Samsung Introduces 870 EVO SATA SSDs: 128L TLC With an Updated Controller

Samsung is launching the latest iteration of their mainstream consumer TLC-based SATA SSDs. The new 870 EVO brings the same generational updates to Samsung’s 3D NAND and SSD controller that we saw with last year’s 870 QVO. The updated EVO SATA SSD arrives three years after the launch of the Samsung 860 EVO and 860 PRO.

The 870 EVO uses the same sixth-generation Samsung V-NAND (3D NAND) that debuted in the high-end 980 PRO NVMe SSD. Officially, this is “1xx layers”, but all signs point to it being 128L 3D NAND. This may sound unimpressive when Micron and SK hynix have already announced their 176-layer 3D NAND, but Samsung’s NAND manufacturing process is arguably more advanced: they’re still able to manufacture all 128L in one batch, while the competition have all long since adopted string stacking to split the process into two batches (eg. two groups of 88 layers).

The 870 EVO uses the same Samsung MKX controller we first saw with the 870 QVO. Samsung still hasn’t shared what’s improved with this generation of controller, but we get a bit of a hint from the fact that they claim the 870 EVO offers a 38% improvement to queue depth 1 random read latency compared to the 860 EVO. Since Samsung has previously shared that their 128L 3D TLC only offers a 10% improvement in raw read latency, it looks like the updated controller may be a bigger factor in the drive’s overall performance increase. Either way, a 38% improvement in one of the few performance metrics that SATA SSDs have any room to improve on is a bold claim.

Samsung 870 EVO Specifications
Capacity 250 GB 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB
Form Factor 2.5″ 7mm SATA
Controller Samsung MKX
NAND Flash Samsung 512Gbit 128L 3D TLC
LPDDR4 DRAM 512MB 1 GB 2 GB 4 GB
Sequential Read 560 MB/s
Sequential Write 530 MB/s
Random Read 98k IOPS
Random Write 88k IOPS
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance 150 TB
0.3 DWPD
300 TB
0.3 DWPD
600 TB
0.3 DWPD
1200 TB
0.3 DWPD
2400 TB
0.3 DWPD
Launch MSRP $49.99
(20¢/GB)
$79.99
(16¢/GB)
$139.99
(14¢/GB)
$269.99
(13¢/GB)
$529.99
(13¢/GB)

Samsung didn’t give us the full detailed spec sheet, but among the basic specifications there are no surprises. Peak throughput is as usual limited by the SATA interface. Write endurance is still 0.3 drive writes per day with a five year warranty. The capacity options still run from 250GB to 4TB. Launch MSRPs are substantially higher than current street prices for the 860 EVO and are well into NVMe price territory, but we expect the 870 EVO’s prices to come down fairly soon given the overall state of the market with a bit of an oversupply for NAND flash memory.

We don’t have a full review of the 870 EVO ready today because the timing is rather awkward. It’s a bit cheeky of Samsung to launch this drive just two business days after the end of CES, and with only a week of advance notice. We also hadn’t started running SATA drives through our new 2021 SSD test suite, so the past several days have kept our new testbeds busy testing the 870 EVO and various other SATA drives to compare against. Preliminary results show that the 870 EVO improves performance across the board for our AnandTech Storage Bench trace tests, though with slight increases in power consumption. Samsung’s claim of 38% better QD1 random read performance also looks to be an exaggeration, but we’ll be back later this week with a full analysis of the test results.

We also haven’t heard any new official information from Samsung about an 870 PRO to round out this generation of SATA drives, but they did mention an 870 PRO in passing in a newsletter last fall. Since their consumer NVMe line has switched over to using TLC NAND for the 980 PRO, there’s some uncertainty whether an 870 PRO will continue using MLC NAND. If it does, that will be the first appearance of 128L MLC from Samsung.

Samsung is launching the latest iteration of their mainstream consumer TLC-based SATA SSDs. The new 870 EVO brings the same generational updates to Samsung's 3D NAND and SSD controller that we saw with last year's 870 QVO. The updated EVO SATA SSD arrives three years after the launch of the Samsung 860 EVO and 860 PRO.

The 870 EVO uses the same sixth-generation Samsung V-NAND (3D NAND) that debuted in the high-end 980 PRO NVMe SSD. Officially, this is "1xx layers", but all signs point to it being 128L 3D NAND. This may sound unimpressive when Micron and SK hynix have already announced their 176-layer 3D NAND, but Samsung's NAND manufacturing process is arguably more advanced: they're still able to manufacture all 128L in one batch, while the competition have all long since adopted string stacking to split the process into two batches (eg. two groups of 88 layers).

The 870 EVO uses the same Samsung MKX controller we first saw with the 870 QVO. Samsung still hasn't shared what's improved with this generation of controller, but we get a bit of a hint from the fact that they claim the 870 EVO offers a 38% improvement to queue depth 1 random read latency compared to the 860 EVO. Since Samsung has previously shared that their 128L 3D TLC only offers a 10% improvement in raw read latency, it looks like the updated controller may be a bigger factor in the drive's overall performance increase. Either way, a 38% improvement in one of the few performance metrics that SATA SSDs have any room to improve on is a bold claim.

Samsung 870 EVO Specifications
Capacity 250 GB 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB
Form Factor 2.5" 7mm SATA
Controller Samsung MKX
NAND Flash Samsung 512Gbit 128L 3D TLC
LPDDR4 DRAM 512MB 1 GB 2 GB 4 GB
Sequential Read 560 MB/s
Sequential Write 530 MB/s
Random Read 98k IOPS
Random Write 88k IOPS
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance 150 TB
0.3 DWPD
300 TB
0.3 DWPD
600 TB
0.3 DWPD
1200 TB
0.3 DWPD
2400 TB
0.3 DWPD
Launch MSRP $49.99
(20¢/GB)
$79.99
(16¢/GB)
$139.99
(14¢/GB)
$269.99
(13¢/GB)
$529.99
(13¢/GB)

Samsung didn't give us the full detailed spec sheet, but among the basic specifications there are no surprises. Peak throughput is as usual limited by the SATA interface. Write endurance is still 0.3 drive writes per day with a five year warranty. The capacity options still run from 250GB to 4TB. Launch MSRPs are substantially higher than current street prices for the 860 EVO and are well into NVMe price territory, but we expect the 870 EVO's prices to come down fairly soon given the overall state of the market with a bit of an oversupply for NAND flash memory.

We don't have a full review of the 870 EVO ready today because the timing is rather awkward. It's a bit cheeky of Samsung to launch this drive just two business days after the end of CES, and with only a week of advance notice. We also hadn't started running SATA drives through our new 2021 SSD test suite, so the past several days have kept our new testbeds busy testing the 870 EVO and various other SATA drives to compare against. Preliminary results show that the 870 EVO improves performance across the board for our AnandTech Storage Bench trace tests, though with slight increases in power consumption. Samsung's claim of 38% better QD1 random read performance also looks to be an exaggeration, but we'll be back later this week with a full analysis of the test results.

We also haven't heard any new official information from Samsung about an 870 PRO to round out this generation of SATA drives, but they did mention an 870 PRO in passing in a newsletter last fall. Since their consumer NVMe line has switched over to using TLC NAND for the 980 PRO, there's some uncertainty whether an 870 PRO will continue using MLC NAND. If it does, that will be the first appearance of 128L MLC from Samsung.

Kingston at CES 2021: New NVMe SSDs and a USB 3.2 Portable SSD

Kingston introduced a variety of new storage products at CES 2021, announcing new NVMe SSDs ranging from entry-level to high-end consumer and enterprise drives, plus new portable storage products.

NV1 SSD: Entry-Level Consumer NVMe

Kingston’s new entry-level consumer NVMe drive will be the NV1, possibly ushering in a new naming scheme for their consumer NVMe lineup. The product strategy for the NV1 was likened to their A400 SATA SSD: the NV1 will probably be competing to be one of the cheapest NVMe drives from a recognizable brand. The hardware used in the NV1 will fluctuate based on market conditions. Initially, we should see a mix of DRAMless controllers (Phison E13T, SM2263XT) paired with TLC NAND for lower capacities and QLC NAND for at least the highest 2TB capacity. This means the NV1 will be more low-end than their current A2000, which straddles the line between low-end and mainstream NVMe SSDs by using TLC NAND and a SM2263 controller with DRAM, albeit only four NAND channels. Kingston is planning for the NV1 to be ready to hit the market around the end of Q1 or early in Q2.

High-End Consumer NVMe, Codenamed Ghost Tree

At the high end, Kingston is working on a PCIe 4.0 SSD based on the Phison E18 controller. This is currently codenamed “Ghost Tree”, and a more conventional product name will be chosen before release. This drive will take over the flagship position from their current KC2500, their second product based on the Silicon Motion SM2262EN controller. The Ghost Tree product will offer capacities up to 4TB. Kingston didn’t disclose what NAND will be used, but given the timing we would expect to see Micron’s 176L TLC rather than the 96L TLC used by the Phison E18 drives that are already on the market.

XS2000 USB 3.2 Portable SSD

In the second half of the year, Kingston will introduce the XS2000 high-end portable SSD. This will support USB 3.2 Gen2x2 to provide speeds of up to about 2GB/s, and capacities will range from 500 GB to 2 TB. Kingston hasn’t officially decided which controller the XS2000 will be based on, but they want to use a native USB controller rather than a NVMe controller behind a bridge chip. That means the newly-announced Phison U18 controller should be one of the leading candidates.

Enterprise SSD Updates

Last year, Kingston released the DC1000M, their first U.2 SSD. This year, they’re replacing it with the DC1500M, a fairly straightforward update to 96L 3D TLC from Kioxia that should bring some performance and power improvements. The DC1500M will still be using the Silicon Motion SM2270 16-channel enterprise NVMe controller, and this time they’ve added multiple namespaces support to the firmware. The DC1500M is currently in qualification and will be available around the end of Q1.

Kingston’s other enterprise NVMe product line is the DC1000B server boot drive, based on the Phison E12DC controller. Currently, the DC1000B is offered in 240G B and 480 GB capacities, but Kingston will soon be adding a 960 GB model.

Kingston is also starting to plan for a PCIe 4.0 U.2 drive, but this is in very early stages; they haven’t decided on a controller yet, so we won’t be seeing this launch any time soon. Kingston didn’t share any plans for their enterprise SATA products, but they’re still selling more of those drives than their enterprise NVMe products. (Kingston’s enterprise/datacenter customer base tends to be less aggressive about migrating to newer platforms than the top hyperscalers that have been the primary drivers of NVMe adoption in datacenters.) Kingston’s DC450/DC500 family will probably be getting the occasional NAND updates for another few years.

 

Workflow Station and Card Readers

For content creators that juggle a lot of memory cards and USB storage devices, Kingston is introducing a new series of card readers and a 4-bay dock for those readers. The dock uses a USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) host interface and acts as a USB hub providing USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) connectivity to four modules. One module is bundled with the dock, providing one each of USB-C and USB-A ports. Two other modules are sold separately: a two-port SD reader and a two-port microSD reader, both supporting UHS-II. All three types of modules are capable of operating separately from the Workflow Station using a USB-C cable.

Kingston’s Workflow Station is a similar concept to the Workflow HR1 and HR2 hubs formerly offered by Lexar. Kingston’s system is more modern (USB-C support) and cheaper, but doesn’t support as many different memory card formats. This is mainly because Kingston isn’t interested in making a reader module for a format they’re not currently selling cards for, ruling out CFast and all the newer PCIe-based standards that are trying to gain a foothold in the market.

Interested in more of the latest industry news? Check out our CES 2021 trade show landing page!

Kingston introduced a variety of new storage products at CES 2021, announcing new NVMe SSDs ranging from entry-level to high-end consumer and enterprise drives, plus new portable storage products.

NV1 SSD: Entry-Level Consumer NVMe

Kingston's new entry-level consumer NVMe drive will be the NV1, possibly ushering in a new naming scheme for their consumer NVMe lineup. The product strategy for the NV1 was likened to their A400 SATA SSD: the NV1 will probably be competing to be one of the cheapest NVMe drives from a recognizable brand. The hardware used in the NV1 will fluctuate based on market conditions. Initially, we should see a mix of DRAMless controllers (Phison E13T, SM2263XT) paired with TLC NAND for lower capacities and QLC NAND for at least the highest 2TB capacity. This means the NV1 will be more low-end than their current A2000, which straddles the line between low-end and mainstream NVMe SSDs by using TLC NAND and a SM2263 controller with DRAM, albeit only four NAND channels. Kingston is planning for the NV1 to be ready to hit the market around the end of Q1 or early in Q2.

High-End Consumer NVMe, Codenamed Ghost Tree

At the high end, Kingston is working on a PCIe 4.0 SSD based on the Phison E18 controller. This is currently codenamed "Ghost Tree", and a more conventional product name will be chosen before release. This drive will take over the flagship position from their current KC2500, their second product based on the Silicon Motion SM2262EN controller. The Ghost Tree product will offer capacities up to 4TB. Kingston didn't disclose what NAND will be used, but given the timing we would expect to see Micron's 176L TLC rather than the 96L TLC used by the Phison E18 drives that are already on the market.

XS2000 USB 3.2 Portable SSD

In the second half of the year, Kingston will introduce the XS2000 high-end portable SSD. This will support USB 3.2 Gen2x2 to provide speeds of up to about 2GB/s, and capacities will range from 500 GB to 2 TB. Kingston hasn't officially decided which controller the XS2000 will be based on, but they want to use a native USB controller rather than a NVMe controller behind a bridge chip. That means the newly-announced Phison U18 controller should be one of the leading candidates.

Enterprise SSD Updates

Last year, Kingston released the DC1000M, their first U.2 SSD. This year, they're replacing it with the DC1500M, a fairly straightforward update to 96L 3D TLC from Kioxia that should bring some performance and power improvements. The DC1500M will still be using the Silicon Motion SM2270 16-channel enterprise NVMe controller, and this time they've added multiple namespaces support to the firmware. The DC1500M is currently in qualification and will be available around the end of Q1.

Kingston's other enterprise NVMe product line is the DC1000B server boot drive, based on the Phison E12DC controller. Currently, the DC1000B is offered in 240G B and 480 GB capacities, but Kingston will soon be adding a 960 GB model.

Kingston is also starting to plan for a PCIe 4.0 U.2 drive, but this is in very early stages; they haven't decided on a controller yet, so we won't be seeing this launch any time soon. Kingston didn't share any plans for their enterprise SATA products, but they're still selling more of those drives than their enterprise NVMe products. (Kingston's enterprise/datacenter customer base tends to be less aggressive about migrating to newer platforms than the top hyperscalers that have been the primary drivers of NVMe adoption in datacenters.) Kingston's DC450/DC500 family will probably be getting the occasional NAND updates for another few years.

 

Workflow Station and Card Readers

For content creators that juggle a lot of memory cards and USB storage devices, Kingston is introducing a new series of card readers and a 4-bay dock for those readers. The dock uses a USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) host interface and acts as a USB hub providing USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) connectivity to four modules. One module is bundled with the dock, providing one each of USB-C and USB-A ports. Two other modules are sold separately: a two-port SD reader and a two-port microSD reader, both supporting UHS-II. All three types of modules are capable of operating separately from the Workflow Station using a USB-C cable.

Kingston's Workflow Station is a similar concept to the Workflow HR1 and HR2 hubs formerly offered by Lexar. Kingston's system is more modern (USB-C support) and cheaper, but doesn't support as many different memory card formats. This is mainly because Kingston isn't interested in making a reader module for a format they're not currently selling cards for, ruling out CFast and all the newer PCIe-based standards that are trying to gain a foothold in the market.

Interested in more of the latest industry news? Check out our CES 2021 trade show landing page!

CES 2021: OWC Introduces 3.5″ U.2 SSD Carrier

OWC is introducing the U2 Shuttle, a novel carrier module that packs four M.2 NVMe SSDs into a 3.5″ U.2 form factor. The U2 Shuttle includes a PCIe switch to allow the four M.2 drives to share the bandwidth of the U2 Shuttle’s PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. OWC will be selling the U2 Shuttle as either an empty carrier to be populated by the user, or with their own Aura Pro NVMe SSDs pre-installed for up to 32TB of storage.

There’s hardly any ecosystem around 3.5″ U.2 drives as opposed to the vastly more common 2.5″ U.2 size, but OWC provides support with several of their Thunderbolt-attached storage products. Their new Mercury Pro U.2 Dual enclosure can accommodate two U.2 drives (2.5″ or 3.5″) and consequently with a pair of U2 Shuttles installed can hold up to 8 M.2 SSDs. OWC’s Thunderbay Flex 8 can accommodate U.2 SSDs in four of its eight drive bays. OWC is also introducing a 3.5″ U.2 retrofit kit for their Mercury Helios 3S PCIe expansion chassis. The U2 Shuttle can also be installed in ordinary 3.5″ internal hard drive bays and connected with a U.2 cable, provided there’s adequate cooling—four NVMe SSDs plus a PCIe switch can potentially add up to quite a bit more power than a typical 7200RPM hard drive.

The U2 Shuttle is marketed primarily as fast portable storage for professional media workflows, where a sneakernet solution may be the most straightforward way to transport many TBs of media from the set to the editing room. The U2 Shuttle doesn’t have any RAID functionality of its own, but it can be used along with OWC’s SoftRAID software RAID system. When used in the Thunderbay Flex 8 or an appropriate workstation or server setup, RAID functionality can also be provided through a tri-mode SAS/SATA/NVMe controller card.

U2 Shuttle with Mercury Pro U.2 Dual enclosure

The U2 Shuttle’s PCIe switch is ASMedia’s 12-lane ASM2812X, so each of the four M.2 SSDs in the U2 Shuttle only gets a PCIe 3.0 x2 connection to the switch. This makes a RAID configuration highly recommended, because no single M.2 SSD inside the U2 Shuttle will be able to use the full 4-lane throughput.

The OWC U2 Shuttle is available for purchase direct from OWC. Pricing starts at $149.99 for the empty U2 Shuttle with no SSDs, and goes up to $5299 for the 32TB configuration. For the smaller capacities, buying the U2 Shuttle with OWC’s SSDs pre-installed isn’t necessarily any cheaper than just purchasing a typical 2.5″ U.2 enterprise SSD. However, 32TB U.2 drives aren’t exactly a commodity product yet, and going the DIY route with the empty U2 Shuttle and cheaper consumer-grade TLC SSDs can be a more affordable way to pack several TB of NVMe storage into one device.

Interested in more of the latest industry news? Check out our CES 2021 trade show landing page!

OWC is introducing the U2 Shuttle, a novel carrier module that packs four M.2 NVMe SSDs into a 3.5" U.2 form factor. The U2 Shuttle includes a PCIe switch to allow the four M.2 drives to share the bandwidth of the U2 Shuttle's PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. OWC will be selling the U2 Shuttle as either an empty carrier to be populated by the user, or with their own Aura Pro NVMe SSDs pre-installed for up to 32TB of storage.

There's hardly any ecosystem around 3.5" U.2 drives as opposed to the vastly more common 2.5" U.2 size, but OWC provides support with several of their Thunderbolt-attached storage products. Their new Mercury Pro U.2 Dual enclosure can accommodate two U.2 drives (2.5" or 3.5") and consequently with a pair of U2 Shuttles installed can hold up to 8 M.2 SSDs. OWC's Thunderbay Flex 8 can accommodate U.2 SSDs in four of its eight drive bays. OWC is also introducing a 3.5" U.2 retrofit kit for their Mercury Helios 3S PCIe expansion chassis. The U2 Shuttle can also be installed in ordinary 3.5" internal hard drive bays and connected with a U.2 cable, provided there's adequate cooling—four NVMe SSDs plus a PCIe switch can potentially add up to quite a bit more power than a typical 7200RPM hard drive.

The U2 Shuttle is marketed primarily as fast portable storage for professional media workflows, where a sneakernet solution may be the most straightforward way to transport many TBs of media from the set to the editing room. The U2 Shuttle doesn't have any RAID functionality of its own, but it can be used along with OWC's SoftRAID software RAID system. When used in the Thunderbay Flex 8 or an appropriate workstation or server setup, RAID functionality can also be provided through a tri-mode SAS/SATA/NVMe controller card.

U2 Shuttle with Mercury Pro U.2 Dual enclosure

The U2 Shuttle's PCIe switch is ASMedia's 12-lane ASM2812X, so each of the four M.2 SSDs in the U2 Shuttle only gets a PCIe 3.0 x2 connection to the switch. This makes a RAID configuration highly recommended, because no single M.2 SSD inside the U2 Shuttle will be able to use the full 4-lane throughput.

The OWC U2 Shuttle is available for purchase direct from OWC. Pricing starts at $149.99 for the empty U2 Shuttle with no SSDs, and goes up to $5299 for the 32TB configuration. For the smaller capacities, buying the U2 Shuttle with OWC's SSDs pre-installed isn't necessarily any cheaper than just purchasing a typical 2.5" U.2 enterprise SSD. However, 32TB U.2 drives aren't exactly a commodity product yet, and going the DIY route with the empty U2 Shuttle and cheaper consumer-grade TLC SSDs can be a more affordable way to pack several TB of NVMe storage into one device.

Interested in more of the latest industry news? Check out our CES 2021 trade show landing page!

Phison at CES 2021: New USB SSD Controllers, Adds E21T For Low-End NVMe

At CES 2021, Phison gave us the usual updates on their SSD controller roadmap. The most significant new products coming this year are a pair of USB flash drive controllers for high-end portable SSDs, designed to compete against current solutions that combine a USB to NVMe bridge chip with a standard NVMe SSD controller. Phison is also planning to introduce a new entry-level DRAMless NVMe SSD controller later this year.

Phison U17 and U18 USB 3.2 SSD Controllers

For portable SSDs, Phison is introducing the U17 and U18 controllers. The U17 uses a USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 (10Gb/s) host interface and a two-channel NAND interface running at up to 1200 MT/s. The U18 doubles these: USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gb/s) and a four-channel NAND interface. The performance specs may look lackluster compared to Phison’s NVMe SSD controllers, but they are pretty close to saturating what their respective USB host interfaces can handle, and performance will be competitive with NVMe+USB bridge based portable SSDs. However, the U17 and U18 will have a significant power efficiency advantage, lower cost and smaller PCB footprint than existing portable SSDs. Phison will also be providing TCG Opal encryption support on the U18, enabling a level of security they say is impossible to achieve with NVMe+USB bridge solutions.

Phison USB 3.2 SSD Controller Comparsion
  PS2251-17
U17
PS2251-18
U18
Host Interface USB 3.2 Gen2x1 USB 3.2 Gen2x2
NAND Interface 2ch, 1200 MT/s 4ch, 1200 MT/s
Max Capacity 1 TB 4 TB
Error Correction 4th Gen LDPC
DRAM No
TCG Opal Support No Yes
Sequential Read 1000 MB/s 1900 MB/s
Sequential Write 800 MB/s 1700 MB/s
4KB Random Read (TLC) 185 MB/s 260 MB/s
4KB Random Write (TLC) 260 MB/s 330 MB/s

Phison expects to finish qualification of the U17 and U18 controllers later this month. We’re hoping to get a performance preview shortly thereafter by testing their reference designs, and retail products should be showing up within the next several months.

 

Phison E21T: Low-End NVMe Moves to 12nm

For NVMe SSDs, the only new controller Phison is talking about this year is the E21T, their latest DRAMless NVMe controller. This is a follow-up to the E19T controller, which has seen very little use in retail consumer SSDs but has actually been outselling their high-end E16 PCIe 4.0 controller due to strong demand from OEMs (especially from an unnamed customer with a very popular gaming product). With the E21T, Phison is finally moving this product segment from 28nm to 12nm fabrication, which allows for performance and power improvements of about 25% compared to the E19T. The basic architecture hasn’t changed much for the E21T: it’s still a 4-channel controller managed by a single ARM core plus Phison’s proprietary coprocessors. Performance has increased significantly, with peak throughput now rivaling the high-end E16 controller (though real-world performance on heavy workloads may still be slower due to the downsides of a DRAMless controller design).

Phison is planning to start sampling the E21T to customers around June of this year with mass production ramping up in Q4—around when we should start seeing PCIe 4.0 SSDs catching on with notebook OEMs. Most of the drives using the E21T will probably pair it with QLC NAND, and Phison has performance projections for what we can expect when using Micron’s 176L QLC.

Phison E21T QLC SSD Performance Projections
Capacity 512 GB 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB
Form Factor, Interface M.2 2280, PCIe 4.0 x4
Controller Phison E21T
NAND Flash Micron 176L 3D QLC
Sequential Read 4.5 GB/s 4.8 GB/s
Sequential Write 1.65 GB/s 3.3 GB/s 4.5 GB/s
Random Read IOPS (4kB) 250k 500k 780k
Random Write IOPS (4kB) 350k 700k 800k

It’s likely that many of the product lines currently using the E16 controller with QLC NAND will switch over to using the E21T in future generations, since the DRAMless E21T will be a cheaper overall solution. However, the 4TB limitation will be an issue for the handful of companies that have already started shipping 8TB QLC SSDs. Those 8TB M.2 SSDs currently use the E12 controller and its PCIe 4.0 successors are not available in a reduced-size package like the E12S variant. So 8TB PCIe 4.0 SSDs will probably have to push the limits of NAND packaging by stacking 16 dies per package in order to leave enough PCB space for an E16 or E18 controller plus DRAM.

Phison NVMe SSD Controller Comparsion
  E13T E19T E21T E12 E16 E18
Market Segment Mainstream Consumer High-End Consumer
Manufacturing
Process
28nm 12nm 28 nm 12 nm
CPU Cores 1x Cortex R5 1x Cortex R5 1x Cortex R5 2x Cortex R5 3x Cortex R5
Error Correction 4th Gen LDPC 3rd Gen LDPC 4th Gen LDPC
DRAM No DDR3/4 DDR4 DDR4, LPDDR4
Host Interface PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 4.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 4.0 x4
NVMe Version NVMe 1.3 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.3 NVMe 1.4
NAND Channels, Interface Speed 4 ch,
800 MT/s
4 ch,
1200 MT/s
4ch,
1600 MT/s
8 ch,
667 MT/s
8 ch,
800 MT/s
8 ch,
1200 MT/s
Max Capacity 2 TB 2 TB 4 TB 16 TB 16 TB 16 TB
Sequential Read 2.5 GB/s 3.75 GB/s 5.0 GB/s 3.4 GB/s 5.0 GB/s 7.4 GB/s
Sequential Write 2.1 GB/s 3.75 GB/s 4.5 GB/s 3.2 GB/s 4.4 GB/s 7.0 GB/s
4KB Random Read IOPS 350k 440k 780k 700k 750k 1M IOPS
4KB Random Write IOPS 450k 500k 800k 600k 750k 1M IOPS
Controller Power 1.2 W 1.6 W   2.1 W 2.6 W 3.0 W
Sampling Q2 2019 Q4 2019 Q3 2021 Q2 2018 Q1 2019 Q1 2020
Retail SSD
Availability
Q4 2019 Q1 2020? Q4 2021? Q4 2018 Q3 2019 Q4 2020

For high-end NVMe SSDs, Phison’s E18 finally started shipping in late 2020. Phison is pretty proud of this controller, and makes much of the fact that they’re the only ones so far hitting at least 7GB/s for both reads and writes. Phison plans for the E18 to be their last flagship PCIe 4.0 controller; they’re already looking forward to PCIe 5.0, and the E18 will remain their top of the line controller for probably another two years. This doesn’t mean Phison is entirely done with the E18. They’re still working on firmware tuning, especially around thermal management and trying to squeeze out a little bit more performance at low queue depths. There will also be continuing firmware updates to support newer generations of 3D NAND flash memory. Current E18 drives are using Micron 96L TLC, but Micron has started production of their 176L NAND. Phison expects to finish qualification with that NAND in March, so a second round of E18 drives should start arriving in April with 10-15% performance improvements.

Phison’s older E13T controller is also still around as a low-cost and low-power solution for entry-level NVMe applications. It’s particularly popular as a controller integrated into BGA SSDs, where it helps displace eMMC storage is devices like Chromebooks, tablets, and maybe even some smartphones.

 

Interested in more of the latest industry news? Check out our CES 2021 trade show landing page!

At CES 2021, Phison gave us the usual updates on their SSD controller roadmap. The most significant new products coming this year are a pair of USB flash drive controllers for high-end portable SSDs, designed to compete against current solutions that combine a USB to NVMe bridge chip with a standard NVMe SSD controller. Phison is also planning to introduce a new entry-level DRAMless NVMe SSD controller later this year.

Phison U17 and U18 USB 3.2 SSD Controllers

For portable SSDs, Phison is introducing the U17 and U18 controllers. The U17 uses a USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 (10Gb/s) host interface and a two-channel NAND interface running at up to 1200 MT/s. The U18 doubles these: USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gb/s) and a four-channel NAND interface. The performance specs may look lackluster compared to Phison's NVMe SSD controllers, but they are pretty close to saturating what their respective USB host interfaces can handle, and performance will be competitive with NVMe+USB bridge based portable SSDs. However, the U17 and U18 will have a significant power efficiency advantage, lower cost and smaller PCB footprint than existing portable SSDs. Phison will also be providing TCG Opal encryption support on the U18, enabling a level of security they say is impossible to achieve with NVMe+USB bridge solutions.

Phison USB 3.2 SSD Controller Comparsion
  PS2251-17
U17
PS2251-18
U18
Host Interface USB 3.2 Gen2x1 USB 3.2 Gen2x2
NAND Interface 2ch, 1200 MT/s 4ch, 1200 MT/s
Max Capacity 1 TB 4 TB
Error Correction 4th Gen LDPC
DRAM No
TCG Opal Support No Yes
Sequential Read 1000 MB/s 1900 MB/s
Sequential Write 800 MB/s 1700 MB/s
4KB Random Read (TLC) 185 MB/s 260 MB/s
4KB Random Write (TLC) 260 MB/s 330 MB/s

Phison expects to finish qualification of the U17 and U18 controllers later this month. We're hoping to get a performance preview shortly thereafter by testing their reference designs, and retail products should be showing up within the next several months.

 

Phison E21T: Low-End NVMe Moves to 12nm

For NVMe SSDs, the only new controller Phison is talking about this year is the E21T, their latest DRAMless NVMe controller. This is a follow-up to the E19T controller, which has seen very little use in retail consumer SSDs but has actually been outselling their high-end E16 PCIe 4.0 controller due to strong demand from OEMs (especially from an unnamed customer with a very popular gaming product). With the E21T, Phison is finally moving this product segment from 28nm to 12nm fabrication, which allows for performance and power improvements of about 25% compared to the E19T. The basic architecture hasn't changed much for the E21T: it's still a 4-channel controller managed by a single ARM core plus Phison's proprietary coprocessors. Performance has increased significantly, with peak throughput now rivaling the high-end E16 controller (though real-world performance on heavy workloads may still be slower due to the downsides of a DRAMless controller design).

Phison is planning to start sampling the E21T to customers around June of this year with mass production ramping up in Q4—around when we should start seeing PCIe 4.0 SSDs catching on with notebook OEMs. Most of the drives using the E21T will probably pair it with QLC NAND, and Phison has performance projections for what we can expect when using Micron's 176L QLC.

Phison E21T QLC SSD Performance Projections
Capacity 512 GB 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB
Form Factor, Interface M.2 2280, PCIe 4.0 x4
Controller Phison E21T
NAND Flash Micron 176L 3D QLC
Sequential Read 4.5 GB/s 4.8 GB/s
Sequential Write 1.65 GB/s 3.3 GB/s 4.5 GB/s
Random Read IOPS (4kB) 250k 500k 780k
Random Write IOPS (4kB) 350k 700k 800k

It's likely that many of the product lines currently using the E16 controller with QLC NAND will switch over to using the E21T in future generations, since the DRAMless E21T will be a cheaper overall solution. However, the 4TB limitation will be an issue for the handful of companies that have already started shipping 8TB QLC SSDs. Those 8TB M.2 SSDs currently use the E12 controller and its PCIe 4.0 successors are not available in a reduced-size package like the E12S variant. So 8TB PCIe 4.0 SSDs will probably have to push the limits of NAND packaging by stacking 16 dies per package in order to leave enough PCB space for an E16 or E18 controller plus DRAM.

Phison NVMe SSD Controller Comparsion
  E13T E19T E21T E12 E16 E18
Market Segment Mainstream Consumer High-End Consumer
Manufacturing
Process
28nm 12nm 28 nm 12 nm
CPU Cores 1x Cortex R5 1x Cortex R5 1x Cortex R5 2x Cortex R5 3x Cortex R5
Error Correction 4th Gen LDPC 3rd Gen LDPC 4th Gen LDPC
DRAM No DDR3/4 DDR4 DDR4, LPDDR4
Host Interface PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 4.0 x4 PCIe 3.0 x4 PCIe 4.0 x4
NVMe Version NVMe 1.3 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.3 NVMe 1.4
NAND Channels, Interface Speed 4 ch,
800 MT/s
4 ch,
1200 MT/s
4ch,
1600 MT/s
8 ch,
667 MT/s
8 ch,
800 MT/s
8 ch,
1200 MT/s
Max Capacity 2 TB 2 TB 4 TB 16 TB 16 TB 16 TB
Sequential Read 2.5 GB/s 3.75 GB/s 5.0 GB/s 3.4 GB/s 5.0 GB/s 7.4 GB/s
Sequential Write 2.1 GB/s 3.75 GB/s 4.5 GB/s 3.2 GB/s 4.4 GB/s 7.0 GB/s
4KB Random Read IOPS 350k 440k 780k 700k 750k 1M IOPS
4KB Random Write IOPS 450k 500k 800k 600k 750k 1M IOPS
Controller Power 1.2 W 1.6 W   2.1 W 2.6 W 3.0 W
Sampling Q2 2019 Q4 2019 Q3 2021 Q2 2018 Q1 2019 Q1 2020
Retail SSD
Availability
Q4 2019 Q1 2020? Q4 2021? Q4 2018 Q3 2019 Q4 2020

For high-end NVMe SSDs, Phison's E18 finally started shipping in late 2020. Phison is pretty proud of this controller, and makes much of the fact that they're the only ones so far hitting at least 7GB/s for both reads and writes. Phison plans for the E18 to be their last flagship PCIe 4.0 controller; they're already looking forward to PCIe 5.0, and the E18 will remain their top of the line controller for probably another two years. This doesn't mean Phison is entirely done with the E18. They're still working on firmware tuning, especially around thermal management and trying to squeeze out a little bit more performance at low queue depths. There will also be continuing firmware updates to support newer generations of 3D NAND flash memory. Current E18 drives are using Micron 96L TLC, but Micron has started production of their 176L NAND. Phison expects to finish qualification with that NAND in March, so a second round of E18 drives should start arriving in April with 10-15% performance improvements.

Phison's older E13T controller is also still around as a low-cost and low-power solution for entry-level NVMe applications. It's particularly popular as a controller integrated into BGA SSDs, where it helps displace eMMC storage is devices like Chromebooks, tablets, and maybe even some smartphones.

 

Interested in more of the latest industry news? Check out our CES 2021 trade show landing page!

ADATA At CES2021: XPG GAMMIX S70 PCIe 4.0 SSD Now Available

A year ago at CES 2020, ADATA previewed three upcoming PCIe 4.0 consumer SSDs planned for release in 2020. As with many things last year, that didn’t go exactly as planned, but two of those drives have now hit the market—albeit with different model names than ADATA was using a year ago. The XPG GAMMIX S70 has now taken over as ADATA’s top of the line consumer SSD, and it is starting to hit the (virtual) shelves just in time for CES 2021.

Last fall, ADATA launched the XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite as one of the first PCIe 4.0 SSDs targeting mainstream consumer usage. It uses Silicon Motion’s 4-channel SM2267 controller, so it isn’t aiming for the performance crown that most PCIe 4.0 models are vying for. The XPG GAMMIX S70 was also announced last fall, but only recently hit the market. It was listed on ADATA’s own online store before the end of the year, but didn’t hit any third-party retailers until it showed up on Newegg last week.

The GAMMIX S70 is particularly interesting because it marks the debut of a new competitor for high-end consumer SSD controllers. Innogrit was founded by storage industry veterans including a bunch of former Marvell employees. They came out of stealth mode at Flash Memory Summit 2019 with a full roadmap of client and enterprise NVMe SSD controllers, and at CES 2020 it appeared that their IG5236 “Rainier” controller had scored several design wins. The GAMMIX S70 is the first we’re aware of to actually ship.

ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 Specifications
Capacity 1 TB 2 TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4
Controller Innogrit IG5236 “Rainier”
Sequential Read (MB/s) 7400
Sequential Write (MB/s) 5500 6400
Random Read IOPS (4kB) 350k 650k
Random Write IOPS (4kB) 720k 740k
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance 740 TB 1480 TB
Current Retail Prices $199.99 (20¢/GB) $399.99 (20¢/GB)

The GAMMIX S70 displaces the Phison E16-based GAMMIX S50 as ADATA’s flagship consumer SSD and goes up against other second-wave PCIe gen4 SSD like the Samsung 980 PRO, WD Black SN850 and Phison E18-based drives like the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus.

The Newegg listings for the GAMMIX S70 are at ADATA’s introductory MSRP of $199.99 for the 1TB model and $399.99 for the 2TB, the same price points as the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus and slightly cheaper than the Samsung 980 PRO or WD Black SN850. Our initial testing of the 2TB S70 has showed promising performance, but ADATA gave us a heads-up that there’s a firmware update on the way so we’re holding off on drawing conclusions for the moment.

With the Phison E18 and Innogrit Rainier controllers now shipping, and the in-house designs from Samsung and Western Digital, we’re waiting on only Silicon Motion’s SM2264 controller to round out this second wave of PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD controllers. A year ago, ADATA had planned to make use of the SM2264 in the third PCIe 4.0 SSD they previewed, but there’s no sign of it or any other SM2264 products being ready yet.

Interested in more of the latest industry news? Check out our CES 2021 trade show landing page!

A year ago at CES 2020, ADATA previewed three upcoming PCIe 4.0 consumer SSDs planned for release in 2020. As with many things last year, that didn't go exactly as planned, but two of those drives have now hit the market—albeit with different model names than ADATA was using a year ago. The XPG GAMMIX S70 has now taken over as ADATA's top of the line consumer SSD, and it is starting to hit the (virtual) shelves just in time for CES 2021.

Last fall, ADATA launched the XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite as one of the first PCIe 4.0 SSDs targeting mainstream consumer usage. It uses Silicon Motion's 4-channel SM2267 controller, so it isn't aiming for the performance crown that most PCIe 4.0 models are vying for. The XPG GAMMIX S70 was also announced last fall, but only recently hit the market. It was listed on ADATA's own online store before the end of the year, but didn't hit any third-party retailers until it showed up on Newegg last week.

The GAMMIX S70 is particularly interesting because it marks the debut of a new competitor for high-end consumer SSD controllers. Innogrit was founded by storage industry veterans including a bunch of former Marvell employees. They came out of stealth mode at Flash Memory Summit 2019 with a full roadmap of client and enterprise NVMe SSD controllers, and at CES 2020 it appeared that their IG5236 "Rainier" controller had scored several design wins. The GAMMIX S70 is the first we're aware of to actually ship.

ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 Specifications
Capacity 1 TB 2 TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4
Controller Innogrit IG5236 "Rainier"
Sequential Read (MB/s) 7400
Sequential Write (MB/s) 5500 6400
Random Read IOPS (4kB) 350k 650k
Random Write IOPS (4kB) 720k 740k
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance 740 TB 1480 TB
Current Retail Prices $199.99 (20¢/GB) $399.99 (20¢/GB)

The GAMMIX S70 displaces the Phison E16-based GAMMIX S50 as ADATA's flagship consumer SSD and goes up against other second-wave PCIe gen4 SSD like the Samsung 980 PRO, WD Black SN850 and Phison E18-based drives like the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus.

The Newegg listings for the GAMMIX S70 are at ADATA's introductory MSRP of $199.99 for the 1TB model and $399.99 for the 2TB, the same price points as the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus and slightly cheaper than the Samsung 980 PRO or WD Black SN850. Our initial testing of the 2TB S70 has showed promising performance, but ADATA gave us a heads-up that there's a firmware update on the way so we're holding off on drawing conclusions for the moment.

With the Phison E18 and Innogrit Rainier controllers now shipping, and the in-house designs from Samsung and Western Digital, we're waiting on only Silicon Motion's SM2264 controller to round out this second wave of PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD controllers. A year ago, ADATA had planned to make use of the SM2264 in the third PCIe 4.0 SSD they previewed, but there's no sign of it or any other SM2264 products being ready yet.

Interested in more of the latest industry news? Check out our CES 2021 trade show landing page!

AnandTech Year In Review 2020: Solid State Drives

Solid state storage might not have been the most exciting tech sector to follow in 2020, but it certainly had its fair share of new technologies arriving, consumer-friendly price drops, and a major corporate acquisition deal. 3D NAND flash memory has …

Solid state storage might not have been the most exciting tech sector to follow in 2020, but it certainly had its fair share of new technologies arriving, consumer-friendly price drops, and a major corporate acquisition deal. 3D NAND flash memory has reached 176 layers, PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs are gaining gaining ground, and QLC NAND has enabled the first 8TB M.2 SSDs.

Intel Announces New Wave of Optane and 3D NAND SSDs

Today Intel is announcing updates to most of their SSD product lines. Their products based on 3D NAND are being updated to use Intel’s 144-layer QLC and TLC NAND. On the Optane side of the business, we have detailed specifications for the first product to use second-generation 3D XPoint memory, and an updated Optane Memory caching solution for client PCs. Intel has also revealed the code name for their third-generation Optane persistent memory modules, which will be launching along Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors.

  • SSD D7-P5510 – Datacenter NVMe, 144L TLC
  • SSD D5-P5316 – Datacenter NVMe, 144L QLC
  • SSD 670p – Client/Consumer NVMe, 144L QLC
  • Optane SSD P5800X – Datacenter NVMe, Second-gen 3D XPoint
  • Optane Memory H20 – Client NVMe, 144L QLC + 3D XPoint
  • Optane Persistent Memory 300 Series: Crow Pass – 3D XPoint DIMMs

Some of these products have already started shipping and are officially launching this month, while others are merely being announced today and will be launching in 2021, with full specifications and pricing disclosed closer to launch.

144L 3D NAND For Datacenter SSDs

The first two SSD announcements are updates to Intel’s datacenter SSDs using 3D NAND. The new D7-P5510 uses 144L 3D TLC NAND and is the successor to the D7-P5500 which uses 96L TLC. Since the P5500 was an OEM-only product rather than widely distributed through the channel, the P5510 will also serve as the successor to the P4510 for the portion of the customer base. Intel has not announced a 144L replacement for the D7-P5600, the higher-overprovisioning counterpart to the P5500.

Using Intel’s 144L QLC NAND is the new D5-P5316 SSDs in 15.36 TB and 30.72 TB capacities in either U.2 or E1.L form factors. The E1.L version allows Intel to achieve the original goal of the “Ruler” form factor by enabling 1PB of storage in a 1U server. Since the P5316 is replacing the older P4326 (64L QLC and PCIe gen3), it’s a much more substantial upgrade over its predecessor than the TLC-based P5510 is. Aside from the introduction of Intel’s third-generation enterprise NVMe SSD controller to their QLC product line, the most important change the P5316 brings is a major shift in how the Flash Translation Layer works. The P5316 enables a 16x reduction in DRAM by changing the SSD’s Flash Translation Layer to work with a granularity of 64kB rather than 4kB. We’ve seen a few other enterprise SSDs make this kind of change, such as Western Digital’s Ultrastar DC SN340, which uses a 32kB FTL granularity. The DRAM savings of a more coarse-grained FTL help make high-capacity SSDs more affordable, but at the expense of severely harming performance and increasing write amplification for small block size random writes. The general trend in the industry is to adopt NVMe Zoned Namespaces for such drives, preventing random writes entirely rather than relying on host software to be careful about issuing small-block IOs. However, Intel doesn’t seem to be ready to adopt this approach yet.

Both the TLC-based P5510 and QLC-based P5316 use the same controller platform as Intel’s other P5000-series SSDs announced earlier this year. Those drives introduced Intel’s third-generation enterprise NVMe SSD controller, their first supporting PCIe 4.0. The new 144L drives don’t really push performance or feature set any further, but will be more widely available and should be cheaper than the 96L drives. The TLC-based P5510 has already been sampled to customers for qualification and will be shipping for revenue by the end of this year. The QLC-based P5316 is sampling and will be available in the first half of 2021.

 

SSD 670p: 144L QLC For Consumers

Moving on to the consumer SSD business, Intel will be introducing the 670p QLC NVMe SSD in the first quarter of 2021. This follows in the footsteps of the 660p and 665p with another update to newer 3D QLC NAND, and also brings a SSD controller update to this product line. However, it is still only a PCIe gen3 product. Intel will be reintroducing the 512GB capacity that was missing from the 665p, but they are not yet adding capacities beyond 2TB. Detailed performance specs and pricing will be shared closer to the 670p’s launch.

Intel is making an adjustment to the dynamically-sized SLC caching behavior with the new 670p. While the maximum and minimum SLC cache sizes are not changing, Intel has managed to improve the cache size that will be available for a partially-filled drive: A half-full 670p will still have almost the maximum SLC cache size available, and the minimum cache size will not be reached until the drive is over 85% full. This probably won’t change anything for simple benchmarks that write continuously until the cache runs out and performance drops, but it will help real-world usage where writes come in bursts.

Optane SSD P5800X: Alder Stream Arrives

Intel’s long-awaited second-generation Optane enterprise SSD, codenamed Alder Stream, is finally shipping as the P5800X. This is the first product to use second-generation 3D XPoint memory, and it also features an updated controller to support PCIe 4.0. The P5800X pushes the limits of the performance available from a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface with sequential reads, random reads and random writes all supported at more or less line speed, and sequential writes only a bit slower at 6.2 GB/s. And while 1.5M IOPS for either random reads or random writes is already very impressive, the P5800X can even hit 1.8M IOPS on a 70/30 mix—only possible because PCIe is a full-duplex interface. Intel has also made optimizations for single-sector 512-byte random reads, which can hit 4.6M IOPS. (Flash-based SSDs are usually not able to offer any higher IOPS for 512B reads than 4kB reads, and many actually have substantially lower performance for small block IO.)

The first-generation Optane DC P4800X launched with a 30 DWPD write endurance rating, later increased to 60 DWPD. The new P5800X further increases write endurance to 100 DWPD. Capacities will range from 400GB to 3.2TB.

 

Optane Memory H20

The client/consumer focused portion of Intel’s Optane product family has shrunk considerably. They’re no longer doing Optane M.2 SSDs for use as primary storage or cache drives, and there’s been no mention yet of an enthusiast-oriented derivative of the P5800X to replace the Optane SSD 900P and 905P (though if Intel plans such a product, they are unlikely to announce it until they have delivered a desktop platform supporting PCIe 4.0). The only client Optane product Intel has been talking about lately is the Optane Memory H10 hybrid drive consisting of a QLC NVMe SSD and an Optane SSD on the same M.2 card. A successor is now on the way: the Optane Memory H20 is planned for Q2 2021, incorporating updates on the QLC side that likely mirror the 670p’s updates, and a new controller on the Optane half of the drive. The H20 will still be a PCIe gen3 solution, so we will probably continue to see performance of the NAND side constrained by only having access to two of the four PCIe lanes. Intel is also bumping up the platform requirements: an 11th-generation Core U-series mobile processor and 500-series chipset, and Intel RST driver version 18.1 or later. When the H10 launched, Intel had laid the groundwork for support on their desktop platforms, but this effort was dropped when the H10 became an OEM-only product. The H20 is a mobile-focused OEM-only part from the outset, so the platform compatibility requirements aren’t as much of an issue as they would be for a retail SSD.

The Optane Memory H20 will be available with 512GB or 1TB of QLC NAND flash memory, each paired with 32GB of 3D XPoint memory.

 

Optane Persistent Memory 300 Series: Crow Pass

Intel’s Optane Persistent Memory products (3D XPoint in a DIMM form factor) are currently on the second generation 200 series Barlow Pass supported by Cooper Lake and upcoming Ice Lake Xeon platforms. The 200 series Optane Persistent Memory modules still use first-generation 3D XPoint memory. Intel has now disclosed that the next generation on the roadmap is codenamed Crow Pass, which will likely be branded as the 300 series. The Crow Pass modules will be launched for use with Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors. Those are expected to use DDR5 memory, so Crow Pass will be a major update to the interface for Optane Persistent Memory. Crow Pass should also bring second-generation 3D XPoint memory to the DIMM form factor, so altogether this is likely to be a much more significant update than the relatively minor improvements brought by the 200 series.

 

Related Reading

Today Intel is announcing updates to most of their SSD product lines. Their products based on 3D NAND are being updated to use Intel's 144-layer QLC and TLC NAND. On the Optane side of the business, we have detailed specifications for the first product to use second-generation 3D XPoint memory, and an updated Optane Memory caching solution for client PCs. Intel has also revealed the code name for their third-generation Optane persistent memory modules, which will be launching along Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors.

  • SSD D7-P5510 - Datacenter NVMe, 144L TLC
  • SSD D5-P5316 - Datacenter NVMe, 144L QLC
  • SSD 670p - Client/Consumer NVMe, 144L QLC
  • Optane SSD P5800X - Datacenter NVMe, Second-gen 3D XPoint
  • Optane Memory H20 - Client NVMe, 144L QLC + 3D XPoint
  • Optane Persistent Memory 300 Series: Crow Pass - 3D XPoint DIMMs

Some of these products have already started shipping and are officially launching this month, while others are merely being announced today and will be launching in 2021, with full specifications and pricing disclosed closer to launch.

144L 3D NAND For Datacenter SSDs

The first two SSD announcements are updates to Intel's datacenter SSDs using 3D NAND. The new D7-P5510 uses 144L 3D TLC NAND and is the successor to the D7-P5500 which uses 96L TLC. Since the P5500 was an OEM-only product rather than widely distributed through the channel, the P5510 will also serve as the successor to the P4510 for the portion of the customer base. Intel has not announced a 144L replacement for the D7-P5600, the higher-overprovisioning counterpart to the P5500.

Using Intel's 144L QLC NAND is the new D5-P5316 SSDs in 15.36 TB and 30.72 TB capacities in either U.2 or E1.L form factors. The E1.L version allows Intel to achieve the original goal of the "Ruler" form factor by enabling 1PB of storage in a 1U server. Since the P5316 is replacing the older P4326 (64L QLC and PCIe gen3), it's a much more substantial upgrade over its predecessor than the TLC-based P5510 is. Aside from the introduction of Intel's third-generation enterprise NVMe SSD controller to their QLC product line, the most important change the P5316 brings is a major shift in how the Flash Translation Layer works. The P5316 enables a 16x reduction in DRAM by changing the SSD's Flash Translation Layer to work with a granularity of 64kB rather than 4kB. We've seen a few other enterprise SSDs make this kind of change, such as Western Digital's Ultrastar DC SN340, which uses a 32kB FTL granularity. The DRAM savings of a more coarse-grained FTL help make high-capacity SSDs more affordable, but at the expense of severely harming performance and increasing write amplification for small block size random writes. The general trend in the industry is to adopt NVMe Zoned Namespaces for such drives, preventing random writes entirely rather than relying on host software to be careful about issuing small-block IOs. However, Intel doesn't seem to be ready to adopt this approach yet.

Both the TLC-based P5510 and QLC-based P5316 use the same controller platform as Intel's other P5000-series SSDs announced earlier this year. Those drives introduced Intel's third-generation enterprise NVMe SSD controller, their first supporting PCIe 4.0. The new 144L drives don't really push performance or feature set any further, but will be more widely available and should be cheaper than the 96L drives. The TLC-based P5510 has already been sampled to customers for qualification and will be shipping for revenue by the end of this year. The QLC-based P5316 is sampling and will be available in the first half of 2021.

 

SSD 670p: 144L QLC For Consumers

Moving on to the consumer SSD business, Intel will be introducing the 670p QLC NVMe SSD in the first quarter of 2021. This follows in the footsteps of the 660p and 665p with another update to newer 3D QLC NAND, and also brings a SSD controller update to this product line. However, it is still only a PCIe gen3 product. Intel will be reintroducing the 512GB capacity that was missing from the 665p, but they are not yet adding capacities beyond 2TB. Detailed performance specs and pricing will be shared closer to the 670p's launch.

Intel is making an adjustment to the dynamically-sized SLC caching behavior with the new 670p. While the maximum and minimum SLC cache sizes are not changing, Intel has managed to improve the cache size that will be available for a partially-filled drive: A half-full 670p will still have almost the maximum SLC cache size available, and the minimum cache size will not be reached until the drive is over 85% full. This probably won't change anything for simple benchmarks that write continuously until the cache runs out and performance drops, but it will help real-world usage where writes come in bursts.

Optane SSD P5800X: Alder Stream Arrives

Intel's long-awaited second-generation Optane enterprise SSD, codenamed Alder Stream, is finally shipping as the P5800X. This is the first product to use second-generation 3D XPoint memory, and it also features an updated controller to support PCIe 4.0. The P5800X pushes the limits of the performance available from a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface with sequential reads, random reads and random writes all supported at more or less line speed, and sequential writes only a bit slower at 6.2 GB/s. And while 1.5M IOPS for either random reads or random writes is already very impressive, the P5800X can even hit 1.8M IOPS on a 70/30 mix—only possible because PCIe is a full-duplex interface. Intel has also made optimizations for single-sector 512-byte random reads, which can hit 4.6M IOPS. (Flash-based SSDs are usually not able to offer any higher IOPS for 512B reads than 4kB reads, and many actually have substantially lower performance for small block IO.)

The first-generation Optane DC P4800X launched with a 30 DWPD write endurance rating, later increased to 60 DWPD. The new P5800X further increases write endurance to 100 DWPD. Capacities will range from 400GB to 3.2TB.

 

Optane Memory H20

The client/consumer focused portion of Intel's Optane product family has shrunk considerably. They're no longer doing Optane M.2 SSDs for use as primary storage or cache drives, and there's been no mention yet of an enthusiast-oriented derivative of the P5800X to replace the Optane SSD 900P and 905P (though if Intel plans such a product, they are unlikely to announce it until they have delivered a desktop platform supporting PCIe 4.0). The only client Optane product Intel has been talking about lately is the Optane Memory H10 hybrid drive consisting of a QLC NVMe SSD and an Optane SSD on the same M.2 card. A successor is now on the way: the Optane Memory H20 is planned for Q2 2021, incorporating updates on the QLC side that likely mirror the 670p's updates, and a new controller on the Optane half of the drive. The H20 will still be a PCIe gen3 solution, so we will probably continue to see performance of the NAND side constrained by only having access to two of the four PCIe lanes. Intel is also bumping up the platform requirements: an 11th-generation Core U-series mobile processor and 500-series chipset, and Intel RST driver version 18.1 or later. When the H10 launched, Intel had laid the groundwork for support on their desktop platforms, but this effort was dropped when the H10 became an OEM-only product. The H20 is a mobile-focused OEM-only part from the outset, so the platform compatibility requirements aren't as much of an issue as they would be for a retail SSD.

The Optane Memory H20 will be available with 512GB or 1TB of QLC NAND flash memory, each paired with 32GB of 3D XPoint memory.

 

Optane Persistent Memory 300 Series: Crow Pass

Intel's Optane Persistent Memory products (3D XPoint in a DIMM form factor) are currently on the second generation 200 series Barlow Pass supported by Cooper Lake and upcoming Ice Lake Xeon platforms. The 200 series Optane Persistent Memory modules still use first-generation 3D XPoint memory. Intel has now disclosed that the next generation on the roadmap is codenamed Crow Pass, which will likely be branded as the 300 series. The Crow Pass modules will be launched for use with Intel's Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors. Those are expected to use DDR5 memory, so Crow Pass will be a major update to the interface for Optane Persistent Memory. Crow Pass should also bring second-generation 3D XPoint memory to the DIMM form factor, so altogether this is likely to be a much more significant update than the relatively minor improvements brought by the 200 series.

 

Related Reading

Intel Announces New Wave of Optane and 3D NAND SSDs

Today Intel is announcing updates to most of their SSD product lines. Their products based on 3D NAND are being updated to use Intel’s 144-layer QLC and TLC NAND. On the Optane side of the business, we have detailed specifications for the first product to use second-generation 3D XPoint memory, and an updated Optane Memory caching solution for client PCs. Intel has also revealed the code name for their third-generation Optane persistent memory modules, which will be launching along Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors.

  • SSD D7-P5510 – Datacenter NVMe, 144L TLC
  • SSD D5-P5316 – Datacenter NVMe, 144L QLC
  • SSD 670p – Client/Consumer NVMe, 144L QLC
  • Optane SSD P5800X – Datacenter NVMe, Second-gen 3D XPoint
  • Optane Memory H20 – Client NVMe, 144L QLC + 3D XPoint
  • Optane Persistent Memory 300 Series: Crow Pass – 3D XPoint DIMMs

Some of these products have already started shipping and are officially launching this month, while others are merely being announced today and will be launching in 2021, with full specifications and pricing disclosed closer to launch.

144L 3D NAND For Datacenter SSDs

The first two SSD announcements are updates to Intel’s datacenter SSDs using 3D NAND. The new D7-P5510 uses 144L 3D TLC NAND and is the successor to the D7-P5500 which uses 96L TLC. Since the P5500 was an OEM-only product rather than widely distributed through the channel, the P5510 will also serve as the successor to the P4510 for the portion of the customer base. Intel has not announced a 144L replacement for the D7-P5600, the higher-overprovisioning counterpart to the P5500.

Using Intel’s 144L QLC NAND is the new D5-P5316 SSDs in 15.36 TB and 30.72 TB capacities in either U.2 or E1.L form factors. The E1.L version allows Intel to achieve the original goal of the “Ruler” form factor by enabling 1PB of storage in a 1U server. Since the P5316 is replacing the older P4326 (64L QLC and PCIe gen3), it’s a much more substantial upgrade over its predecessor than the TLC-based P5510 is. Aside from the introduction of Intel’s third-generation enterprise NVMe SSD controller to their QLC product line, the most important change the P5316 brings is a major shift in how the Flash Translation Layer works. The P5316 enables a 16x reduction in DRAM by changing the SSD’s Flash Translation Layer to work with a granularity of 64kB rather than 4kB. We’ve seen a few other enterprise SSDs make this kind of change, such as Western Digital’s Ultrastar DC SN340, which uses a 32kB FTL granularity. The DRAM savings of a more coarse-grained FTL help make high-capacity SSDs more affordable, but at the expense of severely harming performance and increasing write amplification for small block size random writes. The general trend in the industry is to adopt NVMe Zoned Namespaces for such drives, preventing random writes entirely rather than relying on host software to be careful about issuing small-block IOs. However, Intel doesn’t seem to be ready to adopt this approach yet.

Both the TLC-based P5510 and QLC-based P5316 use the same controller platform as Intel’s other P5000-series SSDs announced earlier this year. Those drives introduced Intel’s third-generation enterprise NVMe SSD controller, their first supporting PCIe 4.0. The new 144L drives don’t really push performance or feature set any further, but will be more widely available and should be cheaper than the 96L drives. The TLC-based P5510 has already been sampled to customers for qualification and will be shipping for revenue by the end of this year. The QLC-based P5316 is sampling and will be available in the first half of 2021.

 

SSD 670p: 144L QLC For Consumers

Moving on to the consumer SSD business, Intel will be introducing the 670p QLC NVMe SSD in the first quarter of 2021. This follows in the footsteps of the 660p and 665p with another update to newer 3D QLC NAND, and also brings a SSD controller update to this product line. However, it is still only a PCIe gen3 product. Intel will be reintroducing the 512GB capacity that was missing from the 665p, but they are not yet adding capacities beyond 2TB. Detailed performance specs and pricing will be shared closer to the 670p’s launch.

Intel is making an adjustment to the dynamically-sized SLC caching behavior with the new 670p. While the maximum and minimum SLC cache sizes are not changing, Intel has managed to improve the cache size that will be available for a partially-filled drive: A half-full 670p will still have almost the maximum SLC cache size available, and the minimum cache size will not be reached until the drive is over 85% full. This probably won’t change anything for simple benchmarks that write continuously until the cache runs out and performance drops, but it will help real-world usage where writes come in bursts.

Optane SSD P5800X: Alder Stream Arrives

Intel’s long-awaited second-generation Optane enterprise SSD, codenamed Alder Stream, is finally shipping as the P5800X. This is the first product to use second-generation 3D XPoint memory, and it also features an updated controller to support PCIe 4.0. The P5800X pushes the limits of the performance available from a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface with sequential reads, random reads and random writes all supported at more or less line speed, and sequential writes only a bit slower at 6.2 GB/s. And while 1.5M IOPS for either random reads or random writes is already very impressive, the P5800X can even hit 1.8M IOPS on a 70/30 mix—only possible because PCIe is a full-duplex interface. Intel has also made optimizations for single-sector 512-byte random reads, which can hit 4.6M IOPS. (Flash-based SSDs are usually not able to offer any higher IOPS for 512B reads than 4kB reads, and many actually have substantially lower performance for small block IO.)

The first-generation Optane DC P4800X launched with a 30 DWPD write endurance rating, later increased to 60 DWPD. The new P5800X further increases write endurance to 100 DWPD. Capacities will range from 400GB to 3.2TB.

 

Optane Memory H20

The client/consumer focused portion of Intel’s Optane product family has shrunk considerably. They’re no longer doing Optane M.2 SSDs for use as primary storage or cache drives, and there’s been no mention yet of an enthusiast-oriented derivative of the P5800X to replace the Optane SSD 900P and 905P (though if Intel plans such a product, they are unlikely to announce it until they have delivered a desktop platform supporting PCIe 4.0). The only client Optane product Intel has been talking about lately is the Optane Memory H10 hybrid drive consisting of a QLC NVMe SSD and an Optane SSD on the same M.2 card. A successor is now on the way: the Optane Memory H20 is planned for Q2 2021, incorporating updates on the QLC side that likely mirror the 670p’s updates, and a new controller on the Optane half of the drive. The H20 will still be a PCIe gen3 solution, so we will probably continue to see performance of the NAND side constrained by only having access to two of the four PCIe lanes. Intel is also bumping up the platform requirements: an 11th-generation Core U-series mobile processor and 500-series chipset, and Intel RST driver version 18.1 or later. When the H10 launched, Intel had laid the groundwork for support on their desktop platforms, but this effort was dropped when the H10 became an OEM-only product. The H20 is a mobile-focused OEM-only part from the outset, so the platform compatibility requirements aren’t as much of an issue as they would be for a retail SSD.

The Optane Memory H20 will be available with 512GB or 1TB of QLC NAND flash memory, each paired with 32GB of 3D XPoint memory.

 

Optane Persistent Memory 300 Series: Crow Pass

Intel’s Optane Persistent Memory products (3D XPoint in a DIMM form factor) are currently on the second generation 200 series Barlow Pass supported by Cooper Lake and upcoming Ice Lake Xeon platforms. The 200 series Optane Persistent Memory modules still use first-generation 3D XPoint memory. Intel has now disclosed that the next generation on the roadmap is codenamed Crow Pass, which will likely be branded as the 300 series. The Crow Pass modules will be launched for use with Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors. Those are expected to use DDR5 memory, so Crow Pass will be a major update to the interface for Optane Persistent Memory. Crow Pass should also bring second-generation 3D XPoint memory to the DIMM form factor, so altogether this is likely to be a much more significant update than the relatively minor improvements brought by the 200 series.

 

Related Reading

Today Intel is announcing updates to most of their SSD product lines. Their products based on 3D NAND are being updated to use Intel's 144-layer QLC and TLC NAND. On the Optane side of the business, we have detailed specifications for the first product to use second-generation 3D XPoint memory, and an updated Optane Memory caching solution for client PCs. Intel has also revealed the code name for their third-generation Optane persistent memory modules, which will be launching along Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors.

  • SSD D7-P5510 - Datacenter NVMe, 144L TLC
  • SSD D5-P5316 - Datacenter NVMe, 144L QLC
  • SSD 670p - Client/Consumer NVMe, 144L QLC
  • Optane SSD P5800X - Datacenter NVMe, Second-gen 3D XPoint
  • Optane Memory H20 - Client NVMe, 144L QLC + 3D XPoint
  • Optane Persistent Memory 300 Series: Crow Pass - 3D XPoint DIMMs

Some of these products have already started shipping and are officially launching this month, while others are merely being announced today and will be launching in 2021, with full specifications and pricing disclosed closer to launch.

144L 3D NAND For Datacenter SSDs

The first two SSD announcements are updates to Intel's datacenter SSDs using 3D NAND. The new D7-P5510 uses 144L 3D TLC NAND and is the successor to the D7-P5500 which uses 96L TLC. Since the P5500 was an OEM-only product rather than widely distributed through the channel, the P5510 will also serve as the successor to the P4510 for the portion of the customer base. Intel has not announced a 144L replacement for the D7-P5600, the higher-overprovisioning counterpart to the P5500.

Using Intel's 144L QLC NAND is the new D5-P5316 SSDs in 15.36 TB and 30.72 TB capacities in either U.2 or E1.L form factors. The E1.L version allows Intel to achieve the original goal of the "Ruler" form factor by enabling 1PB of storage in a 1U server. Since the P5316 is replacing the older P4326 (64L QLC and PCIe gen3), it's a much more substantial upgrade over its predecessor than the TLC-based P5510 is. Aside from the introduction of Intel's third-generation enterprise NVMe SSD controller to their QLC product line, the most important change the P5316 brings is a major shift in how the Flash Translation Layer works. The P5316 enables a 16x reduction in DRAM by changing the SSD's Flash Translation Layer to work with a granularity of 64kB rather than 4kB. We've seen a few other enterprise SSDs make this kind of change, such as Western Digital's Ultrastar DC SN340, which uses a 32kB FTL granularity. The DRAM savings of a more coarse-grained FTL help make high-capacity SSDs more affordable, but at the expense of severely harming performance and increasing write amplification for small block size random writes. The general trend in the industry is to adopt NVMe Zoned Namespaces for such drives, preventing random writes entirely rather than relying on host software to be careful about issuing small-block IOs. However, Intel doesn't seem to be ready to adopt this approach yet.

Both the TLC-based P5510 and QLC-based P5316 use the same controller platform as Intel's other P5000-series SSDs announced earlier this year. Those drives introduced Intel's third-generation enterprise NVMe SSD controller, their first supporting PCIe 4.0. The new 144L drives don't really push performance or feature set any further, but will be more widely available and should be cheaper than the 96L drives. The TLC-based P5510 has already been sampled to customers for qualification and will be shipping for revenue by the end of this year. The QLC-based P5316 is sampling and will be available in the first half of 2021.

 

SSD 670p: 144L QLC For Consumers

Moving on to the consumer SSD business, Intel will be introducing the 670p QLC NVMe SSD in the first quarter of 2021. This follows in the footsteps of the 660p and 665p with another update to newer 3D QLC NAND, and also brings a SSD controller update to this product line. However, it is still only a PCIe gen3 product. Intel will be reintroducing the 512GB capacity that was missing from the 665p, but they are not yet adding capacities beyond 2TB. Detailed performance specs and pricing will be shared closer to the 670p's launch.

Intel is making an adjustment to the dynamically-sized SLC caching behavior with the new 670p. While the maximum and minimum SLC cache sizes are not changing, Intel has managed to improve the cache size that will be available for a partially-filled drive: A half-full 670p will still have almost the maximum SLC cache size available, and the minimum cache size will not be reached until the drive is over 85% full. This probably won't change anything for simple benchmarks that write continuously until the cache runs out and performance drops, but it will help real-world usage where writes come in bursts.

Optane SSD P5800X: Alder Stream Arrives

Intel's long-awaited second-generation Optane enterprise SSD, codenamed Alder Stream, is finally shipping as the P5800X. This is the first product to use second-generation 3D XPoint memory, and it also features an updated controller to support PCIe 4.0. The P5800X pushes the limits of the performance available from a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface with sequential reads, random reads and random writes all supported at more or less line speed, and sequential writes only a bit slower at 6.2 GB/s. And while 1.5M IOPS for either random reads or random writes is already very impressive, the P5800X can even hit 1.8M IOPS on a 70/30 mix—only possible because PCIe is a full-duplex interface. Intel has also made optimizations for single-sector 512-byte random reads, which can hit 4.6M IOPS. (Flash-based SSDs are usually not able to offer any higher IOPS for 512B reads than 4kB reads, and many actually have substantially lower performance for small block IO.)

The first-generation Optane DC P4800X launched with a 30 DWPD write endurance rating, later increased to 60 DWPD. The new P5800X further increases write endurance to 100 DWPD. Capacities will range from 400GB to 3.2TB.

 

Optane Memory H20

The client/consumer focused portion of Intel's Optane product family has shrunk considerably. They're no longer doing Optane M.2 SSDs for use as primary storage or cache drives, and there's been no mention yet of an enthusiast-oriented derivative of the P5800X to replace the Optane SSD 900P and 905P (though if Intel plans such a product, they are unlikely to announce it until they have delivered a desktop platform supporting PCIe 4.0). The only client Optane product Intel has been talking about lately is the Optane Memory H10 hybrid drive consisting of a QLC NVMe SSD and an Optane SSD on the same M.2 card. A successor is now on the way: the Optane Memory H20 is planned for Q2 2021, incorporating updates on the QLC side that likely mirror the 670p's updates, and a new controller on the Optane half of the drive. The H20 will still be a PCIe gen3 solution, so we will probably continue to see performance of the NAND side constrained by only having access to two of the four PCIe lanes. Intel is also bumping up the platform requirements: an 11th-generation Core U-series mobile processor and 500-series chipset, and Intel RST driver version 18.1 or later. When the H10 launched, Intel had laid the groundwork for support on their desktop platforms, but this effort was dropped when the H10 became an OEM-only product. The H20 is a mobile-focused OEM-only part from the outset, so the platform compatibility requirements aren't as much of an issue as they would be for a retail SSD.

The Optane Memory H20 will be available with 512GB or 1TB of QLC NAND flash memory, each paired with 32GB of 3D XPoint memory.

 

Optane Persistent Memory 300 Series: Crow Pass

Intel's Optane Persistent Memory products (3D XPoint in a DIMM form factor) are currently on the second generation 200 series Barlow Pass supported by Cooper Lake and upcoming Ice Lake Xeon platforms. The 200 series Optane Persistent Memory modules still use first-generation 3D XPoint memory. Intel has now disclosed that the next generation on the roadmap is codenamed Crow Pass, which will likely be branded as the 300 series. The Crow Pass modules will be launched for use with Intel's Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors. Those are expected to use DDR5 memory, so Crow Pass will be a major update to the interface for Optane Persistent Memory. Crow Pass should also bring second-generation 3D XPoint memory to the DIMM form factor, so altogether this is likely to be a much more significant update than the relatively minor improvements brought by the 200 series.

 

Related Reading

The Corsair MP400 1TB QLC NVMe SSD: A Quick Review

Following up from our recent look at 8TB QLC SSDs, today we’re taking a look at the 1TB Corsair MP400. This is a QLC NVMe SSD using the Phison E12 controller, which puts it a step up from earlier QLC SSDs that used four-channel Silicon Motion controllers. However, at the more affordable 1TB capacity point, the downsides of QLC NAND are more pronounced, and there is much more competition from budget TLC drives that make very different tradeoffs.

Following up from our recent look at 8TB QLC SSDs, today we're taking a look at the 1TB Corsair MP400. This is a QLC NVMe SSD using the Phison E12 controller, which puts it a step up from earlier QLC SSDs that used four-channel Silicon Motion controllers. However, at the more affordable 1TB capacity point, the downsides of QLC NAND are more pronounced, and there is much more competition from budget TLC drives that make very different tradeoffs.

Mushkin Announces 8TB M.2 SSD: ALPHA Series

Anyone in the market for high capacity 8 TB M.2 drives has so far only had one choice on the market. Today Mushkin is coming in as the second vendor to offer an 8TB M.2 NVMe option, with its new ALPHA series of drives. These drives use the same Phison E12S controller and high capacity NAND as those also available on the market, but Mushkin rates its drives slightly differently to the competition.

One of the ways the storage market has amazed me in the last few years is capacity. While physical rotating spinning rust is at 16 TB  or 18 TB and perhaps approaching 24 TB next year, we’ve seen storage drives in similar form factors reach 64 TB and 100 TB without too much trouble. The enterprise is where we see some of those crazy SSD capacities using TLC and QLC, hence the existence of NimbusData and competitors, but the nous that goes into these products trickles down into the prosumer space, where there is demand but at a more palatable cost/GB ratio.

The question is always one of control and cost, and NAND is still more expensive than rotating iron oxides. Consumer grade NVMe SSDs are hovering around the $100/TB mark, depending on the brand, performance, and if it’s in a sale, making high-speed storage a very attractive offer. For the high-capacity prosumer NVMe options, we’ve historically seen this come down as well, from $1000/TB to $500/TB, and now with these new 8 TB drives, we are solidly looking at below the $200/TB mark. This new Mushkin Alpha 8 TB is going to be available for $1300, which puts it at $162.50 per TB.

Here Mushkin is pairing the Phison E12 controller with QLC NAND, and the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface should allow maximum sequential speeds of 3300 MB/s read and 2800 MB/s write, or up to 550K IOPs read and 680K IOPs write. The fact that this is all within the standard M.2 2280 form factor to me is still amazing, whether it’s from Mushkin or anyone else.

Mushkin ALPHA Series
AnandTech 4TB 8TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Double Sided PCIe 3.0 x4
Controller Phison E12S
NAND Flash Micron 1TB 96L 3D QLC ?
Sequential Read/Write (MB/s) 3200 / 3000 3300 / 2800
Random 4K IOPs Read/Write (MB/s) 550K / 640K 550K / 680K
Power Consumpton Idle/Max (W) 0.3 / 6.5 0.3 / 6.5
Warranty 3-year Limited Warranty
Write Endurance 900 TB
0.2 DWPD
900 TB
0.1 DWPD
Retail Price $650
16.3¢ per GB
$1300
16.3¢ per GB

The drive has a 3 year limited warranty, and is rated to 900 TB written, which equates to 0.1 drive writes per day, or 800 GB of writes per day in that timeframe. For those working with 4K video, this is probably not enough, but for business users that need a high capacity drive for their laptop or mobile workstation, it should fit the bill. Mushkin rates the drive at 0.3 W at idle and 6.5 W max. It is worth noting that the 900 TB rating is half of what Sabrent rates its 8TB drive for. This rating is only for the warranty period cover – the drive will still work after these numbers, but it just won’t be replaced by the manufacturer.

The 8 TB drive (and 4 TB variant) will go on sale near the end of January in the US, but the listings are already up on Amazon, with stock expected on January 23rd.

Source: Mushkin

Related Reading

Anyone in the market for high capacity 8 TB M.2 drives has so far only had one choice on the market. Today Mushkin is coming in as the second vendor to offer an 8TB M.2 NVMe option, with its new ALPHA series of drives. These drives use the same Phison E12S controller and high capacity NAND as those also available on the market, but Mushkin rates its drives slightly differently to the competition.

One of the ways the storage market has amazed me in the last few years is capacity. While physical rotating spinning rust is at 16 TB  or 18 TB and perhaps approaching 24 TB next year, we’ve seen storage drives in similar form factors reach 64 TB and 100 TB without too much trouble. The enterprise is where we see some of those crazy SSD capacities using TLC and QLC, hence the existence of NimbusData and competitors, but the nous that goes into these products trickles down into the prosumer space, where there is demand but at a more palatable cost/GB ratio.

The question is always one of control and cost, and NAND is still more expensive than rotating iron oxides. Consumer grade NVMe SSDs are hovering around the $100/TB mark, depending on the brand, performance, and if it’s in a sale, making high-speed storage a very attractive offer. For the high-capacity prosumer NVMe options, we’ve historically seen this come down as well, from $1000/TB to $500/TB, and now with these new 8 TB drives, we are solidly looking at below the $200/TB mark. This new Mushkin Alpha 8 TB is going to be available for $1300, which puts it at $162.50 per TB.

Here Mushkin is pairing the Phison E12 controller with QLC NAND, and the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface should allow maximum sequential speeds of 3300 MB/s read and 2800 MB/s write, or up to 550K IOPs read and 680K IOPs write. The fact that this is all within the standard M.2 2280 form factor to me is still amazing, whether it’s from Mushkin or anyone else.

Mushkin ALPHA Series
AnandTech 4TB 8TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Double Sided PCIe 3.0 x4
Controller Phison E12S
NAND Flash Micron 1TB 96L 3D QLC ?
Sequential Read/Write (MB/s) 3200 / 3000 3300 / 2800
Random 4K IOPs Read/Write (MB/s) 550K / 640K 550K / 680K
Power Consumpton Idle/Max (W) 0.3 / 6.5 0.3 / 6.5
Warranty 3-year Limited Warranty
Write Endurance 900 TB
0.2 DWPD
900 TB
0.1 DWPD
Retail Price $650
16.3¢ per GB
$1300
16.3¢ per GB

The drive has a 3 year limited warranty, and is rated to 900 TB written, which equates to 0.1 drive writes per day, or 800 GB of writes per day in that timeframe. For those working with 4K video, this is probably not enough, but for business users that need a high capacity drive for their laptop or mobile workstation, it should fit the bill. Mushkin rates the drive at 0.3 W at idle and 6.5 W max. It is worth noting that the 900 TB rating is half of what Sabrent rates its 8TB drive for. This rating is only for the warranty period cover - the drive will still work after these numbers, but it just won't be replaced by the manufacturer.

The 8 TB drive (and 4 TB variant) will go on sale near the end of January in the US, but the listings are already up on Amazon, with stock expected on January 23rd.

Source: Mushkin

Related Reading