It seems like we hardly get MLC-based SATA SSDs into the lab anymore. This is simply because MLC (2-bit) flash is approximately 33% more expensive per gigabyte than TLC (3-bit) flash, making MLC based SSDs a rare commodity these days. Price aside, 2-bit flash is typically superior to 3-bit flash for several reasons. The performance that 2-bit flash offers is better than 3-bit because it is faster to program 2-bits than it is 3-bits. Endurance is also better because 2-bit cells survive considerably more program/erase cycles than 3-bit cells. Power consumption is also less for MLC than it is TLC because it takes less power to program 2-bits than it does 3-bits.
The ADATA XPG SX950 we are going to review today sports an MLC 3D flash array. ADATA isn't going after the low-end market with their XPG SX950 Series, they have other drives for that. The XPG SX950 is targeted at the gaming crowd where premium components are in high demand and cost is secondary to quality. The XPG SX950 employs a 32-layer Micron 3D MLC flash array. Micron 256Gbit 2-bit 3D flash is built on proven floating gate architecture and manufacturing process. Floating gate technology gives Micron 3D flash the industry's highest areal density available today and CMOS under array keeps the footprint compact.
The ADATA XPG SX950 Gaming SSD pairs a 2-bit Micron 3D flash array with one of our favorite SATA controllers – Silicon Motion's 4-channel SM2258. The SM2258 is a favorite over for a couple of reasons. First, the SM2258 delivers exceptional moderate workload performance. Secondly, the SM2258 is one of the few controllers that offers advanced LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check) bit error correction. LDPC is special because it can greatly increase the endurance of a flash array. In addition to LDPC ECC, the XPG SX950 features RAID engine technology which strengthens data protection and integrity. Additionally, ADATA's XPG SX950 has intelligent SLC caching baked right in to further enhance burst performance. Pairing the LDPC enabled SM2258 controller with a 2-bit flash array gives the 480GB XPG SX850 a class-leading TBW of 400TB, as well as an almost unheard of 6-year warranty.
Let's take a quick look at the XPG SX950 480GB factory specifications and then dive into our benchmarks.
ADATA XPG SX950 480GB SATA III SSD:
- Sequential Read: up to 560 MB/s
- Sequential Write: up to 530 MB/s
- Max 4K Random Read Speed: up to 90,000 IOPS
- Max 4K Random Write Speed: up to 90,000 IOPS
- Endurance: 400TB
- MTBF: 2 Million Hours
- Warranty: 6-Year Limited Warranty
- Active Power Consumption: 0.82W Typical
- Slumber Power Consumption: 0.41W
- Garbage Collection
- Software: SSD Toolbox, Acronis True Image HD Migration Software
Current Pricing: $249.99
The ADATA XPG SX950 pairs Silicon Motion's SM2258 controller with Micron 256Gbit 32-layer 3D MLC (Multi-Level-Cell) flash in BGA flash packages. BGA packaged flash is the good stuff, it is capable of higher bus speeds than TSOP packaged flash. Table caching is handled by a single Nanya DDR3 DRAM cache package with a capacity of 1MB to 1GB DRAM to NAND ratio.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, Pricing & Availability]
- Page 2 [Drive Details]
- Page 3 [Test System Setup and Properties]
- Page 4 [Synthetic Benchmarks – ATTO & Anvil's]
- Page 5 [Synthetic Benchmarks – CDM & AS SSD]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks (OS) - Vantage, PCMark 7, PCMark 8 & SYSmark 2014 SE]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks (Secondary) – IOPS, Response & Transfers]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks – 70/30 Mixed Workload & Sustained Sequential Write]
- Page 9 [Maxed-Out Performance (MOP)]
- Page 10 [Final Thoughts]