Ever look at a space shuttle and think its ceramic tiles would be perfect to cool your PC components? Well, Team Group seems to have done just that with its T-Force Cardea Ceramic C440. The high-end NVMe SSD that provides 5GBps of sequential throughput and comes with a unique cooling solution that leverages aerospace technology. Though it comes at a premium price, with its responsive performance and white finish, the C440 is definitely worth adding to your next high-end all-white themed build.
While we know ceramics are typically used in various environments due to their ability to withstand high temperature, we never thought we would have seen the material on an SSD. With the introduction of Team Group’s T-Force Cardea Ceramic C440, that changes. Marketed as ‘Ceramic Technology,’ the company is leveraging a white composite ceramic heat spreader to ensure that the T-Force Cardea Ceramic C440’s performance won’t be hobbled by thermal throttling.
|Product||Cardea Ceramic C440 1TB||Cardea Ceramic C440 2TB|
|Capacity (User / Raw)||1000GB / 1024GB||2000GB / 2048GB|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3|
|Controller||Phison E16||Phison E16|
|Memory||Kioxia 96L TLC||Kioxia 96L TLC|
|Sequential Read||5,000 MBps||5,000 MBps|
|Sequential Write||4,400 MBps||4,400 MBps|
|Random Read||750,000 IOPS||750,000 IOPS|
|Random Write||750,000 IOPS||750,000 IOPS|
|Endurance (TBW)||1,800 TB||3,600 TB|
Team Group’s T-Force Cardea Ceramic C440 comes in rather limited capacities of just 1TB and 2TB, but since the focus is on gamers and enthusiasts, we can’t blame Team Group for chopping off a smaller 500GB option. The cost is fairly high, with the 1TB at $189.99 and 2TB at $364.99, but the drive offers up some great performance numbers.
Capable of delivering performance of up to 5/4.4 GBps read/write and sustaining 750,000 random read/write IOPS, the T-Force Cardea Ceramic C440 can achieve some top-ranking performance within its dynamic SLC cache. However, while it is fast in bursts, performance can degrade if the workload exceeds the cache. Fortunately, the cache measures one-third the usable capacity of the device, so at roughly 333GB on our 1TB sample, end-users shouldn’t experience many slowdowns, but we will see about that in testing.
With so much speed at your disposal, it’s easy to write lots of data to Team Group’s T-Force Cardea Ceramic C440. But the company has you covered thanks to Phison’s fourth-gen LDPC ECC and some minor overprovisioning. With industry-leading endurance ratings of up to 3,600 TBW and a long five-year warranty, the drive offers tough competition to brands like Samsung, SK Hynix, WD, and Crucial.
Software and Accessories
The SSD comes with a case sticker, and Team Group supports the Cardea Ceramic C440 with a basic SSD toolbox called SMART Tool. The software enables you to read the S.M.A.R.T. data on the SSD as well as view the system information. There is even a benchmark similar to Crystal Disk Mark to test the performance of the drive.
A Closer Look
Team Group’s T-Force Cardea Ceramic C440 comes in an M.2 2280 double-sided form factor and measures roughly 5mm thick, including the thin white ceramic heat spreader. While the heat spreader is attractive and will help to accent a white-themed build, the SSD’s good looks are somewhat marred by a blue PCB. That certainly won’t matter to everyone, but you’ll need to look elsewhere for a black PCB.
Powering the T-Force Cardea Ceramic C440 is Phison’s high-performance PS5016-E16 PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe 1.3 SSD controller. The E16 is built upon the company’s E12, with a few minor tweaks. It features secure erase, Trim, and S.M.A.R.T. data reporting support as well as end-to-end data path protection for data integrity and active state power management to keep idle and light workload power consumption and heat output under control.
The controller leverages a pair of 28nm Arm Cortex R5 CPUs as well as a pair of slower co-processors. The R5s are clocked at 733MHz and handle the brunt of the read/write/host interaction, but the CoXProcessor technology helps to offload some of the NAND management firmware code for consistent, sustained performance and fast cache recovery.
With a DRAM-based architecture, the E16 delivers fairly consistent and responsive performance under most circumstances. For FTL buffer space, we find a pair of SK hynix 512MB DDR4 DRAM chips clocked at 1,600MHz, one on each side of the PCB for 1GB total.
When it comes to the flash on the Cardea Ceramic C440, it’s the same stuff one would expect from a 1TB E16-based SSD – Kioxia’s 256Gb BiCS4 96L TLC. The 2TB features denser 512Gb dies. In total, the controller interfaces with the 32 NAND flash dies over eight-NAND channels at speeds of up to 800 MTps. Kioxia’s BiCS is usually the cheapest flash going because of its simple 3D charge trap flash (CTF) design, too.
Each NAND die features two planes for independent access, however 3D flash designs like SK hynix’s 128L and Micron’s 96L TLC both have more complicated and expensive to produce 4-plane designs for even more parallelism. Like Samsung’s current-gen V-NAND, BiCS4 also doesn’t feature periphery circuitry under the flash cell array (PuA/CuA). Instead, its periphery circuitry borders the array, taking up precious X-axis and y-axis die space, hindering bit density a bit.
Additionally, Kioxia uses string stacking to achieve 96 usable data layers. This means that during production, the company stacks two 48L decks on top of one another. For this to work, Kioxia engineered extra selection gates and dummy layers into the design for a total of 109 actual layers. By contrast, Samsung flash only needs 100 layers to achieve 92 data layers in a single stack design.