Seagate Introduces Enterprise Turbo SSHD 2.5" SAS Drive For Servers

Subject: Storage | July 26, 2013 - 12:35 AM |
Tagged: turbo sshd, sshd, Seagate, nand, enterprise

Earlier this week Seagate took the wraps off of its latest Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD). Dubbed the Enterprise Turbo SSHD, this latest model is aimed at the enterprise server market. The drives combine a traditional 10K SAS mechanical hard drive in capacities up to 600GB with up to 32GB of NAND flash.

The 2.5" Enterprise Turbo SSHDs are aimed at servers with big data analytics, virtual desktops, and transaction processing workloads. The NAND flash acts as a cache for the mechanical hard drive, and caching is done by the controller at an I/O level.

Seagate Enterprise Turbo SSHD Angled.jpg

According to Seagate, the company has been working with IBM over the past year to put the new SSHD through its paces. As such, the hybrid drives will first be available in the IBM X and BladeCentral servers. The IBM versions will have 16GB of NAND flash and one year warranties according to the documentation available online.

Seagate further claims up to three times random performance increase versus 15K SAS mechanical hard drives. The 600GB 10K SSHD is rated to have up to two times better IOPS than a traditional 10K SAS hard drive without a NAND cache.

Seagate Enterprise Turbo SSHD.jpg

The Enterprise Turbo also comes with enterprise-friendly drive self encryption options. The Seagate product page notes that the Enterprise Turbo SSHD will have a five year warranty. Pricing and detailed benchmarks are not yet available though some preliminary performance results can be found here.

The full press release can be found here.

Source: Seagate

Microsoft Ending TechNet Subscription Program August 31, 2013

Subject: General Tech | July 3, 2013 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: windows server, technet, microsoft, IT, evaluation software, enterprise

In a surprising announcement, Microsoft stated that it will be retiring the TechNet software evaluation subscription service. The TechNet service gave IT professionals and enthusiasts the ability to evaluate its software products before committing to buying licenses and doing a full roll out on production machines. It also provided support and information labs to subscribers.

Fortunately, it is not being shut down immediately. Microsoft will cease offering new subscriptions on August 31, 2013.

Microsoft TechNet Subscriptions No More.png

Therefore, if you are interested in renewing an existing subscription or buying a new TechNet subscription, you have a little under two months to purchase one. Microsoft will stop selling subscriptions on August 31, 2013. If you are purchasing the subscription as a renewal to an existing one, you must buy the subscription before August 31, 2013 but do not need to activate it immediately. You will need to activate your purchased TechNet sub by September 30, 2013.

Further, TechNet subscribers will retain access to all of their traditional benefits until either the end of the subscription or September 30, 2014 (whichever comes first, depending on when you activate your subscription). After that point, users will lose access to the subscriber's portal which gives out downloads and keys.

It should be noted that the TechNet website itself is not going away, at least not for awhile. The paid benefits are being discontinued, however.

According to Microsoft, the company is discontinuing its services as a result of a combination of factors that includes a transition towards free evaluation software as opposed to putting evaluation copies behind a pay-wall. Microsoft also mentioned piracy and concerns with those subscribers abusing the system and selling keys (ie. on eBay), but that it was not the primary motivator in favor of shutting down TechNet.

Retiring TechNet is a bit surprising, but Microsoft has been moving in the direction of offering more free trials and evaluations in the past few years. Windows 7 and 8 enjoyed quite a few free testing software releases at various development stages. The company also offers up trials its Azure cloud computing platform and electronic/sample labs of its server software. TechNet did have the benefit of licenses that did not expire after 90 days (or thereabouts), as well as providing access to multiple copies of software, downloadable ISOs, and a catalog of all its software SKUs in a centralized place.

Considering MSDN and its various spark subscriptions are still alive and well, canceling TechNet seems like an odd choice, but at least Microsoft is giving IT departments and enthusiasts advanced warning and up to a year to prepare to transition to one of the other (unfortunately more expensive) subscription services or see if the company's free offerings are "good enough" by next year.

More information can be found on the official TechNet website.

What do you think about Microsoft's decision to axe paid TechNet subscriptions?

Source: Microsoft

Intel announces new DC S3700 Series of datacenter SSDs

Subject: Storage | November 5, 2012 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: ssd, s3700, enterprise, datacenter

Today Intel officially launched a new line of enterprise-oriented SSDs. Dubbed the DC S3700 ('DC for Data Center', 'S' for SATA), this new line fills the large interface speed void left by the older 710 Series, which was limited to SATA 3Gb/sec speeds.

Intel SSD DC S3700 RightAngled.jpg

The S3700 makes some big promises and we are expecting samples shortly. Here's the tally of what's to come:

  • Intel designed 8-channel controller ASIC and firmware
  • SATA 6Gb/sec interface
  • 7mm x 2.5" form factor
  • Random 4k writes 15x faster and reads 2x faster than SSD 710
  • 75,000 4k random read IOPS (all models)
  • 19/32/36/36k 4k random write IOPS (for 100/200/400/800GB capacity)
  • 500MB/sec sequential reads (all models)
  • 200/365/460/460 MB/sec sequential writes (for 100/200/400/800GB capacity)
  • 25nm MLC-HET IMFT flash
  • Rated for 10 Drive Writes per Day (DWPD) over a 5-year lifetime
  • Solid-State-Capacitor backed power-loss protection
  • Shipping in volume ~Q1 2013
  • 1k qty pricing: $235/$470/$940/$1880 ea. for 100/200/400/800GB capacities

The cost of just over $2/GB should be very enticing for an enterprise-grade SSD, but the most interesting tidbit I got from the briefing was that Intel claims this drive will achieve a <500us response time for 4k random writes, 99.9% of the time. Most SSDs will begin to show intermittent peaks in latency when hit with sustained 4k random access. The S3700 Series should mostly eliminate that issue. More to follow on that front once we can log some hours on a sample.

Microsoft Releases Windows Server 2012 Pricing

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2012 - 01:12 AM |
Tagged: windows server, windows pricing, windows, virtual machines, software, server, operating system, enterprise

Earlier this week we covered the pricing for Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 consumer-grade operating system. Now, the company has released pricing information for the enterprise side of things, mainly for its non-OEM SKUs of Windows Server 2012. With Server 2012, Microsoft has simplified its lineup with four versions – one of which is only for OEMs.


Live Migration will allow virtualized storage to be moved in and out of server instances in real time without restarts.

The three versions that businesses can purchase and install themselves includes Datacenter, Standard, and Essentials. The lowest-tier version is called Foundation and will the version that comes pre-installed from OEMs. The Datacenter version has the most features and is the most lenient on the licensing by allowing businesses the full Windows Server 2012 functionality as well as unlimited virtual server instances. You’ll have to pay for those features, however as the Datacenter SKU is priced at $4,809. On the low end is Essentials which strips out licensed use of virtual instances of Server 2012 and also limites the number of user accounts that can access the server to 25. It will cost $425, which isn’t terribly expensive but is obviously aimed at small businesses. Interestingly, Microsoft states that Essentials has a simplified interface that is “pre-configured” for running cloud services. In the middle of those two extremes is Windows Server 2012 Standard which will run $882 USD and allows two virtualized instances as well as the full Windows Server functionality.

While Microsoft has not released pricing for its OEM-only Foundation version, they have announced that it will be limited to a max of 15 user accounts and no virtualization rights. The table below details the above information in a simplified table, courtesy Microsoft.

Edition Feature Comparison Licensing Model Pricing (USD)
Datacenter Unlimited virtual instances, full Windows functionality Processor + CAL $4,809
Standard Two virtual instances, full Windows functionality Processor + CAL $882
Essentials No virtualization rights, Simple interface pre-configured for cloud services Server (25 user account limit) $425
Foundation No virtualization rights, general purpose server functionality Server (15 user account limit) Not Listed

As Martin Brinkman explains, the top-two tiers are based on a processor licensing model which means that each version is allowed to run on up to two physical processors. The Datacenter version takes that a step further by allowing an unlimited number of virtual machines on those two physical processors while Standard allows two virtual machines on a system with up to two physical processors. To figure out how many licenses you will need to purchase, you can get by with half the number of physical processors. At around five Windows Server 2012 Standard licenses, it starts to become more economical to go with the Datacenter version if you will mostly be spinning up virtualized servers.

Interestingly, Windows Home Server is missing from the above list, and it looks like that is not a mistake. Microsoft has stated in its licensing FAQ (PDF) that it expects home and small business users to move to the Essentials ($425) version for their home server needs. Not exactly the answer that many users are going to want to hear. For those not wanting to spend that much, Microsoft is keeping Windows Home Server 2011 alive until the end of next year (12-31-13), and you will be able to buy Home Server 2011 in an OEM machine until 2025. Fortunately, a system builder version of Windows Home Server 2011 can be found for around $50 and it can support up to 10 users. On the other hand, it won’t have the neat Windows 8-based server features. It will be up to you to decide whether the $400+ price for Essentials is worth it for you home/small business needs.

Just as Microsoft has released a Consumer Preview version of Windows 8, you can download a Release Candidate of Windows Server 2012 to see what the new features are and if they are worth the money. More information on the pricing and various versions can be found here. What do you think of the new Windows Server SKUs?

Source: Microsoft

Sandisk Launches PCIe Solid State Accelerators (SSAs)

Subject: Storage | July 3, 2012 - 12:21 AM |
Tagged: ssd, slc, server, sandisk, PCIe SSD, flash, enterprise, caching

Flash storage company Sandisk has recently jumped into the world of enterprise PCI-E caching SSDs – what they are calling Solid State Accelerators. Currently, they are offering a 200GB and 400GB model under the company’s Lightning PCIe series. The SSDs feature a proprietary Sandisk controller driving 24nm SLC NAND flash, a PCI-E 2.0 x4 interface, and maximum power draw of 15 watts.

The Lightning Accelerators use the NAND flash for Sandisk’s own foundry and offer a large performance boost for servers and workstations over hard drives and SATA SSDs. It is capable of 410 MB/s sequential reads or 110,000 IOPS. Further, when using 4KB and 8KB blocks, the drives can reach 23,000 and 17,000 read/write IOPS respectively. Other specifications include an average response time of 245 microseconds, and less than 30 millisecond maximum response times. The Solid State Accelerators also feature sustained read and write latencies as low as 50 microseconds.



Sandisk has built the drives so that they can be configured as boot drives, storage drives, or caching drives. The company supports up to 5 drives in a single system, for a maximum of 2TB of flash storage. In addition, Sandisk is offering up its Flashsoft software that allows the Lightning Accelerators to be used as caching drives on Windows-based systems. Unfortunately, that is an additional cost which is not included in the already pricey SSDs (good thing for corporate expense accounts!).

Speaking of pricing, the 200GB LP206M has an MSRP of $1,350 while the 400GB LP406M has an MSRP of $2,350. Both cards have five year warranties and a MTBF rating of 2 million hours. You can find more information on the Sandisk Website.

It will be interesting to see how this Sandisk accelerator stacks up to the likes of the Intel 910 and FusioIO drives! The FusionIO FX, for example, gives you 420GB of QDP MLC NAND for $2,495, which works out such that Sandisk has a slightly lower cost-per-gigabyte value and SLC flash. We will have to wait for some independant reviews to say which drive is actually faster, however.


Source: Sandisk

SanDisk releases new 'Lightning' bootable, lower-cost competitor to the Intel 910 Series PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | June 5, 2012 - 01:07 AM |
Tagged: ssd, sandisk, pcie, enterprise, computex

Just over a month back we took a look at the Intel SSD 910 Series PCIe SSD. While the specs and performance were excellent, there were some factors preventing use in workstation systems - namely the prohibitive cost and lack of a Boot ROM. With that, it seems SanDisk has made an attempt to answer that call. Today at Computex they announced a new PCIe Enterprise SSD, the PCIe Lightning:


This is a much simpler layout, with flash right alongside the controller - an option not possible with the multi-PCB Intel 910 Series as it contained much more flash on its daughter boards. With this simpler layout comes lower cost but unfortunately lower maximum capacities. Less complexity also means lower maximum specs, but they still look quite good given the price point this card will be filling:

  • Price: $1350 (200GB) / $2350 (400GB)
  • 4k 70/30 R/W split: 23,000 IOPS
  • Sequential Throughput: 425 MB/sec
  • Warranty: 5 Year
  • Endurance: 10 full-drive writes per day for warranty duration

I'm glad to see some good PCIe SSD competition cropping up - especially the bootable kind.

Full release after the break:


Take your SSD to work day

Subject: Storage | January 30, 2012 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: ssd, enterprise, eMLC, Samsung, SM825 400GB

Enterprise level storage has vastly different priorities than consumer grade storage as data that is lost is of a different level than lost pictures and home movie.  As precious as those memories are it is unlikely that family members will sue you or disown you because you lost their data, internal and external customers on the other hand are very likely to.  This places a large priority on reliability which must be considered even before the cost savings are considered.  For companies with large databases and numerous users connecting to them concurrently there is a huge time savings possible from introducing an SSD to the front end, but only if it can be guaranteed to be available and not down.

The SSD Review takes a look at Samsung's enterprise class SSD, the SM825 which has 400GB of eMLC flash storage which is rated at 7000TBW (terabytes written) before failure; consumer models are usually 60TBW.  When the SSD Review cracked the case and did some addition, they spotted 112GB being used for over-provisioning as well as four impressively sized capacitors for protection against power outages.  Check out the full review to see how it performs.


"In reviewing the Samsung SSD SM825 Data Center Edition 400GB eMLC solid state drive, we understand that we have wandered off the beaten path of normal consumer reviews but there are some things in this SSD that will just grab your attention. Although it’s interesting to see that Samsung has chosen its own premium eMLC NAND flash memory in the SM825, we believe that it is the total write endurance that truly stands out in this enterprise class SSD."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:



Source: SSD Review

OCZ Technology Launches Talos 2 Enterprise SAS 6G Solid State Drive

Subject: Storage | November 29, 2011 - 11:52 AM |
Tagged: ocz, talos 2, enterprise, ssd, sata 6Gbs

SAN JOSE, CA – November 29, 2011 - OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, announces the Talos 2 Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) SSD Series, the follow-up to the high performance, high capacity Talos Series previously available only in a 3.5 inch form factor.

With capacities up to 1TB now available in a compact 2.5-inch form factor, Talos 2 offers increased I/O performance and scalability in enterprise storage environments. Talos 2 leverages OCZ Virtualized Controller Architecture 2.0 technology which implements an intelligent complex command queuing structure with unique queue balancing algorithms to provide exceptional performance. Talos 2 SSDs deliver superior random transactional performance at up to 70,000 4K IOPS and features improved mixed workload (75% read; 25% write) performance with up to 42,000 8K IOPS.


You can bet these SSDs will not be the least expensive per gigabyte on the market

Unlike many SAS SSDs, the Talos Series is dual-ported to offer superior data integrity and increased performance, along with delivering a robust enterprise feature-set including DataWrite Assurance Protection in case of sudden power loss. Talos 2 also includes the option to enable T10-DIF (Data Integrity Field), allowing for the insertion of 8 bytes of additional data during transfers to ensure complete data integrity.

“The Talos 2 SAS solid state drives expand on the original series by offering enterprise customers superior performance, reliability, and density all in a compact footprint,” said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ technology Group. “The Talos 2 enterprise SSDs are optimized for the most demanding storage systems and provide clients with an easy to deploy solution that vastly improves application performance over traditional SAS based HDDs.”

To address the complete spectrum of applications, Talos 2 SSDs are available in 100GB to 1TB capacities, in MLC, eMLC, and SLC NAND configurations. OCZ is now sampling Talos 2 to strategic customers and the drives will be made available to SMB and enterprise clients through OCZ's global business-to-business channel.

Hitachi Releases New Enterprise SSD Based On Intel's 25nm MLC HET NAND

Subject: Storage | August 9, 2011 - 09:10 PM |
Tagged: ssd, mlc, Intel, hitachi, enterprise

Hitachi recently released a new enterprise class SSD based on Intel's 25nm MLC flash.  Dubbed the Hitachi SSD400M, the new solid state drive is aimed at Enterprise users and Cloud data centers.  It comes in the standard 2.5" form factor, features a SAS 6Gb/s interface, and will be available in 200GB and 400GB capacities.


As an enterprise drive, the Hitachi SSD400M supports end to end data protection, error correction, error handling and self encryption on certain models compliant with the Trusted Computing Group’s Enterprise A Security Subsystem Class encryption specification.  Further showing it's intended usage as an Enterprise drive, the 25nm MLC based drive is rated for 7.3 Petabyte lifetime write, which Hitachi says amounts to 10 full drive writes per day for five years.  Coincidentally, the warranty of the drive is a five year limited warranty or until the drive exceeds the maximum rated number of petabyte writes per capacity.  Hitachi states that they expect a .44 annual failure rate and have projected a 2 million hour MTBF.

Performance of the drive is much better than that of the previously reported Intel drive, as it delivers 495MB/s sequential reads and 385MB/s sequential writes.  The SSD is further rated at 56,000 read IOPS and 24,000 write IOPS.

The SSD400M has already shipped to various OEMs and will be available soon.  More information on the new SSD can be found here.

Source: Hitachi

So... looks like Mozilla is a home-user company. Yep.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 25, 2011 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: mozilla, enterprise

For enterprise users looking to introduce Firefox to their business: you may wish to reconsider. Businesses are notorious for being substantially behind in version numbers, occasionally (or a lot) trading even security for compatibility. Mozilla had a staggered release schedule: a minor version number was little more than a security update; a major version number was a fairly-large overhaul. Enterprise users were able to upgrade minor version numbers and be reasonably assured that compatibility would be maintained. There were no such assurances for a major version number, thus requiring rigorous testing before applying. Mozilla has ended their policy of supporting back versions with security updates and are also moving between full versions much more rapidly, causing dissension amongst enterprise users.


Moving the world forward, not backwards, and always twirling towards freedom.

Ed Bott took the opportunity to prod Mozilla during his Thursday evening column. He contends that shutting out enterprise will assist in the impending implosion of Firefox and allow Microsoft and Google to pick up the pieces. I seriously disagree with that statement and applaud Mozilla for staying focused on their goal. True, Mozilla will be vastly less attractive to the enterprise; however, if Microsoft did not have Windows and Office to push with Internet Explorer, would search ad revenue and donations cover the long-term development cost incurred supporting enterprise users? And really, I would have thought Ed Bott of all people (ok, except maybe Paul Thurrott) would respect a company that can make a decision like Mozilla just did and stick by it after covering Microsoft for so long.

Source: ZDNet