EDGE Boost Pro 300GB Enterprise SSD Review

EDGE Boost Pro 300GB Enterprise SSD Review

Today Paul takes an in-depth look at a cheaper enterprise SSD than we are used to seeing. Follow on as he examines the Boost Pro 300GB from EDGE Memory.

@paulyalcorn
Published Thu, May 15 2014 9:02 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: EDGE Memory

Introduction

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EDGE Memory began in 1986, and like many companies of the time, the small company, started by a teenager, grew into a big success. Today, EDGE memory offers 2.5-inch, 1.8-inch, and PCIe SSDs, along with other memory products geared for enterprise and consumer use. These drives are manufactured in EDGE's US-based ISO-9001:2008 facility and are available at a number of resellers.

The LSI SandForce controller family is aging, but it still offers a full suite of enterprise-class features and decent performance. LSI SandForce controllers are in a strange market position; their current controllers are considered old by technology standards, and the new SF3700 controllers have not yet arrived. There are still plenty of LSI SandForce-driven SSDs on the market, and the prices are becoming increasingly competitive. The 6Gb/s Boost Pro SSD can be found as low as, or lower, than the leading value-class SSDs. These low prices carry over to many other LSI SandForce enterprise-class SSDs.

The read-centric and light duty SSDs segment has been growing quickly as major manufacturers rush to supply value-conscious customers with affordable drives. This class of drives deliver incredibly economical pricing and acceptable performance for light workloads. Interestingly, SSDs that were once flagship-class, such as LSI SandForce SSDs, now provide similar performance and robust endurance at a lower price point than the latest light-duty SSDs.

One of the advantages of the LSI SandForce platform is its proven history in the datacenter. Millions of SandForce SSDs are in use, and the number continues to grow. Pairing this stable platform with high-endurance NAND, such as the Toshiba eMLC on the Boost Pro, delivers a robust and reliable drive. The Boost Pro SSDs come in a number of varieties, with 7mm, 9.5mm, and 15mm varieties available. The Boost Server 15mm SSDs deliver up to 1,920 GB of NAND in the 2.5-inch form factor. There are also Boost Express PCIe SSDs designed around the LSI SandForce platform.

The Boost Pro comes in capacities of 60, 120, 240, 300, and 480GB. The SSD utilizes the SF-2281/2582 controller and Toshiba eMLC NAND to deliver sequential performance up to 550 MB/s read and 520 MB/s write. The maximum attainable IOPS are rated at 80,000 read and 37,000 write, but in steady state, these numbers will be much lower. The LSI SandForce SSDs also derive performance benefits from compressing data, so data entropy will affect performance.

The Boost Pro offers a spate of enterprise-class features, such as AES-256 encryption and power fail protection. LSI SandForce SSDs are inherently less susceptible to power loss due to their DRAM-less design, but the tantalum capacitors onboard the Boost Pro offer an additional layer of security. The SSD is rated for an MTBF of 2 million hours and consumes 3W when active and 1W when idling. DuraWrite extends NAND endurance, and RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) provides data protection from lost sectors, pages, and blocks by weaving in parity data.

The Boost Pro come with a five-year warranty and a competitive price point. It looks like the EDGE Memory Boost Pro Enterprise SSD can be a contender in the budget category, so let us compare it to the current market leaders.

PRICING: You can find the EDGE Memory Boost Pro for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: TheEDGE Memory Boost Pro retails for $290.00 at Amazon.

Boost Pro Internals and Specifications

Boost Pro Internals

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The EDGE Boost Pro SSD comes in a 2.5-inch form factor with a 9.5mm z-height. EDGE Memory also offers 7mm, 15mm, and a 1.8-inch microserver-friendly form factor.

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The Boost Pro features enterprise-grade Toshiba eMLC NAND that can withstand 30,000 P/E Cycles.

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The drive features empty pads for the addition of more NAND packages for high-capacity variants. There is also the notable lack of DRAM. LSI SandForce controllers do not require DRAM caching, reducing components and complexity.

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The LSI SandForce SF-2582 is flanked by numerous power capacitors. These Tantalum power capacitors flush data to the NAND in the event of power loss. These capacitors are also much more reliable and tolerate heat better than the supercapacitors found on many designs.

Boost Pro Specifications

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Test System and Methodology

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Our approach to storage testing targets long-term performance with a high level of granularity. Many testing methods record peak and average measurements during the test period. These average values give a basic understanding of performance, but they fall short in providing the clearest view possible of I/O Quality of Service (QoS).

'Average' results do little to indicate performance variability experienced during actual deployment. The degree of variability is especially pertinent as many applications can hang or lag as they wait for I/O requests to complete. This testing methodology illustrates performance variability, and includes average measurements, during the measurement window.

While under load, all storage solutions deliver variable levels of performance. While this fluctuation is normal, the degree of variability is what separates enterprise storage solutions from typical client-side hardware. Providing ongoing measurements from our workloads with one-second reporting intervals illustrates product differentiation in relation to I/O QoS. Scatter charts give readers a basic understanding of I/O latency distribution without directly observing numerous graphs.

Consistent latency is the goal of every storage solution, and measurements such as Maximum Latency only illuminate the single longest I/O received during testing. This can be misleading as a single 'outlying I/O' can skew the view of an otherwise superb solution. Standard Deviation measurements consider latency distribution, but do not always effectively illustrate I/O distribution with enough granularity to provide a clear picture of system performance. We utilize high-granularity I/O latency charts to illuminate performance during our test runs.

Our testing regimen follows SNIA principles to ensure consistent, repeatable testing. We measure power consumption during precondition runs. This provides measurements in time-based fashion, with results every second, to illuminate the behavior of power consumption in steady state conditions. We also present IOPS-to-Watts measurements to highlight efficiency.

We utilize SSDs with different capacity points for this evaluation. The 300GB EDGE Boost Pro, the 480GB Micron M500DC, the 240GB Samsung SM843, and the 480GB Intel DC S3500 are all tested over their full LBA range to highlight performance at maximum utilization. SandForce utilizes compression to realize its full performance; we test with 50 percent compressible data to highlight the average performance range. The first page of results will provide the 'key' to understanding and interpreting our test methodology.

Benchmarks - 4k Random Read/Write

4k Random Read/Write

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We precondition the EDGE Boost Pro 300GB Enterprise SSD for 9,000 seconds, or two and a half hours, receiving performance reports every second. We plot this data to illustrate the drive's descent into steady state.

This dual-axis chart consists of 18,000 data points, with the IOPS on the left and the latency on the right. The red dots signify IOPS, and the grey dots are latency measurements during the test. We place latency data in a logarithmic scale to bring it into comparison range. The lines through the data scatter are the average during the test. This type of testing presents standard deviation and maximum/minimum I/O in a visual manner.

Note that the IOPS and latency figures are nearly mirror images of each other. This illustrates that high-granularity testing can give our readers a good feel for latency distribution by viewing IOPS at one-second intervals. This should be in mind when viewing our test results below. This downward slope of performance only occurs during the first few hours of use, and we present precondition results only to confirm steady state convergence.

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Each level tested includes 300 data points (five minutes of one second reports) to illustrate performance variability. The line for each OIO depth represents the average speed reported during the five-minute interval. 4k random speed measurements are an important metric when comparing drive performance as the hardest type of file access for any storage solution to master is small-file random. One of the most sought-after performance specifications, 4k random performance is a heavily marketed figure.

The Boost Pro occupies the lowest position in the chart at 38,460 IOPS; the Micron M500DC averages 56,259 IOPS. The Intel DC S3500 averages 57,769 IOPS, and the Samsung SM843 takes a huge lead with 95,815 IOPS. The LSI SandForce controller is one of the few that experiences significant random read speed degradation in steady state. In FOB conditions, and under lighter workloads, it can peak much higher.

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The SM843 leads convincingly with the lowest latency during 4k random read activity.

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Garbage collection routines are more pronounced in heavy write workloads, leading to performance variability.

The Boost Pro averages 30,504 IOPS; the Micron M500DC leads the pack with an average of 39,089 IOPS. The Intel averages 13,841 IOPS, and the Samsung provides 12,432 IOPS at 256 OIO.

The great random write performance of the Boost Pro is the result of the LSI SandForce's previous role as a flagship-class SSD. The other SSDs in our test pool, though they are in the same price point, were designed from the ground up to be value-class SSDs.

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The Boost Pro and M500DC both deliver a well-defined latency distribution during the test.

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Our write percentage testing illustrates the varying performance of each solution with mixed workloads. The 100% column to the right is a pure write workload of the 4k file size, and 0% represents a pure 4k read workload. Mixed workload testing reveals strengths and weaknesses that remain hidden during typical tests. In reality, much of the real-world data is going to feature mixed data.

Here we observe the Samsung SM843 leading by a wide margin with the pure random read workload on the left, but with the slightest of writes interspersed (10%) it falls to the lowest performance of the test field. The Boost Pro leads this test as we mix in more write activity, with a slight lead over the M500DC in the 30-90% write mixtures. The M500DC also handles mixed workloads very well, and both drives outpace the DC S3500 and SM843 easily.

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We record the power consumption measurements during our precondition run. We calculate the stated average results during the last five minutes of the test, after the device has settled into steady state.

The Boost Pro averages 3.7 watts. The M500DC averages 4.09 watts; the DC S3500 averages 3.8 Watts, and the SM843 averages 2.66 watts during the measurement window.

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IOPS-to-Watts measurements are generated from data recorded during our precondition run, and the stated average is from the last five minutes of the test.

The Boost Pro delivers 8,189 IOPS-per-Watt; the DC S3500 averages 3,125, and the SM843 averages 4,621.

Benchmarks - 8k Random Read/Write

8k Random Read/Write

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Server workloads rely heavily upon 8k performance, and we include this as a standard with each evaluation. Many of our server workloads also test 8k performance with various mixed read/write workloads.

The average 8k random read speed of the Boost Pro is 26,011 IOPS. The Micron M500DC is 48,034 IOPS at 256 OIO; the Intel DC S3500 measures 44,444 IOPS, and the Samsung SM843 is 48,277 IOPS. The Boost Pro once again trails in the random read testing.

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All the SSDs exhibit a tight latency range during the 8k random read test.

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The Boost Pro takes the lead with an average of 26,011 IOPS. The M500DC averages 23,852 IOPS; the DC S3500 averages 6,937 IOPS, and the SM843 averages 6,254 IOPS at 256 OIO.

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The Boost Pro and M500DC deliver consistent performance during the test period.

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The Boost Pro takes a commanding lead in mixed 8k workloads, illustrating its once class-leading affinity for datacenter workloads. The consistent performance is also impressive as it leads the chart.

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Power consumption for the Boost Pro averages 3.48 watts. The M500DC averages 4.77 watts; the DC S3500 averages 3.75 watts, and the SM843 requires 2.71 watts.

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The Boost Pro masters the efficiency test with an average of 7,175 IOPS-per-Watt. The M500DC averages 4,877 IOPS-per-Watt; the DC S3500 averages 1,584 IOPS-per-Watt, and the SM843 measures 2,234 IOPS-per-Watt.

Benchmarks - 128k Sequential Read/Write

128k Sequential Read/Write

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128k sequential speed reflects the maximum sequential throughput of the SSD. The Boost Pro weighs in with 510 MB/s at 256OIO. The M500DC averages 417 MB/s; the Intel DC S3500 delivers an average of 441 MB/s, and the Samsung SM843 averages a commanding 528 MB/s.

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The SM843 provides the lowest overall latency, but the Boost Pro isn't far behind.

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The Boost Pro experiences some variability at lower OIO, but it averages 438 MB/s. The M500DC averages 388 MB/s; the DC S3500 averages 424 MB/s, and the SM843 delivers another win with 501 MB/s.

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The mixed sequential testing reveals a distinct advantage of the Boost Pro; it delivers amazing mixed workload performance. The M500DC also pulls off great performance in this test.

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The Boost Pro averages 2.4 watts. The M500DC averages 5.24 watts; the DC S3500 averages 4.83 watts, and the SM843 requires 3.65 watts for the sequential write workload.

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The Boost Pro easily wins the sequential efficiency test with a chart-topping 176 MB/s-per-Watt. The M500DC averages 73 MB/s-per-Watt; the DC S3500 averages 87 MB/s-per-Watt, and the SM843 delivers 136 MB/s-per-Watt.

Benchmarks - Database/OLTP and Web Server

Database/OLTP

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This test emulates Database and On-Line Transaction Processing (OLTP) workloads. OLTP is the processing of transactions such as credit cards and high frequency trading in the financial sector. Databases are the bread and butter of many enterprise deployments. These demanding 8k random workloads with a 66 percent read and 33 percent write distribution bring even the best solutions down to earth.

The Boost Pro trails at this workload with an average of 9,663 IOPS. The Micron M500DC tops the chart with an average of 21,133 IOPS; the Intel DC S3500 averages 19,400 IOPS at 256 OIO, and the Samsung SM843 averages 13,653 IOPS.

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The Boost Pro averages 3.83 watts. The M500DC averages 2.76 watts; the DC S3500 averages 3.76 watts, and the SM843 requires 2.43 watts.

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The Boost Pro trails the efficiency due to its lower performance, and it only musters 2,646 IOPS-per-Watt. The M500DC averages 7,676 IOPS-per-Watt; the DC S3500 averages 4,040 IOPS-per-Watt, and the SM843 averages 5,969 IOPS-per-Watt.

Web Server

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The Web Server profile is a read-only test with a wide range of file sizes. Web servers are responsible for generating content users view over the Internet, much like the very page you are reading. The speed of the underlying storage system has a massive impact on the speed and responsiveness of the server hosting the website.

The Boost Pro delivers 24,371 IOPS. The M500DC averages 18,650 IOPS; the DC S3500 averages 23,664 IOPS, and the SM843 averages 28,800 at 256 OIO.

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The Boost Pro averages 3.59 watts. The M500DC averages 3.21 watts; the DC S3500 requires 3.8 watts during the fileserver workload, and the SM843 pulls just 2.7 watts.

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The Boost Pro delivers unbelievable efficiency in the read-only webserver test, with 5,384 IOPS-per-Watt. The M500DC scores 1,965 IOPS-per-Watt, compared to 749 IOPS-per-Watt for the DC S3500 and 1,094 for the SM843.

Benchmarks - Email Server

Email Server

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The email server profile is a demanding 8k test with a 50 percent read and 50 percent write distribution. This application is indicative of the performance in heavy write workloads.

The Boos Pro trails by a wide margin with an average of only 6,586 IOPS. The Micron M500DC averages 15,403 IOPS; the Intel DC S3500 averages 13,121 IOPS at 256 OIO, and the Samsung SM843 lags behind at 11,839 IOPS.

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The Boost Pro draws 3.65 watts. The M500DC averages 2.66 watts; the DC S3500 averages 1.75 watts, and the SM843 averages 2.68 watts.

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The Boost Pro averages 1,960 IOPS-per-Watt. The M500DC averages 5,806 IOPS-per-Watt; the DC S3500 scores 6,705 IOPS-per-Watt, and the SM843 delivers 4,491 IOPS-per-Watt.

Final Thoughts

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The LSI SandForce controller was revolutionary in many respects. The pairing of an easy-to-deploy controller and reference firmware enabled a foothold in the SSD industry for numerous companies. The compression technology brought higher performance and increased endurance that drove great interest during the SandForce heyday. Over the years, the LSI SandForce 2200 series became pervasive. At one point, it seemed there was a new SandForce release every week. As time progressed, the 2200 series became a ubiquitous SSD; it was seemingly everywhere and served a variety of workloads from client to enterprise applications.

Time marches on, and the SF-2200 series is beginning to show its age. New SSDs have been introduced that make great gains in performance. The SandForce-driven SSDs have seemingly begun to recede into the background as the industry awaits the next generation SandForce SF37000 controller. Meanwhile, SF-2200 controllers continue to chug away in datacenters worldwide.

One of the advantages of SF-2200 controllers is their extensive pedigree and wide tolerance for different types of NAND. This allows a surprising amount of customization from one flexible platform, in some ways paving the way for the highly specialized SSDs of today. Today, the read-centric light use segment is growing rapidly. Manufacturers have finally began to serve the value-conscious market with specialized SSDs that have decent performance, but lower endurance.

At the same time that the market is beginning to embrace these value SSDs, the aging LSI SandForce SSDs are beginning to drop to rock-bottom prices. More advanced heavy-use SSDs from the fabs are displacing the SandForce 2200 SSDs from their position at the top of the food chain, and SandForce-only manufacturers do not have a new platform to transition to. SF-2200 SandForce SSDs are still in plentiful supply, but at much lower prices. This places the SF-2200 series into position to compete with the medium and low-endurance SSDs on the market.

This can be a great value for those searching for affordable flash storage. The EDGE Memory Boost Pro is a great example of a solid SSD at an affordable price point. The Toshiba eMLC brings more endurance than the leading value SSDs, and the SandForce controller provides good performance. In our testing, the Boost Pro suffered in random read workloads, but dominated in random write testing. 8k random write is a particular bright spot, and mixed random workloads reveal a diamond in the rough. The Boost Pro also delivered exceptional performance in mixed sequential workloads.

Performance lagged in server workloads, but some of the low performance is attributable to the 50 percent incompressible data we used during testing. For users with compressible data, the performance could be higher in deployment. While SandForce performance is no longer class leading, it is certainly enough to remain competitive in the value market. As most users are well aware, any SSD is exponentially faster than an HDD.

The winds of the NAND market have blown the price of LSI SandForce SSDs continually lower, but prices also shift upwards at times. Patient customers can find great deals, as low as 60-75 cents/GB, for a former flagship SSD architecture. The EDGE Memory Boost Pro is a solid entrant, and the LSI SandForce platform is proven and reliable. Readers hunting for high endurance at an affordable price point would be wise to keep an eye on SandForce SSD prices.

PRICING: You can find the EDGE Memory Boost Pro for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: TheEDGE Memory Boost Pro retails for $290.00 at Amazon.

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The quest for benchmark world records led Paul further and further down the overclocking rabbit hole. SSDs and RAID controllers were a big part of that equation, allowing him to push performance to the bleeding edge. Finding the fastest and most extreme storage solutions led to experience with a myriad of high-end enterprise devices. Soon testing SSDs and Enterprise RAID controllers at the limits of their performance became Paul's real passion, one that is carried out through writing articles and reviews.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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