Plextor was one of the first SSD makers to offer a consumer-grade PCIe drive with an M.2 interface, so it's no surprise that the company has more in store. Scott checked out two new models at Plextor's CES showcase: the M7e and the M6e Black Edition.
The M7e uses the same Marvell 88SS9293 controller as Kingston's new PCIe hotness. The chip has a four-lane Gen2 interface and is based on the NVM Express protocol rather than AHCI. Capacities up to 2TB will be available according to the press release, and Plextor has a 960GB unit on display.
The demo drive was pitted against a comparable Samsung SSD—the XP941, I believe—in a head-to-head benchmark showdown. In CrystalDiskMark, the M7e posted 1411MB/s sequential read and 1028MB/s write speeds, compared to 1136/928MB/s for the Samsung. It also had an edge in random writes, at 473MB/s to 308MB/s, but it was slightly behind with random reads, at 423MB/s to 457MB/s.
We'll run our own tests if we can get one of these in the lab. That might not be for a little while, though; the M7e is scheduled for early June.
The M6e Black Edition should arrive much sooner than that. This snazzy-looking drive hides a standard M.2 gumstick under a heatsink and shroud. The exploded press shot shows what's going on under the hood:
Like the standard M6e, the Black Edition has Toshiba NAND and a Marvell controller with dual Gen2 lanes. It will be available in capacities up to 512GB, just like the vanilla version. Pricing hasn't been set, but the fancy heatsink means the drive will almost certainly cost more than its predecessor.
Although we don't have many additional details, it's clear the Black Edition isn't just a reskinned M6e. The expansion card has more going on than the one included with the old drive, and there's a SATA-style auxiliary power connector on the top edge. Hmmm.
The Black Edition should also get a boost from PlexTurbo 2.0, a software-based caching scheme similar to Samsung's RAPID mode. This DRAM-based system delivers astounding benchmark scores by reserving a portion of system memory as a drive cache.