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Acer Unexpectedly Introduces New SSD Form Factor In S7 Ultrabook

I live for days like today.  In less than 24 hours, I will be sitting back on some white sand Honduran beach in front of my villa yet my excitement is still right here in the SSD storage world; and so it should be.  As it stands, we just ripped open a brand new Acer S7 because we had to see the very first ultra in the world with two SATA 3 mSATA connections.  After all, this has to be as the S7 can easily spit out performance of just under 1GB/s…doesn’t it?

Label

What would you say if we told you that SOMEHOW this is being done with only a single SSD, the SSD being a Lite-On mSATA 256GB SSD that we believe houses two separate SSDs, these each having 128GB in capacity and their own controller.  The difficulty we are encountering is the fact that it plugs in just as every other SSD and appears to be a SATA 3 mSATA connection. Then how is 940MB/s even possible?  Let’s take a closer look.

mSATA FrontmSATA BackAs we can see, both sides of the SSD appear to be exact.  Each side contains the Marvell 88S9175 SATA 3 controller, two modules of Toshiba 24nm 64GB Toggle Mode NAND Flash Memory, Nanya DRAM cache and what we believe to be a Winbond I/O controller.  The dilemma occurs when we examine the mSATA interface as it appears to be the same as all others.  Here’s a look at the bios:

BIOS

Is it possible that this is a custom design where the pins on each side are separate and proprietary to the SSD of that particular side?  We hope to return from the Honduras with some answers but for now, check out these benchmarks.

ATTO 2

Taking a look at ATTO, we would never have thought it possible to push 942MB/s read and 683MB/s write performance from an ultraportable.  It gets better yet as this SSD has weeks of use on it and over 750GB in total writes.  This is the performance of a system that has been under the guns of many reviewers already.

CDM

Crystal DiskMark might be just a bit lower and those are definitely the lowest 4K-QD32 reads we have seen in a while but, the low 4K random writes are the highest we have ever seen from testing here at The SSD Review; once again from one of the worlds smallest ultrabooks in the world.

Heading off to the Hondura’s now and the son is pretending not to prepare for one heck of a party while we are gone.  Stay tuned as we get you an update on return and also throw in a complete review on the Acer S7 Ultrabook.

  • LJE

    nice perf

  • HisoKa

    do you knnow the exact model number for the S7 unit that comes with this SSD..? i can only find 128G equipped models in my region

  • netman

    Nice timing Les! I was just about ordering the Acer S7 11.6″ version from Amazon. I thought there are two regular mSATA SSDs inside the laptop so I can upgrade to faster mSATA parts. Not only this is not possible, it appears the proprietary socket may also make it impossible to upgrade to to a higher capacity SSD.

  • Cape Dave

    Hey Les, have a great vacation! Sounds like a very nice spot.

  • netman

    Les, Enjoy your vacation in Honduras When you come back to tackle this machine can you please check the following:
    a) Trim Support of the single Lite-on RAIDed mSATA SSD.
    b) mSATA3 socket compatibility with a standard mSATA3 SSD such as Intel or Samsung.

    Thanks

  • Dromo

    I went to the party and I stole your beatles albums

  • nish1021

    Click on the first picture of this article. Look near the connector and is says something like “mSata RAID SSD” or “mSata RAI0 SSD”. So most likely it is somehow set up as a RAID0 stripe with the two 128GB SSDs on this single unit.

    • Both SSDs are recognized in the BIOS and then the Intel RAID is created. Nice pickup though!

  • Hi Les, could you please let me know if I can upgrade the SSD on the Acer Aspire S7 – 392 model? My ssd has crashed and it’s out of warranty. I am thinking of getting a Samsung 840 Evo mSATA SSD, do you think it will be compatible? I read on an acer forum that the MyDigitalSSD BP4 model is compatible and I assume the Samsung Evo 840 mSATA is the same specifications. Please advice.

  • Pete Slover

    Hi Les, hate to bother you with this old item. Motherboard just went out on my S7-392, I am now left with this oddball 2-chip 256 GB SSD in raid 0. as a proprietary (i think) dual-sided chip, with corresponding Acer weird interface, it cannot be read with an external msata enclosure. Any ideas (short of purchasing another Acer s-7 ) for reading the data. Thanks!

    • Sorry no, the only thought I might have is to try a single sided SSD in that slot if you have one, or contact Acer support and ask if the single sided will work. We havent had hat system in hand for some time now.

      • Pete Slover

        Thanks, Les. Really looking for a solution that will let me read the non-standard, dual-sided SSD. Then I will have to worry about the raid 0 array. If I find a solution, I will let you know, since this thread is one of the few I’ve found discussing this oddball configuration. Best,
        Pete

      • John Wenzel

        Pete, any luck finding a solution to read your S7 drive outside of the laptop? My S7-392 has a fried BIOS, and though it’s under warranty, I want to secure my data before I ship it off. Ran into the same issue that only half the drive is recognized using a USB msata enclosure. Appreciate any advice you can offer.

      • Pete Slover

        John,

        Not so far. I bought a new s7 (before I knew of this problem) , and I am reluctant to mount the old drive in it, for fear of voiding thw warranty, screwing up the raid config on new one. I have talked to Kingston, who finally identified the drive as one custom made for Acer with a proprietary two-side interface. Acer tech support was clueless. others have developed two sided msata form factors, but different than this oddball. The s7 may offer the only available mounting hardware…

      • John Wenzel

        I went down the same road with Acer and yes, they’re either clueless or they are programmed not to give details about proprietary configs. I was hoping that Kingston would be able to suggest an external device that would allow both volumes to mount but it sounds like that was a dead-end for you. It’s very frustrating that Acer won’t take any responsibility for data loss on a warranty repair and not offer a solution for the customer to secure the data prior to sending it in. I might find out if it will void the warranty if I remove and keep the msata drive while they repair the mobo or bios issue, then reinstall it when I get it back.

      • Pete Slover

        Indeed, I feel like I bought the last betamax player, when the world has moved on to vhs, dvds and netflix. What do I do with my collection of tapes?!?

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