XPG SX8100

The XPG SX8100 2TB we are reviewing today can be found at Amazon for $239.99 which is a great price for 2TB NVMe drive.  The 1TB version is only $129.99.       

The XPG SX8100 is an M.2 drive 2280 form factor SSD.  XPG has a 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB models available.  We are reviewing the upper-tier 2TB.  The Interface is PCIe Gen3x4 NVMe 1.3.  This drive does not support PCIe 4.0, it is 3.0 on a x4 connection.  For your reference the maximum speed a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface can sustain is 4GB/sec according to specification, however, because of overhead and other protocol things you’ll never hit these speeds on a single device.  The maximum you’ll see, even on the fastest PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe devices is around 3500MB/sec.

That is actually what the XPG SX8100 is targeting for read speeds.  The XPG SX8100 has a quoted performance of 3500MB/s read and 3000MB/s write. These quoted performance numbers are right up there at the maximum of the interface, especially on the read.  Maximum 4K random read IOPS is 300K and 4K random write is 240K IOPS.  It is noted that the actual performance can vary depending on what size SSD you have decided on.  The capacity can make the numbers a bit different due to the cell layout.

In the package, you will find a heat spreader included with sticky thermal material. Use this if your motherboard does not have its own heatsink. Otherwise, use your motherboards M.2 heatsink and a good thermal pad. Having a heatsink will keep the SSD from thermal throttling.

Speeds

In regards to specified read and write speeds XPG is actually taking this data from various sources and quoting the highest benchmark result.  The table above shows what XPG is quoting as the official performance across different benchmarks, being very open about the real-world performance.  You can see that the quoted 3000MB/s write speeds are only achievable on a couple of benchmarks.  In fact, according to this chart in ATTO the sequential write speed is as low as 1900MB/s, and AS SSD is as low as 1600MB/s with others around 2400MB/s.  Therefore, benchmarks can provide different data results.  We will have to see what we get in our testing.

Controller and Chips

Onboard you will find four 256GB 3D NAND Flash TLC ADATA chips used, two on one side, two on the other.  The XPG SX8100 uses a Realtek RTS5762 controller.  The controller itself is NVMe 1.3 capable, and features 8 flash channels and supports 3D TLC and QLC NAND and DRAM caching.  It also supports LDPC ECC technology which is a very high performance and high level of error correction for reliability.  The XPG SX8100 also supports AES 256-bit encryption.

The XPG SX8100 also uses SLC Caching and a DRAM buffer to improve performance.  Important with TLC memory is the need for a DRAM buffer for SLC like caching.  The XPG SX8100 2TB uses a NANYA NT5CC64M16GP-DI DDR3L SDRAM chip.  This is a 1GB x16 module that can operate at 1600Mbps at 1.35V.        

The physical dimensions are 3.1 inches in length, 0.8 inches in width.  It weighs only 8 grams or 0.28oz.  Power consumption is rated at 0.33W active and 0.14W on slumber.  Very importantly, the MTBF is rated at 2 million hours and XPG provides a 5-year limited warranty.

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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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9 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.

    1. Hey my dude can you help troubleshooting my ssd? If anyone knows anything about this, please let me know. I bought the Sx8100 2 months ago and could use it without any problems on my laptop (wich uses raid for local storage), after installing and playing games as many other everyday tasks it used to be just fine, after some time i got crashes on games (precisely Cod warzone) wich would just tell me the game was broken (problem with files) and even though i tried openning the folders on the ssd, some folders were just not accessible. I have tried using the ADATA program to find any issues and when it is on this "dead" state, it wont recognize properly anything at all. It gets fixed after a reboot but it happens freqntly, I am afraid it might be some sort of compatibility issue cause if it was hardware it should come and go randomly, right?
  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).

  6. I’d recommend getting ahold of Adata. This sounds like a drive losing its ‘state’ and may be a firmware issue, or they may need to replace your drive.
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