Yes it's Apple but OWC does good work, meet the Aura 1TB PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | April 20, 2016 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: owc, apple, PCIe SSD, Aura, 1TB, mlc

It has been a while since we heard from OWC, over a year since Al saw their offerings at Storage Vision, so it is interesting to see a new PCIe SSD from them.  Their days of Sandforce are over, two SMI 2246 XT 4-channel controllers are paired with a Marvell 9230 RAID controller which allows the four unbranded 256GB MLC flash chips to act as a 1TB RAID 0 drive.  The SSD Reviews found the Macbook Air upgrade drive to run slightly slower than the original 256GB SSD but with quadruple the storage the slight slow down is offset by the extra space.  Check out the Aura drive if you have a Mac in need of upgrade, or if you are simply interested in a tiny 1TB SSD.

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"Because of its limited storage capacity and Apples horrendous cost for upgrades, it was very close to being replaced, at least until OWC contacted me a week ago asking if we might like to review their latest 1TB Aura PCIe SSD replacement for mid-2013 and later MacBooks."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Behold, the spectrum of storage

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2016 - 12:47 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.

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"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."

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Source: The Register

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

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2016 - 01:23 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."

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Source: The Inquirer

Plextor to Introduce Company's First NVMe SSD at CES 2016, the M8Pe

Subject: Storage | December 28, 2015 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: ssd, plextor, PCIe SSD, NVMe, M8Pe, M.2, CES 2016

Plextor is set to announce their first NVMe SSD at CES 2016, and the new M8Pe uses 4 lanes of PCIe 3.0 to provide up to 270,000 IOPS read and 150,000 IOPS write performance (4K random). Throughput numbers were not revealed.

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Image credit: PC World

The drive is in the M.2 form factor though the image indicates it will include a PCIe adapter and heat sink.

"The new drives also feature Plextor’s specialty features, such as PlexTurbo RAM caching, compression technology for maximizing storage capacity, and PlexVault, which allows you to hide private data from others on a shared computer."

No details have been announced yet on capacity, release date, or (of course) pricing. We'll have to wait until CES to find out more.

Source: PC World

ASUS Announces New N Series Laptops with Intel Skylake and 4K IPS

Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 22, 2015 - 01:30 AM |
Tagged: Skylake, PCIe SSD, notebook, N752, N552, laptop, ips, Intel Core i7, GTX 960M, asus, 4k

ASUS has added two new laptops to their N series line up premium, entertainment-focused laptops. The new models offer Intel’s 6th-gen (Skylake) Core i7 processors and high resolution IPS displays, as well as fast PCIe storage and discrete NVIDIA graphics.

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The new models are the 15.6-inch N552 and 17.3-inch N752, and both sizes offer wide-gamut IPS display options up to 3840x2160 with 100% sRGB coverage. The displays are powered by graphics up to a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M. Quad-core Intel Core i7 processors power both models, with a generous 16GB of RAM standard. Storage is provided via PCIe x4 storage with speeds of 1500 MB/s with capacities up to 512 MB, and external connectivity includes a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port.

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While boasting powerful specs these N-series laptops are also geared toward entertainment, with ASUS drawing attention to the sound from their “SonicMaster” audio system, which boasts powerful B&O ICEpower class-D amplification for the laptop’s front-facing speakers. Other features include backlit keys which offer 1.8 mm travel, and aluminum covering the keyboard area and lid.

The new models haven’t shown up on the U.S. product pages just yet, so pricing and availability are not yet known.

Source: TechPowerUp

Samsung's M.2 SM951 PCIe SSD appears for sale and is worth every penny

Subject: Storage | June 25, 2015 - 03:42 PM |
Tagged: SM951, Samsung, PCIe SSD, M.2

Samsung's M.2 SM951 PCIe SSD was never originally intended to be sold on its own but thankfully the 128, 256 and 512GB models are showing up on Newegg and other sites and the speeds it can reach are very impressive.  The Tech Report tested the 512GB model and saw it beat the Intel 750 Series in IOMeter at a queue depth of one, though the Intel SSD still shows off its prowess at higher queue depths.  Their testing showed that the speed of the flash produces enough heat that the drive throttles itself so you should consider rigging an active cooling solution if you do pick up this drive.  Check out their full review to see some very impressive numbers and boot times.

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"Samsung's SM951 SSD squeezes a quad-lane PCIe Gen3 interface onto a diminutive M.2 form factor. It offers incredible performance under the right conditions, but it also struggles in some scenarios. Our in-depth review explains the drive's strengths, weaknesses, and unique enthusiast appeal."

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Storage

 

Checking out PCIe SSDs, both the full sized version and the bite sized ones

Subject: Storage | April 7, 2015 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: Plextor M6e, XP941, Samsung, DC P3700, Intel, PCIe SSD, M.2

The Tech Report have updated their storage testbed to properly benchmark PCIe SSDs, the M.2 versions as well as ones such as Intel's DC P3700 which takes up a full slot.  They contrast the performance with 10 popular SATA drives to give you an idea of the difference performance a PCI SSD will give you.  The rather expensive DC P3700 dominates almost every test they performed, apart from boot times in Windows 8.1 which are still well under 1 minute.  Read through the review with your own usage patterns in mind, in many cases a SATA SSD is still a great choice for many gamers and are much more affordable.  Then again, if you can afford a $2500 SSD, Intel's offering is definitely king.

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"SSDs have been bumping up against the limits of the Serial ATA interface for a while, but they don't have to be stuck behind the 6Gbps link. Native PCIe drives with way more bandwidth have made their way onto the market over the past year. We've tackled a trio of them—Plextor's M6e, Samsung's XP941, and Intel's server-grade DC P3700—with a fresh slate of benchmarks to see how the new breed stacks up against the SATA incumbents."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Samsung is releasing new PCIe SSDs

Subject: General Tech | September 26, 2014 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: PCIe SSD, Samsung, NVMe, SM1715, 3d nand

Samsung's new SM1715 NVMe PCIe SSD will use their new 3D V-NAND and come in a 3.2TB card, double the previous model and perhaps the smallest of the new line of SSDs they are working on.  The stats are fairly impressive at 750,000/130,000 random read/write IOPS or 3GB/sec read bandwidth and 2.2GB/sec write bandwidth if you prefer that measurement.  Samsung offers a nice mix of bandwidth and size with the new model and you can expect the competition to start releasing new models with increased capacities and speeds in the near future.  The Register was not provided the full set of specifications for the drive but those should be forthcoming in the near future.

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"Faster, fatter flash cards that speed up server applications are in demand, and Samsung has announced it is mass-producing a 3.2TB NVMe PCIe SSD using its 3D V-NAND technology. It says higher capacities are coming."

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Source: The Register

Plextor's M.2 PCIe SSD, the M6e

Subject: Storage | June 17, 2014 - 06:48 PM |
Tagged: plextor, Plextor M6e, M.2, PCIe SSD

The Plextor M6e M.2 SSD Series comes in 128, 256 and 512GB models and for those lacking a M.2 slot you can opt for the model below which ships with a PCIe 2.0 adapter for an additional $60.  One caveat that Legit Reviews offers immediately is that for many models of motherboards you must manually enable the M.2 slot in the UEFI, otherwise your drive may not be detected.  Once enabled properly and benchmarked the performance was found to be in line with the advertised speeds of 770MB/s sequential read and 580MB/s sequential write speeds for the 256GB version.  It would seem that the SATA 6Gbs limitation can indeed be overcome but of course that was not enough for the crew at Legit Reviews, they picked up a second M6e and RAIDed them to reach 1408MB/s read and 1098MB/s write!

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"Are you wanting to get beyond 550MB/s without having to do a RAID setup? Are you willing to try a new interface? Meet the Plextor M6e Series of PCI Express SSDs! Plextor is leading the charge for native PCIe SSDs and has come up with the first readily-available M.2 PCIe SSD on the consumer market. Other drives like the Samsung XP941 series have been around much longer, but they are OEM only and aren’t really meant for end users. Plextor has stepped up to the plate with a drive that had end user firmware updates, an impressive 5-year warranty and mouth watering speeds."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

OCZ Launches the RevoDrive 350 PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | April 24, 2014 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: RevoDrive 350, PCIe SSD, ocz, SF-2282

OCZ has announced the release of the RevoDrive 350, a PCIe SSD using the SandForce 2282 controller and available in 240, 480 and 960GB models which should be priced at  $530, $830 and $1300 respectively.  This is certainly more expensive than SATA SSDs but then again if you check out the three reviews you can see that this drive is also significantly faster than SATA drvies.

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SAN JOSE, CA – April 24, 2014 - OCZ Storage Solutions - a Toshiba Group Company and leading provider of high-performance solid state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, today announced the RevoDrive 350 Series with workstation-grade design capabilities and maximum performance for professional content creation, multimedia, and extreme gaming applications. Achieving three times the performance of SATA-based SSD solutions, RevoDrive 350 is based on proven performance architecture and features 19nm Toshiba NAND to complete OCZ’s portfolio transition to in-house flash, offering a high-performance yet cost-efficient SSD solution for bandwidth-intensive client applications.

Using the PCI Express Gen. 2 x8 interface and up to four LSI SF-2282 processors to offer more available bandwidth than the previous generation, RevoDrive 350 features up to 1.8GB/s sequential speeds and up to 140,000 4K random write IOPS, delivering SSD RAID performance without the hassle in an easy-to-deploy, single card solution. Enabling both performance and functionality for applications ranging from scientific computing to extreme gaming systems, this workstation-class storage product accelerates application performance and takes full advantage of today’s multithreaded processors and software, supporting up to 50GB of host writes per day for 3 years to provide leading endurance for media professionals over less robust consumer SSDs.

“The new RevoDrive 350 is built using proven technology with the added benefit of utilizing in-house premium Toshiba flash and OCZ’s proprietary Virtualized Controller Architecture (VCA) 2.0 to deliver highly efficient performance aggregation while reducing the burden on host resources,” said Daryl Lang, Senior Vice President of Product Management for OCZ Storage Solutions. “This next generation PCIe SSD is the ideal solution for performance-minded users looking to maximize both bandwidth and density for the complete gamut of gaming, content creation and workstation applications.”

VCA 2.0 effectively makes the RevoDrive 350’s multi-controller design appear and act as a single drive to the host system to enable drive-level management features such as secure erase, SMART, and TRIM. In addition to mass data storage, the RevoDrive 350 can also be used as bootable device, promoting ultra-fast system boot-ups.

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Improving on the previous generation, RevoDrive 350 features a sleek integrated heatsink that provides a more stable and cooler thermal SSD environment, and includes optimized drivers redesigned from the ground up with new Linux support in addition to Windows® OS. Available in 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB capacities, RevoDrive 350 provides ample space, and comes backed by a 3-year warranty.

Source: OCZ