Leaked Intel Roadmap Details Upcoming Optane XPoint SSDs and Storage Accelerators

Subject: Storage | June 13, 2016 - 07:46 AM |
Tagged: XPoint, tlc, Stony Beach, ssd, pcie, Optane, NVMe, mlc, Mansion Beach, M.2, kaby lake, Intel, imft, Brighton Beach, 3DNAND, 3d nand

A recent post over at benchlife.info included a slide of some significant interest to those who have been drooling over XPoint technology:

intel-octane-ssd-roadmap.jpg

For those unaware, XPoint (spoken 'cross-point') is a new type of storage technology that is persistent like NAND Flash but with speeds closer to that of RAM. Intel's brand name for devices implementing XPoint are called Optane.

Starting at the bottom of the slide, we see a new 'System Acceleration' segment with a 'Stony Beach PCIe/NVMe m.2 System Accelerator'. This is likely a new take on Larson Creek, which was a 20GB SLC SSD launched in 2011. This small yet very fast SLC flash was tied into the storage subsystem via Intel's Rapid Storage Technology and acted as a caching tier for HDDs, which comprised most of the storage market at that time. Since Optane excels at random access, even a PCIe 3.0 x2 part could outmaneuver the fastest available NAND, meaning these new System Accelerators could act as a caching tier for Flash-based SSDs or even HDDs. These accelerators can also be good for boosting the performance of mobile products, potentially enabling the use of cheaper / lower performing Flash / HDD for bulk storage.

XPoint.png

Skipping past the mainstream parts for now, enthusiasts can expect to see Brighton Beach and Mansion Beach, which are Optane SSDs linked via PCIe 3x2 or x4, respectively. Not just accelerators, these products should have considerably more storage capacity, which may bring costs fairly high unless either XPoint production is very efficient or if there is also NAND Flash present on those parts for bulk storage (think XPoint cache for NAND Flash all in one product).

We're not sure if or how the recent delays to Kaby Lake will impact the other blocks on the above slide, but we do know that many of the other blocks present are on-track. The SSD 540s and 5400s were in fact announced in Q2, and are Intel's first shipping products using IMFT 3D NAND. Parts not yet seen announced are the Pro 6000p and 600p, which are long overdue m.2 SSDs that may compete against Samsung's 950 Pro. Do note that those are marked as TLC products (purple), though I suspect they may actually be a hybrid TLC+SLC cache solution.

3D-NAND-32-Layer-Stack.png

Going further out on the timeline we naturally see refreshes to all of the Optane parts, but we also see the first mention of second-generation IMFT 3DNAND. As I hinted at in an article back in February, second-gen 3D NAND will very likely *double* the per-die capacity to 512Gbit (64GB) for MLC and 768Gbit (96GB) for TLC. While die counts will be cut in half for a given total SSD capacity, speed reductions will be partially mitigated by this flash having at least four planes per die (most previous flash was double-plane). A plane is an effective partitioning of flash within the die, with each section having its own buffer. Each plane can perform erase/program/read operations independently, and for operations where the Flash is more limiting than the interface (writes), doubling the number of planes also doubles the throughput. In short, doubling planes roughly negates the speed drop caused by halving the die count on an SSD (until you reach the point where controller-to-NAND channels become the bottleneck, of course).

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IMFT XPoint Die shot I caught at the Intel / Micron launch event.

Well, that's all I have for now. I'm excited to see that XPoint is making its way into consumer products (and Storage Accelerators) within the next year's time. I certainly look forward to testing these products, and I hope to show them running faster than they did back at that IDF demo...

OCZ and NVMe all up in the RD ... 400

Subject: Storage | June 9, 2016 - 05:30 PM |
Tagged: ocz, NVMe, RD400, M.2 2280

With all the new drives on the market it would be interesting to see The Tech Report try to kill another stack of SSDs.  With the spread of NVMe drives they could take the OCZ RD400 they just reviewed and a number of others and see if they can't write them to death.  It would likely be a bit more work, these drives are more resilient and the amount of data they can move in a short time would certainly require a change in methodology.  The Intel 750 and Samsung 950 Pro would be obvious choices as most other SSDs simply would not be able to keep up.  Al has a collection as well, maybe a joint effort to kill as many PCIe SSDs as possible?

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"Toshiba is bringing the OCZ brand into the NVMe SSD market with its RD400. We put the drive through its paces to see how it stacks up with Intel's 750 Series and Samsung's 950 Pro drives."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Another look at the OCZ RD400 NVMe SSD

Subject: Storage | May 27, 2016 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: TSV, toshiba, ssd, revodrive, RD400, pcie, ocz, NVMe, M.2, HHHL, 512GB, 2280, 15nm

If you somehow felt that there was a test that Al missed while reviewing the OCZ RD400 NVMe SSD, then you have a chance for a second look.  There are several benchmarks which The SSD Review ran which were not covered and they have a different way of displaying data such as latency but the end results are the same, this drive is up there with the Samsung 950 Pro and Intel 750 Series.  Read all about it here.

OCZ-RD400-SSD-Front-Side.jpg

"With specs that rival the Samsung 950 Pro, a capacity point that nips at the heels of the Intel 750's largest model, and competitive MSRPs, the OCZ RD400 is out for blood. Read on to learn more about this latest enthusiast class NVMe SSD and see how it competes with the best of the best!"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Toshiba (OCZ)

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

The OCZ RevoDrive has been around for a good long while. We looked at the first ever RevoDrive back in 2010. It was a bold move for the time, as PCIe SSDs were both rare and very expensive at that time. OCZ's innovation was to implement a new VCA RAID controller which kept latencies low and properly scaled with increased Queue Depth. OCZ got a lot of use out of this formula, later expanding to the RevoDrive 3 x2 which expanded to four parallel SSDs, all the way to the enterprise Z-Drive R4 which further expanded that out to eight RAIDed SSDs.

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OCZ's RevoDrive lineup circa 2011.

The latter was a monster of an SSD both in physical size and storage capacity. Its performance was also impressive given that it launched five years ago. After being acquired by Toshiba, OCZ re-spun the old VCA-driven SSD one last time in the form of a RevoDrive 350, but it was the same old formula and high-latency SandForce controllers (updated with in-house Toshiba flash). The RevoDrive line needed to ditch that dated tech and move into the world of NVMe, and today it has!

DSC00772.jpg

Here is the new 'Toshiba OCZ RD400', branded as such under the recent rebadging that took place on OCZ's site. The Trion 150 and Vertex 180 have also been relabeled as TR150 and VT180. This new RD400 has some significant changes over the previous iterations of that line. The big one is that it is now a lean M.2 part which can come on/with an optional adapter card for those not having an available M.2 slot.

Read on for our full review of the new OCZ RD400!

IDF Shenzhen: Intel Demos 3D XPoint Optane File Copy at 2 GB/s

Subject: Storage | April 14, 2016 - 07:56 PM |
Tagged: Optane, NVMe, Intel, idf

At IDF Shenzhen, Intel talked more about 3D XPoint (spoken cross-point). Initially launched in July of last year, 3D XPoint is essentially a form of phase change memory which has speeds closer to that of DRAM.

XPoint.png

It can be addressed at the byte level, unlike flash which transfers in pages (~8KB) and erases in blocks (~6MB). There have been a few demos since the initial launch, and this morning there was another:

Optane demo.png

It is great to see XPoint / Optane technology being demonstrated again, but as far as demos go, this was not the best / fairest example that Intel could have put together. First of all, the 'NAND SSD' they are using is a Thunderbolt 3 connected external, which was clearly bottlenecked badly somewhere else in the chain (when was the last time you saw a 6 Gbit SATA SSD limited to only 283 MB/s?). Also, using SATA for the NAND example while using PCIe x4 NVMe for the Optane example seems a bit extreme to me.

The Optane side of the demo is seen going 1.94 GB/s. That is an impressive figure for sure, but it is important to note that a faster Intel 'NAND SSD' product has already been shipping for over a year:

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Yes, the P3700 (reviewed by us here), can reach the speeds seen in this demo, as evidenced by this ATTO run on one of our 1.6TB samples:

Intel DC3700 800GB - atto-4 (driver)--.png

Looking at the P3700 specs, we can see that the 2TB model performs even better and would likely beat the Optane SSD used in today's demo:

P3700 spec.png

Further, in the IDF 2015 demo (where they launched the Optane brand), Intel showed off Optane's random IO performance:

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This demo showed 464,300 4K random IOPS, and if you do the math, that works out to 1.9 GB/s *worth of random IO*, which is far more impressive than sequentials that basically match that of the current generation NVMe product of the same form factor and interface.

I'm still happy to see these demos happen, as it means we are absolutely going to see 3D XPoint in our hands sooner than later. That said, I'd also like to see demos that better demonstrate the strengths of the technology, because if today's demo was comparing apples to apples, it would have shown a P3700 matching the speed of Optane, which does not make the previously stated 1000x speed improvement nearly as obvious as it should be presented.

Micron no longer has NVMe envy

Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2016 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: Ryan's Law, NVMe, micron

Micron has announced their own PCIe 3.0 NVMe devices today, in HHHL, M.2 and 2.5" form factors.  The specifications are a little sparse at the moment, we do not know the flash which resides within the devices nor the endurance differences between the 7100 PRO series which is designed for read heavy scenarios or the 7100 MAX which is for mixed usage.  In addition to the 7100 series, they also announced the 9100 series which ranges in size from 800GB up to 3.2TB and has theoretical sequential reads of 3GB/s and writes of 2GB/s.  The Register was not provided with any specific pricing but Micron suggested the 7100 series could be priced similarly to SATA drives, while the 9100 series will obviously lie outside the boundaries of Ryan's Law.

You should also take a look at the information Al gathered while he was at the product launch.

micron_nvme_ssds_performance_650.jpg

"These NVMe SSDs complement Micron's existing S600DC SAS SSDs, which are now shipping in volume. The 7100 is the smaller product and the 9100 its big brother. Both have a PCIe gen 3 NVMe interface, which is faster than the 12 Gbit/s SAS interface used by the S600DC flash drives."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Behold, the spectrum of storage

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2016 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: NVMe, SAS, sata, PCIe SSD, low latency

The Register have put together a nice graphic and table displaying current storage technologies and how they relate to each other.  They constructed the graph to demonstrate the major boundaries in storage, between cache/memory, local storage and external storage and how these are going to move thanks to new technology.  NVMe-over-fabric will enable companies to utilize external storage at latencies lower than internal storage that still uses SATA or SAS, with only pure PCIe local storage outpacing its potential.  X-Point, assuming it lives up to the hype, will blur the line between local storage and memory/cache storage, offering latency previously only seen in system memory or on-die cache.

They also provide a table to give you some rough ideas how this translates between storage media, normalizing it a theoretical task which would take L1 cache 1 second to access, this can make it somewhat easier to comprehend for some than nanoseconds.

memory_storage_latency_spectrum.jpg

"Two technology changes are starting to be applied and both could have massive latency reduction effects at the two main storage boundary points: between memory and storage on the one hand, and between internal and external, networked storage on the other."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Podcast #390 - ASUS Z170 Sabertooth Mk1, Corsair Carbide 400C, more about Windows Store Games, and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 10, 2016 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, asus, z170 sabertooth, corsair, carbide 400c, Windows Store, uwp, dx12, amd, nvidia, directflip, 16.3, 364.47, 364.51, SFX, Seagate, OCP, NVMe

PC Perspective Podcast #390 - 03/10/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS Z170 Sabertooth Mk1, Corsair Carbide 400C, more about Windows Store Games, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Seagate to Show 10 GB/s PCIe x16 Flash Drive at OCP Summit

Subject: Storage | March 8, 2016 - 08:07 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Seagate, pcie, NVMe, flash drive

Today Seagate announced that they are production ready on a couple of NVMe PCIe SSD models. These are data-center tailored units that focus on getting as much parallel flash into as small of a space as possible. From engineering drawings, the first appears to be a half height (HHHL) device, communicates over a PCIe 3.0 x8 link, and reaches a claimed 6.7GB/s:

Seagate-6.7GB-Sec-Production-Ready.png

The second model is a bit more interesting for a few reasons. This is a PCIe 3.0 x16 unit (same lane configuration as a high end GPU) that claims 10 GB/s:

Seagate-10GB-Sec-Production-Ready.png

10 GB/s, hmm, where have I seen that before? :)

The second image gives away a bit of what may be going on under that heatsink. There appears to be four M.2 form factor SSDs in there, which would imply that it would appear as four separate NVMe devices. This is no big deal for enterprise data applications that can be pointed at multiple physical devices, but that 10 GB/s does start to make more sense (as a combined total) as we know of no single SSD controller capable of that sort of throughput. It took four Intel SSD 750’s for us to reach that same 10 GB/s figure, so it stands to reason that Seagate would use that same trick, only with M.2 SSDs they can fit everything onto a single slot card.

That’s all we have on this release so far, but we may see some real product pics sneak out of the Open Compute Project Summit, running over the next couple of days.

Full press blast after the break!

Source: Businesswire

10GBps of Non-Volatile Memory Express based storage from Seagate

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2016 - 06:23 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, PCIe SSD, NVMe

Seagate is rightfully bragging about their new PCIe SSD line up, the fastest currently available.  The drives come in two types, a 16 lane and an 8 lane model, using a standard PCIe interface.  The 16 lane version provides the full theoretical speed of 10GBps while the 8 lane model is less expensive and offers a mere 6.7GBps of throughput.  These drives are designed for enterprise usage but if you can afford the steep price tag which will come with these drives you could certainly using them for an impressive upgrade.  Check out more at The Inquirer.

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"SEAGATE HAS announced what the firm claims will be the world's fastest solid state drive (SSD). The 10GBps device is already production-ready and has been built to Open Compute Project (OCP) specifications, making it suitable for hyperscale data centres."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer