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Closer Look at Kingmax SMP35 Client 480GB

Our sample of the Kingmax drive is packed into a cardboard box which is considerably larger than the dimensions of a standard 2.5-inch device. The general advantages of the product, which can be applied to nearly any modern SSD, are listed on the front of the box while the opposite side offers a list of rather meaningless specs like “read speed up to 550 MB/s”.

 

The large size of the box turned out to be deceptive. We could only find a standard set of accessories inside. Besides the SSD, the box contains a small user manual, an adapter to install the SSD into a 3.5-inch bay, and four mounting screws. Most of the box is occupied by a protective plastic carcass.

We must confess that the manufacturer’s website, like the text on the product box, does not clarify anything about the performance and positioning of the Kingmax SMP35 Client. Besides the fact that the makers of SandForce-based SSDs usually declare maximum possible data-transfer speeds which refer to ideal scenarios with easily compressible data, Kingmax complicates things even more by declaring identical specs for almost all of its SATA 6 Gbit/s SSDs. We can only find out what hardware configuration this SSD has by opening it up.

The SMP35 Client looks like a black anodized aluminum brick with gaudy and carelessly affixed labels. The thickness of the “brick” is 7 millimeters instead of the conventional 9.5 millimeters, which allows installing the slim SMP35 Client into compact notebooks or even ultrabooks.

 

We don’t find anything surprising inside. The SSD contains a typical PCB with a SF-2281 controller and 16 BGA-packaged NAND flash chips. Like with system memory, Kingmax rebrands the chips, although we know that Kingmax is no flash memory maker. The company is not even a member of the ONFI consortium. So, the memory we see here must have been made by Micron or Intel and is NAND flash with asynchronous interface. Each chip is 256 gigabits in capacity, containing four 64-gigabit 25nm semiconductor dies. Thus, the SF-2281 controller uses 8-way interleave to access all the chips across its eight channels. This is the highest configuration the controller supports.

 

The SMP35 Client 480GB doesn’t seem to implement any special solutions. It’s just a large-capacity SSD with inexpensive and rather slow asynchronous flash memory. However, other SSD makers do not favor such products, suggesting that large capacities must be made out of fast flash memory. We’ll see if the low memory speed can be made up for by the maximum interleave in this Kingmax model.

Like the majority of other SandForce-based SSDs, the Kingmax SMP35 Client reserves 14% of its total capacity for the RAISE technology (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements), so the user-accessible storage amounts to 480 gigabytes (or 447 gibibytes) out of its total 512 gigabytes. Although SandForce has permitted to increase the percentage of user-accessible storage in the recent firmware versions, ADATA is the only manufacturer to use this opportunity so far. Well, RAISE is especially important for inexpensive SSDs because it helps to mask the defects associated with cheap flash memory.

The SMP35 Client has firmware version L0306, Kingmax obviously using some internal nomenclature which differs from SandForce's. Judging by its release date, this firmware should be free from the old instability issues the SF-2281 controller used to have in Windows.

Winding up the descriptive part of our review, we want to show you the official specs of the SMP35 Client 480GB taken from the Kingmax website. They seem rather unrealistic to us, though:

  • Controller: SandForce SF-2281;
  • Interface: SATA 6 Gbps;
  • Flash-memory: asynchronous 25 nm NAND;
  • Size: 480 GB;
  • Cache-memory: none;
  • Sequential read speed: 550 MB/s;
  • Sequential write speed: 520 MB/s;
  • Random read speed ( 4 KB blocks): 60000 IOPS;
  • Random write speed ( 4 KB blocks): 60000 IOPS.

Like the majority of SSD makers, Kingmax offers a 3-year warranty for its products.

 
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