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Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ512GCSU Enterprise SSD Review

Toshiba HG6 THNSNJ512GCSU Enterprise SSD Review
Toshiba's HG6 enterprise SSD is custom-built to serve a wide variety of light and read-intensive workloads. Read on for Paul's full thoughts on the drive.
By: Paul Alcorn | SSDs in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Sep 16, 2014 9:10 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Toshiba

Introduction

 

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Toshiba has a wide range of storage solutions for every computing need, in both HDD and SSDs, for client and enterprise applications. From bulk HDD storage to performance HDDs, and the increasingly popular SSD segment, Toshiba features solutions for every workload. A long history of OEM integration has given Toshiba plenty of experience delivering reliable solutions, and their extensive history in NAND production affords them deep knowledge of flash products.

 

The SSD field has fragmented into purpose-built SSDs; from high-end 12GB/s SAS to 6GB/s SATA, there is a different offering with specific features for specific applications. The perfect example of a purpose built SSD is the Toshiba THNSNJ512GCSU HG6, but it is based on a surprisingly modular architecture.

 

The HG6 addresses relatively light workloads such as server boot drives, read-intensive server applications, workstations, thin clients, and notebook PCs. The THNSNJ architecture comes in a variety of form factors, with 7.2mm and 9.5mm Z-heights for traditional 2.5" applications, and mSATA and M.2 single and double-sided versions also available.

 

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The HG6 comes in capacities of 60, 128, 256, and 512 GB, signaling that these are SSDs with zero overprovisioning. The maximum amount of NAND is user-addressable, which is a desirable characteristic for the value market. This usually leads to lower endurance and random performance specifications. The HG6 features up to 90,000 / 30,000 IOPS read/write. The HG6 also offers sequential read/write speeds of 534/482 MB/s, respectively.

 

The HG6 features Adaptive SLC Write cache technology. This allocates a portion of normal MLC as SLC NAND during use. This significantly speeds random write performance, particularly in bursty operating system environments. SLC cache also increases endurance by writing cached random data as sequential data when flushing to the MLC NAND layer. The adaptive portion allows the dynamic adjustment of the size of the SLC layer depending upon available capacity. The HG6 provides 1 DWPD of endurance for five years, which is more endurance than competing solutions in our test pool. We test with sustained workloads for enterprise testing, so readers must keep in mind that in bursty environments, the SLC layer can provide significant performance enhancements. This is the first enterprise SSD we have tested with an adaptive SLC layer.

 

The HG6 also offers end-to-end data protection and TCG/OPAL 2.0 compliant encryption, along with Wipe Technology on the SED SKUs, which are important for use in business laptops. Advanced Power Management (APM) helps regulate power in tandem with Devsleep. Deterministic Zeroing TRIM is supported, and is particularly useful in operating system environments. The SSD offers an expected three-year warranty, which is fine for many OEM deployments, but is a bit lacking for the retail market. Toshiba's proprietary QSBC (Quadruple Swing by Code), an enhanced ECC algorithm, protects user data.

 

Some of the optimizations for smaller form factors, such as M.2 and mSATA, are present on the 2.5" drive as well. The THNSNJ512GCSU does not feature a DRAM cache module, which typically speeds access to the all-important LBA tables. These tables, or maps, allow the controller and FTL (Flash Translation Layer) to quickly and effectively route data to the correct location on the NAND packages. Eliminating the DRAM cache chip is ideal for space-constrained implementations such as mSATA and M.2 designs, and has the tertiary benefits of reducing power consumption and component cost.

 

Another advantage of forgoing DRAM cache modules is an enhanced resilience to host power-loss events. The majority of power capacitor arrangements, which provide power-fail protection, primarily flush data from the DRAM cache to the NAND. With no DRAM cache, a capacitor-less design such as the HG6 does not have to cope with flushing the volatile DRAM cache during power loss. Firmware enhancements can detect and flush data prior to total power loss. Typical designs flush data to the "fast" NAND pages, which works well in tandem with the SLC layer present in the HG6.

 

The negative impact of forgoing DRAM caching is usually felt in performance. Slower access to the LBA tables can slow the performance in some scenarios. Competing DRAM-less designs use data compression algorithms to speed access to the LBA tables held on the NAND media. We are not sure if Toshiba implements this type of feature to speed access to the data tables, so let's take a closer look to see how the HG6 fares in our testing.

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