I could write a book on the leaps forward we have seen in flash technology within the past few years. Many might argue that it is one of the fastest segments of technology growth today. It touches all of our lives. Without SSDs, or flash technology, the world of cell phones might revert back to flip phones, ultrabooks to 5lb bullet proof laptops, and the internet would be nowhere near as useful as it is now. Companies such as Amazon, Google, eBay, Facebook, Netflix, Yahoo and Twitter have invested heavily in data centers chalk full of solid state drives (SSDs)…and all for one purpose, to get you what you want the second you hit enter.
This report is very similar. If we look at PCs, perhaps the three most valuable components are the CPU, memory and storage. The CPU and DRAM memory have jumped ahead like rabbits while memory has always moved at a snail’s pace. Today is a new day. For the first time, we are going to report on data transfer speeds above 4GB/s and IOPS above 300K, yet neither present any heat concerns or loss of valuable PC space to the user. This RAID combination of M.2 SSDs literally has a ‘zero footprint’, thanks to the ingenuity of ASRock and their X99Extreme11 motherboard and two of the newest Samsung SM951 M.2 SSDs.
As a bit of a background, we have reported on both versions of the Samsung SM951 M.2 SSD, the AHCI and the NVMe. For the most part, both are capable of similar performance but NVMe is the future. A good read of our SM951 NVMe report is of benefit because, in many ways, it demonstrates the benefits of NVMe and where it is going. To speak very frankly about the SM951 though, it is a monster and the most powerful M.2 SSD on the market today, regardless of which version you choose.
The SM951 is capable of providing a new level of work efficiency for the media professional where, only a year ago, many were struggling to reach data transfer speeds of 1.4GB/s for the world’s newest 4K media files. Today, a single SM951 will provide up to 2.15GB/s read and 1.4 GB/s write transfer speeds, with IOPS as high as 90K. If you elect to go with the NVMe version, however, data transfer jumps to 2.26GB/s read and over 300K IOPS. Just to demonstrate, we moved 25GB of HD movies (21 movies) from one spot on our SM951 RAID0 setup to another. It took 18.7 seconds for the full transfer.
To back up just a bit, we are testing in AHCI mode today. We don’t even know if it is possible to RAID two NVMe M.2 drives together yet. The drives in use are Samsung SM951 512GB M.2 SSDs and each is a PCIe 2.0 X4 device which means that, if you’re a graphics card nut on an older system (and using adapters), you just might have to understand your lane count to get everything running smoothly. For the ASRock X99 Extreme11, however, this was a piece of cake and we can relate that we are aware of no less than 5 others who have built this exact system for their media needs…and they love it!