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Silicon Power XS70 SSD Review

by Lyle Smith

The Silicon Power XS70 is the company’s newest PCIe 4.0 SSD branded and purpose-built for the high-performance gaming demographic. It is a direct successor to the PCIe Gen3 model (XD80), offering double the performance, and NVMe 1.4 support. 

The Silicon Power XS70 is the company’s newest PCIe 4.0 SSD branded and purpose-built for the high-performance gaming demographic. It is a direct successor to the PCIe Gen3 model (XD80), offering double the performance, and NVMe 1.4 support.

Available in the M.2 2280 (80mm) form factor, the XS70 is also the newest drive to feature the Phison PS5018-E18 controller (alongside drives like the Kingston KC3000 and the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus) with updated firmware and newer Micron B47R 3D NAND TLC memory. Users can also install this in their next-gen consoles (though Silicon only mentions support for the PS5) to add up to a generous 4TB of speedy NVMe storage with beefy heatsink included.

Silicon Power XS70 front view Performance-wise, the Silicon Power XS70 is quoted to deliver up to 7.3GB/s read and 6.8GB/s write in sequential performance. There’s no indication of its potential random performance. Nonetheless, the XS70 is MTBF-rated at 1.6 million hours, which is the same as the Corsair MP600 though slightly lower than the KC3000’s 1.8 million hours, both of which use the same E18 controller.

While the XS70 is one of many drives that leverage the same Phison design, vendors like Silicon Power have added a few things to differentiate itself from the competition. In this case, the company is catering to the gaming demographic and sports a heat spreader inspired by shark fins. Those looking to push their drives with graphic-intensive games (or have a rig that gets hotter than usual) will certainly find this appealing, as it will help prevent overheating and promote consistent performance.

Silicon Power XS70 back view

The XS70 also supports DRAM Cache Buffer, RAID technology and LDPC coding, the latter of which will allow it to maintain system stability and data integrity for maximum and reliable performance.

Backed by a 5-year warranty, the Silicon Power XS70 is goes for roughly $130 (1TB), $250 (2TB) and $750 (4TB). We will be looking at the 1TB model for this review.

Silicon Power XS70 Specifications

Capacity 1TB, 2TB, 4TB
Dimensions 24.6mm x 80.0mm x 10.8mm
Weight 33g
Interface PCIe Gen 4×4
Form factor M.2 2280 (80mm)
Controller Phison PS5018-E18
NVMe 1.4
Performance Read (max.) up to 7,300MB/s
Performance Write (max.) up to 6,800MB/s
Operating Temperature 0°C – 70°C
MTBF (est) 1,600,000 hours
Shock Resistance Test 1500G/0.5ms
Certification CE, FCC, UKCA, BSMI, Green dot, WEEE, RoHS, KCC
Warranty 5-year limited warranty

Silicon Power XS70 Performance

We are reviewing the 1TB version of the Silicon Power XS70 and comparing it to the following PCIe Gen4x4 drives:

SQL Server Performance

Each SQL Server VM is configured with two vDisks: 100GB volume for boot and a 500GB volume for the database and log files. From a system resource perspective, we configured each VM with 16 vCPUs, 64GB of DRAM and leveraged the LSI Logic SAS SCSI controller. While our Sysbench workloads tested previously saturated the platform in both storage I/O and capacity, the SQL test is looking for latency performance.

This test uses SQL Server 2014 running on Windows Server 2012 R2 guest VMs and is stressed by Quest’s Benchmark Factory for Databases. StorageReview’s Microsoft SQL Server OLTP testing protocol employs the current draft of the Transaction Processing Performance Council’s Benchmark C (TPC-C), an online transaction-processing benchmark that simulates the activities found in complex application environments.

The TPC-C benchmark comes closer than synthetic performance benchmarks to gauging the performance strengths and bottlenecks of storage infrastructure in database environments. Each instance of our SQL Server VM for this review uses a 333GB (1,500 scale) SQL Server database and measures the transactional performance and latency under a load of 15,000 virtual users.

SQL Server Testing Configuration (per VM)

  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Storage Footprint: 600GB allocated, 500GB used
  • SQL Server 2014
    • Database Size: 1,500 scale
    • Virtual Client Load: 15,000
    • RAM Buffer: 48GB
  • Test Length: 3 hours
    • 2.5 hours preconditioning
    • 30 minutes sample period

Starting with SQL average latency, the Silicon Power XS70 had 3µs in average latency, which is among the other top performing Phison E18 drives.

VDBench Workload Analysis

When it comes to benchmarking storage devices, application testing is best, and synthetic testing comes in second place. While not a perfect representation of actual workloads, synthetic tests do help to baseline storage devices with a repeatability factor that makes it easy to do apples-to-apples comparison between competing solutions. These workloads offer a range of different testing profiles ranging from “four corners” tests, common database transfer size tests, to trace captures from different VDI environments.

All of these tests leverage the common vdBench workload generator, with a scripting engine to automate and capture results over a large compute testing cluster. This allows us to repeat the same workloads across a wide range of storage devices, including flash arrays and individual storage devices. Our testing process for these benchmarks fills the entire drive surface with data, then partitions a drive section equal to 5% of the drive capacity to simulate how the drive might respond to application workloads. This is different than full entropy tests which use 100% of the drive and take them into a steady state. As a result, these figures will reflect higher-sustained write speeds.

Profiles:

  • 4K Random Read: 100% Read, 128 threads, 0-120% iorate
  • 4K Random Write: 100% Write, 64 threads, 0-120% iorate
  • 64K Sequential Read: 100% Read, 16 threads, 0-120% iorate
  • 64K Sequential Write: 100% Write, 8 threads, 0-120% iorate
  • VDI Boot, Initial Login, and Monday Login traces

Starting with 4k random read, the XS70 fell behind the pack topping out at just 405K IOPS with a latency of 312.7µs. Overall, the 1TB Silicon Power XS70 posted weaker results than the rest of the E18 models during our tests; however, this is likely do the difference in capacity, as the other E18 drives are either 2TB or 4TB.Silicon Power XS70 Random 4k read performance

In random 4k write, the XS70 peaked at 326K IOPS with a latency of 387.5µs, still well behind the other E18 drives.

Silicon Power XS70 random 4k write performance

Moving onto sequential read 64K, the XS70 performed much better, peaking at 86K IOPS (or 5.37GB/s) with 371µs in latency.

Silicon Power XS70 sequential 64k read performance

Sequential write 64K showed a peak of 23K IOPS (or 1.3GB/s) at a latency of 571.2µs, placing second last among the tested drives.

Silicon Power XS70 sequential 64k write performance

Next, we are moving on to our VDI benchmarks, which are designed to push the drives even further. These tests include Boot, Initial Login, and Monday Login. First up is the Boot test, where the XS70 fell behind all the other drives with a peak of 88K IOPS at a latency of 379µs.

VDI Initial Login results were uneven across the board for all the drives. It’s difficult to see, but the Silicon Power XS70 drive peaked at 44K IOPS at 581.5µs in latency, before taking a huge spike ending up around the 30K IOPS mark.

In our last test, we looked at the VDI Monday Login. Here, the XS70 fell behind again with a peak IOPS of 17K at a latency of 930.6µs.

Blackmagic

In our Blackmagic test, the XS70 was able to hit 5.55GB/s read and 5.65GB/s read.

Silicon Power XS70 Blackmagic

Conclusion

The Silicon Power XS70 is the newest Phison PS5018-E18-based M.2 SSD to hit the market, leveraging the PCIe Gen4 interface and 3D TLC NAND. What differentiates this drive from the others is that it’s branded as a gaming drive, so you can add up to 4TB of capacity on your PC gaming rig as well as next-gen consoles like the PS5. It also features a quality-built heat spreader, which helps make sure the drive maintains normal operating temperatures during long gaming sessions or other intensive applications.

Silicon Power XS70 E18 controller view

Though it performed well in the SQL server workload (latency of 3ms), the XS70 fell behind the other E18-based drives in our other tests. Highlights include 405K IOPS in 4k random reads, 326K IOPS in 4k random writes, 5.37GB/s in 64k sequential reads, 5.37GB/s in 64k sequential writes. In our VDI benchmarks, the XS70 showed peaks of 88K IOPS in boot, 44K IOPS in initial login, and 17K in Monday login. In our Blackmagic test, the XS70 was able to hit 5.55GB/s read and 5.65GB/s read, placing it in the middle-to-lower part of the Gen4 performance spectrum.

That said, it’s worth noting that we tested the 1TB version of the XS70, while the other E18-based drives seen in our charts were either 2TB or 4TB. Bigger sizes often mean better performance, so we expect slight increases in performance with the higher-capacity models of Silicon Power’s new SSD.

The XS70 is also reasonably priced at $130 (1TB), $250 (2TB), and $750 (4TB). Though other E18 drives like the Seagate FireCuda 530 have a much better performance profile, some of them are noticeably more expensive. For example, the 1TB, 2TB and 4TB FireCuda models go for roughly $170, $370 and $820, and that’s only when they’re on sale. Moreover, the updated Sabrent 4TB Rocket 4 Plus 4TB model is currently going for $1,400.

If you’re looking for a less-expensive Gen4 SSD, and performance isn’t your top priority, then the Silicon Power XS70 might be right for you. Its unique-looking, embedded heatsink  (which promotes heat dissipation and thermal management) is also a nice touch, making it stand out a bit from the other E18-based drives.

Silicon Power XS70 Product Page

Silicon Power XS70 at Amazon

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