Intel / Micron Announce 3D NAND Production with Industry's Highest Density: >10TB on a 2.5" SSD

Subject: Storage | March 26, 2015 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: storage, ssd, planar, nand, micron, M.2, Intel, imft, floating-gate, 3d nand

Intel and Micron are jointly announcing new 3D NAND technology that will radically increase solid-storage capacity going forward. The companies have indicated that moving to this technology will allow for the type of rapid increases in capacity that are consistent with Moore’s Law.

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The way Intel and Micron are approaching 3D NAND is very different from existing 3D technologies from Samsung and now Toshiba. The implementation of floating-gate technology and “unique design choices” has produced startling densities of 256 Gb MLC, and a whopping 384 Gb with TLC. The choice to base this new 3D NAND on floating-gate technology allows development with a well-known entity, and benefits from the knowledge base that Intel and Micron have working with this technology on planar NAND over their long partnership.

What does this mean for consumers? This new 3D NAND enables greater than 10TB capacity on a standard 2.5” SSD, and 3.5TB on M.2 form-factor drives. These capacities are possible with the industry’s highest density 3D NAND, as the >3.5TB M.2 capacity can be achieved with just 5 packages of 16 stacked dies with 384 Gb TLC.

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A 3D NAND cross section from Allyn's Samsung 850 Pro review

While such high density might suggest reliance on ever-shrinking process technology (and the inherent loss of durability thus associated) Intel is likely using a larger process for this NAND. Though they would not comment on this, Intel could be using something roughly equivalent to 50nm flash with this new 3D NAND. In the past die shrinks have been used to increase capacity per die (and yields) such as IMFT's move to 20nm back in 2011, but with the ability to achieve greater capacity vertically using 3D cell technology a smaller process is not necessary to achieve greater density. Additionally, working with a larger process would allow for better endurance as, for example, 50nm MLC was on the order of 10,000 program/erase cycles. Samsung similarly moved to a larger process with with their initial 3D NAND, moving from their existing 20nm technology back to 30nm with 3D production.

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This announcement is also interesting considering Toshiba has just entered this space as well having announced 48-layer 128 Gb density 3D NAND, and like Samsung, they are moving away from floating-gate and using their own charge-trap implementation they are calling BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling). However with this Intel/Micron announcement the emphasis is on the ability to offer a 3x increase in capacity using the venerable floating-gate technology from planar NAND, which gives Intel / Micron an attractive position in the market - depending on price/performance of course. And while these very large capacity drives seem destined to be expensive at first, the cost structure is likely to be similar to current NAND. All of this remains to be seen, but this is indeed promising news for the future of flash storage as it will now scale up to (and beyond) spinning media capacity - unless 3D tech is implemented in hard drive production, that is.

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So when will Intel and Micron’s new technology enter the consumer market? It could be later this year as Intel and Micron have already begun sampling the new NAND to manufacturers. Manufacturing has started in Singapore, plus ground has also been broken at the IMFT fab in Utah to support production here in the United States.

Source: Intel

Can OCZ's Vector change 180 degrees with their new SSD?

Subject: Storage | March 25, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: Vector 180, ssd, sata, ocz, 960GB, 480GB, 240gb, barefoot 3, toshiba mlc

If you haven't already done so you should start out with Al's deep dive into the new OCZ Vector 180 SSDs, which uses the Barefoot 3 controller with Toshiba A19 MLC flash and suffers similar issues to other drives using these components.  Once you are done studying you can take a look at other reviews, such as the performance overview at The Tech Report of this drive which is extremely similar to the ARC 100 and Radeon R7 SSDs.  The drives are definitely aimed at the value conscious user, while most are currently not in stock at Amazon, the pricing of 120GB @ $90, 240GB at $185 and 480 at $270 are not bad for initial release.  The Tech Report does plan on doing more testing but from what they saw in their testing the new Vector 180 beats the 150 for performance.

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"OCZ's Vector SSDs are among the fastest around, and now there's a new one. The Vector 180 combines the company's proprietary Barefoot 3 controller with Toshiba's latest "A19" NAND. We've taken a closer look at the drive—and OCZ's recent reliability rep—to see what's what."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Storage Solutions

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

OCZ has been on a fairly steady release track since their aquisition by Toshiba. Having previously pared down their product lines, taking a minimalist approach, the other half of that cycle has taken place with releases like the OCZ AMD Radeon R7. Today we see another addition to OCZ's lineup, in the form of a newer Vector - the Vector 180 Series:

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Today we will run all three available capacities (240GB, 480GB, and 960GB) through our standard round of testing. I've thrown in an R7 as a point of comparison, as well as a hand full of the competition.

Specifications:

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Here are the specs from OCZ's slide presentation, included here as it gives a good spec comparison across OCZ's SATA product range.

Packaging:

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Standard packaging here. 3.5" adapter bracket and Acronis 2013 cloning software product key included.

Continue reading our review of the new OCZ Vector 180 SSD!!

The Tech Report Endurance Test Ends Just After 2.4PB

Subject: Storage | March 16, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, samsung 840 pro, Samsung, endurance

The Samsung 840 Pro was the last SSD standing in The Tech Report's experiment with a final score of over 2.4 petabytes written. Granted, only one (or two in the case of the Kingston HyperX) of each model participated, which means that one unit could have been top of its batch and another could have been bottom -- and can simply never know. What it does say, however, is that you really should not be worried about writing your SSD to death under normal (or even modestly abnormal) conditions.

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This almost looks like one of our Frame Rating charts.

Again, that whole warning (above) about “this could be 100% binning luck” still holds true. Even so, here is the final ranking of contestants!

  1. Samsung 840 Pro (256GB)
  2. Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB with Compression)
  3. Corsair Neutron GTX (240GB)
  4. Samsung 840 (No Suffix and 250GB)
  5. Intel 335 (240GB)
  6. Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB)

The Tech Report notes that the Samsung drives did not warn users through SMART as much as their competitors. In both cases, death from write wearing was abrupt, albeit far into the future. I'd wonder what is next for them, but part of me expects that they never want to run anything like this again.

Source: Tech Report
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Patriot Memory

Introduction, Specs and Packaging

Introduction:

We're getting back into USB device roundup testing. To kick it off, Patriot passed along a couple of USB samples for review. First up is the Supersonic Phoenix 256GB:

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Specs:

  • Read speed: Up to 260MB/s
  • Write speed: up to 170MB/s
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Stylish 3D design
  • USB Powered
  • SuperSpeed USB 3.0
  • Compatible with Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Linux 2.4 and later, Mac OS9, X and later

Next up is their Supersonic Rage 2:

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  • Up to 400MB/s Read; Up to 300MB/s Write
  • Durable design extends the life of your drive
  • Rubber coated housing protects from drops, spills, daily abuse
  • Retractable design protects USB connector when drive not in use
  • LED Light Indicator
  • Compatible with Windows® 8, Windows® 8.1, Windows® 7,
    Windows Vista®, Windows XP®, Windows 2000®, Windows® ME,
    Linux 2.4 and later, Mac® OS9, X

Packaging:

The Phoenix comes well packaged with a necessary USB 3.0 cable:

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The Rage 2 comes in very simple packaging:

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Read on for the results!

Novachips is teasing us with two 8TB SSDs

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2015 - 03:24 PM |
Tagged: novachips, ring, ssd

Novachips is giving out some details of a series of large SSDs they are planning to release in April; 2TB, 4TB and 8TB models will use point-to-point ring connections as opposed to the usual parallel arrangements.  The speeds are impressive, 360,000 random read/write 4k IOPS
and sequential reads and writes topping out at 1.8GB/sec as is the expected lifespan of the drives which they rate at 10 full drive writes a day for five years.  Unfortunately the one stat which was not provided to The Register was the pricing, with these sizes and the new flash arrangement you can expect they will carry a hefty price tag.

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"Fancy an 8TB SSD? Put one in a PC or notebook and you've got yourself a smoking hot system, fast and with a gaping capacity for data."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

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

 

Don't forget the 1TB Crucial BX100 costs less than $400

Subject: Storage | February 23, 2015 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SM2246EN, sata, micron, crucial, BX100, 1TB

It has been about a week since Al posted his review of the 256GB and 512GB models of the Crucial BX100 and what better way to remind you than with a review of the 1TB model, currently a mere $380 on Amazon (or only $374 on BHPhoto.com!).  Hardware Canucks cracked open the 1TB budget priced consumer level SSD for your enjoyment right here, as well as running it through a gamut of tests. As expected their results are in line with the 512GB model as they both use a 4 channel controller, which does mean they are slower than some competitors drives.  On the other hand the BX100 also has a significantly lower price making the 1TB model much more accessible for users.  Check out their post here.

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"Crucial's BX100 combines performance, endurance and value into one awesome budget-friendly SSD The best part? The 1TB version costs just $400."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Samsung Promises Another Fix for 840 EVO Slow Down Issue

Subject: Storage | February 20, 2015 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Samsung, 840 evo

Some of you may have been following our coverage of the Samsung 840 EVO slow down issue. We first reported on this issue last September, and Samsung issued a fix a couple of months later. This tool was effective in bringing EVOs back up to speed, but some started reporting their drives were still slowing down. Since our January follow up, we have been coordinating with Samsung on a possible fix. We actually sent one of our samples off to them for analysis, and have just received this statement: 
 
In October, Samsung released a tool to address a slowdown in 840 EVO Sequential Read speeds reported by a small number of users after not using their drive for an extended period of time. This tool effectively and immediately returned the drive’s performance to normal levels. We understand that some users are experiencing the slowdown again. While we continue to look into the issue, Samsung will release an updated version of the Samsung SSD Magician software in March that will include a performance restoration tool.
 
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A look at the reduced read speeds of stale data on an 840 EVO which had the original fix applied. Unpatched drives were slowing much further (50-100 MB/s).
 
So it appears that Samsung is still looking into the issue, but will update their Magician software to periodically refresh stale data until they can work out a more permanent fix that would correct all affected 840 EVOs. We have not heard anything about the other TLC models which have been reported to see this same sort of slow down, but we will keep you posted as this situation develops further.
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Crucial

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Micron's Crucial brand has been cranking out some great low cost SSDs for the past several years now. While their early drives pushed into the SATA 6Gb/sec interface before most of the competition, their performance was inconsistent and lagged behind some of the other more nimble solutions available at that time. This pattern was broken around the time of the M550 and MX100 launches. Those two drives were heavily competitive in performance and even moreso in pricing. Actually the pricing is probably the bigger story - when they launched, one of our readers caught a 512GB MX100 on sale for $125 ($0.24/GB)! We are coming up on a year since the MX100, and at CES 2015 Micron launched a pair of SSD models - the BX100 and MX200. Today we are going to look at the BX100 series:

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Crucial aims to make the BX100 as their lowest cost/GB SSD ever - even cheaper than the MX100. Since Micron makes the flash, the best way to drive costs down is to use a lower cost controller. The Silicon Motion SM2246EN is cheaper to procure than the equivalent Marvell part, yet still performs rather well.

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The Silicon Motion SM2246EN SSD controller

This is a great controller, as we have seen in our prior review of the ADATA SP610, Corsair Neutron LX, and Angelbird SSD WRK. From the specs, we can see that Micron has somehow infused their variant with increased write speeds even though it appears to use the same flash as those competing models listed above. We'll see how this plays out as the review progresses.

Read on for the full review!