If you had asked me back in 2008 who I thought would be leading the SSD industry in 2013 I would’ve said Intel, Western Digital and Seagate. Intel because of its commanding early lead in the market, and WD/Seagate because as the leaders in hard drives they couldn’t afford to be absent from the long term transition to SSDs. The days of having to explain why SSDs are better than mechanical drives are thankfully well behind us, now it’s just a question of predicting the inevitable. I figured that the hard drive vendors would see the same future and quickly try to establish a foothold in the SSD market. It turns out I’m really bad at predicting things.

Like most converging markets (in this case, storage + NAND), the SSD industry hasn’t been dominated by players in the market that came before it. Instead, SSDs attracted newcomers to the client/enterprise storage business. Not unlike DRAM, owning a NAND foundry has its benefits when building a profitable SSD business. It’s no surprise that Intel, Micron and Samsung are some of the more frequently discussed SSD vendors - all of them own (either partially or fully) NAND foundries.

Whether or not ownership in a foundry will be a requirement for building a sustainable SSD business is still unclear, but until that question gets answered there’s room for everyone to play in the quickly growing SSD market. This year, Seagate re-enters the SSD market with a serious portfolio. Today it not only announces two 2.5” SATA drives, including its first client-focused SSD, but also a 2.5” SAS product and a PCIe SSD solution.

The products that we’re focusing on today are the two 2.5” SATA drives: Seagate’s 600 and 600 Pro.

Architecture

The 600 and 600 Pro are both based on Link A Media Device’s LM87800 controller. The LAMD controller is the same as the one used in Corsair’s Neutron and Neutron GTX. Previous Seagate SSDs actually used a two-chip solution, with Seagate’s custom silicon controlling the host interface while Link A Media provided a NAND interface chip. The LM87800 is apparently a single chip integration of the earlier Seagate designs. The controller uses the drive chassis for cooling, with a thermal pad acting as an interface layer.

The firmware on the 600/600 Pro is unique to Seagate. It’s unclear whether or not Seagate has access to firmware source, but the solution is definitely custom (as you’ll see from the performance/consistency results). The LM87800 doesn't use any data de-duplication/compression and allegedly uses a DSP-like architecture.

The controller is paired with two DDR2-800 devices, with roughly 1MB of DRAM per GB of NAND storage. The high ratio of DRAM to NAND is common in drives with flat indirection tablets as we’ve come to notice. It’s a more costly (and potentially more power hungry) design decision, but one that can have tangible benefits as far as performance consistency is concerned.

Seagate 600 NAND/DRAM Configuration
  # of NAND Packages # of Die per Package Total NAND on-board DRAM
480GB 8 8 512GB 512MB
240GB 8 4 256GB 256MB
120GB 8 2 128GB 128MB

The LM87800 controller is a bit dated by modern standards, especially if we look at what is possible with Crucial’s M500. There’s no hardware encryption support and obviously no eDrive certification. Despite launching in 2013, the 600/600 Pro feature a controller that is distinctly 2012. Admittedly, that seems to be the case with most SSD makers these days. Everyone seems to be waiting for the transition to SATA Express before launching truly new controller designs.

Seagate has deals in place to secure NAND supply from both Samsung and Toshiba, although all of the 600 series will show up with 19nm Toshiba 2-bit-per-cell MLC NAND. The LM87800 controller features 8 NAND channels, and can access even more NAND die in parallel through interleaving.

 

The Seagate 600 & 600 Pro
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  • Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, May 08, 2013 - link

    I need to speak with Anand but $60 definitely doesn't sound too bad :-) Ultimately I think a meter that could log data e.g. every 100ms and the data could easily be import to Excel would be ideal as then we could easily make a graph of power usage over time, but knowing the overall usage would still be better than what we have now. Thanks for the suggestion! Reply
  • GamerGirl - Thursday, May 09, 2013 - link

    wow this is really so fast...19nm of nand its ok for longlife? Reply
  • MelodyRamos47 - Sunday, May 12, 2013 - link

    before I saw the draft 4 $9944, I did not believe ...that...my mother in law was like they say actually erning money in their spare time at their laptop.. there aunt started doing this 4 only fifteen months and by now cleard the mortgage on there villa and bourt a great new Chrysler. we looked here, Jump44.comCHECK IT OUT Reply
  • bards1888 - Monday, May 13, 2013 - link

    A local supplier has this part in stock, ST480FN0021. It does not appear to be the 600 Pro as it has part number ST480FP0021.

    Does anyone know the difference ?
    Reply
  • vdidenko - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    I am known to fill up all storage available, so it will be hard to stick to the 10-20% free space rule for me. However, would partitioning the disk so that 20% of it is not allocated to a partition do the trick technologically? It surely will force me... Reply
  • aSSDtech - Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - link

    I don't think 4 Tantulium Capacitors can make SSDs suvive upon sudden host power loss. 4*470uF can not meet the power of the SSD needs because the power comsumption is generally 4W and the data needs to be flushed down are more than 4 seconds because the DRAMs and the write speed. Reply
  • RaresIonut - Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - link

    Hi,
    Very nice review!
    I ordered a Seagate s600 120GB and I should get it by tomorow.
    There's one thing that bothers me regarding ssd's (particulary mine): does the Seagate s600 120GB have TRIM support? Does it need TRIM support?
    Sorry if this was mentioned somewhere in the article, I'm reading iton a bus :(

    Thank you! :)
    Reply
  • drben - Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - link

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  • Delicate - Monday, January 20, 2014 - link

    As per this article - http://www.techarena.in/review/258133-seagate-600-... in the Indian market this hard drive is way to costly which comes at Rs. 9000. Being a hard drive for extreme pc and gaming does not mean that it should be so much costly. Reply

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