New Gigabyte Motherboards: Llano, iSSD and Socket 2011 Models

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2011 - 01:52 AM |
Tagged: ssd, socket 2011, llano, intel ssd, gigabyte, computex, APU

We stopped by the Gigaybte booth during Computex 2011 this week and found a host of new motherboards that range from the mainstream to the ultra-extreme. 

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First up is the A75-UD4H that supports the new AMD FM1 socket and the upcoming AMD Llano processor.  Even though the APU will have integrated graphics on die, the Gigabyte board support AMD Dual Graphics technology and CrossFire multi-GPU solutions in conjunction with 8 USB 3.0 ports. 

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The board will include output connections of VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort along with size USB ports, four of which are USB 3.0. 

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The Z68XP-UD3 motherboard is one that will be offered in two different ways: one with an SSD and one without.  The "iSSD" model will actually include an mSATA Intel 20GB SLC SSD and should come in at a cost of under $250.  Considering the Larson Creek drive will cost you anywhere from $90-110 on its own, the combination of a Z68 motherboard and SSD is actually very price competitive.  Plus, you get the convenience of having the SSD on the motherboard without it taking up a 3.5-in or 2.5-in drive bay.

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For those that choose to get the lower cost board without the included Intel SSD you will be able to choose from several other newcomers to the mSATA form factor including Kingston and OCZ.

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Of course we had to take a look at the Socket 2011 motherboard, the X79A-UD3 with support for the upcoming Intel Sandy Bridge-E processor.  According to the slide information this will include a new version of the SSD caching technology called RSTe (Rapid Storage Technology Enterprise) with support for USB 3.0 and quad-channel DDR3 memory.

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For those that haven't seen, here is a close up of the Socket 2011 in all its glory - that's a lot of pins!!

Computex 2011 Coverage brought to you by MSI Computer and Antec

Source: Gigabyte

OCZ's 240GB Agility 3 SATA 6G drive; can asynchronous flash bring down the price only?

Subject: Storage | June 1, 2011 - 10:38 AM |
Tagged: ssd, ocz, agility 3, asynchronous flash

In case you missed it in the rotation at the top, Al has wrapped up his review of the Agility 3 SSD, which utilizes less expensive asynchronous flash memory to bring the MSRP down and hopefully leaves the performance at the same level.  Slow is a relative term when you describe SSDs, even one ranked at the bottom of the performance charts will give you better performance than a platter based hard drive.  Al does answer the performance question in the review, unfortunately no one can answer the pricing question yet.  If these sell like previous models have, retailers will be able to charge whatever they feel like if the supply cannot keep up.

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"While the switch to asynchronous flash memory makes the Agility 3 cheaper to produce and therefore sell, the performance dynamic can shift in either direction, varying with what you plan to do with the drive. Many users saw the same type of thing back with the Agility 2 / Vertex 2, and some users actually preferred the cheaper drive performance wise. We may see the same thing here once users (and us) get some actual seat-of-the-pants time logged with it."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

RevoDrive 3 and Hybrid Highlight OCZ Showcase at Computex

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 05:37 AM |
Tagged: ssd, revodrive, ocz, hybrid, computex

OCZ is definitely pushing its SSD products to the consumer and it was no different when we stopped by the OCZ suite at Computex 2011.  The most interesting devices came in the form of PCI Express based SSDs including the pending RevoDrive 3 model that upgrades the SSD controllers to SandForce 2200 models and gets some pretty hefty performance boosts because of it.

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The RevoDrive 3 includes a pair of SF-2200 controllers and was rated at 900 MB/s read and 700 MB/s write using the PCIe x4 interface.  The 240GB model is apparently only going to have a $599 price tag and it should be available in a matter of a short few weeks.  The X2 model adds another module to the mix and doubles the controller count to four and improves performance to as high as 1500 MB/s read and 1200 MB/s write.  Obviously these types of devices are only for those that REALLY need to push the envelope in storage performance.

Also, more good news: OCZ has implemented a newer firmware feature on the RevoDrive 3 (and other newer PCIe based models) that will enable support for features like TRIM natively.  This is done by hiding the multiple controllers from the operating system and passing on / delegating the TRIM commands as needed.  Allyn will have more on this when we get a sample later this month.  

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Another new PCIe-based SSD was the new Z-Drive R4 that fits more into the enterprise market with insanely high IOPS and performance. 

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OCZ actually showed a server running a pair of the R4 88 models that were able to achieve a 1 million IOPS rating on random 4K. 

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Another option for consumers was the new RevoDrive Hybrid that is exactly what it sounds like it is - a combination of a PCI Express SSD and a standard 2.5-in spindle based drive on a single unit.  This will bring the performance benefits of not only an SSD but a PCIE SSD to consumers that want to have the appearance of a single large hard drive inside their system.  It will use SandForce SF-2200 controllers and is rated at 575 MB/s read and 500 MB/s writes with several models planned for production.  The SSD portion that acts as the cache will be available in either 60GB of 120GB capacities while the HDD will start at 500GB and go up from there.  Pricing will apparently start at $400 for the 60GB/500GB version and will definitely be appealing for enthusiasts.  Now everyone can get the advantages of hybrid storage without being locked into the Z68 chipset or even an Intel platform at all. 

This implementation does not use any kind of Intel technology at all and instead is based on a firmware option from NVELO called Dataplex.  Based on the marketing numbers we saw the implementation that OCZ has created with the PCIe-based SSD will outperform Intel's SATA-based SRT technology by a noticeable margin, at least in benchmarks.  We can't wait to get our hands on one to see for ourselves. 

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Finally, OCZ is going to throw their hat into the ring with the mSATA offering called the Devena 2 that runs on a SandForce SF-2181/2141 controller.  Expect to see this marketed as an option even for Intel SRT.  It looks like the rest of 2011 will be very busy for Allyn and our storage test bed.

Computex 2011 Coverage brought to you by MSI Computer and Antec

Source: OCZ
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology
Tagged: ssd, sata, sandforce, ocz, 6Gb

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Introduction

Just over a month ago, OCZ released the Vertex 3, an immediate follow-up to the Vertex 3 Pro. At the time they promised an even cheaper solution at some point down the line. We've now seen that come to pass. Following the same convention as with the last series, the lower cost solution will be called the Agility 3. This is meant to be a mid-grade performance drive, as there is to also be a 'Solid 3' model on the horizon, but for today we'll focus on the new Agility.

Specifications

60GB Max Performance*

  • Max Read: up to 525MB/s
  • Max Write: up to 475MB/s
  • Random Write 4KB: 50,000 IOPS
  • Maximum 4K Random Write: 80,000 IOPS

120GB Max Performance*

  • Max Read: up to 525MB/s
  • Max Write: up to 500MB/s
  • Random Write 4KB: 50,000 IOPS
  • Maximum 4K Random Write: 85,000 IOPS

240GB Max Performance*

  • Max Read: up to 525MB/s
  • Max Write: up to 500MB/s
  • Random Write 4KB: 45,000 IOPS
  • Maximum 4K Random Write: 85,000 IOPS

    *Max performance achieved using Native SATA 6Gbps chipset. Please refer to product sheet for additional performance metrics.

Their * note is very important. You won't be able to hit the best possible performance marks without using these newest SATA 6Gb/sec drives in conjunction with native SATA 6Gb/sec storage controllers. There are just too many bottlenecks and other irregularities seen with the aftermarket / add-on solutions at this time, and they just can't stack up against a good native chipset implementation.

Yet another Sandforce drive, the PQI S535 256GB SSD

Subject: Storage | May 27, 2011 - 10:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, sandforce, PQI, SF-1200

While Legit Reviews might be mixing their metaphors when they refer to Sandforce SSDs as a 'dime' a dozen, they are certainly right that there are a lot of companies implementing that particular controller.  This time it is PQI, long time sellers of flash memory based products, and their PQI S535 256 GB drive.  One thing that makes this company different is that the speeds advertised on the box were slower than what Legit Reviews saw in their benchmarks.  See just how much faster in the full review.

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"At this point there isn't a lot new we can say about the PQI S535 256 GB drive as SF-1200 based SSDs are a dime a dozen right now. Ok, that may draw ire from those that are still waiting on buying an SSD because of the cost but we've done no less than ten reviews now on such drives. PQI is a little conservative in their specifications of 250 MB/s reads and writes as we saw well above that for each in the ATTO benchmark..."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Intel ups their SSD warranty to 5 years

Subject: General Tech | May 24, 2011 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: intel ssd, ssd 320, ssd

For those of you following reports of early SSD death from a variety of sources around the web, Intel offers a rebuttal by extending the warranty on their new SSDs to 5 years.  If you already picked up a previous generation of SSD from Intel you still have a 3 year warranty, The Register hypothesises that all future models will sport the extra 2 years.  This makes the smaller drives soon to be released to be used in conjunction with Intel's SRT on Z86 boards even more attractive. 

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"If the Product is properly used and installed, it will be free from defects in material and workmanship, and will substantially conform to Intel's publicly available specifications for a period of five (5) years beginning on the date the Product was purchased in its original sealed packaging in the case of an Original Purchaser or the date of original purchase of a computer system containing the Product in the case of an Original System Customer."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Patriot goes their own way with the Torqx 2 128GB SSD

Subject: Storage | May 23, 2011 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: patriot, torqx, ssd, phison, PS3105-S5

Instead of using everyone's favourite Sandforce controller, Patriot opted for the Phison PS3105-S5 controller to provide the speed to their new Torqx 2 lineup.  The controller differs from Sandforce in two ways, one good and one bad.  On the bad side even the claimed read and write speeds are slower, at 210 and 150MB/s but on the plus side the drives will be noticably less expensive than the competitions.  Legion Hardware put this 128GB SSD to the test and weren't disappointed, though their expectations were fairly low going into the review.

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"There was never the expectation that the Patriot Torqx 2 128GB might blow our socks off, with claimed read/write performance of just 270–230MB/s that was just not going to happen. At best we were hoping for a mid-range product and at $225 US for the 128GB version this is how the Torqx 2 is priced."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Samsung Develops 64Gb MLC NAND Flash at 20nm, Promises Lots of Storage With High Bandwidth

Subject: Storage | May 21, 2011 - 02:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, nand, mlc

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Samsung recently began production on new 20nm MLC NAND flash memory chips with densities of 64Gb (Gigabit) and a toggle DDR 2.0 interface. The chips are not only twice as dense as their previous NAND chips, but Samsung also claims that they are capable of 400Mbps of bandwidth.

This 400Mbps bandwidth is thanks to a new toggle DDR 2.0 interface, which purports to bring a three times performance increase over the 133Mbps of bandwidth provided by the older toggle DDR1 interface with 32Gb NAND chips. Samsung further states that the new 64Gb MLC NAND chip offers close to a 50% increase in productivity versus 20nm 32Gb MLC NAND with a toggle DDR 1.o interface that Samsung began producing in April 2010.

The press release also states that:

"According to IHS iSuppli, the worldwide NAND flash memory market will continue to steadily grow from approximately 11 billion 1 Gigabyte (GB) equivalent unitsin 2010 to 94 billion 1GB equivalent units in 2015 with a CAGR of 54 percent. In addition, shipments of NAND flash memory with 64Gb or higher density are expected to account for approximately 70 percent of total NAND flash memory shipments in 2012, a huge increase from the three percent level in 2010."

The NAND flash market is certainly seeing rapid growth and technological progression, with the proliferation of SSDs from Intel, OCZ, Crucial, and others. As densities of flash memory get higher and manufacturing nodes get smaller, cheaper and more spacious storage will make it's way to both future mobile devices and solid state drives, which is good news for both consumers and Samsung.

Source: Samsung

Intel Extends 320 SSD Series' Warranty To 5 Years

Subject: Storage | May 20, 2011 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Intel, 320

Intel is so confident in their new Intel 320 series solid state drives that they are extending the warranty from three to five years. The 320 series use 25 nm NAND flash memory, and have a claimed MTBF (mean time before failure) of 1.2 million hours.

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According to the new warranty, Intel states that: "if the Product is properly used and installed, it will be free from defects in material and workmanship, and will substantially conform to Intel’s publicly available specifications for a period of five (5) years beginning on the date the Product was purchased." Naturally, it does not cover physical or other accidental damage. As SSDs are still relatively new technology, it is hard to gauge reliability in consumer systems over the long term, so it is nice to see that Intel is confident enough in it's 25nm flash technology to extend the warranty. Hopefully, this will influence other manufacturers to adopt longer warranties. You can read the full warranty details here.

Source: Intel

Testing out the Intel Z68's "best of both worlds" mode with a 20GB SSD

Subject: Motherboards, Storage | May 13, 2011 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: z68, ssd, larson creek, intel 311, smart response technology

One of the more interesting things about the Z68 is Intel's SRT which allows you to utilize a small SSD as a cache for your HDD, allowing you the speed benefits of an SSD in most applications without having to spend the money to buy an SSD large enough to hold all your favourite programs. Legit Reviews tests a 20GB Intel 311 SSD paired with a 600GB WD Velociraptor in both modes, enhanced and maximized to see which offers the greatest benefits. Check out their findings.

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"The Intel SSD 311 Series 20GB 'Larson Creek' drive proved itself to be a great cache drive. If you have an Intel Z68 platform that can run Intel Smart Response Technology, it's worth looking into if you have a hard drive for the primary drive and don't want to splurge on an SSD and having to re-install your OS!"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage