SSD

Review :WD My Passport SSD

WD My Passport SSD Review

The WD My Passport SSD marks the brand’s first foray into portable SSD storage. Building off of the extensive My Passport line, the SSD variant is available in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities and promises to give speeds up to 515MB/s using the USB Type-C port. For those without USB-C, WD includes a USB 3 adaptor. As usual WD includes bundled software to give the drive a little more value, in this case that includes backup software and drive health monitoring. The My Passport SSD can also be protected with built-in 256-bit AES hardware encryption and the drive includes a three year warranty.

WD My Passport SSD Specifications

  • Capacity:
    • 1TB (1024GB)
    • 512GB
    • 256GB
  • Speeds up to 515MB/s
  • Interfaces USB 3.1 (USB 3.0/2.0 compatible)
  • Limited Warranty 3 years
  • Password protection with hardware encryption
  • Shock-resistant up to 6.5 feet
  • Height: 10mm (0.39 in) Depth: 90mm (3.5 in) Width: 45mm (1.8 in)

Design and Build

WD has put together a good treatment for the My Passport SSD. The unit is Zippo-esque in it’s size and will easily disappear into a pocket. Thankfully shrinking SSD footprints have given vendors more flexibility in design, whereas in the past, portables have more or less been enclosures wrapped around a traditional 2.5″ SSD. In this case WD opted for a two-tone color palette with a silver ridged lower half and matte black top.

While most will use the USB-C interface, WD does include a USB 3 dongle-style adaptor for legacy port support.

Performance

To test the My Passport SSD 1TB, we used the HP Z2 Mini Workstation and the built-in USB-C port along with a MacBook Pro and compared with these other leading portable SSDs:

  • SanDisk Extreme 510 (480GB)
  • Samsung Portable SSD T3 (2TB)

In our first benchmark, we will look at transfer speeds using a USB 3.0 connection on a generation -1 MacBook Pro. Here, we leveraged the BlackMagic disk speed test, which is a Mac-specific tool mainly used to see how well it works with high quality video. In this scenario, the SSD showed read and write throughput of 387MB/s and 294MB/s, respectively, as shown below. The Samsung hit 430MB/s and 405MB/s and the SanDisk posted 431MB/s and 408MB/s.

Testing 2MB read/write speeds with IOMeter, we found that the SSD was able to hit 337MB/s in sequential write and 376MB/s in sequential read. In 2MB random write the performance dropped down to 359MB/s and in 2MB random read the WD gave us 255MB/s. The SanDisk Extreme 510 was able to achieve speeds of 322MB/s read, and 159MB/s write sequential. In our 2MB random transfer test, we measured 270MB/s read and 159MB/s write. The Samsung T3 posted read and write speeds of 322.52MB/s and 159.13MB/s, respectively. 2MB random transfer speeds showed similar performance numbers, with 318.95MB/s read and 158.28MB/s write

Switching over to random 4k transfers, the My Passport SSD had a write performance of 6,623 IOPS and a read performance of 5,496 IOPS.

Conclusion

While we didn’t hit the WD posted performance of the My Passport SSD, we did see aggregate performance that puts the drive in a very favorable position at the head of the class. As professionals and consumers do more on the go, the portable SSD segment is going to rapidly grow in importance to vendors that deal in flash. WD is well positioned then with this effort not just in terms of performance, but in other elements like the software package for PCs they include and a design that is appealing. The only issue out of the gate is around pricing. Currently a Best Buy exclusive, the drives run $99.99, $199.99 and $399.99 respectively for the 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities. That puts them on price parity with SanDisk (a WD company) and Samsung at the lower capacity, but both competing drives are significantly less expensive as you move up the scale. Also, Samsung offers a 2TB version and SanDisk offers a smaller 120GB option. WD is nothing if not mainstream though, the three offered capacities will address the needs of most of the market and after the Best Buy exclusivity ends, they should be in a position to be price competitive. Either way it’s a well-executed drive that should find its way into many workspaces.

Micron Sees Huge SSD Sales, XPoint Products Shipping This Year

Micron reported their 2Q 2017 results last night and the quarter was a monster. Much of that is due to great traction in Micron’s SSD business, thanks to 3D TLC NAND making Micron highly cost competitive. Micron also saw increases in their OEM, cloud and enterprise businesses, both in terms of capacity shipped and total sales. Micron is obviously benefitting from the shift away from HDDs as a capacity tier; perhaps in an outsized way as their strength right now is clearly in higher capacity SATA SSDs that are especially popular in software defined platforms like VMware vSAN.

3D NAND is the clear driver in Micron’s success in the SSD business; 32-layer 3D NAND is being driven throughout their business. Looking ahead Micron expects to see “meaningful output” of 64-layer 3D NAND by August. Engineering of their CMOS circuitry will mean Micron can ship the industry’s smallest die size.

Turning to 3D XPoint, Micron had very little to say other than they expect initial shipments this year. Micron makes XPoint in partnership with Intel, who has already announced and started shipping their first XPoint products dubbed Optane. Micron did demo some of their XPoint line, dubbed QuantX, last year where they showed QuantX outpacing NAND-based SSDs quite handily in both 2.5″ U.2 and HHHL add in card form factors. While QuantX-based SSDs will clearly be niche early on, from a thought leadership perspective, it’s important for Micron to prevent Intel from taking all of the early attention. Intel did well at their launch to get major partners like HPE and VMware to throw their weight behind Optane. More near term, Micron did indicate plans to offer new enterprise NVMe SSDs that leverage high-density NAND.

Western Digital Unveils WD My Passport SSD

Today Western Digital Corporation (WDC) introduced a new My Passport, though this time its storage will be an SSD, a first for WD portable drive. Expanding WD’s portfolio of My Passport devices, the new My Passport SSD will have much better performance that it typically seen when going from disk to flash. The new My Passport SSD is aimed at content creators and tech enthusiasts that need high performance in their portable media.

The new portable drive is stated to have speeds as high as 515MB/s, making it the faster My Passport drive to date. The drive uses a USB Type-C port and is USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gb/s) ready. It comes with both a USB Type-C to Type-C cable and a USB Type-C to Type-A for those that don’t yet have a USB-C port. The drive is compatible for both Mac and PC. Portability always comes with the risk of something physically happening to the drive. To assuage concerns, the My Passport SSD can withstand a 6.5-foot drop and up to 1500G of force. For protecting data on the inside of the drive, it comes with 256-bit AES hardware encryption and password protection.

Availability and Pricing

The WD My Passport SSD is available now at Bestbuy.com and is expected to be available at other select retailers this quarter. The drive comes in 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB capacity and is priced $99.99, $199.99, and $399.99, respectively.

Enterprise Read Intensive SATA SSD Roundup

When it comes to enterprise SSD marketing currently, NVMe and high-capacity SAS drives garner most of the headlines. But behind their more showy cousins sit an entire stable of SATA SSDs that are taking the lion’s share of overall SSD units shipped. Enterprise SATA SSDs are commonly segmented further into read intensive and write intensive categories. In a few outlier cases a vendor may also ship a mixed-use drive just to cover all the bases. In reality, these drives are all the same at the core, with the key difference simply being overprovisioning and firmware. Overprovisioning generally determines the usable capacity and endurance attributes of a drive. In this roundup we’re taking a non-standard approach. Our SSD reviews are generally a deep dive into a single drive. In this case we’ve lined up five of the leading read intensive SSD offerings from Intel, Toshiba, Samsung, Micron and SanDisk to see how they stack up in this lucrative market segment.

Testing Background and Comparables

The StorageReview Enterprise Test Lab provides a flexible architecture for conducting benchmarks of enterprise storage devices in an environment comparable to what administrators encounter in real deployments. The Enterprise Test Lab incorporates a variety of servers, networking, power conditioning, and other network infrastructure that allows our staff to establish real-world conditions to accurately gauge performance during our reviews.

We incorporate these details about the lab environment and protocols into reviews so that IT professionals and those responsible for storage acquisition can understand the conditions under which we have achieved the following results. None of our reviews are paid for or overseen by the manufacturer of equipment we are testing. Additional details about the StorageReview Enterprise Test Lab and an overview of its networking capabilities are available on those respective pages.

Comparables for this review

  • Intel 3520 1.6TB
  • Micron 5100 ECO 1.92TB
  • Samsung PM863a 1.92TB
  • SanDisk CloudSpeed Eco Gen2 1.92TB
  • Toshiba HK4R 1.92TB

Application Workload Analysis

In order to understand the performance characteristics of enterprise storage devices, it is essential to model the infrastructure and the application workloads found in live production environments. Our first benchmarks for the RI SSD group are therefore the MySQL OLTP performance via SysBench and Microsoft SQL Server OLTP performance with a simulated TCP-C workload. For our application workloads, each drive will be running 2-4 identically configured VMs.

SQL Server Performance

Each SQL Server VM is configured with two vDisks: 100GB volume for boot and a 500GB volume for the database and log files. From a system resource perspective, we configured each VM with 16 vCPUs, 64GB of DRAM and leveraged the LSI Logic SAS SCSI controller. While our Sysbench workloads tested previously saturated the platform in both storage I/O and capacity, the SQL test is looking for latency performance.

This test uses SQL Server 2014 running on Windows Server 2012 R2 guest VMs, being stressed by Dell’s Benchmark Factory for Databases. StorageReview’s Microsoft SQL Server OLTP testing protocol employs the current draft of the Transaction Processing Performance Council’s Benchmark C (TPC-C), an online transaction-processing benchmark that simulates the activities found in complex application environments. The TPC-C benchmark comes closer than synthetic performance benchmarks to gauging the performance strengths and bottlenecks of storage infrastructure in database environments. Each instance of our SQL Server VM for this review uses a 333GB (1,500 scale) SQL Server database and measures the transactional performance and latency under a load of 15,000 virtual users.

SQL Server Testing Configuration (per VM)

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Storage Footprint: 600GB allocated, 500GB used
  • SQL Server 2014
    • Database Size: 1,500 scale
    • Virtual Client Load: 15,000
    • RAM Buffer: 48GB
  • Test Length: 3 hours
    • 2.5 hours preconditioning
    • 30 minutes sample period

SQL Server OLTP Benchmark Factory Host

  • Supermicro SuperServer 2028U-TNR4T+
    • Dual Intel E5-2699 v3 CPUs (2.3GHz, 18-cores, 45MB Cache)
    • 768GB RAM (32GB x 24 DDR4, 384GB per CPU)
    • CentOS 7.2
    • Supermicro AOC-S3008L-L8i HBA

In our SQL Server TPC-C workload, looking at transaction performance we see a huge spread in performance, ranging from the Toshiba HK4R and Samsung PM863a in the lead with 6,245.7 and 6,224TPS respectively to the Intel 3520 trailing behind with 3,796.7TPS.

Drilling into the average latency in SQL Server, the differences between the drives becomes even more dramatic. Again the Toshiba HK4R and Samsung PM863a lead the pack with 61ms and 78ms, with the Micron 5100 ECO jumping to 973ms, the SanDisk CloudSpeed Eco Gen2 measuring 1,151 and lastly the Intel 3520 peaking at 3,161ms.

 

Sysbench Performance

The next application benchmark consists of a Percona MySQL OLTP database measured via SysBench. This test measures average TPS (Transactions Per Second), average latency, and average 99th percentile latency as well.

Each Sysbench VM is configured with three vDisks: one for boot (~92GB), one with the pre-built database (~447GB), and the third for the database under test (270GB). From a system resource perspective, we configured each VM with 16 vCPUs, 60GB of DRAM and leveraged the LSI Logic SAS SCSI controller.

Sysbench Testing Configuration (per VM)

  • CentOS 6.3 64-bit
  • Percona XtraDB 5.5.30-rel30.1
    • Database Tables: 100
    • Database Size: 10,000,000
    • Database Threads: 32
    • RAM Buffer: 24GB
  • Test Length: 3 hours
    • 2 hours preconditioning 32 threads
    • 1 hour 32 threads

Sysbench OLTP Host

  • Supermicro SuperServer 2028U-TNR4T+
    • Dual Intel E5-2699 v3 CPUs (2.3GHz, 18-cores, 45MB Cache)
    • 768GB RAM (32GB x 24 DDR4, 384GB per CPU)
    • CentOS 7.2
    • Supermicro AOC-S3008L-L8i HBA

In the average transactions-per-second metric, we see another large spread between the drives in the read-intensive group, with the Toshiba HK4R leading the pack at 1,787.4TPS aggregate and the Micron 5100 ECO trailing the group at 1,092.7TPS. Again the Samsung was close in the #2 position, with a large spread in performance following it.

Comparing average latency between the differen read-intensive SATA SSDs, we measured an average starting at 71.7ms with the Toshiba HK4R, 72.3ms from the Samsung PM863a, 78ms from the SanDisk CloudSpeed Eco Gen2, 109.9ms from the Intel 3520 and 117ms from the Micron 5100 ECO.

There was a subtle change looking at 99th percentile, with the Samsung PM863a taking the lead with the most consistent latency spread at 134ms whereas the Intel 3520 trailed the group with a measurement of 233.4ms.

Enterprise Synthetic Workload Analysis

Flash performance varies as the drive becomes conditioned to its workload, meaning that flash storage must be preconditioned before each of the fio synthetic benchmarks in order to ensure that the benchmarks are accurate. Each of the comparable drives are preconditioned into steady-state with a heavy load of 16 threads and an outstanding queue of 16 per thread.

Preconditioning and Primary Steady-State Tests:

  • Throughput (Read+Write IOPS Aggregate)
  • Average Latency (Read+Write Latency Averaged Together)
  • Max Latency (Peak Read or Write Latency)
  • Latency Standard Deviation (Read+Write Standard Deviation Averaged Together)

Once preconditioning is complete, each device is then tested in intervals across multiple thread/queue depth profiles to show performance under light and heavy usage. Our synthetic workload analysis for the RI SATA SSDs focuses on one profile, our 8K 70/30 mixed random workload It is important to take into consideration that synthetic workloads will never 100% represent the activity seen in production workloads, and in some ways inaccurately portray a drive in scenarios that wouldn’t occur in the real world.

  • 8k
    • 70% Read/30% Write

FIO Host

  • Supermicro SuperServer 2028U-TNR4T+
    • Dual Intel E5-2699 v3 CPUs (2.3GHz, 18-cores, 45MB Cache)
    • 768GB RAM (32GB x 24 DDR4, 384GB per CPU)
    • CentOS 7.2
    • Supermicro AOC-S3008L-L8i HBA

​Our 8k benchmark uses a ratio of 70% read operations and 30% write operations. In our throughput test the Micron 5100 Eco starts off in the lead and was able to maintain this lead throughout the testing. The Micron 5100 Eco peaked at 46,137 IOPS and had the Samsung PM863 not too far behind throughout.

Looking at average latency, the Micron 5100 Eco had the lowest latency barely squeaking by the Samsung PM863 that ran neck and neck throughout the entire benchmark.

Max latency had the Samsung PM863 take the top spot with the lowest latency of all the drives, though it traded back and forth with the SanDisk.

With standard deviation, once again the Samsung and the Micron battled it out for top spot. Though it is difficult to see on the chart, the Samsung had the lowest latency throughout most of the test before slipping slightly behind the Micron near the end.

Conclusion

The market for SATA enterprise SSDs is thriving, in good part thanks to software defined storage and HCI deployments that can effectively manage SATA drives and still provide the storage services organizations expect. VMware vSAN for instance takes a cache-based approach where the majority of the SSDs in a deployment will be SATA drives. Thanks to data reduction technologies (compression, dedupe) a 1.92TB SATA SSD (or 1.6TB if you’re Intel) can offer an effective capacity of 2-5 times that amount while maintaining a lower-cost profile. The explosion of these more flexible storage systems certainly bodes well for the entire SATA SSD category.

Market trends make this a perfect time to look at the most attainable category of enterprise SSD storage, read-intensive SATA drives. Interestingly a few of these drives are a bit long in the tooth, some have taken different capacity point strategies, but all are in the market today and the best offering from each vendor in this category. In our testing, the results are pretty clear, Toshiba and Samsung lead the pack in terms of application performance, with Toshiba taking the top spots. In our synthetic workload, the Micron 5100 ECO took the top spot, in front of both the Samsung PM863a and Toshiba HK4R, although those results didn’t translate over into our application tests.

In the end Toshiba is the leader, with Samsung very hot on their heels; the real question for customers is going to be around pricing. It’s hard to find a way to recommend the other three drives, especially the Intel, which in addition to poor performance, doesn’t refund the 320GB of capacity the other vendors do.

Best SSDs Q1 2017

The industry-wide NAND flash shortage has not abated, so there’s little good news for consumers since the holiday edition of this guide. The best deals are a few cents per GB worse than they were during the holiday season. Older SSD models are being withdrawn from the market and current models are often out of stock. At CES we noticed a pattern of companies being ready to launch new models and capacities, but many of them are holding off until they can launch with sensible pricing and volume.

The situation should improve later this year when the next generation of 3D NAND hits the market. With 64 layers or more and up to 512Gb per die for TLC parts, we should finally see 3D NAND from all four major manufacturers making its way into retail SSDs. In the near term however, there’s not much hope for improvement in prices and available drive capacities.

As always, the prices shown are merely a snapshot at the time of writing. We make no attempt to predict when or where the best discounts will be. Instead, this guide should be treated as a baseline against which deals can be compared. All of the drives recommended here are models we have tested in at least one capacity or form factor, but in many cases we have not tested every capacity and form factor. For drives not mentioned in this guide, our SSD Bench database can provide performance information and comparisons.

Premium SATA drives: Samsung 850 PRO

The SanDisk Extreme Pro has all but disappeared from the market, leaving the Samsung 850 PRO as the undisputed king of the SATA SSD market. No other consumer SATA SSD can match the 850 PRO’s combination of performance and a ten-year warranty. For now, the only other SATA SSDs with 3D MLC NAND are ADATA’s SU900 and XPG SX950, both based on Micron’s 3D MLC. Those SSDs offer slightly higher endurance ratings but warranty periods of only 5 and 6 years, and we don’t expect their performance to beat the 850 PRO.

Even the slowest PCIe SSD will outperform the Samsung 850 PRO in most ordinary usage scenarios, and some of those PCIe SSDs are cheaper than the 850 PRO. There are several SATA SSDs that offer performance that is close to the 850 PRO for a substantially lower price, most notably the Samsung 850 EVO. The appeal of the 850 PRO is far narrower than it was when this product first launched. If a new competitor does not emerge for this segment, we may retire this recommendation category entirely as it no longer serves any common consumer use case.

250/256GB 500/512GB 1TB 2TB
Samsung 850 PRO $139.99 (55¢/GB) $237.76 (46¢/GB) $448.99 (44¢/GB) $854.97 (42¢/GB)
Samsung 850 EVO $93.99 (38¢/GB) $169.99 (34¢/GB) $324.99 (32¢/GB) $689.00 (34¢/GB)

Value & Mainstream SATA: Crucial MX300, Mushkin Reactor 1TB

The value segment of the SSD market is where drives sacrifice performance and endurance to reach the lowest possible prices. Since SSD prices have tended to drop across the entire market, it is almost always possible to spend just a little more money to get a significant performance boost. The mid-range segment is a battleground between TLC drives with high enough performance, and any MLC drives that can get the price down without sacrificing their inherent performance advantage over TLC.

The Crucial MX300 continues to be one of the most affordable SSDs on the market. Its combination of Micron 3D TLC and a great Marvell controller allows the the MX300 to deliver performance that is a clear step up from the cheapest planar TLC SSDs, and the MX300’s power consumption is surprisingly low. MLC SSDs and the Samsung 850 EVO still perform much better under heavy sustained workloads, but the MX300 is good enough for most ordinary use.

250-275GB 500-525GB 1000-1050GB 2TB
Mushkin Reactor $89.99 (35¢/GB) $169.99 (33¢/GB) $246.99 (24¢/GB)
Samsung 850 EVO $93.99 (38¢/GB) $169.99 (34¢/GB) $324.99 (32¢/GB) $689.00 (34¢/GB)
Crucial MX300 $94.99 (35¢/GB) $149.99 (29¢/GB) $252.08 (24¢/GB) $549.99 (27¢/GB)

Standard & M.2 PCIe: Intel SSD 600p and Samsung 960 EVO

As they did in the SATA SSD market with the Samsung 850 EVO, Samsung’s 960 EVO has shown that the combination of 3D TLC and a great controller can hold its own against most MLC-based competitors. Now that it is widely available, we think the 960 EVO offers a good balance of affordability and performance for the PCIe SSD segment.

The Intel SSD 600p is the slowest PCIe SSD on the market, but also the cheapest by far. With pricing comparable to the Samsung 850 EVO, the Intel SSD 600p offers real-world performance that exceeds any SATA SSD. It won’t hold up very well under very heavy sustained workloads, but its performance on ordinary desktop workloads is the reason we’re not recommending the Samsung 850 EVO as a mid-range/mainstream SATA option.

128GB 250-256GB 500-512GB 1TB 2TB
Samsung 960 EVO $129.99 (52¢/GB) $249.99 (50¢/GB) $477.99 (48¢/GB)
Samsung 960 Pro $327.99 (64¢/GB) $629.99 (62¢/GB) $1299.99 (63¢/GB)
Intel SSD 600p $64.00 (50¢/GB) $99.99 (39¢/GB) $179.99 (35¢/GB) $349.00 (34¢/GB)

M.2 SATA: Samsung 850 EVO and Crucial MX300

M.2 has replaced mSATA as the small form factor of choice, and new product lines are no longer including mSATA variants. Selection of M.2 SATA SSDs is far more limited than 2.5″ drives, but there are enough options to cover a reasonable range of prices and performance levels. The Samsung 850 EVO is the high-performance M.2 SATA drive of choice, and anyone wanting more performance should look to M.2 PCIe SSDs. The Crucial MX300 covers the low end of the market and carries only a slight premium over its 2.5″ counterpart. ADATA and Western Digital offer M.2 versions of their latest entry-level SSDs, but they currently don’t offer the value of the MX300.

250-275GB 500-525GB 1TB
Samsung 850 EVO M.2 $97.99 (39¢/GB) $167.99 (34¢/GB) $354.95 (35¢/GB)
Crucial MX300 M.2 $89.99 (33¢/GB) $149.99 (29¢/GB) $279.99 (27¢/GB)

OCZ RD400 & VX500 SSDs

In the mood for some free hardware? Well then you’re in luck: our awesome community team in conjuction with OCZ is holding a giveaway for a trio of SSDs. The prizes include the 512GB and 256GB PCIe (M.2 w/adapter) versions of OCZ’s top-tier M.2 SSD, the M.2-based RD400, along with the 512GB version of their VX500 SATA SSD.


Toshiba OCZ Giveaway Prize Specifications
Capacity RD400
256 GB
RD400
512 GB
VX500
512 GB
Controller Toshiba TC58NCP070GSB Toshiba TC358790
NAND Toshiba 15nm MLC
Sequential Read 2600 MB/s 2600 MB/s 550 MB/s
Sequential Write 1150 MB/s 1600 MB/s 515 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 210k 190k 92k
Random Write IOPS 140k 120k 64k
Form Factor M.2 2280 single-sided 2.5″ SATA
Protocol NVMe 1.1b over PCIe 3.1 x4 AHCI
Write Endurance 148 TB 296 TB 296 TB
Warranty 5 years