Longsys Foresee S500 SSD Review

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.

Specifications

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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.

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  • kalmquist
    The Silicon Motion's SM2256 based drives have the dubious distinction of being slower than what came before. I'm hoping that once companies other than Samsung get 3D NAND into mass production, we will see SSD's priced like the Longsys' Foresee S500, but with better performance.
  • ansar
    Bah. "S500" is the model name and not the size. :(
  • jtown80
    wonder how many backdoors they included...
  • Jeffs0418
    Quote:
    wonder how many backdoors they included...
    I was thinking the same thing. Just the possibility is a deal breaker for me.
    I just hope the (Korean) Samsung 850 EVO I purchased this year (Made in China)
    has no unwelcome firmware inside.
  • Jeffs0418
    The nice price is suspicious too...
  • photonboy
    The PRICE is right where it should be. It doesn't perform as well as slightly more expensive drives.
  • TbsToy
    Oh boy another cheap, substandard sata SSD with no visible support.
    Walt Prill
  • photonboy
    TbsToy,
    How do you know there is no support? Do you read Chinese?

    These exist in China, so I'm not sure why you would expect to easily find the support site.
  • TbsToy
    67821 said:
    TbsToy, How do you know there is no support? Do you read Chinese? These exist in China, so I'm not sure why you would expect to easily find the support site.


    Well, being in Los Angeles California USA and an English speaking American, I haven't ever felt the need to learn to read and speak Chinese just to be able to communicate with an unfindable Chinese support site for some substandard SSD that might not exist a month from now with a site ya can't even find. I can walk to Intel and with no time, and with no language or communication or warranty or shipment issues back and forth.. So I agree with you cuz ya might not have any usable support like the many SSD vendors have here. That shouldn't deter any potential buyers though, right, cuz it is cheap and ya wanna sell em, Right?
    Walt Prill
  • hannibal
    I just have to wonder, if most of the readers actually did read the article. This is not about Longsys, this is about controller, that will be the dominant controller in the next two years. Expect to see these in low price Samsung, Munchkin, Kingston etc ssd drives in near future.
  • 2Be_or_Not2Be
    "...transfers of any substantial size will cut performance to half of what you can get from a modern mechanical disk."

    A SSD that fails to beat a mechanical disk in every performance metric simply shouldn't be sold.
  • CRamseyer
    Your statement isn't accurate. This and other TLC SSDs are much faster at random access patterns.
  • epobirs
    Quote:
    Oh boy another cheap, substandard sata SSD with no visible support. Walt Prill


    The review makes it clear that end users are very unlikely to buy one of these from the OEM. You deal with a local vendor and their infrastructure. Do you speak Korean or read Hangul? No? Has that stopped you from buying Samsung products?
  • epobirs
    SATA SSDs are going to be a legacy market in just a few years. The cheapest devices will find a place in PCs at the low end before PCI-e connected SSDs take over the entire market. PC hardware and software designers are still coming to grips with how to apply the performance but the difference will become intolerable as the price gap narrows.
  • mapesdhs
    Chris, the Amazon Samsung 850 EVO link has the wrong price, it should be $90.

    Also, what's the point of the Service Time tests? They show no useful variation, at least not in terms of the comparison conveying anything that's relevant to making a purchasing decision.

    Lastly, why is the notebook battery life test graph using a non-zero origin? It means the visual impact of the graph is completely useless. I really wish toms writers would stop doing this, it's very bad practice. The whole point of a bar graph is to use the bars themselves as an immediate visual indication of variation, but non-zero origins make this impossible.

    Either way, once again, still no reason to get anything other than an 850 EVO atm, down to 114 UKP in the UK for the 500GB, below 60 for the 250GB. Amuses me to see people bidding more for other used inferior models on eBay. :D
  • hst101rox
    Quote:
    SATA SSDs are going to be a legacy market in just a few years. The cheapest devices will find a place in PCs at the low end before PCI-e connected SSDs take over the entire market. PC hardware and software designers are still coming to grips with how to apply the performance but the difference will become intolerable as the price gap narrows.

    The difference in performance in a desktop system will be minimal in most cases, except big file transfer jobs and the like. ~500MB/s is plenty! Your back to the CPU/ memory bottleneck for the most part.
    It'll be fun to see the 2TB Samsung SATA SSDs drop in price over time

    I don't see why anyone would buy this Longsys Foresee drive over a used 840 or 850 Evo on Ebay. mid range consumer SSDs don't really cost more than a low end SSD.
  • mapesdhs
    1748327 said:
    ~500MB/s is plenty! ...

    There's a long history in computing of people saying things like that which end up just being embarassing some years later. ;) Remember the old, "640K ought to be enough for anybody", by a certain Mr. Gates?

    When consumers start meddling with 4K video, suddenly "only" 500MB/sec will become annoying. It's not that far off. And the 450MB/sec I had this week when copying 140GB between two 500GB 850 EVOs definitely did not feel fast - oh how we get used to the quicker stuff so easily. Data expands to fill the space available, and patience shrinks to fit into the gaps. :D


    1748327 said:
    I don't see why anyone would buy this Longsys Foresee drive over a used 840 or 850 Evo on Ebay. ...

    I don't know why anyone is bothering with used EVOs on eBay atm when the cost of a new 250GB/500GB is so good. I've seen several UK listings these past couple of weeks where people have bought used SSDs for more than the cost of a new 850 EVO. That's just nuts.

    I bought another 850 EVO 250GB today, 58 UKP from Amazon. Really good price IMO, but it keeps dropping. The 500GB was at 113 a day or so ago.

    Ian.