SanDisk A110 PCIe SSD: Armed With The New M.2 Edge Connector

Results: Power Consumption

Idle Power Consumption

Idle consumption is the most important power metric for consumer and client SSDs. After all, solid-state drives complete host commands quickly, and then drop back down to idle. Aside from the occasional background garbage collection, a modern SSD spends most of its life doing very little. Enterprise-oriented drives are more frequently used at full tilt, making their idle power numbers far less relevant. But this just isn't the case on the desktop, where the demands of client and consumer computing leave most SSDs sitting on their hands for long stretches of time.

Active idle power numbers are critical, especially when it comes to their impact on mobile platforms. Idle means different things on different systems, though. Pretty much every drive we're testing is capable of one or more low-power states, up to and including DevSleep. DevSleep is a part of the SATA 3.2 host specification, and while it requires a capable SSD and a compatible platform, enabling it takes storage down to very little power use. This is why we test active idle; it's easy to identify and is still where SSDs spend most of their time.

The A110 poses special issues where power consumption testing is concerned, since its PCIe nature makes it difficult to measure. Fortunately, the x4 PCIe-to-M.2 PCIe adapter we have lets us power the drive using external power, via four-pin Molex connector. That makes taking a reading easier, though we're not certain yet whether the accuracy is affected.

PCMark 7 Average Power Consumption

If we log power consumption through a workload, even a relatively heavy one, we see that average use is still pretty close to the idle numbers. Max power may spike fiercely, but the usage seen during a PCMark 7 run is pretty light. You can see the drives fall back down to the idle "floor" between peaks of varying intensity.

The A110 spends most of its time at the idle power state we measured, but increases from there. The spikes are super-short though, telling us that SanDisk's drive does what it's asked and then drops back to idle quickly. PCMark 7 doesn't tax the A110 much at all. 

In fact, the A110 uses just slightly more power, on average, in this workload than it did in our idle measurement. As a result, it moves up this chart.

Maximum Observed Power Consumption

It's even better news that maximum power consumption isn't a critical specification for most desktop workloads. In the enterprise space, yes. This information goes into the calculation for total cost of ownership. But in a client environment, you shouldn't be seeing these numbers for more than short bursts.

No matter what tortuous workload we threw at it, the 256 GB A110 wouldn't use more than 3.5 W. SanDisk rates the drive for up to 5.5 W in write tasks, but we were unable to approach that figure. 

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19 comments
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  • Mike Friesen
    Awesome new stuff. Can't wait to see if this drive actually uses the full potential of the M2, and if Samsung or OCZ can one-up them.
    0
  • cryan
    Anonymous said:
    Awesome new stuff. Can't wait to see if this drive actually uses the full potential of the M2, and if Samsung or OCZ can one-up them.


    Samsung actually has some pretty awesome M.2 PCIe action going on. We're trying to get our hands on everything, so stay tuned.


    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    5
  • Anonymous
    It will be nice to see vendors implement the NVMe connectors in the desktop mobo's, which in turn will redefine case design, as less storage space will be required for storage. I am aware that the initial intent is to direct these at the mobile market, but desktops can benefit as well.
    0
  • cryan
    Anonymous said:
    It will be nice to see vendors implement the NVMe connectors in the desktop mobo's, which in turn will redefine case design, as less storage space will be required for storage. I am aware that the initial intent is to direct these at the mobile market, but desktops can benefit as well.


    You'll really see NVMe take off on the desktop with the move towards SATA Express. A SSD on SATA Express will leverage NVMe and two PCIe Gen 3 lanes. Though some motherboards will (and already do) have M.2 connectors, M.2 really makes more sense in mobile applications. M.2 will only get traction on the desktop insofar as it will begin to replace mSATA. Tons of mainboards, especially smaller form factor products embrace mSATA, and moving to M.2 is a natural transition. However, M.2 drives are hard to find right now, and we really won't see a plethora of options until next year.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    2
  • nekromobo
    I got M.2 toshiba ssd in my Sony Vaio Pro 13.. review that?

    and it should have samsung M.2 in some countries..
    1
  • CaedenV
    I may no longer have motivation to upgrade my system based on CPU specs, but with DDR4, M.2, new restive storage based SSDs, and better chipset features I will still have enough reason to upgrade in a year or two.
    2
  • jimmysmitty
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    It will be nice to see vendors implement the NVMe connectors in the desktop mobo's, which in turn will redefine case design, as less storage space will be required for storage. I am aware that the initial intent is to direct these at the mobile market, but desktops can benefit as well.


    You'll really see NVMe take off on the desktop with the move towards SATA Express. A SSD on SATA Express will leverage NVMe and two PCIe Gen 3 lanes. Though some motherboards will (and already do) have M.2 connectors, M.2 really makes more sense in mobile applications. M.2 will only get traction on the desktop insofar as it will begin to replace mSATA. Tons of mainboards, especially smaller form factor products embrace mSATA, and moving to M.2 is a natural transition. However, M.2 drives are hard to find right now, and we really won't see a plethora of options until next year.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan


    That's what I was thinking. SATA Express is going to be fast enough for now as I have used PCIe SSDs before (OCZ Revo based drive) and compared to my 520 its hard to notice a difference, especially since there are other bottlenecks stopping it from being able to utilize that bandwidth.

    This will be great for ultra portable systems though and ITX systems.
    0
  • cryan
    Anonymous said:
    I got M.2 toshiba ssd in my Sony Vaio Pro 13.. review that?

    and it should have samsung M.2 in some countries..


    Absolutely... just send it my way and consider it done.

    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    2
  • m32
    Christopher Ryan, I'll take this off of your hands.

    Regards,
    m32
    0
  • mikeangs2004
    will there be RAID or SLI/CFX for PCIe based SSD's?
    I don't think so b/c it's already way above 6G limit.
    0
  • markhahn
    the power numbers don't make a lot of sense. I suspect either the pcie interface is being kept in a high-power mode (plls running, etc) or else your molex is supplying power to other stuff on the board. (there must be a dc-dc regulator on the auxiliary card, since molex provides only 12,5.)
    0
  • cryan
    Anonymous said:
    the power numbers don't make a lot of sense. I suspect either the pcie interface is being kept in a high-power mode (plls running, etc) or else your molex is supplying power to other stuff on the board. (there must be a dc-dc regulator on the auxiliary card, since molex provides only 12,5.)


    This is almost certainly true. I mean, we know it uses DC to DC to step the 5v down to 3.3v. But oddly, SanDisk rates the max write power consumption at 5.5w, and I could only get it max at 3.5w. Of course, it also possesses a deep slumber state, but that's contingent on having a L1.0 PCIe endpoint, and that hasn't even been ratified yet by PCI-SIG.

    So definitely take the power consumption results with a grain of salt. There are challenges to testing this drive in this way.


    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    0
  • cryan
    Anonymous said:
    will there be RAID or SLI/CFX for PCIe based SSD's?
    I don't think so b/c it's already way above 6G limit.


    If you happened to have the ability to run two+ PCIe SSDs, M.2 or otherwise, you can always soft-raid them. There are reasons why you'd want to avoid such a setup, but it'd totally work. Intel's 910 PCIe SSD shows 2 or 4 drives to the OS and then they can be soft-raided from there, for instance.


    Regards,
    Christopher Ryan
    0
  • abbadon_34
    what command line switches were use in robocopy?
    0
  • mikeangs2004
    Is there TRIM/garbage collection?
    0
  • Dax corrin
    Awesome stuff, wish I could afford it.
    0
  • Blaise170
    It seems like new progress is being made in the field of NAND every day. I can't wait until you can get high capacity drives for around the same price as HDDs, but I've heard that even as late as 2017 SSD storage will only have a 33% share.
    0
  • ryyple
    I'm a complete novice to all this stuff, yet I have a few questions that maybe someone can answer.

    Are these M2 devices still considered SATA drives?
    Using a PCIe (or other) interface for the M2 how could you clone these devices?
    Can these devices then be cloned using a standard HDD duplicator?
    Is there such a thing as a M2 "adapter" that plugs into the above duplicator?

    Thanks for your response.
    0
  • tpidner17
    Christopher,

    On page four of this review, in the maximum 4kb speed chart, it says "in MB/s [higher is better]." However, shouldn't that refer to the fact that it is measuring max IOps, rather than write speed? It seems like a type to me, so I wanted to let you know.
    0