ADATA's Ultimate SU800 is their first SSD to use 3D NAND and the first 3D NAND SSD from a company that doesn't manufacture their own NAND flash memory. The SU800 pairs Micron's 3D TLC NAND with Silicon Motion's SM2258 controller to produce an entry-level consumer SATA SSD, available in both 2.5" and M.2 form factors.

We've previously reviewed the Silicon Motion SM2258 controller in the Intel SSD 540s, which uses SK Hynix 16nm TLC NAND. We also had the opportunity to test an SM2258 engineering sample/reference design from Silicon Motion that used the same Micron 3D TLC but earlier firmware and different overprovisioning settings. Silicon Motion's controllers are known for low cost and low power, and it's worth noting that their SATA SSD controllers are one of the few remaining single-core designs.

Micron's 3D TLC is the first 3D NAND to hit the open market in high volume and with reasonable cost. For the moment, Micron's 3D NAND is the only viable option for most SSD manufacturers looking to move beyond planar NAND. Samsung is keeping almost all of their 3D NAND for their own very successful SSDs. Toshiba and SK Hynix are technically shipping 3D NAND but in limited supply and the poor cost effectiveness have prevented any third parties from adopting it for commercial SSDs. Toshiba and SK Hynix each have at least one or two token models in the supply chain using their 3D NAND, but still no mass-market consumer or retail availability. (Toshiba and SK Hynix have seen more success in the smartphone and memory card markets, where performance requirements are lower and the large die sizes of Micron's 3D NAND are a problem.)

Micron's only consumer SSD with 3D NAND so far is the Crucial MX300, and Intel has released their SSD 600p, both using the Intel/Micron 32-layer 384Gb 3D TLC NAND flash.  The Crucial MX300 has been quite successful, with acceptable mainstream performance, great pricing, and great power efficiency. The Intel 600p is the most affordable NVMe SSD on the market and it offers real-world performance that exceeds any SATA SSD. That leaves plenty of room in the market for other models with 3D NAND, and plenty of interest from consumers seeking the benefits of 3D NAND.

Micron's 32-layer 3D TLC NAND has a capacity of 384Gb (48GB) per die. This odd capacity means that while the SU800 has typical usable capacities like 128GB and 512GB, the die counts and raw flash capacities aren't powers of two. The 128GB SU800 has just three packages with one die each for a raw capacity of 144GiB. The 256GB and 512GB SU800s use three and six dual-die flash packages, respectively. Since the SM2258 controller has four channels for communicating with NAND, the smallest SU800 cannot make full use of the controller's capability and has reduced performance as a result. The larger capacity SU800 variants are rated to mostly saturate SATA on sequential transfers.

ADATA Ultimate SU800 Specifications
Capacity 128 GB 256 GB 512 GB 1 TB
Controller Silicon Motion SM2258
NAND Flash Micron 32-layer 384Gb 3D TLC NAND
Form Factor 2.5" 7mm or M.2 2280
Sequential Read 560 MB/s
Sequential Write 300 MB/s 520 MB/s
Random Read IOPS Up to 90K IOPS
Random Write IOPS Up to 80K IOPS
TCG Opal Encryption No
Power Management DevSleep
Warranty 3 years
MTBF 2,000,000 hours
Initial MSRP $59.99 $79.99 $139.99 $269.99

In this review, the SU800 will be compared against the following drives. Click on the names to see their subsequent reviews.

  • Micron's Crucial MX300, using the same 3D TLC NAND but Marvell's 88SS1074 controller
  • Intel SSD 540s, using the same Silicon Motion SM2258 controller but SK Hynix 16nm planar TLC NAND
  • ADATA Premier SP550, using the earlier Silicon Motion SM2256 controller and SK Hynix 16nm planar TLC NAND
  • PNY CS1311, one of many models using the Phison S11 controller and Toshiba 15nm planar TLC NAND
  • Samsung 750 EVO, Samsung's return to planar TLC for the sake of cost-cutting and to avoid the limitations of low NAND die count on low capacity SSDs due to the high per-die capacity of 3D NAND
  • ADATA XPG SX930 , an older mainstream SSD using Micron 16nm MLC and JMicron JMF670H controller

As always, other comparisons can be made using our Bench database.

AnandTech 2015 SSD Test System
CPU Intel Core i7-4770K running at 3.5GHz
(Turbo & EIST enabled, C-states disabled)
Motherboard ASUS Z97 Pro (BIOS 2701)
Chipset Intel Z97
Memory Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866 2x8GB (9-10-9-27 2T)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4600
Desktop Resolution 1920 x 1200
OS Windows 8.1 x64
Performance Consistency
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  • RamIt - Wednesday, February 01, 2017 - link

    Why is there no comparison to the Intel 600p recently reviewed? Reply
  • extide - Thursday, February 02, 2017 - link

    Probably because it is a PCIe drive. A shopper who is shopping for SATA drives is probably not interested in a PCIe drive. Reply
  • dj_aris - Thursday, February 02, 2017 - link

    Sorry, but since all SATA 3 drives top at theoretical 600MBs but SSD speeds are WAY faster than that, what is the point in testing them? Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, February 02, 2017 - link

    It might just be my eyes, but I see a lot of instances where the drives don't actually achieve the 600MB/s data cap of the SATA3 protocol.... Reply
  • dj_aris - Thursday, February 02, 2017 - link

    Indeed, but who cares if it's 600 or 500 or even 300, when you can reach 2000+ using modern pcie storage (with similiar prices). SATA is dead, obviously will not be developed anymore, SATA express drives don't even exist. I mean we don't test DVD drives or floppies, right? Reply
  • doggface - Thursday, February 02, 2017 - link

    Sata is dead? Seriously?
    Also, similar prices?

    So many things wrong with this post.

    Sata SSDs will continue to thrive for years to come. No doubt about that, and while they do, we will need reviews on their performance to help differentiate the good from bad. Especially as the industry continues to peddle TLC and even possibly QLC drives.
    Reply
  • vladx - Thursday, February 02, 2017 - link

    Upcoming QLC NAND is not something to scowl at. SSD drives using this technology will not be targeted to compete with MLC or even TLC instead they are planned for archival purposes: https://www.pcper.com/news/Storage/FMS-2015-Toshib... Reply
  • Billy Tallis - Thursday, February 02, 2017 - link

    SATA isn't dead, but it is a dead end in the same sense that VGA ports are. Reply
  • extide - Thursday, February 02, 2017 - link

    Not everyone's system is compatible with and/or cannot boot from NVME drives. There is definitely still a need to have these data points. Reply
  • lopri - Thursday, February 02, 2017 - link

    Two of my boards refuse to accept any M.2 drive as a boot drive, leaving me no choice but to go with SATA. Plus SATA is nowhere near dead because it is still much more affordable. Plus there is no convincing argument as to why backups have to be saved in SSDs. Reply

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