Silicon Motion Displays SM2246EN SSD Controller In The Wrong Light – Flash Memory Summit 2013 Update

In our meeting with Silicon Motion, a chart was made available to demonstrate testing and we were not shown, what I believe to be, the whole picture.  Silicon Motion had relied on Tom’s Hardware (great resource and linked below) to do a preliminary review on the SM2246EN and Silicon Motion relied on the strength of specific test results to state that their controller had the ‘Best In Class Power/Performance Ratio”.  Three specific points are made of the Tom’s Report and they are shown in this chart:

BestInClass

Don’t get me wrong, the results shown in this chart are dead on, but they don’t show the full picture. It is like taking a race car and stating that it is almost the fastest, it gets the best gas mileage and it’s the most roomy for its class.  Chris Ryan was the reviewer for Tom’s and his report is very detailed, definitely much more than we are seeing here and measuring metrics that are the norm in testing today.  One needs to look at the entire report to get the full story of the SM2246EN and not rely on only these three metrics from benchmark programs that, quite frankly, are rarely seen in SSD benchmarking. Chris’s report can be found here.

Silicon Motion believes that their direct competitors are Marvell and LSI SandForce. They are correct but in the consumer market, that includes a slew of others, not to mention top dogs such as Samsung and OCZ. Both Marvell and LSI SandForce have become masters of their art and their marketing package differs vastly. LSI SandForce provides their firmware with the controller purchase and Marvell provides the hardware with the ability for it’s customers to fine tune the end product through their own firmware expertise.  Having said this, Silicon Motion is definitely taking a step forward and trying to encorporate a mix of both practices, something that might be very appealing down the road.

sm2246en

All in all, I see potential in Silicon Motion and hope they develop into a very successful SSD controller manufacturer, however, today they are definitely not a ‘ultra high performance and low power 6Gbps solution’ as described.  Rather than looking at Marvell or LSI SandForce, the SM2246EN seems to be great competition for mid-level controllers such as the Phison S3108, or even the JMicron JMF667H.  With today’s SATA 3 SSD world as it is, ‘ultra high performance’ is a designation earned by very few.

We invite Silicon Motion to reply and/or send a sample along to test and we will definitely put it through our own set of benchmarks, all to see if the controller can stand on its own. Conversely, we would of course publish any reply received, if so requested.

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6 comments

  1. They were brave to benchmark TLC. The tPROG/tBERS requirements on TLC bottleneck the throughput!

  2. They weren’t shooting for performance by choosing TLC… They were shooting for consumer use and EXTREMELY low power.

    TLC SSDs have so much capacity, that they will take forever for a consumer to program/erase the maximum number of program/erase cycles. Their goal was clearly to make a cheap ass SSD that took little power and could still run the normal everyday tasks of a consumer hard drive.

  3. those are both TLC drives one is a 256gb and the other a 128GB

  4. They use a data length of 4MB on ATTO benchmark. That’s way too small for a SSD. I think that would explain the poor result.

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