Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
When one thinks of an M.2 SSD, we typically associate that with either a SATA 6GB/s or more recently with a PCIe 3.0 x4 link. The physical interface of M.2 was meant to accommodate future methods of connectivity, but it's easy to overlook the ability to revert back to something like a PCIe 3.0 x2 link. Why take a seemingly backward step on the interface of an SSD? Several reasons actually. Halving the number of lanes makes for a simpler SSD controller design, which lowers cost. Power savings are also a factor, as driving a given twisted pair lane at PCIe 3.0 speeds draws measurable current from the host and therefore adds to the heat production of the SSD controller. We recently saw that a PCIe 3.0 x2 can still turn in respectable performance despite lower bandwidth interface, but how far can we get the price down when pairing that host link with some NAND flash?
Enter the MyDigitalSSD SBX series. Short for Super Boot eXpress, the aim of these parts is to offer a reasonably performant PCIe NVMe SSD at something closer to SATA SSD pricing.
- Physical: M.2 2280 (single sided)
- Controller: Phison E8 (PS5008-E8)
- Capacities: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
- PCIe 3.0 x2, M.2 2280
- Sequential: Up to 1.6/1.3 GB/s (R/W)
- Random: 240K+ / 180K+ IOPS (R/W)
- Weight: 8g
- Power: <5W
The MyDigitalDiscount guys keep things extremely simple with their SSD packaging, which is eaxctly how it should be. It doesn't take much to package and protect an M.2 SSD, and this does the job just fine. They also include a screwdriver and a screw just in case you run into a laptop that came without one installed.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Intel has been doing great with their Optane / 3D XPoint products lately, but what about NAND? Samsung had been leading the pack with their VNAND for a few years now, forcing competitors to struggle to keep up on the capacity, performance, and endurance fronts. Intel's 3D NAND production (announced in 2015) is finally starting to come into its full stride, with 64-layer TLC NAND shipping in their 545S in mid 2017. With SATA essentially covered, PCIe NAND solutions have been a bit rough for Intel. The SSD 600p was their first M.2 PCIe product, launching over a year ago. While it was cost-effective, it was not a stellar performer. This left the now extremely dated SSD 750 as their flagship NAND product. It was great for its time, but was only available in HHHL and U.2 form factors, precluding any possibility of mobile use. With their 3D NAND finally in a good position, what Intel really needed was a truly solid M.2 product, and I'm happy to report that such a thing has finally happened:
Behold the Intel SSD 760p Series, currently available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities, with 1TB and 2TB coming later in Q1 2018. Today we will be reviewing all currently available capacities.
This chart makes me happy. Finally, an Intel M.2 SSD with competitive specs! Note that the performance specs all come in at 2x the 600p, all while consuming half of the power of the older model. Endurance remains the same, but the 600p's problems were with performance, not endurance.
Packaging was very similar to that of the 600p and other Intel products. Simple and no frills. Gets the job done.
You know you want to see how these perform, right? Read on to find out!
Subject: Memory | April 7, 2017 - 03:50 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Trident Z RGB, intel z270, Intel X99, G.Skill, DDR4-3333MHz, AM4, 128Gb
You did read that correctly, the new Trident Z RGB kit consists of eight 16GB DIMMs which should give you more than enough memory to play with in a variety of ways, including a decent sized RAM drive. There are also some smaller kits available as well as different frequencies, something that Ryzen users should take a peek at as AMD's new chip loves fast RAM. They do not specify AMD support but one would expect to be able to utilize these chips. This particular kit sports timings of CL16-18-18-38 and below you can see the sizes, frequencies and timings of the other Trident Z RGB kits.
As the name implies, these DIMMs do indeed have LEDs on them, supporting a wide variety of colours and with a variety of modes so you can have dynamic lighting effects, if that is your desire. You can see a video of them in action below.
PR below the fold
The Need for Speed
Around here storage is Allyn’s territory, but I decided to share my experience with a new $20 flash drive I picked up that promised some impressive speeds via USB 3.0. The drive is the Lexar JumpDrive P20, and I bought the 32GB version, which is the lowest capacity of the three drives in the series. 64GB and 128GB versions of the JumpDrive P20 are available, with advertised speeds of up to 400 MB/s from all three, and reads and up to 270 MB/s writes - if you buy the largest capacity.
My humble 32GB model still boasts up to 140 MB/s writes, which would be faster than any USB drive I’ve ever owned (my SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 16GB drive is limited to 60 MB/s writes, and can hit about 190 MB/s reads), and the speeds of the P20 even approach that of some lower capacity SATA 3 SSDs - if it lives up to the claims. The price was right, so I took the plunge. (My hard-earned $20 at stake!)
Size comparison with other USB flash drives on hand (P20 on far right)
First we'll look at the features from Lexar:
- Among the fastest USB flash drives available, with speeds up to 400MB/s read and 270MB/s write
- Sleek design with metal alloy base and high-gloss mirror finish top
- Securely protects files using EncryptStick Lite software, an advanced security solution with 256-bit AES encryption
- Reliably stores and transfers files, photos, videos, and more
- High-capacity options to store more files on the go
- Compatible with PC and Mac systems
- Backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices
- Limited lifetime warranty
Subject: Memory | May 14, 2015 - 07:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Vengeance LPX, Dominator Platinum, ddr4, corsair, 128Gb
Corsair has just released the three largest unbuffered DDR4 kits available for enthusiasts who can afford the asking price. Two 128GB Dominator Platinum kits, one clocked at 2400MHz and one at 2666MHz along with a 2400MHz Vengeance LPX have just gone on sale. All three kits consist of eight 16GB modules which means that the number of motherboards that support these kits is extremely limited, the EVGA X99 Classified, ASRock's X99 Extreme4 and the Asus X99-E WS are among the few. As you can see below the investment is rather high but if you want bragging rights, or an amazingly large RAM drive then Corsair has a solution for you.
Corsair, a worldwide leader in high-performance PC components, today announced the availability of the world’s first available 128GB DDR4 unbuffered memory kits. Available in Corsair’s Vengeance LPX and Dominator Platinum Series lines, the new 128GB capacities give content creators an unprecedented amount of high-speed DDR4 SDRAM for memory-hungry applications.
The 128GB (8 x 16GB) DDR4 memory kits are designed for the latest Intel X99 series motherboards and support XMP 2.0 for the ultimate compatibility, reliability, and performance. The first available kits are rated at speeds of 2666MHz and 2400MHz and higher speeds will be announced soon. Like all Corsair memory, the new kits are backed by a lifetime warranty.
Dominator Platinum Series 128GB DDR4 Memory
The most advanced memory kits available, the Dominator Platinum series DDR4 modules feature a striking industrial design for good looks, patented DHX technology for cooler operation, and user-swappable colored “light pipes” for customizable LED lighting. Dominator Platinum memory is built with hand-screened ICs, undergoes rigorous performance testing, and incorporates patented DHX cooling technology for reliable performance in demanding environments.
Vengeance LPX Series 128GB DDR4 Memory
Vengeance LPX memory is designed for high-performance overclocking with aluminum heatspreaders for faster heat dissipation and eight-layer PCB for superior overclocking headroom. Each IC is individually screened for performance potential.
Pricing and Lifetime Warranty
Corsair Dominator Platinum and Vengeance LPX DDR4 memory kits are available from Corsair.com and Corsair’s worldwide network of authorized distributors and resellers. All Corsair memory is backed with a limited lifetime warranty and Corsair customer service and technical support.
Given that we are anticipating a launch of the Samsung 850 EVO very shortly, it is a good time to back fill on the complete performance picture of the 850 Pro series. We have done several full capacity roundups of various SSD models over the past months, and the common theme with all of them is that as the die count is reduced in lower capacity models, so is the parallelism that can be achieved. This effect varies based on what type of flash memory die is used, but the end result is mostly an apparent reduction in write performance. Fueling this issue is the increase in flash memory die capacity over time.
There are two different ways to counteract the effects of write speed reductions caused by larger capacity / fewer dies:
- Reduce die capacity.
- Increase write performance per die.
Recently there has been a trend towards *lower* capacity dies. Micron makes their 16nm flash in both 128Gbit and 64Gbit. Shifting back towards the 64Gbit dies in lower capacity SSD models helps them keep the die count up, increasing overall parallelism, and therefore keeping write speeds and random IO performance relatively high.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
It seems a lot of folks have been incorporating Silicon Motion's SM2246EN controller into their product lines. We first reviewed the Angelbird SSD wrk, but only in a 512GB capacity. We then reviewed a pair of Corsair Force LX's (256GB and 512GB). ADATA has joined the club with their new Premier SP610 product line, and today we are going to take a look at all available capacities of this new model:
It's fortunate that ADATA was able to sample us a full capacity spread, as this will let us evaluate all shipping SSD capacites that exist for the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
A few months back, we took a look at the ADATA Premier Pro SP920 series of SSDs. Those came equipped with the Marvell 88SS9189 controller. Marvell SSD controllers have always done a good job, and they were among the first to support SATA 6Gbit speeds. Crucial was one of the first to adopt the Marvell controller into their SATA SSD products, so it seems fitting that we revisit the 88SS9189 controller in the form of Micron's Crucial M550 Series of SSDs:
Being one of the big manufacturers of SSDs, Micron has some cool production videos. Here's one of their videos covering the production of flash all the way through to the assembly of an SSD. We actually toured one of these plants a few years back. Good stuff:
Subject: Storage | August 14, 2013 - 10:11 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Samsung, charge trap flash, vertical nand, vnand, 128Gb, enterprise ssd
Last week, Samsung announced that it had started producing a new stackable NAND flash memory called V-NAND, or vertical NAND. The new 3D V-NAND would initially be available in 128Gb (Gigabit) chips, but could eventually scale into as much as 1 Tb (Terabit) per chip by stacking additional dies vertically. Doing so allows Samsung some flexibility in scaling to higher capacities without going to increasingly expensive and difficult to manufacturer smaller manufacturing processes, which has been the traditional method of attaining denser flash.
The company has now announced the V-NAND SSD, which is its first Solid State Drive to use the Vertical NAND technology. Aimed at the enterprise server market, the V-NAND SSD will come in 480GB and 960GB capacities. The 2.5” form factor drives are 7mm thick and come equipped with a SATA III 6Gbps controller. On the high end, the 960GB model uses 64 MLC 3D V-NAND 128Gb dies for a total physical capacity of 1TB. However, user-accessible capacity will be only 960GB. Unfortunately, Samsung did not reveal how many physical chips the drives use, so its hard to say how those 64 128Gb dies are distributed (4 high in 16 chips or 8 high in 8 chips, etc).
The 960GB Samsung V-NAND SSD spotted by Engadget.
Samsung claims that the V-NAND SSD offers up to 20% increased performance and a 40% reduction in power consumption versus previous SSDs. Further, the 3D NAND using Samsung’s Charge Trap Flash technology is rated at 35K program erase cycles. Samsung rates the V-NAND memory itself as being twice as fast in writes and between two and ten times as reliable versus traditional 19nm floating gate NAND (the alternative to CTF NAND).
Samsung's 128Gb V-NAND die.
Samsung stated in a press release that it started production of the V-NAND SSD earlier this month. While it is introducing V-NAND into enterprise drives first, the technology will eventually trickle down into consumer drives. I’m interested to see this drive benchmarked for performance and write endurance to see if the 3D flash lives up to its potential.
Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2013 - 01:56 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Samsung, vnand, vertical nand, charge trap flash, 128Gb, nand
Today, Samsung announced that it has begun mass production of a new kind of 3D NAND flash memory that offers up higher reliability and write performance versus traditional 2d “planar” technologies. The so-called VNAND (Vertical NAND) is currently being used in 128Gb (Gigabit) flash chips (matching current 2D flash chips), but the technology has the potential to go much further in terms of capacity.
The VNAND combines an updated version of Samsung’s Charge Trap Flash (CTF) technology (originally developed in 2006) with a vertical stacking and interconnect technology that uses special etching techniques to punch holes and electrical connections down from the top of the highest die to the bottom die.
Samsung claims that its proprietary interconnect technology is (currently) able to support up to 24 layers of flash memory. The resulting VNAND offers up to twice the write performance and between 2-times and 10-times higher reliability versus traditional 19nm floating gate NAND (the alternative to CTF NAND) developed on planar processes.
With traditional NAND flash, as flash density increases (such as the move from 25nm to 19nm NAND flash), inter-cell interference also increases due to thinner walls and increased leakage. Samsung is hoping to solve that problem with its vertically-stacked NAND by allowing density to increase without dealing with shrinking the individual layers. Further, each layer is separated by a dielectric (electric insulator) that is currently 50nm and constructed of Silicon Nitride (SiN). The company notes that there is a limit to the height at which flash can be stacked before it becomes un-economical, but that is still a ways off compared to where NAND flash is now as far as densities seen in the wild.
Samsung’s new 128Gb VNAND chip is expected to scale to at least 1Tb depending on consumer demand. The technology is aimed at both embedded NAND and SSDs, but the former is likely to make use of 3D vertical NAND first. Standard 2.5" SSDs could also benefit but modern SSDs are already bottle-necked by the SATA III 6Gbps bus much less by faster write speed potential. Mobile devices, however, could benefit from faster single-chip VNAND packages immediately with faster write speeds and higher reliability (and potentially, density) versus 2D NAND chips.
It is definitely a technology with potential that is worth keeping an eye on.
The full press release can be found over at Engadget.