5 Easy Ways to Maximize Performance of Your SSD

A Solid State Drive, or SSD, has no moving mechanical parts, generates less heat, and consumes less energy than a traditional hard drive. In short—an SSD runs silent, cool, and green. And they’re fast.

Plextor PX-M5P SSD

Here are five things you can do from the keyboard to make sure you’re getting optimal performance from your SSD.

  • Enable TRIM.
    First check and see if it’s enabled (most Windows 7 users will find that TRIM is already enabled, but you’ll want to check just to make sure). Click Start, type “cmd” and right click your search result and click “Open as Administrator”.  Now type “fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify” (without the quotes). If you get DisableDeleteNotify = 0 then TRIM is working. If you get DisableDeleteNotify = 1 then you need to enable it. To enable it, type “fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0″ (without the quotes) and restart your computer.
  • Disable Defragging.
    Mechanical hard drives need defragging. SSDs don’t. Disable as follows: click Start, click on Control Panel, then “System and Maintenance”. Under “Administrative Tools” you’ll see something called “Defragment your hard drive”. Open that up, see if “Run Automatically’ is selected. If it is, de-select it. Alternatively, you may type in “disk defragmenter” in the Start menu search bar and disable automatic defragging from there.
  • Disable Superfetch and Prefetch.
    SSDs have extremely fast access times that are many times faster than traditional HDDs. Superfetch and Prefetch will just eat up precious memory without giving you much of a performance benefit. Click Start, type “regedit”, right click your search result and click “Run as Administrator”.  Navigate to:  “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\SessionManager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters”. Right click EnableSuperfetch and EnablePrefetcher and modify their values to 0. Then restart your computer.
  • Disable Indexing.
    Indexing takes what it thinks are the most commonly used files and stores the file locations for quick access. This may not slow down your SSD, but it can put a load on your processor. With SSDs being fast enough to access all files, there’s really no reason to have indexing, so turn it off. Click Start, click Computer, right click your SSD (normally C:), click “Properties”,  look under the General tab and unclick “Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed”.
  • Disable Hibernation.
    This will free up a lot of valuable space. And, of course, with your SSD you can boot into Windows from a complete shutdown and open your work up again just as fast as you can resume from a state of hibernation. (Or you can use the other sleep mode called “Standby.”) Simply click Start, type “cmd”, right click the search result and click “Run as Administrator” and type “powercfg -h off”.

With a few keyboard strokes and a couple clicks of your mouse, you’re on your way to getting the best performance that your SSD has to offer. But when you really think about it, it’s probably safe to say you’re looking for more than high performance when you buy an SSD—maybe even extreme performance. It might be worth noting that Plextor offers the Xtreme version of their M5 Pro—which may be the best and fastest SSD currently available. It delivers dramatically enhanced speed, massive throughput, and fault tolerant performance that’s ideal for prosumers, serious gamers, and system integrators. May be something worth thinking about.

Browse our store for the latest Plextor SSDs!

 

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Plextor’s Quick SSD Install Guide

You know the advantages of a Solid State Drive over a mechanical hard disc drive and you know there is no other piece of hardware that will give you as much additional performance as an SSD. And you’re now ready to install your SSD and experience a new level of speed and efficiency.

Still shopping around?  We recommend checking out the new M5 Pro Xtreme or, if you’re upgrading an ultrabook, an M5M mSATA SSD.

Once you pick out your new drive, it’s time to grab your screwdriver and this quick install guide and get started. The first and fundamental consideration in installing a Plextor Solid State Drive (SSD) is knowing how you’re going to use it. This will determine how you install it.

Starting Fresh – Replacing an existing HDD
If you have a desktop computer and you’re going to be using your new SSD to replace the existing hard drive—and if you will be re-installing operating systems and other application software from the original discs—you do the following:

  1. Create a backup of your personal data (complete backup is not required for a fresh installation)
  2. Turn off the computer and unplug it. Remove the computer cover. Unplug and remove the current Hard Disc Drive from computer.
  3. Mount the SSD on a 3.5” mounting bracket and secure with mounting screws. Then mount and secure the bracket and SSD into a vacant drive bay in the computer.
  4. Connect SATA power cable and SATA data cable to the SSD. (SATA 6Gbps certified data cable is recommended.) Refer to your motherboard manual for the correct location of motherboard connectors.
  5. Replace the cover on the computer. Reconnect power source and turn on the computer. Use an OS installation disc to boot and install operating systems.

Additional Information
It is also recommended that you go into your system BIOS to configure your SATA HOST CONTROLLER for AHCI mode. Additional drivers may be required if using any operating system older than Windows 7.

Laptop installation
If you have a laptop computer and are planning on replacing the existing HDD with your new SSD, follow these steps:

  1. Create a backup of your personal data (complete backup is not required for a fresh installation)
  2. Turn off your laptop, unplug it, and remove the battery.
  3. Check the service manual to locate and open the HDD access panel to the drive bay.
  4. Remove existing drive from drive bay. (If existing drive is mounted in some sort of bracket, remove the entire assembly, and remove the existing drive from the assembly.)
  5. Replace the HHD with the SSD drive using existing mounting hardware. Replace the entire assembly back into the drive bay, and close the access panel.
  6. Replace the battery, reconnect power source, turn on your laptop, and use an OS installation disc to boot and install operating systems.

Additional Information
Before installing your SSD into your laptop, it’s always a good idea to check your laptop’s service manual to make sure your laptop’s existing HDD can be replaced and if replacing the HDD would void the warranty.

Desktop — Data Migration (keeping your data)
If you have a desktop computer and want to migrate your system (this includes all software applications and personal data) onto your new SSD—simply perform the following steps prior to installing SSD:

  1. Backing up your data is always a good idea, but it is not a necessary part of the process since the existing HDD will be cloned. Obtain a SATA-USB converter to connect the SSD to your current system. You may also choose to install the drive internally using an open connection.
  2. Obtain and run a cloning utility from your existing HDD. If the SSD you bought doesn’t come with cloning software, we recommend checking out Acronis True Image and following their step-by-step instruction manual.  (Note: The original HDD cannot be larger in capacity than the new SSD)

All done?
You’re ready for a brand new computer experience. Remember, always take care of your hardware and enjoy your new Plextor! And make sure to drop by our Facebook page to tell us what you think and share a picture of your new rig.  

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Top Tech Journalists Turn Out for Plextor’s CES Lineup

If you were at CES 2013 and had any interest in digital storage, the Plextor Suite at the Bellagio was the place to be. Products ranged from eMMC and mSATA to enterprise-standard SSDs. It was a focal point for over forty of the top CE and Tech journalists in the industry. And they all had something to say—and it was all good.

Anand Shimpi of AnandTech (with a readership of 12 million unique visitors per month) came by the suite to meet with the SSD product developers and to check out the new storage lineup for 2013.

Anand Shimpi commented on Plextor’s eMMC solution: “This is an unusual move but one that makes a lot of sense.” The eMMC standard now includes features such as secure erase and trim and high-priority interrupt to meet the demand for high performance and security.

Each generation of the eMMC standard will include new features and be resourced for future Plextor storage solutions. Shimpi also said that “Plextor is promising sequential performance as high as 180/80MBps (writes/reads) and random write performance north of 25K IOPS. I have to say that I am happy to see some more competition here.”

Plextor was also spotlighting their new M5 Pro Xtreme SSD. The M5 Pro Xtreme is the first SSD to feature Plextor’s True Protect enterprise-grade dual-stage data debugging feature with AES full-drive encryption protection. Dong Ngo, CNET Senior Associate Technology Editor, reported that the performance of the M5 Pro Xtreme “is significantly higher than the M5 Pro and among the highest in the market.”


The 100K Xtreme firmware update that gives the big boost to the M5 Pro Xtreme is available for free to all M5 Pro SSD owners. Paul Lilly, of Maximum PC, made an apt comparison: “Wouldn’t it be awesome if, after buying a new sports car, the dealership called you in for a free tune-up that netted you additional horsepower? Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work that way, just don’t tell that to Plextor.”

It’s a bit ironic that Plextor’s newest product—the M5M—is intended for Ultrabooks, a form factor that largely shuns optical drives that was—a long, long time ago—Plextor’s bread and butter product.

The M5M mSATA SSD miniature powerhouse (one eighth the size of a standard 2.5 inch drive) features the new Marvell 88SS9187 controller, DEVSLP Power Mode, and True Speed and True Protect technology. It comes in 64/128/256 GB versions and all versions feature sequential read speeds of 540 MB/s.

Zachary Lutz from Engadget had this to say about the M5M: “Plextor just unearthed a new lineup of mSATA drives that will be targeted at enthusiasts looking to give their ultraportables an additional shot of adrenaline.” It’s also worth noting that the M5M has a MTBF (meantime between failures) of 2.4 Million Hours which gives Plextor the highest reliability ranking in the industry.

Les Tokar from The SSD Review took note of the Plextor NGFF samples on display and predicted that NGFF is “a new form factor which will become the industry standard and start to be seen later in the year.” He said, “The NGFF form factor allows for a wider range of implementation in a smaller footprint and even allows the possibility of a two SSD configuration within a single NGFF PCB.” A typical footprint of 51 x 30 x 5 mm can be reduced to 42 x 22 x 3 mm thick—about the size of a key chain flash drive except thinner.

In short: this is the best solution for upgrading your ultrabook as a workstation. Speaking of which . . .

Plextor’s Enterprise SSD

Plextor’s new enterprise SSD is available in SLC NAND (more stable for enterprise) as well as MLC NAND versions. The SLC version focuses on high endurance and the MLC version features power protection that guards against data loss in case of power outages. The Plextor dedicated Firmware team can also support custom Firmware for these units. The Enterprise SSD also features Plextor’s exclusive True Speed technology that sustains like-new performance.

Around the Corner . . .

The introduction of breakthrough products in the professional, enterprise, and industrial sectors would almost seem inevitable given Plextor’s evolving strategic direction along with their legendary quality control and exclusive Firmware teams. Who knows what might be around the corner?

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It’s Time for Xtreme Speed!

Plextor’s New M5 Pro Firmware Sets 100K IOPS Milestone!
Free Update to Existing M5 Pro Owners

Plextor’s M5 Pro Solid State Drive has been an international best seller, received numerous awards in reviews, and settled into the top position in group tests. Now Plextor has gone several steps further and given the M5 Pro a powerful new firmware update.

The updated M5 Pro is now the M5 Pro Xtreme and is the first true professional SSD to reach the milestone of 100,000 IOPS random-read speeds. The drive also features improved maximum random-write speeds of 88,000 IOPS, and a 470 MB/S sequential write speed with an equally impressive 540 MB/S sequential read.

The M5 Pro Xtreme uses the latest Marvell® 88SS9187 controller and Toshiba’s new 19 nm Toggle NAND. It also features Plextor’s True Protect unique enterprise-grade double-data protection technology.

True Protect is a multi-layer system to ensure the highest level of data integrity, combining the latest 128-bit error correction built into the Marvell controller with Plextor’s exclusive firmware-based Robust Data Hold-out algorithm. The M5 Pro Xtreme also ensures maximum data security using 256-bit AES full-drive encryption.

The M5 Pro Xtreme also boasts a calculated mean time between failures of 2.4 million hours. This level of reliability has been achieved through extensive development, strict quality control, and a stringent pre-production testing requirement of 400 drives passing 500 hours of intensive tests with zero errors.

This new Xtreme version of the M5 Pro delivers dramatically enhanced speed, massive throughput, and fault tolerant performance that is ideal for prosumers, serious gamers, system integrators . . . in fact, anyone looking for the best and fastest SSD currently available.

Existing M5 Pro users will find a free firmware update on the Plextor Americas website.  Installation instructions can be found here:

1. Select the appropriate 1.02 firmware update for your drive and click on download.

2. Insert a blank CD/DVD and double click on the firmware ISO file you downloaded (Windows Disk Image Burner will start).

3. Click burn. “The disc images has been successfully burned to disc” will be displayed.

4. To update your SSD you now need to boot from the optical disc you just created, so restart your computer.

5. If your system doesn’t automatically boot from the disc on restart, the boot setting in the BIOS needs to be changed. Many computers tell you how to enter the BIOS when they start up. If not, it’s likely that you will need to press one of the following keys: F1, F2, F10. Esc, or Del. In the BIOS change the boot order to put your optical drive first.

6. Now save your new settings and exit by following the instructions on the screen.

7. Your system will now reboot and load from your optical disc.

8. The screen will display Press ENTER to continue booting from CD-ROM.

9. The screen will now display a cautionary message. To continue with firmware update press y and ENTER.

10. When successful, the screen will display your model number and the new firmware.

Congratulations! Now sit back and enjoy an M5 Pro Xtreme. Minnie Lin, Plextor’s Marketing Manager says: “Being a true professional doesn’t mean your performance shouldn’t be at the extreme.” She’s right again.

http://youtu.be/gpVLjFwr41Q

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Happy Thanksgiving from Plextor

To Our Avid Fans and Loyal Customers,

The team here at Plextor wishes to thank you for your valuable support and commitment to Plextor products. We wish you and your family a wonderful, fun-filled, and safe Thanksgiving!

Reflecting on a fantastic year, we are thankful for  . . .

·  You—the Plextor Fans!  Without YOU there is no us.

·  Tech publications, journalists, and bloggers for your coverage, reviews, and awards. That includes CNetThe SSD Review, AnandTech,Tom’s HardwareTweakTownStorage Review, et al.

·  True Speed Firmware that maintains performance and read/write speeds of Plextor SSDs at like-new levels for the life of the drive.

·  Marvell and Toshiba for making the best SSD Controllers and Flash Memory on the market.

·  And thanks to TrueProtect and 256-bit AES Encryption keeping data safe, accurate, and secure.

·  And we can’t help but mention the M5 Pro—sleek, secure, and speedy enough to race your pulse—one of the best SSDs on the market.

We wish you a happy Thanksgiving and wonderful Holiday season! Thanks to all of you for your continued support.

Kind Regards,

Your Friends at Plextor

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Marvell Versus SandForce Choosing the Best All-Purpose SSD Controller

Plextor's Marvell Controller

The controller in an SSD is in control. Without it nothing would be read, written, or stored. It makes the difference in benchmark testing and day-to-day usage. Here’s a quick look inside a controller.

Job of the Controller

SSD data is stored in flash memory chips. The controller executes a read or a write to the flash then firmware manages and directs the process.

Flash chips consist of thousands of cells, and each 4K byte of cells is called a page, which is the smallest structure that’s readable/writable in a SSD. When the controller executes a write command, it looks for the first available empty page and writes to that page—continuing to move from one page to the next until it completes the write.

If all pages are available—as with a brand new SSD—it’s called a clean state. That’s when you get your best performance in the write process. But if there’s not that many empty pages available and they are scattered around in different blocks—typical in a used drive—it’s called a dirty state. When it’s dirty the controller has to search for open pages to write to. This is a slower process and you usually get degraded performance.

You find the same issues with the read process. In a clean state, all data is stored closer together. Locating data and reading it back becomes quick and easy but in a dirty state the controller has to spend more time searching and collecting fragmented data and, again, it’s a slower process and performance suffers.

The job of the controller is to perform these read/write tasks with every type of data with a high degree of accuracy, speed, and reliability.

Marvell Controller or SandForce Controller?

Most of the leading SSD manufacturers use either Marvell or SandForce controllers. SandForce uses the same firmware regardless of brand—and it’s important to note that the SandForce firmware is not subject to modification. This may be an advantage for manufacturers looking to cut corners, but modification is essential if you’re building a drive to set a new standard of performance.

Imagine a bunch of high performance cars that are different in almost all aspects—body style, suspension, wheels, paint—everything except for what’s under the hood. There you find the same identical stock engine for all cars. That’s not a very exciting scenario. A SandForce controller lends itself to that type of scenario—pop open the cover and you’re going to find the same stock firmware regardless of brand. No mods allowed.

Marvell controllers on the other hand do not come pre-packaged with stock firmware. Sourcing controllers from Marvell requires an SSD manufacturer to make a substantial investment in time and resources, including assembling a team of specialized firmware engineers. But with the right planning and execution, they yield a fully custom and differentiated product, such as Plextor’s SSDs with TrueSpeed.

Main Difference Between Marvell and SandForce

One of the main differences between Marvell and SandForce is how they deal with compressible or incompressible data. Compressible data includes system files, application files, associated user files, and PC utilities—the usual stuff.

Incompressible data includes software-encrypted files, ZIP files, JPEGs, voice, videos, and movies. SandForce doesn’t fare well with incompressible data.

SandForce is better at handling everyday tasks using compressible data. SandForce’s strength—or limitation, depending on your needs—is the ability to compress data before it gets into the flash memory. This may achieve impressive read/write speeds, but only if the data on the drive is compressible.

Marvell achieves superior read-write performance with both compressible and incompressible data in clean or dirty state.  Handling incompressible data is essential to the gamer where quick and almost instant loading of complex scenes is critical in tournament play, especially with online competition. Or consider a photographer where the ability to transfer tens of thousands of pictures a week quickly and efficiently is essential, saving time and increasing productivity. 

Plextor’s Modified Marvell Controller

For the M5 Pro, Plextor uses the new Marvell 88SS9187 modified with exclusive Plextor True Speed technology that prevents performance degradation when the SSD enters dirty state. True Speed ensures equal speed for all types of data and maintains sustained performance levels in the long term.

Also, Plextor’s brand new AES Encryption and True-Protect technologies gives businesses and system integrators access to the highest level of encryption and multiple layers of data checking for absolute data accuracy.

These custom modifications and standard-setting features would be impossible with a SandForce device.

Unsurpassed Reliability

Every Plextor SSD undergoes the industry’s most extensive preproduction testing to ensure unsurpassed reliability. Tests include a 20-hour High Temperature burn-in test and the rigors of the industry’s premier-level FLEXSTAR testing machine to simulate real working environments. As a result, Plextor SSD devices have the industry’s lowest average annual failure rate (0.5%).

StorageReview.com was emphatic in stating: “We place extra emphasis on brands who own the SSD controllers they use. The benefits of using an in-house controller are massive from both a drive performance and reliability perspective.” They went on to say: “With in-house engineers and unique software, Plextor is getting more out of Marvell-based SSDs than just about anyone else.”

Marvell or SandForce? What’s your choice?

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The New Plextor M5 Pro SSD: Secure, Accurate, and Our Fastest SSD to Date

 

Plextor PX-M5P SSDThe word encryption gets attention whether you’re talking about a blockbuster film, novel, or software. Why? Because it gets you thinking about high level security, classified information, trade secrets, hackers, and secret codes. And right now it’s a hot topic for SSD owners and prospective buyers.

The most precious and valuable information that you possess is the data and information stored in your computer. Ideally, you should be able to keep that data safe and sound for as long as you need it. And when you don’t need it you should be able to erase it without a trace. Data should then be unrecoverable.

But now there is some consternation in SSD circles since the most commonly accepted ways of erasing data on HDDs does not really work with SSDs because of the data writing technique called wear-leveling. Even though wear-leveling extends the life of the drive, data is difficult to erase from the drive because data is written over the whole capacity of the flash memory in a more random fashion.

Enter encryption. In short, encryption does two things: 1) it secures the content of data on the drive, and 2) gives you the option to delete the encryption key which ensures total inaccessibility of data when it’s time to retire the drive.

The industry standard and U.S. government standard for encryption is 256-bit AES encryption. When it’s time to ditch the data, all you have to do is erase the AES key. Data then become unrecoverable. Cracking AES is the stuff of cryptanalysis legends. It’s been said (and maybe overstated) that the universe will not last long enough to break AES.

As a pace-setting manufacturer of SSDs, Plextor is taking a proactive approach as regards the safe-keeping and integrity of data. Their new Plextor M5 Pro SSD is the first SSD to use the new AES-validated 88SS9187 Marvell controller with 256-bit full-drive encryption. This feature ensures that data cannot be extracted directly off of the flash memory on a password-protected drive without access to the encryption key.

Plextor's True Protect in the M5 Pro SSD

If that is not reassurance that your data is safe and sound, the M5 Pro also comes with an exclusive dual-stage data accuracy feature called TrueProtect. All data is protected and tested by the ECC (error correction code) debug algorithm engine that is built into the Marvell 88SS9187 controller. With BCH code computing, data error as high as 128 bits can be fixed during every instance of data transmission.

To confirm that each piece of data is correctly stored with 100% accuracy, a second layer of read protection is offered by the Robust Data Hold-out algorithm in Plextor’s exclusive firmware. As a result, data accuracy is 60% higher than other solid-state drives currently available.

It should also be of interest to SSD users and buyers that the M5 Pro is using the new Marvell controller along with Toshiba’s brand new 19nm Toggle-Mode MLC NAND. This combination just might make the M5 Pro the fastest SATA 6Gbps SSD on the market.

So if you’re looking for something sleek enough to put a gleam in your eye, secure enough to let you sleep easy, and speedy enough to race your pulse, check out the M5 Pro in September.

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Plextor SSD RAID 0 Tops Expectations

8 Plextor M3 SSDs set up for RAID 0

If you connect a group of solid state drives (SSDs) to create a redundant array of independent disks (RAID 0 ), an operating system (OS) will see the RAID 0 as one large disk. Read and write functions will be spread out over the multiple discs and inputs/outputs (I/Os) can then be implemented simultaneously. Now what happens when all these acronymic configurations and functions converge?

You get dramatically enhanced speed, less risk of data loss, massive throughput, and highly-efficient fault tolerant performance that is absolutely ideal for power users, serious gamers, and system integrators. (Just for the record—in a best-case scenario—an SSD RAID 0 can yield I/O performance upwards of 100 times better than a comparable array constructed from mechanical drives.)

In June of this year at Computex 2012, Plextor, a leading developer and manufacturer of digital storage technology, demonstrated what RAID 0 is really all about. An eight SSD array reached a spectacular over-the-top read-and-write speed of 3,900/3,200 MB/s. That’s the ultimate speed required of professional data storage.

Brian Ambrozy of Icrontic tells the story in an article published in Tech during Computex:

“We stopped by the Plextor booth at Computex 2012 … and they had an 8-way RAID 0 with their new Plextor M3 Pro SSD line that was mind-blowing. Their ATTO scores were through the roof:

At first glance I secretly thought to myself, “Why are they showing this? 385 MB/s isn’t impressive at all. Then I looked again: there were seven digits there. Yeah, it was 3,895,661. 3.89 gb/s. Now obviously this was a showpiece, but the representative mentioned that she has seen these setups used live in video production, where massive storage throughput is a necessity.  Showy, glitzy, and impressive. That’s how you do Computex.”

In addition to being jaw-dropping fast, Plextor drives are also among the most stable and consistent drives in the industry. Performance is sustained, unwavering, and non-compressing when used in the most demanding and diverse professional applications. Whether it’s being used in video editing or for running multiple applications, a Plextor SSD drive sustains high performance without lag.  (It’s no coincidence that Plextor can offer an industry-leading five-year warranty.)

It should also be noted that putting a RAID 0 together is not a terribly complex task given some hands-on history and technical savvy with SSDs in general. The SSD Review claims you can set up a RAID 0 in twenty minutes or less.

By the way, Plextor is releasing their new-generation SSD, the M5 Pro, which enjoys the highest read-and-write speed of 540/450 MB/s with a random read/write speed of 94,000/86,000 IOPS.

Plextor's Display at the Flash Memory Summit

In fact, Plextor showed off the new M5 Pro in a RAID 0 setup at last week’s Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, California.  With just two drives in the setup, the M5 Pro was clocked at 914 and 1,063 MB/s for sequential read/write. Just think about connecting eight of those devices together. Better start looking for some new hyperboles.

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Plextor’s New PX-M5S SSD Looks Like It Has Everything-Including a New Competitive Strategy

Plextor Quality

Flash Memory Chip from Micron

Plextor is getting its share of attention these days. Plextor established a leadership position in storage device technology beginning with optical disc CD-ROM drives in the early Nineties. Although they still make some of the best optical drives available today, much of their focus has shifted to the growing solid state drive market. One thing that has stayed the same is their short and sweet business philosophy that pretty much says it all: “Never compromise, always think quality.”

Plextor has been building a niche reputation in the SSD market with products that consistently exceed expectations of reviewers and users alike. After all—and this is a key point—an SSD is a carefully chosen component to enhance a system rather than an impulse or loss leader purchase.

Plextor realizes that their customers will scrutinize every model for improvements that make a difference in 1) speed, 2) reliability, and 3) price, for these are the three factors that are most important to the SSD buyer.

The New Plextor PX-M5S

The Latest Solid State Drive from Plextor

To date, Plextor SSDs generally cost more than competing SandForce-based SSDs since they use a more expensive server-grade controller from Marvell, exclusive firmware, high quality flash memory from Toshiba, and surface mount components built by Japanese firms that settle for nothing less than obsessive tolerances.

And, before leaving the factory, all Plextor SSDs go through rigorous benchmark testing with simulated real world environments. As a result, Plextor SSDs have a 0.59% average annual failure rate, which is one of the lowest in the industry.

The Plextor PX-M5S uses a different NAND supplier, and is priced more competitively than the previous M3 Series of SSDs, while still upping the bar in performance. For the M5S, Plextor turned to Micron to supply 25nm synchronous NAND flash, a product of equal quality to Toshiba Toggle NAND, but more available than the 24nm Toshiba Toggle Mode flash used on the M3S and M3 Pro. The end result, Plextor is demonstrating the capability to develop a high-quality product while keeping pace with the market trend of declining SSD prices.

Differences in NAND Flash

Inside the Plextor M5S Solid State Drive

Now, before selecting an SSD product, it’s important to understand that not all NAND flash is created equal:

The key component of an SSD is NAND Flash Chips. (In brief—NAND Flash is a non-volatile memory chip with a configuration of memory cells that resembles a “No AND Gates” in logic diagram and that’s why it’s called NAND.) Every NAND Flash manufacturer initially has unique designs and protocols. Today, the NAND market has consolidated into two major camps: ONFI Group vs. Toggle Group.

Toggle technology is primarily used by Toshiba and Samsung, and carries data at a speed of 133MB/s. (Toshiba and Samsung also has a legacy mode NAND with a lesser transfer rate of 40MB/s.) In the ONFI (Open NAND Flash Interface) camp, the key manufacturers are Intel, Micron and Hynix, and there is ONFI 1.0 and ONFI 2.0 standards: ONFI 1.0 (or Asynchronous NAND) is limited to a 50MB/s transfer rate, but ONFI 2.0 (called Synchronous NAND) has a transfer rate of 133MB/s. The key difference between ONFI 1.0 (Async) and ONFI 2.0 (Sync) NAND is its interface speed and, remember, speed counts with SSD users.

Just to highlight, not all NAND are created equal, and not all SSD are created equal. When you are ready to select a SSD, check the controller, check the NAND, and of course, check the manufacturer

So there you have it—a fast, reliable Plextor SSD with an MSRP that can out-maneuver the competition in all areas including price. The M5S could be lethal. Production is said to be ramping up in August for release to e-tailers. So you can wait and see or take your place now on the starting line. Ready, set, go . . .

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The Marvel of True Speed by Plextor

About SSDs and Firmware

 A solid state drive is an amalgam of three main components: a controller, flash memory, and firmware. Almost any manufacturer can source a controller and some flash memory, but when the random/sequential reading/writing begins, tech reviewers rev up, heads turn, and the focus is on firmware.

Firmware is clearly in the catbird seat of these persistent little storage devices. Firmware is also the main difference between SandForce and Marvell-based SSDs since SandForce controllers are prepackaged with SandForce stock firmware.

On the other hand, Marvell produces some of the most highly regarded controllers in the industry, but Marvell requires SSD manufacturers to develop their own firmware. That’s the kind of challenge (and opportunity) that Plextor has been building its reputation on since the Eighties.

Developing technology that does things faster and lasts longer is how Plextor has maintained their leadership position in storage device technology. Their long-standing business philosophy is to the point: “Never compromise, always think quality.”

So it was no surprise that Plextor chose to invest in a more expensive Marvell controller while also developing their own firmware. They call it True Speed. To appreciate the features of True Speed, let’s first do a quick review of how SSDs perform their main functions.

How an SSD Works

SSD data is stored in flash memory chips. The controller executes a read or a write to the Flash and firmware manages and directs the process.

Flash chips consist of thousands of cells, and each 4K byte of cells is called a page, then a number of these pages make up blocks,.  When the controller executes a write command, it looks for the first available empty page and writes to that page—continuing to move from one page to the next until it completes the write.

If all of the pages are all available—as in a brand new SSD—it is called a clean state, and the write process is at its best performance.

If there are limited empty pages available and they are scattered in different blocks —as on a used drive—the drive is said to be in a dirty state, and the controller has to search for open pages to write to. This is obviously a much slower process.

This same things happens with the read process:  in a clean state, all data are stored relatively “close together,” so locating data and reading it back is quick and easy.  However, in a dirty state the controller has to spend extra time to search and collect much more fragmented data, therefore slowing process down.

True Speed Firmware

True Speed Firmware is Plextor’s achievement that prevents performance degradation when SSD enters dirty state. Plextor developed their patented operation process that first manages data before written to flash to minimize data fragmentation.  Instant Restore technology is an advanced garbage collection technique   as it goes beyond removing junk data or reclaim TRIM spaces. It proactively reorganizes fragmented data to maximize the number of free cells, a Plextor SSD with Instant Restore and its strong data managing firmware will maintain out-of-the-box performance for the life of the product.

Besides maintaining performance, Plextor True Speed technology also has Global Wear Leveling which works by moving static data to more worn areas of the flash to reduce write/erase traffic (Static Wear Leveling) and writes new data strategically to the least worn blocks of the flash (Dynamic Wear Leveling). This operation preserves the life of the drive by preventing premature wear out of specific blocks and ensuring equal wear across all of the flash memory.

And Bad Block Management works to identify blocks within the flash memory that are invalid or unreliable. The drive maintains tables of these unusable blocks and remaps data to reserve blocks elsewhere on the drive.

In Summary

True Speed sustains like-new performance while minimizing data fragmentation that occurs with other SSDs over the course of time. Obviously, Plextor SSDs are ideal for power users, serious gamers, system integrators, and users who demand fault tolerant performance. It’s also worth mentioning that Plextor SSDs are consistently reviewed by users as “blazingly fast.”

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