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Plextor at CES 2020: M9P Plus AIC SSD and its M.2 Twin

Plextor showed off its very recently announced M9P line of premium PCI-Express NVMe SSDs at CES 2020. The M9P Plus comes in both half-height add-in card (AIC) form-factor, and a more conventional M.2-2280 form-factor. In both, it leverages PCI-Express 3.0 x4 along with the NVMe 1.3 protocol. At the heart of these drives is the Marvell 88SS1092 "Eldora Plus" controller that has 8 flash channels. This controller is paired with Kioxia 96-layer 3D TLC NAND flash (BiCS 4), and a DDR4 DRAM cache.

With capacities of 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1 TB, the M9P offers sequential reads of up to 3,400 MB/s, with up to 2,200 MB/s writes (up to 1,700 MB/s writes for the 256 GB variant). Endurance (TBW) for the three models are proportionately rated at 160 TB, 320 TB, and 640 TB. The 256 GB variant of the M.2-2280 model is priced at $51, the 512 GB variant at $81, and the 1 TB variant at $135. The AIC equivalents are priced at roughly $15 premiums over these prices, and in addition to the convenience of AIC (easier to swap in a test bench), they feature some RGB LED embellishments.

Phison Demonstrates 4-Bits Per Cell QLC SSDs

Phison Electronics, the industry's leader in flash controller and NAND storage solutions, is demonstrating mainstream performance using 4-bits per cell QLC NAND flash controllers and SSDs at the Consumer Electronics Show 2020 (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. In its private suite, Phison is showcasing the addition of support for QLC NAND to its already shipping E16 PCIe Gen 4x4, E12 PCIe Gen 3x4, and S12 SATA controllers that use TLC NAND. Phison's industry leading approach leverages highly successful controllers that were qualified by tier-1 OEMs, are in mass production now, and extends new SSD designs to utilize either TLC or QLC NAND. Phison's proprietary QLC NAND controller technology enables higher SSD capacities in industry standard form factors while meeting the performance demands of mainstream applications.

Phison's flagship E16 series controller for PCIe Gen 4x4 NVMe SSDs can achieve up to 4 TB in capacity with QLC NAND and reaches speeds of 4.9 GB/s for sequential reads and 3.8 GB/s for sequential writes. The E12 series controller enables PCIe Gen 3x4 NVMe SSDs and has a capacity of up to 8 TB and speeds of 3.4 GB/s sequential reads, 3.0 GB/s sequential writes with QLC NAND. For the SATA interface, Phison is also demonstrating the S12 controller series SSDs with up to 16 TB using QLC NAND and performance at 550 MB/s sequential reads and 530 MB/s sequential writes. Phison's DRAM-less S13T controllers enable smaller form factors, have a capacity of up to 2 TB, and operate at 550 MB/s sequential reads and 500 MB/s sequential writes.

ASRock to Launch Hyper Quad M.2 PCIe 4.0 Expansion Card

ASRock is looking to launch a PCIe expansion card for all of your M.2 needs. Should you find your current motherboard is already full to the gills with M.2 SSDs, ASRock's Hyper Quad M.2 PCIe expansion card will allow you to increase M.2 vacancy by up to four additional slots (there's an on-off toggle for you to move in the PCB to select the active M.2 SSDs). The card uses the PCIe 4.0 x16 interface to sufficiently feed the four M.2 SSDs (which typically use the PCIe 4x NVMe protocol) with data.

This is a top notch expansion card design, featuring an aluminium cover and a 50 mm fan to cool down all those SSDs' controllers. The cover features 4x 110 mm thermal pads which align with the M.2 mounts on the PCB, thus allowing the aluminium cover to serve as a veritable heatsink and improve operating temperatures. The expansion card is fed by a single 6-pin power connector, and there is an activity LED for quality of life improvements. No word on pricing just yet.

Kingston Technology Announces Data Center DC1000B NVMe SSD

Kingston Technology today announced the Data Center DC1000B M.2 NVMe SSD, optimized for server boot drive applications, featuring power-loss protection (PLP). Kingston's Data Centre DC1000B is a high-performance M.2 (2280) NVMe PCIe SSD using the latest Gen 3.0 x 4 PCIe interface with 64-layer 3D TLC NAND. DC1000B offers data centres a cost-effective boot drive solution with the reassurance that they are purchasing an SSD designed for server use. The DC1000B is ideally suited as an internal boot drive for use in high-volume rack-mount servers, as well as for use in purpose-built systems that require a high-performance M.2 SSD that includes on-board power loss protection (PLP).

M.2 NVMe SSDs are evolving within the data centre, providing efficiencies in booting servers to preserve valuable front-loading drive bays for data storage. Whitebox and Tier 1 Server OEMs are beginning to equip server motherboards with one, or sometimes two, M.2 sockets for boot purposes. While the M.2 form factor was originally designed as a client SSD form factor, its small physical size and high performance make it attractive for server use. Not all SSD are created equal and using a client SSD in a server application may result in poor, inconsistent performance.

Silverstone at CES 2020: Cases, PSUs, and Accessories Galore

Silverstone at CES 2020 took the opportunity to showcase selections of their portfolio for the media, ranging from PC cases in major form-factors, PSUs, and a range of "ease-of-life" and aesthetic-driven accessories. Accessory-wise, there's a range of SSD-related products, such as the MS09 stick, which allows conversion of an M.2 SSD to what basically amounts to a USB 3.1 pen drive; other products in this category include the MS09-Mini and the MS11, which improves support for the NVMe protocol. The ECM26 is a PCIe adapter for M.2 sticks, while the Silverstone TP02-M2 presents itself as a heatsink for installation on non-passive-cooled M.2 SSDs.

Continuing the SSD accessories galore, there are a number of other solutions, including a tool-less NMVe to PCIe adapter (ECM21-E), an ARGB powered one (ECM24-ARGB, which includes a heatsink), a simpler, non-ARGB one with a heatsink (ECM23), and my personal favorite, a docking station for a barebones M.2 drive you may have around, in the form of the TS16 station. The presence of a Power button very surely means this can't be hot-swapped - the risk of data-loss is real.

Kioxia, Formerly Toshiba Memory, Makes its CES Debut

One of the big hardware industry changes of 2019 was the formal spin-off of Toshiba Memory as an entirely independent firm called Kioxia. This is big, because Toshiba is regarded as the inventor of NAND flash as we know it; and a pioneering firm with DRAM, NAND flash, and other forms of solid-state storage. Toshiba retains the hard disk business. Having formally begun operations only in Q4-2019, much of Kioxia's upcoming products are in development, but we still caught some of their latest SSDs that implement PCIe gen 4.0 and NVMe 1.4 protocol, besides some former-Toshiba products under new Kioxia branding. Kioxia is planning to make a big splash in the near future as its pioneering Twin BiCS Flash tech hits the market, besides scoring design wins with the automotive and data-center industries.

The CD6 and CM6 SSDs are star-attractions. The CD6 is designed for data-centers, and comes in capacities ranging all the way from 800 GB to 15 TB, with 1 to 3 DWPD endurance. It uses the next-generation U.3 (SFF-TA-1001) connector with PCI-Express 4.0 x4 physical-layer and NVMe 1.4 protocol. Among its security features are SIE, FIPS140-2, and SED Opal/Ruby. The drive is built in the 15 mm-thick 2.5-inch form-factor. The CM6 is its cousin, targeted at enterprise environments with higher mission-criticality. With capacities ranging from 800 GB to a staggering 30 TB, the drive offers sequential transfer-rates of up to 6,400 MB/s by leveraging PCI-Express 4.0 x4 and NVMe 1.4. Much like the CD6, the CM6 uses the new U.3 connector, and is built in the 15 mm form-factor. Endurance and security feature-set are identical to the CD6. We also spotted the 2+ year old rebranded XD5-series and PM5-series in fresh Kioxia colors. Lastly, there are the XG6 and XG6-P SSDs from 2019 transitioned to the Kioxia brand.

Patriot at CES 2020: Introduces P210 and P220 SSDs; Showcases Portfolio

Patriot at CES 2020 showcased two new products that will be added to their portfolio in the form of the P210 and P220 SSDs. The company has already built a reputation for themselves with their high-performance VPN100 and VP4100 SSDs in the M.2 form-factor, and are now adding some budget padding to their lineup with the 2.5", SATA-based P210 and P220. The P220 will be available in up to 4 TB capacities and features Phison's S12 controller, whilst the P210 will offer only up to 2 TB maximum storage and an undisclosed next-gen SMI 2259XT Next-Gen controller.
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