4k alignment from a free partitioning tool

Subject: Storage | August 12, 2013 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: ssd, partition, MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition, 4k

SSDs and modern OSes no longer use the old 512 byte LBA alignment, or at least they don't need to and in the case of SSDs offer larger disk size and faster performance.  However many people are not aware of 4k alignment nor how to check if their SSD is aligned nor what to do even if they do know it is not aligned.  Hardware.Info put together a short article on the steps to verify if your SSD is aligned as well as covering a free partitioning tool called MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition which will help you align your SSD as well as other tasks common to partitioning software.  As with any major changes being made at this low a level, do realize that this could cause data loss, but aligning those sectors is a great IDEMA.

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"When you copy the contents of a hard disk from a PC or laptop to an SSD you have to make sure that the placement of the partitions corresponds to the underlying hardware structure. The same is true for the latest generation of hard disks. Today we'll discuss what this so-called '4k alignment' really means and what you can do in order to prevent a decrease in performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Silicon Motion introduces new SM2246EN SATA SSD controller, promises lower power for mobile devices

Subject: Storage | August 12, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, silicon motion, sata, controller

You may very well have never heard of Silicon Motion (SMI), a major priducer of flash memory controllers, even if you've followed the SSD industry for a while. This is primarily because the vast majority of their products have been tailored for the devices that folks tend to not crack open during review, namely USB memory sticks, eMMC devices, and SD / CF cards:

silicon motion controller history.png

Creating controllers in those arenas will tend to force a company to do a few things very well:

  • Handle a very limited number of flash channels with the greatest speed possible, due to packaging requirements for very small devices.
  • Operate at the lowest power draw possible as to meet the current draw limits of the host interface.

This has resulted in SMI developing a 6Gb/sec SSD controller, dubbed the SM2246EN, using the above techniques:

SM2246EN Block Diagram.jpg

silicon motion bd specs.png

The block diagram shows what appears to be a fairly standard 4-channel configuration, though there are fewer steps in the pipeline as compared to SandForce and other controllers, which should help decrease latency and improve efficiency. There is also no compression engine, which means power consumption should be further reduced.

Read on for further details on specs and power consumption, followed by the full press blast.

ASUS Launches ROG RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD

Subject: Storage | July 28, 2013 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: ssd, raidr express, raidr, pci-e ssd, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS has officially launched its PCI-E based ROG RAIDR Express SSD which was first shown off at CES 2013. The company posted details and high resolution photos on its Republic of Gamers blog on Friday.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD Installed In A System.jpg

The new PCI-E-based solid state drive measures 157 x 120 x 20mm and contains 240GB of NAND flash encased in a sleek metal Replublic Of Gamers themed exterior. Specifically, the RAIDR Express uses 19nm Toshiba synchronous MLC NAND flash and two LSI SandForce 2281 SSD controllers. As such, the drive is actually two SSDs that are placed in a RAID 0 configuration for the best performance. ASUS rates the drive at 830 MB/s sequential reads and 810 MB/s sequential writes. The PCI-E SSD is further capable of up to 100,000 4K random IOPS.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD Chips.png

ASUS has also included what it is calling a "DuoMode" BIOS switch that allows the drive to be used with either legacy or modern UEFI BIOSes. When the switch is in the EUFI position, PCs with the modern UEFI-equipped motherboards can boot up faster.

Beyond the RAIDR Express SSD itself, ASUS includes the following bundled software packages:

  • CrystalDiskMark
  • RAMDisk software
  • HybriDisk caching software
  • SSD TweakIT utility

ASUS is including RAMDisk software that is able to use as much as 80% of system RAM as a virtual drive that can be used to reduce wear on the SSD by using the RAM drive instead of the SSD for writing temporary files and the like. The above mentioned HybriDisk software allows the RAIDR Express SSD to be used as a cache drive for mechanical hard drives up to 4TB in capacity. Users can use the TweakIT utility to manage and optimize the SSD, and the CrystalDiskMark benchmark is being included to allow gamers to run benchmarks on the RAIDR Express to get an idea of its performance.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD.png

Oddly enough, ASUS has yet to release specific pricing or availability. More information along with the full press release can be found on the Republic of Gamers blog, however.

With that said, some sites are reporting that the RAIDR Express will be sold for around 440 Euros, which works out to about $600 USD or $2.5 per Gigabyte. Update: Commentor Roberto has pointed out that the RAIDR Express 240GB is available over in Japan for around 39,980 Yen, or ~$409 USD which is a much more reasonable price. US availability and pricing are still just estimates at this point, however. A bit on the expensive side (if the price is true) for sure, but it is nice to see another player in the PCI-E SSD space and it looks to be a speedy drive aimed at ROG fans and enthusiasts.

Also read: Details on a 120GB ASUS ROG RAIDR Express SSD @ PC Perspective.

Source: ASUS

More on Samsung's new cached SSD wizardry

Subject: Storage | July 26, 2013 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo, MEX controller

Along with Al's review of the new EVO line you can get a second opinion from The Tech Report about the performance of the new SSD with a fast cache.  The majority of the storage is 19nm TLC NAND but there is an SLC cache sitting between the controller and that long term TLC storage to help with the overall responsiveness of the drive, aka TurboWrite. In the 120 and 250GB models that cache is 3GB while in the larger models you get a 6GB cache.  In their real world testing the new EVO drive is incredible at large file copying though Sandforce drives can beat it in small file copy speeds, likely thanks to the compressed write trickery that controller family is so good at.  Check out the review here and keep your fingers crossed that MSRP is the acual price these drives sell at.

TR_nand.jpg

"Samsung's entry-level 840 EVO SSD combines affordable TLC NAND with a server-style SLC cache. We explain the drive's unique buffering tech and explore how it affects performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction and Specifications

Introduction:

Last week, Samsung flew a select group of press out to Seoul, Korea. The event was the 2013 Samsung Global SSD Summit. Here we saw the launch of a new consumer SSD, the 840 EVO:

IMG_0007.JPG

This new SSD aims to replace the older 840 (non-Pro) model with one that is considerably more competitive. Let's just right into the specs:

Read on for our full review of the 500GB and 1TB models of Samsung's new SSD!

Samsung SSD EVO suggested pricing revealed

Subject: Storage | July 18, 2013 - 01:39 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, pricing, EVO, 840 evo

Samsung just showed us the pricing slide for their new 1x nm TLC TurboWrite cache equipped SSD line. Without further delay, here is suggested pricing for the Samsung 840 EVO:
 
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New Samsung 840 EVO employs TLC and pseudo-SLC TurboWrite cache

Subject: Storage | July 18, 2013 - 01:12 AM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, slc, sata, Samsung, cache, 840 evo

Samsung's release of the 840 EVO earlier today likely prompted some questions, such as what type of flash does it employ and how does it achieve such high write speeds. Here is the short answer, with many slides in-between, starting off with the main differences between the 840 and the 840 EVO:

DSC04627.JPG

So, slightly increased specs to help boost drive performance, and an important tidbit in that the new SSD does in fact keep TLC flash. Now a closer look at the increased write specs:

DSC04633.JPG

Ok, the speeds are much quicker, even though the flash is still TLC and even on a smaller process. How does it pull off this trick? Tech that Samsung calls TurboWrite.

DSC04637.JPG

A segment of the TLC flash is accessed by the controller as if it were SLC flash. This section of flash can be accessed (especially written) much faster. Writes are initially dumped to this area and that data is later moved over to the TLC area. This happenes as it would in a normal write-back cache - either during idle states or once the cache becomes full, which is what would happen during a sustained maximum speed write operation that is larger than the cache capacity. Here is the net effect with the cache in use and also when the cache becomes full:

DSC04638.JPG

For most users, even the smallest cache capacity will be sufficient for the vast majority of typical use. Larger caches appear in larger capacities, further improving performance under periods of large write demand. Here's the full spread of cache sizes per capacity point:

DSC04639.JPG

So there you have it, Samsung's new TurboWrite technology in a nutshell. More to follow (along with a performance review coming in the next few days). Stay tuned!

Samsung releases 840 EVO SSD at Global SSD Summit

Subject: Storage | July 17, 2013 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ssd, sata

Good morning from Seoul, Korea!

IMG_0041.JPG

We're covering the 2013 Samsung Global SSD Summit, and the press embargo has just been lifted on a new SSD - the 840 EVO:

IMG_0007.JPG

The EVO will push 10nm-class (1x nm) flash, promises increased (2x-3x) write speed improvements over the 840, and will be available in capaities as high as 1TB:

IMG_0005.JPG

Full press blast after the break, and more to follow as the Samsung SSD Summit continues.

SanDisk's Extreme II, the neopolitan SSD

Subject: Storage | July 15, 2013 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: sandisk, Extreme II series, ssd, mlc, slc

SanDisk has done something interesting with their new Extreme II SSD series, they have used both SLC and MLC flash in the drive to attempt to give users the best of both worlds.  The drive still has a DDR cache sitting between the flash storage and the controller, but there is an nCache between the MLC flash and the DDR comprised of ~1GB of SLC flash.  The idea is that the SLC can quickly accumulate a number of small writes into a larger single write block which can then be passed to the MLC flash for storage.  Don't think of it as a traditional cache in which entire programs are stored for quick access but more as a write buffer which fills up and then passes its self to the long term storage media once it is full.  The Tech Report put this drive through their tests and found it to be a great all around performer, not the fastest nor the best value but very good in almost any usage scenario.

TR_ncache.jpg

"With MLC main storage and an SLC flash cache, the SanDisk Extreme II is unlike any other SSD we've encountered. We explore the drive's unique design and see whether it can keep up with the fastest SSDs on the market."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Podcast #258 - Corsair 900D, HD 7790 vs GTX 650Ti BOOST, Leaked AMD APUs and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2013 - 12:45 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, corsair, 900D, 7790, 650ti boost, amd, Richland, nvidia, kepler, titan, Intel, ssd

PC Perspective Podcast #258 - 07/04/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair 900D, HD 7790 vs GTX 650Ti BOOST, Leaked AMD APUs 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:14:23

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. 0:58:25 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: USB Practical Meter (kickstarter)
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro