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.

Seagate SSHD.jpg

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

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

Intel 313 Hawley Creek SRT Caching Drives Now Available

Subject: Storage | April 7, 2012 - 08:15 PM |
Tagged: Intel SRT, Intel, caching, 313, 25nm

Intel is continuing the Intel SRT caching technology with two new Single Level Cell (SLC) SSD drives in both 2.5” SATA and mSATA form factors. The new Intel 313 series SSDs come in 20 GB and 24 GB capacities and are available for purchase now. Intel hopes that vendors will integrate the caching drives into their machines to improve performance while offering lots of storage with a mechanical hard drive.  They further advertise the drives as "ultrabook ready."

SSD-313-series-288x288.png

The specifications can be found in the chart below, but they do seem to be a little strange, in that the larger capacity drive is actually slower in 4K random and sequential reads (which does not seem correct). After all, who would pay extra money for a slower caching drive (and a measly 4GB extra capacity) where read speeds are going to be more important than write speeds as far as general desktop performance.

  Intel 311 Intel 313 20 GB Intel 313 24 GB
Random 4K Read IOPS 37,000 36,000 33,000
Random 4K Write IOPS 3,300 3,300 4,000
Sequential Read 200 MB/s 220 MB/s 160 MB/s
Sequential Write 105 MB/s 100 MB/s 115 MB/s
Manufacturing Process 34nm 25nm 25nm
NAND Type SLC SLC SLC
Price ($USD) 119.99 (retail) 119.99 (retail) 139.99 (retail)

Compared to the previous generation "Larsen Creek" Intel 311 series SSD, the new "Hawley Creek" drives offer faster sequential read and write speeds.  The 24 GB Intel 313 drive does manage to beat both the 20 GB Haswell and previous generation Intel 311 drive on 4K random writes, but otherwise the new drives are equal to, or slower than, the previous generation in 4K random IOPS (input/output per second).  Considering the new drives are retailing for the same or more than the previous generation, the new Intel 313 SSDs really are not looking all that promising, despite the move to a 25nm NAND manufacturing process.

I am personally waiting for reviews to come out on the new Intel 313 drives before making a final decision, but they are nonetheless perplexing.  More information is available here (PDF).

*Edit by Allyn*:

The 'odd' differences in performance are due to the channel routing. The 20GB model has the standard Intel 3Gb/sec controller using 5 of the 10 data channels (similar to the old 40GB X25-V). Each of those channels is routed to a 4GB SLC die. This lays out to 5 TSOP packages with 1 die each. The 24GB model also uses the same controller and channel layout, but those 5 channels are routed to 6x 4GB dies. This is an odd configuration, and assuming Intel kept the same PCB layouts, the 2.5" model has provision for additional mounted TSOPs but the mSATA PCB is too tight on room, meaning they would have had to shift only one of the 5 flash packages to a double stacked configuration. More to follow on that once we see these in the flesh.

Source: Intel

Buy the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD; get a 20GB Intel SSD for free!

Subject: Motherboards | August 24, 2011 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z68XP-UD3-iSSD, Intel SRT, intel 311

Gigabyte has been talking about releasing a Z68 board with an integrated Intel 310 series drive since CES and they have finally released it.  The Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD ships with a 20GB Intel 311 SSD already installed to let you take advantage of Intel SRT right off the bat.  Power users will be glad to know it is not integral and can be swapped out with a 40GB or 60GB model if you deem it necessary for your continued happiness.  That is just one of the huge list of features on Gigabyte's new board, which only seems to be missing support for 4 way CrossFire or SLI which when you look at the minuscule gains it provides is not a problem at all.  Head over to Legit Reviews to see this $240 monster run.

LR_z68xp-ud3-issd-layout-2.jpg

"It's not very often that something throws me for a loop, at least not when it comes to motherboards any more. That's exactly what happened when I first heard about the GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3-iSSD! My first thoughts were that it's a great idea, followed by that boards has to cost a pretty penny! After today's testing, I will stand by my initial though of that's a great idea. What truly blew my mind was the price. As I said above, I thought the GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3-iSSD was going to cost a pretty penny, somewhere in the $350-$400. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the Z68XP-UD7-iSSD retails for only $239.99! Needless to say I was a bit shocked!"

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