Whole-Drive Fill

This test starts with a freshly-erased drive and fills it with 128kB sequential writes at a queue depth of 32, whilst recording the write speed for each 1GB segment. This test is not representative of any ordinary client/consumer usage pattern, but it does allow us to observe transitions in the drive's behavior as it fills up. This can allow us to estimate the size of any SLC write cache, and get a sense for how much performance remains on the rare occasions where real-world usage keeps writing data after filling the cache.

The SK Hynix Gold S31 drives seem to have relatively small SLC cache sizes: a bit less than 4GB for the 250GB model, and around 8GB for the 500GB and 1TB models. The 1TB model barely loses any speed after the cache fills up, but the smaller two are significantly slower once the cache runs out. The 250GB S31 is also a few percent slower even at the beginning when writing to its SLC cache, but it's still pretty close to saturating the SATA link. All three S31s show very consistent sequential write speeds after the cache is full, with no long-term drift in performance and minimal short-term variation.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Write (Power Efficiency)
Average Throughput for last 16 GB Overall Average Throughput

The 1TB S31's post-SLC performance is as good as any other mainstream SATA drive, but the sustained performance from the two smaller models is a bit on the slow side. Most of the competition in this space uses 256Gb TLC dies, but the Hynix drives are all making due with fewer 512Gb modules, consequently having less parallelism to work with. Even so, the smallest S31 is still clearly faster than the DRAMless or QLC-based drives.

Introduction AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer
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  • bananaforscale - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    And PLC will probably suck even more than QLC.
  • netzflickzz - Friday, October 2, 2020 - link

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  • Charlie22911 - Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - link

    How about we get some capacity bumps while we are at it too! I’d love to toss a 4TB QLC m.2 SSD in my laptop, one less thing to carry like the portable rust for my extensive Steam library.
  • eek2121 - Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - link

    Your laptop likely has a 2.5" sata bay. I expect we shot ourselves in the foot with m.2. There is quite a bit less space for the nand and controller, and m.2 drives are harder to cool. I personally had to buy a heatsink for my 970 evo.
  • kpb321 - Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - link

    At 4tb your drive cost is going to have pretty much linear scaling with the size as the cost of the NAND becomes the dominating factor which is what we see in the pricing chart even for 2.5' drives where space shouldn't be an issue. The 250 gb drives have a higher cost per gb reflecting the costs for the enclosure, the controller and dram, and circuit board. By 512gb or 1tb the cost per gb has become flat. A 4tb M2 drive would be a little bit harder to do than a 2.5' drive but I still think the main limitation is the relatively limited market for 400-500 SSD drives and currently 2.5' drives address more of that market.
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    Don't confuse M.2, NVME and SATA. There's a difference between protocoll and form factor. And I have no cooling on 2 out of 3 of my desktop M.2 NVME drives, just normal case ventilation for an upper midrange build, and they are fine around 40 to 50°C idle and never above 60°C when doing things (copy, extract, compress). What sort of situation led to your Evo throttling?
  • firewrath9 - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - link

    You can fit the exact same controller, nand, and dram on M.2 ssd as you can in a 2.5" one.
    Have seen the PCB on any recent SSD, 2.5" or M.2?

    Besides, I'd rather have a larger battery, lighter/smaller laptop, or better cooling system or a combination of those than a 2.5" bay.
  • milli - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    Always loved the Corsair Neutron. While not giving peak performance, it gave very stable performance. It seems that this legacy is still existing with this controller.
  • jabber - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    I see the moaning comments re. these drives, stagnation, low speeds etc.Then I get handed a customers laptop which still has a 500GB spinner in it and I remember how far from reality some of us have come. You've never had it so good!
  • MenhirMike - Thursday, November 14, 2019 - link

    True, but "You've never had it so good!" has been true for decades. That 500 GB spinner is so much better than a 40 GB spinner from a few years before, and despite that 500 GB spinner being the "never had it so good" of its time, we got bigger, faster, cheaper drives.

    That doesn't mean we should just be happy with what we've got and stop asking for more :) I want to see 5c/GB as soon as possible, 2 TB/$100 drive, and maybe some 4 TB/$200 drive would be welcome.

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