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Introduction

On today’s test bench we are making the leap into the realm of SSD reviews with the XPG SX8100 SSD review.  This will be the first review from TheFPSReview of an SSD.  We will continue to make new SSD reviews in the future and evolve our SSD review format constantly improving it, and adding comparisons. 

Right now, we do not have any comparisons to use against the SSD being reviewed, but as time goes on and we review more SSDs we will be able to accumulate more comparison data and include them in reviews.  We will also be able to take user feedback and improve the review format moving forward making sure all relevant data you are interested in is included.

Today we are reviewing the XPG SX8100NP 2TB M.2 2280 PCIe Gen3x4 NVMe Solid State Drive.  The part number for the XPG SX8100 PCIe Gen3x4 M.2 2280 Solid State Drive is ASX8100NP-2TT-C with EAN code 4710273773711.  We will simply refer to this SSD as XPG SX8100 2TB moving forward with the review.

XPG

If you are not familiar with XPG know that it was established by ADATA with the aim of providing high-performance products to gamers and enthusiasts.  XPG stands for XTREME PERFORMANCE GEAR.  All XPG hardware has to adhere to the ADATA A+ testing methodology which ensures stability and reliability.  When you click on Gaming from the ADATA website it takes you to XPG.

XPG has several different lines of SSDs, using ADATA hardware of course.  The newest is SX8800 Pro, and then there is SX8100 we are reviewing today, as well as a GAMMIX line and SPECTRIX line all with more robust heatsinks.  XPG offers M.2 format as well as standard 2.5” drives and NVMe and SATA interfaces.      

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5 Comments

  1. Very nice to see you guys starting to review these devices. Great work Brent!

    I’m starting to fill my home lab with these devices, trying to determine if they are suitable for use as storage for a SQL Server. Since I won’t be able to hardware raid these with the host, I’m looking at simple Mirroring done within the OS for redundancy, and seeing what kind of performance I’m gonna get with 250GBs worth of SQL data.

  2. Some things that stood out. By no small means instead of by small means. ;)

    Also when you were talking access times you were using MB/s. Isn’t that a throughput number and not an access time? I was expecting some .02 MS access times.

    Otherwise good article. I would be willing to capture some performance data on my older NVME 3.0 Corsair for comparison if it would help.

  3. Only 128MB of DRAM on this drive (64M x 16b) which is par for the course on the higher-end Realtek drives, which includes the SX8100, S40G (RGB w/heatsink), and SX8800 (single-sided). Their lower-end offerings are DRAM-less with HMB.

    DRAM on consumer drives is typically used for caching metadata, particularly addressing, to translate between logical and physical locations. Such mapping can be expensive in terms of memory required, for example 32-bit (4-byte) addressing for 4KiB requires 1GB per 1TB of NAND/flash. DRAM can be used for other things but it’s not really used as a write cache (you do have coalescing of subpage or <4K writes, but this is more commonly done in SRAM). So the hottest data stays in DRAM, although all controllers have some amount of SRAM of which part is used for metadata.

    SLC caching, on the other hand, is fully a write cache. The goal is the empty it to TLC as soon as possible. ADATA tends to have large, dynamic SLC caches which has advantages and disadvantages. It’s more flexible but can add wear and is less consistent e.g. when the drive is fuller or after sustained writes. Most commonly the "on box" speeds you see for drives are using SLC program times for the seq. write speed and TLC read times for the seq. read (on the order of 200-300µs and 80µs, respectively, with 16KiB pages).

    Realtek controllers tend to run hot although I’ve heard a firmware update on these can help with that. Still, it is a legacy of Realtek controllers in general. They’re not quite as mature as the competition’s offerings (SMI, Phison, etc).

    Despite the SX8100 being rated for up to 3000 MB/s, we see that it’s closer to 2 GB/s or so, although some of that is from lower queue depths. There’s been speculation by some reviewers (W1zzard at TechPowerUp) that this uses pMLC (MLC caching) rather than pSLC (SLC). This is theoretically possible as the program time of good flash is in the 450-500µs range in MLC mode:

    x = (1/0.000475)(64)(0.015625), x = ~2100 MB/s. 64 = 64-way interleaving (8-channel, 4 dies/channel, 2 planes/die) and 0.015625 is the page size in MiB. Although there’s no way it can hit the rated 3000 with current controllers in my opinion, and further even Samsung’s 96L TLC in MLC mode is only 500µs. It’s possible it has both modes but I haven’t tested these drives myself. More likely it just doesn’t have great low queue depth sequential writes.

    Other than that for this review, I consider these drives halfway between budget options and higher-end consumer NVMe drives. You have reduced DRAM, performance isn’t quite as consistent, the controller/firmware is okay but needs optimization, it’s actually not a bad option at 2TB though.

  4. I’m starting to fill my home lab with these devices, trying to determine if they are suitable for use as storage for a SQL Server. Since I won’t be able to hardware raid these with the host, I’m looking at simple Mirroring done within the OS for redundancy, and seeing what kind of performance I’m gonna get with 250GBs worth of SQL data.

    Well, these drives are designed around a very large, dynamic SLC cache which makes them oriented at consumer workloads. They won’t be as consistent, especially when fuller or after sustained writes, and the endurance will potentially be lower (although that’s generally not a significant factor for this segment). They also have reduced DRAM; 128MB at 2TB is pretty diminutive. If you’re doing a lot of writes, especially small (file) writes, and extra-especially with a fuller drive, this is not ideal. Reads will come from the native flash (TLC) so is a different story, although MLC (e.g. 970 Pro) would be faster there. Generally I consider TLC-based drives with static SLC to be the best "consumer" (retail) drives for workspace/workstation use, that would include the WD SN750 and 970 EVO Plus for example (the EVO Plus has a hybrid cache, but I digress). More powerful controllers are also ideal. Etc.

  5. Extra note on this:

    Looks like the upcoming ADATA Falcon will be a DRAM-less version of this drive with a heatspreader, that is RTS5762DL (HMB).

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