Kingston XS2000 Portable SSDs Review: USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Goes Mainstream

Flash-based portable drives have become popular for fast storage from the perspective of both content creators and consumers looking for backups. The advent of high-speed interfaces such as USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbps) along with Thunderbolt 3 (up to 40 Gbps) have enabled rapid improvements in the performance of such portable SSDs in recent years. years.

Higher speed variants (20Gbps +) had traditionally been restricted to premium devices. Also, USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 was turning out to be a strange standard, as USB4 chose to only support USB 3.2 Gen 2 features from a backward compatibility perspective. On both the host and device side, ASMedia was the sole silicon supplier for over a year. However, the introduction of more host platforms (such as Intel’s latest 600 series chipset) with native support for USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 and the emergence of native 20Gbps USB flash drive (UFD) drivers from Phison and Silicon Motion have enabled the 20 Gbps standard. to gain more traction. Our preview of the Silicon Motion SM2320 showed scope for the emergence of cost-effective USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 portable SSDs with excellent value propositions.

The Kingston XS2000 series is the first family of portable SSDs to use Silicon Motion’s SM2320 platform. Available in three capacities: 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB, the drives promise speeds of up to 2000MBps. The company submitted samples of the three capacity points of the lineup for our rigorous direct attached storage evaluation process. The review below presents the detailed evaluation report of the drives, with an emphasis on the aspects that were not covered in the UFD driver preview.

Product introduction and impressions

1GBps + capacity bus-powered external storage devices have become entry-level offerings in today’s market, with 2GBps + starting to become mainstream. Rapid advancements in flash technology (including the advent of 3D NAND and NVMe), as well as faster host interfaces (such as Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2+) have been key drivers. Generally speaking, there are five different performance levels in this market:

  • 2GBps + drives with Thunderbolt 3, using NVMe SSD
  • 2GBps drives with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, using NVMe SSDs or USB direct flash drive (UFD) drivers
  • 1GBps drives with USB 3.2 Gen 2, using NVMe SSD or direct UFD drivers
  • 500MBps drives with USB 3.2 Gen 1 (or Gen 2 in some cases), using SATA SSD
  • Drives under 400 MBps with USB 3.2 Gen 1, using UFD drivers

the Kingston XS2000 we are seeing today belongs to the second category in the list above, using flash packed directly behind the Silicon Motion SM2320 UFD controller.

The package includes the main unit, a rubber boot, and a 12-inch boot. Type C to Type C cable rated for 20 Gbps operation.

1636866794 741 Kingston XS2000 Portable SSDs Review USB 32 Gen 2x2 Goes

The compact housing is a mix of metal and plastic, and the supplied rubber boot supports its IP55 rating for limited protection against ingress of dust and liquid splashes.

1636866794 783 Kingston XS2000 Portable SSDs Review USB 32 Gen 2x2 Goes

The availability of all three capacity points allows us to compare the XS2000 to almost all USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 drives reviewed previously. The list of portable SSDs evaluated as part of this review is provided below:

  • Kingston XS2000 2TB
  • Kingston XS2000 1TB
  • Kingston XS2000 500GB
  • Seagate FireCuda 1TB
  • Reference Design Silicon Motion SM2320XT 1TB
  • Silverstone MS12 DIY USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 SSD with SK hynix Gold P31 1TB NVMe SSD
  • WD_BLACK P50 1TB

CrystalDiskInfo provides a quick overview of the capabilities of the internal storage device. Since the program handles each bridge chip differently, and the SM2320 inside the Kingston XS2000 is fairly new, many of the inputs are marked vendor-specific and some of the capabilities (such as the interface) are incorrectly decrypted. However, the temperature control worked well, as it did with the reference design.

SMART pass-through – CrystalDiskInfo
Kingston XS2000 Portable SSDs Review USB 32 Gen 2x2 Goes1636866795 442 Kingston XS2000 Portable SSDs Review USB 32 Gen 2x2 Goes

The table below presents a comparative view of the specifications of the different portable SSDs featured in this review. A small note is in order here: while the Silicon Motion UFD controller is the SM2320, it is often interpreted by monitoring programs as the SM2320XT due to its DRAM-free nature. In this review, the SM2320 and SM2320XT are used interchangeably.

Comparative configuration of direct attached storage devices
Appearance
Downstream portNative flashNative flash
Upstream portUSB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type CUSB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type C
Bridge chipSilicon Movement SM2320XTSilicon Movement SM2320XT
CanBus poweredBus powered
Case of useLow Power Consumption Class 2GBps Compact Portable SSD with IP55 RatingLow Power Consumption Class 2GBps Compact Portable SSD with IP55 Rating
physical dimensions69.54mm x 32.58mm x 13.5mm (without housing)69.54mm x 32.58mm x 13.5mm (without housing)
Weight28.9 grams (without cable and housing)28.9 grams (without cable and housing)
Cable30 cm USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C to Type-C30 cm USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C to Type-C
SMART PassthroughYesYes
UASP supportYesYes
TRIM PassthroughYesYes
Hardware encryptionN / AN / A
Evaluated storageMicron 96L 3D TLCMicron 96L 3D TLC
PriceUSD 240135 USD
Review linkKingston XS2000 2TB ReviewKingston XS2000 1TB Review

Before discussing the reference numbers, power consumption, and efficiency of the thermal solution, a description of the benchmark configuration and evaluation methodology is provided.

Test bench configuration and evaluation methodology

Direct-attached storage devices (including portable SSDs) are evaluated using the Quartz Canyon NUC (essentially the Xeon / ECC version of the Ghost Canyon NUC) configured with 2 x 16GB DDR4-2667 ECC SODIMMs and a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD: the IM2P33E8 1 TB by ADATA.

1631207416 55 Next Gen NVMe SD Card Review The SM2708 Controller Serves

The most attractive aspect of the Quartz Canyon NUC is the presence of two PCIe slots (electrically, x16 and x4) for add-on cards. In the absence of a discrete GPU, for which there is no need in a DAS benchmark, both slots are available. In fact, we also added a replacement SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe SSD to the M.2 22110 CPU direct-connect slot on the motherboard to avoid DMI bottlenecks when evaluating Thunderbolt 3 devices. This still allows for two cards. Add-ons that work on x8 (x16 electric) and x4 (x4 electric). Since the Quartz Canyon NUC does not have a native USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, Silverstone SST-ECU06 An add-in card was installed in slot x4. All non-Thunderbolt devices are tested using the Type-C port enabled by the SST-ECU06.

The test bench specifications are summarized in the following table:

The AnandTech DAS 2021 Testbed Configuration
SystemIntel Quartz Canyon NUC9vXQNX
CPUIntel Xeon E-2286M
MemoryADATA Industrial AD4B3200716G22
32GB (2x 16GB)
DDR4-3200 ECC @ 22-22-22-52
OS unitADATA Industrial IM2P33E8 NVMe 1TB
Secondary unit1TB SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D SSD
Complementary cardSilverStone Tek SST-ECU06 USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C Host
SWWindows 10 Enterprise x64 (21H1)
Thanks to ADATA, Intel and SilverStone Tek for the build components

The benchmark hardware is only one segment of the evaluation. In recent years, typical direct-attached storage workloads for memory cards have also evolved. High-bitrate 4K videos at 60fps have become quite common, and 8K videos are starting to appear. Game installation sizes have also grown steadily even on handheld game consoles, thanks to high-resolution textures and illustrations. With this in mind, our evaluation scheme for portable SSDs and UFDs involves multiple workloads which are described in detail in the appropriate sections.

  • Synthetic workloads with CrystalDiskMark and ATTO
  • Real-world access traces using the PCMark 10 storage benchmark
  • Custom robocopy workloads reflecting typical DAS usage
  • Sequential Write Stress Test

The following sections provide a complete performance overview of Kingston XS2000 portable SSDs. Before providing final comments, we also have some observations on the energy efficiency aspect of drives.

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