Zotac's New R Series ZBOX PCs Support Two Drive RAID Configurations

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Storage | May 30, 2015 - 02:14 AM |
Tagged: zotac, zbox, SFF, raid, mini server, media server

Zotac recently launched a new line of tiny ZBOX PCs under the new R Series that support two drive RAID 0 and RAID 1 setups. The series currently includes the ZBOX 1323 and ZBOX R1531. Both systems can be mounted vertically or horizontally and strongly resemble the company's existing ZBOX computers. The top and bottom panels are black with a silver bezel around the sides. A Zotac logo sits in the corner and a large blue circle sits in the center of the top.

The front panel hosts two audio jacks, an SDXC ard reader, COM port, IR reciever, and power button. Around back, the ZBOX boasts two antennas for the internal wireless module, two Gigabit Ethernet jacks, two USB 3.0 ports, and DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs. A third USB 3.0 port sits along the top edge of this small form factor PC.

Zotac ZBOX_RI531-P.jpg

Internally, Zotac is using Intel processors, a small form factor motherboard with two SO-DIMM slots (up to 16 GB), a Mini PCI-E slot for the 802.11ac (plus Bluetooth 4.0) wireless card, and support for up to two 2.5" SATA drives. The motherboard supports RAID 0, RAID 1, and JBOD configurations for the SATA drives, and the R1531 SKU adds a mSATA slot for a third drive.

The ZBOX R1323 is equipped with a 11.5W dual core Intel (Haswell) Celeron 2961Y processor clocked at 1.1 GHz with 2MB cache and Intel HD Graphics clocked at up to 850 MHz. The ZBOX R1531 steps up to a 15W dual core (plus Hyperthreading) Broadwell-based Intel Core i3-5010U clocked at 2.1 GHz with HD 5500 graphics clocked at up to 900 MHz. 

Zotac ZBOX_RI531-P rear IO.jpg

Both versions will be offered as barebones systems and the R1531 is additionally be sold in a PLUS model that comes with a 64GB mSATA SSD and 4GB of RAM pre-installed.

The new ZBOX R Series PCs would make for a nice home server with a mSATA drive for the OS and two storage drives in a RAID 1 for redundancy. The Core i3 should be plenty of horsepower for streaming media, running backups, running applications, and even some light video transcoding. The included COM port will also make it suitable for industrial applications, but I think this is mostly going to appeal to home and small business users.

Zotac has not yet revealed pricing or availability though. Hopefully we are able to find out more about these mini PCs at Computex!

Source: Zotac

Running an EXT4 RAID on the Linux 4.0 kernel? Better spray for bugs!

Subject: General Tech | May 21, 2015 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: linux, EXT4, raid, bug

On Tuesday a bug was discovered to have been introduced to Linux 4.0 kernel when a fix was added to deal with RAIDs where the chunksize not a power of 2, a problem present since Linux 3.14-rc1.  This fix has been causing corruption on RAIDs and the file system on that RAID, making many an unhappy Arch Linux user.  Only users of rolling release flavours will be effected, distros with scheduled updates like RHEL or Ubuntu are not effected at this time.  The good news is that as of today there is a fix available if you wish to apply it, as well as defining the fix which caused the issue.  Check out both at Phoronix.

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"A few days ago we reported on an EXT4 file-system corruption issue being discovered within the stable Linux 4.0 kernel series. The good news is the issue has been uncovered and a patch is available, but it could still be a few days before it starts getting sent out in stable updates."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Phoronix

CES 2015: ioSafe Launches 1515+ Fireproof Waterproof NAS RAID

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2015 - 02:32 AM |
Tagged: synology, raid, NAS, iosafe, ces 2015, CES, 1515+

We've reviewed the awesome fireproof and waterproof ioSafe storage products in the past, first in combination with Synology NAS products. Then we later reviewed an ioSafe N2, which was basically a 2-bay Synology NAS *within* an ioSafe fireproof and waterproof enclosure. They didn't stop there, and have since expanded to 5-bay versions of the same. Today ioSafe launched an upgrade to one of those models - the ioSafe 1515+

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With 5 bays, the 1515+ is considerably taller than prior models.

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Here's what the inside looks like. A sealed waterproof enclosure sits behind a consumable fireproofing material, and inside that enclosure sits five 3.5" HDD's.

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The rear is fairly simple, but if you note the quad Gigabit Ethernet, you realize this is actually a NAS powerhouse. When linked to an appropriate business oriented server (Windows Server 2012, ESX Server, etc) with a quad Gigabit link, 450MB/sec can be achieved. Similar read speeds are possible even with the integrated hardware AES-256 encryption enabled, but write speeds will then be limited to just under 200 MB/sec. Additionally, multiple 1515+'s can be chained together to support up to a single 90TB array. I'll leave you with a cool photo of a NAS on fire, followed by the full press blast after the break.

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Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Source: ioSafe

A little 3D TLC from Samsung, the new 850 EVO

Subject: Storage | December 8, 2014 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: 3d nand, tlc, 256 bit aes, 850 EVO, raid, RAPID, Samsung, sata, ssd

Not only does Samsung's new 850 EVO family introduce us to three dimensional triple level cell NAND, it also incorporates an SLC cache to boost write speeds.  The Tech Report received the 250GB and 1TB models to test, with a spotlight on how they fared against the 840 Pro and 840 Evo.  Their testing shows that the new way of creating NAND has helped mitigate the reduction in speed which accompanied the first generation of TLC drives.  There is no question that the SLC write cache also helps as long as it has space available but this new technology does come with a price, expect $500 for the 1TB and $150 for for the 250GB model.  The 5 year warranty is a nice touch for those who have reliability concerns.

Make sure to ready through Al's review as well, along with single drive benchmarks you can see how these drives perform in RAID.

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"Samsung's long-awaited 850 EVO SSD employs three-dimensional NAND with three bits per cell. It augments that TLC storage with an SLC write cache, and it has a higher endurance rating and longer warranty than most MLC drives. We've taken a closer look to see how it holds up against the competition."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Mid last year, Samsung introduced the 840 EVO. This was their evolutionary step from the 840 Pro, which had launched a year prior. While the Pro was a performance MLC SSD, the EVO was TLC, and for most typical proved just as speedy. The reason for this was Samsung’s inclusion of a small SLC cache on each TLC die. Dubbed TurboWrite, this write-back cache gave the EVO the best write performance of any TLC-based SSD on the market. Samsung had also introduced a DRAM cache based RAPID mode - included with their Magician value added software solution. The EVO was among the top selling SSDs since its launch, despite a small hiccup quickly corrected by Samsung.

Fast forward to June of this year where we saw the 850 Pro. Having tested the waters with 24-layer 3D VNAND, Samsung revises this design, increasing the layer count to 32 and reducing the die capacity from 128Gbit to 86Gbit. The smaller die capacity enables a 50% performance gain, stacked on top of the 100% write speed gain accomplished by the reduced cross talk of the 3D VNAND architecture. These changes did great things for the performance of the 850 Pro, especially in the lower capacities. While competing 120/128GB SSDs were typically limited to 150 MB/sec write speeds, the 128GB 850 Pro cruises along at over 3x that speed, nearly saturating the SATA interface. The performance might have been great, but so was the cost - 850 Pro’s have stuck around $0.70/GB since their launch, forcing budget conscious upgraders to seek competing solutions. What we needed was an 850 EVO, and now I can happily say here it is:

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As the 840 EVO was a pretty big deal, I believe the 850 EVO has an equal chance of success, so instead of going for a capacity roundup, this first piece will cover the 120GB and 500GB capacities. A surprising number of our readers run a pair of smaller capacity 840 EVOs in a RAID, so we will be testing a matched pair of 850 EVOs in RAID-0. To demonstrate the transparent performance boosting of RAPID, I’ll also run both capacities through our full test suite with RAPID mode enabled. There is lots of testing to get through, so let’s get cracking!

Read on for the full review!

SSDs, Linux and alternate file systems

Subject: Storage | November 14, 2014 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: btrfs, EXT4, XFS, F2FS, 530 series, Intel, raid, unix humour, linux

When you use Linux you have a choice as to which file system you wish to use, a choice that never occurs to most Windows users but can spark an argument every bit as vicious as the eternal debate over EMACS versus VIM versus whichever text editor you prefer.  There has not been much SSD benchmarking done on alternate files systems until now, Phoronix has benchmarked the Intel 530 series SSD in numerous configurations on Btrfs, EXT4, XFS, and F2FS. With four of the 120GB model available they were able to test the speed of the drives in RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and 1+0.  There is obviously still some compatibility issues as some tests failed to run in certain configurations but overall these drives performed as expected.  While the results did not vary widely it is worth reading through their article if you plan on building a high speed storage machine which will run Linux.

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"Following the recent Btrfs RAID: Native vs. Mdadm comparison, the dual-HDD Btrfs RAID benchmarks, and four-SSD RAID 0/1/5/6/10 Btrfs benchmarks are RAID Linux benchmarks on these four Intel SATA 3.0 solid state drives using other file-systems -- including EXT4, XFS, and Btrfs with Linux 3.18."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Phoronix

IDF 2013: Promise Technology Shows Off Thunderbolt 2 Equipped Storage

Subject: Storage | September 13, 2013 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, SANlink 2, raid, promise, 4k

Promise Technology has announced that it is launching new storage solutions with Intel's new Thunderbolt 2 interface. Shown off at IDF 2013, the storage products include the Pegasus 2 series and SANLink 2 Thunderbolt 2 to 8G Fiber Channel bridge. The Pegasus 2 series is a RAID 5 external storage array that connects to Windows or Mac machines using Thunderbolt 2. The SANLink 2 bridge product allows users to connect a PC using Thunderbolt 2 to Promise Technology's VTrak or VTrak A-Class shared SAN storage.

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The storage products are aimed mainly at professional video editors that are working with 4K content. According to Promise Technology, the 20Gbps bi-directional Thunderbolt 2 connection enables video editors to simultaneously transfer and display 4K video content.

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Promise Technology CEO James Lee was quoted as saying:

"With the industry now poised for the widespread adoption of 4K video, the Pegasus2 Series with Thunderbolt 2 technology will revolutionize how video creators are managing 4K workflows in addition to delivering unprecedented performance to artists and enthusiasts who love to create captivating content."

Both the Pegasus2 and SANLink2 products with Thunderbolt 2 will be available in Fall 2013 for so-far undisclosed prices. The full press blast is below, for more information.

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

Western Digital launches 4TB RE Series in both SATA and SAS flavors

Subject: Storage | September 27, 2012 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, RE, RAID Edition, raid

Today Western Digital announced a new line of RAID Edition (RE) drives. While the WD RE series is not new, preceded by the RE4-GP and faster spinning RE4, it was certainly overdue for an update.

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This update brings the maximum capacity to 4TB and includes a SAS line as well. SATA connectivity will be 6Gb/sec, while SAS will employ dual port full duplex connectivity for the higher end enterprise sector. These drives appear to use the same platter capacity scheme employed by the recent WD Red Series, though the PR blast states 800GB/platter. I'm awaiting clarification on that point, as the math doesn't seem to work out evenly. Pricing is at a premium for these models, as they are intended for enterprise use. Mid to high $400's for SATA and SAS. Pricey, but still 1/10th of current good deals on SSDs.

Press blast (and detailed pricing) after the break!

WD Red drives *do* support TLER...

Subject: Storage | August 3, 2012 - 02:25 PM |
Tagged: western digital, WD, TLER, red, raid, hdd

This morning I received a tweet about WD Red drives not supporting Time Limited Error Recovery. TLER is the feature which allows a RAID comprised of Reds to much more gracefully handle drive failures and/or read errors. It's carried down from enterprise drives like the RE4 and RE4-GP.

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I'm posting this quick note here to let the masses know that the Red drives *do* in fact support TLER. It's a primary component of NASware - the NAS aware firmware that drives the Reds. Here's the official reply I received from Western Digital:

WD does enable intelligent error recovery controls, which is not the same as a desktop drive.  WD's exclusive NASware technology is built in each WD Red drive, which reduces the concern with using desktop drives in a RAID environment.
More info on details of NASware can be found here:  http://www.wd.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=810

Western Digital has assured me they are tracking down where the miscommunication occurred.