Hands-On With Silicon Motion's New SSD Controller

Results: Sequential Performance

Fantastic sequential read and write performance is a trademark of modern SSDs. To measure it, we use incompressible data over a 16 GB LBA space, then test at queue depths from one to 16. We're reporting these numbers in binary (where 1 KB equals 1024) instead of decimal numbers (where 1 KB is 1000 bytes). When necessary, we're also limiting the scale of the chart to enhance readability.

128 KB Sequential Read

Silicon Motion's platform comes out swinging. We're showing data from the last few 128 GB-class drives for comparison, and it looks like SanDisk's Extreme II 120 GB is the most similar. Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising, since both SSDs share Flash Forward's eX2 Toggle-mode NAND in common. Despite their different controllers (the Extreme II employs Marvell's 9187 eight-channel processor), both drives are nearly identical as we step through higher queue depths. Bear in mind the chart scaling; for better separation, the scale is limited.

128 KB Sequential Write

Keep in mind that the 120 GB 840 EVO and 120 GB M500 sport half as many dies as the other SSDs in this chart. Crucial's M500 plods along near 130 MB/s, which is where the EVO would be as well if it weren't for its emulated SLC write buffer. SanDisk's Extreme II and the Silicon Motion platform both peak around the same throughput, though the reference platform starts off lower with just one command in its queue. That could be explained by the four-channel design. SanDisk's Ultra Plus 128 GB slots in under Silicon Motion's sample.

Here's a break-down of the maximum observed 128 KB sequential read and write performance with Iometer:

Silicon Motion's drive finds shelter amongst a rash of mid-pack 256 GB drives. It may be too simplistic to say this, but SATA 6Gb/s-based SSDs using similar flash generally lay down similar sequential write speeds. This chart lends some evidence to that, though it's not universally true. Take the Vector, for instance. While writing up to half of the drive's capacity happens at or near 500 MB/s, the second half is written at 50% of that speed (in one sitting, at least). That's an example of clever and firmware tricks companies like OCZ are using to differentiate their products in a highly competitive environment.

The maximum read speeds reflect an astonishing lack of diversity. With most modern flash and the SATA 6Gb/s interface, you tend to see 500 MB/s+ ceilings. The m4 256 GB actually has the lowest sequential read speeds of this bunch, but it was quite a bit lower at launch. The bump up to 500 MB/s had a lot to do with the 0009 firmware update that changed the m4's initially mild-mannered nature. At least, that's how we remember it.

  • rolli59
    Performance looks good, the question is with a new player on the market if it will affect market price to the benefit of users that have SSD boot/program drives up to 256GB.
  • outlw6669
    Good performance and power numbers.
    Hooray for more competition!
  • 4745454b
    While performance wasn't the best, it was more then acceptable. And then the power numbers looked great. Overall it's a great start. I'm interested in long term results as some controllers have had bugs in the past that have done bad things to people's data.

    And yes, great to see someone else enter in. While more players means you'll need to look harder at what SSD you are buying, at least we'll have the options. Which is always good, even if the options aren't as good as what you were hoping for.
  • shin0bi272
    Not that this isnt kinda cool but Taiwan is now part of China so its proper to call it China.
  • UmeNNis
    11339051 said:
    Not that this isnt kinda cool but Taiwan is now part of China so its proper to call it China.

    Ummm..... how exactly is "Taiwan now part of China"...?:sarcastic:
  • apache_lives
    But how reliable will it be in the long run...
  • mayankleoboy1
    During the benchmarks, did you ensure that the Samsung EVO is not throttling due to high temps ?
    Maybe add a max temperature graph as well.
  • e-z e
    Given time to mature this could be a real contender. Would love to see a follow-up once it hits the market.
  • zads
    11337088 said:
    Meanwhile, SandForce is the opposite. It'll sell you a turnkey solution, but you don't really get many knobs or dials in terms of customization.
    If only this were the case, my job would be so much easier.