Samsung 840 EVO Standalone ISO Updater Now Available

Subject: Storage | April 28, 2015 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo

For those of you following the Samsung 840 EVO saga, last week we saw the release of Magician 4.6. Samsung was initially throttling downloads and firmware update rates, but those limits appear to have been lifted as of this morning. Another thing we noticed this morning was the inclusion of the standalone ISO updater for those who are otherwise unable to run the Magician software (i.e. Mac users):

EXT0DB6Q ISO.png

For those on laptops or other devices with no optical drive, I've confirmed the ISO can be used via USB if placed there with a tool such as Rufus.

Note to Linux users:

There was an early report of complications from a user who was running a full disk fstrim during boot, where that operation was causing errors (corrected once that operation was disabled). It should be noted that full disk TRIM operations are redundant so long as the OS is issuing TRIM on-the-fly during regular file moves / deletions. This may be an issue with queued TRIM handling of the new 840 EVO firmware. If not reproduced / corrected by Samsung, the Linux devs may be able to add this firmware revision to the queued TRIM blacklist to possibly fix the problem on their end.

Note to mSATA 840 EVO users:

It appears the update does not currently apply to these. I've asked Samsung about this.

Samsung Magician 4.6 and 840 EVO Firmware Released - Downloads Throttled

Subject: Storage | April 23, 2015 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo

For those who watched last night's podcast live, I predicted that Samsung would be posting their 840 EVO Firmware and new Magician 4.6 software 'soon'. Turns out that 'soon' was actually this morning, but there's a catch - Samsung decided to limit the daily downloads:

magician download error.png

If you went to the Samsung SSD Download Page and got the above error, don't fret, there are a few mirrors out there:

I downloaded from these three sources and at the time of this posting can confirm all three are identical to the Magician 4.6 download available from Samsung.

Once installed, you *should* be able to use Magician to update the firmware on your 840 EVO and (hopefully) see its performance come back to where it should be. There have been some reports of users unable to update, but that appears to be Samsung's servers being hammered and Magician's default / timeout is to report that you are on the latest firmware. Restarting Magician may force it to re-check and get the update.

Linux and Mac users are not yet able to update as the ISO updater has not been released for the new firmware. Those capable can update their Linux or Mac 840 EVOs connected as a secondary drive under Windows with Magician 4.6 installed. Also, if you're running Linux and happen use fstrim during boot, read this post prior to updating.

Source: Samsung

Meet Silicon Motion's new flash agnostic controller

Subject: Storage | March 3, 2015 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, SM2256, slc, silicon motion

You may remember the Silicon Motion SM2256 SSD controller that Al reported on during CES this year, even if you do not you should be interested in a controller which can work with 1x/1y/1z nm TLC NAND from any manufacturer on the market.  The SSD Review managed to get a prototype which uses the new SM2256 controller, Samsung’s 19nm TLC planar NAND flash and a Hynix 440Mhz 256MB DDR3 DRAM chip.  In benchmarking they saw 548MB/s sequential reads and 484MB/s writes, with 4K slowing down to 38MB/s for read and 110MB/s for write.  Check out the rest of the review here as well as keeping your eyes peeled for our first review of the new controller.

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"Controllers are the heart and soul of every SSD. Without one, an SSD would be a useless PCB with some components slapped on it. It is responsible for everything from garbage collection and wear leveling to error correction and hardware encryption. In simple terms, all these operations can be quite complicated to implement as well as expensive to develop."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

CES 2015: Silicon Motion SM2256 seen in action, capable of hybrid TLC/SLC caching

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 01:17 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2015, silicon motion, SM2256, ssd, tlc, slc

We first saw the Silicon Motion SM2256 controller at Flash Memory Summit, but now we've seen it live, in action, and driving several different types of TLC NAND.

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Silicon Motion had this live demo running on a testbed at their suite:

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The performance looked very good considering the 2256 is designed to efficiently push TLC flash, which is slower than MLC. As their representative was explaining that the SM2256 is currently being tested with Samsung, Toshiba, and SK Hynix TLC flash, I noticed the HDTune write trace:

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Those familiar with HDTune and Samsung SSDs with Samsung's TurboWrite cache (from the 840/850 EVO) will recognize the above - the SSD begins writing at SLC speed and after that cache is full, the SSD then drops to writing at TLC speed. I specifically asked about this, as we've only Samsung flash provisioned with an SLC portion of each die, and the answer was that Toshiba and SK Hynix TLC flash also supports such a subdivision. This is good news, as it means increased competition from competing SSDs that can accomplish the same SLC burst writes as the Samsung EVO series.

We heard from a few vendors that will soon be launching SM2256 equipped SSDs this year, and we eagerly await the opportunity to see what they are capable of.

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!

Another look at Micron's M600 series; the SSD that swings both ways

Subject: Storage | October 6, 2014 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: ssd, slc, mlc, micron, M600, Dynamic Write Acceleration

The Tech Report took a different look at Micron's M600 SSD than Al did in his review.  Their benchmarks were focused more on a performance comparison versus the rest of the market, with over two dozen SSDs listed in their charts.  As you would expect the 1TB model outperformed the 256GB model but it was interesting to note that the 256GB MX100 outperformed the newer M600 in many tests.  In the final tally the new caching technology helped the 256GB model perform quite well but it was the 1TB model, which supposedly lacks that technology proved to be one of the fastest they have tested.

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"Micron's new M600 SSD has a dynamic write cache that can treat any block on the drive as high-speed SLC NAND. This unique feature is designed to help lower-capacity SSDs keep up with larger drives that have more NAND-level parallelism, and we've tested the 256GB and 1TB versions to see how well it works."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Micron

Introduction and Specifications

Today Micron lifted the review embargo on their new M600 SSD lineup. We covered their press launch a couple of weeks ago, but as a recap, the headline new feature is the new Dynamic Write Acceleration feature. As this is a new (and untested) feature that completely changes the way an SSD must be tested, we will be diving deep on this one later in this article. For the moment, let's dispose with the formalities.

Here are the samples we received for testing:

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It's worth noting that since all M600 models use 16nm 128Gbit dies, packaging is expected to have a negligible impact on performance. This means the 256GB MSATA sample should perform equally to its 2.5" SATA counterpart. The same goes for comparisons against M.2 form factor units. More detail is present in the specs below:

Specifications:

M600-4.png

Highlights from the above specs are the increased write speeds (no doubt thanks to Dynamic Write Acceleration) and improved endurance figures. For reference, the prior gen Micron models were rated at 72TB (mostly regardless of capacity), so seeing figures upwards of 400TB indicates Micron's confidence in their 16nm process.

Packaging:

Sorry to disappoint here, but the M600 is an OEM targeted drive, meaning its 'packaging' will likely be the computer it comes installed in. If you manage to find it through a reseller, it will likely come in OEM-style brown/white box packaging.

We have been evaluating these samples for just under a week and have logged *many* hours on them, so let's get to it!

Continue reading our review of the Micron M600 SSDs!!

Micron launches M600 SATA SSD with innovative SLC/MLC Dynamic Write Acceleration

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, mlc, micron, M600, crucial

You may already be familiar with the Micron Crucial M550 line of SSDs (if not, familiarize yourself with our full capacity roundup here). Today Micron is pushing their tech further by releasing a new M600 line. The M600's are the first full lineup from Micron to use their 16nm flash (previously only in their MX100 line). Aside from the die shrink, Micron has addressed the glaring issue we noted in our M550 review - that issue being the sharp falloff in write speeds in lower capacities of that line. Their solution is rather innovative, to say the least.

Recall the Samsung 840 EVO's 'TurboWrite' cache, which gave that drive a burst of write speed during short sustained write periods. The 840 EVO accomplished this by each TLC die having a small SLC section of flash memory. All data written passed through this cache, and once full (a few GB, varying with drive capacity), write speed slowed to TLC levels until the host system stopped writing for long enough for the SSD to flush the cached data from SLC to TLC.

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The Micron M600 SSD in 2.5" SATA, MSATA, and M.2 form factors.

Micron flips the 'typical' concept of caching methods on its head. It does employ two different types of flash writing (SLC and MLC), but the first big difference is that the SLC is not really cache at all - not in the traditional sense, at least. The M600 controller, coupled with some changes made to Micron's 16nm flash, is able to dynamically change the mode of each flash memory die *on the fly*. For example, the M600 can place most of the individual 16GB (MLC) dies into SLC mode when the SSD is empty. This halves the capacity of each die, but with the added benefit of much faster and more power efficient writes. This means the M600 would really perform more like an SLC-only SSD so long as it was kept less than half full.

M600-1.png

As you fill the SSD towards (and beyond) half capacity, the controller incrementally clears the SLC-written data, moving that data onto dies configured to MLC mode. Once empty, the SLC die is switched over to MLC mode, effectively clearing more flash area for the increasing amount of user data to be stored on the SSD. This process repeats over time as the drive is filled, meaning you will see less SLC area available for accelerated writing (see chart above). Writing to the SLC area is also advantageous in mobile devices, as those writes not only occur more quickly, they consume less power in the process:

M600-2.png

For those worst case / power user scenarios, here is a graph of what a sustained sequential write to the entire drive area would look like:

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Realize this is not typical usage, but if it happened, you would see SLC speeds for the first ~45% of the drive, followed by MLC speeds for another 10%. After the 65% point, the drive is forced to initiate the process of clearing SLC and flipping dies over to MLC, doing so while the host write is still in progress, and therefore resulting in the relatively slow write speed (~50 MB/sec) seen above. Realize that in normal use (i.e. not filling the entire drive at full speed in one go), garbage collection would be able to rearrange data in the background during idle time, meaning write speeds should be near full SLC speed for the majority of the time. Even with the SSD nearly full, there should be at least a few GB of SLC-mode flash available for short bursts of SLC speed writes.

This caching has enabled some increased specs over the prior generation models:

M600-4.png

M600-5.png

Note the differences in write speeds, particularly in the lower capacity models. The 128GB M550 was limited to 190MB/sec, while the M600 can write at 400MB/sec in SLC mode (which is where it should sit most of the time).

We'll be testing the M600 shortly and will come back with a full evaluation of the SSD as a whole and more specifically how it handles this new tech under real usage scenarios.

Full press blast after the break.

Source: Micron

More on Samsung's new cached SSD wizardry

Subject: Storage | July 26, 2013 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo, MEX controller

Along with Al's review of the new EVO line you can get a second opinion from The Tech Report about the performance of the new SSD with a fast cache.  The majority of the storage is 19nm TLC NAND but there is an SLC cache sitting between the controller and that long term TLC storage to help with the overall responsiveness of the drive, aka TurboWrite. In the 120 and 250GB models that cache is 3GB while in the larger models you get a 6GB cache.  In their real world testing the new EVO drive is incredible at large file copying though Sandforce drives can beat it in small file copy speeds, likely thanks to the compressed write trickery that controller family is so good at.  Check out the review here and keep your fingers crossed that MSRP is the acual price these drives sell at.

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"Samsung's entry-level 840 EVO SSD combines affordable TLC NAND with a server-style SLC cache. We explain the drive's unique buffering tech and explore how it affects performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction and Specifications

Introduction:

Last week, Samsung flew a select group of press out to Seoul, Korea. The event was the 2013 Samsung Global SSD Summit. Here we saw the launch of a new consumer SSD, the 840 EVO:

IMG_0007.JPG

This new SSD aims to replace the older 840 (non-Pro) model with one that is considerably more competitive. Let's just right into the specs:

Read on for our full review of the 500GB and 1TB models of Samsung's new SSD!

New Samsung 840 EVO employs TLC and pseudo-SLC TurboWrite cache

Subject: Storage | July 18, 2013 - 01:12 AM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, slc, sata, Samsung, cache, 840 evo

Samsung's release of the 840 EVO earlier today likely prompted some questions, such as what type of flash does it employ and how does it achieve such high write speeds. Here is the short answer, with many slides in-between, starting off with the main differences between the 840 and the 840 EVO:

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So, slightly increased specs to help boost drive performance, and an important tidbit in that the new SSD does in fact keep TLC flash. Now a closer look at the increased write specs:

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Ok, the speeds are much quicker, even though the flash is still TLC and even on a smaller process. How does it pull off this trick? Tech that Samsung calls TurboWrite.

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A segment of the TLC flash is accessed by the controller as if it were SLC flash. This section of flash can be accessed (especially written) much faster. Writes are initially dumped to this area and that data is later moved over to the TLC area. This happenes as it would in a normal write-back cache - either during idle states or once the cache becomes full, which is what would happen during a sustained maximum speed write operation that is larger than the cache capacity. Here is the net effect with the cache in use and also when the cache becomes full:

DSC04638.JPG

For most users, even the smallest cache capacity will be sufficient for the vast majority of typical use. Larger caches appear in larger capacities, further improving performance under periods of large write demand. Here's the full spread of cache sizes per capacity point:

DSC04639.JPG

So there you have it, Samsung's new TurboWrite technology in a nutshell. More to follow (along with a performance review coming in the next few days). Stay tuned!