Plextor PX-256M2S hardware.
Now let’s take a closer look at the hardware.
If we look at the above screenshot, we can see that the PCB
doesn’t occupy all the available space. In fact the PCB is made to fit either a
2.5 inch form factor case, and also the smaller 1.8 inch form factor case
PX-256M2S PCB (top side)
From the above screenshot we can see the Marvell SSD
controller, four NAND chips, and 128MB of DDR3 cache.
PX-256M2S PCB (underside)
On the underside of the PCB we can see another four NAND
Marvell SSD controller
Above we can see the new revision of the Marvell 88SS9174
SSD controller designated 88SS9174-BKK2. The main purpose of the revision is to
provide far superior performance with regard to NAND maintenance. That is to
say, the garbage collection, which Plextor has named “Instant Restore Technology”,
has meant NAND cleaning performance has been increased substantially.
The controller no longer has to rely totally on Windows 7
and TRIM, as Instant Restore Technology alone is very capable of keeping the
SSD at near peak performance.
The controller still has 8 channels connecting it to the
NAND array, with the 256GB model being able to use all 8 channels; therefore
the 256GB model will produce the best performance overall.
One of the other new features is to support a larger range
of NAND, such as toggle mode MLC NAND. Toggle mode NAND provides higher
throughput by providing DDR type qualities. It is also believed that the new
88SS9174 –BKK2 revision may also be able to support 24nm, 25nm, and also 32nm
128MB DDR3 cache
The Plextor PX-256M2S also supports 128MB of DDR3 cache
which provides a stable write buffer for the SSD controller, and also helps
provide an area for use with the new garbage collection features of the Plextor
The above data was supplied
Toshiba 32GB 32nm “toggle mode” MLC NAND
The PX-256M2S uses Toshiba 32nm toggle mode MLC NAND, with
each chip providing 32GB of flash memory. The PX-256M2S has 8 of these chips to
give a total of 256GB of MLC NAND. Toggle mode NAND is like DDR memory, in
other words, you can have twice the bandwidth from each NAND die, compared to
non toggle mode NAND.
The above data was supplied by Plextor
Drive maintenance features
For Windows 7 users and some distributions of Linux, the
Plextor PX-256M2S supports ATA TRIM to help keep the NAND clean. The Plextor
PX-256M2S uses fairly aggressive garbage collection (Instant Restore
Technology) to clean the NAND blocks even with an operating system that does
not support the TRIM command.
The Plextor PX-256M2S can also be “secure erased”, which
will return all NAND on the SSD to its factory default clean state. You can do
this via the DOS application “HDDErase” or as I prefer by using a Linux “live”
distribution called Parted Magic.
The supplied software (Acronis True Image HD)
It is always nice to get some bundled software when you
purchase a hardware product; it is even nicer when that software is of high
quality and genuinely useful.
The Plextor PX-256M2S comes bundled with Acronis True Image
HD, which can be installed and used to backup the complete SSD, or backup your
precious data, or clone your existing system install onto your new Plextor
I will take a very brief look at the bundled Acronis True Image
Backing up a complete partition
The main Acronis True Image HD screen
The backup wizard
Summary of the backup task
The backup in progress
Backup completed successfully
The task and event log. Showing when the last backup was completed.
Restoring a complete partition
The restore wizard
Selecting the partition to restore
Selecting the target drive
The restore summary
I have only scratched the surface of what this software can
do, and there are many other features that would require an article of its own
to go into any great detail regarding the full feature list of Acronis True Image
I also only conducted a single backup and restore with the
bundled Acronis True Image HD, and in both cases it worked flawlessly.
Let’s head to the next page where we can look at the test
PC and the testing methods….