NVMe SSDs are all the rage in enthusiast circles, and it's easy to see why. One NVMe SSD can deliver the performance of four to six SATA-based SSDs running in RAID. Until today, consumers wanting to go NVMe have been limited to just two choices; Intel's 750 Series or Samsung's 950 Pro. Both Samsung and Intel's NVMe offerings leverage proprietary controllers and both deliver massive amounts of performance through four 8 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) PCIe Gen 3.0 lanes. Intel's 750 Series SSDs are available in two form factors, AIC (Add-In-Card) or 2.5" U.2 form factor. Samsung's consumer NVMe SSDs are all M.2 form factor.
Last August at Flash Memory Summit, we got our first glimpse of Phison's upcoming turn-key merchant NVMe controller, the E7, in action. We came away impressed by the performance E7-powered drives were capable of delivering, and since then, we have been eagerly awaiting E7-powered SSDs hitting the retail market. Much to our surprise, ZOTAC is first to market with an E7-powered NVMe SSD. ZOTAC is a well-known hardware vendor, but they are relatively new to SSDs having only just launched their first line of SATA-based SSD products a few months back.
ZOTAC's "Sonix" PCIe SSD is built on the NVMe interface, powered by Phison's E7 controller and available as an Add-In-Card (AIC). ZOTAC is targeting gaming, creative content, and general productivity applications where quicker access to large files is highly advantageous. The Sonix, like Intel's 750 Series and Samsung's 950 Pro, utilizes 4-lanes of Gen 3.0 PCIe to interface with the host. The Sonix employs a 15nm Toshiba MLC flash array. 15nm Toshiba MLC flash has proven to be potent, cost-effective, and reliable, hence making it an excellent choice.
At launch, the ZOTAC Sonix 480GB AIC SSD carries an MSRP of $369. We anticipate street prices will quickly drop because the Sonix is competing for market share with Intel's 750 and Samsung's 950 Pro.
ZOTAC's Sonix NVMe PCIe AIC SSD is available in a 480GB capacity. Performance for the 480GB Sonix we have on the bench is listed at up to 2,600 MB/s sequential read and 1,300 MB/s sequential write. Sequential speeds given are for incompressible data. Compressible data speeds are significantly higher as we will demonstrate with ATTO. Random performance is not given. As mentioned, the Sonix leverages a 15nm Toshiba MLC flash array. The Sonix is backed by a limited three-year warranty. Warranted endurance for the 480GB model is up to 698TB or 637GB per day for three years. Reliability (MTBF) at the 480GB capacity point is two million hours.
A low profile bracket is bundled with the drive. ZOTAC has a downloadable NVMe driver for Windows 7 users, which we are happy to see, but we would really like to see an F6 driver made available so Windows 7 can easily be installed on the Sonix. Power consumption is listed at 5.57W Read, 7.27W Write, and 0.5W Idle.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Drive Specifications, Pricing and Availability]
- Page 2 [Drive Details]
- Page 3 [Test System Setup and Properties]
- Page 4 [Synthetic Benchmarks – ATTO & Anvil Storage Utilities]
- Page 5 [Synthetic Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark & AS SSD]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks (Trace-Based OS Volume) - PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7 & PCMark 8]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) – Max IOPS, Disk Response & Transfer Rates]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) – PCMark 8 Extended]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks (Secondary Volume) – 70/30 Mixed Workload]
- Page 10 [Maxed-Out Performance (MOP)]
- Page 11 [Final Thoughts]