Gaming PC

Silicon Motion Powers Portable SSD in a Thumb Drive

Transcend is famous Manufacturer of digital storage productsEspecially in the industrial field. The company also operates in the consumer segment offering a variety of products ranging from internal and external SSDs to his DRAM modules and card readers.

In April 2023, the company will introduced ESD310C – Portable SSD in thumb drive form factor. Boasting read speeds up to 1050 MBps and write speeds up to 950 MBps, USB 3.2 Gen 2 enters the 10 Gbps class PSSD market. The main differentiator is the presence of both Type-A and Type-C interfaces. There are four capacity points: 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB.

Kingston’s DataTraveler Max gains a first mover advantage in the high-performance thumb drive segment. The product line debuted with his Type-C version, followed by his Type-A version a few quarters later. Meanwhile, other vendors have tried to differentiate themselves from Kingston drives by introducing more rugged versions with both Type-A and Type-C interfaces. We took a comprehensive look at his one such USB flash drive (UFD) earlier this year, the OWC Envoy Pro Mini. Transcend’s ESD310C attempts to operate in the same dual interface segment, but with a traditional thumb drive design and a focus on pricing to appeal to a wider consumer segment. In this review, we’ll take a closer look at the performance and value proposition of the new He ESD310C 1 TB version, with a particular focus on how it compares to existing players in this segment.

Introduction and product impressions

Bus-powered, direct-attached storage devices have improved in both storage capacity and speed over the past decade. The advent of 3D NAND and NVMe, along with faster host interfaces for external devices (such as Thunderbolt and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2), have enabled the introduction of palm-sized flash-based storage devices capable of speeds of 2GBps and beyond. I was.

Before the introduction of SATA bridge-based PSSDs, the UFD market was completely dominated by the thumb drive form factor. Vendors like Corsair and Mushkin briefly experimented with his SATA SSD behind a USB bridge chip, but the thermal solution and size made thumbdrive UFDs unwieldy. The recent introduction of high-performance native UFD controllers from Phison and Silicon Motion has made the category viable once again while offering better performance. The Crucial X6 with Phison U17 was reviewed in August 2021, but it wasn’t a true thumb drive. In this particular category, Silicon Motion has had great success thanks to the popularity of the Kingston DataTraveler Max series (his separate SKUs for Type-C and Type-A drives).

In April 2023, Transcend announced the ESD310C, which has essentially the same internals as the Kingston DataTraveler Max Type-A: Silicon Motion’s SM2320 native UFD controller combined with Kioxia’s BiCS5 112L 3D TLC NAND. We try to differentiate ourselves from other high performance thumb drives based on the following aspects:

  • Supports dual interfaces in one unit (both Type-A and Type-C)
  • Reduce width to free up adjacent USB ports
  • very compact and lightweight
  • Caps on both ends to protect connectors from dust and accidental damage

Silicon Motion commissioned the Transcend ESD310C for review as yet another vehicle that demonstrates the versatility of the UFD controller. The company sent a 1 TB version of its portable SSD to pass through its direct-attached storage test suite.

The industrial design of the ESD310C is a typical thumb drive. Rectangular design with plastic tabs with interface connectors on each end of the metal body. The protective cap is made of plastic. The metal body offers some stiffness, but the plastic cap and overall lightweight/compact nature gives it a flimsy look.

This review compares the ESD310C to many other 1 TB PSSDs in both thumb drive and palm form factors. CrystalDiskInfo provides an overview of the capabilities of your internal storage device. Since the program treats each bridge chip/controller differently and the SM2320 is not yet in the tracked controller, many of the entries are marked as vendor specific and some functions (such as interfaces) are not decoded correctly. not. . However, other SMART features such as temperature readings worked fine.

SMART passthrough – CrystalDiskInfo

The table below provides a side-by-side comparison of the specifications of the various storage bridges presented in this review.

Comparing configurations for direct-attached storage devices
downstream port native flash 1x PCIe 3.0 x4 (M.2 NVMe)
upstream port USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (male) + Type-C (male) USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C
bridge chip Silicon Motion SM2320 AS Media ASM2362
Power Bus powered Bus powered
Use case 1GBps class compact USB memory with both Type-A and Type-C interfaces 1GBps class, IP67 compliant robust and compact portable SSD
physical dimensions 71.3mm×20mm×7.8mm 76mm x 52mm x 12mm
weight 11 grams 85 grams
cable N/A 64.8cm USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-C
Type-C female to Type-A male adapter included (Type-C to Type-A cable length: 67.8 cm)
Smart passthrough yes yes
UASP support yes yes
TRIM passthrough yes yes
hardware encryption not available N/A
Rated storage Toshiba BiCS5 112L 3D TLC Kioxia (Toshiba) BiCS 4 96L 3D TLC
price $69 $229
review link Transcend ESD310C 1TB Review OWC Envoy Pro Elektron 1TB Review

Before looking at the benchmark numbers, power consumption and effectiveness of the thermal solution, we will discuss the testbed setup and evaluation methodology.

Testbed setup and evaluation method

Direct-attached storage devices (including thumb drives) are evaluated using a Quartz Canyon NUC (essentially a Xeon/ECC version of a Ghost Canyon NUC) configured as follows: 2x 16GB DDR4-2667 ECC SODIMMs and PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD – IM2P33E8 1TB From ADATA.

The most attractive aspect of the Quartz Canyon NUC is the presence of two PCIe slots (electrically x16 and x4) for add-in cards. If you don’t have a discrete GPU (because you don’t need it for the DAS testbed), both slots are available. In fact, we added a spare SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe SSD to the baseboard’s CPU-direct M.2 22110 slot to avoid the DMI bottleneck when evaluating Thunderbolt 3 devices. This still allows for two add-in cards running at x8 (x16 electrical) and x4 (x4 electrical). Quartz Canyon NUC does not have a native USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, so Silverstone’s SST-ECU06 The add-in card was installed in the x4 slot. All non-Thunderbolt devices are tested with the Type-C port enabled by SST-ECU06.

The specifications of the testbed are summarized in the table below.

2021 AnandTech DAS testbed configuration
system Intel Quartz Canyon NUC9vXQNX
CPU Intel Xeon E-2286M
memory ADATA Industrial AD4B3200716G22
32GB (16GB x 2)
DDR4-3200 ECC @ 22-22-22-52
OS drive ADATA Industrial IM2P33E8 NVMe 1TB
secondary drive SanDisk Extreme Pro M.2 NVMe 3D SSD 1TB
add-on card SilverStone Tek SST-ECU06 USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C Host
OS Windows 10 Enterprise x64 (21H1)
Thanks to ADATA, Intel and SilverStone Tek for the build components.

Testbed hardware is only part of the evaluation. Over the last few years, the typical direct-attached storage workload on memory cards has also evolved. High bitrate 4K video at 60fps has become fairly common, and 8K video is starting to emerge. Game install sizes are steadily increasing, even on portable game consoles, thanks to high-resolution textures and artwork. With these in mind, the portable SSD and UFD evaluation scheme includes multiple workloads, which are detailed in the corresponding sections.

  • Synthetic workload using CrystalDiskMark and ATTO
  • Real-world access tracking using PCMark 10 storage benchmarks
  • A custom robocopy workload that reflects common DAS usage
  • Sequential light stress test

The following section outlines the performance of the Transcend ESD310C 1 TB drive on these benchmarks. Before concluding, a few observations about UFD power figures and thermal solutions.

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