Podcast #154 - Intel Z68 Chipset release, Intel SRT SSD caching technogy, OCZ Agility 3 and Solid 3 and more!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | May 12, 2011 - 11:30 AM |
Tagged: z68, ssd, srt, solid, smart response technology, smart response, podcast, ocz, Intel, agility

PC Perspective Podcast #154 - 5/12/2011

This week we talk about the Intel Z68 Chipset release, Intel SRT SSD caching technogy, the OCZ Agility 3 and Solid 3, Viewer Questions and more!

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Hosts: 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: 1:15:39

Program Schedule:

Source:

S-M-R-T, I am so smart. Intel's new Z68 with SRT is faster than a Homer

Subject: Motherboards | May 11, 2011 - 12:17 PM |
Tagged: z68, ssd, srt, msi, Intel

The wait is finally over and we can talk about the high end Sandy Bridge chipset which goes by the moniker Z68.  Finally you can use the GPU present in your Intel CPU and a discreet GPU at the same time and be able to overclock as well, which puts the H67 and P67 firmly back into the mid-range where they were intended to be.  That is not the only thing that has had enthusiasts waiting, Intel's Smart Response Technology, aka SRT but mostly known as SSD caching which implements cached I/O in a new way.  Check out [H]ard|OCP's full review to see what the impact of this technology has on your computing experience while you are waiting for the X79 to arrive.

You can see our coverage here.

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"Cache I/O isn't a new advancement in storage technology but does play a large role in the future of storage on many Intel systems. Today we look at Intel's new Smart Response Technology and give our thoughts while keeping an eye on the future of consumer storage advances."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction

For the past few months, we've seen rumors upon rumors of a hybrid combination of the H67 and P67 chipsets into a 'Z' series. As the storage editor, I don't normally focus on a chipset update unless there is a corresponding increase in SATA bus speeds and/or ports available on the newer product.

This time things were different. While the Z series had the same SATA bandwidth specs as its older brothers, there was an extra feature that was rather huge in the storage world: Smart Response Technology.

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OCZ Technology Announces the Agility 3 and Solid 3 SATA III Solid State Drives

Subject: Storage | May 10, 2011 - 08:28 AM |
Tagged: ssd, solid, sata, ocz, agility, 6gbps, 3

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SAN JOSE, CA—May 10, 2011—OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, today unveiled the Agility 3 and Solid 3 SATA III SSD product lines. The Agility 3 and Solid 3 are designed to cater to speed-seeking enthusiasts in search of the best value for performance. Using the latest technology, these new series deliver nearly double the performance of the previous generation and offer a more cost-effective alternative to current SATA 6Gbps SSDs on the market.

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“With increased availability of SATA III platforms, the demand for the latest generation SSDs has grown rapidly,” said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ technology Group. “We are addressing this demand with new products that offer both the best performance and value for consumers. The new Agility 3 and Solid 3 SSDs make it easier than ever for consumers take advantage of the new SATA III interface. When coupled with the speed and reliability benefits that our SSDs offer over traditional hard drives, it makes the two new series the ideal choices for mobile and desktop applications.”

Agility 3 and Solid 3 SSDs feature the leading-edge SandForce® SF-2200 SSD processor and help improve the overall computing experience compared to traditional mechanical hard drives and SATA II SSDs. The Agility 3 delivers up to 525MB/s reads, 500MB/s writes, and up to 60,000 4KB random write IOPS while the value-oriented Solid 3 features 500MB/s reads, 450MB/s writes, and 20,000 4KB random write IOPS.

Available in a new boot-drive size 60GB capacity as well as 120GB and 240GB options, Agility 3 and Solid 3 SSDs feature TRIM support to optimize performance over the drive’s lifespan. Both solutions come backed by a 3-year warranty for ultimate customer satisfaction and peace of mind.

Source: OCZ

Very colourful and extremely fast; meet OWC's Mercury Extreme Pro 6G

Subject: Storage | May 5, 2011 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: owc, ocz, ssd, 120gb, sata 6Gps, sandforce

OWC appeared on the SSD scene in partnership with Apple, though they sold drives to PC users as well.  Their current generation uses SandForce's Release Candidate firmware for the SF-2281 controller as opposed to OCZ's official firmware that is present in the Vertex 3 SSDs.  That is not the only difference, OCZ rolled their own PCB while OWC went with a design that caused a few raised eyebrows at AnandTech.  Read their full review to see how the performance evened out.

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"I still don't get how OWC managed to beat OCZ to market last year with the Mercury Extreme SSD. The Vertex LE was supposed to be the first SF-1500 based SSD on the market, but as I mentioned in our review of OWC's offering - readers had drives in hand days before the Vertex LE even started shipping.

I don't believe the same was true this time around. The Vertex 3 was the first SF-2200 based SSD available for purchase online, but OWC was still a close second. Despite multiple SandForce partners announcing drives based on the controller, only OCZ and OWC are shipping SSDs with SandForce's SF-2200 inside."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: AnandTech

What is AIDA64 Extreme Edition? Only the new improved replacement for the Everest benchmarking tool

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Storage | May 4, 2011 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: ssd, everest, benchmarking, benchmark, aida64, aida

BUDAPEST, Hungary - May 04, 2011 - FinalWire Ltd. today announced the immediate availability of AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.70 software, a streamlined diagnostic and benchmarking tool for home users; and the immediate availability of AIDA64 Business Edition 1.70 software, an essential network management solution for small and medium scale enterprises.

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The new AIDA64 release further strengthens its solid-state drive health and temperature monitoring capabilities, and implements support for the latest graphics processors from both AMD and nVIDIA.

New features & improvements

  • LGA1155 B3 stepping motherboards support
  • Preliminary support for AMD “Bulldozer” and “Llano” processors
  • Intel 320, Intel 510, OCZ Vertex 3, Samsung PM810 SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon HD 6770M, Radeon HD 6790
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce GT 520, GT 520M, GT 550M, GT 555M, GTX 550 Ti, GTX 590

Pricing and Availability
AIDA64 Extreme Edition and AIDA64 Business Edition are available now at www.aida64.com/online-store. Additional information on product features, system requirements, and language versions is available at www.aida64.com/products. Join our Discussion Forum at forums.aida64.com.

AIDA64 license renewal is now available. For more information, visit www.aida64.com/aida64-renewal.
A migration program is available for all EVEREST customers at www.aida64.com/everest-upgrade.

Source: AIDA

More on the Z68's love affair with SSDs

Subject: Motherboards, Storage | April 28, 2011 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: z68, ssd, ssd caching, Intel

Since it would be cruel to leave you only with the leaked SSD family from Intel and a few hints from ASRock about the performance increase from even a 20GB SSD, here is some more information from VR-Zone.  Bear in mind we are still in the territory of leaked info and informed guessing but the topic is one worth keeping up with.

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"Intel plans to officially launch Z68 Express chipset on May 18th but you will be able to see reviews online from 12th onwards. Of course, those who can't wait for the official launch can already purchase the Gigabyte Z68X-UD7-B3 board from the retail market, first available in Taiwan and then the rest of the world in the coming weeks. Other brands like ASUS and ASRock are set to hit the retail next. Those enthusiasts hoping they can overclock their Sandy Bridge better on Z68 than the P67 will probably be disappointed but there is one important feature of Z68 that matters, and that is the SSD caching."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: VR-Zone

OCZ Technology Announces VeloDrive PCI-Express Solid State Drive

Subject: Storage | April 28, 2011 - 03:35 PM |
Tagged: ssd, PCIe SSD, enterprise

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SAN JOSE, CA—April 27, 2011—OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of high-performance solid state drives (SSDs), today unveiled the VeloDrive PCI-Express SSD. Designed to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), enterprise clients and system integrators, the VeloDrive optimizes high-performance computing and storage applications, providing unparalleled versatility and simplified integration.

“The VeloDrive is the latest addition to our comprehensive lineup of PCIe SSDs. A truly configurable solution, it helps a range of customers accelerate their application performance,” said Daryl Lang, VP of Product Management, OCZ Technology Group. “The ability to run the VeloDrive in multiple modes provides clients with the freedom to use the raid stack of their choice. This maximizes performance and creates faster, more seamless deployments with RAID stacks that may already have been qualified for their unique usage model.”

The VeloDrive can be run in either hardware or software RAID mode and can be deployed in half-height or full-height system requirements. When compared with competing PCIe flash-based solutions, the highly-efficient VeloDrive has a minimal impact on system resources including CPU utilization and the system’s DRAM footprint.

Eliminating the SATA/SAS bottleneck, the PCIe-based VeloDrive has the ability to delivers transfer speeds of up to 1GB/s and 130,000 4KB random write IOPS, and features SandForce® SF-1565 SSD processors for enhanced reliability and power loss data protection. The VeloDrive utilizes MLC NAND flash and will be available in 300GB, 600GB, and 1.2TB configurations.

Source: OCZ

Intel's Z68 SSD caching revealed

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2011 - 09:52 AM |
Tagged: leak, ssd, Intel, 720, 710, 520, z68, larson creek

ASRock made a bit of a mistake which enthusiasts everywhere are grateful for. We have been given a sneak peek at the upcoming SSD families, the 720, 710 and 520 series.  As if that wasn't good enough for those keeping an eye on the development of SSDs, we also get a peek at what even a small SSD can do for a system built on a Z68 board and using a traditional platter based HDD.  Check out The Inquirer for more information on this very interesting leak.

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"Chipzilla recently updated its popular range of SSDs with the 320 Series of drives based on 25nm NAND flash memory modules, but it looks like the chipmaker will release another, smaller capacity drive to interface with the Z68 chipset for its Sandy Bridge line of processors. At the launch of the 320 Series, Intel announced capacities ranging from 40GB to 600GB, however a new 20GB drive codenamed Larsen Creek was spotted when Asrock sent out some marketing material about Intel's upcoming Z68 chipset."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Next gen SSD controllers pushing for TLC flash

Subject: Storage | April 27, 2011 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, slc, ocz, mlc, flash

A while back, Intel and Micron jointly announced the beginnings of 20nm flash memory production, promising a 50% increase in die count per wafer (or a 50% reduction in per die production cost, depending on how you slice it). This shrink only did just that - shrink the die. Capacity remained at 64Gbit (8GB).

A few days ago IMFT also announced another way to shrink that die, but this time keeping with the now 'old' 25nm process. It turns out they have refined 25nm to the point where consumer-grade TLC flash can be produced. TLC is Triple-Level-Cell. While SLC (Single) holds 1 bit per cell, and MLC (Multi) holds two, TLC holds 3 bits per cell. Compared to the MLC 25nm dies, this gives a capacity increase without changing much else. IMFT, however, is happy with the 8GB 'sweet spot', so instead of jumping to a 12GB die of the same physical size, they are opting to instead shrink the current 25nm die to 131mm^2.

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25nm TLC die, same 8GB capacity, but less area than the 25nm MLC die.

This gives Intel and Micron two options for ultimately reducing the price of flash - either by shrinking the process and getting more 8GB MLC dies out of a 20nm wafer, or by squeezing more bits into each cell of existing 25nm flash.

This is good stuff. Let's hope it gets even more SSD's into even more machines this holiday season.