Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
While Western Digital has a huge history with spinning disks, their experience with SSDs has been touch and go. They expanded further into the HDD arena with their very long merging process with HGST, but they have only really dabbled in the solid-state arena. Their earliest attempt was with the Black2 back in 2013, which was a novel concept that never really caught mainstream fame. WD acquired SanDisk a few years back, but they were better known for SD cards and OEM SATA SSDs. More recently we began seeing WD test the waters with PCIe / NVMe parts, with a WD Black and Blue launching at CES 2017. Those were 'ok', but were more of a budget SSD than a powerhouse class-leading product worthy of the Black moniker. Today we see WD take another stab at a WD Black NVMe SSD:
Enter the WD Black NVMe and SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D 1TB SSDs. Yes, I know the names are a mouthful, but I would be more worried about the potential for confusion when looking for a WD Black SSD on the market (as there are now two *very* similarly named products). Technically the new part is the 'Western Digital WD Black NVMe SSD'. Yes I know don't tell me - they said Western Digital twice.
We will also be reviewing the SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D SSD today. I'm including those results as well, but just as they did with their previous SATA SSD release, these are identical parts with different packaging and labeling. The specs are the same. Heck, the firmware is the same minus the bits that report the device name to the host. For the sake of simplicity, and the fact that the WD part is meant for retail/gamers (SanDisk for creative pros and OEMs), I'll stick with referring mostly to the WD side throughout this review.
Strong specs here. Fast sequentials, but random IOPS is rated at QD32 across 8 threads (QD=256), which is, well, just silly. I know WD is doing this because 'everyone is doing it', and they have to compete, but I have a feeling we will also be seeing very good low QD performance today.
It doesn't get much more no frills than this.
Subject: Storage | February 27, 2018 - 11:03 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: wdc, WD, ssd, SN720, SN520, sandisk, NCMe, nand, M.2, BiCS, 2280, 2242, 2230
Western Digital launched a few new NVMe SSDs at Mobile World Congress today:
To the left we have the WD PC SN720, a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD boasting speeds of up to 3.4GB/s and IOPS up to 500k. Available capacities are 1TB, 512GB, and 256GB. To the right we have the WD PC SN520, a more power efficient variant running on half of the PCIe lanes, and with specs coming in at roughly half of its faster brother. Capacities are also cut in half, with the range dropping to 512GB, 256GB, and 128GB. Interestingly, all capacities are available in three M.2 form factors (2280, 2242, and 2230).
We don't have a specific part number for the controller, but WD told us they are manufactured on a 28nm process, employ 8 NAND channels, and use DDR4 RAM (not DRAMless). The controller is optimized for interfacing with WD (/Toshiba) BiCS NAND flash, meaning these SSDs should prove to be a well integrated solution.
Press blast from WD appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | February 5, 2018 - 11:54 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, SM2258, silicon motion, plextor, BiCS, 3d nand
Plextor is introducing a new SATA SSD option with its 2.5” M8VC and M.2 M8VG solid state drives. The M8V series pairs a Silicon Motion SM2258 controller with Toshiba’s 64-layer 3D TLC NAND (BICS flash) to deliver budget SSDs in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities. Plextor is using its own Plex Nitro firmware and includes SLC cache, system RAM cache support, Plex Compressor compression, 128-bit ECC and LDPC error correction, and hardware AES encryption. Plextor warranties its M8V series SSDs for three years.
Plextor’s new drives are limited by the SATA 6 Gbps interface and max out at 560 MB/s sequential reads. Sequential writes top out at 400 MB/s for the 128 GB model, 510 MB/s for the 256 GB model, and 520 MB/s for the 512 GB drive. Similarly, 4K random reads and 4K random writes scale up as you add more flash which is shown in the table below. The top-end 512 GB drive hits 82K 4K random read IOPS and 81K 4K random write IOPS. The 256 GB solid state drives are only slightly slower at 81K and 80K respectively. The 128 GB M8V SSDs do not appear to have enough flash channels to keep up with the larger capacity drives though as their performance maxes out at 60K random reads and 70K random writes.
|Plextor M8V Series||128 GB||256 GB||512 GB|
|Sequential Reads||560 MB/s||560 MB/s||560 MB/s|
|Sequential Writes||400 MB/s||510 MB/s||520 MB/s|
|4K Random Read IOPS||60K||81K||82K|
|4K Random Write IOPS||70K||80K||81K|
|Endurance||70 TBW||140 TBW||280 TBW|
|MTBF (hours)||1.5 Million||1.5 Million||1.5 Million|
Plextor rates the M8V series at 0.5 DWPD (drive writes per day) and write endurance of 70 TB for the 128 GB, 140 TB for the 256 GB, and 280 TB for the 512 GB model. Plextor rates them at 1.5 million hours MTBF. These numbers aren’t too bad considering this is TLC flash and they are likely to get more life than the ratings (it’s just not guaranteed).
The SM2258 controller appears to be fairly well established and has also been used by Adata, Mushkin, and others for their budget solid state drives. Plextor did not announced pricing or availability and in searching around online I was not able to find them for sale yet. Its previous S2C series (M7V replacement) SATA drives came in at just under 26 cents/gigabyte using the same SMI 2258 controller but with SK Hynix 16nm planar TLC flash though so I would expect the M8V to come in close to that if not better.
I just wish we could get a SATA 4 standard already to at least get consumer systems up to the 12 Gbps enterprise-oriented SAS can hit. While RAM and GPU shopping may make your wallet cry more than a Steam sale, at least it is a good time to be shopping for storage. What do you think about the influx of budget SSDs? Have you upgraded your family’s PCs to the magical performance of solid state storage yet?
Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2017 - 01:27 PM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: x299, Windows 10 VR, video, toshiba, raven ridge, qualcomm, podcast, MSI GTX 1080 Ti GAMING X TRIO, Mate 10, MAMR, krack, Huawei, BiCS, Asus ROG Strix XG27VQ, ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero, ASRock X299E-ITX/ac, amd, 5G
PC Perspective Podcast #472 - 10/19/17
Join us for discussion on Western Digital MAMR Tech, Office Network upgrade, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jermey Hellstrom
Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison
Program length: 1:20:07
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
0:33:05 Toshiba flicks their BiCS
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
1:10:15 Ryan: Tiki torch kits
1:13:45 Jeremy: That’s a deal, LG 65 UJ6540 T120HZ 4K UHD Active HDR
1:15:18 Josh: Sorta software… best Netflix Series yet.
1:17:10 Allyn: Low cost variable neutral density filter
Subject: Storage | October 12, 2017 - 02:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tr200, toshiba, BiCS, Toshiba TC58
The Tech Report tested out the 460GB version of the Toshiba TR200 SSD which uses 64-layer BiCS 3D flash. It is not quite compliant with Ryan's Law, but an MSRP of $150 for this drive is quite affordable. The drive uses Toshiba's own TC58 controller and like many current budget drives it lacks a RAM cache, making do with a psuedo-SLC cache. Performance wise it came out about the same as the Trion 100, which is to say at the bottom of the SSD pack, but the Trion drive has a RAM cache which offers some hope for higher end models based on the same flash. Pop by for the full review and think about this as a stocking stuffer for anyone you like, who is still spinning rust.
"Toshiba's first client drive with BiCS flash inside is the entry-level TR200. Join us as we find out just how much storage performance you can get on a budget these days."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba TR200 960GB SSD @ Kitguru
- Toshiba TR200 SSD 960GB @ Guru of 3D
- Adata's SE730H 512GB portable SSD @ The Tech Report
- WD My Passport SSD 256GB @ Kitguru
- Toshiba L200 1TB 2.5-inch Internal Hard Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Synology DiskStation DS418j NAS @ Modders-Inc
Subject: Storage | July 24, 2017 - 05:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, ocz, NVMe, nand, M.2, XG5, BiCS, 64-Layer
We first saw Toshiba's XG5 M.2 SSD at Computex this year but as of yet we have not had a chance to review it. The Tech Report on the other hand did get their mitts on the 512GB model of this drive and they put it through its paces in this review right here. Their results show a drive that beats OCZs' RD400 across the board and is impinging on Samsung's 960 Pro and EVO, though they are not quite there yet. The next generation will improve on performance which should spur Samsung to new heights with their next NVMe product. At the start of the article is some history on the current state of Toshiba which is worth checking out if you are not familiar with what is going on there.
"Toshiba's XG5 NVMe SSD is shipping to the company's OEM partners now. We run it through our test suite to see if the company's newfangled 64-layer BiCS NAND helps it compete with the best in the business."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- HP SSD S700 @ Benchmark Reviews
- Apacer Z280 M.2 PCIe 240GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- The 8TB WD Gold Datacenter Drive @ TechARP
Subject: Storage | June 28, 2017 - 09:49 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: wdc, WD, toshiba, QLC, nand, BiCS, 96-layer, 3d
A couple of announcements out of Toshiba and Western Digital today. First up is Toshiba announcing QLC (4 bit per cell) flash on their existing BiCS 3 (64-layer) technology. QLC may not be the best for endurance as the voltage tolerances become extremely tight with 16 individual voltage states per cell, but Toshiba has been working on this tech for a while now.
In the above slide from the Toshiba keynote at last year's Flash Memory Summit, we see the use case here is for 'archival grade flash', which would still offer fast reads but is not meant to be written as frequently as MLC or TLC flash. Employing QLC in Toshiba's current BiCS 3 (64-layer) flash would enable 1.5TB of storage in a 16-die stack (within one flash memory chip package).
Next up is BiCS 4, which was announced by Western Digital. We knew BiCS 4 was coming but did not know how many layers it would be. We now know that figure, and it is 96. The initial offerings will be the common 256Gbit (32GB) capacity per die, but stacking 96 cells high means the die will come in considerably smaller, meaning more per wafer, ultimately translating to lower cost per GB in your next SSD.
While these announcements are welcome, their timing and coordinated launch from both companies seems odd. Perhaps it has something to do with this?
Subject: Storage | June 28, 2017 - 02:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Toshiba XG5, toshiba, ssd, NVMe, nand, M.2, BiCS, 64-Layer
We first heard about the Toshiba XG5 1TB NVMe SSD at Computex, with its 64 layer BiCS flash and stated read speeds of 3GB/s, writes just over 2 GB/s. Today Kitguru published a review of the new drive, including ATTO results which match and even exceed the advertised read and write speeds. Their real world test involved copying 30GB of movies off of a 512GB Samsung 950 Pro to the XG5, only Samsung's new 960 lineup and the OCZ RD400 were able to beat Toshiba's new SSD. Read more in their full review, right here.
"The Toshiba XG5 1TB NVMe SSD contains Toshiba's newest 3D 64-Layer BiCS memory and our report will examine Toshiba's newest memory, as well as their newest NVMe controller to go along with it."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba N300 8TB HDD @ Kitguru
- Kingston Gold Series UHS-1 Speed Class 3 64GB MicroSDXC @ Modders-Inc
- Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate GT 2TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Drobo 5D3 DAS Review (Thunderbolt 3) @ Kitguru
- LaCie 2TB Rugged Thunderbolt USB-C Professional All-Terrain Mobile Storage Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | May 30, 2017 - 09:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, ocz, NVMe, nand, M.2, computex 2017, BiCS, 64-Layer
Last night we saw WD launch the first client SSDs with 64-layer NAND Flash, but recall that WD/SanDisk is in partnership with Toshiba to produce this new gen 3 BiCS memory, which means Toshiba is also launching their own product wrapped around this new high-density flash:
Enter the Toshiba XG5. It is certainly coming on strong here, as evidenced by the specs:
Unlike the WD/SanDisk launch, the BiCS flash on this Toshiba variant sits behind an NVMe SSD controller, with stated read speeds at 3GB/s and writes just over 2 GB/s. We don't yet have random performance figures, but we expect it to certainly be no slouch given the expected performance of this newest generation of flash memory. Let's take a quick look at some of the high points there:
Alright, so we have the typical things you'd expect, like better power efficiency and higher endurance, but there is a significant entry there under the performance category - 1-shot, full sequence programming. This is a big deal, since writing to flash memory is typically done in stages, with successive program cycles nudging cell voltages closer to their targets with each pass. This takes time and is one of the main things holding back the write speeds of NAND flash. This new BiCS is claimed to be able to successfully write in a single program cycle, which should translate to noticeable improvements in write latency.
Another thing helping with writes is that the XG5 will have its BiCS flash operating in a hybrid mode, meaning these are TLC SSDs with an SLC cache. We do not have confirmed cache sizes to report, but it's a safe bet that they will be similar to competing products.
We don't yet have pricing info, but we do know that the initial capacity offerings will start with 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB offerings. The XG5 is launching in the OEM channel in the second half of 2017. While this one is an OEM product, remember that OCZ is Toshiba's brand for client SSDs, so there's a possibility we may see a retail variant appear under that name in the future.
Subject: Storage | May 29, 2017 - 11:42 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Ultra, ssd, sandisk, nand, computex 2017, Blue, BiCS, 3d
Western Digital bought SanDisk nearly two years ago, but we had not really seen any products jointly launched under both brand labels. Until today:
The WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD and SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD are both products containing identical internals. Specifically, these are the first client SSDs built with 64-layer 3D NAND technology. Some specs:
- Sequential read: 560 MB/s
- Sequential write: 530 MB/s
- Capacity: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
- Form factor: 2.5" (WD and Sandisk), M.2 (SATA) 2280 (WD only)
MSRP's start at $99.99 for the 250GB models of all flavors (2.5" / M.2 SATA), and all products will ship with a 3-year warranty.
It might seem odd that we see an identical product shipped under two different brands owned by the same company, but WD is likely leveraging the large OEM relationship held by SanDisk. I'm actually curious to see how this pans out long term because it is a bit confusing at present.