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Appeared on: Monday, May 12, 2014
Toshiba HG6 256GB 2.5-inch SSD review


1. Features, specs

We have in our labs one of the Toshiba's latest HG series of Solid State Drives (SSDs). The HG6 mainstream drives take advantage of Toshiba’s Advanced 19nm (A19nm) toggle 2.0 MLC (multi level cell) NAND, which delivers advances in performance and power efficiency.

The HG6 series SSDs are available in capacities ranging from 60GB to 512GB and boast maximum sequential read speeds of 534MB/s and maximum sequential write speeds of 482MB/s. It is based on an SSD controller made by Toshiba. The controller supports ‘adaptive SLC emulation’, which allows for improved writing performance.

The drives are available in a variety of form factors, including space saving mSATA, M.2 and in standard 2.5inch (64mm) widths with heights of 7mm and 9.5mm.

The drives are fitted with a 6Gbit/s SATA 3.1 interface and include Adaptive Size SLC Write cache technology and optional Self Encrypting feature compliant to TCG-Opal 2.0. All HG6 SSDs incorporate Toshiba’s Quadruple Swing-By Code (QSBC) for improved error correction and reliability. Toshiba says that the drives have a reliability rating (MTTF) of up to 1,500,000 hours.

Today we will test the 2.5-inch, 512GB HG6 SSD (THNSNJ256GCSU, 7.0mm version). It is slim enough to fit inside the latest ultra-portable laptops. Below you see its specifications:

Model
THNSNJ256GCSU
Capacity
256 GByte
Memory
Toshiba A19nm MLC NAND Flash Memory
Performance: Max. seq. read (2.5'' 512 GB model)
  • 534 MB/s (510 MiB/s)
Performance: Max. seq. write (2.5'' 512 GB model)
  • 482 MB/s (460 MiB/s)
Interface
ACS-2, SATA Rev. 3.1 (1.5/3/6 Gbit/s)
Connector type
Standard SATA
Supply voltage
5.0 V +/- 5 %
Power consumption (Largest capacity model)
Active: 3.3 W typ.
Idle: 125 mW typ.
Size
100 mm x 69.85 mm x 7 mm
Weight (typ.)
49 - 53 g
Case temperature (operating)
  • From 0 C to +70 C
Temperature (non-operating)
  • From -40 C to +85 C
Vibration (operating)
10 - 2,000Hz: 20 G
Vibration (non-operating)
10 - 2,000Hz: 20 G
Shock (operating)
0.5 ms: 1500 G
Shock (non-operating)
0.5 ms: 1500 G
MTTF
1,500,000 Hours
Additional features
  • Translation mode which enables any drive configuration
  • 28-bit LBA mode commands and 48-bit LBA mode commands support
  • Multi word DMA, Ultra-DMA, Advanced PIO mode
  • Automatic retries and corrections for read errors
  • SED models are based on TCG OPAL Ver. 2.0 standard
  • SED models also support Wipe Technology

2. A closer look

The Toshiba HG6 256GB 2.5-inch SSD is packaged in a standard 2.5-inch 7mm enclosure. As we previously mentioned, the HG6 series are aimed at both consumer and business use with multiple form factors to allow the drives to be used in ultrabooks, desktops, and servers. The drives are available in 2.5" SATA 6Gbps (7mm and 9.5mm), mSATA, and the newer M.2 specification.

Looking under the hood and at the drive's PCB, the one side of the PCB is bare for our 256GB test model, but it includes additional NAND chips in larger versions of the drive.This 256GB version ships with eight 32GB memory chips on one side. These are Toshiba Advanced 19nm (A19nm) toggle 2.0 MLC (Multi level cell) NAND. There is also the Toshiba - labeled controller, which supports 'adaptive SLC emulation', which offers improved writing performance.

The drive came with firmware Ver.JUXA101 installed and as you see below, the available capacity for the user is 244.198 MB (256GB drive). The difference is mostly the conversion of GB to GiB plus a bit of space set aside for over provisioning that the controller uses to maintain the drive over time in an effort to mitigate performance degradation. The readout on CrystalDiskInfo shows that both NCQ and S.M.A.R.T. are enabled, as well as TRIM and the interface is confirmed at SATA 6Gbps:



3. HDTachRW, HDTune

Here is our testbed:

For the tests, we used the following software:

We start the tests with the HDTachRW software. The software measures the sequential read speed, the random access speed and sequential write speed.

The drive gave 410.3 MB/s and just 235.1 MB/s on average for sequential reads and writes, respectively. As you see in the graph below, the drive's writing performance dropped to almost 100 MB/s after the 135GB mark, lowering the drive's overall average writing speed.

We move on to the HD Tune Pro software, another utility we used to measure the drive's reading and writing performances. Although not necessarily representative of real-world workloads, HD Tune's targeted tests give us a glimpse of each drive's raw capabilities.

This time the sequential reading test returned a 299.2 MB/s average speed and the corresponding sequential writing test a 108.3 MB/s average, which are both lower than we expected:

 

Below you see random reading test, where the Toshiba HG6 256GB SSD gave a 449.819 MB/s average reading speed for an 1MB transfer size and a 395.720 MB/s average reading for transferring files with random sizes - an average performance.

The drive's performance remained average in the random writing test with various file sizes:

Below you see some additional sequential and random reading and writing tests:


4. ATTO Disk Benchmark

The next software we used was the ATTO Disk Benchmark. The tool measures storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. The benchmark performs file transfers ranging from 0.5 KB to 8192 KB. ATTO can be adjusted to do overlapped I/O, in a variety of queue depths. We tested the SSD using the benchmark's default settings, using 256KB file length performance and QD4. ATTO probably gives the most accurate results for compressible read and write data.

As you see above the drive's reading and writing performance with compressible files was pretty consistent with files larger than 64KB. The average reading speed was about 550 MB/s and the writing speed was 520 MB/s.

The Toshiba SSD was also very fast in the sequential reading test of small, 4K files:

Sequential writing of small, compressible files was also fast although not the fastest we have seen from an SSD:

Going further to larger file transfers, the HG6 SSD remained fast in both reading and writing tests:


5. CrystalDiskMark

The next benchmark is the CrystalDiskMark. The software provides throughput data based on sequential reads and writes, and random (512K/4K/4KQD32) reads and writes of various sizes.

Below you see the drive's performance with incompressible (0Fill) data:

As you see below, the HG6 will perform the same no matter if the stored/retrieved data is compressible or not:

As we previously saw, the HG6 2562 GB SSD will perform according to its official specs in the sequential reading and writing tasks. The drive remains within the standards set by the competition in the 4K and 512KB read/write benchmarks, but it seems to be very strong in random reads of small 4K files in increased queue depths, while writing of 4K QD32 still fast but not record-setting:

 


6. AS SSD

We move on with the AS SSD benchmark, which contains five synthetic as well as three practical tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and the random read / write performance of an SSD. These tests are carried out without using the operating system's cache. The Seq-test measures how long it takes to read and write an 1GB file. Most importantly, this sequential benchmark uses incompressible data for all of its transfers.

The 4K benchmark tests the read and write performance for random 4K blocks. The 4K-64-THRD-test corresponds to the 4K procedure except that here the read and write operations are distributed on 64 threads:

The HG6''s performance in sequential reading with incompressible test was high at 515.72 MB/sl. Its sequential writing performance was impressive at 484.7 MB/s (average). Toshiba has made a great job with the firmware of the drive, offering a performance consistency with all kinds of data:

At the 4K random reading tests, theHG6 is positioned somewhere in the middle of the chart, with an average reading speed of 21.86 MB/s.

The drive also performed averagely in the 4K random writing tests with 70.05 MB/s:

Multi-threaded requests for random reading of 4K incompressible files were easy to handle for Toshiba SSD, offering a great 369.15 MB/s performance. In the corresponding writing test, the drive returned a decent 225.87 MB/s:

 

In the following graph you see how the HG6 256GB drive reads and writes files, which have been partially of fully compressed. It is obvious that the both reading and writing speeds do not depend on level of file compression:


7. IOMeter

This is the IOMeter benchmark. Iometer is run by using workstation and database patterns for queue depths (outstanding I/Os) representing very light and moderate loads. Iometer is both a workload generator (that is, it performs I/O operations in order to stress the system) and a measurement tool (that is, it examines and records the performance of its I/O operations and their impact on the system). The app's ability to bombard drives with an escalating number of concurrent IO requests also does a nice job of simulating the sort of demanding multi-user environments that are common in enterprise applications. The software can be used for measurement of the performance of an SSD. We started using the IOMeter tests using the Xtreme Benchmark template .

For the specific test, we used 100% random, 67%-33% read/write distribution, aligned with the benchmarks we had already done in the past with other SSDs:

The HG6 256GB GB SSD was very impressive talking the lead in the charts below:


8. Anvil Pro

The next benchmark is the Anvil Pro, an ‘all inclusive’ storage utility. The software is tests transfer speeds as well as IOPS  The IOPS tests can be configurable with preset testing scenarios for read (Seq 4MB, 4K, 4K QD4, 4K QD16, 32K and 128K), write (Seq 4MB, 4K, 4K QD4, 4K QD16) and mixed IO. 

We used the software with the Vertex 4 128GB SSD and tested the drive with 0-fill compression (RAW), 8% compression, 25% compression, 45% compression, 67% compression and finally 100 % (incompressible data). Below are the results with 0-fill compression as well as with fully incompressible files.

 


9. PCMark 7, PCMark 8

Below you see the results of Futuremark's PCMark 7 Professional edition. The software includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads.

The Toshiba drive scored 5582 points at the storage benchmark, which is the highest we have seen from an SSD so far.

We continue with the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark, which uses traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.

The Toshiba HG6 256GB SSD scored 4994 points, outperforming the 4965 score we have measured with the Crucial M550 512GB drive.

 

It is obvious that both the PCMark 7 and PCMark 8 benchmarks include low demand storage tests, resulting to very small differences (if any) logged among the SSDs we test.


10. Final words

Summarizing our benchmark results, the Toshiba HG6 256GB returned average sequential reading speeds of 516 MB/s and sequential writing speeds of 484 MB/s, consistent to the figures quoted by Toshiba and regardless of whether the data was compressible or not. The drive was also pretty fast in reading of 4k and up to 8MB block sizes (ATTO), while writing of the same files was also good but not the fastest we have seen from an SSD.

In the random read tests, the Toshiba HG6 256GB SSD remained within the standards set by the competition in the 4K and 512KB read/write benchmarks, and showed its strength in the random reads of small 4K files in increased queue depths. The drive's performance in the random writing tests of 4K QD32 was above the average.

Overall IOPS performance was excellent in a 100% random, 67%-33% read/write distribution benchmark.

The Toshiba HG6 is a solid state drive that will offer you well-balanced performance with both incompressible and compressible data streams. It is not the fastest SSD around as it faces the strong competition in the highly-populated SSD market, but besides performance, it comes with benefits such as Toshiba's 19nm Toshiba Toggle Mode MLC NAND and a good price -- about £145 ($130) for the 256GB version.





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