Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: ICY DOCK

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Introduction

ICY DOCK has made themselves into a sort of Swiss Army knife of dockable and hot-swappable storage solutions. From multi-bay desktop external devices to internal hot-swap enclosures, these guys have just about every conceivable way to convert storage form factors covered. We’ve looked at some of their other offerings in the past, but this week we will focus on a pair of their ToughArmor series products.

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As you can no doubt see here, these two enclosures aim to cram as many 2.5” x 7mm form factor devices into the smallest space possible. They also offer hot swap capability and feature front panel power + activity LEDs. As the name would imply, these are built to be extremely durable, with ICY DOCK proudly running them over with a truck in some of their product photos.

Read on for our full review of the ICY DOCK ToughArmor MB998SP-B and MB993SK-B!

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."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

A new Trion appears, is it still a good choice for an entry level SSD?

Subject: Storage | February 18, 2016 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: Trion 150, toshiba, tlc, ssd, slc, sata, ocz, A15nm

As you may remember from Al's post, the OCZ Trion 150 is essentially the same as the previous Trion 100, except for the use of 15nm TLC flash from Toshiba and a lower initial price.  Hardware Canucks got their paws on two of the drives from this series to benchmark, the 480GB and 960GB models.  The 480GB model retains the 256MB DDR3 cache, the 960 doubles that to 512MB but there is one thing missing from this new series; instead of relying on capacitors to prevent lost data from a power failure they rely on OCZ's firmware based Power Failure Management Plus.  Read Hardware Canucks full review to see if the new Trion can match the price to performance of the original.

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"With the budget-focused SSD market exploding, OCZ is launching the Trion 150, a refresh of their original Trion 100 series which should offer better performance and an even lower price."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

The steady increase in flash memory capacity per die is necessary for bringing SSD costs down, but SSDs need a minimum number of dies present to maintain good performance. Back when Samsung announced their 48-layer VNAND, their Senior VP of Marketing assured me that the performance drop that comes along with the low die count present in lower capacity models would be dealt with properly. At the time, Unsoo Kim mentioned the possibility of Samsung producing 128Gbit 48-layer VNAND, but it now appears that they have opted to put everything into 256Gbit on 3D side. Fortunately they still have a planar (2D) NAND production line going, and they will be using that same flash in a newer line of low capacity models. When their 850 Series transitions over to 48-layer (enabling 2TB capacities), Samsung will drop the 120GB capacity of that line and replace it with a new OEM / system builder destined 750 EVO:

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The SSD 750 EVO Series is essentially a throwback to the 840 EVO, but without all of the growing pains experienced by that line. Samsung assured me that the same corrections that ultimately fixed the long-term read-based slow down issues with the 840 EVO also apply to the 750 EVO, and despite the model number being smaller, these should actually perform a bit better than their predecessor. Since it would be silly to just launch a single 120GB capacity to make up for the soon to be dropped 850 EVO 120GB, we also get a 250GB model, which should make for an interesting price point.

Specifications

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Baseline specs are very similar to the older 840 EVO series, with some minor differences (to be shown below). There are some unlisted specs that are carried over from the original series. For those we need to reference the slides from the 840 EVO launch:

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Read on for the full review of these two new models!

OCZ Launches Trion 150, Successor to Trion 100 SATA SSD, Now Using 15nm Flash

Subject: Storage | February 3, 2016 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: Trion 150, toshiba, tlc, ssd, slc, sata, ocz, A15nm

*Note* This piece originally stated 'A15nm', however this was an error in the Trion 150 spec sheet at OCZ. It has been corrected in this article (as well as at the OCZ web site).

2015 was a bit of a rough year for OCZ, as their integration with parent company Toshiba ran into a few performance bumps in the road. First was the Vector 180 launch, which saw some particularly troublesome stalls during writes and TRIM operations. The Trion 100 launch went a bit smoother, but we did note some inconsistencies in caching performance of those TLC/SLC caching SSDs.

OCZ hopes to turn things around by kicking off 2016 with some updates to their product lines. First up is the just announced Trion 150:

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Looking at the spec sheets of the Trion 100 and 150, it may be difficult to spot any differences. I’ll save you the trouble and say that only *one digit* changes, but it is an important one. The Trion 150 will use Toshiba 15nm TLC flash (the Trion 100 used A19nm). What is interesting about this is that the Trion 150 carries the same endurance rating as its predecessor. A flash memory die shrink typically comes with a corresponding reduction in endurance, so it is good to see Toshiba squeeze this likely last die shrink to their planar flash for all of the endurance they can. Further backing up that endurance claim, the Trion 150 will carry OCZ’s ShieldPlus warranty, which offers shipping-paid advance-RMA (without receipt) of this product line for three years!

OCZ has Trion 150 samples on the way to us, and we will get a full performance review of them up as soon as we can! Full press blast follows after the break.

Source: OCZ

Fixstars Launches 13TB 2.5" SATA SSD Geared Towards Media Streaming

Subject: Storage | January 13, 2016 - 09:57 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, Fixstars, 13TB

Got a high bandwidth video camera that fills a piddly 4TB SSD in too short of a time? How about a 13TB SSD!

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Fixstars certainly gets cool points for launching such a high capacity SSD, but there are a few things to consider here. These are not meant to be written in a random fashion and are primarily geared towards media creation (8k RAW video). Filling at saturated SATA bandwidth, these will take about 7 hours to fill, and just as long to empty onto that crazy high end editing machine. But hey, if you can afford 13TB of flash (likely ~$13,000) just to record your video content, then your desktop should be even beefier.

The take home point here is that this is not a consumer device, and it would not work out well even for pro gamers with money to burn. The random write performance is likely poor enough that it could not handle a Steam download over a high end broadband link.

Full press blast after the break.

Source: Fixstars

FMS 2015: Novachips HLNAND Pushes SSDs Beyond 16TB Per SSD Controller

Subject: Storage | August 13, 2015 - 08:12 PM |
Tagged: FMS 2015, ssd, sata, SAS, pcie, NVMe, novachips, HLNAND, flash

It turns out Samsung wasn’t the only company to have 16TB SSDs at Flash Memory Summit after all:

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Now that I’ve got your attention, Novachips is an SSD company that does not make their own flash, but I would argue that they make other peoples flash better. They source flash memory wafers and dies from other companies, but they package it in a unique way that enables very large numbers of flash dies per controller. This is handy for situations where very large capacities per controller are needed (either physically or logically).

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Normally there is a limit to the number of dies that can communicate on a common bus (similar limits apply to DRAM, which is why some motherboards are picky with large numbers of DIMMs installed). Novachips gets around this with an innovative flash packaging method:

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The 16-die stack in the above picture would normally just connect out the bottom of the package, but in the Novachips parts, those connections are made to a microcontroller die also present within the package. This part acts as an interface back to the main SSD controller, but it does so over a ring bus architecture.

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To clarify, those 800 or 1600 MB/sec figures on the above slide are the transfer rates *per ring*, and Novachips controller is 8-channels, meaning the flash side of the controller can handle massive throughputs. Ring busses are not limited by the same fanout requirements seen on parallel addressed devices, which means there is no practical limit to the number of flash packages connected on a single controller channel, making for some outrageous amounts of flash hanging off of a single controller:

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That’s a lot of flash on a single card (and yes, the other side was full as well).

The above pic was taken at last years Flash Memory Summit. Novachips has been making steady progress on controller development as well. Here is a prototype controller seen last year running on an FPGA test system:

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…and this year that same controller had been migrated to an ASIC:

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It’s interesting to see the physical differences between those two parts. Note that both new and old platforms were connected to the same banks of flash. The newer photo showed two complete systems – one on ONFi flash (IMFT Intel / Micron) and the other on Toggle Mode (Toshiba). This was done to demonstrate that Novachips HLNAND hardware is compatible with both types.

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Novachips also had NVMe PCIe hardware up and running at the show.

Novachips was also showing some impressive packaging in their SATA devices:

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At the right was a 2TB SATA SSD, and at the left was a 4TB unit. Both were in the 7mm form factor. 4TB is the largest capacity SSD I have seen in that form factor to date.

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Novachips also makes an 8TB variant, though the added PCB requires 15mm packaging.

All of this means that it is not always necessary to have huge capacity per die to achieve a huge capacity SSD. Imagine very high capacity flash arrays using this technology, connecting a single controller to a bank of Toshiba’s new QLC archival flash or Samsung’s new 256Gbit VNAND. Then imagine a server full of those PCIe devices. Things certainly seem to be getting big in the world of flash memory, that’s for sure.

Even more Flash Memory Summit posts to follow!

Source: Novachips

Samsung Announces VNAND Powered 4TB PM863 and 2TB SM863 SATA Enterprise SSDs

Subject: Storage | July 20, 2015 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: vnand, ssd, SM863, sata, Samsung, PM863

Take the Samsung 850 Pro and 850 EVO, add some Tantalum Capacitors for enhanced power loss protection, tune their firmware for enterprise workloads and QoS, and what do you get?

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...you get the Samsung PM863 and SM863 lines of enterprise SSDs! These 2.5" SATA units were just announced, and as we suspected after reviewing the new 2TB 850 EVO and Pro, these new models can include even more flash packages, dramatically increasing the flash capacity. Here is a breakdown of the launch pricing and capacities:

SM863 (2-bit MLC VNAND):

  • 120GB - $140 ($1.17/GB)
  • 240GB - $180 ($0.75/GB)
  • 480GB - $330 ($0.69/GB)
  • 960GB - $870 ($0.91/GB) < possible typo $640 ($0.67/GB)
  • 1.92TB - $1260 ($0.66/GB)

PM863 (3-bit MLC VNAND):

  • 120GB - $125 ($1.04/GB)
  • 240GB - $160 ($0.67/GB)
  • 480GB - $290 ($0.60/GB)
  • 960GB - $550 ($0.57/GB)
  • 1.92TB - $1100 ($0.57/GB)
  • 3.84TB - $2200 ($0.57/GB)

Aside from the possible typo in the pricing I informed Samsung of the pricing oddity and they have replied with a correction. Their site should be updated to reflect this correction shortly.

These are some very competitive prices for enterprise SSDs, and the fact that the TLC version can cram just under 4TB into a 7mm 2.5" form factor is just astounding. The MLC version capacities appear to still follow that of the 850 Pro, minus a bit of available capacity due to higher levels of over-provisioning.

More impressive is the endurance ratings of these SSDs. The SM863 line is rated (varying by capacity) from 770 Terabytes Written (TBW) to an astonishing 12,320 TBW for the 1.92TB model! That's over 12 Petabytes! The PM863 is rated lower as it is TLC based, but is still no slouch as it ranges from 170 to 5,600 TBW for the 3.84TB capacity. The SM863 carries a 5-year warranty, while the PM863 drops that to 3-years.

We've been waiting to see Samsung's 32-layer VNAND appear in enterprise units for some time now, and look forward to testing them just as soon as we can get our hands on them!

Full press blast after the break.

Source: Samsung

SATA SSD Roundup

Subject: Storage | July 9, 2015 - 04:37 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, 850 EVO, 850 PRO, M600, micron, Sandisk Extreme Pro, ssd, roundup, sata

[H]ard|OCP has just posted a roundup of four affordable SATA SSDs to show which would be the best one to pick up as the majority of users are not able to afford an NVME PCIe SSD.  The drives are all within $50 above or below $200, with the 850 PRO having the highest cost per gigabyte and the EVO the least.  They test content creation and moving large files as well as synthetic benchmarks to come out with a ranking of the four drives which you can refer to if you will be shopping for storage in the near future.  In comparison they use the G.SKILL Phoenix Blade to show off what the new technology can do, for those that can afford it.

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"Despite the performance benefits, PCIe SSDs remain an expensive niche market. That means that most of us are not going to be loading up a high end system with PCIe SSDs. Most of us mere mortals will be using SATA SSDs. We tested some of the best SATA drives with enthusiast-friendly price tags."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Since their acquisition by Toshiba in early 2014, OCZ has gradually transitioned their line of SSD products to include parts provided by their parent company. Existing products were switched over to Toshiba flash memory, and that transition went fairly smoothly, save the recent launch of their Vector 180 (which had a couple of issues noted in our review). After that release, we waited for the next release from OCZ, hoping for something fresh, and that appears to have just happened:

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OCZ sent us a round of samples for their new OCZ Trion 100 SSD. This SSD was first teased at Computex 2015. This new model would not only use Toshiba sourced flash memory, it would also displace the OCZ / Indilinx Barefoot controller with Toshiba's own. Then named 'Alishan', this is now officially called the 'Toshiba Controller TC58'. As we found out during Computex, this controller employs Toshiba's proprietary Quadruple Swing-By Code (QSBC) error correction technology:

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Error correction tech gets very wordy, windy, and technical and does so very quickly, so I'll do my best to simplify things. Error correction is basically some information interleaved within the data stored on a given medium. Pretty much everything uses it in some form or another. Some Those 700MB CD-R's you used to burn could physically hold over 1GB of data, but all of that extra 'unavailable' space was error correction necessary to deal with the possible scratches and dust over time. Hard drives do the same sort of thing, with recent changes to how the data is interleaved. Early flash memory employed the same sort of simple error correction techniques initially, but advances in understanding of flash memory error modes have led to advances in flash-specific error correction techniques. More advanced algorithms require more advanced math that may not easily lend itself to hardware acceleration. Referencing the above graphic, BCH is simple to perform when needed, while LDPC is known to be more CPU (read SSD controller CPU) intensive. Toshiba's proprietary QSB tech claims to be 8x more capable of correcting errors, but what don't know what, if any, performance penalty exists on account of it.

We will revisit this topic a bit later in the review, but for now lets focus on the other things we know about the Trion 100. The easiest way to explain it is this is essentially Toshiba's answer to the Samsung EVO series of SSDs. This Toshiba flash is configured in a similar fashion, meaning the bulk of it operates in TLC mode, while a portion is segmented off and operates as a faster SLC-mode cache. Writes first go to the SLC area and are purged to TLC in the background during idle time. Continuous writes exceeding the SLC cache size will drop to the write speed of the TLC flash.

Read on for the full review!