Crucial expands their MX300 line of SSDs all the way up to 2TB

Subject: Storage | February 14, 2017 - 11:51 PM |
Tagged: tlc, slc, MX300, micron, imft, Dynamic Write Acceleration, DWA, crucial, 3DNAND, 3d nand

Last June Al took a look at the Crucial MX300 750GB and its ability to switch its cache dynamically from TLC to SLC, helping Crucial improve how they implemented this feature along the way.  It proved to be a great value for the money; not the best performing drive but among the least expensive on the market.  Crucial has since expanded the lineup and Hardware Canucks took a look at the 2TB model.  This model has more than just a larger pool of NAND, the RAM cache has been doubled up to 1GB and the dynamic cache has more space to work in as well.  Take a look at this economy sized drive in their full review.

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"Crucial's newest MX300 series continues to roll on with a new 2TB version. This SSD may be one of the best when it comes to performance, price and capacity all combined into one package."

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Speedy storage at stocking stuffer prices, the Samsung 750 EVO

Subject: Storage | December 19, 2016 - 07:49 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, SSD 750, slc, sata, Samsung, planar, 750, 2d

With current prices of $61 for 120GB, $89 for the 250GB and $140 for the 500GB model, anyone still stuck using spinning rust for their main drive can join the flash revolution.  Al reviewed these drives at the beginning of the year and there have been so many new drives this year you may have forgotten about it.  It is not the highest tech drive on the market, with 2D NAND and a SATA interface, which is also why they are so inexpensive.  Kitguru recently wrapped up a review of the drives and the Magician software which comes with it.

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"The one thing that was missing from Samsung’s range of SSD’s was a low price value oriented drive. This has been rectified by the arrival of the SSD750 EVO product line. To keep production costs and therefore the cost of the drive down, Samsung has forsaken the 3D V-NAND of the last few drive ranges and gone back to 2D Planer NAND."

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Source: Kitguru

Micron Launches 5100 Series Enterprise SSDs - 3D TLC up to 8TB!

Subject: Storage | December 5, 2016 - 07:48 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, sata, micron

Today Micron initiated the first of a multi-tier launch of a new SATA Enterprise SSD lineup built around their IMFT 32-layer 3D NAND Flash. It may seem odd for a full enterprise line to use IMFT 3D TLC, as that flash has not been known for the high random IOPS demands of the datacenter, but Micron looks to be making it work, and work well.

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Above is a performance consistency plot of their MAX model. While this does have the highest OP of all of the models, the consistency is surpassing even NVMe models (using a bus *much* faster than SATA). Sure the results are only using 1-second averages and not our Latency Percentile, but we will be able to pick out any single-IO inconsistencies once we get samples in for detailed review.

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Saturated IOPS performance also looks good 'on paper'.

The advantage to operating their flash in TLC mode is that the per die capacity moves from 32GB to 48GB, ultimately driving down the cost/GB of these products and making them an easier sell to enterprise customers. It also enables high capacities - the max capacity of the model with the least overprovisioning (ECO) will reach 8TB in a 2.5" SATA form factor when the last leg of this launch is completed later next year.

The three lines are all using the same controller and base firmware, but with differences in how the dies are laid out with respect to expected performance and endurance.

Below are all of the products being launched. All products use a Marvell 88SS1074 controller at SATA 6Gbit:

  • 5100 ECO
    • 2.5" 7mm: 480, 960, 1920, 3840, 7680 GB
    • M.2 2280: 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 380-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 93k / 9k-31k IOPS
    • Endurance: <=1 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.45 - $0.55
  • 5100 PRO
    • 2.5" 7mm: 240, 480, 960, 1920, 3840 GB
    • M.2 2280: 240, 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 380-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 78 (240GB)-93k / 26k-43k IOPS
    • Endurance: 1-3 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.55 - $0.65
  • 5100 MAX
    • 2.5" 7mm: 240, 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • M.2 2280: (none)
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 310-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 93k / 48k-74k IOPS
    • Endurance: 5 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.65 - $0.75

All models come with Micron 'Flex Capacity', which enables custom *increases* in OverProvisioning. Flex Security enables FIPS 140-2 validated 256-bit AES encryption.

The specs are very good when you consider their performance consistency claims, meaning a 74k IOPS random write rating applies to random writes across the *entire span* of the SSD *at steady state*. Consumer SSD firmware typically chokes with this type of workload, even ones equipped with MLC flash.

We will have more on the 5100 Series from Micron as these products are rolled out and sampled to us for performance review.

Press blast after the break.

Source: Micron

Toshiba Announces OCZ TL100 2.5" SATA SSDs - 240GB at $0.28/GB!

Subject: Storage | September 27, 2016 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, tlc, TL100, ssd, sata, ocz, 2.5

Toshiba launched the OCZ TL100 series today:

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These are TLC SSDs aimed at the budget sector. They are using the ever more common SLC cached TLC hybrid configuration, and come in at bargain basement pricing. Here are the specs:

  • Capacity: 120 / 240 GB
  • Sequential read / write: 550 / 530 MB/s
  • Random read / write: 85k / 80k IOPS
  • Warranty: 3 years with advance replacement
  • Endurance (120/240GB): 30 / 60 TBW (27 / 54 GB/day)
  • Price:
    • 120GB: $45 ($0.38/GB)
    • 240GB: $68 ($0.28/GB)

Yes, that's $0.28/GB and a 240GB SSD at less than $70 bucks. The endurance is on the low side, but if these perform even half way decently, they will be a great low-cost way to go for most budget PC builds. We'll be testing these shortly on a new suite of tests with workloads that have been specifically optimized to more closely resemble real usage. These tests allow hybrid SSDs to use their SLC cache as opposed to flooding the drives with IO and forcing TLC writes. Don't be surprised if these perform surprisingly well for their cost. No guarantees as we haven't tested them yet, but we will soon!

Press blast after the break.

Source: OCZ

The AS330 Panther 960GB SSD is branded Apacer but what matters is what is inside

Subject: Storage | September 26, 2016 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: tlc, Phison PS3110-S10, AS330 Panther, apacer, 960GB SSD

Almost everyone seems to be making SATA SSDs these days, the market is much more crowded that at this time last year which can make your purchasing decisions more complicated.  If you cannot afford the new M.2 and PCIe SSDs but are instead looking for a SATA SSD then your choices are varied and you cannot necessarily depend on price when you make your decision.

The internals are what really determines the value you are getting from an SSD, in this case the AS330 uses the four channel Phison PS3110-S10 controller, 15nm Toshiba TLC NAND and has a 512MB DDR3L-1600 cache.  This puts it in the same class as many other value priced SSDs from companies like PNY and Kingston.  Hardware Canucks' testing proves this to be true, the drive is a bit slower than the OCZ Trion 150 but is solidly in the middle of the pack of comparable SSDs.  The price you can find the drive will be the deciding factor, the 960GB model should sell around $200, the 480GB model is currently $120 on Newegg.

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"Apacer's AS330 Panther SSD is inexpensive, offers good performance and has capacity to burn. But can this drive roar or will a lack of brand recognition cause it to purr out to obscurity? "

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

Subject: Storage | September 6, 2016 - 06:29 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 - 05:45 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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Storage

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 - 07:46 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...