MSATA SSDs: small in size, big in performance?

Dec

16

2013

MSATA SSDs: small in size, big in performance?

Several manufacturers have released a smaller version of their 2.5 “solid state drives. These mSATA drives can be attached with a small connector, which looks like a mini-PCI Express connector on motherboards especially laptops. Some desktop boards have However, an mSATA slot, so an ssd in compact enclosures can be built.

Because lately few interesting new 2.5 “SSD on the market have come Tweakers took four mSATA SSDs from Crucial, Intel, Kingston and Plextor progress., We subjected the small SSDs to our test protocol, which we are, where possible, took the big version for comparison.

We have the SSD in an adapter to a standard SATA connector pricked so that we could test. Laptop ssd’s on our desktop test system Plextor M5M 256GB The line-up

Crucials mSATA drive is on paper identical to the 2.5 “version of the C400 SSD. On the small ssd four nand chips housed, which are controlled by the Marvell 88SS9174 controller, assisted by 256MB DDR3 dram. The NAND chips consist of four NAND dies of 25nm-MLC memory with a capacity of 8GB each, for a total capacity of 128GB.

Intel has a 525-mSATA drives a series of small SSDs released exclusively for the mSATA form factor were developed. The drives are built around LSI SandForce SF2281 controller, but Intel supplies the firmware. The controller sends the 120GB version four chips, four dies of 8GB MLC-NAND, all that is baked on 25nm. With the 180GB version also tested three chips with four dies of 16GB used. Intel 525

“Samsung is the only tlc-nand, it produces itself 19nm”

Kingston gave us the 120GB version. That is the largest capacity of the MS200 Series mSATA SSDs. The controller that the 19nm-MLC-NAND Toshiba drives, is the little brother of the SF2281. Kingston uses the four-channel SF2241 controller, which is half the number of channels of 2281 has, but would be. More economical The controller is not equipped with Sand Forces compression technique, which can boost speeds.

Plextor we received the M5M-mSATA drive capacity of 256GB. The company uses the Marvell 88SS9187 controller that 19nm-MLC-NAND Toshiba drives. The controller is supported by 512MB DDR3 memory Nanya and follow the 88SS9174, who used Crucials m4 drive is. This is among other things a little easier and more economical. Samsung 840 EVO

Samsung we received the brand new mSATA version of the 840 EVO drives. The benchmark database, we take the results of 500GB and 1TB versions, but in this review we present only the 120GB and 250GB results. Samsung uses its own triple-core MEX controller with 256MB, 512MB or 1GB of DDR3 memory. The company is the only tlc-nand, it produces at 19nm.
Drive Capacitance Nand Controller Cache Device drag
Crucial m400 128GB Micron 25nm MLC- Marvell 88SS9174 256MB DDR3 no
Intel 525 120GB / 180GB 25nm IMFT-mlc- LSI SF2281 n no
Kingston MS200 120GB -19nm Toshiba MLC LSI SF2241 n no
Plextor M5M 256GB -19nm Toshiba MLC Marvell 88SS9187 512MB DDR3 yes (1mW)
Samsung 840 EVO-mSATA 120GB / 250GB Samsung 19nm-tlc Samsung MEX 256MB / 512MB DDR3 yes (2mW)

Next page (Msata on desktop – three ninths)
Msata on the desktop

The use scenario for the mSATA drives ranges from fast caching SSDs for desktops to primary drives for ultrabooks. In a desktop motherboards that have an mSATA slot provided mSATA drives can form a compact booster for storage. The larger capacities can obviously fine if self boot drive serve. Kingston mS200

In portable devices with limited space, such as ultrabooks and tablets, the mSATA drives can serve. Primary drive For the latter category are the latest mSATA drives with a new energy-saving feature: devslp. This device drag functionality must reduce consumption to about 1 mW during sleep, but at the same time very fast, are active in about 100ms. Devslp is only supported processors from Intel Haswell generation.

For our tests we used the standard SSD platform that we use for all SSD tests and based. Sandy Bridge processors Devslp is not supported. To test the mSATA drives we have used an adapter pcb that the mSATA SSD converts to a regular 2.5 “SSD Note:. Energy measurements with this adapter are guidelines only and comparison the mSATA. drives use a 3.3 V supply, while we measured the 5V line that runs to the adapter. Losing the conversion from 5V to 3.3V voltage regulator on us by the adapter plate is included in the power .

For the tests we used synthetic tests and traces which AS-SSD and Iometer synthetic performance figures yielded traces and our realistic scenarios simulated. In addition, we wrote the drives in consecutive runs more crowded to also measure after prolonged use, if the drives have less spare capacity performance.

Next page (Synthetic Benchmarks: AS-SSD – 4/9)
Synthetic benchmarks: AS-SSD

We start with the pure synthetic benchmark AS SSD, which we use to measure. Sequential read and write speeds and random read and write performance with 4K blocks
AS SSD – Sequential read transfer rate
Drive Throughput in MB / s, higher is better
Plextor 256GB M5M
*******
501.59
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
*******
500.44
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
*******
484.56
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
*******
482.89
Intel 525 180GB
*******
470.46
Intel 525 120GB
*******
467.87
MS200 120GB Kingston
****
258.06
AS SSD – Sequential write transfer rate
Drive Throughput in MB / s, higher is better
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
*******
490.53
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
*******
489.32
Plextor 256GB M5M
******
415.62
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
***
197.21
MS200 120GB Kingston
**
145,45
Intel 525 120GB
**
131.02
Intel 525 180GB
**
124.30

With sequential read Kingston drive continues with its four channel controller back and bad only the two 250GB drives the 500MB/s-barrière. Writing do both EVO drives good business and also the new Marvell controller Plextor drive can still come. The other drives to see what disappointing performance.
AS-SSD – 4K Random Read
Drive Throughput in MB / s, higher is better
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
*******
32.70
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
*******
32,64
Plextor 256GB M5M
******
27.96
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
*****
24,26
Intel 525 120GB
*****
22,60
Intel 525 180GB
*****
21,69
MS200 120GB Kingston
*****
21,39
AS-SSD – 4K Random Write
Drive Throughput in MB / s, higher is better
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
*******
61,29
Intel 525 180GB
*******
61,00
Intel 525 120GB
*******
60,78
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
*******
60,71
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
*******
60.31
MS200 120GB Kingston
*******
59.65
Plextor 256GB M5M
******
50,50

The random write performance is almost the same for all drives only Plextor remains well behind. When reading random data, the EVO drives again amply fastest, with the Plextor as average performer. The four channels of the SF2241 controller in Kingston hold the random data still good at.

Next page (Synthetic Benchmarks: Iometer Results – 5/9) Synthetic Benchmarks: Iometer Results

A transfer size of 4kB, such as in the AS-SSD test, it is just one of the many types of transactions that has to deal with a SSD in practice. To get a complete picture of the performance, we have been using IOMeter also read and write speeds measured at random and sequential I / O with an exponentially increasing transfer size from 512 bytes to 256 kB.

To investigate whether the SSDs are optimized for command queuing, the tests with a queue depth of consecutively and eight simultaneous i / o’s done. A queue of eight I / Os can occur in heavy multitasking scenarios. A larger queue depth for desktop use unlikely.
Random read performance

At a queue depth of both 1 and 8, the EVO drives faster than the other. The 2241 controller in the Kingston drive remains significantly behind the rest.
Random write performance

At the Kingston drive we could not complete the test run; IOMeter always gave an error message, as evidenced by the absence of the test data. The Intel drives with SF2281 controller make it nice in this test, while the MEX controller Samsung EVO drives what fails in larger blocks.
Sequential read performance

With sequential read are the Samsung drives superior, but the two Intel SSDs come with a larger queue depth pretty close. Logically, the Kingston considerably slower, but the Crucial also is somewhat disappointing.
Sequential write performance

The SandForce controllers from Intel and Kingston drives on well with the IOMeter data, but the Samsung drives have some difficulty with the test. The figures are not consistent at all with the AS-SSD data. Where it is due, is unknown to us.

Next page (Real World Benchmarks: traces – 6/9) Real World benchmarks: traces
Boat StorageMark 2011

Boat Storage Mark 2011 shows the performance seeing a boot drive on which the operating system, applications and games are installed, and on which a small amount of user data is present.

The index consists of 60 percent from the results of two routes of booting Windows 7 and start frequently used applications. The results of the desktop workload trace to be taken into account for 15 percent. In this trace web browsers, email programs, simple image editing programs, and office applications are used. 20 percent is determined by game traces. The remaining 5 percent is accounted for by a path in which a large software package is installed, with downloads occur and light applications are run, such as a browser. The alignments are performed by Intel NAS Performance Toolkit, which generates non-compressible data.
Boat StorageMark 2011
Drive Storage Performance Index Marks, higher is better
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
*******
1312.1
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
*******
1267.4
Plextor 256GB M5M
******
1080.2
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
*****
1018.4
Intel 525 180GB
*****
1015.4
Intel 525 120GB
*****
995.8

The EVO drives are the fastest, with the rest of the test field closely packed. The Intel drives will leave it fails, the SF2281 controller is starting to show its age.
Home & Office StorageMark 2011

This index gives an indication of the use of a disk as a primary storage device for the operating system, applications and data, used for office and web use. The desktop workload trace accounts for 60 percent of the index. This trace 90,000 read and 33,000 write operations, which consist of half of sequential operations. The index also boot, game, copy and software installation traces included.
Home & Office StorageMark 2011
Drive Storage Performance Index Marks, higher is better
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
*******
1614.0
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
*******
1549.7
Plextor 256GB M5M
******
1297.0
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
*****
1045.5
Intel 525 180GB
****
941.2
Intel 525 120GB
****
899.4

Also in the Home & Office Test plug the EVO series head and shoulders above the rest. We see the same picture as the 2,5 ‘-EVO SSD’s, the rest can not keep the emulated SLC-NAND EVO drives.
Workstation StorageMark 2011

The Workstation StorageMark gives a picture of the performance of the primary drive in a system that is used for professional image and video editing. The index is 55 percent determined by two routes of a video editing workstation. Respectively a graphics workstation and The focus of this benchmark is formed by 370,000 random read operations and 250,000 random writes.

In the image processing route is working on very large Photoshop files and photo collections with large raw files viewed and edited in Lightroom. This route comprises 55 percent of write transactions. If we look at the data volume is even two-thirds of the traffic at the expense of writes. These are mostly for non-sequential writes to the scratch file in Photoshop and page file of Windows. For video editing trace Sony Vegas Pro was released on a large video project, with dozens lossless compressed full-HD video clips. This route consists almost entirely of non-sequential read operations.

With lower weight also make the desktop workload, boot, file-copy-and software installation traces part of this index.
Workstation StorageMark 2011
Drive Performance index in Storage Marks, higher is better
Plextor 256GB M5M
*******
1318.6
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
*******
1260.3
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
******
1098.6
Intel 525 180GB
*****
956.9
Intel 525 120GB
*****
952.9

The Workstation test Plextor drive shows impressive performance and pursues this the EVO 120GB drive past. That may be, because traditionally perform larger capacities better than smaller drives.
Gaming StorageMark 2011

The Gaming StorageMark test provides insight into the performance of a drive that is used in a game. PC The index is 70 percent determined by game routes and further performance in the boat and software installation traces.
Workstation StorageMark 2011
Drive Storage Performance Index Marks, higher is better
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
*******
1486.9
Plextor 256GB M5M
******
1318.6
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
******
1260.3
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
*****
1098.6
Intel 525 180GB
*****
956.9
Intel 525 120GB
****
952.9

The difference between the Samsung drives and the rest of the field test, which further performs quite similar, soon at least ten percent.

Next page (Performance degradation – 7/9)
Performance degradation

To simulate normal use of an SSD three runs were turned. During benchmarks During the first run, there was 80 GB of data on the disk. During the second run, the SSD was half filled and during the third run we made sure that there is only 10GB free space was available. During run four SSD was completely filled completely, at 4GB, after which it was necessary to write new files. During the test

We have analyzed the results of the first three runs averaged and then processes it in the storage Mark-indices. The fourth run was intended to see if the performance degrades when the SSD is almost full.

There is hardly any degradation of the SSD’s are almost full. The firmware and controllers that capture neatly with better trim and garbage collection functions.

In the Workstation traces we see no degradation, even if there is only the 4GB drives available. Especially for a laptop, in which a second disk data is often not available, it is nice to know that the performance of the SSDs do not suffer degradation.

Next page (Power – 8/9) Power consumption

We have the power measured with multimeters on the 5V line, with Iometer random workload and a sequential write operation on the SSDs performed. For the idle measurement had the drive to do anything, of course. As previously mentioned, the display included power is not absolute, but for general guidance only. The adapter plate that we use also costs energy.
Idle Power Consumption – Total
Drive Power in watts, lower is better
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
****
0.35
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
****
0.35
Plextor 256GB M5M
*****
0.45
Intel 525 180GB
******
0.55
Intel 525 120GB
******
0.56
MS200 120GB Kingston
******
0.59
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
*******
0.69

Idle the two EVO drives from Samsung is by far the most economical and Crucials older drive burned the most. The Intel drives form, together with the controlled also by a SandForce controller Kingston drive the middle. Plextor is with what Marvell efficient than Intel.
Energy Random I / O – Total
Drive Power in watts, lower is better
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
****
1.26
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
*****
1.81
MS200 120GB Kingston
*****
1.85
Plextor 256GB M5M
*****
1.92
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
*****
1.95
Intel 525 180GB
******
2.10
Intel 525 120GB
*******
2.51

Crucial knows the power consumption during random limit, most actions only Intel 120GB drive is an outlier in the otherwise quite similar results.
Energy Sequential Write – Total
Drive Power in watts, lower is better
Plextor 256GB M5M
****
1.78
MS200 120GB Kingston
****
1.83
Intel 525 180GB
*****
2.32
Intel 525 120GB
*****
2.43
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
*****
2.63
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
******
2.91
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
*******
3.46

When writing sequential data, the drives from Plextor and Kingston economical. The Intel SSDs do not bad, but the EVO’s Samsung and Crucial SSD-are clearly less efficient.

Next page (Conclusion – 9/9) Conclusion

The mSATA SSDs have long been limited. One of the first readily available SSDs with this small form factor was the m4 drive from Crucial. Which is included in this test, but is now somewhat outdated.

With the advent of Intel’s 525-series, the availability of the mSATA format for end users got a big boost and other major manufacturers like Kingston and Plextor followed. Meanwhile, Samsung also has its popular EVO drives reduced to the mSATA format and users from a nice portfolio of brands, capacities and controllers can choose.

The SandForce controllers of Intel SSDs are sometimes pretty bad, but the SF2281 is somewhat old. The SF2241 the Kingston drive does not really count and is only interesting for budget applications, moreover, functioned our copy is not good and we could not run all tests. Crucial is still reasonably well in some tests, but it is an older technique on the mSATA drive.

Samsung has its mSATA drives his superiority, which the 2.5 “had realized, extended to the smaller segment. Surface, we have the price trend remains to be seen, but if the 2.5” follow-sector, Samsung, the fastest drive with low prices in hands. The only real alternative is the Plextor drive, the price per gigabyte is low and the performance is fine. The Kingston and Intel drives are simply too expensive for what they offer, and that also applies to the Crucial SSD-.
Boat StorageMark 2011
Drive Storage Performance Index Marks, higher is better Price Price / GB
Samsung 250GB 840 EVO
*******
1312.1 Unknown n / a
Samsung 120GB 840 EVO
*******
1267.4 Unknown n / a
Plextor 256GB M5M
******
1080.2 € 167.50 66 cents
Crucial M400 128GB mSATA
*****
1018.4 Unknown 85 cents
Intel 525 180GB
*****
1015.4 € 166.99 93 cents
Intel 525 120GB
*****
995.8 € 99.50 88 cents
MS200 120GB Kingston n / a € 84.99 71 cents

Scorecard
Samsung 120GB mSATA 840 EVO Samsung 250GB mSATA 840 EVO Plextor PX-256M5M 256GB Crucial m4 128GB mSATA CT128M4SSD3
Samsung 840 EVO mSATA 120GB Samsung 840 EVO mSATA 250GB Plextor PX-256M5M 256GB Crucial m4 mSATA CT128M4SSD3 128GB
Overall Rating Rating: 4.5 Rating: 4.5 Rating: 4.5 Rating: 3
Performance Rating: 4.5 Rating: 4.5 Score: 4 Rating: 3
Price Score: 0 Score: 0 Rating: 4.5 Rating: 2.5
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Scorecard
Intel 525 180GB OEM Intel 525 120GB OEM MS200 120GB Kingston
Intel 525 OEM 180GB Intel 525 OEM 120GB Kingston mS200 120GB
Overall Rating Rating: 3 Rating: 3 Rating: 2.5
Performance Rating: 3 Rating: 3 Score: 0
Price Rating: 2.5 Rating: 2.5 Score: 4
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