Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
Flash Memory Summit 2018 is on, and it's rapidly looking like the theme of the year is 'QLC'. QLC stands for Quad Level Cell, which is a bit of a misnomer since there are actually 16 voltage levels of a QLC cell - the 'quad' actually relating to the four bits of data that can be stored at any specific location.
Doubling the number of voltage states allows you to store 33% more data in a given number of flash cells, but comes at a cost. The tighter voltage tolerances required and higher sensitivity to cell leakage mean that endurance ratings cannot be as high as TLC or MLC, and programming (writing) requires greater voltage precision, meaning slower writes. Reads may also see a slight penalty since it is more difficult to discriminate more finely grained voltage thresholds. SSD makers have been trying to overcome these hurdles for years, and it seems that Intel is now the first to crack the code, launching their first mainstream QLC SSD:
Specifications are not earth shattering but respectable for a budget-minded NVMe SSD. 1.8GB/s sequentials and 250,000 IOPS fall well within NVMe territory. The write figures may be higher than expected given this article intro, but Intel has a few tricks up their sleeves here that help them pull this off:
While not specifically called out in the specs, Intel has implemented a large dynamic write cache to help overcome slower QLC media write speeds. The idea here is that in the vast majority of typical usage scenarios, the user should never see QLC speeds and will only ever be writing to SLC. The dynamic cache is created by simply operating sections of the QLC media in SLC mode (1TB of QLC = 256GB of SLC). Intel could have gone higher here, but doing so would more negatively impact endurance since erasing blocks of cells wears the flash similarly regardless of the mode it is currently operating in.
Simple packaging. Nothing to write home about.
Read on for our full review of the Intel SSD 660p 1TB QLC SSD!
Subject: Storage | August 18, 2014 - 03:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: 512GB, angelbird, silicon motion, SMI, ssd, wrk
The simple look and extra care that went into manufacturing the Angelbird wrk SSDs show that they are serious about breaking into the market. They have launched at a price slightly higher than average for the market but also bring the best sequential reads that Al has seen yet on a SATA drive. Legit Reviews pried the drive open to reveal the Silicon Motion SM2246EN SATA III 6Gbps SSD controller previously seen on Corsair, PNY, ADATA and Transcend SSDs, along with MLC flash and 256MB of DDR3 cache. In Legit Reviews testing of the drive they concluded that you should pick up the 256GB or 512GB model for the extra performance that it brings, you will not be disappointed.
"Angelbird might night be a household name, but the Austrian company has been around in the SSD market for a number of years and has gotten a reputation for having high quality products. When we found out that Angelbird was coming out with a new SSD product like called the SSD wrk we couldn’t wait to get our hands on one of these drives and see what Angelbird has to offer consumers. Read on to find out!"
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Angelbird SSD wrk 512GB SSD Review @HiTech Legion
- Angelbird SSD wrk SSD @ The SSD Review
- Angelbird SSD wrk 512 GB @ techPowerUp
- Angelbird 512GB wrk @ Kitguru
- OCZ ARC 100 240GB @ eTeknix
- Plextor M6S 256GB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- OCZ ARC 100 @ HardwareHeaven
- OCZ RevoDrive 350 480GB PCIe SSD Review @ Neoseeker
- Kingston SM2280S3 120GB M.2 SATA SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Icy Dock ICYCube 4-Bay External Enclosure Review @HiTech Legion
- Brinell Single-Action Stick 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
You might have never heard of Angelbird - until now, that is. Angelbird Technologies GmbH is an SSD maker based out of Vorarlberg, Austria. Their product lines have historically focused around high end and Mac-based products, with a recent arch into portable SSDs (like their SSD2go line). Angelbird is known for their high build quality, and their products are assembled using a technique I can appreciate - vapor phase soldering - (seen here) a technique that puts the least possible thermal stress on the components, as well as ensuring all solder joints are oxygen free. While the vast majority of the their prior products have been build around SandForce controllers, today they have launched a new line, the SSD wrk:
The Angelbird SSD wrk is built around a new (to them) controller, the SM2246EN from Silicon Motion:
Silicon Motion prides themselves on making SSD controllers that deliver good performance at very low power consumption. For those wanting more detail on this particular controller technology, we have a detailed analysis from last August, available at this page.