Super Talent TeraNova 480GB SATA III SSD Review

Super Talent TeraNova 480GB SATA III SSD Review

Super Talent's TeraNova 480GB combines quality 20nm Intel flash with Silicon Motion's 2246EN controller to deliver an SSD worth your consideration.

@JonCoulterSSD
Published Wed, Aug 26 2015 10:05 AM CDT   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 88%Manufacturer: Super Talent

Introduction, Drive Specifications, Pricing and Availability

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Super Talent is a company well regarded as a top-notch supplier of quality flash and memory solutions. Headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley, Super Talent Technology Corporation designs and manufactures flash based storage solutions for enterprise servers, portable devices, personal computers and consumer electronics.

Super Talent prides themselves on utilizing "industrial grade NAND Flash chips" throughout their SSD product lines. The TeraNova drive we have in the lab today is a perfect example of Super Talent's commitment to utilizing superior flash components. Employing genuine Intel 20nm NAND flash, the TeraNova is an attractive alternative to 16nm flash-based SSD's that are so prevalent in today's value segment.

The "TeraDrive", as Super Talent calls it, is priced at around $25 dollars higher than competing 16nm based value oriented SSD's. In our opinion, that additional $25 is money well spent. This is the first drive we've tested that leverages a Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller and 20nm Intel MLC flash. The TeraNova should outperform others equipped with the same controller and 16nm flash, at least in a heavy-duty workload scenario.

We are eager to see how this controller/flash combination will do with our rigorous testing regimen, so let's get going.

Specifications Super Talent TeraNova 480GB SATA III SSD

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Super Talent's TeraNova SATA III 2.5" FF SSD is available in four capacities: 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB. Sequential read performance for the TeraNova is listed as over 500MB/s. Sequential write performance is listed at over 410MB/s.

Random performance is not specified. Super Talent backs the TeraNova with an industry standard three-year warranty. No TBW is given.

Drive Details

Super Talent TeraNova 480GB SATA III SSD

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The TeraNova is packaged in a blue and white flip-top box. There is a picture of an SSD on the front of the box.

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The rear of the packaging lists a few attributes common to all SSD's. The drive's model number and capacity can be found here as well.

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Inside the box, the drive is protected from damage by foam padding and a non-static envelope. A printed user guide is included.

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The front facing of the drives enclosure is covered with an attractive blue and white label. The label advertises the drives capacity and model number.

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The back half of the drives enclosure has a small barcode label with a warning that the warranty will be void if the label is removed.

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Both halves of the drives enclosure are formed from stamped aluminum. The PCB attaches to the bottom half of the enclosure with four screws.

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The drives SM2246EN controller and four of the drive's eight flash packages are located on this side of the full length PCB.

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This side of the PCB is populated with the remaining four flash packages and a single Micron DRAM package.

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A close-in view of the 4-channel Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller that powers the TeraNova.

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A close-in view of one of the drive's eight 20nm Intel 64GB flash packages.

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Finally, a close-in view of the drives 512MB DDR3-2133 CL 14 Micron DRAM package.

Test System Setup and Properties

Test System Configuration

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We would like to thank the following companies: ASRock, Crucial, Intel, Corsair, RamCity, IN WIN, and Seasonic for making our test system possible.

Drive Properties

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The majority of our testing is performed with our test drive as our boot volume. Our boot volume is 75% full for all OS Disk "C" drive testing to replicate a typical consumer OS volume implementation. We feel that most of you will be utilizing your SSD's for your boot volume and that presenting you with results from an OS volume is more relevant than presenting you with empty secondary volume results.

System settings: Cstates and Speed stepping are both disabled in our system's BIOS. Windows High Performance power plan is enabled. Windows write caching is enabled, and Windows buffer flushing is disabled. We are utilizing Windows 8.1 64-bit for all of our testing except for our MOP (Maxed-Out Performance) benchmarks where we switch to Windows Server 2008 R2 64 Bit.

Synthetic Benchmarks - ATTO & Anvil Storage Utilities

ATTO

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.47

ATTO is a timeless benchmark used to provide manufacturers with data used for marketing storage products.

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Sequential read/write transfers max out at 547/418 MB/s. Keep in mind this is our OS volume 75% full, and we are properly converting KB to MB.

Sequential Write

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The TeraNova is delivering the best performance of the test pool at transfers up to 2K.

Sequential Read

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The TeraNova has excellent sequential read performance. We would expect this from an SM2246EN controlled SSD.

Anvil Storage Utilities

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1.0

Anvil's Storage Utilities is a storage benchmark designed to measure the storage performance of SSD's. The Standard Storage Benchmark performs a series of tests; you can run a full test or just the read or write test, or you can run a single test, i.e. 4k QD16.

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Scoring

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Anvil's scoring gives a good indication of a drives overall performance. Of the drives in our test pool, only the Ignite is able to outperform the TeraNova.

(Anvil) Read IOPS through Queue Depth Scale

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High IOPS, data on the drive and a 4-channel controller don't mix well. The TeraNova battles it out with the BX100 for last place in this test.

(Anvil) Write IOPS through Queue Scale

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The TeraNova with its 20nm flash has a slight advantage over the BX100 with its 16nm flash. The TeraNova is able to outperform the BX100 from QD1-8 and all of the drives in our test pool at QD1-2. Low QD performance is very important in a consumer setting.

Synthetic Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark & AS SSD

CrystalDiskMark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0 Technical Preview

CrystalDiskMark is disk benchmark software that allows us to benchmark 4k and 4k queue depths with accuracy. Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 Technical Preview was used for these tests since it offers the ability to measure native command queuing at QD4.

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Sequential read performance is outstanding as is 4K QD1 write performance. The TeraNova is able to outperform the BX100 at 512K and 4K QD32.

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When we run CDM, we are focusing primarily on 4K QD1 write performance, as we consider this the most important aspect of this test. The TeraNova is able to outperform the rest of the test pool in this important performance metric.

AS SSD

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.7.4739.38088

AS SSD determines the performance of Solid-State Drives (SSD). The tool contains four synthetic as well as three practice tests. The synthetic tests are to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD.

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The TeraNova has lesser high QD performance than the rest of the drives on our chart, and as a result, it delivers the lowest score in this test.

Benchmarks (Trace Based OS Volume) - PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7 & PCMark 8

Moderate Workload Model

We categorize these tests as indicative of a moderate workload environment.

PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.0.0

The reason we like PCMark Vantage is because the recorded traces are played back without system stops. What we see is the raw performance of the drive. This allows us to see a marked difference between scoring that other trace-based benchmarks do not exhibit. An example of a marked difference in scoring on the same drive would be empty vs. filled vs. steady state.

We run Vantage three ways. The first run is with the OS drive 75% full to simulate a lightly used OS volume filled with data to an amount we feel is common for most users. The second run is with the OS volume written into a "Steady State" utilizing SNIA's guidelines. Steady state testing simulates a drives performance similar to that of a drive that been subjected to consumer workloads for extensive amounts of time. The third run is a Vantage HDD test with the test drive attached as an empty, lightly used secondary device.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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OS Volume 75% Full - Steady State

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Secondary Volume Empty - FOB

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There's a big difference between an empty drive, one that's 75% full/used, and one that's in a steady state.

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The important scores to pay attention to are "OS Volume Steady State" and "OS Volume 75% full." These two categories are most important because they are indicative of typical of consumer user states. When a drive is in a steady state, it means garbage collection is running at the same time it's reading/writing. This is exactly why we focus on steady state performance.

At 75% full and lightly used, the TeraNova delivers the best score of our test pool. In a steady state, the TeraNova is outperformed by both the BX100 and the SX930. This comes as somewhat of a surprise.

PCMark 7 - System Storage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.4.0

We will look to Raw System Storage scoring for an evaluation because it's done without system stops and therefore allows us to see significant scoring differences between drives.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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The TeraNova is essentially tied with the BX100 for the best performance in this test. Both the Ignite and the TRION underperform in this test.

PCMark 8 - Storage Bandwidth

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.4.304

We use PCMark 8 Storage benchmark to test the performance of SSDs, HDDs, and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, and a selection of popular games. You can test the system drive or any other recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.

OS Volume 75% Full - Lightly Used

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PCMark 8 is the most intensive moderate workload simulation we run. With respect to moderate workloads, this test is what we consider the best indicator of a drive's performance. This result mirrors our PCMark 7 testing; the pecking order is exactly the same. The TeraNova and the BX100 deliver identical performance.

Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - Max IOPS, Disk Response & Transfer Rates

Iometer - Maximum IOPS

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

We use Iometer to measure high queue depth performance. (No Partition)

Max IOPS Read

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Max IOPS Write

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Super Talent does not specify random performance for the TeraNova, so we have no idea if we are hitting specification or not. The BX100 has flash with newer technology and as a result it delivers higher Max IOPS.

Iometer - Disk Response

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

We use Iometer to measure disk response times. Disk response times are measured at an industry accepted standard of 4K QD1 for both write and read. Each test runs twice for 30 seconds consecutively, with a 5-second ramp-up before each test. We partition the drive/array as a secondary device for this testing.

Avg. Write Response

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Avg. Read Response

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The TeraNova ties with the Ignite for the lowest write response times. The SX930 delivers the lowest read response times of the drives in our test pool.

DiskBench - Directory Copy

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.6.2.0

We use DiskBench to time a 28.6GB block (9,882 files in 1,247 folders) composed primarily of incompressible sequential and random data as it's transferred from our DC P3700 PCIe NVME SSD to our test drive. We then read from a 6GB zip file that's part of our 28.6GB data block to determine the test drives read transfer rate. Our system is restarted prior to the read test to clear any cached data, ensuring an accurate test result.

Write Transfer Rate

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Read Transfer Rate

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The TeraNova delivers excellent read transfer rates and average write transfer performance.

Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - PCMark 8 Extended

Futuremark PCMark 8 Extended

Heavy Workload Model

PCMark 8's consistency test simulates an extended duration heavy workload environment. PCMark 8 has built-in, command line executed storage testing. The PCMark 8 Consistency test measures the performance consistency and the degradation tendency of a storage system.

The Storage test workloads are repeated. Between each repetition, the storage system is bombarded with a usage that causes degraded drive performance. In the first part of the test, the cycle continues until a steady degraded level of performance has been reached. (Steady State)

In the second part, the recovery of the system is tested by allowing the system to idle and measuring the performance after 5-minute long intervals. (Internal drive maintenance: Garbage Collection (GC)) The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state, and the recovered state, as well as the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state and the recovered state.

We feel Futuremark's Consistency Test is the best test ever devised to show the true performance of solid-state storage in an extended duration heavy workload environment. This test takes on average 13 to 17 hours to complete, and writes somewhere between 450GB and 14,000GB of test data depending on the drive. If you want to know what an SSD's steady state performance is going to look like during a heavy workload, this test will show you.

Here's a breakdown of Futuremark's Consistency Test:

Precondition phase:

1. Write to the drive sequentially through up to the reported capacity with random data.

2. Write the drive through a second time (to take care of overprovisioning).

Degradation phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 10 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 8 times, and on each pass increase the duration of random writes by 5 minutes.

Steady state phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 50 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 5 times.

Recovery phase:

1. Idle for 5 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 5 times.

Storage Bandwidth

PCMark 8's Consistency test provides a ton of data output that we use to judge a drive's performance.

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We consider steady state bandwidth (the blue bar) our test that carries the most weight in ranking a drive/arrays heavy workload performance. Performance after Garbage Collection (GC) (the orange and red bars) is what we consider the second most important consideration when ranking a drives performance. Trace based steady state testing is where true high performing SSDs are separated from the rest of the pack.

The TeraNova and the BX100 are essentially the same drive with the exception of the flash node utilized. This is where we are seeing what we suspected from the beginning, the TeraNova is able to outperform the BX100 across the board with demanding workloads in a steady state.

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We chart our test subject's storage bandwidth as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations. This gives us a good visual perspective of how our test subjects perform as testing progresses.

Total Access Time (Latency)

We chart the total time the disk is accessed as reported at each of the test's 18 trace iterations.

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Disk Busy Time

Disk Busy Time is how long the disk is busy working. We chart the total time the disk is working as reported at each of the tests 18 trace iterations.

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When latency is low, disk busy time is low as well.

Data Written

We measure the total amount of random data that our test drive/array is capable of writing during the degradation phases of the consistency test. Pre-conditioning data is not included in the total. The total combined time that degradation data is written to the drive/array is 470 minutes. This can be very telling. The better a drive/array can process a continuous stream of random data, the more data will be written.

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This is actually a big win for the TeraNova. It is able to write far more random data than the rest of the test pool in the same amount of time.

Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) - 70/30 Mixed Workload

70/30 Mixed Workload Test (Sledgehammer)

Version and / or Patch Used: Iometer 2014

Heavy Workload Model

This test hammers a drive so hard we've dubbed it "Sledgehammer". Our 70/30 Mixed Workload test is designed to simulate a heavy-duty enthusiast/workstation steady-state environment. We feel that a mix of 70% read/30% write, full random 4K transfers best represents this type of user environment. Our test allows us to see the drive enter into and reach a steady state as the test progresses.

Phase one of the test preconditions the drive for 1 hour with 128K sequential writes. Phase two of the test runs a 70% read/30% write, full random 4K transfer workload on the drive for 1 hour. We log and chart (phase two) IOPS data at 5-second intervals for 1 hour (720 data points). 60 data points = 5 minutes.

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What we like about this test is that it reflects reality. Everything lines up, as it should. Consumer drives don't outperform Enterprise-Class SSD's that were designed for enterprise workloads. Consumer drives based on old technology are not outperforming modern Performance-Class SSD's, etc.

Here is a perfect illustration of why we prefer 20nm flash to 16nm. We call this test the "Sledgehammer" for a reason. This test can bring even the best SSD to its knees. The TeraNova roasts the rest of the drives in our test pool from start to finish, averaging an impressive 29,690 IOPS.

Maxed-Out Performance (MOP)

Maxed-Out Performance

This testing is just to see what the drive is capable of in an FOB (Fresh Out of Box) state under optimal conditions. We are utilizing Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit for this testing. Same Hardware, just an OS change.

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Final Thoughts

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In an age of shrinking lithography, it is nice to see a drive utilizing high quality 20nm flash. We feel this is something that distinguishes the TeraNova from competing solutions. The Super Talent TeraNova is priced at about $25 bucks more than a whole host of SM2246EN controlled drives. Even though you will pay a bit more for the TeraNova in comparison to competing SM2246EN powered solutions, we feel it is money well spent.

Our preference for the TeraNova over competing SM2246EN controlled drives is predicated on 20nm flash as the BOM. We would hope that the TeraNova's BOM isn't changed out to inferior flash at some point. We have seen unannounced BOM changes before, and the uproar that ensued. We are in no way suggesting that Super Talent would pull an unannounced switch, but we do want to make clear that our high regard for this drive is based primarily upon it shipping with high quality 20nm Intel flash.

We found the 480GB TeraNova delivers excellent performance in comparison to drives we consider to be in the same performance class. The best illustration of this was our brutal "Sledgehammer" test, where the TeraNova outperformed the competition by a large margin.

However, it's not all roses and rainbows for the TeraNova. We are going to voice the same concern about the TeraNova as we did with the TRION, and that is how the drive compares to in price to the 850 EVO and MX200. Both drives deliver better performance than the TeraNova and both are priced about the same as the TeraNova.

Our experience while running the Super Talent TeraNova 480GB SSD as our OS volume has been very good. Overall, the drive delivers an excellent SSD experience, but not quite on the level of the 850 EVO or MX200. If the price is right, we can recommend the TeraNova without reservation, but for that to happen, we need to see the price come down to about $150

Super Talent TeraNova 480GB SATA III SSD

Pros:

  • Quality 20nm Intel Flash
  • Exceptional "Sledgehammer" performance

Cons:

  • High Retail Pricing
  • Average Synthetic Performance
TweakTown award
Performance89%
Quality including Design and Build93%
General Features89%
Bundle and Packaging85%
Value for Money84%
Overall88%

The Bottom Line: It's rare to see a drive with genuine Intel 20nm flash these days. Super Talent's choice of superior flash and the TeraNova's robust performance make this drive a great choice for your next upgrade, if the price is right.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

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DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Jon became a computer enthusiast when Windows XP launched. He was into water cooling and benching ATI video cards with modded drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for more than 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first booted an Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to bring consumer SSD reviews into the spotlight.

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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