PCIe SSDs are a funny animal as they have been out for a few years yet haven’t really caught on just yet. They are very limited to either very expensive and system specific enterprise variations or require driver installation that isn’t always as simple as instructions seem. We have yet to see an affordable plug and play PCIe SSD solution that has the ‘get up and go’ workset without the need for driver installation and thoughts of compatibility issues that keep most from PCIe purchase.
At the consumer level, the indisputed king of the hill is still the OCZ Revo 3×2 PCIe SSD (EOL) which is LSI SandForce based, capable of speeds up to 1.5GB/s and can be had under the $700 mark. That price point will leave them in that position, as they have been for years now without a true competitor, at least until we see what OCZ’ upcoming Vector PCIe release has in store. The stage just might be set this next year with Mushkin, Mach Xtreme and KingSpec all jumping in with PCIe SSDs of their own and with an interesting variation, they are driver-less and a simple plug and play solution.
The key for so many is just that, plug and play. Last week we found this new KingSpec PCIe SSD on our doorstep and believed it to be the recently announced plug and play 2TB MC2S81M2T PCIe SSD that spits out performance of 4GB/s read and 2.4GB/s write. If you can imagine my picking up the package and scanning the neighbourhood for those spies wondering what has arrived from China in a day flat. Running to the office, it took all of 5 minutes to get the card from its packaging and into our Test Bench…but wait a minute…those aren’t LSI SF-2581 flash storage processors on each mSATA SSD…JMicron? I sat their bewildered and confused; this isn’t the MC2S81M2t!
INTRODUCING THE KINGSPEC MC2J677M1T PCIe SSD
Regardless, I pushed the drive into the Test Bench, turned it on, watched a brief LSI BIOS message and that was it, drive recognized! To me, it seemed so amazing that I shut the system down, pulled the card and threw it in two different systems not 5ft behind me, even before running a bench. This PCIe is the first that we have had in our hands that is simple plug and play. Imagine the feeling when we conducted an ATTO Disk Benchmark next, displaying speeds of 2.5GB/s; I was drooling.
Something was off though. This PCIe hadn’t been announced, wasn’t listed on the KingSpec website and there was nothing on the internet that could assist, other than a single KingSpec availability announcement to distributors only 3 days ago. Is it possible this PCIe was sent off unintentionally, thinking it was the MC2S81M2t? Doesn’t matter; it was in our hands now, a data sheet was included, it was on the work bench and it was going to be looked at real close. Imagine ripping apart a $2000 plus 1TB PCIe card! Yikes!
THE KINGSPEC STORY
KingSpec is an ‘SSD and SSD only company’ that has been in business since 1995 and is located in Shenzhen, China. KingSpec has 1200 employees and is situated within a 15000 square foot facility and, if you might believe it, is capable of producing 3 million SSDs per month.
As much as we might tend to believe that this type of operation would be more concerned with volume than quality, we were set straight when we took a good look at this web page dedicated to their certifications which include REACH, ISO, CE FCC and RoHS. Not only does it speak to each certification, but also, each is fully available for examination by the reader and includes specifics of the accreditation, many that describe SSD build quality measures specifically. We found this accreditation, particularly interesting.
The model number for this KingSpec PCIe SSD is MC2J67M1T, it is a PCIe 2.0×8 device and available in 500MB and 1TB capacities, our sample being 1TB. Performance is listed at 1.9GB/s read and 1.6GB/s write with a high of 84K IOPS. They describe sustained performance of 1850MB/s read and 600MB/s write but wait for it as we tested this in Iometer, while in steady state, and this card rocks. Disk access is listed at 0.1ms and power requirements are 8W idle and 18W with a write endurance of 8 years @ 100GB write/ day, using 32GB capacity packages. If you are a bit amazed at the power requirements but are looking for a PCIe solution, be ready for similar all around and this SSD comes with a two year warranty.