ADATA Ultimate SU800 SSDs Feature 3D TLC NAND

The ADATA Ultimate SU800 is the first SSD series from ADATA that features 3D TLC NAND Flash memory components. Despite having 'Ultimate' in in its product name, the Ultimate SU800 is a SATA III 6Gb/s SSD that is aimed at the price-conscious consumer in the SSD value market. As you might have guessed, this means you'll get decent performance at rather affordable price points. ADATA's Ultimate SU800 SSD series is available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities. Inside you'll find the Silicon Motion SM2258 controller (four NAND Flash Channels and LDPC ECC technology) paired up with more than likely 3D TLC NAND. ADATA is not giving out what manufacturer makes the 3D NAND Flash, but after taking a look under the cover we discovered that they are using Micron 3D TLC NAND. ADATA SU800 Ultimate SSD Performance, Endurance & Pricing:
Model ASU800SS-128GT-C ASU800SS-256GT-C ASU800SS-512GT-C ASU800SS-1TT-C
Capacity 128GB 256GB 512GB 1TB
Controller Silicon Motion SM2258 Silicon Motion SM2258 Silicon Motion SM2258 Silicon Motion SM2258
NAND 3D TLC NAND 3D TLC NAND 3D TLC NAND 3D TLC NAND
Max Sequential Read (ATTO) 563MB/sec 564MB/sec 564MB/sec 564MB/sec
Max Sequential Write (ATTO) 300MB/sec 511MB/sec 519MB/sec 519MB/sec
Max Random Read (4K QD32) 50,000 IOPS 80,000 IOPS 85,000 IOPS 85,000 IOPS
Max Random Write (4K QD32) 75,000 IOPS 85,000 IOPS 85,000 IOPS 85,000 IOPS
TBW unknown unknown 400 TB unknown
Warranty 3-Years 3-Years 3-Years 3-Years
MSRP in USD $59.99 $79.99 $139.99 $269.99
When it comes to performance numbers on the Ultimate SU800 series you are looking at sequential transfer speeds of up to 560 / 520 MB/s for reads/writes and random 4K performance of up to 85,000 / 85,000 IOPS for reads/writes. The SU800 lacks support for AES 256-bit hardware encryption, but does support DevSLP (Device Sleep) and uses 12mW of power at idle and 0.65W of power for daily operation on the ADATA SU800 512GB model. When it comes to the endurance information the Ultimate SU800 is said to be able to withstand more read/write cycles thanks to the use of 3D NAND Flash. Thanks to the SMI controller the SU800 also fetures LDPC (low density parity check) error correcting code, data shaping, and even a RAID Engine. ADATA backs all Ultimate SU800 drives with a 3-year warranty and says the MTBF is 2,000,000 hours. Unfortunately ADATA only says that the TBW value is 'high' and fails to give the exact number.
"All Ultimate SU800 models provide high TBW (Total Bytes Written), meaning the number of times an SSD can write its entire capacity in one lifespan. The Ultimate SU800’s TBW rating outranks comparable models, indicating a longer-lasting SSD." - ADATA

We asked ADATA for the the exact TBW rating values on each drive in the series one week and have yet to get an answer back as ADATA USA didn't know the answer and ADATA Taiwan is out on holiday (September 15th was the Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival) and that is a national holiday in Taiwan).

UPDATE 9/20/2016: ADATA has let us know that the 512GB version of this drive features a 400TB TBW endurance rating, which is actually very good for a 512GB capacity drive!

ADATA SU800 512GB SSD Retail Box The drive that we'll be looking at today in-depth is the ADATA Ultimate SU800 512GB model that is sold under part number ASU800SS-512GT-C for $139.99. The packaging looks good and inside you'll find the drive, spacer for 9mm housing applications and the warranty guide. ADATA SU800 Ultimate 512GB SSD To remove the cover you need to remove the top sticker as there is a screw right in the middle of the drive drive that holds the top plastic lid to the bottom metal cover. You also need remove the warranty sticker on the side of the drive. We were able to pop open the drive to see that Micron NAND Flash with FBGA code NW838 were being used. This converts over to Micron part number MT29F768G08EECBBJ4-37:B, which are 768Gb density 3D TLC NAND (3 bit per cell) chips. ADATA SU800 Ultimate 512GB SATA III SSD The ADATA SU800 Ultimate 2.5" drives come in a black metal enclosure and feature a standard SATA III interface. ADATA includes a software key for Acronis True Image HD software for those that might need cloning software to move from their old hard drive or SSD to this new model and a spacer bracket to help the 7mm thick drive fit securely in notebooks that originally came with 9.5mm thick hard drives. Let's move along and take a look at the test system and then the benchmark numbers!

The SSD Benchmark Test System & TRIM Support

Before we look at the numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (Anniversary Update build 14393) and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. This means windows defender, windows update, disk fragmentation and everything else that would interfere with testing was disabled. Windows 10 also had the power option set to high performance. We also disabled Turbo mode on the Intel Core i7-5960X to ensure our numbers are spot on and repeatable. ASUS X99 Sabertooth Motherboard The Intel X99 platform that we used to test the storage drives was based around the ASUS X99 Sabertooth motherboard with BIOS 1801 that came out on 06/25/2015. We used Intel RST storage drivers, the exact version was 14.5.0.1081. The Crucial Ballistix DDR4 32GB 2400MHz memory kit was run at 2666MHz with 15-15-15-28 1T memory timings. The Corsair Neutron XT 240GB SSD was used as the primary drive.

Intel X99 Test Bench

Intel LGA 2011v3 Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Live Pricing

Processor

Core i7 5960X

Motherboard

ASUS X99 Sabertooth

Memory

Crucial Ballistix 2400MHz 32GB

OS Drive

Corsair Neutron XT 240GB

Power Supply

Corsair AX860i

Operating System

Windows 8.1 Pro 64-Bit

CrystalDiskInfo 7.0.3 Readout:

The readout on CrystalDiskInfo 7.0.3 shows that the ADATA SU800 512GB SSD supports S.M.A.R.T., NCQ, TRIM and DevSleep. The drive we received had firmware version P0801A installed and that is the version that we used for general testing and benchmarking. ADATA SU800 CrystalDiskInfo The overall capacity shows up as 476GB on the ADATA SU800 512GB SSD in Windows 10. ADATA SU800 512GB Capacity Does The ADATA SU800 SSD Support Trim?  Most SSDs today support the TRIM command, but we still run a quick test to ensure that the command is being properly passed through to the SSD and being done. A great free utility called TRIMCheck can be run to ensure that TRIM is functioning properly. trim-su800 According to TRIMCheck v0.7 the SU800 512GB SSD executes the TRIM command correctly! Let's have a look at the performance!

Taking A Look At Sustained Write Performance

Crucial MX300 1TB Triple-Level Cell  TLC NAND based SSDs perform usually quite well, but when you copy a large amount of data to the drive without and idle time you'll often find a large drop in write speed. TLC NAND is great in applications where write operations are limited , but is usually not recommended for critical systems that have heavy write operations as they have lower endurance ratings than SLC or MLC NAND and of course sustained write performance isn't stellar. In recent years drive manufactures have been figured out that by using  SLC or TLC treated as SLC as a cache they can keep the drives overall write performance high as long as the amount of data being written to the drive fits in the cache. If you overflow the cache, you are then writing directly to the TLC NAND and the write performance will drop down to that level. It should be noted that the SLC cache will clear once the drive idles, so this only impacts long writes that are many GB in size. This might not be a typical workload scenario for this ultra-value or mainstream drives, but still something worth pointing out! Let's take a look at some TLC and MLC drives to see how they handle sustained write scenarios. ADATA SU800 Sustained Write Performance When you average the test results over the 45 second period that we are focusing on these are the average speeds that you come up with: Not bad, but the performance on the ADATA SU800 512GB SSD does eventually drop off! SU800 SSD Sustained Write The SLC cache for the SU800 is a bit different than most drives as it one third (1/3) of the total available capacity as “SLC” cache. In our testing we found that at 342 seconds into the sustained writes, the performance of the drive went from an average of roughly 521 MB/s down to 80 MB/s on average. This means one would have to write around 174GB of data to reach this point of lower sustained write performance. Roughly 171GB is 1/3rd of the capacity of the 512GB drive, so this numbers is close to what ADATA told us to expect. The lows were down to 40 MB/s, so just like most any TLC drive you'll get performance drops once the SLC buffer has been filled up and you are writing straight to the 3D TLC NAND Flash.  Sustained writes are the weakness of any TLC based SSD, so just be aware of it! Let's take a look at some common benchmarks!

ATTO & CrystalDiskMark

ATTO v3.05

ATTO is one of the oldest drive benchmarks still being used today and is still very relevant in the SSD world. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5KB through 64MB transfer sizes with the total length being 256MB.

ATTO - ADATA SU800 512GB:

ADATA SU800 512GB ATTO Benchmark Benchmark Results: ATTO showed the ADATA SU800 Ultimate 512GB SSD topped out at 564 MB/s read and 519MB/s write in the standard overlapped I/O benchmark. ADATA rates this particular model at up to 560 MB/s read and 520 MB/s write, so we are close to the rated speeds.   

CrystalDiskMark 5.1.2 x64

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.

CystalDiskmark - ADATA SU800 512GB:

ADATA SU800 512GB CrystalDiskMark Benchmark Benchmark Results: The ADATA SU800 512GB drive reached 550 MB/s read and 509 MB/s write in the standard sequential write test. The Random 4K performance on the SU800 512GB drive was 37 MB/s read and 137 MB/s write. When we ran the test again set to 0Fill mode and all the scores remained basically the same as you can see above.   Let's look at some other benchmarks!

AS SSD Benchmark

AS-SSD (1.9.5986.35387) Benchmark:

We have been running the AS-SSD Benchmark app for over some time now and found that it gives a broad result set. The programmer has worked very hard on this software and continues to make updates often so if you use it, show him some love and send him a donation. There are now three tests that are found within the tool and we'll show the results from all three of them. ADATA SU800 512GB ASSSD Benchmark Benchmark Results: AS SSD showed the ADATA SU800 Ultimate 512GB drive had an overall score of 1,094 points with sequential read speeds of 529MB/s and 481MB/s write.  su800-512gb-asssd-copy Benchmark Results: The copy benchmark test results showed okay performance SATA TLC NAND based SSD aimed at the mainstream market with speeds ranging from 356 MB/s to 434 MB/s.  su800-512gb-asssd-comp Benchmark Results: For this benchmark chart you would ideally want to see a straight line as you don't want any compression performance loss as the test goes from 0% compressible to 100% compressible data during the benchmark test period. The ADATA SU800 512GB SSD was pretty flat across the drive with regards to the reads, but the write performance had a several performance dips.  

Anvil Storage Utilities

Anvil Storage Utilities 1.1.0

Along with the move to a new platform, we decided to make a change in one of the benchmarks. There's a relatively new benchmark called Anvil Storage Utilities that is in beta but close to production. It's a very powerful tool that measures performance through a variety of tests which can be customized. Since some of the tests more or less duplicate what we get from other benchmarks we use already, we decided to use the IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) testing on 4kb file sizes at a queue depth of 4, 16, and 32. IOPS performance is something SSD makers tout quite a bit but we generally don't do a lot of IOPS testing because frankly a lot of users can't relate to IOPS metrics as well and it tends to be more meaningful to the enterprise/server crowd. Still, it is another performance indicator with relevance and while some drives post good MB/s numbers, their IOPS scores aren't always commensurate which this test will prove out.

Anvil SSD Benchmark with 100% Compression (incompressible data):

su800-512gb-anvil

Benchmark Results: The Anvil SSD Benchmark showed that with 100% compression (incompressible data) the ADATA SU800 512GB drive scored 4,586 points.

Anvil SSD Applications Benchmark at 46% Compression:

su800-512gb-anvil2

Benchmark Results: With the compression at 46% to help mimic real world applications better we found the overall score dropped by just four points and that is well within the margin of error for a general run.  4k-read Benchmark Results: We used Anvil to check the 4K QD32 Random Read performance and found we were getting just over 83,000 IOPS and that is close to the drives rated 85,000 IOPS.  4k-write Benchmark Results: When it came to 4K QD32 Random Write performance we found that the SU800 512GB drive was capable of just over 82,000 IOPS. Again, not too far off the 85,000 IOPS we were told that we should be able to get.  

PCMark 8 Storage Test

pcmark8 logo PCMark 8 might have come out in 2013, but it is still Futuremark's most recent version of their industry standard PC benchmarking tool. PCMark 8 allows you to test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. PCMark 8 is recognized by many as being the complete PC benchmark for home and business. We ran the Storage 2.0 benchmark test suite on PCMark 8 v2.7.613 that came out in April 2016. This is a major update accommodates a change in the latest version of Adobe After Effects and provides better support for NVMe SSDs. The changes affect the workloads in the Adobe Applications benchmark and the Storage 2.0 benchmark. Scores from the new versions of these tests should not be compared with older versions, so just a heads up if you compare scores.

Crucial MX300 1TB:

ADATA SU800 512GB PCMark 8 Benchmark Results: When it comes to PCMark 8 performance you are looking at an overall score of 4,979 with a bandwidth rating of 279.40 MB/s on the SU800 512GB drive. Not horrible for a TLC NAND based SSD.

ADATA SU800 512GB SSD Temperatures

MX300 1TB SSD Label Temperatures have always played a critical role on storage drives and in recent years we've seen it cause drives to fail prematurely and we've even seen some SSD performance results change for the worse if components were too hot or too cold. Since temperature is an important thing to keep an eye on we check the idle and load temperatures on all of the drives that we review. To get the idle temperature results we leave the drive sitting on an open air test bench in a room that is 19C. For the load numbers we use IOMeter to write 128KB to the drive sequentially for 20 minutes and record the top temperature. ADATA SU800 Temps The ADATA SU800 Ultimate 512GB drive had an idle temperature of 17-18C and we found that it topped out at 60C after doing 20 minutes of straight 128KB sequential writes across the entire drive with IOMeter. This heavy workload isn't normal, but when doing writes to the drive we saw the temperature shoot up very quickly. This drive does get toasty! Let's wrap this up!

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

ADATA SU800 512GB SSD Retail Box The ADATA Ultimate SU800 512GB drive was didn't leave us impressed during out testing and it doesn't have anything to make it stand out in a crowded SSD market. A quick look at Newegg and we found that there are over 115 different 2.5″ SSDs available with capacities ranging from 480GB to 512GB and the ADATA Ultimate SU800 isn't listed yet. To become a standout drive you need to do really well at something and the SU800 fails to excite and that is before we even start to talk about the pricing. Our testing showed that we were able to hit 564 MB/s read and 519MB/s in the sequential benchmark (ATTO) and 83,000 IOPS read and 82,100 IOPS write (Anvil) for 4K QD32 random performance. These numbers are close to the drives rated speeds of 560/520 MB/s for sequential and 85k IOPS for random read/write performance. Our sustained write testing showed that sequential writes bottomed out at 40 MB/s and averaged 80 MB/s after the SLC buffer was full and data was being written directly to the 3D TLC NAND Flash. ADATA Ultimate SU800 2.5" SSD MSRP: When it comes to pricing the ADATA Ultimate SU800 series drives you are looking at between $0.47 and $0.27 per GB and that is actually higher-end of the price spectrum for value drives. For example the Crucial MX300 525GB Solid-State Drive (review) is priced at $119.99 shipped or $0.23 per GB and has higher performance and features like AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption. The ADATA Ultimate SU800 performance doesn't match the MSRP, so we expect to see street pricing drop sooner rather than later for this drive to sell well.  The ADATA Ultimate SU800 was announced over 3-weeks ago and has yet to make it to Amazon and Newegg, so it will be interesting to see what the actual street price will be for each capacity. The 3-year limited warranty is average for an drive in the value class, but we are left wondering what the endurance rating (TBW) is for this series. We'll find out at some point, but even if it is really high (greater than 400TB) it won't change our thoughts on this drive. It falls into the category of just another budget TLC NAND based SSD that has average performance with a higher than average price tag. ADATA plans on releasing Ultimate SU900 series with higher performance numbers later this month and we hope that drive does better. UPDATE 9/20/2016: ADATA has let us know that the 512GB version of this drive features a 400TB TBW endurance rating, which is actually very good for a 512GB capacity drive! Legit Bottom Line: The ADATA Ultimate SU800 512GB drive performs like most any TLC NAND based value SSD and needs a lower price point to be a recommended pick!