Adata Brings Premier SP550 SSD To Market With Low Cost TLC

Adata displayed several SSDs at Computex 2015 and plans to bring them all to market. The flagship Premier Pro SX930 was just released a few weeks ago with JMicron's JM667H controller paired with Micron MLC+ flash. Adata unveiled the final details on the post-Computex sophomore release, the Premier SP550.

Although 3bit-per-cell NAND flash (TLC) has shipped in client SSDs for three years now via Samsung's 840 and 850 series products, Toshiba only recently unleashed the cost saving technology. We've seen Toshiba TLC at trade shows and in private tests for years, but the flash requires a powerful controller to survive client warranty periods and to deliver a positive user experience.

Adata chose Silicon Motion's SM2256 controller to tame the low native endurance TLC flash. We detailed the new SM2256 controller back in March, and Adata is the first SSD manufacturer to use it in a retail product. The controller uses low density parity check (LDPC) ECC to extend the life of flash. Silicon Motion's proprietary version of LDPC is called NANDXtend, and it is able to stretch the life of the NAND by up to 3x. The controller also adds pSLC to cache data writes, a process that hides TLC's native low write performance.

"The launch of Adata's Premier SP550 SSD with our SM2256 client controller represents a milestone in SSD adoption," said Nelson Duann, Silicon Motion's Vice President of Product Marketing. "TLC-based SSDs significantly improve the affordability of high performance, low power SSDs."

Adata's specification sheet only lists three capacity sizes, but the company assured us that a 960 GB model will come to market as well. The large 960 GB model's performance should be identical to the 480 GB model listed in the specifications chart.

Sequential read performance should be as high as 560 MB/s with sequential write performance reaching up to 510 MB/s. The write speeds come from SLC bursts, but we don't know where the final firmware will put sustained sequential performance until we test the SP550 models. Random read performance is as high as 75,000 4K IOPS. The random write performance is just as high with fresh pages ready to accept the writes. In our preview test, we observed the SM2256 controller doing an exceptional job of keeping the flash ready to take in data. This comes from a solid garbage collection and wear leveling system.

Adata didn't release pricing details, but with Samsung's 850 EVO and OCZ's Trion TLC drives already shipping in the channel, we expect the company to undercut both products to move SP550 at a very low price point. Expect to hear more about the Adata SP550 and other new-to-market SSDs next week from Flash Memory Summit.

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Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Follow Tom's Hardware on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.
  • Quixit
    Here's hoping it's really cheap. TLC and a SM2256 are not going to make a fast drive, but it shouldn't be terrible. If it's really cheap (and ADATA definitely can do really cheap) it could be a good buy. I've still got a SX300 mSATA drive I bought years ago and it's going strong.