Longsys, the largest SSD manufacturer in China, sent over a new client SSD armed with Toshiba's triple-level-cell NAND flash and a controller from Silicon Motion that you'll be seeing a lot of over the next year.
The Shenzhen Longsys Electronics Company delivered the first retail SSD with Silicon Motion's new SM2256 controller. Although you might not see much of it outside of China, the processor and flash combination is expect to dominate the mainstream SSD market through the end of 2015.
Before we dive into the hardware, let's tackle the question most of you are probably asking: what is Shenzhen Longsys Electronics Company? It's the largest SSD manufacturer in China, with over 400 employees and more than 200 engineers. Most flash-based products from Longsys end up in data centers, although client products are a growing segment of its business.
We don't have a list of customers buying the Foresee S500, but we do know Lenovo, Sony, G.Skill, Verbatim and Silicon Power all procure drives from Longsys. Most of those companies relabel the products, making Longsys a formidable ODM. The S500 model we're reviewing was the first finalized SSD to land in our lab with Silicon Motion's SM2256 controller. We tested the processor during its development, and published benchmarks of the SM2256 and Samsung TLC flash prior to Computex 2015.
The SM2256 was designed specifically for use with next-generation triple-level-cell NAND, which presents a number of challenges involving data retention and write performance. Three bits in a cell means eight charge levels. Single-level cell flash, which employs on and off charges is comparatively much easier to "see". Even multi-level-cell flash with four charge levels is simpler. Powerful error correction is needed to tame TLC's complexities so that you don't lose bits or wear the less-robust cells out prematurely. Silicon Motion's SM2256 utilizes low-density parity-check (LDPC) code to cope with TLC's lower number of program and erase cycles.
Longsys' website doesn't list the S500 family yet, and official specifications don't exist. We also don't have a total-bytes-written warranty statement characterizing the company's S500. Fortunately, our testing today will reveal all of the performance information you need to form an educated opinion. Even still, this is a preview of sorts since the S500's retail presence is so limited. What we can tell you is that Longsys pairs the LDPC-capable controller with Toshiba's A19 TLC flash, the same stuff used by OCZ Storage Solutions on the Trion 100.
Pricing, Warranty & Accessories
We spoke with Longsys about the 240GB S500's pricing and learned that customers can order the drive for $70. End users here in the States looking to upgrade a desktop or a notebook will most likely find themselves buying a branded product from a more recognizable name. But if your organization needs to upgrade several systems, then it may be worthwhile to contact Longsys about volume pricing. Without global distribution, it'd be difficult to purchase a S500 outside of China.
Again, some companies will purchase Longsys-manufactured SSDs and rebrand them. Longsys plans to expand into America and Europe over time, and getting review samples into our hands is a good start. But distribution and marketing need to come into play as well.
Our sample arrived as a bare drive, so we didn't receive an accessory package. Longsys has its own drive-cloning software tool that normally comes bundled as a value-add.