ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION
TCS’s SSD products are just plain cool. From top to bottom, the TCS has ‘interesting’ written all over it. From the precision milled exterior housing to the GPIO header and it’s SE functions, the Proteus Plus is built with purpose in America, and exudes a standard of quality not seen frequently.
The performance is not what many will be used to seeing, as it’s SATA II interface does limit the potential. But as we’ve noted, that’s not likely to matter. A TCS sent out today might end up getting used in a helicopter that doesn’t exactly support SATA III. Or maybe even SATA II. Writing telemetry data from onboard sensors might be as intense a workload as it gets, but doing it under vibration and temperatures that would kill a standard SSD (much less a HDD) is a trial in and of itself. Whether in the oil fields of Saudi Arabia or shale fields in Western Pennsylvania, from Military UAVs to the burgeoning commercial UAV sector, these drives need to work wherever they’re at. That is the standard — not how fast they can write zero fill.
All the same, the choice of a Barefoot controller does raise our eyebrows. It feels good to be back in the saddle with our old friend Indilinx, but some of the features we’d think would really be necessary aren’t here. Power loss protection to help mitigate data corruption in the event of unplanned power interruption seems like it would be a good thing to have, and the SF-1500 processor the TCS Galatea had that. Moreover, encryption might be a necessity for some, but it’s not supported by the Barefoot. On the other hand, the vast array of security erase and sanitization routines are all business, and just generally handy to have around. In the event that it becomes necessary, the software erase routines can let someone remotely destroy all data on the drive, while the physical GPIO routines can be triggered with anything: A 2mm jumper, a paper clip or screwdriver, or even a custom remote button if necessary. As long as the drive is powered, it can be erased.
Performance wise, the Proteus Plus is slower than the Galatea, but certain sequential write workloads will be better served by the Plus. It’s rated for 205MB/s sustained sequential writes, but after three hours of informal testing, we were still getting more than 210MB/s on average. In short, it’s hard to slow it down with a majority-sequential write workload. Otherwise, the overall performance profile is lesser than the Galateas.
Add it all up, and we’re left with a lingering sadness. Sadness, because not every drive is built like this. Of course, if every drive we came across was built like this, no one would be able to afford one. It’s just refreshing to see the thoughtful design and craftsmanship of the Proteus in action, even if just inside an air conditioned room and not out “in the field”.