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Silicon Power S70 7mm SSD for Ultrabook

Silicon Power S70 7mm SSD for Ultrabook

The Silicon Power Slim S70 (SP240GBSS3S70S25) paired the LSI SandForce SF-2281 controller with the 25nm Intel synchronous NAND in a slim package of 7mm. Available in capacity ranges from 60GB all the way to 480GB, it is one of the high-end SSDs designed for Ultrabooks.

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Introduction

The price of SSDs has been declining for sometime, and it has reached to the sub $1 per gigabyte range now. While it is still not dirt-cheap like the mechanical drive, it has reached a price point where it is affordable, especially the 120GB version that offers enough space for your OS and commonly used applications for a little over $100. If you are looking for a gift for techies out there for this holiday, the SSD certainly would make a good choice. Whether you are using a desktop or a laptop, upgrading to an SSD would be one of the easiest and most tangible improvements that one would notice in a PC. Even for a slightly older PC, an SSD upgrade would breathe new life into the old machine, making applications load faster and the PC boot up quicker.

The shift towards more portable devices like the Ultrabook means that every little bit of space counts in order to make a portable system powerful. Traditional mobile storage often comes in the 9.5 mm form factor but as laptops are getting slimmer for greater portability, the storage height has been reduced to 7 mm. The Silicon Power’s latest Slim S70 is designed not only for desktop and notebooks, but also for these ultra-portable Ultrabooks with its 7 mm height. Let’s dig in and see what Silicon Power Slim S70 has to offer.

Silicon Power Slim S70 240 GB (SP240GBSS3S70S25)

The retail package of the Slim S70 is a typical cardboard box that we have seen with SSDs. Silicon Power proudly displays the metallic exterior of the SSD with the see-through plastic. On the rear of the package, we have the usual marketing information with the drive’s specification in various languages. The see-through plastic is nice touch as it catches attention with its flashy look.

Inside we can see that the Slim S70 is wrapped around a plastic holder with a cover. There is no foam or padding that we have seen with other SSDs but rest assured that the drive arrived in our doorstep without any damage. Since SSDs have no moving parts, there is really no need for padding. In addition to the drive, we also get an Installation Guide and a bag of screws. Unlike other manufacturers like Kingston or OCZ, the Slim S70 did not come with a bracket for 3.5” drive. Of course, since the drive is targeted toward Ultrabooks, the omission is unsurprising. You can still use the drive on your desktop provided that your case has a 2.5” drive bay which is rather common nowadays.

One area where SSD manufacturers often differentiate from each other is through the warranty length and the software bundle. We have seen Intel often bundle their drives with the handy Intel SSD ToolBox that provides tools to secure erase the drive and firmware update. Kingston’s retail drive often comes with a system cloning tool for easy transition to a new drive. The Silicon Power lacks any special software bundle but what it does have to offer is slightly cheaper retail price especially for its 7mm form factor. A quick search online showed that the Slim S70 is retailed at 209.99, $20 cheaper than the similar spec drives.

SSDs all looked pretty much the same as it is nothing more than just a metallic body on the exterior housing the PCB that contains the controller and the NANDs. While no one really will look at the exterior of the drive since they are ultimately going to be hidden inside a system, the metallic exterior of the Silicon Power Slim S70 is very attractive with the champagne golden aluminum case. The champagne golden color gives the drive a premium look and its all metallic casing also makes it more durable. The branding and the capacity are engraved on the surface with white character which looks rather nice as oppose to a plain sticker that we often find. We actually wish there is an Ultrabook out there with a see-through drive cage so that we can show off the look of the drive.

The height of the Slim S70 is only 7mm since it is designed specifically for the Ultrabook. The image above shows the height difference against the OCZ Vertex 3 which is a 9 mm drive. While Intel has not put a specific height requirement for the Ultrabook’s storage, with many Ultrabook like the Asus Zenbook UX32VD slim profile design, the 7 mm height on the Slim S70 would mean that it should not have any issue fit into an Ultrabook or a notebook that takes a taller conventional drive. The drive supports the latest SATA 6 Gbps interface and is backward compatible with SATA 3 Gbps.

When we remove the cover, we can see the drive has eight NAND devices on one side and eight other NAND devices on the flip side. Unlike some other manufacturers that use the metallic casing of the drive as the heatsink to cool the controller, the Slim S70 does not have any heat tape above the controller so no additional cooling is provided through the case.

We can see that the LSI SandForce SF-2218 controller is located on the left side of the PCB board. On the right side is eight Intel 25nm NAND with part number 29F1680. These NAND are the same as the ones used on the OCZ Vertex 3 and many other SandForce based SSDs. The flash NAND uses is the synchronous NAND but on Silicon Power’s website it mentioned that the drive comes with either Toggle of Synchronized NAND.

The drive has a rated maximum read of 557 MB/s and write of 508 MB/s with 4K random write speed up to 86,000 IOPS. As with any SandForce SF-2000 based drive, the Slim S70 supports the RAISE technology, DuraWrite for reduce NAND wear and extends drive’s endurance, TRIM command and garbage collection.

Slim S70 Product Feature and Specification

  • 7mm slim design suitable for Ultrabooks and Ultra-slim notebooks
  • SATA III 6Gbps backwards compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
  • Super-high transfer rate: 557MB/s max. Read spee
  • 507MB/s max. Write speed
  • Random 4K write speed up to 86000 IOPS
  • Toggle/Synchronous flash built-in
  • Supports TRIM command and Garbage Collection technology
  • NCQ and RAID ready
  • Equipped with DureWriteTM and wear leveling, to extend endurance
  • Implemented with ECC technology to guarantee data transmission reliability
  • Built-in with SMART monitoring system
  • Low power consumption
  • Shockproof & Anti-Vibration
  • Noiseless operation, no latency delay and no seek error
  • 3 year warranty

TESTING & METHODOLOGY

To test the Silicon Power Slim S70 we cloned our test rig drive to the SSD. It is the same test drive we’ve been using on all of our drive testing and is nothing more than a clean Windows load with all the drive testing software installed, as well as all the current drivers and patches for the OS. It’s the equivalent of doing a fresh load of Vista from the disc but takes a lot less time and ensures that every drive tested uses exactly the same OS load and drivers. Nothing that may effect the outcome of the testing procedure can creep in. We ran all of the tests a total of 3 times and averaged those results. The Average of the three results are presented here. In the case of a pictorial benchmark we ran the bench 3 times and picked the median result. As with most SSD testing differences from run to run are minimal and the median result is a good indication of what you can expect from the drive.

We ran our usual battery of tests on the drive, and used it as the primary boot drive during testing. All of the drives tested were used as the primary boot drive during testing. That’s a more realistic test than strapping the drive in and testing it with a bare format or as a non-boot drive and it represents real life transfer rates, much like you can expect when you install and operate the drive in your own system. Each test was performed 3 times and the average of the 3 test run is reported here.

Test Setup

Test Setup
Case Type None
CPU Intel Core i5 2500K
Motherboard Asus P8Z68-V Pro
Ram Kingston HyperX 1600
CPU Cooler Prolimatech Megahalem
Storage Drives

Silicon Power Slim S70 240GB

OCZ Vertex 4 240GB

OCZ Vertex 3 240GB

OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB

Crucial RealSSD C400 256GB

Intel SSD 520 256GB

Seagate Momentus XT 750GB

Optical None
GPU Gigabyte GTX 260 OC
Case Fans 120mm Fan cooling the mosfet CPU area
Docking Stations None
Testing PSU Cooler Master UCP 900W
Legacy None
Mouse Microsoft Intellimouse
Keyboard Logitech Keyboard
Gaming Ear Buds None
Speakers None

Results

The performance of an SSD is governed by the controller, type of NAND, and the firmware. Often the the controller and the type of NAND will dictate a drive’s raw performance while the firmware allows a manufacturers to fine-tune their drive to yield a slightly higher result. Because of this, drives with the same controller and NAND are often perform similar to each other. We put the Silicon Power Slim S70 against the Intel SSD 520 and the OCZ Vertex 3 since all drives are based on the same controller and the NAND so the difference between these drives can show us just how much the firmware can have impact on a drive’s performance.

Iometer

We starts off with the Iometer to see how a drive handles complete random data.

Here we can see the random read of the Silicon Power drive is just slightly behind the other two SandForce drives in the random read department, especially with queue depth of 1. Intel has done quite a lot of firmware optimization with their SSD 520 drive where it simply trumps other SandForce drives here.

At higher queue depth, we can see the Silicon Power bounces back, and narrowly edges out the OCZ Vertex 3 with 264 MB/s transfer rate in the random read.

The random write for the drive is similar to the random read where the Slim s70 comes in just a tad slower than the Vertex 4 with 72 MB/s for queue depth of 1 and 229 MB/s with queue depth of 3.

The Slim S70 shows impressive 302 MB/s random write speed at queue depth of 32, which translates to 20% faster than the other SandForce drives. Consumer PC hardly ever push more than a couple of queue depth so while the performance is impressive here, it may not be something that is noticeable in day to day use.

For our sequential read and write performance, we show the drive’s performance with queue depth of 1 and 32.

The sequential read for the Slim S70 is about 340 MBs at queue depth of 1 and 546 MB/s at queue depth of 32. The drive edges out the OCZ Vertex 3 and is a tad slower than the Intel SSD 520.

The sequential write tops at 532 MBs at queue depth of 32 and it is faster than other SandForce drives.

Crystal DiskMark

While the IOMeter shows us that the 4K random read and write for the Slim S70 is tad slower than the competitor, the Crystal DiskMark actually has the Slim S70 taking a slightly lead over the Vertex 3 in both random read and write. The drive yields 35 read and 82 write score.

The 4K random read and write at 32 queue depth also shows the Slim S70 edges out the Vertex 3 with 209 read and 262 write.

The Slim S70 scored 435 in read and 311 in write for the 512K test. Looks like the Slim S70 performs quite well with the write compare to other SandForce drive

The sequential read of the Slim S70 scored 474 in the CrystakDiskMark test which is lower than the other SandForce drive by about 20 points. In the sequential write, the drive once again takes the top spot with 317, about 10 more than the other SandForce drives.

AS SSD

SandForce based drives features data compression to reduce NAND wear which often results in a slightly worse performance than drives without compression. As always, we use AS SSD to test how a drive will handle the incompressible data.

When dealing with incompressible data, the Slim S70 falls behind the Vertex 3 and the Intel SSD 520 in both 4K read and write department. Granted the difference is slim but we can see just how the firmware optimization for a drive can help with the performance as we can see the Intel SSD 520 to be ale to yield about 10% higher performance despite using the same controller and NAND.

At higher threading, the Intel SSD 520 is still faster at read but the Slim S70 is just as fast as the Vertex 3. However, with the write, our Slim S70 actually once again takes the top spot among the SandForce drives.

The sequential read of the Slim S70 tops at 508 MB/s. The sequential write is 305 MB/s. Both sequential read and write is comparable to other drives.

PCMark 7

By now, we already know that the Silicon Power Slim S70 is faster at handling heavy thread write tasks but its random read and write is slightly slower than other SandForce drives. To see how would this affect the drive’s performance in day to day use, we once again use PCMark 7’s Storage test to give us some idea.

As expected, the Slim S70 scored a tad lower than the Vertex 3 and the SSD 520 with 5295 points. Since most desktop workloads are not using more than a couple of queues so the drive with higher random read and write at low queue depth often will have higher performance than the drive that performs well in the higher queue depth. We do want to emphasize that the performance difference between the drives are about only 1~2% which is still within the margin of error and we doubt that in day to day use, anyone would notice that slight performance difference.

Conclusion

The Silicon Power Slim S70 uses the reliable SandForce SF-2281 controller and the Intel 25nm Synchronous NAND. Such combinations are tried and tested where users who are buying the SSD can feel comfortable that the drive they are purchasing is not going to have any major issue. Reliability for any storage in our opinion is far more important than performance and the fact that the combination of SF-2281 and 25nm Intel Synchronous NAND is proven to be one of the most reliable means that you can trust that the previous data storage on the drive are going to be secure. The SandForce SF-2281 controller has been on the market for over a year now and it is still one of the best SSD controllers available. The firmware has been tested and there has not been much issues reported except for couple of bugs which have been fixed. Even after one year since it is launched, drives with such controllers and NAND are still going strong. Not to mention that the time has driven the price down where the Silicon Power Sim S70 is now selling at $2099.99, or $100~$150 cheaper than similar drives a year ago.

Compared to other slim profile SSDs like the OCZ Vertex 3 and Intel SSD 520, we can see that while the drive may not going to be the fastest in terms of performance, it is still competitive enough. In day to day workloads, we doubt that slim performance difference between other SandForce drives are going to be be something that average users would notice. While the drive may lacks any software utility tool compare to Intel’s offering and only comes with three year warranty like the OCZ Vertex 3 (Intel SSD 520 offers 5 year warranty), it is one of the cheapest 7 mm SSD available on the market. So it is priced competitively against other drives on the market. We feel that if you are on the market for a new SSD this holiday for your ultrabook, the Silicon Power Slim S70 would certainly make a great gift for your loved ones.

OUR VERDICT: Silicon Power Slim S70
Performance 9
Value 8
Quality 9
Features 9
Innovation 8
We are using a new addition to our scoring system to provide additional feedback beyond a flat score. Please note that the final score isn’t an aggregate average of the new rating system.
Total 9
Pros Cons

Great looking drive

7mm height for Ultrabooks

SandForce SF-2281 controller with Intel Synchronous NAND

Price

No 2.5 to 3.5” adapter provided

3 year warranty while some competitors are offering 5 year

;

Summary: Backed with reliable SF-2281 controller and Intel synchronous NAND, the Silicon Power Slim S70 brings high-performance SSD to the Ultrabooks with its 7 mm height. The Silicon Power Slim S70 has earned the Bjorn3D Silver Bear Award.

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