Super Talent Releases New RAIDDrive upStream PCI-E SSD

Subject: Storage | March 22, 2012 - 07:28 AM |
Tagged: super talent, ssd, pcie

Super Talent, a Silicon Valley based company most well known for their RAM and SSD products, today launched a new Solid State Drive (SSD) that eschews the SATA interface for a PCIe x8 connector. The new RAIDDrive upStream upstream joins the RAIDDrive family of PCIe SSDs and utilizes MLC (multi-level cell) NAND flash to deliver between 220 GB and 960 GB of fast storage.

Super Talent PCIe upStream.jpg

According to the company, their new RAIDDrive SSD is comprised of four Sandforce based SSDs in a RAID array using an LSI RAID controller to deliver up to 1 GB/s of performance. Specifically, access time of the upStream SSD is 0.1ms, and has a maximum read and write speed of 1.0 GB per second and 900 MB/s respectively. The 460 GB upStream drive was benchmarked (granted, by Super Talent) using HD Tune which showed an average sequential read speed of 832.9 MB/s and an average sequential write speed of 719.0 MB/s. As far as random 4 KB IOPS, the drive hit 3606 read IOPS and 5159 write 4KB IOPS.

Super Talent has further benchmarks and information on the new RAIDDrive upStream SSDs in this product data sheet (PDF). Unfortunately, there is no official word on pricing or availability yet, though Engadget has said the Super Talent upStream drives should be hitting store shelves in April.

If I had to guess; however, this drive is going to be expensive.  Drives like these are a boon for businesses doing work that requires large amount of throughput (CAD work, animation, working and serving large databases, et al), but are still largely priced out of the market of most PC builders.  Here's hoping that high performance PCIe SSDs trickle down to computer enthusiasts as fast as possible!

Source: Super Talent

Biwin America Founded To Develop New SSDs

Subject: Storage | March 21, 2012 - 12:34 AM |
Tagged: ssd, nand, biwin america, biwin

Biwin is a flash storage manufacturer founded in 1995 that holds headquarters in Shenzhen, China and specializing in USB, memory card, and SSD flash storage. They have 20 SMT assembly lines, ISO9001:2000 factories, and employ more than 50 skilled engineers. Recently, the company founded a subsidiary, Biwin America with headquarters in San Jose, California. The new company will further expand the company's SSD offerings by developing and producing advanced solid state drives for the Enterprise, Embedded, and Consumer markets.

Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for the newly founded Biwin America stated that the company "will be dedicated to developing flash storage solutions that deliver superior performance and reliability." He further noted that the team is very excited to bring new SSDs to the market.

elite-series-sata-iii-ssd.jpg

A Biwin SATA 3 SSD

Biwin features 20 SMT (surface-mount technology) lines, die sorting, die packaging, and "sophisticated test and QC processes." They are bringing their experience with flash storage to bear on the US market as they prepare new and expanded SSD products that it will sell direct to OEMs as well as to consumers through authorized distributors.

More information on the company can be found here.

Marvell Shows Off New 88SS9187 SATA 6Gbps SSD Controller

Subject: Storage | March 15, 2012 - 09:30 PM |
Tagged: ssd, marvel, controller, 88SS9187

Marvell, a storage technology company founded in 1995, today announced a new SSD controller in the form of the 88SS9187 that supports many of the latest storage technologies and is set to debut in several products this year.

Marvell_logotype_c_300dpi.jpg

The new 88SS9187 SSD controller is reportedly powered by a powerful embedded processor and supports the SATA 3.1 (6Gbps) interface as well as a NAND flash interface that is capable of up to 200 MB/s per channel. Also, the Marvell controller can support on-chip RAID functionality as well as Adaptive Read and Write Scheme technology in the ECC (error correction code) engine.

Marvell also claims that the 88SS9187 controller supports the DDR3 DRAM interface for "up to 1 G byte memory," and approximately 500 MB/s of sequential write performance under dirty drive conditions. The claim that the new controller will provide Random read and write IOPS with minimum over provisioning and performance degradations (where provisioning is used to provide a buffer for wear leveling algorithms and extra space for the drive controller to work with to increase performance). The Vice President of Marketing for Marvell's Storage Business Group Alan Armstrong, stated that the new 88SS9187 controller will enable SSD manufacturers "to fully customize their products to meet specific customer demands and distinguish their products based on price, performance, power and functionality."

They plan for the new controller to have an impact in both the consumer and enterprise markets and have announced that additional partners will integrate the 88SS9187 controller into their SSDs later this year. For now though, they have only stated that a "significant number" of popular SSD manufacturers will have drives ready in the immediate future. More information is available here.

Source: Marvell

Asus Updating Zenbook Line With UX31A and UX21A Ultrabooks

Subject: Mobile | March 12, 2012 - 09:10 PM |
Tagged: widi, ultrabook, ssd, Ivy Bridge, asus zenbook, asus

The Asus UX31 and UX21 have been two popular examples of ultrabooks.  Interestingly, they have been available for purchase for less than 6 months and we are already hearing that the company is planning a refresh with upgraded hardware! The two new ultrabooks will be dubbed the UX21A and UX31A and will replace the UX21 and UX31 respectfully while maintaining the same weight and dimensions.

asus-ux21-laptop.jpg

The original UX21 ultrabook

Among the new internal hardware updates, Asus will be moving to Ivy Bridge processors, up to 4 GB of low voltage DDR3 1600 memory, and an alleged 512 GB SATA 3 (6Gbps) SSD (solid state drive) option. The Ivy Bridge processors in question will be pulled from Intel's low voltage mobile CPU range and will sport a 17 watt TDP (thermal design power). The Core i3 3217U, Core i5 3317U, and Core i7 3517U will all be configurable options and carry the following specs.

Model Cores Hyper Threading Cache (L3) Clockspeed Turbo Boost (1core / 2cores)
Core i3-3217U 2 Yes 3 MB 1.8 GHz None
Core i5-3317U 2 Yes 3 MB 1.7 GHz 2.6 GHz / 2.4 GHz
Core i7-3517U 2 Yes 4 MB 1.9 GHz 3.0 GHz / 2.8 GHz

 

The new Zenbook ultrabooks will include two USB 3.0 ports, a micro HDMI port, and an SDXC card reader. Wireless connections will further include 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and Intel's WIDI wireless display streaming technology. The new UX31A will have the option of a 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS display with a brightness rating at 350 nits or a non IPS (possibly TN) LCD with 300 nits brightness that maxes out at a 1600 x 900 resolution. The smaller UX21A also has the option for a 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS display; however, the non IPS LCD option's resolution will max out at 1366 x 768, coincidentally just enough to do the 1/3, 2/3 side by side Metro application split in Windows 8.

Lastly, they estimate the battery life of the 13" UX31A and 11" UX21A ultrabooks to be around "six to seven hours" and five hours respectively. Once Ivy Bridge processors have launched and other notebook vendors start shipping their Ivy Bridge powered machines, Asus will reportedly start selling the updated Zenbooks for prices starting at $1,050 and $1,100 for the UX21A and UX31A respectively.

A nice hardware update without jacking up the price too much and likely making the older models cheaper? Sign me up! Are you looking forward to more ultrabooks this year?

Source: The Verge

Be careful which ASUS Zenbook SSD you pick up

Subject: Mobile | March 12, 2012 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, ssd, asus zenbook, asus

The SSD Review stumbled upon a dirty little secret about the ASUS Zenbook SSD; specifically the SSD part of the name.  It seems that when you buy one, you might be picking up a model with an AData XM11 SSD or it might be a Sandisk U100 but unfortunately they are the same price and a similar model number making them very difficult to tell apart ... until you use it.  The SandForce drive AData drive is significantly faster than the Sandisk drive which uses its own proprietary controller.  The difference is not crippling but it is certainly noticeable when benchmarking and using the system.  The final result was that size does matter, the 11.6" UX21 has SandForce while the 13.3" UX31 does not, though both are still very nice Ultrabooks.

SSDR_Sandisk-SSD.jpg

"If we told you that we spent $2400 to right a wrong in proving something that you as a consumer should be aware of, would you believe us? This report closely examines the ASUS Zenbook. Within the ‘Zen’, ASUS may provide either of two SATA 3 SSDs, these being the AData ‘SandForce Driven’ XM11 or the Sandisk U100. There is no price difference between the two, the product number is the same and the consumer has no way of knowing which they will receive. The performance drop between the two is somewhat unbelievable, however, and we thought this report important enough to invest in one of each Zenbook to educate the consumer on the reality of their potential Zenbook purchase."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:

Mobile

 

Source: SSD Review

Podcast #192 - AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850, Z77 Motherboard previews, and a Steam console

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | March 8, 2012 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: Z77, ssd, podcsat, podcast, msi, Intel, gpu, cpu, asus, amd, 7870, 7850

PC Perspective Podcast #192 - 03/08/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850, Z77 Motherboard previews, and a Steam console?

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 54:59

Program Schedule: 

  1. 0:00:42 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:02:00 Installing Windows 8 Consumer Preview In A VirtualBox Virtual Machine
  6. 0:05:00 AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB and HD 7850 2GB Pitcairn Review
    1. Radeon HD 7870 2GB vs HD 7850 2GB vs HD 5870 1GB Quick Look
  7. 0:18:30 ASUS Z77 Chipset Motherboard Preview: Formula, Gene, mini-ITX
  8. 0:24:30 MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) LGA 2011 ATX Motherboard Review
  9. 0:26:00 Visual Computing Still Decades from Computational Apex
  10. 0:36:00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  11. 0:37:00 GDC 12: The bigger big picture, Steam Box to be announced?
  12. 0:40:30 MSI Shows of Next Generation Twin Frozr IV Cards at Cebit
  13. 0:42:30 Peter Pan presents a stylish mouse at CeBIT; Thermaltake's Level 10 M
  14. 0:45:45 Apple Launching Quad Core Graphics A5X Powered iPad 3 With Retina Display
  15. 0:49:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: How about a new laptop?  Time for shopping!!  Ultrabook?  IVB maybe?
    2. Jeremy: Ever heard of the brown note?
    3. Josh: They have arrived
    4. Allyn: sleep lulz
  16. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  17. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  18. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  19. Closing

Source:

The SSD market gets passed a TRIM command

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 7, 2012 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: western digital, ssd, hitachi, flash, EMC

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which was the result of the merger of Hitachi and IBM's HDD businesses, is likely being purchased by Western Digital tomorrow for about $4.3 billion.  This makes sense as WD has been using Hitachi GST as a sales partner when providing  EMC with high end flash disks.  This deal comes on the heels of a major sell, the SSD400S flash disk which uses Intel's 34nm SLC NAND and the SSD400S-B which utilizes the new 25nm NAND developed by Intel.  Check out the specifications of the flash drives as well as the new SSD company over at The Register.

intel-nand.jpg

"WD is buying Hitachi GST and the acquisition is expected to be formally announced tomorrow with a condition of two years of independence for Hitachi GST - imposed by a Chinese anti-competition regulator. EMC has certified Hitachi GST's SSD400S flash disks for use in its VNX mid-range unified storage arrays, including the all-flash VNX5500-F, so WD will effectively fulfil this deal once the acquisition is announced."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register
Subject: Editorial, Storage
Manufacturer: Various
Tagged: ssd, Future, flash, Bleak, 2012

Overcoming Hurdles

A paper, titled “The Bleak Future of NAND Flash Memory” was recently jointly published by the University of California and Microsoft Research. It has been picked up by many media outlets who all seem to be beating the same morbid drum, spinning tales of a seemingly apocalyptic end to the reign of flash-based storage devices. While I agree with some of what these authors have to say, I have reservations about the methods upon which the paper is based.

TLC and beyond?

The paper kicks off by declaring steep increases in latency and drops in lifetime associated with increases in bits-per-cell. While this is true, flash memory manufacturers are not making large pushes to increase bits-per-cell beyond the standard MLC (2 bits per cell) tech. Sure some have dabbled in 3-bit MLC, also called Triple Level Cell (TLC) which is a bit of a misnomer since storing three bits in a cell actually requires eight voltage level bands, not three as the name implies. Moving from SLC to MLC doubles density, but the diminishing returns increase sharply after that – MLC to TLC only increases capacity by a another 1.5x, but sees a 2-4x reduction in performance and endurance. In light of this, there is little demand for TLC flash, and where there is, it’s clear by the usage cases that it is not meant for anything beyond light usage. There's nothing wrong with the paper going down this road, but the reality is that increasing bits per cell is not the envelope being pushed by the flash memory industry.

paper-lifetime.png

Wait a second – where is 25nm MLC?

Looking at the above we see a glaring omission – 25nm MLC flash, which has been around for close to two years now, and constitutes the majority of shipping flash memory parts currently in production. SLC was also omitted, but I can see the reason for this – it’s hard to get your hands on 25nm SLC these days. Why? Because MLC technology has been improved upon to the point where ‘enterprise MLC’ (eMLC) is rapidly replacing SLC even despite the supposed reduction in reliability and endurance over SLC. The reasons for this are simple, and are completely sidestepped or otherwise overlooked by the paper:

  • SSD controllers employ write combination and wear leveling techniques.
  • Some controllers even compress data on-the-fly as to further reduce writes and provisioning.
  • Controller-level Error Correction (ECC) has improved dramatically with each process shrink.
  • SSD controllers can be programmed to compensate for the drift of data stored in a cell (eMLC).

Continue reading our editorial on the not-so-bleak future of NAND Flash Memory!!!

Upgrade your PS3 with an SSD... or just play on the PC.

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 20, 2012 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: ssd, PS3

There is an interesting article down at Eurogamer which covers the possible benefits of upgrading a PS3 with a solid state drive. Those who know me can guess that I am snickering while crossing another perceived advantage off of my console versus PC list. Still, if for some reason you want to play exclusives to a disposable platform that are only exclusive because you let them be and you desire to upgrade your experience, check out the interesting article.

PS3SSDSkyrim.png

Isn’t “not needing to do this” the whole reason for having a console?

Consoles titles are naturally becoming as hard drive-intensive as they are allowed to be due to their abysmally small quantity of RAM. Developers have been using tricks to increase the usefulness of their available RAM such as disallowing split screen, streaming content as needed, and rendering at low resolutions.

The first Halo, for instance, was famous for their quick load times. The load speed is due in part to having their game assets copied multiple times on the disk which allows choice in loading whichever copy requires the least seek time to access. Also, having a hard drive helped Halo too.

The article itself focuses mostly on RAGE and Skyrim due to their harsh issues with lag and pop-in. Skyrim has had known issues with getting progressively worse as time progressed. This issue was mostly corrected in version 2.03 as was also demonstrated in Eurogamer’s article making an SSD almost unnecessary, but prior to 2.03 an SSD surprisingly helped substantially with the problem. It should also be no surprise that throwing faster storage at RAGE helped immensely just as it does on the PC.

If you were considering upgrading to a faster drive for your Sony console be sure to check out Eurogamer -- or the new Hardware Leaderboard and just play on the PC.

Source: Eurogamer

VIA teams with Tensilica to roll their own SSD controller

Subject: Storage | February 16, 2012 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: Xtensa, VIA, Tensilica, ssd, DPU, controller

VIA has always been known for the 'slow and steady' approach to computing. They might not have the quickest stuff around, but they certainly tend to have the lowest power draw. While we haven't seen many releases from VIA as of late, they appear to be gearing up for a rediscovered purpose for their mantra - Solid State Storage.

VIA has brought on a company called Tensilica, who make a System on a Chip (SoC) architecture that has been purpose built for moving data around. The system, dubbed the Xtensa dataplane processor (DPU), has some particular math strengths that would be very beneficial if applied to the realm of an SSD controller. For example, the DPU is capable of performing multiple simultaneous table lookups within a single clock cycle. This is handy for increasing the IOPS rating of an SSD, since wear leveling and write amplification are handled by remapping the LBA's (sectors) to flash memory space. Each IO results in a necessary table lookup, which the DPU can perform very quickly.

tensilica_xtensa9_bg.png
 
With the DPU being so efficient at these tasks, it could be run at lower clock speeds and outmaneuver competing SSD controllers - all while consuming less power. We're going to be watching VIA closely in the coming months on this one for sure.
Source: X-bit labs