The Toshiba OCZ RD400 (256GB, 512GB, 1TB) M.2 PCIe SSD Reviewby Billy Tallis on May 25, 2016 8:02 AM EST
Having recently assimilated OCZ and turned it into an enthusiast-oriented consumer brand, Toshiba has released their first M.2 PCIe SSD into the consumer market. Initially previewed by OCZ as the RevoDrive 400, the new OCZ branding scheme shortens it to RD400. This is the first RevoDrive/RD product with a native PCIe SSD controller and the first PCIe 3 SSD from OCZ.
The RD400 uses Toshiba 15nm MLC and a Toshiba-branded controller that we know almost nothing about. Given how the Toshiba-branded controller in the Trion/TR drives seems to be based on the popular third-party Phison S10, we suspect the RD400 may be using a controller that is also based on a third-party design, most likely the Marvell 88SS1093. Our first look at what would become the RD400 showed that it wasn't the OCZ Jet Express controller, and if Toshiba had another entirely in-house controller that could compete at this level they would probably be talking it up more. The Marvell 88SS1093 is an 8-channel 3-core controller with performance specifications that are similar to the RD400.
Whatever the source of the controller, it makes for a far simpler design than the RAID controller and multiple SandForce SSD controllers used in previous RevoDrive SSDs, and it makes the M.2 form factor an option for the first time.
The RD400 shares its hardware with the OEM-only Toshiba XG3 M.2 SSD but the RD400 has different firmware and comes with a custom NVMe driver for Windows that Toshiba says offers better performance than Microsoft's driver. The Toshiba XG3 was announced in August 2015 and we have since encountered it in the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. As a retail product, the OCZ RD400 will not only benefit from the OCZ custom driver, but is also supported by their SSD managment utilities, and is optionally sold with a PCIe x4 to M.2 adapter that includes a thermal pad under the SSD controller. The SKUs that come with the drive pre-installed in the adapter are referred to in some documents as the RD400A, but the M.2 module is the same with or without the adapter.
|Toshiba OCZ RD400(A) Specifications|
|Capacity||128 GB||256 GB||512 GB||1 TB
|NAND||Toshiba 15nm MLC|
|Sequential Read||2200 MB/s||2600 MB/s||2600 MB/s||2600 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||620 MB/s||1150 MB/s||1600 MB/s||1550 MB/s|
|Random Read IOPS||170k||210k||190k||210k|
|Random Write IOPS||110k||140k||120k||130k|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280 single-sided||M.2 2280 double-sided|
|Protocol||NVMe 1.1b over PCIe 3.1 x4|
|Write Endurance||74 TB||148 TB||296 TB||592 TB|
|MSRP (with PCIe adapter)||$129.99||$189.99||$329.99||$759.99|
|MSRP (M.2 only)||$109.99||$169.99||$309.99||$739.99|
The PCIe x4 to M.2 adapter adds $20 to the price tag but may be a welcome option for some desktop users. The card itself is generic and bears OCZ branding but has no specific reference to the RD400. Unlike most cheap adapter cards, the RD400's adapter draws power from the PCIe slot's 12V supply and converts it to the 3.3V required by the M.2 drive. All of our power and performance numbers for the RD400 in this review reflect the effect of the bundled adapter's thermal pad and the overhead of the voltage conversion. Thus, this review is of the RD400 in a typical desktop environment rather than in a notebook environment.
Toshiba's overhaul of the OCZ brand has changed the OCZ SSD Guru software into the OCZ SSD Utility and the ShieldPlus Warranty into the Advanced Warranty Program, but the relevant details are the same. Toshiba has also added a new software tool: CLOUT, the Command Line Online Update Tool. Based on an internal testing tool, it offers all the management capabilities of the graphical SSD Utility but from a scriptable command line interface. The ability to perform a secure erase from a script and without having to reboot to Linux is a killer feature for me as a drive reviewer, and the fully automated testing it enabled made the RD400 the first drive to complete our suite of benchmarks in under 24 hours per drive.
The RD400 comes on the market at a time where it's only the second retail M.2 NVMe drive, as while the newer protocol has gained traction, the longer lifecycle of SSD controllers means that it's taking designers a while to update to NVMe. The competition for the RD400 consists primarily of the Samsung 950 Pro - getting Samsung some needed competition in the retail M.2 space - and the Intel SSD 750, the two which have been the two highest performance PCIe SSDs in the consumer market. They're also two of the most expensive current-generation consumer SSDs for sale: the Samsung 950 Pro is selling for 0.62–0.70 $/GB while the Intel SSD 750 is between 0.87 $/GB and 1.00 $/GB. The 256GB and 512GB RD400 models that compete directly against the Samsung 950 Pro have MSRPs below the current 950 Pro prices, which gives Toshiba some room to be competitive even if performance is lower. The 1TB and 128GB models of RD400 on the other hand have less aggressive MSRPs, likely owing to the lack of direct competitors currently on the market.
Finally, looking at the NAND in the RD400, the 15nm MLC used here presents some changes compared to the 20nm MLC in the Intel SSD 750 and the 3D NAND in the Samsung 950 Pro. The most obvious sign is the reduced write endurance rating: the 256GB and 512GB 950 Pro are both rated for 400TB while the RD400 is rated for 148TB or 296TB for the same capacities.
|AnandTech 2015 SSD Test System|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-4770K running at 3.5GHz
(Turbo & EIST enabled, C-states disabled)
|Motherboard||ASUS Z97 Pro (BIOS 2701)|
|Memory||Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866 2x8GB (9-10-9-27 2T)|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 4600|
|Desktop Resolution||1920 x 1200|
|OS||Windows 8.1 x64|
|NVMe Driver||Toshiba OCZ driver version 184.108.40.2067|
- Thanks to Intel for the Core i7-4770K CPU
- Thanks to ASUS for the Z97 Deluxe motherboard
- Thanks to Corsair for the Vengeance 16GB DDR3-1866 DRAM kit, RM750 power supply, Carbide 200R case, and Hydro H60 CPU cooler
Post Your CommentPlease log in or sign up to comment.
View All Comments
Meteor2 - Thursday, May 26, 2016 - linkSo are we saying NVMe is only really useful for enterprise applications? There just aren't consumer use cases where drive speed is now the limiting performance factor?
stux - Thursday, May 26, 2016 - linkThis might be the case in Windows, but I've found with OSX, one of the biggest upgrades has been sata3 to PCIe ssd gen 1 to 2 and then 3
Ien 0.5 to 1 to 2GB/s
This was evident with all the recent MacBook Pro 15" upgrades and also with PCIe ssds in some Mac Pro towers.
SunnyNW - Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - linkIs the flash controller made on the same memory process or is it made on a separate logic process? I think its made on a separate (logic) process and if so would that be 28nm for most controllers? And is the manufacturing out sourced to TSMC or in-house for most?
Ryan Smith - Wednesday, May 25, 2016 - linkControllers are made on a separate logic process.
Kristian Vättö - Thursday, May 26, 2016 - linkThe PCIe NVMe controllers are mostly 28nm from what I've heard. SATA controllers can be anything from 40nm to +55nm. Like nearly all logic manufacturing, it's outsourced to TSMC and the like.
BangkokTech - Friday, May 27, 2016 - linkRecently got the SM950 pro 512. Large writes slow down after 30 seconds. It starts out ETA 3 minutes, 10 minutes later it's only 70% complete. I read into it; evidently these M.2 cards heat up and slow down. There is absolutely no heatsink on the card. Running them on a PCI expansion card would allow headspace for small heatsinks.
BangkokTech - Friday, May 27, 2016 - linkAre any of you aware of a ribbon cable/riser cable I could use to get this M.2 card off my motherboard and move it to a cooler part of my case? I'm out of PCI slots for these expansion cards.
Billy Tallis - Saturday, May 28, 2016 - linkEven with the degree of thermal throttling I've observed when not using any kind of heatsink, the 512GB Samsung 950 Pro should only take ~12-13 minutes to fill to capacity with sequential writes. I suspect that your bottleneck is whatever is the source of the data being written, not the 950 Pro.
BiTesterEmailer - Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - linkInformative and detailed as always.