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Toshiba OCZ TR200 SATA III SSD Review

Toshiba OCZ TR200 SATA III SSD Review
Toshiba's OCZ TR200 is the first DRAMless BiCS 3 SSD to cross our bench, and it delivers surprisingly good performance for a DRAMless SSD.
By: Jon Coulter | SSDs in Storage | Posted: 1 week, 2 days ago
TweakTown Rating: 85%Manufacturer: Toshiba

Introduction

 

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As a brand, OCZ no longer exists. Toshiba states that going forward their retail SSDs will be sold under the Toshiba brand name, while OCZ will be a sub-series. They further state that all Toshiba retail SSDs will have OCZ performance "DNA" and target the enthusiast and gaming market which includes entry-level DIY system builders and first-time upgraders from HDDs under the same umbrella.

 

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BiCS is what Toshiba calls their vertically stacked three-dimensional (3D) flash memory. BiCS flash, has far higher die area density compared to two-dimensional (planar) NAND flash memory. This is because with 3D memory technology, NAND flash strings run vertically. Think of 3D NAND flash as a skyscraper building and planar flash as a single-story building. Both can have the same footprint, but the skyscraper can have hundreds of times more floor space depending on how many floors, or layers in the case of 3D NAND, are used.

 

 

3D NAND flash has many inherent advantages over 2D (planar) flash that go beyond density alone. 3D NAND flash can be programmed faster than 2D can. Spaces between memory cells on 3D flash are far wider than in 2D NAND flash memory. This makes it possible to improve the programming speed and at the same time reduce power consumption by increasing the amount of data for a single programming sequence. The wider open spaces between cells also decreases cell coupling providing greater reliability and endurance in comparison to 2D NAND flash memory.

 

The TR200 pairs Toshiba's 2-channel TC58 controller with a third generation Toshiba BiCS 3D flash array. BiCS 3D flash will only come in TLC (3-bit) or QLC (4-bit) flavors, there will be no MLC (2-bit) variants. Toshiba is confident that the performance and endurance offered by BiCS 3 is at minimum on par with planar MLC flash. Just as we no longer see new retail SLC flash products brought to market, the day is coming sooner rather than later where we may no longer see new MLC flash products hitting store shelves.

 

Third generation BiCS (BiCS 3) 3D TLC flash products are starting to enter the mainstream market. Toshiba's 64-Layer BiCS 3 TLC flash technology is well refined and set to shake up the market by offering better endurance, higher density, and higher performance TLC flash than is possible from conventional planar (2D) TLC flash technology. Toshiba states that BiCS is the superior flash technology for the following reasons:

 

  • Higher Capacity: Vertically stacked cell structure enables higher capacity in the same footprint.
  • Higher Endurance: Charge trap cell & memory hole structure increase endurance.
  • Higher Performance: Faster programming speed with 1-shot program called "Full Sequence". Triple pages can be programed simultaneously with fewer steps.
  • Higher Power Efficiency: Triple pages can be programed with almost the same power consumption of a single page program.

 

So far, we've seen BiCS 3 64-Layer 3D TLC flash featured on two enthusiast level SATA SSDs coming from Toshiba's flash partner Western Digital, as well as Toshiba's own blazing fast XG5 OEM client NVMe SSD. Now, Toshiba has their sights set on penetrating the SATA DIY upgrade value segment with BiCS 3. The Toshiba OCZ TR200 Series we are looking at today is the first Toshiba retail upgrade SSD shipping with 64-Layer 3-bit-per-cell TLC (triple-level cell) BiCS 3D flash.

 

The TR200 will be the only SATA-based retail product released by Toshiba for the remainder of 2017. It is targeted at entry-level DIY system builders and first-time upgraders from HDDs. The drive focuses on outstanding price/performance for value-oriented consumers. It is designed to offer both lower power and cost savings to customers without expensive and power-consuming DRAM. We will add that the TR200 is one of the best looking SSDs we've ever seen. The green on black color scheme is definitely eye-catching. Our photos don't do it justice.

 

DRAMless SSDs are a coming trend because production costs are reduced, and the savings can be passed on to the consumer through lower pricing. DRAMless SSDs are a bit of give and take though. Production costs are lower, and DRAMless SSDs also consume less power which is advantageous in a mobile environment, but there is a tradeoff because performance is lower as well.

 

 

Factory Specifications

 

toshiba-ocz-tr200-sata-iii-ssd-review_02

 

Features include:

 

  • MTTF: 1.5 Million Hours
  • DEVSLP
  • ECC
  • SMART
  • TRIM
  • Garbage Collection
  • Software: OCZ SSD Utility

 

MSRP: 240GB = $89.99, 480GB = $149.99, 960GB = $289.99

 

If these prices seem a bit on the high side for DRAMless SSDs, actually they are not. The impact that the current NAND shortage is having on SSD production costs is getting more extreme with each passing day.

 

Availability: The TR200 will hit retail channels this month.

 

The TR200 is only available as a 2.5" form factor SSD. Looking at the factory specs provided to us, we see that performance is similar at all capacity points. We expect that the higher capacities will have slightly lower performance than the 240GB model because of the nature of DRAMless SSDs. The TR200 pairs Toshiba's 2-channel TC58 controller with a BiCS 3 flash array. The TR200 employs TSOP packaged BiCS 3 flash packages which we've not seen until now.

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