Crucial M500 480GB Solid-State Drive Review

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Inside the M500

Four screws and one voided warranty sticker later, we’re inside.

Crucial M500 480GB Open

Underneath the PCB is a thermal pad that rests against the controller to mitigate physical shock and dissipate excess heat.

Crucial M500 480GB PCB

Once removed, we find this side of the board simply houses half of the 16 total flash modules found on board.

Crucial M500 480GB NAND

Zooming in a bit we see the part number on the NAND is MT29F256G08CECABH6 based on the NW526 FBGA code with the Micron logo hanging out alongside. These ONFI 3.0 chips are MLC 20nm in design and each package equates to 32GB for a total of 512GB on board and a logical block size of 512 bytes. Also worthy of note, the M500 features a 128Gb NAND die as opposed to the 64Gb NAND die we’ve seen on SSDs to date.

Crucial M500 480GB PCB

Flipping the board over, we find the remaining NAND chips, the cache chip and the controller.

Crucial M500 480GB CACHE

The cache is also Micron branded DDR3-1600 DRAM with 4Gb (500MB) in capacity. The cache, not found on SandForce drives, is used to assist the controller with buffering data as needed.

Crucial M500 480GB CONTROLLER

While a little hard to read the part number thanks to the thermal pad, what we see here is the Marvell 88SS9187. This is different than the 88SS9174 controller we saw on the M4 drive. Contained within is custom firmware to handle the NAND discussed above and also has some performance improvements to boot. More security minded consumers may be interested to learn that this controller offers AES 256-bit hardware encryption with TCG Opal 2.0 compliant firmware which allows the drive to operate without hindrance of any overhead software encryption may carry. Of course, it supports TRIM and idle garbage collection to keep things running smoothly.

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