Thumb Drive Meets Massive Capacity

Photo of author
Written By Viju V

Meet Mr. Viju, an exceptional and passionate blogger with a remarkable knack for exploring diverse topics, he seamlessly blends creativity with knowledge, consistently delivering engaging content that leaves readers inspired and craving for more.


Silicon Power’s flash storage product line caters extensively to the entry-level market. In October 2023, the company introduced two new portable SSDs in a thumb drive form-factor. The MS70, with a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A interface, is now available in capacities ranging from 250GB to 2TB. The DS72 (also available in the same capacities) has a dual-interface design with both Type-C and Type-A interfaces. Performance claims of 1050 MBps reads and 850 MBps writes land the MS70 and DS72 in the high-capacity high-performance UFD segment.

The company has traditionally relied on introducing products into well-established market segments, with specifications that do not typically make them stand out. However, the two new products caught our attention, as they happen to be one of the first reasonably-priced 2TB thumb drives in the retail market.

The high-performance USB flash drive (UFD / thumb drive) segment has been steadily gaining more entrants since the introduction of Kingston’s DataTraveler Max in late 2021. Transcend’s ESD300 and ESD310, along with Silicon Power’s MS70 and DS72 are making an attempt to differential themselves from the rest of the pack by offering 2TB SKUs. This review takes a detailed look at the performance and value proposition of the 2TB version of the Silicon Power MS70.

Introduction and Product Impressions

USB flash drives have grown both in storage capacity and speeds over the last few years. Thanks to the advent of 3D NAND and rapid iterations with performance improvements in the USB specifications, we are now seeing SSD-in-a-stick products capable of delivering 1GBps+ speeds.

The thumb drive form factor is attractive for multiple reasons – there is no separate cable to carry around, and the units are usually light and compact. High-performance thumb drives based on SSD platforms were introduced in the mid-2010s, but the thermal solution and size made them unwieldy. The category was made viable only after the introduction of high-performance native UFD controllers from Phison and Silicon Motion. We have already reviewed multiple PSSDs based on these two controllers, including the Transcend ESD310C and the OWC Envoy Pro Mini in the thumb drive category.

The new Silicon Power MS70 aims to differentiate itself from other high-performance thumb drives based on two aspects – available capacity points, and compact case design. Despite its thumb drive form-factor, the MS70 takes full advantage of its USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A connector by promising speeds of up to 1050 MBps. The company sampled us the 2TB version to put through our direct-attached storage test suite.

The thumb drive is the only component in the package, and all of the usage and warranty information is printed on the back. Our sample came from an early batch, as the same SKU currently being sold also includes a Type-A to Type-C adapter.

There are no value-additions like lanyards or bundled software, but that is reflected in the aggressive pricing strategy adopted by Silicon Power – around 5¢ per GB for the highest capacity SKU. In any case, the target market for these thumb drives is unlikely to be enticed by backup software or hardware encryption-supporting password applications.

The casing is made of rubber and aluminum, with the former in place around the edges and the connector’s protective cap. The product has a sturdy feel to it, unlike the relatively flimsy construction of the Transcend ESD310C. The MS70 is slightly larger, but the dimensions are still small enough to avoid problems with port blocking.

There was no obvious way to tear down the sample for the purpose of determining the controller and the flash being used. However, CrystalDiskInfo provides a quick overview of the capabilities of the storage device. A look at the firmware version (UHFM00.6) and a cursory online search revealed that the Silicon Power MS70 is powered by the Phison U17 controller. Silicon Power confirmed the use of SK hynix 3D TLC NAND in our sample, but did mention that they reserved the right to use any NAND with similar performance in future production runs.




S.M.A.R.T Passthrough – CrystalDiskInfo


Silicon Power MS70 2TBOWC Envoy Pro Mini 1TBTranscend ESD310C 1TBKingston DT Max 1TBKingston DTMAXA/1TB
OWC Envoy Pro Mini 1TBTranscend ESD310C 1TBKingston DT Max 1TBKingston DTMAXA/1TBSilicon Power MS70 2TB





The table below presents a comparative view of the specifications of the different thumb drives presented in this review.




Comparative Direct-Attached Storage Devices Configuration


Aspect
Silicon Power MS70 2TBOWC Envoy Pro Mini 1TBKingston DT Max 1TBTranscend ESD310C 1TBKingston DTMAXA/1TB
OWC Envoy Pro Mini 1TBKingston DT Max 1TBTranscend ESD310C 1TBKingston DTMAXA/1TBSilicon Power MS70 2TB


Downstream Port
Native Flash
Native Flash


Upstream Port
USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C
USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C


Bridge Chip
Phison U17
Phison U17


Power
Bus Powered
Bus Powered


 
 
 


Use Case
Sturdy pocket-sized SSD in a thumb drive form-factor with a Type-A interface
Pocket-sized SSD in a thumb drive form-factor with both Type-A and Type-C interfaces


 
 
 


Physical Dimensions
21.3 mm x 71.3 mm x 10.4 mm
17 mm x 80 mm x 11 mm


Weight
13.8 grams
26 grams


Cable
N/A
N/A


 
 
 


S.M.A.R.T Passthrough
Yes
Yes


UASP Support
Yes
Yes


TRIM Passthrough
Yes
Yes


Hardware Encryption
Not Available
Not Available


 
 
 


Evaluated Storage
SK hynix 3D TLC
??? 3D TLC


 
 
 


Price
USD 101
USD 481


Review Link
Silicon Power Portable SSD MS70 2TB Review
OWC Envoy Pro Mini 1TB Review

Prior to looking at the benchmark numbers, power consumption, and thermal solution effectiveness, a description of the testbed setup and evaluation methodology is provided.

Testbed Setup and Evaluation Methodology

Direct-attached storage devices (including thumb drives) are evaluated using the Quartz Canyon NUC (essentially, the Xeon / ECC version of the Ghost Canyon NUC) configured with 2x 16GB DDR4-2667 ECC SODIMMs and a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD – the IM2P33E8 1TB from ADATA.

The most attractive aspect of the Quartz Canyon NUC is the presence of two PCIe slots (electrically, x16 and x4) for add-in cards. In the absence of a discrete GPU – for which there is no need in a DAS testbed – both slots are available. In fact, we also added a spare SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe SSD to the CPU direct-attached M.2 22110 slot in the baseboard in order to avoid DMI bottlenecks when evaluating Thunderbolt 3 devices. This still allows for two add-in cards operating at x8 (x16 electrical) and x4 (x4 electrical). Since the Quartz Canyon NUC doesn’t have a native USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, Silverstone’s SST-ECU06 add-in card was installed in the x4 slot. All non-Thunderbolt devices are tested using the Type-C port enabled by the SST-ECU06.

The specifications of the testbed are summarized in the table below:




The 2021 AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration


System
Intel Quartz Canyon NUC9vXQNX


CPU
Intel Xeon E-2286M


Memory
ADATA Industrial AD4B3200716G22
32 GB (2x 16GB)
DDR4-3200 ECC @ 22-22-22-52


OS Drive
ADATA Industrial IM2P33E8 NVMe 1TB


Secondary Drive
SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D SSD 1TB


Add-on Card
SilverStone Tek SST-ECU06 USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C Host


OS
Windows 10 Enterprise x64 (21H1)


Thanks to ADATA, Intel, and SilverStone Tek for the build components

The testbed hardware is only one segment of the evaluation. Over the last few years, the typical direct-attached storage workloads for memory cards have also evolved. High bit-rate 4K videos at 60fps have become quite common, and 8K videos are starting to make an appearance. Game install sizes have also grown steadily even in portable game consoles, thanks to high resolution textures and artwork. Keeping these in mind, our evaluation scheme for portable SSDs and UFDs involves multiple workloads which are described in detail in the corresponding sections.


Synthetic workloads using CrystalDiskMark and ATTO
Real-world access traces using PCMark 10’s storage benchmark
Custom robocopy workloads reflective of typical DAS usage
Sequential write stress test

In the next section, we have an overview of the performance of the Silicon Power MS70 in these benchmarks. Prior to providing concluding remarks, we have some observations on the UFD’s power consumption numbers and thermal solution also.



Source link

Leave a Comment