In recent years a new category of portable storage devices has emerged. Based on the same controllers and flash used in 2.5" SATA SSDs, portable SSDs offer much higher performance and capacities than typical of USB thumb drives. The use of SATA to USB3 bridge chips allows portable SSDs to be used with almost any devices, as opposed to relying on the rare eSATA standard. Most portable SSDs also support the USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) to cut down on the overhead relative to a direct SATA connection. Portable SSDs usually can't match the performance of their SATA counterparts, but they are closer to the native performance than to normal thumb drive speeds.

At last year's CES, Samsung introduced their Portable SSD T1, their first foray into this market. This year they've got a successor, the Portable SSD T3. Externally, the biggest difference is that the T3 switches to a metal case from the black plastic of the T1. This doubles the overall mass, bringing it up to 51 grams. The T3 also adopts the reversible Type C USB port, replacing the T1's micro USB 3 Type B port. The T3 includes a Type C to Type A cable.

We don't have much information on what's changed internally. The T1 used the same controller and TLC 3D NAND as the 850 EVO. After the launch of the T1, the 850 EVO and Pro product lines gained 2TB models thanks to Samsung's newer MHX controller, which expanded the amount of RAM that could be accessed and allowed the drives to manage twice as much flash. The Portable SSD T3 introduces a 2TB option so we're pretty sure it is also adopting the MHX controller for at least that capacity. Like the 850 EVO and Pro, the smaller capacities may be using the earlier MEX and MGX controllers, but that shouldn't hinder their performance.

The Portable SSD T3 will be available in early March. Pricing has not been announced.

Source: Samsung

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  • Laxaa - Monday, January 4, 2016 - link

    It's great that we're finally getting USB-C drives. I hope we'll see more this coming year, from high to low-end.
  • dabotsonline - Monday, January 4, 2016 - link

    It's a shame that the T3 is still only USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps):
  • Flunk - Monday, January 4, 2016 - link

    Max transfer speed of 450MB/sec (as per your link) so 5Gbps (625MB/sec) should be more than sufficient.
  • jasonelmore - Tuesday, January 5, 2016 - link

    plenty fast for the sata controller it uses
  • neo_1221 - Monday, January 4, 2016 - link

    Just a note, since the article didn't specify - this is USB 3.0 (or USB 3.1 5Gbps, whichever you prefer).
  • LarsBars - Monday, January 4, 2016 - link

    Any word if USB 3.1 supports TRIM? Last I heard, USB didn't support trim which seemed like it could hinder portable drive performance.
  • Billy Tallis - Monday, January 4, 2016 - link

    UASP makes TRIM support possible, but it still depends on support from all the controllers and bridge chips and the operating system. The big complication is that UASP enables USB drives to use the SCSI command set, but the controllers going into portable SSDs use the ATA command set. So the OS needs to support not just UASP but the SCSI UNMAP command (counterpart to ATA TRIM) and the USB-SATA bridge needs to be able to translate a SCSI UNMAP to ATA TRIM properly.

    TRIM support won't make or break performance for a spacious drive like this that is intended for the lighter workload of a removable device, but we will try to confirm whether it works.
  • LocutusEstBorg - Sunday, March 20, 2016 - link

    Here is a test for TRIM support on various devices. Basically most UASP -> SATA controllers do not support SCSI UNMAP -> TRIM translation. The lone exception are devices which use the JMicron JMS587 controller.
  • JohnHardkiss - Monday, January 4, 2016 - link

    So, uhm... Whats your ballpark estimate price for these units? Totally oblivious.
  • Billy Tallis - Monday, January 4, 2016 - link

    The ballpark estimate would be that it'll probably be close to Portable SSD T1 prices since the products sound pretty similar. I'm not going to bother speculating more precisely when I'll be meeting with Samsung later this week; we'll see if they have anything else to share.

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