Skip PCIe SSDs and jump into ULLtraDIMMs

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2014 - 01:13 PM |
Tagged: mcs, ULLtraDIMM, diablo, PCIe SSD

Memory Channel Storage is exactly what it sounds like, non-volatile flash storage that is placed into DIMM slots to take advantage of the low latency connection between the CPU and more traditional DIMMs.  This may not help gamers to rack up higher scores but for server applications which have large queue depths resulting in very large IOPS.  This setup also allows for workload to be shared across memory channels, as opposed to a PCIe solution which is only able to connect to the lanes accessible to that particular slot.  There is a link to the white paper on The Register for those who wish to delve deeper.

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"Diablo provides Memory Channel Storage (MCS) technology to SanDisk’s subsidiary SMART Storage. It’s OEMed on to Supermicro and also IBM (soon to be Lenovo) for its x86 servers as ULLtraDIMM technology."

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Source: The Register

Plextor Launches M6e PCI-E SSD In United States, Initially A Newegg Exclusive

Subject: Storage | April 4, 2014 - 02:05 AM |
Tagged: plextor, PCIe SSD, pci-e ssd, M6e, M.2

Update: Plextor has provided MSRP pricing for all three drives (see table below). Further, the company expects Newegg prices to be at or possibly slightly below MSRP. The new pricing information certainly makes the drives more attractive than previous estimates.

Plextor showed off its M6e PCI-E SSD at CES earlier this year, and the drives will soon be available for purchase in the US. The M6e is a M.2 form factor SSD that uses a Marvell 88SS9183 controller and Toshiba Toggle NAND MLC flash to offer up to 512GB of speedy (and bootable!) storage.

Plextor M6e PCI-E SSD.png

The Plextor M6e drive comes as a bare M.2 drive or as a version paired with a M.2-to-PCI-E adapter card for desktop PCs without the newer M.2 connector on the motherboard itself. In either case, the M6e utilizes two PCI-E 2.0 lanes and avoids the SATA III 6Gbps storage bottleneck altogether. The drive has its own BIOS implementation and should not require users to install separate drivers. The SSD supports both legacy and UEFI BIOSes along with standard storage technology such as AHCI, NCQ, encryption (AES-256), TRIM, SMART, et al.

The drives come in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities. The M6e SSDs are rated with a 2,400,000 hour MTBF and come with a 5 year warranty. Both the 256GB and 512GB drives reportedly offer up 770 MB/s sequential reads, 105,000 4K random read IOPS, and 100,000 4K random write IOPS. The 512GB M6e SSD has the highest sequential write speeds at up to 625 MB/s with the 256GB model topping out at 580 MB/s. The 128GB version is a bit slower in sequential writes and random read/write IOPS due to fewer NAND chips and channels, but still manages to offer up to 770 MB/s reads, 335 MB/s writes, 96,000 4K random read IOPS, and 83,000 4K random write IOPS.

The table below lays out the speeds and estimated pricing of the drives at the available capacities according to Plextor. Fortunately, Tek Syndicate found that at least the 256GB drive performs very close to its rated speeds in their video review.

Plextor M6e Capacities 128GB 256GB 512GB
DRAM 256MB DDR3 512MB DDR3 1GB DDR3
Sequential Read* 770 MB/s 770 MB/s 770 MB/s
Sequential Write* 335 MB/s 580 MB/s 625 MB/s
Random Read IOPS* 96,000 105,000 105,000
Random Write IOPS* 83,000 100,000 100,000
Price MSRP $179.99 $299.99 $549.99

*All listed speeds are "up to n MB/s."

The drives will be available later this month at as-yet-unreleased MSRPs. The drives will initially be a Newegg exclusive in the US from April 7th to April 13th, after which it should make its way to other retailers. Note that the USD prices in the above chart are estimates based on pricing information scattered around the internet for the M6e drives. I have reached out to Plextor for comment and will update with official MSRP information as soon as possible.

Source: Plextor

Fusion-Io looks to Accelerate your databases

Subject: General Tech | February 11, 2014 - 03:15 PM |
Tagged: fusion-io, PCIe SSD, ION Accelerator

If you love fast storage Fusion-Io has new products you are going to love.  The first is the ION Accelerator, which can hold up to 32TB of flash storage in proper server form factor, the full 32TB likely being 4U.  They rate the speed of this device at 1.7 million random IOPS, 56 microsecond access latency and 23GB/sec of bandwidth.  They also released the hybrid ioControl line of appliances with a flash cache in front of HDDs which will provide great performance at a fraction of the cost of the purely flash ION.  There are three models of ioControl, the n5-50 with up to 1.46TB flash and 160TB, the n5-100 with handles up to 3.14TB of flash and 176TB of HDD and the largest n5-150 with 4.8TB of flash and 192TB of disk space.  Obviously the larger pool of flash can improve performance; to see the full spec sheets drop by The Register.

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"These two appliances are essential server/controllers running Fusion-io software with their innards stuffed full of Fusion’s PCIe flash cards, plus disks in the hybrid appliance product. The company says they are “for accelerating enterprise applications including Oracle, SAP HANA, and Microsoft SQL Server, as well as virtualisation workloads.”"

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Source: The Register

CES 2014: ADATA shows new PCIe SSD and unique OTG flash drive

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: PCIe SSD, OTG, CES 2014, CES, adata

ADATA will be rolling out their own PCIe SSD, this solution opting for the SF3700 controller due out later this year. Their demo produced the same 1.8 Gb/sec sequential read speed we saw over at Kingston earlier today:

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While the above solution is SF3700-equipped M.2 adapted to standard PCIe by a ustom PCB, ADATA was also showing an operational PCB which had the components direct mounted:

2014-01-08 17-38-27.JPG

Note the heat sink to help dissipate the heat produced by the SF3700. We hope the heat output will be optimized as development of this new controller progresses.

2014-01-08 17-38-57.JPG

We also saw a unique spin on the OTG-style USB flash drive we'd been seeing all around CES this year:

2014-01-08 17-37-40.JPG

Instead of having a common center containing the flash memory, they have made the center section into more of an adapter to bridge the super-small USB drive (right) across to the micro-USB port (left). An advantage of this format is that you could use the same adapter to bridge pretty much any standard USB flash drive over to an Android device.

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CES 2014: Plextor launches M6e PCIe SSD (and a sneak peek)

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 11:02 PM |
Tagged: plextor, PCIe SSD, M6e, CES 2014, CES

This morning Plextor launched their new M6e PCIe SSD. Their press blast appears after the break, but before you do so, check out the pics we grabbed earlier today:

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2014-01-08 14-53-57.JPG

The M6e is essentially an interposer board that simply interfaces the Marvell controller / Toshiba flash M.2 PCIe SSD to a standard desktop class PCIe connector. This solution is slower than the upcoming SF3700 solution being implemented by Kingston and ADATA, but this product is shipping now, while the SF3700 will not be production ready for at least another six months time.

Full press blast appears below:

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

IBM will use Fusion-IO cards in their servers

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2013 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: IBM, fusion-io, PCIe SSD, enterprise

IBM's F825, F1650, and F3200 Enterprise Value PCIe SSD cards will use Fusion-IO's architecture to provide their servers with a storage speed boost.  Available for order as of the 22nd of this month you will be able to order these cards in sizes up to 3.2TB.  One caveat mentioned at The Register is the terms of the warranty, it is only good for 1 year or the rated number of program/erase cycles, whichever comes first.  High speed storage will be attractive to enterprise purchasers but having to replace the cards every year may cool their enthusiasm quite a bit.

ioscale_3_2tb_500.jpg

"IBM's announcement is here, and says the Fusion-io cards are available for System x and BladeCenter servers. Users get from 825GB to 3.2TB of MLC flash per PCIe slot to accelerate apps in these servers, which no longer have to wait at the data access bus-stop for disk drive latency to send the heads to the right tracks."

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Source: The Register

Mushkin Launches Scorpion Delux PCI-E SSD

Subject: Storage | September 14, 2013 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: scorpion deluxe, SandForce SF-2281, sandforce, PCIe SSD, Mushkin

Mushkin, a company primarily known in the US for its RAM modules, announced a new PCI Express-based SSD this week called the Scorpion Deluxe. The new solid state drive is an update to the original Scorpion drive, and while it is not boot-able, it makes for an extremely speedy cache for large databases at decent prices (for a PCI-E SSD, anyway).

The Mushkin Scorpion Deluxe is driven by four SandForce SF-2281 processors and uses a PCI-E 2.0 x8 electrical interface to offer up gobs of bandwidth. The drive comes in several capacities, including 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, and 1,920GB. It is rated at 2,150 MB/s reads and over 1900 MB/s writes (exact rated speed depends on capacity, up to 2000 MB/s on the 2TB model). Also, the drive is specc’d to deliver a bit over 100,000 4K read and write IOPS. There is a 1 million hour MTBF rating and a 3 year warranty with the SSD.

Mushkin Scorpion Deluxe PCI-E SSD With Four SandForce SF-2281 SSD Controllers.jpg

Mushkin is aiming the drive more-so at the enterprise market for use in servers to cache large databases or in workstations working with large files in content creation, modeling, or simulations.

The Scorpion Deluxe drive is available now in the US, and will be up for purchase worldwide on September 16th. Pricing is not too bad, especially at the higher capacity points where the $/GB starts to look good.

PCI-E SSD Capacity Pricing (US) $/GB
240GB $559.99 $2.33/GB
480GB $794.42 $1.66/GB
960GB $1276.50 $1.33/GB
1920GB $2052.15 $1.07/GB

Only $1.07 per GB on the 2TB model? If only I had a corporate expense account! (heh)

Kingspec Reveals 1TB PCI-E SSD Using Eight RAIDed mSATA SSDs

Subject: Storage | September 4, 2013 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: ssd, PCIe SSD, msata, LSI, kingspec, jmicron

KingSpec recently started shipping a new PCI-E based SSD that achieves more than 2.5GB/s sequential read performance from multiple mSATA SSDs behind a 6Gbps LSI RAID controller. The KingSpec MC2J677M1T is a full height expansion card with a PCI-E 2.0 x8 interface.

The new KingSpec solid state drive is bootable and uses a 6Gbps LSI RAID controller that connects to eight 6Gbps mSATA slots. The drive comes in 1TB and 2TB total capacities and the eight 6Gbps mSATA slots are occupied by eight 128GB or 256GB mSATA SSDs. Each mSATA SSD is powered by a Jmircon SSD controller, NANYA-manufactured DRAM cache, and Intel MLC NAND flash. Further, the LSI RAID controller is actively cooled by a small fan.

KingSpec MC2J677M1T PCI-E SSD.png

As far as performance goes, the 1TB model is rated at 84,000 IOPS and approximately 2GB/s sequential read and write transfer speeds. The SSD Review received a sample of the new drive and provided some preliminary benchmark results in the form of an ATTO benchmark run. At a queue depth of 4, the KingSpec MC2J677M1T achieved 4K reads of 2567 MB/s and 4K writes of 1613 MB/s.

The 1TB KingSpec PCI-E SSD will be available later this year for between $2,000 and $3,000 USD.

When asked for his thoughts, PC Perspective storage editor Allyn Malventano noted that the eight JMicron-driven mSATA SSDs in RAID is just asking for trouble, and the 4K random IO offered by the drive is actually less than some single drive SATA SSDs on the market. Unfortunately, the LSI RAID controller is “a major bottleneck for SSD-level random access.”

Micron puts a suit and tie on its newest PCIe SSD

Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2013 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: micron, PCIe SSD, P420m, 25nm, mlc

Soon to be available in 350GB, 700GB and 1.4TB capacities, the Micron P420m PCIe SSD will be in a half-height and half-length form factor perfect for use in racks.  DigiTimes mentions it will use a custom ASIC controller from Micron but does not specify the model.  As will it will use 25nm MLC flash and XPERT, which is Micron's eXtended Performance and Enhanced Reliability Technology which should guarantee a decent lifespan for your storage.  Production will not start until June so it will be a while before we finally see performance results.

micron-p420.jpg

"The new Micron P420m combines consistent performance with the inherent power efficiency of an all-flash system to deliver improved economics for enterprise data centers. The drive accelerates performance of today's demanding data center applications, including online transaction processing (OLTP), data warehousing and virtualization, Micron said."

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Source: DigiTimes

ASUS Adding RAIDR PCI-E SSDs To Its ROG Lineup

Subject: Storage | April 19, 2013 - 06:10 AM |
Tagged: trim, ssd, sandforce 2281, sandforce, ROG, raidr, raid, PCIe SSD, asus

ASUS is reportedly adding two new PCI-E Solid State Drives (SSD) to its Republic Of Gamers lineup. Dubbed RAIDR, the new PCI-E SSDs use 19nm Toshiba MLC NAND flash driven by two SandForce 2281 controllers. In turn, the two SandForce drives are put into a hardware RAID 0 configuration for maximum speed. The RAIDR SSD internals are encased in a stylized EMI shield along with a ROG-branded back-plate. In all, ASUS’ RAIDR SSDs measure 157 x 120 x 20mm.

Asus RAIDR PCI-E SSD.jpg

The ASUS RAIDR drives show up as a single disk driven by a standard AHCI controller, which allows the two RAID 0 SSDs connected via the PCI-E bus to be boot-able and support the TRIM command. Both RAIDR solid state drives also support Native Command Queuing (NCQ), SMART, Secure Erase, Windows 8 Secure Boot.

According to specifications provided by Sweclockers, ASUS is launching 120GB and 240GB versions of the PCI-E SSDs. Both capacities feature 100,000 IOPS, 128-bit AES encryption, and 620,000 MTBF ratings.

ASUS RAIDR PCI-E SSD Backplate.jpg

The 120GB RAIDR SSD supports up to 765MB/s sequential reads and 775MB/s sequential write speeds. On the other hand, the 240GB RAIDR drive supports up to 830MB/s sequential reads and 810MB/s sequential writes.

Additionally, ASUS is bundling its RAIDR drives with Kaspersky Antivirus 2013 and a number of ASUS utilities (including SSD TweakIt). The drives should be available sometime next month, but pricing is still unknown. Adding PCI-E SSDs is an interesting move by ASUS that should help the company diversify and expand its ROG branding. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how the drives stack up when they are released (and hopefully a PC Perspective review)!

Source: Sweclockers