Wednesday , 22 October 2014
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Samsung XP941 NGFF M.2 PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 – Worlds Smallest SSD Combination Hits 2GB/s

M.2 PCIe SSDs Reviews

Sometimes we get fortunate enough to have just the right hardware at just the right time. Such was the case when Sony sent us their new VAIO Pro 13 Ultrabook with a Samsung XP941 M.2 PCIe SSD for review.  That SSD provided performance speeds over 1GB/s and enabled our statement of the VAIO Pro 13 as being the smallest, lightest and highest performing ultrabook available to the consumer today.    In publishing that report, we found ourselves with two Samsung XP941 M.2 PCIe SSDs on hand and the opportunity to configure one dynamite RAID 0 configuration, the other XP941 having been the subject of this SSD analysis.

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This idea had originally come to mind in viewing the 256GB capacity XP941 and observing that the bottom of the PCB was practically empty through Samsung’ use of two 128GB capacity 10x class MLC 64Gb memory, rather than the norm of 4 x 64GB packages.

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We considered that, although the PCB tracing might be a a bit delicate, Samsung could definitely create a XP941 512GB M.2 SSD in RAID o by adding another controller and RAID controller to the mix. A bit ambitious perhaps but, if anyone could pull this off, Samsung could.  For anyone wanting to know the exact configuration of each XP941, clicking on either of the links in our opening para will help you along.

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Our next task was to tackle configuration of two PCIe SSDs within our system and it was fortunate that we had two different M.2 PCIe SSD adapters on hand.  Where at first we believed that we could simply plug the XP941 SSDs into the dual slot of either card, such was not the case.  Both cards are set up for as varied of application purposes as possible and only one of the two PCIe slots worked specifically for this purpose.

Adapter

The card used for the XP941 found in our Sony VAIO test sample is the BPlus M2P4S Dual M.2 (NGFF) PCIe 2.0 x4 Adapter.  It is interesting to note that, just as a native M.2 PCIe SSD can’t be switched off in a system for a SATA M.2 PCIe SSD, the same goes for adapters and separate adapters must be utilized for each type of M.2 SSD.

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New to our bench is also a PCIe 3.0 X16 Dual M.2/NGFF adapter, which should take care of any future higher performing M.2 SSD needs. A bit amusing is the fact that this card was configured for our needs and doesn’t quite fit computers as it should, as it needs to accommodate full length M.2 form factors at some point. This adapter can be obtained from Soliton Technologies.

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TEST PROTOCOL

The protocol for our testing was pretty simple, in that, we were simply going to set both XP941 M.2 PCIe SSDs in a RAID 0 configuration and test.  Our SSDs differed in capacity, one being 512GB with the other 256GB, which meant that only 256GB of the 512GB capacity could be used in setting up the dynamic RAID 0 volume.  The volume was set up quick and easy by following Start Button/Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Computer Management/Storage/Disk Management and right clicking on the first empty volume, selecting RAID and dragging the other volume over.

Volume Make-Up

About Les Tokar

is a technology nut and Founder of The SSD Review. His early work includes the first consumer SSD review along with MS Vista, Win 7 and SSD Optimization Guides. Les is fortunate to, not only evaluate and provide opinion on consumer and enterprise solid state storage but also, travel the world in search of new technologies and great friendships. Google+
  • Zeusy

    Thanks for the review.
    “two 128GB XP941 M.2 SSDs [...] for a 256GB solution capable of 2GB/s performance”.
    It either makes 256GB (no raid 0) or 2GB/s performance (raid 0), but not both.

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Maybe one of us is misunderstanding… In RAID 0, two 128GB SSDs total 256GB and are in RAID, so will hit RAID speeds. Much the same as we see here where 2x 256GB SSDs total 512GB (RAW) and give us RAID speeds.
      And tx for checking the review out!

      • Zeusy

        All apologies, you’re right about it. As for the review, I’m quite happy to read the most recent devices reviews here (long before – when they even eventually appear on – more “popular” sites), keep it up.

      • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

        Lt. Col. Frank Slade:
        Whoo-ah! (Scent of a Woman)

  • Diagrafeas

    So in order to boot a pcie ssd, assuming that they will come out eventually with no RAID chips as they do today, you need new BIOS?
    I mean native PCI Express controller with AHCI or even better NVMe protocols.

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      I am not an expert here but right now, enabling a PCIe card as a boot drive means that it must be recognized before the system bios in a separate BIOS. Each and every PCIe we have tested have been recognized before the system bios. Having said that, we have plug in SATA adapter cards and we believe it enables the drive on that card to install within the systm BIOS through AHCiI/SATA.

      Although the XP941 is recognized automatically and reappears as a drive once the system is live, it is not recognized as a boot drive anywhere in the initial BIOS.

  • iCrunch

    Are all of the XP941 “editions” (the Vaio in this article, the MacBook Air one, etc.) PCIe x2 with only the dual-XP941 setup being x4? Thanks.

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      I don’t quite understand???

  • Machupo

    Any idea when these are going to hit the gray market?

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Nope…Distribution has even been stopped with authorized third party distributors.

      • Rod Bland

        Update: All capacities of the XP941 are in stock at RamCity.com.au since around Feb 2014.

  • Tim Brennan

    I am new to SSD drives in general (but have been building PCs since they came out). I am planning a new build and was wondering if it’s safe to assume that the new Z97 motherboards due out next week with built in M.2 support should be able to load an M.2 SSD drive as a bootable drive? I’d like to use an M.2 SSD as my primary OS drive. Also, why does it seem the 2.5″ SSD drives of the same capacity are cheaper than the M.2 “raw” drives? Seems like the M.2 drives would be cheaper with less hardware attached.

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      Yes it is only natural the M.2 configurations will be bootable….at least for the ASRock

  • Shawn Fuller

    If I follow your article correctly, you need to use 2 cards, 1 for each M.2 SSD? so 2 PCIx4 slots?
    Also I am guessing you set the raid up through windows (I have only done raid on hardware cards). What sort of load does that put onto the CPU to transfer data at those sort of speeds while in raid 0?

    • http://thessdreview.com Les@TheSSDReview

      no load on the CPU and yes 2 cards…. The only reason we set this up was for a demo purpose to show the speed/size ratio.

  • john

    Asus x99 deluxe motherboard has a M2 SLOT. How to do a RAID0
    Can a M2 slot combine with pcle express slot.
    I XT

  • brainpimp

    Is it too much to ask for a bootable ssd raid array that will saturate the 32gb/S M.2 ultra bus on the Asrock X99 extreme fatal1ty?

    • maxmustang

      the asrock x99 professional and asrock x99 oc both have 2 m.2 slots -:)

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