CoreRise Comay Venus 3S [F/W 2.52 (5.02)] 120GB 2.5" SATA-III MLC Flash Synchronous Solid State Drive Review @ ModSynergy.com
If you've been keeping track of the prices of memory and storage solutions, you might have noticed that prices have been steadily dropping at a rapid pace. Not only are DDR3 memory modules now on the decline, storage mediums such as the conventional spinning hard disk are finally dropping in price from the recent price hikes seen by retailers.
The manufacturers were claiming that the higher prices that were seen was due to the floods that affected Thailand late last year, where a good number of these hard drives are being produced, but I only believe in parts of their story. In my opinion, I believe the manufactures (and partly the media) used the flooding as an excuse, exploited and over exaggerated the situation in order to charge more for their products for a lengthy period of time.
The negative that came of out of the hard drive situation made way for the solid state drive to increase its awareness as manufactures took this opportunity to implement deals to place their SSD's price in line with the price hikes of normal conventional spinning hard disks. I mean the price hikes were ridiculous at one point because the amount of money you spent on a hard drive, you could have purchased an SSD, and the noticeable improvement you would have gained would have made you a satisfied customer.
As SSDs continue to fall in price and offer incentives such as main-in-rebates to entice customers to buy their products, most customers are not sure who's product is better. Most people who know a bit about SSDs know that there are a handful of companies that offer them. The most popular brands you have out there right now are companies such as Intel, Patriot Memory, Corsair, Crucial, Kingston and maybe OCZ. But what about the companies you don't know about? Do you just turn a blind eye and not give them a chance? Aren't most of these computer products, and for that matter products in general, made in China in the first place?
This leads me into introducing the CoreRise brand. CoreRise Electronics Corporation is a Chinese company founded in 2008 and is based in Suzhou, China. They are a manufacturer of Flash based storage solutions for applications that include Enterprise Servers, Workstations, Industrial, and for consumers that own personal computers. The CoreRise company motto is Push the Future! which I found to be a good motto to stand by. Their SSD brand name is called Comay.
Always looking to review the products from companies that most have never heard and also looking for the unique products that customers might want to own, I jumped at the chance in reviewing one of CoreRise's newest Consumer Grade SATA 3 offering, the Comay Venus 3S 120GB 2.5" SATA III MLC Synchronous NAND Flash SSD. Sporting 120GB of Micron MLC Synchronous NAND flash memory, and utilizing the SandForce SF-2281 SSD processor, read on to know more about the CoreRise brand, what you can expect from their SSD's, and if SSD manufacturers should take notice with the CoreRise Comay movement.
CoreRise Electronics Corporation is a Chinese company founded in 2008 and bases their R&D and production in Suzhou, China, while their sales channel operates within Shanghai. CoreRise is a manufacturer of Flash based storage solutions for applications that include Enterprise Servers, Workstations, Industrial, and for consumers that own personal computers. The CoreRise company motto is push the future which I found to be a good motto to stand by. They look to devote themselves in providing the best SSD products to its customers all around the world. Their SSD brand name is called Comay.
‘SandForce Flash Storage and SSD Processors are designed to provide innovative and differentiated solutions for standard NAND flash memory to reliably operate in enterprise storage environments. SandForce Flash Storage and SSD Processors with DuraClass technology provide SSDs with best-in-class reliability, performance, and power efficiency.’
‘SandForce® Flash Storage and SSD Processors use DuraClass™ technology with RAISE™ and patented and patent pending DuraWrite™ to drive ubiquitous deployment of volume flash memory into primary and I/O intensive data storage applications. SandForce Driven™ SSDs dramatically optimize mission-critical application reliability, IT infrastructure ROI, green power preservation, and everyday computing user experiences.’
Comay Venus 3S MLC Synchronous SSD Product Overview
Accelerate To the Extreme High Throughput: Leveraging the cutting edge 2Xnm MLC Nand Flash and fine tuned circuit design, the Comay SATA III SSD Venus 3s delivers superior high throughput and exceptional low Total Ownership Cost.
Outperform HDDs: The Venus 3s series implements top quality Nand Flash chips, the most competent processor and the elegant fine tuned circuit design, providing superior performance and reliability that surpass the leading HDDs used today.
With no moving parts, the Venus 3s SSD has much faster performance and much lower power consumption than HDDs. Based on a SATA III 6Gbps interface, it offers sequential read speed up to 555MB/s, sequential write speed up to 520MB/s, 4KB random read IOPS up to 67500 and 4KB write IOPS up to 82500, while it consumes only 3W power during operation!
The Venus 3s series is made of Original IMFT MLC Nand Flash; it offers not only a trustful stable high performance but also a long endurance of 3K P/E cycle.
Solid State means reliable and rigid. The Venus 3s series eliminates the risk of mechanical failures and offers a highly rugged storage solution. It works well under 0~70℃ temperature and 20G vibration conditions. The MTBF is 2 million hours.
Preeminence with SandForce Processor: The SF2281 Processor is the best solution for mission critical and portable data storage applications where power application performance, responsiveness
The SF 2281 processor features high level security protocols to protect data stored in Flash memory. DuraClass technology automatically stores data in a highly secure AES 256&128 hardware encrypted format that double encrypts the data. It also supports TCG OPAL security requirements.
Added Values by Exclusive Innovations: The Comay SSD Software Toolbox integrates SSD health condition monitoring, firmware upgrading and quick performance recovery. It maximizes hardware and software configurations and contributes to maintain the ultimate and stable performance. When the SSD performance declines after a certain period of operation, users can download the Comay SSD Toolbox from http://www.corerise.com/en/tech_show.php?id=34 and run the software. This will delete all garbage data, lower down the WA and extend the life span of the SSD.
CoreRise proprietary of fine tuned circuit design, minimizing data transferring distances, giving anti-static and cooling system architecture, promises Comay SSDs better operation efficiency, security and competence than most SSDs who adopts reference circuit designs.
Incomparable Quality Assurance: CoreRise innovations of non-harmful pre-SMT flash sorting and host-SMT testing eliminates potential Flash quality issues at the very beginning of manufacturing, ensuring Comay SSDs incomparable Flash reliability. The Venus 3s series passes CoreRise strict CR-C/E tests and low level in-depth tests, notably preventing maintenance or repairing cost.
Applications Guidance: Venus 3s series implements 2Xnm Synchronous MLC Nand Flash, providing superior high throughput for desktop/laptop and computing systems.
Comay Asynchronous solutions are also orderable with lower cost than Synchronous solutions.
Optional functions: strong ruggedness, conformal coating, extended temperature, etc.
Comay Venus 3S 120GB MLC Synchronous SSD Product Features
Comay Venus 3S 120GB MLC Synchronous SSD Product Specifications
About SandForce SF-2200/2100
‘Today’s award-winning SandForce Driven™ SSDs are well known for their performance and features. The SandForce® SF-2200/2100 - the second generation of SandForce SSD Processors - continue accelerating SSD deployment in enthusiast and mainstream client computing platforms. The SF-2200/2100 is an ideal solution for portable storage applications where power consumption, boot-up time, application performance, responsiveness, and small form factor are important.
The Client SSD Processors have integrated enhanced DuraClass™ Technology that is architected to leverage today’s densest SLC and MLC NAND flash memory. They deliver best-in-class performance, endurance, security, and power efficiency in a “DRAM-less”, single chip solution.’
Being the first CoreRise Comay SSD product I've ever reviewed, I was anxious and excited going into this review. Not knowing anything previously about the product leaves me with an open-mind and unbiased viewpoint.
The design of the box is environmentally friendly because it's very compact and easy to discard of. Composed out of an outer paper shell, a well thought out cardboard enclosure seals the SSD out of harm's way with lots of foam padding for security. No plastic is used within the packaging meaning it's even easier to recycle. There was not even a hint of damage to the package being travelled through China to Canada.
The actual design of the outer packaging to be truthful isn't the prettiest. One of the things I learned from art and design classes is that the color grey is one of the harder colors to work with because the odds of it turning out bland is high if not done properly. The front of the Comay SSD box essentially features a simple grey-to-white background. It's like they didn't feel like trying.
Top left is the Comay Premium SSD logo, which isn't printed very sharp, the company motto and information at the bottom left, and two stickers on the top right, one describing the Comay model name, and the other for the SandForce driven logo.
To be honest this is probably one of the weakest design I've seen in a while for a product design package. They should have printed an image of the SSD in the front of the box where all the negative space is located, or they could have cut out a window to see the actual SSD product that is inside.
The back of the box thankfully has more information and looks busy, an opposite of the lackluster front. Located is a disclaimer, barcode serial number, product features and specifications of the Comay Venus 3S SSD. Please note that the sticker on this product box and SSD incorrectly states the Max Sequential Read/Write (Compressible) numbers. The real numbers should say: Up to 555/520MB/s, however, the box sticker and SSD incorrectly states 515/490MB/s. CoreRise regrets this error.
The sides of the box contain the company name and brief description saying: COMAY, your choice for SSD! Comay Solid-State Drives adopted the latest technology, the best Nand flash chips and strict management to deliver incredible performance, reliable quality and wonderful experience. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. You will be amazed by its features as follows: Sophisticated Design, Latest Technology, Fine Components, Absolutely No Noise, Fastest Speed, Standardized Test, Long Life Span, Highly Reliable & Stable.
Open the box and you will find a corrugated pack that was well thought out. This should have somehow been the main design in the beginning. The way the corrugated shell opens and closes is clever, it has a window that shows the actual SSD. The bundle is within this shell.
There's really no bundle with the purchase of the CoreRise Comay Venus 3S 120GB SSD. All you really have is the actual CoreRise Comay Venus 3S 120GB SSD and User Guide Manual. There are no mounting screws, no 2.5" to 3.5" mounting frame bracket, and no SATA cable. Think of it as barebones because all you have is what you paid for. I can't really fault CoreRise because if the other guys don't bundle, why should CoreRise? It would have been a welcome bonus though to add in a 2.5" to 3.5" mounting frame bracket.
I'm not going to deny that I am fond of the way the Comay Venus 3S looks because it's frankly stunning with the brushed aluminum appearance. Needless to say I'm a sucker for brushed aluminum, and this SSD has real and not fake brushed aluminum. When you look at the solid state drive under different lighting conditions, it sparkles while you notice all the uniform lines from the brushed aluminum exterior. It's just a look that is modern and industrial, something unusual from the standard drab exteriors of some SSDs. The edges are rounded out to put a stop to any possible cuts when handling the SSD. There are four screw holes on the side and top of the SSD to mount the Comay Venus 3S into your PC case or notebook computer.
The front of the Venus 3S contains the blue printed Comay branded logo and the words Comay Premium SSD. The Venus 3S holds the conventional height of 9.3mm and can be used in desktops and conventional notebook computers and netbooks. The measurements are 100.2 x 69.9 x 9.3mm in size and this SSD cannot be used with the newer ultra-thin variants, as the height requirement for those is shorter at 7mm. However, in reality you can use this on an ultra-thin, but you would have to do so without the enclosure, which most won't elect to try.
The rear of the Venus 3S contains a large sticker that is the same as the one on the product box, displaying information such as the manufacture and model name, the features and specifications, and the serial number located at the bottom. The SATA power and data connectors sit on top of the SSD and feature bright gold contacts for better conductivity.
Notice around the stickers are four Philips screws that are to hold the enclosure shut. One of these screws has a warranty sticker on the top, but I will be sacrificing warranty to show you readers the internals of the CoreRise Comay Venus 3S 120GB SSD.
Tearing it down -- I mean opening it up :)
Please note that by opening the CoreRise Comay Venus 3S SSD, you forfeit the 2-year warranty that comes along with it. Luckily I will take that burden for you by opening up the SSD to see the components that the Venus 3S is comprised of.
Have a look at the internals of the Comay Venus 3S solid state drive. It's made from a predictable green color Plotech printed circuit board. You can tell it's finished on a machine since all the solder and contacts are flawlessly finished with no goops or mess. There seems to be no mistakes on this board and everything looks of high quality. There are no re-works on the board, the last thing you want to see on a PCB.
The layout of the board is spacious, but contains empty spots on the PCB meant for different components that have not been included with this model. Some of these empty spots are for extra NAND flash memory, and there's one big empty space that is surrounded by contacts on the backside just below the CoreRise logo. I wonder what that is for and if we'll be able to find out what's supposed to be there...I guess we'll leave that for another review (*cough*).
The first thing you become aware of is the SandForce SSD controller because everything beside it is empty. This processor is the SandForce SF-2281 and is used to support features such SATA 6GB/s with Native Command Queuing support, TRIM, automatic data encryption AES-128, 48-bit LBA, APM, and has a host of algorithms that control and extend the life of the SSD with features such as Garbage Collection, read and block management for wear leveling purposes.
The NAND flash memory on the 120GB version of the Venus 3S is covered by the serial number sticker. When taken off, it's revealed that four Micron IKA12 NW296 2xnm NAND flash memory chips lay on the same plane on the PCB. These are likely 32GB chips with the only 120GB (before formatting) being used and the rest reserved for other functions. These Micron NAND chips are Synchronous MLC based memory meaning they are the faster than their asynchronous counterparts. They are rated for a program-erase cycle of 3000 before the wear begins to deteriorate the integrity of the storage, however, that is where the SandForce SF-2281 SSD controller comes in to extend the lifecycle of the SSD with its block management and wear leveling algorithms.
Performance Benchmarks and Real-World Tests
ATTO Disk Benchmark is a trusted and established application that tests raw data in Compressible form within the drive being tested. It's demonstrated over the years to supply steady and consistent results, one of the reasons why ATTO Disk Benchmark is the preferred benchmark in order to give a baseline score of maximum throughput performance. Most SSD manufacturers' maximum sequential read/write speed claims are done with ATTO Disk Benchmark for this very reason.
The numbers you see here are the best case scenario numbers you can expect from this SSD. The default transfer size of 0.5 to 8192KB was selected to be tested along with a length of 256MB.
All remaining benchmarks used here such as AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark are testing with (for the most part) Incompressible data, which some SSD drive controllers may or may not struggle with. That is why on occasion you see the disparity between numbers that are in ATTO Disk Benchmark compared to those of other benchmarks. If the numbers are drastically different, you can draw the conclusion that the particular SSD drive controller suffers when reading/writing incompressible data.
For example, in AS SSD benchmark, the write numbers are much different than those of seen on ATTO Disk Benchmark, and the reason is because one is testing Compressible data, while the other Incompressible data.
As mentioned earlier, the sticker on this product box and Venus 3S solid state drive incorrectly states the Max Sequential Read/Write (Compressible) numbers. The real numbers should say: Up to 555/520MB/s, and NOT 515/490MB/s. Without further ado, let's see what the Comay Venus 3S can do in our Intel based 2012 PC build. Full specifications on our test bed can be found here.
Update: I also found a new and interesting SSD benchmark called Anvil's Storage Utilities that I will start to use from this point on because it tests a variety of scenarios and combines many of what the other benchmarks do separately into one full fledged benchmark with more flexibility. The SSD is tested under different queue lengths for read and write testing, it reports on access times and also IOPS performance. The version I am using is RC2. More information can be found here regarding Anvil's Storage Utilities.
Editors Note: This is firmware 2.52 from CoreRise. The cross reference equivalent to SandForce firmware 5.0.2, or as it was found by the community as the firmware from SandForce with broken TRIM functionality. Broken TRIM on firmware 5.02 and 5.03 means the SSD would degradate over continued normal usage. The performance would drop the more you used the SSD because TRIM wouldn't be able to do what it needs to do in order to keep performance at optimum levels. The guys from TweakTown were the ones that found this issue first. It's best to read their article here to know more about this issue.
To protect the integrity of these results with firmware 2.52 (5.0.2), I will leave this page as is. A new updated re-release review of the CoreRise Comay Venus 3S with the TRIM fixing firmware of 2.54/SandForce 5.0.4 can be found in the link below. New results and a quick look at how easy it was to upgrade the firmware.
Below results with CoreRise firmware 2.52/SandForce 5.0.2.
I calculated with the stop-watch that boot up time into a brand new Windows 7 installation takes only about 14 seconds, whereas using a 10,000RPM hard drive took between 30-40 seconds. An SSD like the CoreRise Comay Venus 3S makes an amazing difference!
Looking at the numbers from the benchmarks that were run on the Venus 3S, the solid state drive put up great numbers, though it's apparent that when compared to the Patriot Memory Wildfire, the Venus 3S comes up a little short and does not offer as much performance as the Wildfire is capable of achieving.
I was surprised that it did manage to do what it did. This SSD is targeted as being a consumer grade model that is used for upgrade situations in desktop and notebook computer applications and I would see no reason why a regular consumer would ever look to upgrade once they ran the Venus 3S. Programs such as Adobe Photoshop open super quick and every execution is lighting quick.
The surprising thing to me was that the Venus 3S did actually manage to best the numbers of its Max Sequential Read/Write (Compressible) numbers of 555/520MB/s in the ATTO Disk Benchmark. It managed in our Intel Core i7-2600K/Intel DP67BG(B3) combo an impressive 558MB/s read and 529MB/s write, more than what the specifications call for for both read and write aspects
Update: Anvil's Storage Utilities 0-Fill compressible benchmark test revealed an incredible high of 91,613 write IOPS for its 4K QD16 test which is excellent and much greater than the rated 81,000 IOPS write maximum. There's not many SSD's that can reach this number so this is an insanely high 4K QD16 write IOPS score!!
We saw a high of 29,021 IOPS 4K QD16 read which is a lower than the rated 40,000 IOPS read maximum. 29,021 is a decent score but obviously could be improved. The rated 40,000 IOPS is in line with the competition when comparing similar sized SSDs on the market. I just find it odd that in one spectrum the drive managed an insane 4K QD16 score of 91,613 IOPS, but in the other spectrum only managed 29,021 IOPS for its 4K QD16 read score. The gap between the two is too large. The SandForce controller obviously excels more with compressible data as opposed to incompressible data so take that into consideration when SSD hunting.
As for the other benchmarks, it too revealed that the suggested Sustained Sequential Read/Write (Incompressible) of 500/175MB/s is in line with what you can expect. We were able to achieve roughly about the same numbers and in some benchmarks better results. AS SSD Benchmark obtained 488.41 MB/s read and 181.17MB/s write with a total combined score of 496. We saw a high of 43593 write IOPS and 27581 read IOPS. Anvil's Storage Utilities incompressible benchmark test revealed a high of a 45,941 write IOPS and a 21,479 read IOPS score.
CrystalDiskMark achieved 500MB/s read and 189.9MB/s write sequential speeds.
Don't forget about the 4K QD32 test in CrystalDiskMark because this one also is something that can determine real world performance (unlikely scenario maybe) and makes use of the NCQ and AHCI support of the SSD. The Venus 3S manages 208.7MB/s read and 189.2MB/s write for its 4K QD32.
Access time numbers were good, though some were a little slower than the Patriot Memory Wildfire and its Toshiba Toggle-Mode Synchronous NAND memory for better performance. However, I would say the Comay Venus 3S did a very good job at hanging in with the Wildfire and in no way was I disappointed.
About the only interesting and unusual sight were the graphs that the HD Tune benchmark demonstrated. For the read and write benchmark tests, those lines are not smooth and consistent as in some of my other SSD reviews, but rather squiggly and atypical. The graph for the write benchmark, those orange lines are consistently large, meaning the SSD performance isn't as consistent throughout. Sometimes the performance is fast, then drops for a bit, then picks back up, this cycle would continue throughout the range.
Compared to the Patriot Memory Wildfire, the squiggly lines are much closer in comparison, and shows it can sustain consistent performance for a longer period of time. The SATA2 Patriot Memory Torqx original was the closest thing you had to a straight line that I could remember. I thought this was something interesting I should bring up, but I didn't feel it was detrimental to its performance because it still churned out impressively fast numbers. The Patriot Memory Wildfire SATA3 SSD remains the fastest SSD we've ever reviewed and rightfully so, but it came at a premium cost well north of $320. While the CoreRise Comay Venus 3S isn't as excellent as the Wildfire, it's still a great SSD and holds its own. Best part is that it can be found for under $100!
You have to remember something though. The specifications on the SandForce SF-2281 controller states that it provides "best-in-class, consistent read and write performance (500MB/s) for client applications". Well CoreRise wasn't about to play it safe and just offer performance of up to 500MB/s. Likewise with the manufactures who have experience and expertise, CoreRise increased these values into 555/520MB/s and the results show that not only are the numbers attainable, they are beatable, which isn't always the case. This is to be commended and shows that CoreRise isn't fooling around. They are serious in making a splash into the SSD market. They are serious about people recognizing the CoreRise brand, and the Comay Venus 3S is only just one of those products that's going to help them achieve their goal.
Walking away from my very first review of a CoreRise product in the form of the Venus 3S solid state drive, I have to say that this has been a positive experience and I feel there is lots of potential from what I see from a CoreRise product.
Being targeted as a consumer grade solution that is used for upgrade situations in desktop and notebook computer applications, CoreRise did not skimp on their choice of components. They chose a proven and not budgetary means of an SSD controller in the form of a SandForce controller, they chose to use a quality name brand for their NAND in the form of a 2xnm Micron memory, and chose the faster choice in having their memory synchronous in design. They did not opt to use cheaper and slower asynchronous memory or an SSD controller that no one knows about. It's clear what kind of manufacture CoreRise is by the level of components they use.
Update: Performance coming from the 120GB Venus 3S was highlighted by the excellent compressible 4K QD16 IOPS write score of 91,613, something only a select few can manage to achieve, and the CoreRise Comay managed to pull it off. This alone left a lasting impression.
On the flipside, I felt that the gap between the 4K IOPS write score and that of the compressible and incompressible 4K IOPS read score was larger than it needed to be, even though it was only good. The best it could manage was a score of 29,021 IOPS for 4K QD16 compressible data, falling short of its rated 40,000 IOPS read maximum.
About the only negatives I have regarding the Venus 3S is solely based on product package design. I think it looks boring but the good thing is that they have time to improve for future generations of products.
The second negative is availability. CoreRise brand awareness isn't remotely high in North America, almost an unknown to most, but that will continue to improve as CoreRise obtains distributors. All I know is that if you want a CoreRise product in North America, a Canadian distributor named Synetic Inc. distributes them.
With that said, I can easily recommend the CoreRise Comay Venus 3S solid state drive to anyone looking for an upgrade from their conventional spinning hard drive into the future that is the SSD. It
Update: I just found out that customers from the USA/Canada can now purchase the 120GB Comay Venus 3S SSD from M-FACTORS. They are an authorized CoreRise distributor located in Santa Ana, California. The Venus 3S is actually surprisingly competitively priced against the competition and thats great news for you making it very affordable. 120GB goes for $98.50 which is a very good price!
60GB goes for $67, 120GB for $98.50, 240GB for $179 and 480GB for $353. Shipping is extra, but a flat rate of $5.95 for US shipments is really cheap. Shipping to Canada starts from $9.25 which isn't bad at all. This is great value folks and now you can own a CoreRise Comay SSD rather easily in North America. This is fantastic news and I would not hesitate in grabbing one.