ExpressCard Specifications

The maximum performance of ExpressCard devices depends on which interface the manufacturer has chosen to use:
PCI Express: 2.5Gbit/sec/direction
USB 2.0: 480 Mbit/sec
Providing hardware manufacturers the ability to choose between the USB 2.0 interface (which is fairly easy to implement) and a dedicated PCI-Express x1 interface (which is somewhat more complex, but offers obvious performance benefits) gives ExpressCard flexibility which had not been seen in laptops up to that point. It also allows for high performance applications which were unheard of during the PC Card era - for example, Magma offers an external adapter which allows for the connection of a single wide PCI-Express graphics card to a laptop.

Laptop manufacturers have been adding ExpressCard support recently, though most are continuing support for their existing PC Card interfaces to allow users to gradually wind down their investment in legacy PC Card hardware. As the two slots are physically incompatible, this is a trend which is likely to continue for some time.

The Transcend TS16GSSD34E


Transcend introduced their ExpressCard SSD line in March of 2007, with capacity options varying from 2GB to 16GB in size. They have since refined this offering to three choices: 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB. For this, they are using the ExpressCard/34 packaging, and opted to interface with the USB 2.0 host.

Specifications

Drive Specifications - Transcend TS16GSSD34E
Manufacturer's Stated Capacity 16GB
Operating System Stated Capacity 15.5 GB
Interface USB 2.0
Operating Voltage 3.3V
Operating Temperature 0°C(32°F) to 70°C(158°F)
Weight 19g
Read Performance 18MB/s
Write Performance 8MB/s
Power Draw Idle / Load .46W / 1.08W
Acoustics Idle / Load 0 dB(A) / 0 dB(A)
Thermals Idle / Load 25C / 26C
MTBF Rating 2,000,000 hours
Data Retention 10 years
Warranty 2 Years

While the transfer rate is nothing exceptional, the solid state memory found in the TS16GSSD34E provides access times of less than 1ms, and the ExpressCard packaging means that the device will not stick out of your existing laptop. The low power requirements of the unit, minimal heat dissipation, and light weight of the module all make it a potential option for users with low storage requirements who may wish to replace the internal hard drive in their laptop. (Note: Check your laptop's BIOS for boot options - not all laptops will allow booting from an ExpressCard device).


The Transcend TS16GSSD34E comes packaged with the ExpressCard module itself, a USB-ExpressCard adapter which allows the device to be connected to a standard USB 2.0 port, the product manual, warranty card, and an assortment of Transcend product advertisements. The manual is laughably short, providing nuggets of information such as "Once you have completed installing the SSD34E, you can see that the installation was successful". The USB adapter for the SSD34E seems somewhat bulkier than it needs to be, though the ExpressCard fits nicely into the slot. No incompatibilities were observed either in our test bed system or a Lenovo T60 laptop in our labs while using the USB adapter.

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  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, October 31, 2007 - link

    Any chance of comparing one of these to a 16GB Corsair FlashVoyager? The Corsair would seem to be more useful unless you always leave the card in a laptop, the Corsair is less expensive, and IIRC quotes higher speeds as well.

    Also the Extract Archive chart on page 5 - is that really supposed to say 4000 seconds?
    Reply
  • JoeBleed - Monday, November 12, 2007 - link

    What file system format was used on this drive and the regular USB memory stick?
    The reason i ask is that i find NTFS under 2k and XP to perform much better than FAT 32.
    Reply
  • darkfoon - Saturday, October 27, 2007 - link

    On page 5 of the article, at the bottom, the ClipDrive is called the "MSI ClipDrive" however, throughout the rest of the article its been called the MXI ClipDrive.
    I assume that MSI is a typo, however I've never heard of the MXI brand, so I'm a little confused, I suppose.
    Reply
  • ksherman - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    This is an ExpressCard SSD, but uses the USB standard to communicate with the computer (even when in the ExCard slot)?! That seems odd, wouldn't the express slot provide faster performance? Reply
  • Dave Robinet - Friday, October 26, 2007 - link

    Expresscard uses either USB or SATA as means for communication (page 1 diagram shows that a bit better), so not really - if they'd chosen SATA as the communication method, then it would have better throughput, though.

    Regardless, the card doesn't approach the maximum transfer rate of the USB bus, so it's a non-issue.

    Thanks for reading!
    Reply
  • defman - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    Some info on how this would perform as a Windows Readyboost device would be nice.... Reply
  • dvinnen - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    I was thinking it would make for a good ReadyBoost device for the laptop as well. Some info on how it performs there would be nice.

    Also, is it USB2 that is holding the speed back? If so they really should of done a dual bus, cardbus for when in a laptop, usb for when using the adapter...
    Reply
  • Dave Robinet - Friday, October 26, 2007 - link

    No, USB isn't holding the speed back at all. You've got loads more room in the USB2 bus for additional performance from the card - it just isn't there.

    As for ReadyBoost... given the performance of the card, it's doubtful that it would have made an improvement worth spending the additional money on. Good suggestion, though - if we do another Expresscard device in the future, I'll make sure to include it.

    Thanks for reading!

    -dave
    Reply
  • Weiman - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    My thoughts exactly. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, October 25, 2007 - link

    One one hand you have the ability to have more storage with potential for less power draw, fast access times, and the ability to just connect it and not have an external power source to worry about.

    On the other hand, you had a VERY slow product, that barely outperform the average USB v2.0 device, with limited amount of storage potential.

    Price does not look terrible though, but I would imagine you could just as easily buy a Corsair 16GB thumb drive for the same price, and not worry about one of these . . . although if this were bootable(did not see it in the article).
    Reply

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