Solidigm is a new name – but you have heard of SK hynix (and Intel)
One year ago, a new player in the client storage space called Solidigm appeared, though this new company is actually part of an industry giant that you have almost certainly heard of. As you may remember, Solidigm was formed after the SK hynix acquisition of Intel’s SSD business on December 30, 2021.
The P44 Pro is also based on something familiar. It shares the same hardware platform as the Platinum P41 SSD from SK hynix, but with custom firmware and a special Solidigm Windows storage driver that promises to improve performance. And the price is quite competitive, with Solidigm P44 Pro SSDs currently selling for about 15% less than the Platinum P41 drives.
The new P44 Pro is offered in capacities of 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB, and we received the two larger SKUs for this review. Let’s dive in.
Specifications and Hardware
Rather than present ideal-case numbers in their sequential read/write ratings, Solidigm is very conservative in listing 7000 MB/s as the “up to” speed for reads, and 6500 MB/s for writes. In actual use the performance is higher than advertised, as we will see.
The drives themselves ship without any heatsinks / heatspreaders (other than whatever the label material provides). Some form of heatsink can often improve Gen4 SSD performance in sustained workloads, though these drives are only rated for a maximum of 7.5 watts (active sequential write).
There isn’t much to report about the design of these SSDs, at least without peeling off the labels to have a look at the chips themselves (check out StorageReview for a look under the hood).
The two models we received are identical other than the capacities, and we see on the label that the 1.0 TB version is model SSDPFKKW010X7, while the 2.0 TB version is model SSDPFKKW020X7. These are made in Korea and carry a 5-year warranty.
All drives were formatted using NTFS under Windows 11 Pro, and filled to 50% capacity before benchmarking using a mix of a standard Windows installation, various game installs, and random files. For example, the available capacity of each 2TB drive (formatted capacity closer to 1.8 TB) was roughly 920 – 930 GB after conditioning. A manual TRIM was performed between each benchmark run.
|PC Perspective Test Platform|
|Motherboard||MAG Z690 TOMAHAWK WIFI (DDR5)
BIOS 7D32vH8 (09/14/22)
|Processor||Intel Core i9-12900K (Power Limits Enforced)|
|Memory||Micron OEM 64GB (2x32GB) DDR5-4800 CL40|
|GPU||Intel Processor Graphics|
|Power Supply||be quiet! Dark Power 12 850W|
|Operating System||Windows 11 Pro (Build 22000.978)|
|Storage Drivers||Solidigm Storage Driver 126.96.36.1990 (P44 Pro)
StorNVMe (all others)
One last note on the test setup: the SSD being benchmarked was always installed in the top M.2 slot, which is connected directly to the CPU. I ran the OS drive off of the chipset, leaving the preferred M.2 slot available for SSD testing. Processor graphics were used for all testing, with all PCI Express slots unpopulated (other than the M.2). I just wanted to make this clear.
On to the benchmarks! First we will take a look at PCMark 10 drive benchmark results, with both the Full System Drive Benchmark and Quick System Drive Benchmark performed on each SSD.
The order of SSDs on the above chart depends on what priority you place on the Full System vs. the Quick System Drive Benchmarks. I favor the longer mixed workload test (“a wide-ranging test for modern drives” according to UL), and here the 1TB and 2TB Solidigm P44 Pro SSDs are a bit faster than the Platinum P41 they are based on. The Samsung 990 Pro is still the heavyweight champion of the world.
The Quick score doesn’t scale with the Full results, but it is a very different test. UL lists the Quick System Drive Benchmark as “a shorter test with lighter workloads for smaller drives”, and it only writes a total of 23 GB to the drive, compared to the 204 GB written in the Full System Drive Benchmark. I could (should?) also re-run the Quick test on these drives, but have not done so as of this review’s publication.
A breakdown of the average bandwidth and access times from the above benchmarks follows:
Even though I feel like I’m doing everything right with the testbed setup, the fact that all of these drives hit a wall at around 7160 MB/s suggests a limitation somewhere. Perhaps this is the practical limit of a PCIe 4.0 x4 drive on this platform, though the standard theoretically allows for closer to 8 GB/s (~7877 MB/s), there is overhead to consider.
We move on from the real-world simulation of the PCMark 10 tests above, to the strictly synthetic CrystalDiskMark resutls below. As usual, I have run the tests with a single thread and at four different queue depths – 1, 2, 4, and 8.
We begin with sequential results:
The sequential performance of the Solidigm and SK hynix drives is, as you might expect, very similar. This platform offers excellent performance for sequential operations down to a queue depth of one, besting the Samsung drives in this department.
On to the random 4K performance in this benchmark:
The Samsung 990 Pro is an incredibly strong performer in the 4K random read test, and here the Solidigm drives fall behind the SK hynix Platinum P41. The 4K write test is a similar story for the Solidigm drives, until you look at the lower queue depth results.
If I had arranged the chart by QD1 results, the Platinum P41 would be on top, followed closely by the Solidigm drives. The 980 Pro had its best showing in the 4K random write test, though only at the higher queue depths.
Next, we’ll have a quick look at Anvil results, with the scores from the default test configuration presented in the chart below for your reference:
This chart was arranged by read scores, which is obviously quite a different order from the write scores achieved in this test. It may be interesting, but I probably need an education in benchmark configuration to really make the most of this tool.
Software and Driver
Solidigm offers not only a software utility for these new P44 Pro SSDs, but a custom storage driver, as well. First we’ll take a look at the Solidigm Storage Tool:
All of the basics that one might expect from an SSD toolbox application are here, with drive health and diagnostics, the option to check and update firmware, and a secure erase option, among others. I tested the various functions, and the software worked as expected.
Solidigm also offers their own NVMe storage controller, which replaces the default StorNVMe driver provided by Windows. Solidigm had indicated that their driver boosted performance with these P44 Pro SSDs, and we found this to be the case.
After installing the Solidigm driver, I compared results using the PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark. With the 2 TB drive, conditioned to a half-full state, I saw performance rise from an average of 582.22 MB/s with the StorNVMe driver, to a 616.73 MB/s average using the Solidigm driver. I used this custom driver for all of the benchmark results above.
You can’t argue with free performance, and I encountered zero issues using the Solidigm driver. Incidentally, any other brand of NVMe drives in the system still function normally, as they will use StorNVMe by default. Installation of the Solidigm driver only affects Solidigm drives, if that wasn’t obvious.
Pricing and Conclusion
Currently the Solidigm P44 Pro SSDs are priced as follows:
- Solidigm P44 Pro 500 GB – $80.99, Amazon
- Solidigm P44 Pro 1 TB – $129.99, Amazon
- Solidigm P44 Pro 2 TB – $219.99, Amazon
These prices are quite competitive considering that these drives can actually out-perform the SK hynix Platinum P41, depending on workload, and the Platinum P41 drives range in price from $109.99 to $259.99 in the same capacities.
Solidigm has a solid product in the P44 Pro, and it is curious that they are offering the same hardware as the SK hynix-branded Platinum P41 at a lower price. These Solidigm SSDs will also see wider global availability than SK hynix drives, which is something we tend to take for granted here in the USA.
Released on the same day, Samsung’s 990 Pro is still at the front of the pack among PCIe 4.0 SSDs we have tested, but there is a price premium to consider – particularly at the 2 TB capacity, where the 990 Pro is currently $60 to $75 higher, depending on where you look.
It’s hard to argue with the value of these Solidigm drives, and the performance is excellent. Recommended!
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from Solidigm for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product remains the property of Solidigm but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Solidigm had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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