In mid-November, ADATA introduced a new line of solid-state drives — the Ultimate SU630, which uses 3D QLC flash memory with a 4-bit cell structure. Chips of this architecture have been used for specific corporate SSDs for some time, but for the mass market this is still a wonder. In the future, QLC memory will be actively used for affordable entry-level drives, as well as high-capacity SSDs, because now we were interested in evaluating the capabilities of such devices using the example of ADATA Ultimate SU630 480 GB.
ADATA Ultimate SU630 ruler
New ADATA ruler Ultimate SU630 includes three models of the most popular volumes – 240 GB, 480 GB and 960 GB. Perhaps a series of potentially available drives would be worth adding more capacious devices. But surely this will not happen if the SSD with a new type of memory will be accepted by the market.
For the ADATA Ultimate SU630, 64-layer 3D QLC flash memory chips are used, as well as the new Maxio MAS0902A-B2C controller from Maxiotek. It is worth noting that ADATA is not afraid to experiment, mastering the original SSD platform, without waiting for their massive introduction by other manufacturers. The market for solid-state drives is now very competitive, because in order to stay afloat, one has to take certain risks.
|240 GB||480 GB||960 GB|
|Flash Memory||3D QLC NAND (64-layer) [19659013)forgraphicalSyndicatorGraphics(NLC(64-layer)[19659013)forflashmemory||for QLC NAND (64-layer) [19659013)whichisnotapplicableforgraphicalmessages;19659019] Sequential reading||520 MB / s|
|Sequential writing||450 MB / s|
|Random reading||30,000 IOPS||40,000 IOPS||40,000 IOPS|
|Random entry||65,000 IOPS||65,000 IOPS||65,000 IOPS|
|Guaranteed write capacity (TBW)  50 TB||100 TB||200 TB|
|Manufacturer's warranty period||2 years|
Many have already heard about the modest capabilities of QLC-based devices. What performance does ADATA promise for new SSDs? Depending on the capacity of the model, the reading speed is declared at the level of 520 MB / s, linear recording – 450 MB / s. In this regard, the performance is almost the same as that of the mass SSD on TLC. As for the speed of working with 4K blocks, here the developers promise about 65,000 IOPS when writing, while the number of I / O operations when reading data depends on the SSD capacity: 40,000 IOPS for 480 and 960 GB models and 30,000 IOPS for drives at 240 GB. The indicators are quite modest, but generally acceptable as for an initial class device.
In the case of 3D QLC based drives, the potential reliability of the new SSDs is particularly interesting. The multi-layered layout of flash memory chips is very useful here. The increased distance between the elements makes it possible to improve wear indices, partially compensating for the theoretically smaller resource of rewriting cycles of microcircuits with 4-bit cells. As a result, guaranteed data recording volumes (TBW) are not as bad as one would expect. ADATA claims 50 TB for 240 GB, 100 TB for the 480 GB model and 200 TB for the SU630 with a capacity of 960 GB. Indicators characteristic for devices with planar TLC of the first wave. With typical use of an SSD, even as a system drive, it is unlikely that you will be able to go beyond these limits in 2-3 years. At the same time, the manufacturer set a warranty period of 2 years, instead of the usual 3 years for entry-level drives.
The SU630 function set includes support for S.M.A.R.T., TRIM and NCQ. Also announced is a hardware implementation of LDPC ECC error correction and SLC caching technology to speed up data recording.
ADATA Ultimate SU630 480 GB (ASU630SS-480GQ-R)
We tested the average model of the new 480 GB line – ADATA Ultimate SU630 480 GB (ASU630SS-480GQ-R).
The drive comes in a compact blister with a cardboard base and a transparent top lid, through which you can easily view the drive.
The device has the usual dimensions for 2.5-inch devices. The metal case with a thickness of 7 mm is very light. The declared weight of the drive is only 47.5 g. The wall thickness is small, which is typical for entry-level SSDs. On the top panel there is a large label with the manufacturer's logo and the name of the series.
On the reverse side, on a sticker of similar dimensions, the model name, format, connection interface, and the mention that the drive was made in Taiwan.
The drive case is collapsible, but on one of the side faces there is a protective sticker with a warning about the loss of warranty in case of damage. However, we could not refrain from looking under the cover. Still, we are dealing with a new platform.
A very compact printed circuit board occupies no more than a third of the drive. The PCB contains the Maxio MAS0902A-B2C controller. For the 480 GB model, two flash memory chips are used. On the reverse side, there are also a couple of sites that are filled in with the SSD version of 960 GB.
The 3D QLC chips are remarked by ADATA, therefore you can’t be sure about their manufacturer. Most likely, Intel / Micron chips are used here. As you can see, there is no additional DRAM chip on the board.
It is curious to try out a drive based on 3D QLC. Before going on to measure the performance of SSD, we note that for basic device management, the manufacturer suggests using the proprietary application SSD Toolbox. Here you can evaluate the state of the drive, check the temperature, find out the state of S.M.A.R.T. and the amount of data already recorded by the drive. Also available are options for complete cleaning of the SSD and forcing TRIM.
The first performance measurements demonstrate that we are dealing with an entry-level storage device.
СrystalDiskMark is unexpectedly optimistic about the linear read speeds / records, but indicators of work with 4K blocks all put into place.
Serial transfers in the AS SSD utility also exceed the stated characteristics. During work with small blocks, performance slows down, but in general, the figures are close to those announced. In multithreaded mode, when reading, we get about 31,500 IOPS, and when writing, we have more than 75,000 IOPS. However, a slightly increased access time on write operations provides a relatively low final result – 724 points.
The data transfer rate for reading and writing does not depend on the degree of their compression.
В Anvil's Storage test, the ADATA Ultimate SU630 480 GB hard drive received a fairly comprehensive assessment. The utility registers good linear transfers and up to 75,000 IOPS on operations with reading / writing of 4K blocks.
However, the situation changes dramatically as the amount of test data increases. Obviously, when going beyond the SLC buffer, the write speed is significantly reduced. We observed this during tests of devices on TLC, but in the case of QLC the situation is even more. To evaluate this with a clear example, we conducted several experiments in AIDA64.
To begin with, we present a graph of the reading speed. This is almost a straight line at 510 MB / s. It is quite good.
But with the record everything is much more interesting. The drive starts to very confidently save data at a speed of about 470–480 MB / s, but approximately after recording 30 GB, the rate drops to 50–60 MB / s. The SLC buffer mode used allows the SSD to stay at a good level, but if the incoming data flow exceeds the cache size, the data starts to be directly recorded at the speed available to the chips with QLC cells. As you can see, in the process the drive periodically tries to speed up the recording, but since the test involves the transfer of a continuous stream of information, the SLC cache does not have time to clear, and therefore the speed drops again to the flash memory that is physically available for the chips. And in the case of QLC, it is quite low. It took more than an hour of real time to record even half of the 480-gigabyte drive.
To transfer the test to an even more practical plane, we tried to copy several video files from the system drive (Kingston A1000) to the ADATA Ultimate SU630 volume of about 39 GB. Here the situation was actually similar to what we observed in the AIDA64 test. When copying about 30 GB of data, we observed a write speed of 470 MB / s. Then the speed dropped by an order of magnitude – to 40-50 MB / s. While in the case of TLC drives, we observed a decrease in the write speed to 80–150 MB / s, in the case of QLC the decrease is even more noticeable. On the other hand, the continuous recording of large amounts of data is generally an atypical model of using SSD in the desktop system, so you can not even encounter such nuances.
To test the capabilities of the ADATA Ultimate SU630 in conditions close to real, we used the test of PCMark 8 with patterns typical of loads in the whole set of applications.
The results obtained here confirm once again that the SSD under consideration belongs to the base class of SATA drives with indicators similar to those then have a starting device based on flash memory TLC.
Regarding the heat storage, there is no special comments. In idle mode, the temperature of the controller is 27–30 ° C, after a long recording session the chip warms up to 55 ° C – within the normal range.
Price and competitors
In the situation with storage based on QLC flash memory, the most important issue is the price. It is clear that these are entry-level devices, but their cost should be so attractive that the devices look competitive against the base models already presented on the TLC.
According to the manufacturer, the ADATA Ultimate SU630 will appear in Ukraine at approximately the end of January. There are no final recommended prices yet. For the 480 GB model, the cost is preliminarily marked as “below 2000 UAH.”, But without specifics, there is nothing to talk about.
In general, the SSD cost has been systematically decreasing lately and this trend will probably continue in the 2019th year. Already, the budget 480/500 GB SATA drives based on TLC memory can be bought for less than 2000 UAH (~ $ 72). This should be taken into account by manufacturers counting on the success of their QLC-models. There are a lot of competitors here. From the range of ADATA can distinguish the same model series SU650 based on Silicon Motion SM2258 and 3D TLC. Judging by the popularity rating on the Hotline, from low-cost manufacturers' devices, extremely cheap Patriot Burst are in high demand, as well as Kingston A400, TEAM L5 Lite 3D, Crucial BX500 and GOODRAM CL100. All these models are already offered for less than 2000 UAH. Therefore, it will not be easy to break through the new products on the QLC. Even if the cost of such drives is lower by an impressive 20–30%, considering the low prices of SSDs, in absolute terms this is a fairly modest difference of $ 14–20 for a 480 GB model.