It no longer makes sense to use a computer that does not have an SSD Drive to at least support the operating system. Considering the price of this type of memory and the several advantages it brings, for those who still use mechanical disks this is one of the best investments that can be made and IRDM is one of the brands with very interesting solutions.
After presenting the various IRDM solutions, today we bring the analysis to the Drive IRDM M.2 SSD with PCIe 3 × 4 interface and DRAM buffer.
Since the short access times, the high transfer speeds, the low energy consumption, the great resistance to external impacts and the high durability, all these advantages are very evident in relation to the mechanical disks.
It is true that the price of NAND Flash memory per GB is still high, failing to compensate when it comes to large storage capacities. However, the return is worthwhile for a 500 GB Drive, which is already available from 60 and a few euros, with NVMe.
The Drive IRDM M.2 SSD is the type of Drive currently most popular in socket M.2 in format 2280, compatible with NVMe 1.3. It has a performance several times superior to the typical SATA III Drive, being able to load heavy content, such as games and video and image editing up to 6 times faster.
The existence of the DRAM buffer allows the Drive to work constantly under heavy load during, for example, a demanding game. This way, the usual performance problems on Drives that do not have DRAM do not arise. It then allows reading and writing speeds of around 3 GB / s to be achieved and can be used as a more economical alternative to NVMe products with PCIe 4.0.
The Drive IRDM M.2 SSD is available in 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB (here under review) and 2 TB versions. The maximum reading speed is similar in all of them, in the order of 3000 MB / s. However, with regard to writing speed, it is about 1000 MB / s in the 256 GB model, 2000 MB / s in the 512 GB model, and about 3000 MB / s for the rest, from 1 and 2 TB.
The controller that this Drive brings, with PCIe 3.0 connectivity, is not exactly new on the market, having existed for some generations. However, it is robust and has been very reliable at an affordable price, also presenting low energy consumption and lower temperatures than the successors.
The PCIe 3 × 4 specification means that it supports PCI Express 3.0 up to 4x. In other words, it translates into a maximum bandwidth of 32 Gbps, with real speeds of up to 3500 MB / s, both in reading and writing.
The NVMe protocol in version 1.3, used for a long time in professional solutions, allows a marked reduction in latency and the possibility of working in parallel operations. Specifically, this model uses the version NVMe 1.3c, a revision dated August 2018.
NAND Flash 3D TLC memory
This Drive includes one of the most reliable controllers with this interface: Phison E12 (PS5012-E12). It has existed since 2018 and integrated the high-end Drives of that time, before PCIe 4.0 appeared on AMD Ryzen systems.
In conjunction with the controller, NAND Flash TLC Toshiba memory in 64 layers is used, thus achieving an approximate bandwidth of 3 GB / s for reading and writing. It is not new on the market, we can even refer to it as something common, since this combination integrates many models of various brands.
To help all of this move, it includes the Phison CoXprocessor processor (2nd generation), an LDPC unit and a signal processor. It also includes 1 GB of DDR4 RAM (512 MB DDR4 for the 256 and 512 GB models, 2 GB DDR4 for the 2 TB model), used only for Drive operations, therefore, not shareable with the system.
On top of this, a small heatsink is included, a thin strip of aluminum that helps to dissipate heat more optimally, in the zone with the highest thermal load.
But if the motherboard already has a sink, where are we?
Here we can combine the useful with the pleasant. If there are some SSD Drives that bring a sticker that impairs thermal conductivity, whose removal often invalidates the warranty, in this case we can take advantage of the heatsink already included.
That is, if on the one hand the dissipation is improved when there is no additional heatsink, on the other hand, it will serve as the basis for an external heatsink. Yes, the thickness and coating of the small aluminum strip is suitable for use with an additional heatsink, often already included on motherboards.
In summary, M.2 SSD IRDM Drives have an M.2 2280 format, compatible with this type of slot. The interface is PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3 with a controller, as already mentioned, from Phison, with DDR4 SK Hynix memory and NAND Flash Toshiba 64L TLC.
Note that, for the 1 TB and 2 TB models, both sides of the PCB have NAND Flash chips and are therefore double-sided. This may limit its use in more compact systems, as is the case with some Mini PCs or laptops, in which case they are restricted to the 512 GB (single-sided) model.
IRDM M.2 SSDPCIe 3x4
250 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB / 2 TB
Model WD Black
PCIe 3.0 × 4, NVMe 1.3c
Toshiba 64L TLC
SK Hynix DDR4
3200 MB / s (128 KB)
3000 MB / s (128 KB)
Random reading 4KB
Random writing. 4KB
Low consumption L1.2
0 to 85 ºC
1 800 000 hours
5 years or 600 TB written
Goodram's OPTIMUM SSD Tool application
To help monitor the status of the IRDM Drives and perform some tests, Goodram offers the OPTIMUM SSD Tool application. In addition to allowing access to all S.M.A.R.T. information, such as temperature, remaining life, written data, etc., it also allows you to update the firmware and see the space occupied by type of files, even for Drives from other brands.
It also allows you to perform performance tests (maximum read / write speed) and includes a data migration tool, so you can safely upgrade, without having to install everything again. It also allows you to contact Goodram support directly.
In the overwhelming majority of cases, it is intended that an HDD or SSD Drive will perform well in a so-called normal use, with applications and games running, heavier and less heavy, where generally the maximum read / write speed is of little relevance. Of course, there are exceptions and, therefore, benchmarking tools were chosen to cover not only situations of real use (simulated) but also synthetic tests.
Description of the benchmarks used
PCMark 10 – Storage Test
The PCMark 10 software is a renowned benchmarking tool, capable of simulating situations of real use of the computer, in the most varied tasks. For this analysis, only the Storage Test fits the purpose, having been the only test performed.
SPECworkstation 3.0.4 – WPCstorage
With a similar purpose to PCMark 10, SPECworkstation goes a little further in terms of demand, exercising the system even more. Also here, only the most relevant test, WPCstorage, was performed. It was not possible to run it on the Samsung 970 Evo Drive, due to having the operating system running and not having the required 190 GB free.
Crystal Disk Mark 7.0.0
It is one of the most popular and simple benchmarking tools for Storage Drives. It allows you to quickly execute sequential and random read / write tests, with different Queues and Threads, with results in MB / s or IOPS. In the Q8T1 sequential tests, the results are generally consistent with the manufacturer's information, so we chose to choose a 4K random read / write test (Q32T16).
HD Tune Pro 5.70
The HD Tune Pro tool is very comprehensive, with capacity for several types of synthetic tests. However, here only the IOPS test (input / output operations per second) was considered. Therefore, it is not a question of evaluating the “cutting-edge” speed, but rather the amount of operations per second that the unit is capable of, in this case only for a size of 1 MB.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 4.01.0f1
The ATTO Disk Benchmark tool, also used as a reference by some SSD Drives manufacturers, tests sequential writing and reading, for different file sizes. In this sense, it is possible to observe the performance curve depending on the size of the file being read / written.
As a comparison term, the results of the 1 TB WD Black SN750 SSD Drive (already analyzed here) and a more modest Samsung 970 Evo drive, 256 GB, were used.
The results obtained with the Drive IRDM M.2 1 TB are within the expected for this type of configuration, with PCIe 3 × 4 interface and Phison E12 controller with NAND Toshiba 64L TLC.
It is slightly below the WD Black SN750 1TB in most benchmarks. However, in PCMark it presented the best result, although not consistent with the SPECworkstation and the other benchmarks. However, its price is also lower and, although slightly slower, it has a highly regarded controller for the PCIe 3 × 4 interface, referred to by many as the best on the market.
The durability and warranty time are also important points, which give confidence to this type of Drives. It is also worth mentioning the inclusion of the small heatsink, which in addition to helping to extend the life of the Drive (lower temperature benefits the lifetime of the electronic components), is ready to be used with an external heatsink, if you wish.
It is natural that Drives are slower than PCIe 4.0, which reach speeds in the order of 5 GB / s but are also much more expensive.
Where to find this and IRDM products?
There are already several commercial surfaces with IRDM products, such as Worten, PC Components or Chip7. If you are interested in resale, you can use CPCdi, the brand distributor in Portugal.
The 1 TB M.2 SSD IRDM drive, analyzed in this article, can be found in the national market from around 140 €.