Kingston sent in new models of their KC and A series SSD familys for pocketables to review. Both of these drives are major revisions from their predecessors
Our Test system and Procedure
We detailed our test system in it’s own article. For testing the both drives were placed in the furthest m.2 slot to prevent thermal influence from other components. The system is running windows 10 Professional and was under no load(AV disabled) for all tests. Testing will consist our standard set of tests which we outlined previously.
The drives and accessories
Unfortunately these drives were immediately put into testing and we didn’t get any good photos of their packaging. However what’s visible in the press photos is accurate and similar to what we’ve seen on Kingston drives before. The A2000 is a single sided design just like it’s precesstor with a maximum capacity of 1TB(our test unit) the KC2000 however is a double sided design that scales to 2TB although the 1TB model keeps everything on one side leaving room for the additional circuitry required to scale to 2TB.
|NAND||96-layer 3D TLC||96-layer 3D TLC||96-layer 3D TLC||96-layer 3D TLC||96-layer 3D TLC||96-layer 3D TLC||96-layer 3D TLC|
|Interface||NVMe PCIe 3.0x4||NVMe PCIe 3.0x4||NVMe PCIe 3.0x4||NVMe PCIe 3.0x4||NVMe PCIe 3.0x4||NVMe PCIe 3.0x4||NVMe PCIe 3.0x4|
|Sequential Read||3000 MB/s||3000 MB/s||3200 MB/s||3200 MB/s||2000 MB/s||2200 MB/s||2200 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||1100 MB/s||2000 MB/s||2200 MB/s||2200 MB/s||1100 MB/s||2000 MB/s||2000 MB/s|
|Maximum 4k Random Read||350,000 IOPS||350,000 IOPS||350,000 IOPS||250,000 IOPS||150,000 IOPS||180,000 IOPS||250,000 IOPS|
|Maximum 4k Random Write||200,000 IOPS||250,000 IOPS||275,000 IOPS||250,000 IOPS||1800,000 IOPS||200,000 IOPS||220,000 IOPS|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Warranty||5 years||5 years||5 years||5 years||5 years||5 years||5 years|
Major changes abound with these, the A2000 is now a full 4x device, both devices are now 3d TLC and using SM2262 controllers, so what’s different? The listed specs for the A2000 are a bit lower, i’d suspect slower nand and a smaller SLC cache. Alongside that although our units both have SM2262EN controllers the spec sheet for the A2000 doesn’t actually disclose what nand/controller it uses so in theory they could have multiple sources to keep costs down.
What is NVME
NVME stands for non volatile memory express. It replaces the old AHCI(Advanced host controller interface) that was used for SATA devices. The largest advantages NVMe has over AHCI are a substantial decrease in cpu overhead and a connection to a much higher bandwidth PCIe bus. None of the legacy commands for using spinning media are present either. NVMe was built for speed from the ground up.
What happened to TRIM
TRIM was an extension to the AHCI command set introduced to improve the performance of solid state drives. Since NVMe was built specifically with SSD’s in mind it already has similar features in the command set. As such NVMe SSD’s won’t show support for the old AHCI trim command.
SSD didn’t ever get any updates and sadly isn’t particularly useful these days. However Crystal Disk info still works fantastically and shows up that both drives are using NVMe as well as verifying that we get a 3.0×4 link on both the KC2000 and SA2000.
Moving on to our first performance numbers we have ATTO. We can see that the KC2000 is peaking at 3152953 for reads and 2278607 for writes just shy of it’s target 3200/2200 specs(although not by much). The A2000 actually does better here while it only promised 2200/2000 we see it posting results of 2262561 and 2191108 for peaks read and write respectively.
The KC2000 is gives the other NVMe drives a show peaking high and fast outpacing it’s older sibling, although the KC1000 does seem to hold an edge in writes we don’t see the same odd dip at the 48MB size that seemed to indicate a heat issue on the older drive. The A2000 however does bounce around a fair bit and we see a complete drop at the end of the write test likely indicating the drive had exhausted it’s SLC cache.
Crystal Disk Mark shows us our first glimpse of random data. Taking a look at this we can see that for lightly threaded applications the lower end drive should respond just fine, however at higher queue depths the more capable KC2000 simply trounces it’s counterpart.
Bringing the rest of the drives in for comparison the new drives really stand out compared to everything except the older KC1000. Sata drives just can’t compete with the bandwidth available to a pcie 3.0×4 link.
Anvil gives us a good look at some response times as well as validating earlier tests. Response time is really what we feel it’s the delay between a request for data and actually receiving it. All solid state drives offer impressive response times compared to spinning media however. Compared to Sata drives NVMe devices typically have a lower overhead.
To little surprise both of the new 2000 series Kingston drives fight back and forth over response times overall they seem an even match although the A2000 does pull ahead in the 32k test. Performance for both is as expected ahead of all the sata drives with only other nvme drives posing any competition.
As always we see a bit of a drop in our sanity check AS SSD. We’re not seeing any surprises here which is a good thing we also have the handy built in real world simulated tests. The simulated tests are actually an improvement over earlier drives with above sata interface performance across the board.
Unlike the older 1000 series drives where the value oriented A1000 was placed back with sata drives in the program test for this round both 2000 series drives place above everything we’ve tested, with the A2000 trading blows with the previous high end K1000.
These consistency results look a lot like the earlier drives with the A series quickly running out of SLC cache and just being all over the place. Something interesting that will likely play out in our deviation calculation is that the SA2000 suddenly tightened up at 6000s improving beyond what the K2000 could do however this shouldn’t excuse it’s behavior in the earlier part of the test even if our deviation chart won’t show it.
Even high performing sata drives like the MX500 can’t quite keep up with the performance available to NVMe today. Although earlier designs struggled with thermal issues(and indeed the current models still can) modern ones are managing that far better for performance that should make any DBA happy.
Pricing puts both of these drives in an interesting light. At 53.99 for 500gb and 102.99 for a full 1TB the A2000 is priced to move and compares favorably to high end sata drives like the MX500 and Samsung units. On the other side of the scale the K2000 is priced a bit high at 97.50 for the 500gb model and 174.25 for 1Tb but it does offer a tantalizing option of 2Tb at 265.40 for those looking at higher density. That leaves us with two very different conclusions, for the average user the A2000 is going to be a winner with good pricing and performance there’s little reason to look at the higher end model. For those who need the absolute best, or perform functions such as video editing the KC2000 would be an excellent choice unless your platform allows for features such as PCIe 4.0.