Model: Silicon Power P34A60 1TB M.2 PCIe Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: Silicon Power
Provided By: Silicon Power
Silicon Power is a relatively new name in the storage industry. Founded in 2003 by a group of professionals specializing in international business, global marketing and technical engineering, the company has already established itself as one of Taiwan's top manufacturers. With an eye for attractive and versatile design, Silicon Power has built its brand around the concept that its customers deserve products that represent who they are in life and mirror their personality. The end result is a variety of uniquely designed storage products including USB flash drives, memory cards and solid-state drives (SSD).
One of the latest additions to Silicon Power's line of solid state drives is the P34A60. Designed for novice users, DIY system builders, purpose-built system manufacturers and those who are simply looking to upgrade their PC, this M.2 form factor drive is powered by Silicon Motion's SM2263XT controller and is available with up to 2TB of Micron's 64-layer TLC 3D NAND flash. The P34A60 also utilizes HMB (Host Memory Buffer) and an SLC Cache to deliver high and efficient performance as well as LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check) error correction, End-To-End (E2E) data protection and a RAID engine for enhanced data integrity and stability. To top it all off, the P34A60 is equipped with an ultra-fast PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 interface and is capable of 2,200 MB/s read and 1,600 MB/s write speeds.
The P34A60 is available in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. For this review, Silicon Power sent us the 1TB version of the drive which is capable of delivering up to 2,200 MB/s sequential read and 1,600 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 240,000 random read and 250,000 random write IOPS.
|Silicon Power P34A60 1TB M.2 PCIe Solid State Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the P34A60 has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at Silicon Power's new PCIe SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the P34A60 have what it takes? Can it deliver the value and performance we've come to expect from Silicon Power? Keep reading as we find out.
The P34A60 comes in a small, blue, black and white box. In addition to a plastic window which lets you see what the drive looks like, the packaging advertises some of the drive's key features including its 1TB capacity, support for NVMe 1.3, and 5 year warranty.
The P34A60 uses the 2280 form factor for M.2 (NGFF) SSDs. It measures 22 x 80 x 3.5 mm and weighs in at 8g. The drive also has an "M key" edge connector which provides PCIe SSDs with up to 4x lanes of bandwidth.
The P34A60 uses Silicon Motion's SM2263XT controller. Designed for cost-effective, small form factor and low power client SSDs, this DRAM-less, PCIe Gen 3 x4 controller is powered by a dual ARM Cortex CPU and offers four channels with up to four chip enables (CE) per channel. The SM2263XT also supports the latest 3D NAND from all major manufacturers and features Silicon Motion’s proprietary NANDXtend error-correcting code (ECC) technology, SRAM ECC and end-to-end data path protection.
It's hard to see in these photos, but there is a small, green LED near the M.2 connector that flashes when the P34A60 is being accessed.
For the 1TB version of the P34A60, Silicon Power opted to use Micron's 64-layer TLC 3D NAND flash. Looking at the picture above, you can see that there are four 256GB NAND flash packages on the top of the PCB. Also take note that there is no DRAM cache chip. The P34A60's SM2263XT controller takes full advantage of NVMe's Host Memory Buffer feature by using a small portion of the computer's memory to cache the mapping tables.
The test system used in this review is equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU, GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-UD3 motherboard, 32GB (16GB x 2) of Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 memory, Samsung 960 PRO 512GB SSD and a GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 WINDFORCE OC 6G graphics card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 10 Enterprise.
To test the performance of Silicon Power P34A60's SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark, HD Tach RW, ATTO Disk Benchmark, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro, Anvil's Storage Utilities, Iometer and PCMark 8. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Patriot P300, Plextor M9PG Plus, Plextor M9PY Plus, ADATA XPG SX6000 Pro, Western Digital WD Black SN750, Samsung 970 EVO Plus, ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro, Crucial P1, ADATA XPG SX8200, Western Digital WD Black NVMe, Samsung 970 EVO, Samsung 970 PRO, Plextor M9Pe, Plextor M8Se, Patriot Hellfire, ADATA XPG SX8000, Samsung 960 PRO, Toshiba OCZ RD400, Samsung 950 PRO, Samsung 860 QVO, Samsung 860 PRO, Crucial MX500, Plextor M8V, Samsung T5, Crucial BX300, ADATA Ultimate SU900, Plextor S3C, Toshiba OCZ VX500 and ADATA Ultimate SU800.
As I mentioned earlier, the P34A60 is based on Silicon Motion's SM2263XT controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to Silicon Power, the 1TB version of the P34A60 is capable of reading at 2,200 MB/s and writing at 1,600 MB/s. While the drive had no problems reaching its rated write speed, it came up short in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read speed test.
The P34A60 performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 2,030 MB/s and write at 1,684 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 126.96.36.199:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the Silicon Power P34A60's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the P34A60 had average read and write speeds of 1771.5 MB/s and 660.5 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 892.9 MB/s. The screenshot also shows that it uses some sort of SLC caching. The drive starts writing at about 1,500 MB/s and then drops to about 200 MB/s when the write operation exceeds the size of the cache.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the Silicon Power P34A60's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the P34A60's read speeds topped out at about 2,028 MB/s and its write speeds at 1,727 MB/s.
AS SSD is a relatively new benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.
HD Tune Pro 5.00:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the Silicon Power P34A60's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The P34A60 performed relatively well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 2274.5 MB/s and 839.1 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 547.9 MB/s when reading.
When reading 4KB blocks, the P34A60 reached 42,078 IOPS and had an average speed of 164.370 MB/s. The drive was even faster when writing, reaching 54,749 IOPS with an average speed of 213.865 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.
Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the P34A60's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The P34A60's performance here was similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 1654.01 MB/s and write at 1593.84 MB/s.
The P34A60 also performed fairly well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 239.35 MB/s and write at 597.08 MB/s.
According to Silicon Power, the 1TB P34A60 is capable of 240,000 IOPS when reading and 250,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 61,274 random read IOPS and 152,854 random write IOPS. As with most drives, the P34A60 performed better at higher queue depths. With four threads and the queue depth set to 32, it reached 188,338 random read IOPS and 208,385 random write IOPS.
PCMark 8 - Storage Test:
PCMark 8 is a complete benchmark for Windows. It includes five benchmark tests, each designed around a specific scenario. The storage benchmark measures drive performance using real-world traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.
PCMark 8 also includes a consistency test which measures the performance consistency and degradation tendency of a storage system. The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state and the recovered state as well as the number of iterations required to reach the degraded state and the recovered state. For this test, we are focusing on the Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace and will look at both the bandwidth and latency of the drive
The P34A60's performance was hit in miss in this test. During the degradation and steady phases, the drive's bandwidth dropped below 30 MB/s, pushing its latency well above the 400ms mark. The P34A60 was able to recover though, jumping back up to 1181 MB/s.
While SSD's offer many benefits, there are some downsides to using flash memory. One of the biggest issues people run into is performance degradation. Over time, an SSD will run out of fresh blocks and will have to write over data the file system has marked as deleted. This procedure is very complicated and can slow an SSD's write speeds considerably.
To fix this problem, most manufacturers have added TRIM support to their SSDs. The TRIM command allows an operating system, such as Windows 10, to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. Using this information, the drive pro-actively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
To test the P34A60's TRIM and garbage collection functions, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill 80% of the drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. This had little impact on the P34A60's read speed. However, its average writing speed dropped to 149.60 MB/s.
Silicon-Power P34A60 - Dirty
To see how well the P34A60 could recover, I let the computer sit for about 30 minutes and then reran the test. The drive wasn't able to reach the factory fresh performance shown in our earlier tests. However, its sequential write speed jumped up to 1559.65 MB/s.
Silicon-Power P34A60 - After TRIM
Lastly, I used Parted Magic to perform a secure erase on the P34A60. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 1852.77 MB/s and 1571.93 MB/s, respectively.
Silicon-Power P34A60- Secure Erased
The Silicon Power P34A60 may not be the fastest or most feature packed PCIe SSD to come through the 'Labs. However, this compact, M.2 form factor drive provides plenty of bang for your buck. The P34A60 is powered by Silicon Motion's SM2263XT controller and is available with up to 2TB of Micron's 64-layer TLC 3D NAND flash. Combine this with a PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 interface and you have a reasonably priced drive capable of delivering up to four times the performance of your average SATA 6Gb/s SSD. In our sequential read and write tests, the 1TB version of the P34A60 was able to read at speeds as high as 2,030 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 1,684 MB/s. It also did relatively well in our random write tests, producing more than 152,000 IOPS at low queue depths.
Of course, fast read and write speeds aren't the only things the P34A60 has to offer. Like most TLC-based SSDs, the drive uses an SLC caching algorithm to optimize performance during sustained writes. The P34A60 also employs features like LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check) error correction, End-To-End (E2E) data protection and a RAID engine for enhanced data integrity and stability. To top it all off, the P34A60 is covered by a five year warranty.
The P34A60 is available now in 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities. Prices on Amazon.com start at $47 and go up to $129 for the 1TB version reviewed here. There is no word yet on when the 2TB drive will be available or how much it will be.
- Available in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities
- PCIe 3.0 x4 interface with NVMe protocol
- Silicon Motion SM2263XT controller
- Equipped with Micron 64-layer TLC 3D NAND
- Good sequential and random read and write performance
- Small M.2 2280 form factor
- LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check) error correction code (ECC) technology
- End-To-End (E2E) data protection
- RAID engine for enhanced data integrity and stability
- HMB (Host Memory Buffer) and SLC Caching
- Reasonably priced
- 5 year warranty
- Write speed drops when SLC cache is full
- Does not support hardware based encryption