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SMART Optimus 400GB Enterprise SSD Review - SMART Optimus Internals

The SMART Optimus heralds the beginning of a new era for the datacenter, the inclusion of MLC NAND SSDs into roles typically only served via SLC high-endurance SSDs. Providing SLC-like endurance from MLC NAND sounds like a magic trick or marketing hype at its finest.

By: | SSDs in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Dec 13, 2012 12:12 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: SMART Storage Systems

SMART Optimus Internals




The SMART Optimus comes in a machined alloy chassis that has quite a bit of heft to it. It sports a 9.5mm Z-height, though the 1.6TB version is a 15mm product.




The bottom of the SSD holds the relevant product numbers and model information.




The dual-port 6Gb/s SAS connection provides the enterprise class features that SATA SSDs simply cannot. A robust dual-port SAS 6Gb/s connection allows Multipath I/O for either failover (High -Availability) or performance scaling. SAS provides lower latency in heavy workload environments via a higher allowable Queue Depth of 256, while SATA can only support 32.


SATA connections transfer data at half-duplex, meaning that they cannot read and write simultaneously. SAS features full duplex data transfers, reading and writing simultaneously through each port. SAS also supports the SCSI command set, which allows users a much more flexible and capable interface than SATA. Finally, SAS allows for longer cabling, up to 8m long, compared to only 1m with SATA devices.




Upon removal of the top of the case, we observe that the PCB is nestled tightly inside the case with no internal fasteners. This is due to the high tolerance construction of the case, which we will cover more on the following page.




The alloy casing is machined to a very close tolerance, with milled channels that fit the protruding components of the PCB. This very close tolerance milling creates a gap between the components and the casing. The very small amount of space between the components and the casing facilitates heat transfer from the components to the case of the SSD. This approach forgoes the usage of thermal pads, yet provides the same excellent thermal transfer characteristics.




The yellow blocks are the Tantalum capacitors that provide power hold-up during host power-loss events. Supplying power to the controller and NAND during power loss allows the SSD to write all data contained in buffers or cache down to the NAND.


The Toshiba MLC Toggle NAND (TH58TEG8D2HBA8C) comes in 16 packages of 32GB. There is an included 28% assigned for the SSDs use, including F.R.A.M.E. and overprovisioning.




The SMART controller is part of the Guardian Technology Platform. This firmware and controller combination controls the NAND and settings using adaptive NAND management techniques. The DRAM caching modules are also included on this side of the PCB - Micron IC's total 640MB.

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