UFS 3.1 vs UFS 3.0: What's new?

The UFS 3.0 albeit fast in sequential speeds (read & write) had its shortcomings when it comes to random reads. On its anniversary, JEDEC has released the successor – UFS 3.1 specification (version: JESD220E). It claims to bring improvements in the performance, power-efficiency and price point.

Furthermore, the committee has also issued a standard by the name JESD220-3 aka UFS Host Performance Booster (HPB) Extension, which is an optional add-on to the UFS 3.1 standard. Together, UFS 3.1 + HPB is expected to propel faster and consistent performance.

Now, you may obviously have questions like how it achieves the same and the amount of difference it brings about. Especially since brands are still employing the UFS 3.0 and are boasting better results.

So without beating around the bush, let’s know the whys and hows.

UFS 3.1 vs UFS 3.0: What’s Different?

UFS 3.1 vs UFS 3.0: What's new?

In its publication, JEDEC emphasizes the 3 core enhancements with the UFS 3.1 (and that addon we addressed above) – Writer Booster, Deep Sleep, and Performance Throttling Notification. Don’t sweat, these are simple things (but with significant impact)!

  • Write Booster: As the name indicates, the write speed is improved. This is done by creating a pseudo-SLC c̲a̲c̲h̲e̲, which is like an easily and repeatedly accessible reserve memory in the flash storage. At the same time, while doing so, this reserve consumes very little space too (just 1 bit of data in each cell).
  • Deep Sleep: Simply put, the UFS 3.1 will consume lesser power thanks to voltage regulators that are used for both storage and other functions.
  • Performance Throttling Notification: This one’s also clear from the name. The new UFS system will alert the host device of any storage performance bottlenecks due to a rise in temperature.

Now, the following feature is something that’s discretionary and adoption is ‘up to the OEMs’. But it claims to make a difference, which is what we have seen with the latest Realme X50 Pro (review).

Why is Realme X50 Pro’s UFS 3.0 faster than UFS 3.1?

Credits: Realme

In their presentation, Realme underscored the performance gains of their UFS 3.0 implementation over the successor. So, we were curious to test the same and for the purpose of testing, we have used iQOO 3 with UFS 3.1 and Realme X50 Pro with UFS 3.0 + Turbo Write + Host Performance Booster. We ran the CPDT app from the Google Play Store for the benchmark.

Here is what we found –

As you can see, there is clearly a speed difference in all aspects.

Realme has complemented UFS 3.0 with Turbo Write (which is perhaps just another name for Write Booster) and Host Performance Booster.

What is a Host Performance Booster (HPB)?

In the simplest sense, it is a caching technique.

Whilst executing any command, the CPU generates a virtual address also called the ‘Logical’ address of the actual data, which is stored as codes within the memory unit.

As you may already know the language we the user (logical) and the computer (physical) understand are different. Enter: logical-to-physical (L2P/LTP) address map. This has the actual location of the stuff we want on the storage space.

Earlier, this LTP address map used to be kept in the UFS controller memory. But now with this iteration, the LTP address map can be stored in DRAM straightaway. So now, the LTP map stays easily accessible in DRAM and every time an I/O request is made, the host device does not need to knock the doors of flash storage.

This also saves space in the UFS controller memory. Space saved is space used and thus spares the expense on the UFS controller too.

Theoretically, HPB bumps the random read (this is important) performance by up to 67%.

Credits: Realme

On stage, Realme also emphasized on the usage of Dual Channel UFS 3.0 (which isn’t news). UFS is in fact based on a dual-channel system that facilitates full-duplex, i.e., two lanes for reading and two for writing data.

BUT, all these still doesn’t bring us to the real differentiator. Well, things like the type of file system, memory controller, and the speed of flash memory also play a part.

UFS 3.1 vs UFS 3.0: What's new?

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Rest, the UFS 3.1 sticks to M-PHY and UniPro protocols which estimate high-speed per lane (11.6 Gbps x2 = 23.2 Gbps) point-to-point communications. Moreover, this grants power efficiency, enhanced traffic management.

Going forward, this can open up applications once things such as 5G, edge computing, AR/VR and autonomous vehicle are prevalent.

In case you still have doubts on the UFS 3.0, here’s a small clip that will hopefully help you out.

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