Published on Monday, 21 July 2014 23:06
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Solid state drives (SSDs) based on the SATA standard may not have gone a very long way in terms of raw read/write performance levels during the past few years but they have advanced a lot both in features (AES hardware encryption, TCG Opal 2.0/IEE-1667 support, garbage collection/TRIM, power-loss protection) and build quality (higher controller MTBF, NAND Flash write endurance) effectively making them far more solid solutions compared to earlier models (there used to be a time when SSDs would just die on us after just being used for a few weeks). However until the next SATA standard makes its appearance in the market in numbers SATA III based solutions (along with PCIex ones) are ontop of our list and so although we don't expect to encounter performance miracles still we need to check and compare all the models available in the market we can get our hands on. Today on our test bench we have the latest offering by Plextor the M6S 256GB SSD model.
PLEXTOR is a world-leading developer of award-winning solid state drives, and other high-performance digital storage devices for professionals, consumers, and enterprises. The PLEXTOR brand of storage and multimedia products is owned by Shinano Kenshi of Japan. The PLEXTOR brand name was created in United States in 1993, and comes from two parts: PLEX and TOR. “PLEX” originated from the suffix of “multiplex”. Here, “multiplex” means relating to a system of transmitting several messages or signals simultaneously on the same circuit or channel, just as making silk which is being composed of many materials and needed a precise and delicate process. “TOR” originated from motor, which is the first product with Shinano Kenshi’s core technologies in electric industry. Since the introduction of our very first CD-ROM back in 1989, PLEXTOR has had an obsessive approach to quality and performance. As we grew, PLEXTOR’s legendary optical drives became the performance benchmark against which all others in the industry were measured. Today that legend lives on, not only in our new generation of Blu-ray drives but in our multi-award winning solid-state drives. As additional users discover the benefits of our high-performance SSDs, our engineers continue to insist that every PLEXTOR product be designed to deliver maximum reliability and true performance.
Unlike the Crucial M550 and MX100 models that use the brand new Marvell 88SS9189 8-channel controller the M6S makes use of the earlier 88SS9188 4-channel controller and Toshiba's second generation 19nm MLC NAND flash. I do happen to have much faith in manufacturers with long histories behind them like Plextor but a 4-channel controller is more suited for mSATA SSD models so i don't really understand why they decided to use it with both their SATA III (M6s) and mSATA (M6M) models (lower cost?). The good news however is that according to their specifications sheet the 256/512GB variants don't seem to be taking much of a hit although i do expect the upcoming M6Pro model to carry an 8-channel controller by Marvell (perhaps the 88SS9189?). Another thing that separates the 88SS9189 from the 88SS9188 is that although the second does offer AES-256 support via ATA password it actually lacks the usual hardware encryption and support for TCG Opal 2.0 and IEEE-1667 so it's obviously not as secure as some other models we've seen lately (although not really useful for most consumers). Personally I’m really curious to see how the M6S does both against its immediate competition and the M5Pro 256GB SSD model which we had the chance to test slightly over a year ago.