Acer Unveils Super Thin Aspire S3 Ultrabook at IFA in Berlin

Subject: Mobile | September 3, 2011 - 08:03 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, ssd, Intel, acer

Hot on the heels of the Toshiba and Lenovo ultrabook announcements comes a new ultrabook from Acer. Engadget recently got their hands on the new Acer Aspire S3 ultrabook at the IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) technology showcase in Berlin. The 13.3” computer carries some impressive specifications, including a 7 hour long battery life, metal chassis, and the latest Intel processors.

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To be more specific, the Acer computer is a 13.3” ultrabook composed of a magnesium alloy chassis measuring 13mm thick. Inside the metal frame lies an ultra low voltage Core i3, i5, or i7 Sandy Bridge processor, DDR3 RAM, and an interesting storage solution made of a 20GB SSD and 320GB mechanical hard drive combination. Acer is promising a 7 hour battery life, and a 1.5 second resume from sleep time. Further, the ultrabook features a glossy 1366 x 768 resolution display, and a chicklet keyboard whose keys Engadget notes feels like plastic.

While their is no word on US pricing, Acer has released the European starting price at €799. Compromises have been made to reach the price point (mainly in the keyboard); however, if the specifications and design hold up it looks to be a solid competitor in the ultrabook market.  More photos as well as a video tour of the ultrabook can be found here.

Source: Engadget

High Capacity Corsair SATA 3 Force GT SSDs Now Available

Subject: Storage | August 31, 2011 - 12:27 AM |
Tagged: ssd, storage, corsair, sandforce, SATA3

Today Corsair announced two new high capacity SSDs that have joined the company’s Force GT solid state drive lineup. The new drives come in 180 GB and 240GB flavors, a nice increase from the current 60 GB and 120 GB drives.

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The new Force GT SSDs utilize the SATA 3 (6Gbps) interface, and are powered by the SandForce SF-2280 controller. In addition, the drives are powered by ONFI synchronous flash memory. The hardware results in random IOPS of 85K, read speeds of 555 MB/s, and write speeds of 525 MB/s. Thi La, the VP of Memory Products for Corsair stated the new 180 GB and 240 GB SSDs are best suited for enthusiasts systems that require large amounts of high performance storage.

The Force GT drives will come with a 3.5” adapter for cases that do not have 2.5” drive bays. The SSDs are available for purchase now, and carry an MSRP of $379 USD for the 180 GB model and $489 USD for the 240 GB SSD.

Source: Corsair

New Firmware Offers Performance Boost To Crucial M4 SSDs

Subject: Storage | August 30, 2011 - 02:17 AM |
Tagged: ssd, SATA3, M4, crucial

Crucial, a relatively new but successful entrant to the SSD space recently released a new firmware for its M4 lineup that promises faster boot up times and improved write performance. Specifically, the new firmware is version 0009, and users can directly update their m4 SSDs from either revision 0001 or 0002. The update is installed by downloading and burning a bootable CD.

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According to Tom’s Hardware, the company is promising up to a 20 % performance improvement in sequential read speeds. Further, the official firmware change log includes improvements in throughput performance, write latency, and compatibility with the latest chipsets. In synthetic application testing, Crucial noted an increase in the PCMark Vantage benchmark score using the new firmware update. The company has also improved compatibility between SATA 2 (3Gb/s) chipsets and the SATA 3 (6Gb/s) solid state drives. Lastly, the new firmware reduces the chances for a failed cold boot up (starting the computer from a completely powered down state) of the SSD on certain systems.

Its is certainly nice to see firmware fixes that both squash bugs and offer up some free performance improvements. You can find the firmware download for your specific m4 solid state drive in addition to update instructions here. Let us know what you think of the new firmware.

Source: Crucial

Kingston joins the SandForce club

Subject: Storage | August 19, 2011 - 12:03 PM |
Tagged: kingston, ssd, sandforce, SF-2281 controller

Kingston has moved on to the new SandForce 2281 controller and synchronous flash memory with their new series of HyperX SSDs.  Like previous models, cables and brackets and sometimes even ghosting software are included in the packaging in addition to a 3 year warranty.  The drive comes in two varieties of package, one is intended for those planning a complete reinstall of Windows when they add the SSD to their system.  The other is an upgrade kit, which has everything you need to move your OS onto the SSD, up to and including a USB casing to ease the transfer.  [H]ard|OCP has the scoop here.

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"Kingston's move into the SandForce SSD market is great news for the consumer. With its new HyperX branded solid state drives in hand, we take a look at these amazingly fast SSDs and examine if an SSD from Kingston should be on your short list for your next storage purchase."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Corsair Unveils Two New 90GB SATA 6Gb/s SSDs, A World's First

Subject: Storage | August 19, 2011 - 02:35 AM |
Tagged: ssd, ONFI, Force Series 3, corsair, asynchronous NAND, 90GB

Corsair recently added two new solid state drives to its SSD lineup. The new drives weight in at 90 GB, and make an interesting choice for those that need a bit more space than Corsair’s 60 GB drives provide but not enough to justify a higher priced 120 GB drive. Of the two drives, one will be labeled a Force Series 3 drive, and the other will be a Force Series GT SSD. Tweaktown quoted Corsair in stating:

“We're happy to add the world's first 90GB SSD to our product lineup. With 50% more storage capacity than our 60GB models and at pricing significantly lower than our 120GB models, they help make the Force Series 3 and Force Series GT among the most robust and flexible SSD lines on the market.”

The new 2.5” drives are powered by Sandforce 2281 controllers, and the SATA 3 (6Gb/s) interface. Using the benchmarking utility IOMeter 08, Corsair measured the IOPS (input/output operations per second) of the two drives to be 85,000. The Force Series 3 90GB SSD uses asynchronous NAND, and is capable of sequential read and write speeds of 550MB/s and 500MB/s respectively. On the other hand, the Force Series GT 90GB SSD uses ONFI synchronous flash, and features a slight performance edge with sequential reads of 555MB/s and sequential writes of 505MB/s.

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The 90GB SSDs supports SMART monitoring, the TRIM command, and have a MTBF (mean time before failure) of 2 million hours. Further, the drives carry a three year warranty. The drives are available now from authorized retailers with an MSRP of $159 for the Force Series 3 drive and $199 for the Force Series GT SSD.

Source: Tweaktown

Podcast #166 - John Carmack interview, Crysis 2 DX11, Samsung SSD announcements, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2011 - 08:32 PM |
Tagged: ssd, podcast, nvidia, Intel, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #166 - 8/18/2011

This week we talk about our John Carmack interview, Crysis 2 DX11, Samsung SSD announcements, and more!

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 Malventano

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

Program length: 1:04:28

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:37 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. 0:01:35 John Carmack Interview: GPU Race, Intel Graphics, Ray Tracing, Voxels and more!
  6. 0:14:43 NVIDIA Releases Q2 FY 2012 Results
  7. 0:23:17 Acer AC700-1099 Chromebook Review: Cut to the Bone
  8. 0:24:05 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  9. 0:25:20 Never mind the barrier, we even tessellated the water table !
  10. 0:31:00 SSD News
    1. Samsung Announces New High Performance SSDs for Mobile
    2. Samsung Announces New 830 SATA 3 SSDs for Consumers
    3. Intel Releasing Firmware Fix For 8MB SSD Bug In Two Weeks (correction: NOW)
    4. The Good, the bad and the ugly of SSDs
  11. 0:41:32 AMD Announces New Sub-$100 Triple Core A6-3500 APU
  12. 0:43:11 Intel ultra-balks at Ultrabook manufacturers requests
  13. 0:47:50 Sandy Bridge-E Processors: Cooler Sold Separately                                       AMD Considers Bundling FX Processors With Sealed Loop Water Coolers (LCS)
  14. 0:52:20 Bitcoin Trojan Stuff
  15. 0:55:08 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Tripit.com and apps
    2. Jeremy: Antikeylogger01-USB @ $49 or Brain experimentation 
    3. Josh: AMD A-3850... same price, but DiRT 3 for FREE!
    4. Allyn: Anti-pick: McAfee iOS app fail
  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. 1:03:28 Closing
Source:

Samsung Announces New 830 SATA 3 SSDs for Consumers

Subject: Storage | August 17, 2011 - 07:08 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, mlc, 830 SDD

Samsung today announced a new lineup of consumer solid state drives (SSD) with the SATA 3 (6Gb/s) interface called the SSD 830 Series. We reported last week on this series of SSD's OEM variant, the PM830 Series, and this week is the unveiling of the consumer versions.

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The new 830 SSD series builds on its Samsung 470 predecessors while upgrading the controller interface to SATA 3 (6Gb/s), providing twice the amount of available bandwidth. Further, the consumer drives differentiate themselves from the PM830 OEM versions in three distinct manners, including capacity sizes, exterior design, and bundled components.

On the aesthetic front, the 830 drives have a dark brushed aluminum body with a silver colored Samsung logo and orange corner accent, while the OEM PM830 drives are more simple in design with a dark casing and information sticker.

Further proving that the drives are meant for consumer usage, Samsung provides a full upgrade bundle that (in addition to the SSD itself) includes a copy of Norton Ghost to image an old drive onto the new SSD, a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter bracket, all the necessary cables, and detailed instructions on how to use the drive. A notebook oriented upgrade bundle will also be available that includes the SSD itself, manuals, Norton Ghost software, and a USB to SATA adapter to image the old drive onto the new SSD before switching the new drive into the laptop.

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The full upgrade kit for desktops.

The new 830 SSD lineup will come in consumer friendly capacities of 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB (for comparison, the OEM PM830 versions only come in capacities greater than 128GB).

Unfortunately, Samsung has not yet announced pricing or detailed specifications on the new drives, instead opting to withhold that information until the official product launch in October 2011. If the OEM versions are any indication on the speed front; however, the consumer versions are looking at MLC NAND capable of respectable 500MB/s read and 350MB/s write speeds.

Update 8/25/2011:  We recently came across a few more tidbits of information on the Samsung 830 consumer SSDs.  Specifically, the drives will be powered by a triple ARM9 based controller that is similar to their previous generations.  The NAND flash that the drives will use is 20nm class rated, which is marketing speak for any NAND manufacturing node that is between 20nm and 29nm.  In Samsungs case, they are likely utilizing 25nm MLC NAND for their 830 series drives.  Finally, the company will be releasing their own "software toolbox" to keep the SSDs healthy by performing secure erase, monitoring, and user adjustible over-provisioning.  Over-provisioning is a process that reserves a specificied amount of NAND cells so that the SSD controller can replace bad and/or worn out cells and keep performance and capacity at stable levels.

End of Update.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on the new drives as we get closer to the official launch date.

Image credit: Samsung

Intel Releasing Firmware Fix For 8MB SSD Bug In Two Weeks

Subject: Storage | August 16, 2011 - 04:07 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Intel, firmware bug, 320

We reported a few weeks ago that Intel was able to reproduce the 8MB firmware bug in it's lab and was working on a fix.  Officially called the Bad Context 13x Error, the 8MB bug is a rather serious firmware issue that a small percentage of users ran into when their drives unexpectedly lost power due to improper shutdown procedures or power outage at an especially wrong time.  Once the drives were powered on again, they reported a capacity of 8MB to its users, who were able to restore the drive using secure erase but not the data.

Fortunately, a fix is on its way very soon, as Computer World quoted Intel in stating "the new firmware update is in final validation testing and is targeted for release on Intel Communities within the next two weeks."

Further, users will be able to apply the firmware fix without needing to secure erase the drive; however, none of the lost data can be recovered.  As with any drive, SSD or otherwise, be sure to perform regular backups to mitigate the amount of data one can lose in drive failure.  Intel is also recommending that users ensure they shut down their computers properly and to avoid unplugging the SSD from a powered on machine.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on the Bad Context 13x Error as it develops.  Until then, rest assured that a fix is on the way soon.

The Good, the bad and the ugly of SSDs

Subject: Storage | August 15, 2011 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SF-2281 controller, sata 6Gps

The good and the bad are obvious, unparalleled transfer speeds and a very high price per gigabyte are familiar to anyone keeping up with the new storage medium.  The ugly is the reliability, as we have seen a variety of manufacturers and controllers spawn significant problems for users.  That is before you consider how long an SSD will last, something that we have yet to fully see the scope of as niether the technology nor the drives have been on the market long enough for MTBF to be tested in the real world.

If you are willing to risk the possible failures that some users have been seeing with the SF-2281 controller, AnandTech have rounded up several drives which use that specific controller.  Head over to see if you can pick a winner in this incredibly close race.

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"It's a depressing time to be covering the consumer SSD market. Although performance is higher than it has ever been, we're still seeing far too many compatibility and reliability issues from all of the major players. Intel used to be our safe haven, but even the extra reliable Intel SSD 320 is plagued by a firmware bug that may crop up unexpectedly, limiting your drive's capacity to only 8MB. Then there are the infamous BSOD issues that affect SandForce SF-2281 drives like the OCZ Vertex 3 or the Corsair Force 3. Despite OCZ and SandForce believing they were on to the root cause of the problem several weeks ago, there are still reports of issues. I've even been able to duplicate the issue internally."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: AnandTech

Samsung Announces New High Performance SSDs for Mobile

Subject: Storage | August 11, 2011 - 05:32 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SATA3, Samsung, mobile

Samsung recently announced volume production of a new lineup of SSDs using the fast SATA 3 (6Gb/s) interface and will be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities.  The new SSDs are called the PM830 series, and Samsung expects the drives to replace their SATA 2 (3Gb/s) drives by year-end.

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Wanhoon Hong, executive vice president, memory sales & marketing, Device Solutions, Samsung Electronics stated that Samsung's new SSDs "will raise the performance bar to the next level for ultra-slim notebooks and tablets."  In addition, he believes that the new high capacity drives will spur competition in that segment and increase market interest in SSDs with greater-than 256GB capacities.

The new PM830 drives use Samsung's 20nm class (their term for a process node somewhere between 20 and 29), 32 Gigabit MLC NAND flash with a toggle DDR interface in addition to a proprietary controller.  Samsung claims that the controller and flash are able to take advantage of the SATA 6Gb/s interface by delivering 500MB/s sequential read speeds and 350MB/s sequential write speeds.  Further, the drive uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure private and corporate data.

The new SATA 6Gb/s solid state drives are targeted at OEMs for use in notebooks and tablets.  They are currently only available to OEMs; however, a consumer variant of the drive is forthcoming and will be announced at a later date.

Source: Samsung