MyDigitalSSD SMART & BP3 mSATA SSD Reviewby Kristian Vättö on January 22, 2013 1:24 PM EST
The consumer SSD market is quite similar to the DRAM market. There are only a handful of NAND manufacturers (most of which make DRAM as well) but there are dozens, if not hundreds of SSD OEMs. Compared to DRAM there are obviously more components involved because on top of the NAND you'll also need a controller and possibly DRAM as well. Thanks to Marvell, Phison and especially SandForce you don't need a huge team of engineers to make an SSD because you can buy and license everything from third parties. Even manufacturing can be outsourced so basically what you're left with is distribution and marketing. That, of course, is if you choose the easiest route, which isn't necessarily the ideal option because there are already plenty of other companies using the exact same strategy.
MyDigitalSSD is one of the not-so-well-known SSD companies. They don't have a presence on NewEgg or many of the other major online stores, though you can find some of their products at Amazon. Since MyDigitalSSD doesn't have the resources it takes to build their own controller or firmware, they are left with using commercial controllers, SandForce and Phison in this case. Unlike many other SSD OEMs, MyDigitalSSD's aim is to provide something for everyone. Typically SSD OEMs, regardless of how big they are, only offer a few products that are almost without exception 2.5" SATA drives. MyDigitalSSD's approach is totally different as they offer SSDs ranging from standard 2.5" SATA drives to PATA SSDs and half-slim SATA SSDs. We don't often see such form factors used but there are laptops that rely on some of these uncommon SSD solutions. Of course if you're buying in volumes big enough (like Apple), then anyone will build you whatever you like; that makes finding upgrade parts difficult, so MyDigitalSSD is specifically targeting that market.
MyDigitalSSD sent us their 256GB SATA 6Gbps mSATA SSDs in for reviewing. Complete specifications are in the table below:
|Capacities (GB)||64, 128, 256||32, 64, 128, 256|
|NAND||25nm synchronous MLC (IMFT?)||24nm Toshiba Toggle-Mode MLC|
|Controller||SandForce SF-2281||Phison PS3108-S8|
|4KB Random Read||35K IOPS||30K IOPS|
|4KB Random Write||86K IOPS||45K IOPS|
MyDigitalSSD's SMART SSD is a standard SF-2281 based mSATA SSD and there are other OEMs such as Mushkin and ADATA offering similar products. What is more interesting (at least from a novelty standpoint) is the BP3 ("Bullet Proof 3"). It uses a new SATA 6Gbps controller from Phison, a company that's more known for their USB flash stick controllers. Our first encounter with Phison was with Crucial's v4 SSD, which wasn't very pleasant as the v4 was one of the slowest SSDs we have reviewed in years. As far as the specs go, the PS3108 seems to provide a much needed improvement to the random IO performance segment; we'll see how the PS3108 holds out in real world in just a second.
There aren't all that many commercially available mSATA SSDs because most are sold directly to OEMs, so most SSD manufacturers have chosen not to have a retail mSATA SSD lineup. MyDigitalSSD doesn't have presence at NewEgg or other major online resellers, but they do have their own store called MyDigitalDiscount which is also at Amazon. I took MyDigitalSSD prices from MyDigitalDiscount whereas the rest are from NewEgg:
|Price Comparison (1/21/2013)|
|Crucial M4 mSATA||$70||$115||$185|
|ADATA XPG SX300||$80||$125||$260|
In terms of pricing, the BP3 is very appealing. It's easily the cheapest mSATA SSD that I could find and by a fairly large margin. The SMART, on the other hand, is one of the most expensive mSATA SSDs so MyDigitalSSD is clearly trying to position the BP3 at the low-end while offering the SMART for the high-end.
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philipma1957 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - linkThe crucial mSata 256gb is pretty good for asrock z77-itx board and for intels h77 itx board.
They allow for a small desktop. I would like the 3 mobos I used to allow sata III they only allow Sata II.
philipma1957 - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - linkFollow up
I have these mobos
ASRock Z77E-ITX LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
Intel BOXDH77DF LGA 1155 Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
ASUS Maximus V Gene LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
all are running with just the crucial msata 256gb ssds .
I would not mind one with a Sata III slot , I do agree msata is not offered as viable option for the system builder.
Death666Angel - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - linkAll I could find is that mSATA is only specified for SATA 1.5Gb/s and SATA 3 Gb/s, not SATA 6 Gb/s.
nathanddrews - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - linkForgive me if I missed it, but should there be a benchmark showing performance consistency when factoring 25% spare area? Given AT's recent affinity for such benchmarks, I now expect to see it in every SSD review.
Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - linkIt's not something we test with every drive because for example all SandForce drives behave the same way. I've actually had these drives for nearly six months and tested them long ago but the write up was pushed back by more urgent reviews. I know I may sound lazy here, but I don't consider the BP3 or SMART to be the choice for many already given the fact that mSATA isn't very popular and I see the majority of buyers going with name brands, so I decided not to test performance consistency this time.
The random write speed is rather slow to begin with, and it gets below 1MB/s when tortured.
fugu_ - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - linkIt would have been nice to see performance consistency benchmarks for the drive that used the Phison controller, especially since there are only a handful of options for ~250GB mSATA drives.
It's great to see any sort of reviews of lesser known drives. At the same time, it's a little disappointing that the perceived popularity of these drives stopped you from doing a more complete review, especially if you've had them for 6 months.
Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - linkYeah, I know it's not a proper excuse. This spring will be quite busy for me though, have plenty of SSDs to review and at the same time I should study for matriculation exams as well as university entrance exams.
I know I shouldn't be making excuses, but I hope you can relate to my situation. I try to cut as few corners as possible but performance consistency is just PITA to test (well, the actual testing is fine but making the graphs is just painful because Microsoft can't make Office that's fully compatible with Office for Mac... Anand does the graphs on Mac, so I have to do too or they won't be identical). After that it's time for awful HTML editing which I suck at, so that takes way more time than it should.
Per Hansson - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - linkWell if this is the place where we ask you to do performance consistency tests before your exams I'm in :)
I would just love to see how the most crappy SSD controller of all; the JMicron JMF602 fares in performance consistency.
I think it would be a nice thing to look back at with what we know today.
Shockingly SSD's based on such controllers are still being sold!
lyeoh - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - linkYeah I'd like to see the performance consistency for the lower end or even crap SSDs.
Maybe even a few conventional spinning platter hard drives- low, mid, high.
Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - linkUnfortunately, I don't have any SSDs that old. The "worst" SSDs I have are Crucial v4, OCZ Agility 4 and Samsung SSD 470. I could definitely run something on the V4 and BP3 to see if Phison has done any progress in this matter.