One of the more interesting stories out of Computex last June was Plextor's first public demonstration of PlexTurbo. PlexTurbo is a software cache layer that uses DRAM to buffer IO for the data moving to and from the SSD. The first product PlexTurbo will work with is the company's soon to launch M6 PRO.
The Plextor M6 PRO is just about ready for public consumption, but Plextor is still brushing up the final firmware. We have a pair of drives in the Secret Bunker Lab, and were given the green light to leak some of the performance data we're seeing on the prerelease firmware, and even show some PlexTurbo numbers.
Before we dive into the numbers, let's take a look at the features. Plextor used a Marvell 88SS9187 controller and paired it with Toshiba's new A19 NAND flash. The firmware comes from inside the company, so Plextor is able to tune the programming and firmware for specific workloads, depending on the target market. In the case of the M6 PRO, Plextor is trying to push performance beyond the SATA 6Gb/s level.
Getting past 6Gb/s means a buffer has to be on the other side of the SATA cable. Plextor isn't the first company to releases a DRAM buffer for SSDs, and they certainly won't be the last to do so either. At FMS 2014, we played with a few solutions on both the consumer and enterprise side. Plextor's own software, PlexTurbo, does more than just increase performance. Random writes pass through the DRAM first and the data is passed to the SSD as sequential data. This increases the flash endurance since sequential writes take less of a toll on the NAND than random writes does.
Plextor's TrueSpeed, special programing on the SSD to keep performance high even after intense use, and TruePROtect encryption carried over from the M5 Series and are also on the M6 PRO. The M6 PRO also supports DEVSLP for more power efficiency.
Specifications and Availability
Plextor will releases the M6 PRO in four capacity sizes that range from 128GB to 1TB. In our preview today, we'll use the 256GB capacity size. The 256GB model shares the same performance specifications with the 512GB and 1TB models, other than the random write IOPS. The spec sheet shows the 256GB model at 86K random write IOPS, but the two larger capacity models go up to 88K.
Plextor should have the M6 PRO firmware finished up any day now. When they do, reviewers will get a few days lead time with it to test and get our reviews ready, while stock moves to Newegg, Amazon and other e-tailers. At this time, we can't nail down an exact date, but I'd say Plextor is less than 30 days out.