Corsair Tests Battlefield 4 with Hard Drives and SSDs

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: ssd, hdd, corsair

The Corsair Blog has been publishing several really interesting articles, lately. In January, they wrote an editorial which quantifies the benefits of modestly overclocking CPU, GPU, RAM, and all of the above. Their benchmarks showed which tests favored what type of component.

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This time, they look at the benefits of SSDs. Their Neutron Series GTX 240GB SSD was compared against a 3TB WD Black HDD (which is decent drive). To get into the campaign, they measured an SSD requiring a little over two minutes while the HDD took a little over two-and-a-half minutes. Multiplayer was much more significant: an SSD made it in game in 42 seconds while the hard drive took 69 second. That is a whole 40% faster.

Most importantly, getting into the game a whole 27 seconds earlier gives you first pick at vehicles. The game keeps them briefly locked to allow users to connect but, as is usual for Battlefield games, there is still an advantage for people with fast hard drives. Battlefield 2 was the unspoken benefit of purchasing a Western Digital 10,000 RPM Raptor drive, way back in 2006. You joined in as soon as you loaded which could mean nearly half of a minute to get your vehicle and go.

Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

Source: Corsair
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

If you're into the laptop storage upgrade scene, you hear the same sort of arguments all the time. "Do I go with a HDD for a large capacity and low cost/GB, but suffer performance"? "I want an SSD, but can't afford the capacity I need"! The ideal for this scenario is to combine both - go with a small capacity SSD for your operating system and apps, while going with a larger HDD for bulk storage at a lower cost/GB. The catch here is that most mobile platforms only come with a single 2.5" 9.5mm storage bay, and you just can't physically fit a full SSD and a full HDD into that space, can you? Well today Western Digital has answered that challenge with the Black2 Dual Drive:

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Yup, we're not kidding. This is a 120GB SSD *and* a 1TB HDD in a single package. Not a hybrid. Two drives, and it's nothing short of a work of art.

Continue reading our review of the Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Sony

Does downloading make a difference?

This is PART 2 of our testing on the PlayStation 4 storage systems, with the stock hard drive, an SSHD hybrid and an SSD.  Previously, we compared performance based on Blu-ray based installations though today we add downloaded titles from PSN to the mix.  Be sure you read PART 1, PlayStation 4 (PS4) HDD, SSHD and SSD Performance Testing.

I posted a story earlier this week that looked at the performance of the new PS4 when used with three different 2.5-in storage options: the stock 500GB hard drive, a 1TB hybrid SSHD and a 240GB SSD.  The results were fairly interesting (and got a good bit of attention) but some readers wanted more data.  In particular, many asked how things might change if you went the full digital route and purchased games straight from the Sony's PlayStation Network.  I also will compare boot times for each of the tested storage devices.

You should definitely check out the previous article if you missed it. It not only goes through the performance comparison but also details how to change the hard drive on the PS4 from the physical procedure to the software steps necessary. The article also details the options we selected for our benchmarking.

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Today I purchased a copy of Assassin's Creed IV from the PSN store (you're welcome Ubisoft) and got to testing.  The process was the same: start the game then load the first save spot.  Again, each test was run three times and the averages were reported. The PS4 was restarted between each run.

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The top section of results is the same that was presented earlier - average load times for AC IV when the game is installed from the Blu-ray.  The second set is new and includes average load times fro AC IV after the installation from the PlayStation Network; no disc was in the drive during testing.

Continue reading our story on the performance testing of HDD, SSD and SSHD with downloaded and Blu-ray installed games on PS4!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Sony

Load time improvements

This is PART 1 of our testing on the PlayStation 4 storage systems, with the stock hard drive, an SSHD hybrid and an SSD.  In PART 2 we take a look at the changes introduced with PSN downloaded games versus Blu-ray installed games as well as show boot time differences.  Be sure you read PART 2, PlayStation 4 (PS4) Blu-ray and Download Storage Performance, Boot Times.

On Friday Sony released the PlayStation 4 onto the world.  The first new console launch in 7 years, the PS4 has a lot to live up to, but our story today isn't going to attempt to weigh the value of the hardware or software ecosystem.  Instead, after our PS4 teardown video from last week, we got quite a few requests for information on storage performance with the PS4 and what replacement hardware might offer gamers.

Hard Drive Replacement Process

Changing the hard drive in your PlayStation 4 is quite simple, a continuation of a policy Sony's policy with the PS3.

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Installation starts with the one semi-transparent panel on the top of the unit, to the left of the light bar.  Obviously make sure your PS4 is completely turned off and unplugged.

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Simply slide it to the outside of the chassis and wiggle it up to release.  There are no screws or anything to deal with yet.

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Once inside you'll find a screw with the PS4 shapes logos on them; that is screw you need to remove to pull out the hard drive cage. 

Continue reading our analysis of PS4 HDD, SSHD and SSD Performance!!

Hard drives die too

Subject: General Tech | November 13, 2013 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: mtbf, hdd

One thing you can do when you have 25,000 consumer level HDDs running is to amass accurate data on the failure rates of drives.  Backblaze has done exactly that and published their findings which match fairly closely to the predicted MTBF pattern of a spike in the beginning of the life cycle as flawed drives fail, a long period of reliability followed by another rise in failures as drives age beyond their expected lifespan.  They have told the Register that they intend to follow up with tests on enterprise grade disks to see if the premium you pay is a good investment.

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"Cloud backup outfit Backblaze has cobbled together all the data it's gathered from the 25,000 or so disk drives it keeps spinning and drawn some conclusions about just how long you can expect disks to survive in an array."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Seagate's supersized NASty specialized spinning disks

Subject: Storage | October 23, 2013 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: NAS, Seagate, 4TB, hdd

Seagate's aptly named NAS HDD looks very much like their 4TB Desktop model but internally it has enhanced vibration reduction as well as parts that are more resistant to vibration which should create a quieter and longer lasting drive.  It also shares 5900 RPM and a 64MB cache but Seagate claims slightly higher seek times, 8.5ms read and 9.5ms write and time-limited error recovery which makes these drives far less dangerous to use in a RAID than the desktop model in scenarios such as Al has mentioned numerous times.  The Tech Report's testing put it against Seagate's Desktop version as well as the WD Red that is also optimized for use in NAS devices, read on to see which gets recommended.

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"Seagate's NAS HDD 4TB is optimized for network-attached storage and desktop RAID implementations. It promises better reliability than typical desktop drives, too. We take a closer look to see how the NAS HDD compares to its WD Red counterpart."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction

Introduction:

Last July, I went on a bit of a mini-rant about how using a bunch of drives not meant to be in a RAID could potentially lead to loss of the entire array from only a few bad sectors spread across several disks. Western Digital solved this problem by their introduction of the WD Red series. That series capped out at 3TB, and users were pushing for larger storage capacities for their NAS devices. In addition to the need for larger disks came the need for *smaller* disks as well, as there are some manufacturers that wish to create NAS / HTPC type devices that house multiple 2.5" HDD's. One such device is the Drobo Mini - a 4x2.5" device which has not really had a 'proper' NAS storage element available - until now:

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Today Western Digital has announced a twofold expansion to their Red Series. First is a 4TB capacity in their 3.5" series, and second is a 2.5" iteration of the Red, available in both 750GB and 1TB capacities.

As a recap of what can potentially happen if you have a large RAID with 'normal' consumer grade HDD's (and by consumer grade I mean those without any form of Time Limited Error Recovery, or TLER for short):

  • Array starts off operating as normal, but drive 3 has a bad sector that cropped up a few months back. This has gone unnoticed because the bad sector was part of a rarely accessed file.
  • During operation, drive 1 encounters a new bad sector.
  • Since drive 1 is a consumer drive it goes into a retry loop, repeatedly attempting to read and correct the bad sector.
  • The RAID controller exceeds its timeout threshold waiting on drive 1 and marks it offline.
  • Array is now in degraded status with drive 1 marked as failed.
  • User replaces drive 1. RAID controller initiates rebuild using parity data from the other drives.
  • During rebuild, RAID controller encounters the bad sector on drive 3.
  • Since drive 3 is a consumer drive it goes into a retry loop, repeatedly attempting to read and correct the bad sector.
  • The RAID controller exceeds its timeout threshold waiting on drive 3 and marks it offline.
  • Rebuild fails.
  • Blamo, your data is now (mostly) inaccessible.

I went into much further detail on this back in the intro to the WD 3TB Red piece, but the short of it is that you absolutely should use a HDD intended for RAID when building one, and Western Digital is removing that last excuse for not doing so by introducing a flagship 4TB capacity to the Red Series.

Continue reading our review of the new WD 3.5" and 2.5" Hard Drives!!

WD Improves Red, expands line to include 4TB and 2.5" form factor

Subject: Storage | September 3, 2013 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, red, NAS, hdd

Today Western Digital launched both a 4TB 3.5" Red, as well as a new 2.5" form factor available in both 750GB and 1TB:

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The full press blast from WD appears after the break. Once you're done perusing, be sure to check out our Full Review of these two new models!

HAMRs, Shingles and SSD cached HDDs; size versus speed

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2013 - 01:58 PM |
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)."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Hopefully you have had chicken pox already, otherwise you might want to skip Shingled HDDs

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2013 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: HAMR, western digital, ssd, hdd, Areal Density

Western Digital, along with Seagate, Toshiba, and Hitachi are working on the next step in increasing the storage density of platter based drives while HAMR is still in the works.  They will be adding overlapping tracks to their platters, which they are referring to as shingles (as in the roof, not the pox).  There will be two types implemented, with the first type having the shingling hidden to ensure compatibility with existing applications which might take exception to overlapping data tracks.  Type two will not hide its light under a bushel and will require applications to be aware of the shingling and hopefully take full advantage of the new type of magnetic recording.  According to the presentation that The Register attended we will see shingles in the near future, with HAMR due in 2016.

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"Over the coming years the remaining players will be pushing traditional technology to its limits to extend the life of hard disk technology. While the industry is pretty much standardised on perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) at present, in a couple of years there will be more fundamental hard drive technologies co-existing in the market than there are hard drive vendors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register