KingFast E-Drive 120GB KF2510SCF 2.5" SATA 3 SLC SSD Review @ ModSynergy.com
The Solid State Drive, or the SSD, has seen leaps and bounds over the years of advancement in drive controller and memory technology and it seems to have found its footing in the tech marketplace for the common consumer seeking to speed up their computer system like never before. The acceptance is shown through increasingly rising sales and the fact that main conventional spinning hard disk manufacturers are now looking into SSD technology as part of their future. You know that things are changing when HDD manufactures are thinking of integrating SSD technology into their product line-up.
All is not complete though as the SSD is still evolving as we speak with different types of NAND memory technologies being invented, tested, and offered such as TLC NAND, MLC and SLC variations with focus to Enterprise use, all addressing different segments, costs, longevity, performance. SSD technology was in its infancy a couple of years ago and has improved tremendously over the past couple of years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. There’s just so much more room to grow even in the intermediate stages. The same can be said with the advancement of offering higher capacity SSD drives on the market. Now there are SSD’s that can offer up to 1TB of space, the limitation that has plagued SSD perception in the past.
Today I get to try out one of these new offerings from New Shenzhen Kingfast Storage Technology Co., Ltd. For those who require more data integrity and more performance, they have released their latest offering meant for Enterprise level usage with the name E-Drive. The new KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF SLC SSD sports a high performance SandForce SSD controller, high-end Intel SLC NAND memory, 120GB of drive capacity, and SandForce firmware 5.0.4.
About New Shenzhen Kingfast Storage Technology Co., Ltd.
New Shenzhen Kingfast Storage Technology Co., Ltd. is a Chinese company based in Shenzhen, China founded in 2008 by experts in the field of digital data storage technology. They are one of the leading professional manufacturers of the solid state drive in China today and do everything in-house from the beginning of research and development to full-fledge production and products pass international certification such as FCC, CE, ROHS to ensure product quality. It doesn't hurt that they also work with first-tier companies around the world.
KingFast is now part of the RunCore family. RunCore if you don’t know, is the largest SSD manufacture in China, found in 1999, and has now included KingFast is part of their family. Here is a quote from the KingFast website...
KingFast, is a new sub-brand of RunCore SSD aimed at a growing, Ordinary Consumers seeking for extreme performance gears at affordable prices for mainstream PC market and Industrial market. As all know,RunCore is one of the leading and Professional Manufacturer of High-Tech Solid State Storage Products(SSD, SSD Array, PCIe Card, Data security SSD ,etc) in the world for High-end Military Market since 2006. KingFast will be a perfect complement to RunCore portfolio Hot Consumer SSD like 2.5 SATAIII SSD, m-SATA SSD,Ultra-Cache SSD, E-Drive,CF Card,USB3.0 Pen Drive and other storage devices that our loyal fans are intensely fascinated about.
KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF Product Overview
The KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF SATA3 SLC SSD is an enterprise or industrial grade SSD capable of read/write speeds of 556MB/s read and 530MB/s write (sequential). This SSD use Single Layer Cell (SLC) Synchronous NAND flash that has 10 to 30 times the endurance of a Multiple Layer Cell (MLC) . They also have superb write latency and can handle heavy workloads. Error rates for SLC flash are also 10-100 times better than MLC flash making them a better choice for mission critical applications.
The KF2510SCF SLC SSD comes with synchronous NAND flash that offers maximum sequential read/write speeds of 556 / 530 MB/s, 4K sequential read/write IOPS of 75880 / 83590, SMART and TRIM support, sudden power-off recovery support, static and dynamic wear-leveling, bad block management among other features critical to enterprise environments.
The 2.5" KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF 120GB SATA3 SLC SSD (Solid State Drive) is a high performance and high reliability storage device based on SLC NAND Flash technology that is designed to solve the bottlenecks imposed by traditional hard disk drives. The KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF SATA3 SLC SSD has highly advanced flash memory management algorithm to guarantee higher performance and data integrity.
With high performance and low power consumption, the KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF SATA3 SLC SSD is an excellent storage option for enterprise / industrial environments. The 2.5" KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF SATA3 SLC SSD consists purely of semiconductor devices and NAND flash memories which give it rugged features against shock and vibration and allow its use in extreme environments.
Editors Note: This is our first look at such an SSD carrying SLC NAND flash memory solution. We have looked more at the common consumer based MLC NAND memory (both slower asynchronous and faster synchronous variants), but today will mark our first look a premium and top performance oriented SLC NAND memory that provides a multitude of bolstered features that help it stand taller than any other NAND flash technology available to SSDs today.
SLC is the fastest throughput of the various NAND technologies available on the market today and it offers top performance and data longevity (longer Program-Erase Cycles for instance, along with more aggressive and more complex ECC), which is why they usually regulated to Enterprise applications. Though that is not to say the hardcore enthusiast won’t mind running one on their system to extract every bit of performance. On paper at least, the KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF should be the fastest single SSD we’ve ever tested. We’ll see if that theory holds up.
KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF Product Specifications
The KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF is meant for Enterprise level usage so it contains superfast SLC NAND memory made by Intel that has longevity and performance while being driven by the popular and trusted SandForce SF-2200 series SSD controller.
The KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF is only available in two capacities including 60GB and the 120GB version I am reviewing today. It is capable of delivering up to a rated sequential read speed of 556MB/s and up to 530MB/s sequential write speed performance. In terms of rated Random IOPS performance, KingFast rates the 120GB KF2510SCF as capable of a maximum sequential IOPS read of 75,880 IOPS and 83590 write IOPS. Random IOPS performance is rated at 55,735 read and 83,221 write.
The KF2510SCF is standard in size meaning it’s the usual 2.5” that most common SSD’s come in (100x70x9.0mm). A separate 7mm height variant can be used inside Ultrabooks.
‘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.’
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 design of the box for the KF2510SCF is environmentally friendly as it's very compact and easy to dispose. This design follows a consistency of all previous KingFast products reviewed on ModSynergy, the only thing different is color scheme. Comprised out of a paper outer shell, a well thought out cardboard enclosure seals the SSD out of harm's way with foam padding for extra security. No plastic is used within, meaning it's even easier to recycle. There was not even a hint of damage to the SSD being travelled from China to Canada.
I like this new color scheme for the KF2510SCF. A mixture of eye popping colors including blue, orange, purple, and white on a black background looks fantastic. From top left flowing to the right side we have the respective and large KingFast logo, SSD designation in big bold letters, general product information including model information, drive capacity, intended application, features, and generic IOPS performance rating. There is also a small KingFast scratch sticker that helps you verify if the SSD is counterfeit or not.
Turning around to the back we find less information than the front, definitely more empty space, which KingFast should have filled in with either an actual image of the SSD or with specific technical specifications and performance numbers related to the product. Back here we find that the SSD maintains a 3-year warranty, shorter than some that offer 5-year warranty. We have some certification symbols including RoHS, but to be honest I’m not sure what the word PRO is doing back here as the model name has no PRO association with SSD. If I were to guess, I would hope that it was a mistake or they were trying to fill in blank space with a random word. This SSD is called the KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF, with no mention of the PRO moniker. Strange indeed.
Open the box and find an enclosed corrugated insert, which is simple but effective. It slides right out of the cardboard paper shell. Foam padding protection inside holds all of the items of the bundle. It contains the KingFast logo on front and folds open to reveal the generous bundle that is commonly seen with KingFast products.
You have to appreciate the complete bundle KingFast offers with their SSD’s because you do get more with your money compared to other competitors, and it’s always the same type of bundle. KF2510SCF gives you the KingFast E-Drive 120GB KF2510SCF SLC SSD, very sturdy 2.5" to 3.5" metal bracket, screws for mounting the SSD to the metal bracket, SATA cable, and warranty card for three years warranty.
Most SSD manufacturers don't offer a bracket and or cable, some offer nothing, so I have to commend KingFast for providing a complete bundle which makes it more flexible for owners to use this SSD in a wide variety of configurations. These brackets alone can also be quite expensive, this one is muscular and strong with thick metal. I've seen some brackets retail for $30, which is unbelievable…brilliant move KingFast!
The 120GB KingFast KF2510SCF E-Drive SSD comes in a conventional enclosure as you see with any other SSD on the market. Nothing really makes it stand out from the rest of the crowd aside from the aluminum exterior that helps it sparkle a bit. The eye-catching thing is the beautiful smooth feeling sticker, the orange color make it stand out. Orange is my favorite color! Rounded out edges give it a nice touch, but I wished the sticker would have provided some technical performance related information on it, only offered is brand, model, capacity, 3-year warranty, and serial number.
The bottom of the E-Drive maintains the four screw holes that you will use with the included metal bracket and or you can use the four side screw holes, depending on how you choose to mount it.
Tearing it down -- I mean opening it up :)
Please note that by opening the KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF SLC SSD, you forfeit the 3-year warranty that comes along with the drive. Luckily I will take that burden for you to see the components that make up the KF2510SCF.
Have a look at the internals of the KingFast KF2510SCF 120GB SLC solid state drive. A cool looking blue color PCB greets you, no bland and typical green PCB...not that it makes any difference, but it just looks better! It's funny how the inside of the SSD looks classier than the outer shell because of the blue color. Maybe KingFast should have painted the outside exterior blue! You can read the words SF2200BGA-152P-V1.0 on the bottom center of the PCB that reveals the internal reference number and SandForce SF-2200 based controller that accompanies it.
You can tell it's finished on a professional SMD machine since all the solder contacts are completed flawlessly with no goops or mess. There seems to be no mistakes on this board. There are no re-works on the board, the last thing you want to see on a PCB, nicely executed. The layout of the board is spacious, and spaced apart well. You can see some spots on the PCB that haven't been filled, so I'm sure on a different spec model, these spots will be filled in with the correct components.
One of the first things you become aware of is the SandForce SSD controller and how it's positioned and sits very close to the gold plated SATA contact pins to ensure the least amount of latencies and fastest operational speed. This SandForce SF-2281VB1-SDC processor 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.
On this KingFast KF2510SCF 120GB SLC SSD there are a total of 8 (16GB each) individual Intel 29F16B16NCNE1 chips that are marked as made in 2009. These are high-end Single-Level Cell (SLC) NAND flash ONFI 2.2 compliant chips based on the 25nm lithography process, 152-Ball BGA packaging, 16GB each in capacity, synchronous in design, and with dual x8 device bus width.
I spoke about SLC having longevity when compared to MLC and TLC NAND flash offerings. Other typical MLC SSD's we've already reviewed contain a P/E cycle (Program-Erase) ranging from 3000-5000 before wear and tear begins to deteriorate the integrity of the data (but the SSD controllers block management and wear leveling algorithms kick in to extend this failure from happening). Well the Intel SLC inside the KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF contains an astounding P/E cycle of 100,000 P/E cycles, though this is not just regulated to Intel SLC, all SLC maintain this high of a P/E cycle count.
This SSD being made for Enterprise level stress was optimized fully for these harsh situations. Read endurance is rated as unlimited (bytes written) and write endurance is rated for the 120GB model we review today at an impressive 12,000 Total Bytes Written (TBW). No mention is to what standard these endurance ratings are being tested against, could be JEDEC JESD218 but the specifications aren't clear and these standardized tests are constantly changing.
KingFast let me know that because their E-Drive KF2510SCF SLC SSD is meant for Enterprise use and will likely be operating on a constant basis, they have aggressively optimized and fine-tuned the SandForce firmware for such demanding tasks associated with that environment.
Reliability was a big part of KingFast's focus, therefore they chose high quality SLC NAND flash memory made from Intel, as SLC is able to handle higher operating temperatures. They also realized that they needed to utilize a more aggressive ECC (error-correcting code) algorithm that uses a Bose, Chaudhuri and Hocquengham (or BCH) ECC algorithm so that data integrity is kept at its highest level as at the Enterprise level they are dealing with crucial data. In consumer offerings, ECC complexity in conjunction with MLC memory is less complex as this is not a big factor for average users. KF2510SCF supports BCH ECC where up to 55-bits are correctable per 512-byte sector, again used to protect user data during those constant and demanding workloads typical in the Enterprise level environment.
Again as stated, 8 (16GB each) pieces of Intel 29F16B16NCNE1 SLC NAND flash memory chips cover and occupy one side of the PCB, the other side remains unoccupied, this equals 128GB in total space, however, 8GB is reserved for SandForce firmware, provisioning, and other functions related to the firmware.
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. Without further ado, let's see what the KingFast KF2510SCF can do in our Intel based 2012 PC build. Full specifications on our test bed can be found here.
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.
I calculated with a stop-watch the boot up time into a brand new Windows 7 installation with applications which took only about 10-11 seconds, whereas using a 2.5" 10,000RPM hard drive took up to 30 seconds to fully load.
As I mentioned before, the KingFast KF2510SCF contains Intel 29F16B16NCNE1 SLC NAND flash memory chips, top of the speed hierarchy, and now after looking at the benchmarks its clearly evident to why. SLC has excellent all around performance! A trend with all past reviews of MLC based SSDs is that their read speed is always higher than their write performance, so it was never balanced. But with SLC memory, the KingFast KF2510SCF is balanced between read and write performance, they are now closely matched. Another positive trait with SLC is the fact that now incompressible and compressible benchmarks don't widely vary as they did with MLC SSDs. As you'll see with the total score in Anvil's Storage Utilities benchmark, incompressible and compressible benchmarks are only off between each other by 203 points, not the typical 1000+ points they are off with other MLC based SSD's already tested. Another fantastic improvement seen with this SSD is its blistering fast 4K performance as you'll see.
The KF2510SCF beat it's rated sequential write number of 556MB/s and also beat its rated sequential write speed of 530MB/s. In the ATTO Disk Benchmark the KF2510SCF managed in our Intel Core i7-2600K/Intel DP67BG(B3) combo a maximum of 558MB/s read and 532MB/s write, again meeting and beating its rated specifications.
Anvil's Storage Utilities 0-Fill compressible benchmark test revealed a high of 84,191.15 write IOPS for its 4K QD16 test. This is an excellent and high performing score, also beating its rated IOPS performance numbers for both sequential and random IOPS as given by KingFast. Though it trails the incredible 91,730.44 score posted by the CoreRise Venus 3S SSD for comparison sake, but the KF2510SCF is well balanced throughout the categories like never seen before.
We saw a high of 55,746.14 IOPS 4K QD16 read, which is substantially higher than any other previous KingFast SSD could achieve, its easily the best number we've seen thus far. All others are at least 20,000 points behind the SLC based KF2510SCF! Fantastic results! And again throughout the categories of test the SSD is balanced and has higher results than ever seen before.
Anvil's Storage Utilities incompressible benchmark test revealed a high of 78,750.24 write 4K QD16 IOPS, and a high of 50,572.00 read 4K QD16 IOPS score, again completely dominating all of the SSD's we've ever tested in the process.
Now incompressible and 0-Fill compressible data performance is equally matched with the SLC KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF SSD. The Anvil Storage Utilities benchmark overall score total for the incompressible test is 4,148.64, while the compressible test overall score total is even better at 4,352.01. All of the other SSD's I've tested before were only achieving at best up to 3000 for their incompressible test overall score total, that's a huge difference.
I said in my older SSD reviews of MLC variants that it was obvious that those SSDs were struggling with incompressible data but did better with compressible data. Well in the case of the SLC based KingFast KF2510SCF that is no longer the case! This SSD excels in both compressible and incompressible data, the performance is pretty much equal between them. Excellent.
AS SSD Benchmark is one of the areas where the KingFast KF2510SCF showed its true performance. AS SSD Benchmark typically shows the worst possible performance scenario you can expect from an SSD because most typically loathe incompressible dat. However that is not the case with the SLC based KingFast KF2510SCF as it easily posts the highest overall AS SSD Benchmark score we've ever seen on any SATA 3 SSD we've already looked at (as of June 2013).
The Copy Benchmark test inside AS SSD also posts the best times seen yet from any SSD we've tested. For ISO test KF2510SCF posts a speed of 445.52 MB/s with a duration of only 2.41 seconds, Program test posts a speed of 227.82 MB/s with a duration of 6.18 seconds, and Game test posts a speed of 294.78 MB/s with a duration of 4.68 seconds.
KF2510SCF produces an overall AS SSD Benchmark score of 893, tops of any SSD we've ever tested to date. The former first place Patriot Memory Wildfire SSD with Toshiba Toggle-Mode MLC NAND flash memory achieved an overall score of 650, so the KingFast KF2510SCF is a full 243 points ahead. The biggest difference seen now with SLC NAND flash is the write performance being very fast. I've never seen with other SSD's the sequential write being anywhere close to 500 MB/s. Another positive difference is the 4K performance from the E-Drive KF2510SCF, it has blistering fast 4K performance not seen before by ModSynergy.
In AS SSD Benchmark, the KingFast KF2510SCF achieves 513.69 MB/s sequential read and fantastic 485.76 MB/s sequential write, with a total combined score of 893, the highest score ever seen on ModSynergy as of this article! We saw a high of 73587 write IOPS and 59968 read IOPS, the KF2510SCF completely demolishes and destroys all of the SSD's we've already reviewed. This is why the KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF is meant for Enterprise level usage, it excels in pushing large amounts of data with pure speed. It will excel in mission critical applications and those configurations that require lots of data to be pushed on a constant basis, for example in servers, databases, video editing, workstations, and datacenters.
CrystalDiskMark showed that the KF2510SCF achieved 513.9 MB/s sequential read and 496.9 MB/s write for the incompressible test.
CrystalDiskMark showed that the KF2510SCF achieved 511.0 MB/s sequential read and 508.9 MB/s write for the 0-Fill compressible test.
Don't forget about the 4K QD32 test in CrystalDiskMark because this one also is something that can determine real world performance, and makes use of the NCQ and AHCI support of the SSD. The KF2510SCF manages a blistering 304.9 MB/s read and 304.7 MB/s write for the 4K QD32 test category (incompressible). Compressible test shows equally impressive 4K QD32 test category speeds of 318.3 MB/s read and 344.5 MB/s write.
And look at those excellent and fastest ever seen 4K scores posted by the KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF! Incompressible 4K performance churned in 42.24 MB/s read and a crazy 91.00 MB/s write. Compressible 4K performance saw 46.72 MB/s read and 91.32 MB/s write! The best numbers ever seen by any SSD on ModSynergy!
Access time numbers were also excellent with the KF2510SCF as it frequently gets the best numbers when compared inside all of the benchmarks tested. For example, in AS SSD Benchmark it posted access times of 0.112ms read, 0.155ms write!
About the only interesting and unusual sight were the write graphs that the HD Tune benchmark demonstrated. For the write benchmark tests, those lines are not 100% smooth and consistent as in some of my other SSD reviews, but rather squiggly and somewhat atypical. The graph for the write benchmark, those orange lines are moderately large, though it didn't really matter as it achieved the highest write average speed seen yet of 361.4 MB/s, the closest to this is the Patriot Memory Wildfire at 343.7 MB/s.
The KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF doesn't win all benchmarks though (even though it dominates everything else) as the MLC based KingFast KF2510MCF posted an average read benchmark in HD Tune Pro of 394.4 MB/s while the E-Drive KF2510SCF posted 392.3 MB/s.
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The 120GB KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF is a destroyer! It posted numerous new bests, highest speed seen, highest average seen, superb write performance, insane 4K performance, just to name a few things never seen before on this site. It completely dominated just about in every area and was refreshing to see that it does not struggle with incompressible data as all other previously reviewed SSD do, it's now virtually equal and doesn't matter if you throw compressible or incompressible data. The balance between read and write speed was energizing to see and means the E-Drive KF2510SCF is not just good at one area,it's potent in all areas!
Not only am I completely enthralled by the performance of the KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF SLC SSD, I'm also loving the complete and generous bundle that includes a sturdy 2.5" to 3.5" mounting bracket.
If I were to complain, I would pick on the warranty length. All of the other KingFast SSD's I've tested were consumer focused variants and had lesser performing MLC NAND flash memory and they all have 3-year warranty. With the Enterprise level focused E-Drive KF2510SCF and its superior SLC NAND flash memory that is known for its longevity, I'm not sure why the warranty remains at only 3-years. These are different segments and therefore should have different warranty lengths, this should have at least a 5-year warranty.
If you desire top level performance and a complete bundle, look no further than the KingFast E-Drive KF2510SCF SLC SSD. Even paying an extra premium for SLC NAND flash memory, it's totally worth it at $279USD, especially with KingFast's complete bundle. It's no secret that it earns our highest Editor's Choice Award Rating!
No longer will availability be a limiting factor for North American customers. Customers in Canada and USA can now easily order any KingFast SSD product and have it shipped to their door through http://www.kingfast-ssd.com.
The only thing left now is to be crazy enough to try 2 of these in RAID 0 configuration to see what stunning performance numbers it could achieve!!