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MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro Firmware 12.1 Update - Higher Peaks

We have the new 12.1 firmware update for the E12 controller and run it on all four capacities.

@ChrisRamseyer
Published Thu, Dec 13 2018 10:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 6:57 PM CST

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

The MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro was the first retail SSD to ship with the new Phison PS5012-E12 controller. In our first review, we mentioned a scheduled firmware update that would increase performance in the works. The 12.1 update was not ready for launch, but it's now posted on the MyDigitalSSD website. Today we'll briefly look at the update procedure and then dive deep into a performance comparison between the original 11.1 and the new 12.1 firmware.

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MyDigitalSSD is already shipping SSDs with the new 12.1 update. Only the early BPX Pro SSDs from the presale and early retail sales have the older firmware. Over the life of the series only a handful, maybe 4,000 drives, will have the 11.1 firmware. The performance we see today will become a better reference for shoppers looking at BPX Pro performance.

A Destructive Update

The 12.1 update changes the data structure of the BPX Pro. The radical changes mean all data on the drive will be lost during the update. We refer to this type of firmware update as a "destructive," and if you want to retain the data, you need to back it up or clone the drive.

Over the last few days, we found a simple to use and free clone utility called EasyUS Backup Free (version 11.5 is the latest). This software allows you to clone your operating system drive from inside Windows. You don't have to worry about formatting a thumb drive, DOS prompts or Linux-based utilities. We've used the software on a handful of NVMe SSDs and found it to be the easiest cloning utility to date.

You can find the new BPX Pro 12.1 update on the MyDigitalSSD product page for this series. The MyDigitalSSD M2X USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) to PCIe 3.0 x4 bridge portable SSD enclosure was used to update the BPX Pro SSDs after we cloned the drive's data. You can't run the update on a boot drive.

Specifications

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*CrystalDiskMark Performance

We're not going to spend a lot of time talking about the BPX Pro's specifications. The new update improves peak performance, and we will look at that in detail today on the following pages.

The series uses the new high-performance Phison PS5012-E12 NVMe controller. The controller runs cooler than the previous high-performance model, PS5007-E7, thanks to a manufacturing process shrink. MyDigitalSSD chose Toshiba's 3D BICS FLASH memory using 3-bit per cell technology with 64-layer stacking.

Pricing, Warranty, And Endurance

SSD pricing are in freefall and not even products released just a few weeks ago are immune. The BPX Pro 240GB started life at $74.99, but you can find it on Amazon today for $20 less, at $54.99. The 480GB model sells for $99.99, a $30 decrease from the initial release price. We feel the best value is the 960GB model that currently sells for just $189.99. Did someone forget that this is a 1TB SSD?

Since our first review, the largest capacity 1920GB (2TB) hit the market. This capacity came to market a few weeks after the three lower size drives. It currently sells for $519.99, but that price may decrease as more product becomes available.

The BPX Pro series carries a generous 5-year warranty and "pro" level endurance levels previously reserved for workstation class NVMe products like the Samsung 970 Pro.

A Closer Look

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From the outside looking in, the BPX Pro appears like any other NVMe SSD in the M.2 form factor. The new E12 controller comes packaged unlike the exposed "flip chip" design like most of the E7 products that shipped (there were a few E7-based SSDs with the packaged design).

MyDigitalSSD includes a M.2-spec fine thread screw and a small size 0 screwdriver in the blister package. Buyer also receives a BPX Pro Powered case sticker.

1TB Class Performance Testing

Product Comparison

With two firmware revisions and four capacities to look at, the charts today belong the MyDigitalSSD Pro today. We look at the initial release firmware and the new 12.1 updates on the 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, and large 1920GB drives.

Sequential Read Performance

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The new E12 12.1 firmware update fixes the queue depth 2 (QD) dip issue found in our testing for most capacities, but there is a new drop at QD4. We suspect this is mainly an issue with cache, the amount of time we test for, and the order we perform the test. The peak performance is virtually unchanged with sequential reads, but that changes in other areas as you will soon see.

Sequential Write Performance

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All drive BPX Pro capacities over the 240GB see a sequential write performance increase with the largest on the 1920GB model.

Sustained Sequential Write Performance

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Sustained writes increased for every capacity with the hard dip we found around 20% removed.

Random Read Performance

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The random read results show higher peak performance, but that only comes at high queue depths. This allows E12 sellers my MyDigitalSSD and Corsair to advertise higher results, but under real-world conditions under consumer workloads, the increase is meaningless. The drives all lost a small amount of random read IOPSs at low queue depths.

Random Write Performance

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The random write performance also increased at high queue depths for all capacities, but again that comes at the expense of low queue depth performance where consumer workloads run.

70% Read Sequential Performance

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Moving over to mixed workloads, we start with sequential data with a 70% read workload. The peak performance is nearly the same between the two versions tested. The problem we spot is lower performance at QD4 with the latest release compared to the 11.1 release.

70% Read Random Performance

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The random test with 70% reads show a regression at low queue depths as well but much higher peak performance. The increase comes at QD16 where MyDigitalSSD raised the ceiling before the random IOPS plateau, but that is well outside of the consumer workload window.

1TB Class Real-World Performance Testing

Game Load Time

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In the synthetic tests on the previous page, we learned that most of the performance increases come at high queue depths. The new 12.1 firmware release appears to favor workstation and datacenter workloads. On this page, we see what happens to performance in consumer applications.

We start with game load times using the Final Fantasy: Stormblood benchmark. In three out of four capacities, the BPX Pro takes slightly longer to load the game levels. The 480GB model only shows a .038 second decrease in game load times. None of the changes is large enough to discourage us from using the MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro, but this is not the "performance increase" we expected to see.

PCMark 8 Storage Bandwidth

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The PCMark 8 Storage Test uses nine popular applications to measure performance in ten separate tests. We combine the average and present the data in an easy to compare throughput average. Again, we see a slight decrease in usable performance with consumer applications using the new firmware.

PCMark 8 Extended Storage Test

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The PCMark 8 Extended Storage Test shows increased consistency with the new firmware, but not a large change to the average throughput for most capacities.

SYSmark 2014 SE System Responsiveness and Power Tests

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The first drive we started testing with the new firmware was the 960GB model and first up was the SYSmark 2014 SE test. This was the only model to see a responsiveness increase. When we first saw the result, we were quite happy with the change. The responsiveness increase moves this series into the same circle as the Samsung 970 EVO. Sadly, the other drives lost responsiveness, but not enough to fuss over except the 1920GB model that took a notable step back.

Notebook Battery Life

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The new firmware update doesn't change the amount of time you can run a notebook on battery power too much. The 960GB was the only drive to see an increase. That capacity gained 16 minutes and put our Lenovo Y700-17 gaming notebook past the 5-hour mark. The other capacities lost a little time in the test.

Final Thoughts

We've worked with Phison and its partners long enough to understand the product cycle cadence. The new 12.1 firmware was likely born from optimizing the controller for enterprise customers. The firmware shows improvements in datacenter workloads and increases the "paper" specifications, but that doesn't mean you will see improvements on your desktop or notebook.

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Even though we didn't get the big boost in performance we all hoped for, the BPX Pro is still a positive story. MyDigitalSSD followed the current pricing curve, and even though this series is just a couple of months old, it's still one of, if not the best, NVMe value available today. To be honest, I'm surprised the 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB drives still available given the limited supply of E12 controllers available in late 2018. I wouldn't be surprised to see the series sell out before the end of the month.

The MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro sits right between the two Samsung 970 series drives. It offers superior performance to the 970 EVO with 970 Pro endurance. The performance is closer to the 970 Pro, and it even matches its 5-year warranty.

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