|PNY XLR8 PRO Solid State Drive|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Storage|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 17 October 2012|
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Closer Look: PNY XLR8 PRO SSD
SSDs are quickly gaining popularity because they work equally well in PC, Linux, or Apple computers. Likewise, they easily install into both desktop and notebook platforms without modification. For this article Benchmark Reviews is testing the PNY XLR8 PRO Solid State Drive, which is specified to reach speeds of 550 MB/s for sequential reads and 520 MB/s sequential writes. The 240GB model we received for testing is built using the LSI/SandForce SF-2281 SSD controller and 25nm synchronous Intel-Micron NAND flash components. The PNY XLR8 PRO uses synchronous NAND flash components, which offers higher performance when compared to the asynchronous NAND flash inside other SSDs.
PNY offers several capacities for their XLR8 PRO-series solid state drives: 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB, with a SATA 6Gb/s cable included in each kit. The PNY XLR8 PRO measures 3.94"/100mm long, by 2.76"/70mm wide, by 0.37"/9.5mm tall. The PNY XLR8 PRO solid state drive is covered by a three-year warranty, plus two additional years with registration.
PNY XLR8 PRO-series SSDs are best suited for performance-orientated personal computers, and could also work well for SOHO computer workstation systems. LSI/SandForce SF-2200 series SSDs have been designed with a focus on high-performance operational and data transfer speeds, and includes 256-bit encrypted data protection with improved NAND wear-leveling through their proprietary DuraWrite technology.
PNY recognizes that once installed, the SSD will be hidden away from view inside a notebook computer or desktop workstation, so they've remained conservative towards the design of their solid state drive's appearance. Each half of the drive enclosure is given a textured finish, which does not reveal fingerprints or smudges like a glossy painted surface would. PNY branding is marked at the topside of the SSD enclosure, with a label attached to the bottom that denotes model and capacity.
Standard 2.5" drive bay mounting points are pre-drilled and threaded into the PNY XLR8 PRO SSD chassis, which allows for quick upgrade or addition into any existing notebook and other compact computer system. Using a universal 3.5" to 2.5" tray adapter (included with this kit), the SSD fits easily into desktop computers. The mounting positions matched up to the drive bracket on my notebook computer, and after only a few minutes I was booting from a restored Windows 7 System Image with ease.
Unlike most Hard Disk Drive (HDD) storage products, SSDs are nearly impervious to impact damage and do not require (or benefit from) any kind of special vibration dampening or shock-proof enclosures. PNY utilizes a standard two-piece metal enclosure for their XLR8 PRO-series SSDs, which reveals the internal components after removing four small counter-sunk screws located along the sides of this solid state drive. On the underside a screw is covered by a 'Warranty Void' label that is attached to warn consumers against taking apart their product. By removing the SSD cover it will also remove your consumer protection with it.
LSI/SandForce introduced their new second generation solid state drives to both consumer and enterprise segments, with seven different processor models to choose from. On the consumer (retail) side you've got models using the older SATA 3Gb/s interface as well as the latest SATA 6Gb/s interface, while all enterprise drives utilize the 3rd-generation SATA 6Gb/s interface. More than any other factor, it's the Flash Channels/Byte Lanes configuration that these separate models. LSI/SandForce's SF-2000 series of SSDs continue to feature up to 8 data channels organized into 16 Byte lanes; similar to the previous generation of SF-1222/SF-1565 series SSD controllers, but now some models are scaled down for usage scenarios not requiring massive IO activity.
On second-generation LSI/SandForce-driven SSDs, a new SATA 6Gb/s LSI/SandForce SF-2281VB1-SDC processor is part of their SF-2200 family of retail SSD controller chips, although and identical SF-2181 processor exists for older SATA 3Gb/s connections. Offering 8 flash channels with 8 Byte lanes configured (one lane per channel), the SF-2281 maintains a BGA-256 package whereas the top-end SF-2282 delivers two lanes per channel on a BGA-400 package. More detail is available in our LSI/SandForce SF-2000 Series SSD Processor Overview article.
LSI/SandForce SF-2281VB1-SDC Controller
All LSI/SandForce SSD controllers offer native TRIM garbage collection in supporting Operating System (such as Microsoft Windows-7), Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with 32 command slots, and basic Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (SMART) command set. LSI/SandForce built the SF-2200 series to produce 500 MB/s sequential read and write bandwidth with 60K (burst)/20K (sustained) IOPS random write (4K transfers). The firmware controls the performance variables on LSI/SandForce SSDs, and some manufacturers have licensed custom firmware to unlock additional performance for their products.
The SF-2200 SSD processor provides enhanced ECC with BCH data protection, and also includes LSI/SandForce's unique RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) technology. RAISE provides the protection and reliability of RAID on a single SSD drive, thanks to flash architecture, without the significant write overhead of parity. The LSI/SandForce DuraClass technology automatically stores data using Trusted Computing Group (TCG) OPAL security with 256-bit AES encryption and automatic, line-rate double encryption with a drive-level password, preventing data extraction directly from the physical flash memory modules.
Micron 29F128G08CFAAB Synchronous NAND Flash
LSI/SandForce processors enable support for advanced 30nm- and 20nm-class NAND flash from all leading flash vendors with synch/asynch/ONFi1/ONFi2/toggle interfaces that offer data transfer rates up to 166 Mega Transfers per second. Their latest generation of controllers also offers advanced ECC engine correcting up to 55 bits per 512-byte sector to assure high data integrity and support for future generations of flash memory. On the 240GB PNY XLR8 PRO solid state drive, sixteen multi-layer cell Intel/Micron Flash Technology (IMFT) 29F16B08CCME3 synchronous NAND Flash modules are joined to the LSI/SandForce SF-2281 controller.