Computex 2014: WD Shows SATA Express-based PCIe HDD

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 03:37 AM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, WD, ssd, pcie, SATA Express, hdd

SATA Express is an interface to either connect a hard drive to PCIe lanes, or up to two drives via SATA. Obviously, PCIe bandwidth over a cable connection is the real draw. To use the full speed, however, the drive needs to be able to communicate over PCIe. Currently, the standard uses two PCI Express 2.0 lanes (1 GB/s).

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Now that Z97 and H97 have launched, WD is set to show off the technology at Computex. The above image is apparently of a dual-drive product, containing 4TB of rotating media and 128GB of SSD memory. I am immediately reminded of the Western Digital Black2 dual drive which Allyn reviewed last November. That product crammed a 120GB SSD into a 2.5" 1TB HDD, which appeared to the system as two separate drives. The drive has "Technology Demonstration" written in red font right on it, but it could be a good representation of what the company is thinking about.

WD also asserts that their prototype uses standard AHCI drivers, for OS compatibility.

If you want to see this product in action, then -- well -- you kind-of need to be at Computex. At some point, you might be able to see it in your own PC. When? How much? No pricing and availability, again, because it is a tech demo.

Source: WD
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel
Tagged: ssd, pcie, NVMe, Intel, DC P3700

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Intel has a nasty habit of releasing disruptive technology, especially in the area of computer storage. Among the first of those releases was the X25-M, which was groundbreaking to say the least. At a time where most other SATA SSDs were just stopgap attempts to graft flash memory to a different interface, Intel's SATA SSD was really the first true performer.

With performance in the bag, Intel shifted their attention to reducing the cost of their products. The next few generations of the Intel line was coupled with leadership in die shrinks. This all came together in the form of SSD releases of increasingly reduced cost. Sure the enterprise parts retained a premium, but the consumer parts generally remained competitive.

Now Intel appears to have once again shifted their attention to performance, and we know it has been in the works for a while now. With the SATA bottleneck becoming increasingly apparent, big changes needed to me made. First, SATA, while fine for relatively high latency HDD's, was just never meant for SSD speeds. As SSD performance increased, the latencies involved with the interface overhead (translating memory-based addresses into ATA style commands) becomes more and more of a burden.

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The solution is to not only transition to PCIe, but to do so using a completely new software and driver interface, called NVM Express. NVMe has been in the works for a while, and offers some incredible benefits in that it essentially brings the flash memory closer to the CPU. The protocol was engineered for the purpose of accessing flash memory as storage, and doing so as fast and with the least latency as possible. We hadn't seen any true NVMe products hit the market, until today, that is:

Behold the Intel SSD DC P3700!

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Read on for our initial review!

PCIe SATA Express - Faster than the speed of NDA

Subject: Storage | May 1, 2014 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: SATA Express, pcie, asus, ssd, Z97-Deluxe

KitGuru had a chance to test the ASUS Z97-Deluxe with a Concept Edition SATA Express SSD from ASUS to see what happens when you can feed the data from an SSD across two SATA ports, giving it the bandwidth of two PCIe lanes.  That should allow a theoretical 10Gbps bandwidth as PCIe 3.0 lanes are still being held in reserve as there are not that many available on an LGA1150 board but as KitGuru points out "leaked information suggest (we still cannot confirm anything) that M.2 support will be native to the ‘future Intel chipset’."  Check out their review and be prepared to be amazed that the speed of 728MBps was lower than expected.

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"We revisit the SATA Express interface to obtain a more up-to-date look at what the next generation of SATA connections is capable of. Our tools for the job; a retail Asus motherboard set to release soon, and a concept version of Asus’ Hyper Express enclosure, internally powered by solid state storage."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: KitGuru

Attention audiophiles, ASUS has heard your pleas and answered with three sound cards

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2012 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: audio, asus, DGX, DSX, xonar, ROG Phoebus, pcie

While many of us are perfectly content with the quality of the audio output from the motherboards onboard audio codec there are others who because of incompatibilities (looking at you PunkBuster) or who are gifted with good ears who are still in the market for a discrete sound card.  A forum member recently pointed out that the sound card on the Hardware Leaderboard was so old it didn't ship with Win7 drivers so ASUS's timing on releasing three new sound cards couldn't have come at a better time.  The ASUS Xonar DGX 5.1 is the lowest cost of the three cards at $40, though currently on NewEgg the Xonar DSX 7.1 card is only $37 after MIR.  Finally is the Republic of Gamers Xonar Phoebus at $200, with a long list of features for those who want the best.  Drop by [H]ard|OCP to see how these three cards do when put to the test.

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"Asus recently released it's new flagship gaming sound card, the ROG Xonar Phoebus, as well as updated PCI-Express versions of its popular DG and DS sound cards. All three of these cards feature quality components for products in their respective price ranges. Today, we will tell you exactly what each card may bring to your PC audio experience."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: [H]ard|OCP

SanDisk releases new 'Lightning' bootable, lower-cost competitor to the Intel 910 Series PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | June 5, 2012 - 01:07 AM |
Tagged: ssd, sandisk, pcie, enterprise, computex

Just over a month back we took a look at the Intel SSD 910 Series PCIe SSD. While the specs and performance were excellent, there were some factors preventing use in workstation systems - namely the prohibitive cost and lack of a Boot ROM. With that, it seems SanDisk has made an attempt to answer that call. Today at Computex they announced a new PCIe Enterprise SSD, the PCIe Lightning:

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This is a much simpler layout, with flash right alongside the controller - an option not possible with the multi-PCB Intel 910 Series as it contained much more flash on its daughter boards. With this simpler layout comes lower cost but unfortunately lower maximum capacities. Less complexity also means lower maximum specs, but they still look quite good given the price point this card will be filling:

  • Price: $1350 (200GB) / $2350 (400GB)
  • 4k 70/30 R/W split: 23,000 IOPS
  • Sequential Throughput: 425 MB/sec
  • Warranty: 5 Year
  • Endurance: 10 full-drive writes per day for warranty duration

I'm glad to see some good PCIe SSD competition cropping up - especially the bootable kind.

Full release after the break:

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel SSD 900 Family
Tagged: ssd, pcie, Intel, 910, 800gb

Background and Internals

A little over two weeks back, Intel briefed me on their new SSD 910 Series PCIe SSD. Since that day I've been patiently awaiting its arrival, which happened just a few short hours ago. I've burned the midnight oil for the sake of getting some greater details out there. Before we get into the goods, here's a quick recap of the specs for the 800 (or 400) GB model:

"Performance Mode" is a feature that can be enabled through the Intel Data Center Tool Software. This feature is only possible on the 800GB model, but not for the reason you might think. The 400GB model is *always* in Performance Mode, since it can go full speed without drawing greater than the standard PCIe 25W power specification. The 800GB model has twice the components to drive yet it stays below the 25W limit so long as it is in its Default Mode. Switching the 800GB model to Performance Mode increases that draw to 38W (the initial press briefing stated 28W, which appears to have been a typo). Note that this increased draw is only seen during writes.

Ok, now into the goodies:

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Click here to read on!

New mLink PCI-E to Thunderbolt Enclosure Shown Off at NAB 2012

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | April 24, 2012 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, PCIe SSD, pcie, mlink, apple

California based company mLogic LLC debuted a new “mLink” Thunderbolt enclosure at the NAB 2012 show that will allow users to connect PCI-E based cards to computers using Thunderbolt connections. Unfortunately, enthusiasts wishing to slap a graphics card into the enclosure are out of luck. The incompatibility is due to graphics cards not having Thunderbolt aware drivers and may be something that is rectified in the future but currently not an option.

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Right now, there are only a few storage devices and networking NICs that are compatible with the mLink enclosure including Apricorn and OWC PCI-E SSDs, Atto Technology’s Fiber Channel network cards, and Atto Technology’s SAS RAID controller cards. (The full list of compatible devices is located here.) Not terribly exciting, but some users will find it very useful. The design is very streamlined and sleek, though its worth mentioning that it comes at a cost of $400 USD.

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Enthusiasts wanting to add more graphics horsepower to their notebooks will have to look elsewhere, but for users that need super fast storage in a sleek industrial design enclosure it is an interesting option. The price will be something that turns many people off of it, however. It is slated to release in June with pre-orders being accepted now. More information along with photos of the device is available here.

It sure looks nice, but is this something people will actually use? Let us know in the comments!

Source: mLogic

Podcast #198 - Maingear Shift with 3x7970s, Galaxy GTX 680, Intel PCIe SSD and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2012 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: ssd, podcast, pcie, nvidia, maingear, Intel, amd, 910, 7970, 680

PC Perspective Podcast #198 - 04/19/2012

Join us this week as we talk about a Maingear Shift with 3x7970s, a Galaxy GTX 680, an Intel PCIe SSD 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:15:40

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. MAINGEAR Shift System Review - Triple HD 7970s and Sandy Bridge-E
  6. Western Digital VelociRaptor 1TB Review - 10K RPM Hits a Larger Capacity
  7. Galaxy GeForce GTX 680 2GB Graphics Card Review
  8. This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  9. Intel Releases 910 Series Enterprise PCIe SSD
  10. Valve, tired of rumors, announces wearable computing
  11. AMD Three for Free promo: HD 7900 Price drop & free games
  12. Intel Announces Intel Solid-State Drive 330 Series
  13. PC Perspective Live Review Recap: ASUS Z77 Motherboards
  14. New Fusion ioFX Will Accelerate Professional Workloads
  15. Microsoft Details Four Windows 8 SKUs, Seems Reasonable
  16. The never ending story of TSMC's 28nm process
  17. NVIDIA Teases Another Graphics Card
  18. Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Linksys power line networking...sucks.
    2. Jeremy: Something to do with that old walkman you haven't thrown out
    3. Josh: Finally! Down in price!
    4. Allyn: Stable Internet
  19. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  20. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  21. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  22. Closing

Source:

Intel Releases 910 Series Enterprise PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | April 12, 2012 - 10:10 AM |
Tagged: ssd, pcie, Intel

Intel has officially entered the Enterprise PCIe SSD market with the release of their 910 Series SSD. Available in 400 and 800GB capacities, this half-height PCIe 2.0 8x card boasts over 180,000 4k IOPS and 2GB/sec sequential on reads. Writes are roughly half of that - limited by the 25W PCIe spec power available to the card, but since many server motherboards have no issue providing a bit more power (28W), those numbers can be boosted to ~120,000 4k IOPS and 1.5GB/sec via end-user reconfiguration possible through the Intel management software.

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The 910 is not all-Intel in its construction. While the flash is High Endurance Technology IMFT, it is driven by an Intel-tweaked Hitachi SAS controller, which is in turn controlled by an LSI 2008 Falcon SAS HBA. This means the storage is presented to the system as either two or four SCSI LUNs. This choice makes sense as you can attain higher IOPS when you let a high end server decide how to spread that data around. It also allows for more flexibility as each 200GB segment of storage appears as its own unit, meaning databases can be distributed amongst them. Unfortunately, this configuration choice means the 910 will not be bootable, at least not with all LUNs paired together.

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Intel is taking endurance seriously with this product. They claim 30x over standard MLC expected lifetime with their High Endurance Technology, and they mean it - The 910 is rated and guaranteed to sustain writing 10x its capacity for each and every day of the 5-year warranty period! That comes to 3EB (yes, EB, or 3,000 TB) for the 800GB model!

Prices start at $1,929 for 400GB and $3,859 for 800GB. Intel is sampling to us shortly, and we will get the full performance review up as soon as humanly possible upon its arrival.

Full press release after the break.

Super Talent Releases New RAIDDrive upStream PCI-E SSD

Subject: Storage | March 22, 2012 - 07:28 AM |
Tagged: super talent, ssd, pcie

Super Talent, a Silicon Valley based company most well known for their RAM and SSD products, today launched a new Solid State Drive (SSD) that eschews the SATA interface for a PCIe x8 connector. The new RAIDDrive upStream upstream joins the RAIDDrive family of PCIe SSDs and utilizes MLC (multi-level cell) NAND flash to deliver between 220 GB and 960 GB of fast storage.

Super Talent PCIe upStream.jpg

According to the company, their new RAIDDrive SSD is comprised of four Sandforce based SSDs in a RAID array using an LSI RAID controller to deliver up to 1 GB/s of performance. Specifically, access time of the upStream SSD is 0.1ms, and has a maximum read and write speed of 1.0 GB per second and 900 MB/s respectively. The 460 GB upStream drive was benchmarked (granted, by Super Talent) using HD Tune which showed an average sequential read speed of 832.9 MB/s and an average sequential write speed of 719.0 MB/s. As far as random 4 KB IOPS, the drive hit 3606 read IOPS and 5159 write 4KB IOPS.

Super Talent has further benchmarks and information on the new RAIDDrive upStream SSDs in this product data sheet (PDF). Unfortunately, there is no official word on pricing or availability yet, though Engadget has said the Super Talent upStream drives should be hitting store shelves in April.

If I had to guess; however, this drive is going to be expensive.  Drives like these are a boon for businesses doing work that requires large amount of throughput (CAD work, animation, working and serving large databases, et al), but are still largely priced out of the market of most PC builders.  Here's hoping that high performance PCIe SSDs trickle down to computer enthusiasts as fast as possible!

Source: Super Talent