Toshiba THNSNJ480PCS3 HK3R Enterprise SSD Review

Toshiba THNSNJ480PCS3 HK3R Enterprise SSD Review

Toshiba's HK3R enterprise SSD leverages Toshiba 19nm Toggle mode NAND to deliver solid performance and endurance. Check out what Paul has to say about it.

@paulyalcorn
Published Thu, Sep 4 2014 8:20 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:33 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Toshiba

Introduction

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There is a surprising amount of potential in the venerable Toshiba when we look at the overall enterprise storage market. Toshiba created NAND, giving them the most experience with NAND flash products. The position of their storage division as a piece of a much larger engineering and electronics conglomerate is also a considerable strength. A diversified portfolio always helps smooth out market fluctuations and intense competitions.

The datacenter continues to change with the disruptive explosion of flash into high performance slots, but Toshiba also has another advantage in their HDD experience. HDDs and flash products will live a complementary existence for many more years to come. Toshiba's flash and hard drive production gives them a real advantage over larger HDD manufacturers who source their NAND from outside suppliers. Toshiba is the only HDD manufacturer with the advantage of an in-house NAND supply, while others scramble for NAND supplier agreements. As the shift continues, this additional path for growth could allow Toshiba to broaden their penetration into the datacenter.

Pairing all of these advantages with a clear strategy moving forward is the key, and Toshiba recently announced the goal of expanding their HDD market share to 20% and SSDs up to 30% by 2016. These lofty goals are realistic and attainable; Toshiba recently accomplished a 70.5% quarter over quarter jump in CQ2 2014.

The HK3R is a good example of a springboard product that gives Toshiba access to a growing market. The read-intensive HK3R is geared for low-duty applications such as boot volumes, read-caching, error-logging, content delivery networks, VOD, and media streaming.

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The Toshiba HK3R THNSNJ480PCS3 comes in capacities of 120 GB, 240 GB, and 480 GB, in the familiar 2.5" form factor. The HK3R utilizes the Toshiba TC358790XBG controller, and features random speeds of 85,000/12,000 4k read/write. The random read speed is on par with the 845DC EVO, and beats the M500DC and the DC S3500. The random write speed is also acceptable, though the M500DC leads the pack in that respect. The HK3R provides a 500 MiB/s sequential read rate, but a notably slower 270 MiB/s sequential write speed (measured with 64KiB). In our testing, the HK3R performs within a much higher performance envelope with 128k sequential data.

One of the advantages of using an enterprise-class SSD is the inclusion of power loss protection. The use of client SSDs in the datacenter is declining as the fabs have moved into the read-intensive space, and nearly all of the SSDs in this segment now offer power loss protection at competitive price points. The enterprise SSDs in this segment also offer enterprise-centric firmware that offers end-to-end data protection for enhanced data protection.

One of the differentiators for Toshiba is their Quadruple Swing By Code (QSBC) ECC error correction technology. This allows them to provide a UBER rating of one per 10E17, matching Samsung and Intel offerings, and beating Micron's one per 10E15. The HK3R offers up to one DWPD (Drive Write per Day) of endurance, which outstrips the Samsung 840DC EVO and Intel DC S3500, but falls behind the Micron M500DC. The difference in the UBER ratings might be another differentiator for those looking at higher endurance SSDs for read-centric applications.

The growing read-centric SSD market has attracted the NAND fabs, making it nearly impossible for any competitors without NAND fabrication capability to compete. This intense competition for slots creates great value for customers, so let's take a closer look at the Toshiba HK3R.

PRICING: You can find the Toshiba HK3R (THNSNJ480PCS3) 480GB Enterprise SSD 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: The Toshiba HK3R (THNSNJ480PCS3) 480GB Enterprise SSD retails for $623.14 at Amazon.

Toshiba HK3R Internals and Specifications

Toshiba HK3R Internals

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The Toshiba HK3R THNSNJ480PCS3 comes in a 2.5" form factor with a 7mm z-height in a feather-light alloy case.

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The HK3R utilizes diminutive thermal pads, strategically placed to wick away heat from the drive to the case exterior. The pads even cool the bottom of the PCB where there are no surface mounted components; instead pulling heat from the rear of the packages. The PCB is secured into the case with an additional four fasteners.

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The case features an indentation on the side of the PCB that features surface mount components. This pushes the thermal pads to the surface of the components to provide cooling.

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The HK3R features eight Toshiba 19nm Toggle TH58TEG9EDJDA89 NAND packages, and two very large capacitors. These capacitors flush any data in transit down to the NAND in the event of power failure. The HK3R features both PFM (Power Fail Management) and PLP (Power Loss Protection) with these supercaps. The rear of the PCB is void of any components.

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512MB of SK Hynix DDR3 SDRAM serves as the cache for the SSD. The robust power loss protection is tested for 30,000 cycles. The HK3R holds a copy of the LBA tables in DRAM on a physical NAND page at all times to ensure recovery in the event of power loss.

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The Toshiba TC358790XBG controller powers the HK3R.

Toshiba HK3R Specifications

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The HK3R features a 2,000,000-hour MTTF (Mean Time to Failure) rating.

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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 fall short in providing the clearest view possible of I/O QoS (Quality of Service).

While under load, all storage solutions deliver variable levels of performance. '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. 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. This testing methodology illustrates performance variability, and includes average measurements during the measurement window.

IOPS data that ignores latency is useless. 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, and utilizes multithreaded workloads found in typical production environments. 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.

All SSDs in the test pool feature 480GB of capacity. The SSDs are tested over their full LBA range to highlight performance at maximum utilization. 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 480GB Toshiba HK3R THNSNJ480PCS3 for 9,000 seconds, or two and a half hours, receiving performance reports every second. We plot this data to illustrate the drives' 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 blue 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 illustrated 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. 4k random performance is a heavily marketed figure, and is one of the most sought-after performance specifications.

The Toshiba HK3R averages an impressive 83,266 IOPS at 256, second only to the Samsung 845DC EVO, which delivers 85,155 IOPS at 256 OIO (Outstanding I/O). The Micron M500DC averages 56,259 IOPS, and the Intel DC S3500 averages 57,769 IOPS. The 845 Series from Samsung is incredibly agile with random read data, but the Toshiba is right on its heels with comparable read performance.

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Our Latency vs. IOPS charts compare the amount of performance attained from each solution at specific latency measurements. Many applications have specific latency requirements. These charts present relevant metrics in an easy-to-read manner for readers who are familiar with their application requirements.

The HK3R tracks closely behind the 845DC EVO. The HK3R provides 83,000 IOPS at .1ms, the 845's deliver 85,000 IOPS, the DC S3700 provides 57,000 IOPS, and the M500 DC provides 56,000 IOPS.

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

The HK3R averages 17,437 IOPS at 256 OIO, but much of this is due to significant variability that lands at much higher speeds. While the average beats the 845DC EVO average of 13,841 IOPS, the 845DC EVO has a much more consistent performance profile. The Micron M500DC stands head and shoulders above the competition in 4k random write workloads with 39,089 IOPS at 256 OIO.

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The Micron M500DC has the best lower overall latency in the write workload. The DC S3500 and Toshiba HK3R experience some turbulence under heavy load at 256 OIO.

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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 4k write workload, and 0% represents a pure 4k read workload.

The mixed workload performance exhibits the tight competition among many competitors in this class. The HK3R, DC S3500, and 8945DC EVO have similar performance profiles with heavier write workloads. The HK3R experiences some variability across the board.

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

The HK3R averages 3.85 watts, the 845DC EVO averages 3.55 watts, the M500DC averages 4.09 watts, and the DC S3500 averages 3.8 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 HK3R averages 4,249 IOPS per watt, the 845DC EVO averages 3,973 IOPS per watt, and the M500DC jumps to a big lead, averaging 9,545 IOPS per watt due to its outstanding write performance. The DC S3500 averages 3,125 IOPS per watt.

Benchmarks - 8k Random Read/Write

8k Random Read/Write

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Many 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 distributions.

The average 8K random read speed of the Toshiba HK3R is 47,315 IOPS, the Samsung 845DC EVO is 52,731 IOPS, the Micron M500DC is 48,034 IOPS at 256 OIO, and the Intel DC S3500 measures 44,444 IOPS.

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All four SSDs exhibit a tight latency range during the 8K random read test, with a much smaller performance variance between results than in the 4k testing.

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The HK3R averages 9,656 IOPS, the M500DC easily leads with an average of 23,852 IOPS, the 845DC EVO comes in second with 7,112 IOPS, and the DC S3500 averages 6,937 IOPS.

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The HK3R leads the DC S3500 and the 845DC EVO, but trails the M500DC by a large margin.

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The mixed workload testing again reveals a tight crowd in the higher write mixtures, with the exception of the chart-topping M500DC.

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Power consumption for the HK3R averages 3.91 watts; the 845DC EVO averages 3.54 watts, the M500DC averages 4.77 watts, and the DC S3500 averages 3.75 watts.

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The HK3R averages 3,112 IOPS per watt, the M500DC leads the efficiency test with 4,877 IOPS per watt, the 845DC EVO averages 1,994 IOPS per watt, and the DC S3500 averages 1,584 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 Toshiba HK3R averages 514 MB/s, and the Samsung 845DC EVO squeaks by with an average of 526MB/s at 256 OIO. The Micron M500DC averages 417 MB/s, while the Intel DC S3500 delivers an average of 441 MB/s.

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The 845DC EVO provides the lowest overall latency, but the HK3R is close on its heels.

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Sequential write performance is important in replication tasks, database logging, and content delivery applications. The Toshiba HK3R performs excellently in this test, with a blistering 128k sequential write speed of 456 MB/s. This is far above the 271 MB/s in the HK3R's specifications, and changes the picture significantly for the HK3R. The 845DC EVO trails with 427 MB/s, the M500DC averages 388 MB/s, and the DC S3500 is within striking distance with 424 MB/s.

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The HK3R pulls ahead of the competition in latency performance.

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The M500DC continues to provide an advantage in mixed sequential workloads. The HK3R comes in second, but experiences significant variability.

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The HK3R averages 4.12 watts, the 845 DC EVO wins with an average of 4.14 watts, the M500DC averages 5.24 watts, and the DC S3500 averages 4.83 watts.

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The Toshiba HK3R tops the efficiency chart with 111 MB/s per watt, the 845DC EVO averages 99 MB/s per watt, the M500DC averages 73 MB/s per watt, and the DC S3500 averages 87 MB/s per watt.

Benchmarks - Database/OLTP and Web Server

Database/OLTP

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This test consists of 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 66 percent read and 33 percent write distribution bring even the best solutions down to earth.

The HK3R averages 20,332 IOPS, but suffers much of the same variability as the M500DC, whose average of 21,133 IOPS takes the lead. The Samsung 845DC EVO has a very consistent average of 19,678 IOPS at 256 OIO, and the Intel DC S3500 averages 19,400 IOPS at 256 OIO. Significant variability from the HK3R and the M500DC muddies the performance picture.

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The M500DC tops this chart in spite of the performance variability.

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The HK3R averages 3.52 watts, the 845DC EVO averages 3.55 watts, the M500DC averages 2.76 watts, and the DC S3500 averages 3.76 watts.

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The HK3R averages 6,065 IOPS per watt, the 845DC EVO averages 5,465 IOPS per watt, the M500DC averages 7,676 IOPS per watt, and the DC S3500 averages 4,040 IOPS per watt.

Web Server

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The Web Server workload is read-only 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 HK3R averages 28,114 IOPS at 256 OIO, the 845DC EVO averages 28,054 IOPS, and the M500DC averages 18,650 IOPS, falling to the DC S3500 average of 23,664 IOPS.

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The 845DC EVO and HK3R run neck and neck in latency vs. IOPS testing.

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The HK3R averages 3.88 watts, the 845DC EVO averages 3.55 watts, the M500DC averages 3.21 watts, and the DC S3500 requires 3.8 watts during the fileserver workload.

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The HK3R averages 1,125 IOPS per watt, the 845DC EVO scores 914 IOPS per watt, and the M500DC scores 1,965 IOPS per watt, compared to 749 IOPS for the DC S3500.

Benchmarks - Email Server

Email Server

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

The HK3R averages 17,342 IOPS, the 845DC EVO averages 14,041 IOPS, the Micron M500DC averages 15,403 IOPS, and the Intel DC S3500 averages 13,121 IOPS at 256 OIO.

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The HK3R averages 3.79 watts, the 845DC EVO averages 3.54 watts, the M500DC averages 2.66 watts, and the DC S3500 averages 1.75 watts.

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The HK3R averages 4,487 IOPS per watt, the 845DC EVO averages 3,815 IOPS per watt, the M500DC averages 5,806 IOPS per watt, and the DC S3500 scores 6,705 IOPS per watt.

Final Thoughts

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Toshiba has continued to leverage their extensive OEM experience to deliver solid products at both ends of the enterprise storage spectrum. The HK3R is a reflection of that focus, with enterprise-specific features such as power loss protection, end-to-end data protection, a 2,000,000-hour MTTF, and an UBER rating of one per 10E17.

We found surprising strength in the HK3R's sequential workload performance during our testing. The HK3R is listed at 271 MB/s, but actually beat all competitors with 128k sequential write data at 456 MB/s. The sequential read performance is equally impressive; it only fell behind the 845DC EVO by a small margin. The 845DC EVO is a tough competitor in random read workloads, but the HK3R challenged it, ended up within a few thousand IOPS, and beat the remainder of the challengers. The HK3R's random write performance was acceptable, but the M500DC beats the crowd with its robust random write performance.

The HK3R will be a great fit for those with read-centric random workloads and sequential read/write workloads. One area the HK3R could improve is in performance consistency during mixed workloads, which experienced significant variability. Extra overprovisioning would help, but would come at the expense of some capacity.

The HK3R's primary differentiator is a higher level of endurance than the 845DC EVO and the DC S3500. The M500DC's endurance is higher, but it also features a lower one per 10E15 rating, in comparison to one per 10E17 for the HK3R.

Users should analyze performance metrics to find the best match for the intended workload and application, but price is always a major consideration. Comparing price in the competitive read-centric segment through retail pricing is an inexact science at best. Prices fluctuate wildly, and we advise readers to monitor current prices to find the best deals. Tier-2 OEM prices usually are comparable to retail, but Tier-1 OEM pricing can be lower.

The HK3R primarily sells as an OEM drive, so reliable pricing information is hard to come by. The Intel DC S3500 and Samsung 845DC EVO hover around a dollar per GB, while the M500DC has been around $1.10 per GB. The HK3R is expected to fall within the lower price structure of the DC S3500 and 845DC EVO.

The Toshiba HK3R, also known by the THNSNJ480PCS3 nomenclature, will make a good purchase for those in need of high sequential performance and random read performance. A complex mix of factors work into the purchasing decision. Toshiba has extensive experience in the OEM market. For OEM customers, support and experience in the OEM space is important. The five-year warranty is standard for its class, and it features a higher helping of endurance than some competing solutions. Without reliable pricing information, we are unable to judge its market position for an award. The Toshiba HK3R is a solid SSD that will find its way into plenty of slots in the datacenter. With the renewed vigor at Toshiba, we expect other exciting products to follow.

PRICING: You can find the Toshiba HK3R (THNSNJ480PCS3) 480GB Enterprise SSD 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: The Toshiba HK3R (THNSNJ480PCS3) 480GB Enterprise SSD retails for $623.14 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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