Last year SK Hynix re-entered the consumer retail SSD market with their Gold S31 SATA SSD. At CES 2020, they previewed a pair of consumer NVMe drives, the first of which has now arrived: The SK Hynix Gold P31, the industry's first retail consumer SSD using 128-layer 3D NAND.

The Gold P31 is now available in 500GB and 1TB capacities. A forthcoming 2TB model will instead be branded as the Platinum P31, marking it as a more premium product on the basis of capacity alone rather than any major technological difference. These drives  use a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface even though the era of PCIe 3.0 is coming to a close. In other respects, however, these are fairly high-end drives. The rated performance is about as high as can be achieved with these capacities and a PCIe 3.0 interface, and the rated write speeds after filling the SLC cache are quite good. Write endurance is rated for 0.4 DWPD which is also competitive with other high-end consumer TLC SSDs.

SK Hynix Gold P31 SSD Specifications
Capacity 500 GB 1 TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 single-sided
Interface PCIe 3 x4 NVMe
Controller SK Hynix in-house
DRAM SK Hynix LPDDR4-4266
NAND Flash SK Hynix 128L 3D TLC
Sequential Read (128kB) 3500 MB/s
Sequential Write
SLC 3100 MB/s 3200 MB/s
TLC 950 MB/s 1700 MB/s
Random Read (4kB) SLC 570k
TLC 500k
Random Write (4kB) SLC 600k
TLC 220k 370k
Power Active 6.3 W
Idle < 50 mW
L1.2 Idle < 5 mW
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance   750 TB
0.4 DWPD
MSRP $74.99

As one of just three major DRAM  manufacturers and one of the few major NAND manufacturers, SK Hynix is capable of vertical integration that can only be matched by Samsung and Micron. But despite that potential advantage, for most of the 3D NAND era SK Hynix has been almost an also-ran in the SSD market. That's been changing recently: instead of merely announcing higher 3D NAND layer counts than the competition, they're starting to actually deliver it on time.

The new 128L 3D TLC used in the P31 is Hynix's second generation using what they call a "4D NAND" structure that puts a lot of the memory chip's peripheral circuitry under the array of memory cells instead of alongside. This is quite similar to what Intel and Micron have been doing with their "CMOS under the array" design for their 3D NAND. Between the high layer count and the density advantage of the "4D NAND" structure, the Hynix 128L TLC NAND should be very cost competitive, and this is reflected in the launch MSRPs for the Gold P31 SSDs.

Our 1TB review sample of the SK Hynix Gold P31 arrived yesterday and is currently on the testbed. We'll have a full review ready soon.

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  • ikjadoon - Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - link

    Ah, OK, that makes sense. Increased layers also comes along w/ new generations of NAND, so it's not directly comparable. And the controller, yes: I've only recently realized that SSD controllers are dual-core vs tri-core vs penta-core. It makes sense re: power consumption.

    That's great to hear; performance looks solid (so far) from a $0.15/GB NVMe SSD.

    Oh, yes. I remember the methodology about the Quarch equipment! I see the button now (😅) for "Energy Usage" at the bottom of the ATSB graphs in the reviews. Energy is the right word, but my mind looked for "power consumption".

    The power consumption data is quite thorough; looking at the latest 870 QVO review, seeing power vs read/write mix is pretty interesting, esp. comparing 1 TB vs 4 TB. The difference is there, but relatively small, all things considered.
  • ikjadoon - Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - link

    *edit: energy consumption!
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

    Holy cow! Well, fingers crossed those numbers are accurate, because if so my next SSD has chosen itself.
  • Srikzquest - Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - link

    When can we expect the review to be available? I am eyeing ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro at this point because of its performance/power efficiency but if this SSD is upto it, then I can go for this.
  • Billy Tallis - Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - link

    I'm trying to get it published later this week. I have a few questions I want to discuss with Hynix first if possible, but we probably won't delay the review for that alone. Once I have a complete set of believable results (hopefully by the end of the day), I'll write up the review and publish it when it's ready.
  • Srikzquest - Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - link

    Thank you for the update Billy.
  • Srikzquest - Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - link

    I just saw the preliminary Benchmarks. Except for 'Idle Power Consumption metric', the overall results are vastly better than ADATA one. Eagerly waiting for your Final words and Conclusion :)
  • Srikzquest - Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - link

    Hi @Billy, any update on the review?
  • Exodite - Tuesday, August 18, 2020 - link

    Eagerly awaiting the 2TB+ prices, as this is a market were competition is sorely needed.
  • WD_Stevens - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

    Is there any way to buy this except Amazon? They don't send anything to Australia anymore.

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