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Corsair Neutron XT 240GB SATA SSD Review - First look at Phison PS3110-S10

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

During our coverage of the Flash Memory Summit, we spotted the new Phison PS3110-S10 controller:

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At that time we only knew that Phison was going to team up with another SSD manufacturer to get these to market. We now know that manufacturer is Corsair, and their new product is to be called the Neutron XT. How do we know this? Well, we've got one sitting right here:

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While the Neutron has not officially launched (pricing is not even available), we have been afforded an early look into the performance of this new controller / SSD. While this is suspected to be a cost effective entry into the SSD marketplace, for now all we can do is evaluate the performance, so let's get to it!

Read on for the full review!

Specifications:

  • SSD Controller: Phison PS3110-S10
  • NAND: Toshiba A19 MLC
  • Unformatted Capacity: 240GB / 480GB / 960GB
  • Max Sequential Read (ATTO): Up to 560MB/s
  • Max Sequential Write (ATTO): Up to 540MB/s
  • Max Random Read QD32 (Iometer): Up to 100K IOPS
  • Max Random Write QD32 (Iometer): Up to 90K IOPS
  • Form Factor: 7mm high 2.5”
  • Interface Type: SATA 6.0 Gb/s (SATA 3)
  • Warranty: 3 years

The Phison controller carries some new and interesting features. Here's a sampling:

  • Quad-core controller - Quad-core CPU dedicates three cores just to managing flash and maintaining performance
  • Maximum throughput and I/O - Offers speeds of up to 560 MB/s read and 540 MB/s write and 100K IOPs on read and 90 IOPs on write, saturating the SATA 6Gbps bus
  • End-to-end Data Path Protection - Enterprise level CRC/ECC corrects internal soft errors as well as detecting and correcting any errors that may arise between the DRAM, controller, and flash
  • SmartECC™ - Reconstructs defective/faulty pages when regular ECC fails
  • SmartRefresh™ - Monitors block ECC health status and refreshes blocks periodically to improve data retention
  • SmartFlush™ - Minimizes time data spends in cache to ensure data retention in the event of power loss
  • Advanced wear-leveling and garbage collection

Phison has chosen to dedicate three of the four cores to background activities such as garbage collection. This is an interesting move for consistency, however only leaving one core to handle the requested IO's from the host might be a negative. We'll know for sure once we hit the Iometer testing.

Packaging:

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Blister pack in a box with 7mm to 9.5mm adhesive backed spacer. Keeping things simple. Gets the job done. Retail packaging may differ slightly, as we're looking at this fairly early in the production process.


November 17, 2014 | 10:52 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Thanks for the excellent review. It is probably me, but I find it hard to read confidently the io charts. Maybe you can make it so we can click the device on the right to turn on and off its curve. Then we could put one or more of them on the chart at a time.

"My inclination is to say that this is a great drive for the money, but without the actual pricing, the jury will remain out on that verdict until the drive actually launches," you stated at the end. How can you make a qualitative statement about something you have no idea about? That is very misleading no matter the qualifications.

November 18, 2014 | 07:37 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Allyn, do you have any thoughts on the suggestion in the first paragraph about the charts?

November 19, 2014 | 06:35 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

My 'inclination' is based on the fact that it's a Neutron series SSD, and those have been cost-effective in the past.

On the charts, we're looking into better ways to display more data (dynamically even), but for now we're doing static images. I'll see if I can get a bit more distinction among the charted lines.

November 19, 2014 | 07:12 AM - Posted by pdjblum

Maybe you could make each name a js button that displays or hides the associated curve on the chart, or displays or hides different variations of the chart, but the latter is not practical.

November 17, 2014 | 11:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

At first I thought that the S3110 choking on certain file sizes was bizarre. However, after seeing the benchmarks around the web for the initial prototype the same dips were there. There's been some tuning since then obviously.

I like the fact that they took at crack at accelerating compressed samples while maintaining competent speeds with incompressible files. Sandforce has had trouble in that area.

This is just another SATA 3 drive, and an oddly inconsistent one at that. It just comes out to be seemingly generic to me.

November 19, 2014 | 06:39 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Yeah, their 'acceleration' seems inconsistent, and is only effective on very compressible data (i.e. repeating patterns). This doesn't come up very often on an active system, as the majority of the repeating patterns would be 0's from TRIMmed areas, but those wouldn't be tracked in flash regardless.

November 18, 2014 | 12:57 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

ive had nothing but bad luck with Corsair Neutron drives in the past. Here's hoping these new ones are more reliable.

November 18, 2014 | 01:52 AM - Posted by AMDFANBOI (not verified)

I just don't know how you can put up an SSD review without knowing pricing?

November 19, 2014 | 06:32 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Well, the other option was to not publish a review, but then we would not be covering an SSD that other review sites have covered...

November 19, 2014 | 08:19 AM - Posted by icebug

I wonder how relative the performance of this controller is to the Phison controller in the "Amazon Exclusive" Patriot Torch SSD that IS currently available for purchase...

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