TCS Proteus Plus 256GB Military/Industrial Ruggedized SSD Review

Today, we’re once again forging a trail off the mainstream with a something a little more unusual than our normal fare. We have another military and industrial SSD from Telecommunication Systems (TCS) in house, and we can’t wait to scope it out.

“Mission Critical Application” is any application in which failure of the Product could result, directly or indirectly, in personal injury or death.

— From a Product Brief Disclaimer

There are several ways to describe the meaning of mission critical. One major player defines it as the above for legal reasons “ i.e. if a product fails in a mission critical application, please dont sue us. But really, a mission critical application is simply a situation where a component must work. A scenario in which failure of one component “ say, an SSD “ will result in especially bad things happening, not necessarily just annoying or time consuming. This is the reason TCSs line of hardened, ruggedized solid state drives exist. There are deployments in which the SSDs flawless operation in difficult environments is required, along with the security features to prevent data being recovered by antagonistic or unauthorized parties.

To say the Proteus Plus is simply rugged is doing a disservice. The Proteus can withstand high operating temperatures, high altitudes, moisture, extreme shock and vibration, and several other factors which can render less rugged products useless in a hurry. In the enterprise space, choosing the right solid state storage device is governed by an understanding of the expected workload. For extreme military and industrial applications, knowing the conditions under which the drive will operate is even more important. Many of the systems in which ruggedized drives operate are not intensive from a performance perspective, but are intensive when it comes to environmental demands.

For those applications of the most severe kind, ones in which the absolute physical limits of a system will be strained by environmental factors, there is the Proteus line. Like the TCS Galatea before it, the Proteus Plus is specifically engineered for military and severe industrial applications where the device just has to work, and where the value of the data on the carries great value.

THE PROTEUS PLUS

The Proteus Plus is a 2.5″ SATA II SSD. Our sample is outfitted with 256GB of Micron SLC NAND flash memory, but the Proteus Plus is available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB GB versions as well. TCS rates the sustained read and write speeds of the TCS at 250MB/s and 205MB/s, respectively. Though, as we’ll see, it’s peak numbers are limited by the SATA II interface. 4K random performance is specified as being greater than 7500 IOPS read and 1700 IOPS write.

Really, it’s not about performance. At least, not the kind of performance you may have been thinking of. For many applications in which TCS units are used, traditional HDDs might be fast enough in some instances — that it, if they weren’t fragile, mechanical things made of rust glued on to plastic.

No, it’s the reliability that matters most here, and that’s where the TCS’s performance counts the most. In addition to the reliability features like component staking, conformal coatings, and polymer gel fills, the TCS has the distinction of supporting nine separate ways of sanitizing the data held on it’s flash.

This isn’t our first time looking at a rugged TCS SSD. We took a look at the TCS Galatea some months back, and the Proteus Plus is billed as the higher-end brother to that LSI SandForce-powered line of products.

So what separates a ruggedized, military/industrial SSD from a garden variety consumer or enterprise device? Generally, it’s almost everything. All of the components are selected for the ability to perform in the wild under appalling circumstances. It’s about expectations — the expectation that the Proteus Plus will not fail at an inopportune time.

Let’s take a look in and around the TCS Proteus Plus, and see what makes it TCS’s premier offering for military and industrial applications.

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