Lite-On has quietly added its new high-end CA3 M.2 NVMe SSDs to its lineup. The new drives are based on Toshiba’s 3D TLC NAND memory, a Marvell controller, and are the fastest SSDs made by Lite-On to date. The company will sell the CA3 NVMe M.2 drives primarily to OEMs and PC makers, whereas consumers will have to wait until Plextor releases its M9Pe products.

These new M.2 drives will use a Marvell controller featuring three Cortex R5 cores, 8 NAND channels with 4 CE per channel (32 targets in total) and supports Marvell’s third-gen ECC technology based on the LDPC algorithm. The Marvell 88SS1093/92 controllers are among the highest-performing consumer SSD controllers to date, so Lite-On’s choice for its high-end CA3 drives was obvious. Speaking of performance, the manufacturer promises up to 2900 MB/s sequential read speed and around 1200-1700 MB/s sequential write speed for the higher-end models when pSLC cache is used (the company separately mentions TLC write speed, see the table below for details). As for random performance, we are dealing with drives capable of up to 380K/260K read/write IOPS (1 TB version, others are slower). The power consumption of the new Lite-On drives will be up to 8 W, which means a fairly high heat dissipation and may not be suitable for mobile devices. 

Specifications of Lite-On CA3 NVMe SSDs
  256 GB 512 GB 1 TB
Model CA3-8D256 CA3-8D512 CA3-8D1T
Form Factor M.2-2280
Controller Marvell 88SS1093
NAND Toshiba's 3D TLC NAND, 64-layers, 256 Gb
Interface PCIe 3.0 x4
Protocol NVMe 1.2
DRAM Yes, capacity unknown
Sequential Read 2100 MB/s 2900 MB/s
Sequential Write pSLC 600 MB/s 1200 MB/s 1700 MB/s
Sequential Write TLC 200 MB/s 400 MB/s 800 MB/s
4KB Random Read (QD32) 150K IOPS 260K IOPS 380K IOPS
4KB Random Write (QD32) 150K IOPS 260K IOPS 260K IOPS
MTBF 1.5 million hours
Launch Date Q4 2017

The Lite-On CA3 SSDs are rated for 1.5 million hours MTBF and come with a three-year warranty. For many retail drives, such ratings and warranty are considered low, but for OEMs they are standard. Since Lite-On traditionally sells its SSDs primarily to various PC makers (so they are not easy to find in retail), the company does not formally announce MSRPs of its products.

Even though the new Lite-On CA3 drives are not going to be widely available in retail, the release means that these are among the first third-party SSDs based on Toshiba’s 64-layer 256 Gb 3D TLC NAND flash memory and are among the first third-party drives to use it, which indicates that the manufacturer has started to supply its partners (and we expect other makers of SSDs to follow with such NAND). Originally, Toshiba did say that the 256 Gb 3D TLC ICs were SSD-grade, and it had to use them instead of 512 Gb 3D TLC ICs to ensure maximum parallelism and high performance for its own SSDs. Apparently, other makers can now do the same. Secondly, since Lite-On sells its storage products primarily to PC makers, a number of systems are going to get rather fast drives in the coming months. Thirdly, if Lite-On releases its OEM drives based on Toshiba’s 3D NAND latest memory, it may indicate that the consumer Plextor M9Pe is on track (though, we do not know when exactly it is set to hit the market).

As noted above, Lite-On uses the Plextor brand for consumer SSDs and the latter is gearing up to launch its M9Pe drives in the coming months. In the meantime, the highest-performing SSDs that are available from Lite-On/Plextor these days are the M8Pe drives.

Related Reading

Source: Lite-On (via TechPowerUp)

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  • menthol1979 - Thursday, November 9, 2017 - link

    And the only meaningful question to such reviews is: Is it any worth against the Samsung 960 PRO?
  • shabby - Thursday, November 9, 2017 - link

    Pro? I'd be happy if it even competes with the evo.
  • Samus - Thursday, November 9, 2017 - link

    The Marvell 88SS1093 is a thoroughly modern NVMe controller. It can definitely compete with Polaris (Samsung's NVMe controller used on the 960) and they are actually very similar as far as cores, processing power, channels, etc.

    So it will really come down to NAND. Although I am a Toshiba fan (they turned around OCZ after all) it's obvious their NAND just can't compete with Samsung's. My fear is this drive will be overpriced (the Plextor M9Pe that is) but historically Lite-On drives based on Marvell controllers have been VERY reliable. You find them in a plethora of laptops from HP, Dell, and even Apple, and some models have essentially been reference designs of Micron/Crucial drives for a lower price.

    As someone who owns an M8Pe, the only reason I got it was because it was at the time less expensive (by a huge margin) than the 950 Pro NVMe. These days it's hard to ignore the 960 Pro even though it's 20% more expensive than other NVMe drives.

    And at the end of the day, all of these drives are so fast at least for my applications it's irrelevant. I am buying based on reliability and price. That isn't to say Samsung is unreliable, they have been incredibly reliable since the 840 days. But Samsung knows what they have and they charge a pretty penny for it.
  • ddrіver - Sunday, November 12, 2017 - link

    Beyond a certain point extra performance in the consumer space is mostly just for bragging rights. In the pro/prosumer space maybe it makes sense if you're actually recovering the investment through the increased performance.

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