, they are still unavailable, so we opted to get two 1050GB models for today's review."

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Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Introduction:

Everyone expects SSD makers to keep pushing out higher and higher capacity SSDs, but the thing holding them back is sufficient market demand for that capacity. With that, it appears Samsung has decided it was high time for a 4TB model of their 850 EVO. Today we will be looking at this huge capacity point, and paying close attention to any performance dips that sometimes result in pushing a given SSD controller / architecture to extreme capacities.

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This new 4TB model benefits from the higher density of Samsung’s 48-layer V-NAND. We performed a side-by-side comparison of 32 and 48 layer products back in March, and found the newer flash to reduce Latency Percentile profiles closer to MLC-equipped Pro model than the 32-layer (TLC) EVO:

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Latency Percentile showing reduced latency of Samsung’s new 48-layer V-NAND

We’ll be looking into all of this in today’s review, along with trying our hand at some new mixed paced workload testing, so let’s get to it!

Read on for our full review of the Samsung 850 EVO 4TB SATA SSD!

Mushkin's Triactor, 480GB of TLC for ~$110

Subject: Storage | June 24, 2016 - 01:45 PM |
Tagged: Mushkin, Triactor, SM2256, tlc

At about $0.23/GB for the 480GB model it would be hard to find a less expensive SSD without waiting for a sale.  There are those who will refuse the drive because of the use of 256Gbit TLC SanDisk flash and the Silicon Motion SM2256K controller but those on the lookout for bargains should pop by The SSD Review for a look at the full performance review.  Apart from the expected poor performance with large constant write transfers this drive runs at a respectable pace when performing the common tasks you would require.

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"We've tested quite a few TLC based SSDs as of late, will the Mushkin Triactor show up the competition? Or will it lag behind in all its TLC "glory?" So far all we can say is that it sure does look cool. Read on as we analyze the new Mushkin Triactor 480GB in today's review!"

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Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Crucial

Introduction, Dynamic Write Acceleration, and Packaging

Introduction

Micron joined Intel in announcing their joint venture production of IMFT 3D NAND just a bit over a year ago. The industry was naturally excited since IMFT has historically enabled relatively efficient production, ultimately resulting in reduced SSD prices over time. I suspect this time things will be no different as IMFT's 3D Flash has been aiming high die capacities since its inception, and I suspect their second generation will *double* per-die capacities while keeping speeds reasonable thanks to a quad-plane design implemented from the start of this endeavor. Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself a bit as there are no consumer products sporting this flash just yet - well not until today at least:

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Marketed under Micron's consumer brand Crucial, the MX300 is their first entrant into the consumer space, as well as the first consumer SSD sporting IMFT 3D NAND. Crucial is known for their budget-minded SSDs, and for the MX300 they chose to go with the best cost/GB they could manage with what they had to work with. That meant putting this new 3D NAND into TLC mode. Now there are many TLC haters out there, but remember this is 3D NAND. Samsung's 850 EVO can exceed 500 MB/sec writes to TLC at its 500GB capacity point, and this MX300 is a product that is launching with *only* a 750GB capacity, so its TLC speed should be at least reasonable.

(the return of) Dynamic Write Acceleration

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Dynamic Write Acceleration in action during a sequential fill - that last slowest part was my primary concern for the mX300.

TLC is not the only story here because Crucial has included their Dynamic Write Acceleration (DWA) technology into the MX300. This is a tech where the SSD controller is able to dynamically switch flash programming modes of the flash pool, doing so at the block level. This appears to be a feature unique to IMFT flash, as every other 'hybrid' SSD we have tested had a static SLC cache area. DWA's ability to switch flash modes on-the-fly has always fascinated me on paper, but I just haven't been impressed by Micron's previous attempts to implement it. The M600 was a bit all over the place on its write consistency, and that SSD was flipping blocks between SLC and MLC. With the MX300 flipping between SLC and *TLC*, there was a possibility of far more noticeable slow downs in the cases where large writes were taking place and the controller was caught trying to scavenge space in the background.

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New Latency Percentile vs. legacy IO Percentile, shown here highlighting a performance inconsistency seen in the Toshiba OCZ RD400. Note which line more closely represents the Latency Distribution (gray) also on this plot.

Read on for our full review of the Crucial MX300 750GB SATA SSD!

Leaked Intel Roadmap Details Upcoming Optane XPoint SSDs and Storage Accelerators

Subject: Storage | June 13, 2016 - 03:46 AM |
Tagged: XPoint, tlc, Stony Beach, ssd, pcie, Optane, NVMe, mlc, Mansion Beach, M.2, kaby lake, Intel, imft, Brighton Beach, 3DNAND, 3d nand

A recent post over at benchlife.info included a slide of some significant interest to those who have been drooling over XPoint technology:

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For those unaware, XPoint (spoken 'cross-point') is a new type of storage technology that is persistent like NAND Flash but with speeds closer to that of RAM. Intel's brand name for devices implementing XPoint are called Optane.

Starting at the bottom of the slide, we see a new 'System Acceleration' segment with a 'Stony Beach PCIe/NVMe m.2 System Accelerator'. This is likely a new take on Larson Creek, which was a 20GB SLC SSD launched in 2011. This small yet very fast SLC flash was tied into the storage subsystem via Intel's Rapid Storage Technology and acted as a caching tier for HDDs, which comprised most of the storage market at that time. Since Optane excels at random access, even a PCIe 3.0 x2 part could outmaneuver the fastest available NAND, meaning these new System Accelerators could act as a caching tier for Flash-based SSDs or even HDDs. These accelerators can also be good for boosting the performance of mobile products, potentially enabling the use of cheaper / lower performing Flash / HDD for bulk storage.

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Skipping past the mainstream parts for now, enthusiasts can expect to see Brighton Beach and Mansion Beach, which are Optane SSDs linked via PCIe 3x2 or x4, respectively. Not just accelerators, these products should have considerably more storage capacity, which may bring costs fairly high unless either XPoint production is very efficient or if there is also NAND Flash present on those parts for bulk storage (think XPoint cache for NAND Flash all in one product).

We're not sure if or how the recent delays to Kaby Lake will impact the other blocks on the above slide, but we do know that many of the other blocks present are on-track. The SSD 540s and 5400s were in fact announced in Q2, and are Intel's first shipping products using IMFT 3D NAND. Parts not yet seen announced are the Pro 6000p and 600p, which are long overdue m.2 SSDs that may compete against Samsung's 950 Pro. Do note that those are marked as TLC products (purple), though I suspect they may actually be a hybrid TLC+SLC cache solution.

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Going further out on the timeline we naturally see refreshes to all of the Optane parts, but we also see the first mention of second-generation IMFT 3DNAND. As I hinted at in an article back in February, second-gen 3D NAND will very likely *double* the per-die capacity to 512Gbit (64GB) for MLC and 768Gbit (96GB) for TLC. While die counts will be cut in half for a given total SSD capacity, speed reductions will be partially mitigated by this flash having at least four planes per die (most previous flash was double-plane). A plane is an effective partitioning of flash within the die, with each section having its own buffer. Each plane can perform erase/program/read operations independently, and for operations where the Flash is more limiting than the interface (writes), doubling the number of planes also doubles the throughput. In short, doubling planes roughly negates the speed drop caused by halving the die count on an SSD (until you reach the point where controller-to-NAND channels become the bottleneck, of course).

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IMFT XPoint Die shot I caught at the Intel / Micron launch event.

Well, that's all I have for now. I'm excited to see that XPoint is making its way into consumer products (and Storage Accelerators) within the next year's time. I certainly look forward to testing these products, and I hope to show them running faster than they did back at that IDF demo...

One serving of Micron 3D TLC NAND, hold the NVMe

Subject: General Tech | June 2, 2016 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: micron, 3d nand, tlc, mlc, DEVSLP

Micron have unveiled their new line of 3D NAND, the SATA 6Gbps TLC 1100 and the NVMe MLC 2100, although they only shared details of the former.  The 1100 will introduce DEVSLP mode, where the drives power draw will dip to less than 2mW on the smaller drives, 4mW for the 1TB with the 2TB model requiring 25mW.  The TLC used in the drive is rather impressive, the advertised speeds come very close to what their MLC based M600 drives are capable of.  Check out the full specs and more over at The Register.

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"Intel, its flash foundry partner, introduced its own 3D SSDs, MLC (2bits/cell) ones, in March with the DC P3320 and P3520, with maximum capacity of 2TB. These had an NVME interface whereas Micron’s 1100 has the slower 6Gbit/s SATA interface."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

MyDigitalSSD Bullet Proof 5 Eco M.2; not quite within Ryan's pricing but still a good deal

Subject: Storage | May 5, 2016 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: MyDigitalSSD, Bullet Proof 5 Eco, M.2, tlc, PS3110-S10C

MyDigitalSSD's 480GB Bullet Proof 5 Eco M.2 is indeed available for $130 with the 240 and 120GB models also sporting attractive pricing.  The M.2 drive uses Toshiba TLC memory with decent overprovisioning, an eight channel Phison PS3110-S10C controller and an additional chip which The SSD Review believes is an 8GB SLC cache from Kingston.  The drive tops out the bandwidth of SATA 6Gbps in most tests, offering a very good value for your money.  Even with the shorter lifespan of TLC there is a three year warranty which should cover you until your next upgrade.

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"On the test bench today, we have the MyDigitalSSD Bullet Proof 5 Eco M.2 480GB SATA 3 SSD and this SSD just may be the best value available for the dollar right now at $129.99. To think that this little SSD is just shy of that .25/GB mark is incredible…but can it perform?"

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Storage

SanDisk's X400 series brings security as well as a more efficient controller

Subject: Storage | April 13, 2016 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: sandisk, x400, tlc, M.2 SATA, 88SS1074-BSW2

SanDisk have updated their SSD lineup with the X400 family, available in sizes of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB all of which are available in 2.5" and M.2 form factors.  They have continued their tradition of adding a small SLC flash cache to the drive, with the majority of storage being TLC.  Inside you will find Marvell's 88SS1074-BSW2 four channel controller and 256MB of DDR3L-1600 and as you can see, a lot of extra space.  SanDisk also united their SSDs lines in the 400, with 256-bit AES on these drives there is unlikely to be a new generation of the 300s.  Check out KitGuru for the full performance numbers of this consumer level SSD.

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"The X400 family features SanDisk’s 6th generation 15nm Triple Level Cell TLC NAND and just like the previous X300 uses SanDisk’s nCache technology where some of the NAND runs in SLC mode to bolster performance."

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Source: KitGuru

OCZ is Trion harder to get your pennies with the new 150 models

Subject: Storage | March 8, 2016 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: ocz, Trion 150, tlc, 15nm

The big difference between the Trion 100 and the new 150 is the NAND, it moves from 19nm TLC from Toshiba to the new 15nm TLC but apart from that the drives are essentially the same.  Using TLC and making a minimum amount of changes gives a pricing benefit, The Tech Report saw the 480GB model for sale at $130, impressive pricing even for an entry level SSD such as this one.  Their testing shows performance improvements across the board compared to the Trion 100 in real life testing; though not enough to challenge the higher priced performance SSDs.  Check out the full review if you are in the market for a low cost SSD that will still net you some serious improvements over a HDD.

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"With its Trion 150 SSD, OCZ takes another stab at a low-cost TLC drive by putting Toshiba's 15-nm NAND under the hood. We tested out this drive to see if it fares better than the Trion 100, OCZ's first TLC SSD."

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 Storage

A new Trion appears, is it still a good choice for an entry level SSD?

Subject: Storage | February 18, 2016 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: Trion 150, toshiba, tlc, ssd, slc, sata, ocz, A15nm

As you may remember from Al's post, the OCZ Trion 150 is essentially the same as the previous Trion 100, except for the use of 15nm TLC flash from Toshiba and a lower initial price.  Hardware Canucks got their paws on two of the drives from this series to benchmark, the 480GB and 960GB models.  The 480GB model retains the 256MB DDR3 cache, the 960 doubles that to 512MB but there is one thing missing from this new series; instead of relying on capacitors to prevent lost data from a power failure they rely on OCZ's firmware based Power Failure Management Plus.  Read Hardware Canucks full review to see if the new Trion can match the price to performance of the original.

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"With the budget-focused SSD market exploding, OCZ is launching the Trion 150, a refresh of their original Trion 100 series which should offer better performance and an even lower price."

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