The advent of M.2 SSDs holds the promise of eliminating the SATA bottleneck and, while it may not seem that big of a deal for the typical consumer, improved performance to a media professional is pure gold. Faster transfer speeds translate into quicker job completion which realizes increased business and higher revenue. Although we have had M.2 SSDs in hand for some time now, the thrill of the chase is always there when watching to see who will get such and such a product to market, and into consumer hands first. When it comes to M.2 SSDs, short of those of us having the ioSwitch Raijin in hand, nobody would ever have guessed…
ioSwitch is a brand new company in the SSD arena and their Raijin PCIe M.2 SSDs are about to pull off some new tricks in the world of flash storage. The ioSwitch Raijin SSD is a PCIe M.2 SSD situated in a PCIe 3.0 X4 HHHL (half height half length) adapter and it is plug and play bootable. Include both Mac and PC compatibility, and there just might be a few media professionals with newer Mac Pro towers salivating at the thought of pure PCIe M.2 in their work environment. Albeit a bit pricey, the Raijin is a fix that brings SATA based PC’s into the age of M.2 PCIe in a big way.
An unexpected trick of the Raijin is the fact that the adapter card isn’t the source of the boot, but rather, the SSD itself is. The ioSwitch Raijin M.2 PCIe SSD contains a newly available Plextor M6e M.2 PCIe SSD and, with some very clever engineering between Marvell, Plextor and ioSwitch, the M.2 SSD itself is plug and play bootable, contains its own BIOS, and will boot in any system via a compatible PCIe adapter card. This eliminates the questions of ‘how to boot’ that we have already spent hours trying to solve and, when you consider the potential of a bootable M.2 PCIe SSD, it increases system compatibility significantly.
IOSWITCH RAIJIN M.2 PCIE SSD SPECS
The ioSwitch Raijin is available through the ioSwitch website only, and in 128, 256 and 512GB capacities. It is presently based on the newest Plextor M6e M.2 NGFF PCIe SSD and performance is variable, depending on SSD size. While all sizes are capable of 740MB/s read speeds, write speeds are listed at 640MB/s for the 512GB, 575 MB/s for the 256GB and 330MB/s for the 128GB capacity. Read IOPS are listed at 105,000 for the 512GB and 95,000 for the 256 and 128GB sizes while write IOPS are steady for all capacities at 75,000. While compatibility of the Raijin lists OSX 10.6 and above, our initial testing in a PC based system has been no less than impressive, although we should emphasize that the Raijin is, as of yet, not ‘listed’ as PC compatible. The Raijin also comes with a three-year warranty.
The ioSwitch Raijin M.2 PCIe SSD is a Plextor M6e M.2 PCIe X2 SSD contained within a HHHL PCIe 3.0 X4 adapter card. There is a clear metal casing over the SSD which, by way of a rubber thermal conductor on the inside of the casing, is used to dissipate any heat created by the SSD, as well as protecting it from the elements. The shell is held in place by four screws which also secure the PCIe bracket to the unit and the shell will eventually contain ioSwitch Raijin branding.
We have seen the M2Enabler in a previous article and something that we definitely like about the build are the LED lights that signify X2 or X4 data travel as well as SSD error.
A close look at the SSD gives us the first ever published pictures of the components of the Plextor M6e M.2 PCIe 256GB SSD. Admittedly, it is not the final retail version but, none the less, this M.2 2260 sized card performs as expected.
For those not familiar with Plextor, they are a very loyal company and believe their products are best served by the likes of Marvell and Toshiba exclusively. This M.2 PCIe SSD contains the Marvell SS9183 controller and four modules of Toshiba Toggle Mode 19nm MLC NAND flash memory, matching that in which we have seen in similar Plextor SSD products.
Each module of memory is 64GB in capacity for a total RAW capacity of 256GB, however, only 238GB of usable storage is available to the user after formatting. There is also a NANYA 256MB DRAM cache on the flip side of the PCB.
Great review Les. So how is this product different to combining say the Plextor M.2 and one of the Bplus or M.2 Enabler cards. Do the latter cards also allow the system to boot, or is this something new that only this ioSwitch Raijin card can do?
We tried the SSD in several cards and regardless, it will boot. We have also confirmed this to be a customized SSD that will allow it. The SSD is bootable, not the card.
So any other generic ssd in the Asus impact motherboards onboard connector would not be bootable?
Not quite. If the M.2 host is built into the motherboard, you can believe that they have taken this into account. This design was a custom build to ensure this SSD has very wide compatibility in systems, such as the Mac Pr desktop, which has traditionally been used by media professionals who can use this specific performance upgrade.
Man….can’t wait for Tosh to start using the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller now that they own Ocz…pretty sure it’ll smoke the Marvell controller they’re using. Plextor may end up the main and/or exclusive source of future BF3 based ssds…hmmm
Hey! Very informative! Plenty of images, links, and explanations.
Unfortunately, I cannot afford anything like this yet. Thus, having to buy an SSD, I shall go for either SATA or mSATA. I am still puzzled, though, as to which is the best choice. Which of the two will give me the highest performance?
mSATA and SATA SSDs will provide the same performance for the most part, however understanding your systems configuration is crucial. Many mSATA buyers have been disappointed to learn their mSATA slots on their motherboards, or in portables, was SATA 2 and not 3.
Which motherboards allow the best performance for this concept?
Any motherboard with an available PCIe V2 slot available should suffice…including Mac systems.
could anybody tell me if this would work on a macbook pro 2015 version?