Plextor Next Generation Form Factor Drives at Computex 2016

Here it’s all about the next generation form factor drives and Plextor’s takes on that area. When we say next generation form factors, we mostly mean the M.2 modules, but also U.2 and PCIe-based drives. Plextor has something in all these categories for both the new and old systems.

There are two M.2 standards, the PCIe-based that supports NVMe drives and the older SATA/AHCI-based that has the same size advantages, but not the same speeds.

We all like more speed, but when the current equipment doesn’t support the new standard yet, then it’s great to have some legacy SATA support. Plextor and Micron and come a long way with their TLC NAND which shows in the below example where it’s coupled with the brand new Silicon Motion SM2258 controller that was specifically designed to be used with the latest generation TLC NAND.

Sometimes size matters in other ways than capacity and that’s where the tiny M7VS 2242 module comes into play. with a length of just 42 mm, the drive will fit into even the smallest of systems and provide the user with 128GB SSD capacity with a great performance. The tiny drive is based on the Marvell 88SS1074 controller and it can deliver up to 550MB/s read performance and up to 500MB/s write performance. The random performance is equally impressive with 80K IOPS reading and 57K IOPS writing. Those are some impressive figures for a 128GB drive.

But enough about legacy, we want true next-gen and that’s what we get with NVMe drives. Plextor brought along their EP2 drive in a U.2 form factor that isn’t very common yet. It retains the default 2.5-inch external form factor but comes with a new connector that can deliver up to 32Gbps throughput.

The EP2 is also available as an M.2 PCIe NVMe module and this is one amazing drive considering its size. We get 960GB capacity with a performance up to 2200MB/s reading and 800MB/s writing. The random read and write performances come in at 270K IOPS and 150K IOPS respectively.

Those are some great figures that we saw, but Plextor can do even better. We know that and they know that and that’s why they also brought their M8 series with them to Computex.

The first version of the M8 is the M8PeY and it’s the most impressive looking of the three. The PCIe add-in card uses a Gen3 x4 connector to deliver an impressive performance as well as plenty of capacity options. The M8PeY will be available as 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1024GB versions. The three smaller ones feature 512MB cache while the biggest version comes with 1GB cache.

The performance variates a bit based on capacity, as it is to be expected. The 1TB version can deliver up to 2500MB/s read performance and 1400MB/s write performance. Random read and write operations can be performed with up to 280K IOPS and 240K IOPS respectively.

The 512GB version and 1TB version were both plugged into the demo system and here you can see just how well the drives perform. To the left is the 512GB version and to the right you can see the 1TB version.

A PCIe card looks great, but it also takes up an expansion slot in your system that you might need some other place. No need to worry as the M8Se comes to your rescue. It is an M.2 2280 NVMe module based on the same Marvell 88SS1093 controller and the same capacity options.

Performance is great but the style is another factor that shouldn’t be forgotten. The M8PeG M.2 module adds that with this sleek looking design. I have to admit, I have a very strong feeling that my current SM951 modules will be replaced with two M8PeG as soon as possible. They would look so sweet in my Gigabyte Z170X-Gaming 7 motherboard.

Bohs Hansen

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