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Crucial MX300 750GB SATA III SSD Review

Crucial MX300 750GB SATA III SSD Review
Crucial drops their first 3D TLC NAND powered SSD, the MX300. The MX300 should be more powerful than recently released 2D TLC SSDs. Let's take a look.
By: Jon Coulter | SSDs in Storage | Posted: Jun 14, 2016 6:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 87%Manufacturer: Crucial

Introduction

 

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Over the years, Crucial has built a reputation for delivering top performing SSDs. When SSDs first began appearing in the consumer space, Crucial was first to leverage the SATA III interface. At the time, Crucial's RealSSD C300 set the world ablaze with unmatched performance over a 6Gb/s interface, thus cementing Crucial as a go to choice for top performing consumer-based non-volatile storage solutions.

 

 

Fast-forward to today. Today, SSDs are mainstream and the primary focus has changed from all-out performance to cost and capacity. With performance becoming a secondary factor for the majority of mainstream users, TLC (Triple Level Cell or 3-Bit per cell) based SSDs are quickly becoming the norm. TLC SSDs offer higher capacity at a lower cost than their MLC (Multi Level Cell or 2-Bit per cell) counterparts. When TLC first hit the scene, endurance was the primary concern. MLC flash generally sported an endurance rating of 3000 P/E (Program/Erase) cycles, while TLC flash checked in at about 500 P/E cycles. Today the endurance concerns of TLC-based SSDs have been put to rest through advances in error-correcting code and the implementation of pseudo SLC (Single Level Cell or 1-Bit per cell) caching technology.

 

With endurance concerns out of the way, NAND fabs could now focus primarily on cost per gigabyte. To lower cost, NAND fabs began focusing on lithography shrinkage. Shrinking lithography produces more die per wafer which in-turn lowers cost per gigabyte. However, as lithography shrinks new barriers are created including re-tooling fabs, lower performance, and a further reduction in endurance. Lithography shrinkage for planar (2D) NAND flash has reached a point of diminishing return, and the path forward is vertical or 3D. This is accomplished by going vertically into the body of the die by standing the NAND string on its end, rather than shrinking the cell's length and width. Think of it as a skyscraper building, you get a massive amount of floor space with a minimal footprint. By going 3D, lithographic scaling is no longer a primary factor for cost reduction. Instead, it becomes a factor of how many transistors you can stack on a single vertical string.

 

Combining TLC and 3D NAND flash technologies produces today's lowest cost, high density solid state storage solutions, furthering mainstream SSD adoption. Crucial, Micron's consumer arm, today launches their first 3D flash product; the MX300. Crucial's MX300 750GB SSD is a Micron 3D TLC flash equipped 2.5"x7mm SATA III SSD. Crucial is second to market with consumer-based 3D flash-based SSDs, the first was Samsung with their 850 series SSDs. Micron's 3D flash differs from Samsung's in a number of ways. Micron has carried proven floating gate technology over into their 3D flash. Micron feels that utilizing existing floating gate technology provides a proven foundation that limits design variables, ultimately increasing the reliability and quality of their 3D flash designs. Additionally, Micron has placed the CMOS under the array which significantly reduces the overall footprint of Micron's 3D flash packages.

 

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Micron's 3D TLC packs a density of 384Gb on a single die. This is currently the industry's highest density 32 tier 3D NAND die. We are delighted that another NAND manufacturer has entered the 3D arena. Competition will undoubtedly serve to further innovation and drive costs lower, which is win win for the end-user.

 

Samsung has been in the 3D game for some time now, and this is Crucial/Micron's first generation 3D SSD. The MX300 isn't going to unseat Samsung's 3D based SSDs and become the performance leader today. Crucial understands this fact which is why the MX300 is being marketed as a mid-level performing SSD. With this in mind, we aren't going to compare Crucial's MX300 to Samsung's 850 series 3D flash-based SSDs, all of which are high-level performers, we will instead compare the MX300 to value based planar TLC products including Crucial's own BX200. We feel this will give us some perspective on how Micron's 3D TLC flash compares with their own 16nm planar TLC flash as well as Toshiba's and SKHynix's latest planar TLC flash. Hopefully we will see some clear advantages to Micron's low-cost 3D TLC flash over low-cost planar TLC flash.

 

 

Specifications

 

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Currently, Crucial's MX300 is available in one capacity and one form factor; a 750GB 2.5"x7mm cased design. Specifications: Sequential Read/Write 530/510 MB/s. Random Read/Write: 92K/83K IOPS at QD32. TBW: 220TB. MTTF: 1.5 Million hours. Hardware encryption: AES 256-bit encryption, TGC Opal 2.0-compliant, IEEE-1667-compliant, Microsoft eDrive.

 

Crucial backs the MX300 with a three-year limited warranty. Crucial included a key for downloadable Acronis HD cloning software. Please refer to the above product flyer for Advanced Features built into the MX300. The 750GB MX300 carries an MSRP of $199.99.

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