Introduction and Specifications
Crucial has been on a tear as of late. In the last few weeks alone, the company has released a couple of new series of solid state drives, one targeting the enthusiast segment (the M550) and the other targeting data centers (the M500DC). Today, Crucial is at it again with the launch of the brand new MX100 series.
The Crucial MX100 series of solid state drives is somewhat similar to the M550 in that they both use the same Marvell controller. The MX100, however, it outfitted with more affordable 16nm NAND flash, and as such, the drives are priced more aggressively. Take a look at the full line-up and their specifications in the chart below, and then step through the rest of the review to see how the 256GB and 512GB models perform...
If you take a quick glance at its exterior, the new Crucial MX100 solid state drives look just like many of the other 2.5” SSDs currently on the market. The drive has a slim, 7mm Z-Height (though, an adapter is included in the box to add 2.5mm if necessary), and it is adorned with a couple of decals listing the product family, model number and some other identifying information, but other than that, there’s not much to see.
Crack open Crucial’s MX100 drives and you’ll find that they are built around the tried-and-true Marvell 88SS9189 SATA 6Gbs controller, which has been used by a variety of other SSD manufacturers as well. This particular drive is a 512GB model, and as you can see, the PCB is outfitted with 16 pieces of NAND—or more specifically, brand new 16nm IMFT MLC NAND—and a bit of DRAM cache as well. All of Crucial’s MX100 drives are outfitted fitted with an LP DDR2 DRAM cache, like the M550. This 512GB drive has 512MB of cache memory. Lower capacity drives feature fewer pieces of NAND, however, and as a result offer lower write performance.
The Crucial MX100 series of drives are rated for 550MB/s sequential reads with 500MB/s (512GB), 330MB/s (256GB), or 150MB/s (128GB) and random read and write IOPS of 90K – 80K and 85K – 40K, respectively. All of the drives support technologies like SMART and TRIM, and have built-in AES 256-bit encryption capabilities. In addition, Crucial’s custom firmware supports active garbage collection, data path protection, and adaptive thermal monitoring, along with RAIN support (Redundant Array of Independent NAND). RAIN can be considered somewhat of an internal RAID 5-type solution that works across the flash channels in the drive. With RAIN, the MX100 can recover some lost data beyond page, block, and die-level failures, to ensure long-term data integrity.
The drives carry a 3-year warranty and are rated for 72TB total bytes written (TBW), which equates to 40GB written per day for 5 years.