Transcend and the Changing State of Flash Memory

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During ICT 2016, we visited with Transcend at their headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, where they shared their thoughts on the flash memory market. We also took a look at their latest consumer SSDs.

About Transcend

Transcend’s primary business is the production of industrial components (flash memory) for use in a wide variety of applications, from notebook computers to IoT devices. They’re also one of the largest suppliers of flash memory cards and USB flash drives. Most of Transcend’s production is done at their factory in Taipei, Taiwan, just a few blocks away from their downtown headquarters.

Numerous Transcend products have won the Taiwan Excellence award.

Transcend SSDsTranscend and the Flash Memory Market

Flash memory is present in most personal computing devices, including notebooks, smartphones, tablets, cameras of all types, and IoT devices. For Transcend, these products are just the tip of the iceberg. They do a large portion of their business in industrial components – that is, they act as the supplier of flash memory components for other companies. There’s a reasonable chance that one of the flash storage-based devices you’re using has Transcend components.

Transcend’s largest market outside of industrial components is flash cards and strategic products. Most demand comes from Europe and Asia. In the U.S., Transcend is a huge supplier of flash memory to Amazon.

The market for flash memory has changed in recent years. Transcend says consumers no longer consider flash memory to be an interesting product by itself. The evidence for this is in the declining USB flash drive and memory card market. The only still-growing area of that market is high-end flash memory cards for cameras. In light of this, Transcend has begun investing in more strategic products, such as bodycams and dashcams. They’re also moving towards a more B2B model, as the market for industrial components is growing. This is in part thanks to the increasing popularity of IoT devices. It’s unclear where IoT devices are going, but it’s a relatively safe bet that flash storage will be a part of the equation. Even Cloud-connected devices need a place to temporarily store data.

The newest M.2 SSDs from Transcend.

The newest M.2 SSDs from Transcend.

Transcend SSDs

Although SSDs are one of Transcend’s smaller markets, we nonetheless couldn’t resist taking a look at their 2.5-inch, mSATA, and M.2 SSD offerings for personal computing applications.

The emerging storage connector standard in the notebook computer market is M.2. These are largely replacing mSATA and traditional 2.5-inch drives, though demand for both is still steady.

In the M.2 space, Transcend offers three different sizes to fit the various applications.

The MTS800 is the 80mm model, physically the largest M.2 format available. Using a SATA III interface, it boasts a 560MB/s read and 460MB/s write. Internally, it uses MLC (Multi-Level Cell) NAND flash memory. It’s available in capacities ranging from 32GB to 1TB.

The next size down – physically – is the 60mm MTS600. This drive offers a nearly identical level of performance as the larger MTS800, with reads up to 550MB/s and writes up to 460MB/s. It’s available in capacities from 32GB to 512GB.

In the smallest M.2 form factor, 42mm, Transcend offers its MTS400. It shares the performance specs of the MTS600. This drive is available in 32GB to 512GB capacities.

(Tip: if you’re looking to upgrade your notebook’s M.2 SSD, verify the size of the slot – an 80mm drive like the MTS800 won’t fit in a 60mm slot!)

On the mSATA side of the equation, Transcend’s most current offering is the MSA370. Like the just-discussed M.2 SSDs, the MSA370 uses a SATA III interface. Its performance is a touch higher than the M.2 SSDs, however, with 570MB/s reads and 470MB/s writes.

P1400464_1920Traditional 2.5-inch drives are still the most popular form factor for storage in notebook computers. Transcend has three 2.5-inch product lines. The MLC-based SSD370 is the flagship model. Its capacities range up to 1TB. One step down is the SSD360, also MLC-based, which tops out at 256GB. Lastly, the TLC-based SSD220 is the entry-level model, offered in 240GB and 480GB capacities.

All of the just-mentioned Transcend SSDs are backed by a three-year limited warranty. In the U.S., they’re available primarily on Amazon.

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