Subject: Storage | February 3, 2016 - 03:31 PM | Allyn Malventano
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:
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.
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 06:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: tlc, SM2260, SM2258, SM2256, SM2246EN, slc, SK Hynix, silicon motion, mlc, micron, Intel, imft, CES 2016, CES, 3d nand
Silicon Motion has updated their popular SM2246EN controller to support MLC 3D NAND from IMFT and SK Hynix:
The SM2246EN acts as a gateway for third parties to make their own SSDs. Adding support for 3D NAND is good news, as it means we will be able to see third party SSDs launch with 3D flash sourced from Intel, Micron, or SK Hynix. Another cool tidbit is the fact that those demo units in the above photo were equipped and operating with actual 3D NAND from Intel, Micron, and SK Hynix. Yes, this is the first time seeing packaged MLC 3D NAND from a company other than Samsung. Here are some close-ups for those who want to read part numbers:
Another question on non-Samsung 3D NAND is how does its performance stack up against planar (2D) NAND? Silicon Motion had a bit of an answer to that question for us:
Keep in mind those are results from pre-production firmware, but I was happy to see that my prediction of IMFT 3D NAND speeds being effectively equal to their previous 2D flash was correct.
To knock out some other info overheard at our briefing, Silicon Motion will also be making an SM2258, which will be a TLC 3D NAND variant of the SM2256. In addition, we saw the unreleased SM2260:
...which is Silicon Motion's PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD controller. This one is expected to surface towards the middle of 2016, and it is currently in the OEM testing stage.
Lots more storage goodies coming later today, so stay tuned! Full press blast for the updates SM2246EN after the break.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Storage | December 30, 2015 - 02:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: transcend, slc, mlc, ssd, flash, SuperMLC
Last year we saw Micron toy with the idea of dynamically flipping flash memory dies between SLC and MLC modes. Ok paper, it sounded like a great idea - get the speed of SLC flash while the SSD is up to 50% full, then start shifting dies over to MLC mode to get the higher capacity. This tech did not exist until the ability to flip dies between modes existed, which was not until shortly before the M600 SSDs were introduced. Realize this is different than other types of mixed mode flash, like that on the Samsung 'EVO' models, which have a small SLC segment present on each TLC die. That static partitioning kept those types of solutions more consistent in performance than the M600 was when we first evaluated its performance.
What if we borrowed the idea of keeping the flash mode static, but just keeping to the faster mode? Transcend has announced it will be doing just that in the coming year. These will be SSDs equipped with MLC flash, but that flash will be configured to operate in SLC mode full time. This will enable ~4x write speeds and higher endurance ~30,000 write cycles compared to ~5-10k P/E cycle figures of the same flash operating in MLC mode. This performance and endurance boost comes at a cost, as these SSDs will consume twice the flash memory for the equivalent MLC model capacity. We predict this type of substitution for standard SLC flash will be a continuing trend since SLC flash production volume is insignificant compared to MLC. This trick gets you most of the way to SLC performance and endurance for (in the current market) less cost/GB of a straight SLC SSD.
Upcoming Transcend models to include SuperMLC technology:
- SSD510K - 2.5”
- MSA510 - mSATA
- HSD510 - half slim
- MTS460 & MTS860 - M.2
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
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:
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:
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.
Subject: Storage | April 28, 2015 - 12:44 PM | Allyn Malventano
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):
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.
Subject: Storage | April 23, 2015 - 02:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
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:
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.
Subject: Storage | March 3, 2015 - 06:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Crucial's BX100 and MX200 @ The Tech Report
- Crucial MX200 250 GB @ techPowerUp
- Crucial BX100 SSD @ HardwareHeaven
- OCZ ARC 100 480GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- Thecus W4000 WSS NAS @ Kitguru
- WD My Cloud DL4100 Business NAS Review @ Techgage
- ASUSTOR AS7010T NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- SilverStone TS431S 4-Bay miniSAS DAS Storage Tower @ eTeknix
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 01:17 AM | Allyn Malventano
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.
Silicon Motion had this live demo running on a testbed at their suite:
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:
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.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Storage | October 6, 2014 - 02:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- MyDigitalSSD BP4e mSATA SSD @ The SSD Review
- Top 10 SSDs: Price, performance and capacity @ The Register
- Micron M600 M.2 SATA SSD @ The SSD Review
- Some thoughts on the performance of SSD RAID 0 arrays @ Hardware Secrets
- Transcend SSD370 128GB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Micron M600 SSD @ The SSD Review
- QNAP TS-653 Pro @ Legion Hardware
- QNAP SilentNAS HS-251 NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Mach Xtreme MX-ES Ultra SLC USB 3.0 Flash Drive @ The SSD Review
- Silicon Power Marvel M70 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
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:
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:
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.
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!