Can Seagate's cached HDD compete with an SSD + HDD setup?

Subject: Storage | October 4, 2013 - 11:12 AM |
Tagged: hybrid hdd, cache, Seagate, 2TB

Benchmarking cached HDDs can be a difficult task as they are specifically designed to cache commonly used data which results in two very different speeds for data access, the 8GB SSD and the actual HDD.  The Tech Report recently met this challenge when benchmarking Seagate's first 3.5" desktop cached drive with 8GB of flash and 2TB of platter storage.  When contrasting it to some of the higher end HDDs available it became apparent that the more expensive WD Black 4TB was a faster drive but as it does cost more per gigabyte it might not be the best choice for every purpose.  Check out the review to see if this hybrid device is a better choice than buying both a small sized SSD and a large HDD for your own usage.

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"Seagate's hybrid tech has finally been deployed in a desktop drive. The Desktop SSHD combines an 8GB flash cache with 2TB of mechanical storage. We take a closer look at how that combo holds up against standard hard drives and SSDs."

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HAMRs, Shingles and SSD cached HDDs; size versus speed

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2013 - 10:58 AM |
Tagged: HAMR, SMR, cache, hdd, Seagate, western digital, hgst, helium

Enthusiasts are wholeheartedly adopting SSDs for their storage media of choice with HDDs relegated to long term storage of infrequently accessed storage.  For SMB and enterprise it is not such an easy choice as the expense to move to a purely SSD infrastructure is daunting and often not the most cost effective way to run their business.  That is why HDD makers continue to develop new technology for platter based storage such as HAMR and shingled magnetic media in an attempt to speed up platter drives as well as increasing the storage density.  Today at The Register you can read about a variety of technologies that will keep the platter alive, from Seagate's cached Enterprise Turbo SSHD, HGST's helium filled drives and the latest predictions on when HAMR and SMR drives could arrive on the market.

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"At a briefing session for tech journos yesterday, Seagate dropped hints of new solid-state hybrid drives (SSHDs) - which combine a non-volatile NAND cache with spinning platters - and a general session about Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) and Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR)."

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Source: The Register

New Samsung 840 EVO employs TLC and pseudo-SLC TurboWrite cache

Subject: Storage | July 17, 2013 - 10:12 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, slc, sata, Samsung, cache, 840 evo

Samsung's release of the 840 EVO earlier today likely prompted some questions, such as what type of flash does it employ and how does it achieve such high write speeds. Here is the short answer, with many slides in-between, starting off with the main differences between the 840 and the 840 EVO:

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So, slightly increased specs to help boost drive performance, and an important tidbit in that the new SSD does in fact keep TLC flash. Now a closer look at the increased write specs:

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Ok, the speeds are much quicker, even though the flash is still TLC and even on a smaller process. How does it pull off this trick? Tech that Samsung calls TurboWrite.

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A segment of the TLC flash is accessed by the controller as if it were SLC flash. This section of flash can be accessed (especially written) much faster. Writes are initially dumped to this area and that data is later moved over to the TLC area. This happenes as it would in a normal write-back cache - either during idle states or once the cache becomes full, which is what would happen during a sustained maximum speed write operation that is larger than the cache capacity. Here is the net effect with the cache in use and also when the cache becomes full:

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For most users, even the smallest cache capacity will be sufficient for the vast majority of typical use. Larger caches appear in larger capacities, further improving performance under periods of large write demand. Here's the full spread of cache sizes per capacity point:

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So there you have it, Samsung's new TurboWrite technology in a nutshell. More to follow (along with a performance review coming in the next few days). Stay tuned!

Western Digital's SSHD Black magic revealed

Subject: Storage | May 14, 2013 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: sshd, cache, western digital, Black SSHD, Hybrid Drive

The Tech Report sat down with Matt Rutledge, Vice President of Western Digital's client computing group to discuss the software behind their new HDDs with an SSD cache.  Sandisk will be providing the hardware and WD who will be providing the custom caching software which will not be coded into the hardware but will function at the driver level.  Matt mentioned that this software can also make use of the system's memory and incorporate it into the cache as well though it was not completely clear if there will be many user editable settings.  Check the interview out.

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"WD revealed that its hybrid drives will use SanDisk iSSD flash components. The announcement was devoid of details on how the caching system works, but we can now shed new light on the software-managed scheme."

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Seagate Introduces SSHD Lineup with Dual Mode NAND Cache

Subject: Storage | March 8, 2013 - 06:20 AM |
Tagged: sshd, solid state, Seagate, Intel SRT, cache, adaptive memory

Following the announcement that the company would be axing 7200 rpm notebook drives, Seagate has introduced its third generation hybrid hard drives. The new Seagate Solid State Hybrid Drives (SSHD) will initially launch with two notebook drives and a single desktop-sized drive. The hybrid drives will combine a spinning platter drive with 8GB of NAND flash with Seagate’s Adaptive Memory tech that will reportedly cache reads as well as writes.

The 2.5” notebook SSHDs include a 7mm model that combines 500GB of mechanical storage and 8GB of Adaptive Memory cache. This model will retail for around $80. There will also be a slightly larger 9.5mm  with 8GB of cache and 1TB mechanical hard drive capacity. The 1TB model utilizes two 500GB, 5400RPM platters and will retail for just under $100.

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The desktop SSHDs come in 3.5” form factor and will initially use 7200 RPM platters.  Seagate will offer up to 2TB of mechanical storage with its SSHDs and 8GB of NAND flash for caching.  Seagate claims that its desktop SSHD is up to four times faster than other mechanical hard drives, (according to PC Mark Vantage) which is likely due to the Adaptive Memory technology caching frequently used data on the flash memory and the use of 1TB platters. The 1TB and 2TB SSHD will cost around $100 and $150 respectively. Naturally, the SSHDs will carry a small premium over traditional mechanical hard drives. They will still be much more price-efficient than Solid State Drives for the storage offered (though I would still like to see a larger NAND cache).

Interestingly, Tech Report was able to glean a few more details about Seagate’s third generation hybrid drives. Reportedly, the drives will be capable of writing as well as reading to/from the NAND cache. That is a major step up from previous generation’s which limited the drive’s flash storage to a read-only cache. Seagate has reportedly built the drives such that they will have enough capacitance to flush the write cache in the event of a power failure (so that you will not lose any data). The dual mode NAND term stems from Seagate’s ability to use SLC for boot data and the write cache and address the remaining NAND as MLC flash. Unfortunately, details are scarce on how Seagate is doing this.

The SSHDs will come with three year warranties, but Seagate has rated the NAND flash at a lifespan of at least five years. In an neat twist, Seagate is also allegedly working on another SSHD implementation that will combine a mechanical hard drive and a larger NAND cache. However, the flash memory will be managed by Intel’s Smart Response Technology instead of Seagate’s own Adaptive Memory tech (which doesn't need additional drives, unlike SRT). Using the port multiplexing aspect of the SATA spec, Seagate will be able to put both drives into a single 3.5” form factor hybrid drive. Admittedly, this is the Seagate SSHD that I am most excited about, despite the fact that it’s also the drive I know the least about. I’m interested to see what kind of performance Seagate can wring out of the larger cache!

Source: Seagate

AMD caches in on fast boot times with downloadable RAMDisks

Subject: Storage | December 12, 2012 - 11:50 AM |
Tagged: radeon, cache, radeon ramdisk

We've heard mentions of AMD's downloadable RAMDisk software which will portion off a part of your system RAM to act as a cache drive to give you all the benefits of an SSD cache drive without the costs.  There are three levels, two free levels which will give you 4GB if you do not have Radeon branded memory and 6GB if you do.  For $18.99 you can get the Xtreme version which will allow you up to 64GB on any type of RAM and will get rid of the upgrade now pop up which you will see on the free versions.  This software should work with any modern CPU from AMD or Intel which is a great move on AMDs part to help make this software popular.  Hardware Canucks checked the boot time with a Super Anti-Spyware scan that is launched during boot which slowed the RAMDisk down a bit however the launch time of CS5 was significantly faster than even an SSD.  Check it out here, or just download it from here.

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"With memory prices on the decline and Intel's RST caching offering a great solution for budget conscious buyers, AMD is reviving the idea of memory-based application acceleration. Called Radeon RAMDisk, it promises to reduce load times to mere seconds on even the most basic of systems."

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$50 cache SSD anyone?

Subject: Storage | October 17, 2012 - 04:39 PM |
Tagged: cache, ssd, sandisk, ReadyCache 32GB

SanDisk has been making flash based storage product for quite a long time and while they may not come to your mind when you are thinking of buying an SSD, they do have a variety of product lines available.  [H]ard|OCP recently reviewed their 32GB ReadyCache SSD, which is powered by their own software and is a full sized SSD, so you won't need an mSATA slot in order to use the device.  SanDisk also ensures your data's integrity by copying any data it is going to cache, so that a copy remains on your HDD in case the SSD dies on you.  [H] were impressed by the ability of this drive to cache multiple HDDs and RAID volumes, a trick many other solutions can not manage.  If you are looking for an inexpensive and easy way to increase your PCs performance you could do a lot worse than SanDisk's ReadyCache.

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"SanDisk enters the caching solution market with the SanDisk ReadyCache 32GB SSD. This SSD provides instant acceleration to users' computers through intelligent software provided by Condusiv Technologies and hardware from SanDisk. By adding two tiers of data storage, both SSD and RAM, this solution looks promising."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Corsair's Accelerator ... cache me if you can!

Subject: Storage | August 22, 2012 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Nvelo Dataplex, Intel SRT, corsair, cache, accelerator series

Forget Intel SRT, the Corsair Accelerator Series cache SSDs and the Nvelo Dataplex software which come with them will give you the best of both your HDD and SSD and increase both read and write speeds of commonly accessed data.  Part of the effectiveness of these drive comes thanks to the fact that they move frequently access data blocks and not entire files, ensuring only the bits you need to read quickly end up on the SSD and it is not filled with tag along data that is accessed infrequently.  [H]ard|OCP found themselves more impressed with these drives than they expected to, seeing boot times that matched an OS installed on an SSD after only two reboots as well as improved launch speeds on their most used programs.  As you can pick up the 60GB model for $70 after MIR and the 30GB model for $45 the price per gigabyte might not match larger SSDs but the actual cost is so low it makes it a very worthy upgrade.

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"One of the hottest applications for consumer SSDs is using data caching to accelerate the performance of traditional spinning hard disks in your PC. We look at Corsairs Accelerator Series of caching SSDs to test the performance of these value-centric approaches to providing you a better computing experience."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Does Intel's SRT need an Intel SSD to work properly?

Subject: Storage | June 20, 2011 - 09:25 AM |
Tagged: ssd, srt, Intel, kingston, cache

It is a common question with the release of the Z68 series of boards, as people wonder if they really need to shell out the money for an Intel SSD in order to take advantage of Intel Smart Response Technology, which lets you use an SSD of 60GB or less as a cache drive.  Techgage took it upon themselves to investigate and compared the performance improvements to a HDD when using an Intel 20GB 311 SATA II SSD and a Kingston 64GB SDnow 100V+ SATA II SSD.  As happens all to often lately the answer is not clear cut; the best cache drive depends heavily on the file sizes you commonly deal with.

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"When we tested out Intel's 'Smart Response Technology' last month, we liked what we saw. But at $110 for a 20GB SLC SSD, we wondered if a larger, more cost-effective option could still make the best use of the technology. With that, we're pitting Kingston's SSDNow V+100 64GB drive, at $150, against Intel's, to see if we retain SRT's effectiveness."

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Source: Techgage