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Silicon Motion SM2262EN Preview: Micron 96-Layer TLC

By: Chris Ramseyer | SSDs in Storage | Posted: Sep 25, 2018 3:00 pm

1TB Class Performance Testing

 

Product Comparison

 

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Silicon Motion has a number of popular NVMe SSDs on the market today with the SM2262 controller. We limited ourselves in the comparison charts to just two, the Adata SX9200 960GB and the HP EX920 1TB. We also included the Intel 600p, one of the first entry-level NVMe SSDs to come to market. It uses the SMI SM2260, the predecessor to the SM2262.

 

We also included four drives, not in the SMI camp. The Plextor M9Pe and SanDisk Extreme Pro NVMe both utilize Toshiba/SanDisk 64L TLC. The Samsung 970 EVO and Pro utilize Samsung 64L memory. The 970 Pro is the only product in the charts with 2-bit per cell memory.

 

The one controller not represented is the new Phison PS5012-E12. We will have our first retail drive with the E12 today, but it will take a few days to complete testing. You can read about the MyDigtialSSD BPX Pro later this week.

 

Testing Notes

 

The SMI SM2262EN with 96L IMFT memory is not a retail product with final production firmware. This is a reference design with generic firmware used for development and compatibility testing. At some point in the near future samples with go to SMI's partners and the companies will begin working on custom firmware based on individual requirements. Some companies may choose to limit random performance in order to decrease power consumption for notebook users. Other companies may target specific thermal limits or maximum performance.

 

 

The reference design would ideally be in the middle. It will not win every performance benchmark. It's not optimized in the same way the SM2262 drives are. In short, the performance will increase when the SM2262EN retail drives come to market.

 

Sequential Read Performance

 

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We start the testing with sequential read performance. At queue depth (QD) 1 the latest SM2262EN starts with identical performance to the Samsung 970 Pro. The SM2262EN takes a little longer to ramp up as we increase the workload compared to the optimized previous generation models from Adata and HP. Starting at QD4, the SM262EN starts to show real strength by outperforming all of the other drives before coming back in line with the 970 Pro.

 

Sequential Write Performance

 

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The sequential write performance test shows the SM2262EN outperforming every other drive across the QD range except at 2 where the SanDisk Extreme takes a 7 MB/s lead. Overall, the SM2262EN is a big winner in the sequential write burst test where it outpaces the 970 Pro by a hundred megabytes per second.

 

Sustained Sequential Write Performance

 

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As we mentioned on the first page, the SM2262EN is highly modified for superior burst performance. In our sustained sequential write test, we see the cache write speed is higher than everything else shipping today. The cache comes in different tiers with a large SLC buffer, then an MLC or MLC-like buffer. The two combine to deliver very high write speeds for 25% of the overall capacity, but force a much lower native TLC write speed outside of the 25% range. This is a dynamic cache, so the buffer shrinks as you add data to the flash.

 

Random Read Performance

 

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Random read latency is the user experience. These very small file size reads make up the brunt of a consumer workload. When the latency is low, you feel like the PC is moving briskly, but in turn, high latency feels slow. This is where Optane shines bright, and where flash technology improves with each new generation.

 

Even in its current state, the SM2262EN with next-generation Micron memory manages to raise the bar over the optimized HP EX920. On the next page, the gains in this workload will come through in the real-world consumer applications.

 

Random Write Performance

 

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The SM2262EN with Micron 96L flash breaks new ground in low queue depth random write performance. This is the advanced cache at work. The latest SMI NVMe technology increases random writes at QD1 by close to 7,000 IOPS, and that grows even more at QD2.

 

70% Read Sequential Performance

 

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The one area where we found the next generation components lacking is sequential mixed workloads. The SM2262EN stays well over 1,000 MB/s in our burst test but trails the previous generation and many of the other drives in the charts today. This is likely due to the lack of optimization at this stage in the development process.

 

70% Read Random Performance

 

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We saw much better performance in the random mixed workload test. The SM2262EN leads both the random read and write workloads, so it's able to just muscle through this test in the same way higher pressure water rushes through a fire hose.

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