ADATA has released three new SSD lineups: XPG SX900, Premier Pro SP900, and Premier SP800. XPG is ADATA's high-end brand aimed at gamers and enthusiasts and SX900 is the first SSD entry to XPG family. ADATA also uses the Premier brand in their other products and it's mainly used with middle-class products.

Specifications of ADATA's New SSDs
Model XPG SX900 Premier Pro SP900 Premier SP800
Controller SandForce SF-2281 SandForce SF-2281 SandForce SF-2141
NAND MLC Synchronous MLC Asynchronous MLC Synchronous (?)
Interface SATA 6Gb/s SATA 6Gb/s SATA 3Gb/s
Maximum Sequential Read 550MB/s 550MB/s 280MB/s
Maximum Sequential Write 530MB/s 520MB/s 260MB/s
Maximum 4KB Random Write 85K IOPS 85K IOPS 44K IOPS
Capacities (GB) 64, 128, 256, 512 64, 128, 256 32, 64

SX900 and SP900 are both fairly normal SF-2281 based drives. ADATA's product positioning is very similar to OCZ's: SX900 is equivalent to Vertex 3 and SP900 is ADATA's Agility 3. SX900 comes with synchronous NAND (see Anand's explanation), which provides increased random read and write performance (see our Vertex 3 and Agility 3 comparison in SSD Bench). We are looking at 550MB/s read and 520-530MB/s write, which is typical for SF-2281 based SSDs.

SP800 is ADATA's budget drive: It offers small capacities and SF-2141, which is SandForce's second generation SATA 3Gb/s controller. It offers higher random I/O performance but has only four channels, which makes it ideal for small capacity SSDs.

The interesting thing about ADATA's new SSDs is the fact that they offer ~7% more capacity than other SandForce based SSDs. Generally, SandForce based SSDs use ~7% of the NAND for over-provisioning and usually manufacturers don't mention that NAND in the total capacity. This means your 120GB SandForce drive actually has 128GB of NAND in it. However, SandForce has recently released a new firmware that allows manufacturers to modify the over-provisioning percentage and ADATA is taking advantage of that.

The new firmware allows over-provisioning of as low as 0%, which means a 128GB SandForce drive finally has 128GB of usable capacity (before formatting, of course). 0% over-provisioning introduces some potential problems, though. SandForce drives have no DRAM cache so the over-provisioned NAND has worked as a cache. Without any over-provisioning, performance may take a hit because wear leveling and garbage collection may not work optimally. Fortunately, there is still some extra capacity left thanks to translation between gigabytes and gibibytes. (The SSD Review has a more detailed explanation on this).

Unfortunately, ADATA has not revealed pricing so comparing their offerings with other products is hard. In the end, SandForce SSDs are all very similar in features and performance, hence price is a crucial factor. ADATA may not be the most well-known SSD brand, but they've been around as a memory manufacturer for a very long time and they've been gaining momentum lately in the SSD world. For example, NewEgg is selling ADATA SSDs and the reviews are there are fine (yes, I know—take Newegg reviews with a generous helping of salt!), although the drives are nowhere as popular as e.g. OCZ and Crucial drives are.

Perhaps the biggest question that still looms is whether or not the BSOD issues with SF-2200 controllers is really fixed. ADATA hasn't been the first out of the gate with firmware updates for the SandForce SSDs, and we've had experience with at least one SSD running the latest firmware where we still get the STOP 0x000000F4 error, but another drive from the same manufacturer running the same firmware doesn't have  problems. We'd like to say that we're out of the woods with regards to SF-2281 BSODs, but unfortunately we're not quite there yet.

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  • jwilliams4200 - Saturday, February 25, 2012 - link

    It is absolutely clear that he does NOT understand "what he's saying" because his article and comments make no sense.

    While I agree that in general usage it makes little difference whether someone uses GB and GiB correctly, this is certainly NOT general usage.

    In this case, GB and GiB are essential to expressing the situation clearly. You need only look at any discussion of overprovisioning and SSD capacity in order to see the confusion that comes from using GB and GiB incorrectly.
    Reply
  • TheSSDReview - Saturday, February 25, 2012 - link

    John...your sitting there on your antiquated XP driven computer and choking. You are doing as you always do which is bicker over small matters and missing the entire picture. Have you ever provided a constructive or productive response to anyone here or in the Forums? In your original statement you said...

    Since the SSD is advertised as "120GB", it must be capable of storing at least 120,000,000,000 bytes. Since there is still 120GiB = 120*(1024^3) = 128,849,018,880 bytes of flash left after subtracting 8GiB for RAISE, that leaves 128,849,018,880 - 120,000,000,000 = 8,849,018,880 bytes available for OP.

    So...lets follow what YOU wrote and I will ask two questions...

    In a typical 128GB (thats gigabyte) SF SSD, how many GB are used for OP and then, how many GB are used for RAISE? Lets keep them distinctly separate shall we? And wait a minute... lets not use GiB or try to break it all down as to confuse you any further?

    Reply
  • Beenthere - Saturday, February 25, 2012 - link

    So now there will be cheaper versions of defective SSD drives instead of the premium priced defective SSDs. Is that suppose to be good? ;) Reply
  • ckryan - Saturday, February 25, 2012 - link

    So SF used to need one a fixed amount of capacity for "SF Stuff" and now they don't. On a 25nm Sync equipped 2281 that would be 8GiB. For RAISE primarily, and like the 520, that's getting dropped. If Intel hadn't used that saved space for OP, you'd get 119GB usable capacity on a 120GB 520. They've chosen to increase OP, which is wise. SF is probably leaving that up to it's partners, but anyone (end user) can OP a drive. So in reality, you're getting a little more capacity and a little more flexibility. Assuming the prices are the same, you're getting more available capacity for the same money.

    Personally, I don't care about available user space. I care about how much NAND is on the drive. I do believe RAISE isn't as awesome as it's cracked up to be, and I feel Intel's decision not to use it as a vindication of my beliefs. But with respect to OP -- I can do that my damn self.
    Reply
  • mepenete - Sunday, February 26, 2012 - link

    Uhoh, it's hittin Engadget levels of comment battles.

    On the plus side... the more SSDs, the merrier.
    Reply
  • macuser2134 - Sunday, February 26, 2012 - link

    What a load of bickering. Lets face it - most people care only about the formatted capacity of a drive. And hopefully have a bit left over. Because that's how we use disk space in the real world.

    And the best way to find out the disk space is so simple. It just requires getting hold of the drive(s) your interested in. Then format it HFS+, NTFS, ext3, whichever you want. Not everyone can afford to go out buying SSDs just for this purpose. However there are forums where people who have already purchased the drive are happy to help out with reporting such information. For not-yet-released drives its rather more a case to get hold of / wait for a review sample.

    This all sounds so simple I honestly don't know why I'm bothering to explain it. Whatever operating system - they can all report the number of formatted space available in total BYTES. And you're pretty much beyond any kind of ambiguity since BYTES can never be confused. Divide by 1024*1024*1024 and theres your wholesome no-skimping Gigabytes. If you wish to compare to the true capacity of NAND dies on the SSD then that should be pretty easy. However NAND packages often are in bits - so just divide by 8. Noting that cells in a (presumably non-ECC) die aught to be laid out in a square and powers of 2^ = 1024*x. That's a teeny bit presumptuous so check the Manufacturer's data sheet if in doubt. Should be pretty clearly documented.
    Reply
  • TheSSDReview - Sunday, February 26, 2012 - link

    I have to say that I agree totally and apologize for my role in the above. Earlier today, I commented on my thoughts on another site and they are, quite frankly, that this is a very SMART business move for LSI SandForce which will serve them well. As much as this site is revered for its technical aspect, the truth simply is that the typical computer user will never be able to tell the difference in performance, regardless of what SSD they buy, "in typical computer use".

    In fact, I thinks even the boss here will agree that, in typical use it is next to impossible for ANYONE to tell the difference simply because the access speeds of all SSDs are so similar and, although they are responsible for the very visible upgrade when comparing a HDD to a SSD, they are also responsible for each SSD running very similarly visibly DURING TYPICAL USE.

    So, in the end, this new SSD will now afford the consumer with the same performance that they see from all SandForce drives (remember typical user scenario), yet the capacity has just put them beside the tech moguls like earlier Intels, Samsung and Crucial.

    Performance difference for the typical user = None.
    Capacity increase for the typical user = Yup
    Business decision For LSI SandForce = A+

    IMHO, regardless of past experience or our decision to go with one SSD company or another, this was a very smart business decision for LSI SandForce which will result in the one thing that every company vies for...sales.

    As for the above, I won't be commenting further as I have received several e-mails regarding the history of JW on other sites for which he is now banned 'apparently'. Again apologies and I hope to have contributed somewhat which was my original intent.
    Reply
  • jwilliams4200 - Tuesday, February 28, 2012 - link

    It would be better if you would apologize for printing such a misleading article on your site, or better yet, if you would strive for accuracy in all future articles that you post on your site, rather than continuing to post articles that are chock full of mistakes and misleading information. Reply
  • magnetar - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    I've read the articles at TheSSDReview that jwilliams is referring to ("ADATA First to Release New Higher Capacity SF SSD Line", and "LSI Releases Code to Manufactures..."), and while the portions of those articles he is taking issue with are ambiguous and unclear, I can see his point. Unfortunately, IMO he did not express it clearly enough for those who have not read those articles.

    To paraphrase the article, the claim was made that the loss of OP by using the full capacity of the NAND available will be made up for by the difference between counting the NAND in GiB and GB. To quote the article, which was also quoted in a post from TheSSDReview rep:

    "What is really happening behind the scenes of all SSDs is the difference between Billion Bytes (10^9 = 1,000,000,000) and Gigabytes (2^30 = 1,073,741,824). That delta is really 7.37% of the physical capacity.

    So when you see a drive at 120GB of 128GB of physical flash you are thinking it is 7% OP, but in reality it is more like 7% + 7.4% or 14.4%. Because the translation of Billion bytes and Gigabytes was made by HDD manufacturers some time ago, most users don’t “think” about that difference."

    The problem with this that jwilliams and I have, is that the difference in GiB and GB does not translate into MORE NAND available. HDD and SSD capacity is given in GB by manufactures, and GiB by an OS, like Windows. As we know, that translation is a (apparent) reduction, a 128GB drive becomes ~119GiB, and a 120GB becomes ~111GiB. Actually, nothing reduced (or increased) at all, only the units we are counting in changed the digits that we see.

    Regardless, it is not correct to say there is actually 14.4% of OP NAND available. Those few sentences I quoted are prefaced by the author discussing the OP situation with LSI, so the casual reader may assume that the LSI rep was saying that much OP existed. If that were true, then we have been misinformed about NAND chip capacity and operation by many publications, including this one, which I extremely doubt.

    NAND chips are manufactured in very specific capacities, and a SSD would need an extra NAND chip to have, for example, both a 128GB capacity and ~7% of OP, or a 120GB capacity and ~14% OP.

    Some SSD manufactures choose to OP their SSDs by design, and others do not. Neither is a crime, but the later puts more of the responsibility for the SSDs performance into the hands of the user.
    Reply
  • magnetar - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Uh-oh, upon further review, I am wrong about the extra OP space available in NAND chips. Indeed there is extra space available in a NAND chip, which are rated in GB, when their actual capacity is in GiB.

    The numbers quoted in TheSSDReview are correct, there is 7.37% extra space in a NAND chips, independent of the typical 7% OP amount that may be provided.

    My apologies to TheSSDReview and others I may have maligned. At least I learned something.
    Reply

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