There are not many secrets when it comes to Intel's upcoming 905P Optane M.2 SSD. The drive made center stage at Intel's Computex Keynote, was running in every motherboard vendor's booth, and again on display at Flash Memory Summit. We know so much about the M.2 version of the fastest consumer SSD ever released that it's almost like they've been on sale for months. The only problem, they haven't and until the other day no one outside of Intel knew when these small form-factor drives would go on sale.
A discussion on Intel's forum answered the time to market question. The M.2 905P will go on sale in late October according to an Intel representative. We know the M.2 series will start with a 380GB model in a 22110 size but are not sure about other sizes.
What makes the 905P different from Intel's existing Optane SSD is the seven-channel controller that increases performance and capacities. Power and thermal constraints may limit the M.2 905P performance compared to the add-in card version, but we don't expect to see a large drop. We also don't expect to see large capacities with the M.2 drive until IMFT releases second generation 3D XPoint memory.
MyDigitalSSD just announced the first Phison PS5012-E12 SSD, the BPX Pro. The announcement comes just weeks before we expect the new premium-class NVMe SSD to ship. MyDigitalSSD also added a preorder so we have official pricing for the BPX Pro right out of the gate.
Performance reaches up to 3,400 MB/s sequential read and up to 3,100 MB/s sequential write speeds. MyDigitalSSD only shows random performance in CrystalDiskMark but Phison specs the E12 with up to 600,000 IOPS for both random reads and writes.
We published a preview article with the Phison PS5012-E12 controller recently but the drive uses firmware from January. A new preview article will hit the front page of TweakTown in the coming days with firmware from last month. The BPX Pro will ship with mass production firmware that is even newer than our latest preview article.
Without much of a fuss Crucial released the MX500 entry-level SATA SSD. We've yet to see an announcement but the drive tipped up on the Crucial website and Amazon to prove its existence. Shipping on Amazon will begin on September 4th but you can get a head start by ordering on Crucial.com where where drives will begin shipping on August 31st.
At the time of writing all three capacities show the same performance ratings. The BX500 will achieve up to 540 MB/s sequential read and 500 MB/s sequential write speeds. Crucial doesn't list random performance on this series. Given the low endurance ratings, we can only assume the BX500 is the first consumer SSD from the company to utilize 4-bit per cell memory.
In the three year warranty coverage, the 120GB BX500 gives users support for 40 terabytes written (TBW). That doubles to 80 TBW for the 240GB model and then levels off with just 120 TBW for the 480GB model. The endurance seems low compared to the mainstream MX500 with 3-bit per cell TLC memory but the entry-level BX500 allows for 21GB per day for 5 years with the 120GB drive.
Just a month ago Intel released the SSD 660p, the world's first retail SSD with 4-bit per cell QLC technology. The drive looks good on paper and the reviews look great thanks to high random read performance and a fabulous price (660p 1TB at $199.99). QLC is much better than we expected in a typical consumer workload and the promise of lower-cost large-capacity SSDs excites everyone. The next shoe to drop is more QLC and third-party manufacturers releasing competitive products that decrease the cost while pushing the technology into niche products outside of the fabs target customers.
Today we were told not to expect that anytime soon. Intel and manufacturing partner Micron have low yields with QLC. The conditions may never get better with this generation. A source close to the situation stated the current yield for 64-layer QLC is hovering right around 48%. Less than half of the die manufactured are reliable enough to use in an SSD. In contrast, current 64-layer TLC from IMFT has a yield right around 90% as of today. Usually companies work to increase yields over time but the push to finish more profitable 96-layer flash may divert engineering resources away from 64-layer QLC.
At this time, QLC bits are more expensive to manufacture than TLC bits. Intel went ahead and released the SSD 660p to make a technology statement, but that doesn't mean QLC is ready to displace TLC just yet.
Flash Memory Summit 2018 - In 2015, Micron purchased a start-up SSD controller company called Tidal Systems, Inc. Tidal was on the verge of announcing IP and products when Micron purchased the company and all of its assets. Since then, Tidal Systems disappeared, and so did the products it was working on. At FMS 2018, Micron displayed a next-generation SSD with a Micron-branded controller. A company representative went off the record to confirm this is the long awaited Tidal NVMe controller.
Everything we could gather on the client SSD can be seen in the video. The display show two unannounced products, the first with a Marvell SATA controller paired with QLC flash. The middle product, the one with the Micron branded controller, is more interesting.
The display leads us to believe Micron will release the unnamed NVMe SSD to OEMs for high-performance systems. It supports user mode encryption and appears to be an 8-channel architecture with support for DDR4. The screen makes it difficult to see more than the broad strokes.
Flash Memory Summit 2018 - After ravaging the consumer SSD market for the last two years, Silicon Motion took the wraps off its first enterprise-focused controller.
The SM2270 will initially ship in enterprise SSDs from subsidiary Shannon Systems. SMI will likely have a number of additional design wins. Most of the companies we speak with on the consumer SSD side praise SMI for exceptional customer service and responsive field engineers that help bring products to market.
The SM2270 supports up to PCIe 3.0 x8 and started out as a design for add-in cards (AIC). Changes in market conditions pushed SMI to move the design to 2.5" products with dual-mode compatibility. We may see the SM2270 used in both AIC and 2.5" products.
Samsung announced mass production of the company's first 4-bit per cell V-NAND SSD for the consumer market. The drive will use Samsung's 1Tbit V-NAND and ship in 1TB, 2TB and 4TB capacities.
The company didn't release the series name for the new QLC-enabled drive but we doubt this will fall under the 860 EVO series. Performance is said to be similar to 3-bit per cell V-NAND products thanks to TurboWrite technology that writes most data in a consumer workload to a SLC buffer.
"Samsung's new 4-bit SATA SSD will herald a massive move to terabyte-SSDs for consumers," said Jaesoo Han, executive vice president of memory sales & marketing at Samsung Electronics. "As we expand our lineup across consumer segments and to the enterprise, 4-bit terabyte-SSD products will rapidly spread throughout the entire market."
Toshiba announces the world's first 96-layer TLC SSD, the XG6, is shipping to system builders. This line replaces the XG5 and becomes the drive of choice for builders looking to advance system performance by leveraging Toshiba's new BiCS4 TLC memory technology.
The new XG6 features performance up to 3,180 MB/s / 2,960 MB/s sequential read / write and up to 355,000 / 365,000 IOPS random read and write speeds. The series currently ships in three sizes from 256GB to 1TB (1024GB), all in a single-sided M.2 2280 form factor.
Western Digital has begun sampling the world's first 1.33 Terabit (Tb) four-bit per cell, 96-layer 3D NAND (BiCS4). The die breaks new ground for flash capacity and runs over the 800MT/s Toggle 3.0 interface standard, twice as fast as the company's previous generation 4-bit per cell technology.
Western Digital plans volume production this year with manufacturing partner Toshiba in the Yokkaichi, Japan facility. BiCS4 products will appear later this year under the SanDisk brand. Western Digital expects to utilize BiCS4 in a variety of applications, from SD cards to enterprise SSDs over the lifetime of the product.
Following our weekend review of the Inland Professional SATA III $75 480GB SSD, the drive moves into second place on Amazon's Best-Selling Internal SSD List.
The drive didn't break any performance records in our tests but proved to be a good entry-level SSD. It's not a replacement for most existing SSDs but it a low-cost alternative to hard disk drives.
If you are not familiar with the brand, Inland Professional is a house brand for Microcenter. The company has a number of brick and mortar stores in the United States but is known primarily for discounted CPU and motherboard packages. The SATA III started shipping around March this year but only gained popularity recently when prices fell for all SSDs. The drive ships with a standard 3-year limited warranty honored through Microcenter.