Get Speedy Portable Storage With mSATA to USB 3.0 Enclosures

Subject: Storage | May 5, 2014 - 10:32 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, ssd, portable storage, msata

VisionTek recently released a new storage product dubbed the mSATA mini USB 3.0 Bus-Powered SSD Enclosure (900696). Despite the name, VisionTek has an interesting product on its hands as it not only enables speedy portable storage (assuming you have hardware with USB 3.0 ports of course), but allows users to put any mSATA SSDs that would otherwise be gathering dust in a drawer to good use! Essentially, it is a small metal enclosure that accepts a mSATA SSD and interfaces it with a PC over USB 3.0.

Visiontek mSATA SSD USB 3.0 Enclosure.jpg

The mSATA USB 3.0 enclosure measures 2.88" x 1.63" x 0.51" and is constructed of aluminum with a textured titanium color (for aesthetics) and rounded edges. Users can install any mSATA SSD up to 50mm in length. A third generation ASMedia ASM1153E controller then performs the conversion from the drive's SATA I, II, or III interface to USB 3.0. Naturally, you are going to take a performance hit due to the added latency and interface conversion introduced by the ASMedia controller versus directly attaching the drive to a motherboard's mSATA slot. Fortunately, the hit to performance is fairly minimal when dealing with large file transfers and sequential read and write performance.

According to Legit Reviews, their Kingston 120GB (SATA 3 6 Gbps) mSATA solid state drive saw sequential read and write speeds of 271 MB/s and 160 MB/s respectively when connected to a motherboard slot. When installed in the USB 3.0 enclosure, speeds dropped to 250 MB/s sequential reads and 158 MB/s sequential writes. Further, a large 71GB 4K video file transfer averaged out to 151 MB/s. The exact speeds will vary with the specific drive users install, but the thing to note is that the performance hit should be minimal (at least the performance relating to dealing with file copies, random access will take a larger hit) despite adding the USB 3.0 interface to the equation. 

mSATA to USB 3 portable SSD enclosure.jpg

The VisionTek drive is available now with a three year warranty for $30.72 from Amazon, which is a tempting price for fast portable storage especially if you already have a mSATA drive laying around! Notably, it seems that VisionTek is not the only manufacturer sourcing these boards, as MyDigitalSSD has a simlar drive with an MSRP of $24.99.

If you are interested in putting together your own SSD-powered portable drive, check out the full review linked above.

Now, if I can only encourage Allyn to recycle some of his mSATA drives...

Source: Tech Report

PCIe SATA Express - Faster than the speed of NDA

Subject: Storage | May 1, 2014 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: SATA Express, pcie, asus, ssd, Z97-Deluxe

KitGuru had a chance to test the ASUS Z97-Deluxe with a Concept Edition SATA Express SSD from ASUS to see what happens when you can feed the data from an SSD across two SATA ports, giving it the bandwidth of two PCIe lanes.  That should allow a theoretical 10Gbps bandwidth as PCIe 3.0 lanes are still being held in reserve as there are not that many available on an LGA1150 board but as KitGuru points out "leaked information suggest (we still cannot confirm anything) that M.2 support will be native to the ‘future Intel chipset’."  Check out their review and be prepared to be amazed that the speed of 728MBps was lower than expected.

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"We revisit the SATA Express interface to obtain a more up-to-date look at what the next generation of SATA connections is capable of. Our tools for the job; a retail Asus motherboard set to release soon, and a concept version of Asus’ Hyper Express enclosure, internally powered by solid state storage."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: KitGuru

Using TLC flash to offer consumer level pricing to data centers?

Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2014 - 09:59 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, ssd, tlc

Samsung has been working with TLC flash for a while now, both the original 840 and the 840 EVO utilize that type of flash, the increased yields offer lower pricing at the cost of a reduced number of writes before the flash begins to fail.   The Register has posted their announcement of a new product line aimed at the data centre; the PM835T family will come in 240GB, 480GB and 960GB models and will also use TLC flash, with pricing predicted to be comparable to consumer level drives.  With Samsung's 10nm-class TLC flash the experts at SMART suspect a 500 phase/erase cycle lifetime however depending on how Samsung has designed the drives the actual number could be much higher, they do offer a 3 year warranty on their current TLC drives.  For now Samsung is not releasing an official expected lifetime for these drives which raises a question, will enterprise feel the short term cost savings are worth the long term replacement costs?

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"Triple-level cell (TLC) flash chips mean fabs can extract more flash capacity from a silicon wafer, and so production costs are lower than for two-level cell MLC technology. Samsung says it gets "a 30 per cent increase in manufacturing efficiency compared to SSDs that use 2-bit NAND flash components."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Toshiba 15nm Flash Memory in Mass Production

Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 23, 2014 - 05:57 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, 15nm

While we often see smaller fabrication nodes discussed in terms of faster and more power efficient processors, it also increases storage density for memory circuits. In fact, it is probably easier to visualize how a process shrink will increase memory capacity than it is to ponder the benefits for CPUs and GPUs. Smaller features in the same area gives more places to cram data. Toshiba is starting to mass produce 15nm NAND Flash at Fab 5 in Yokkaichi.

Toshiba_15nm_NAND_Flash_Memories.jpg

While not mentioned in the press release, I believe that SanDisk and Toshiba are still in a partnership. The facility being discussed was actually a $4 Billion USD joint-venture between these two companies. I, reasonably, expect that SanDisk will also see some benefits from today's announcement. According to the press release, 15nm MLC is already in mass production with TLC following in June.

I brought up this story to Allyn, to see if he had any insights on it. He noted that 15nm is getting quite small. I asked about its implications in terms of write longevity, as that is has been the biggest concern in previous node shrinks. He guesses that the flash should be able to handle around 1,000 writes on average, compared to ~3,000 writes on IMFT's 20nm process. Keep in mind, IMFT prides itself on enterprise longevity and so, at least to me, it sounds fairly reasonable. Toshiba also mentions that they will have products for the high reliability market, such as enterprise SSDs.

The announcement does not mention anything that you can go out and buy yet, though. At the moment, it is behind-the-scenes stuff. It should be soon. I doubt that Toshiba would mass produce components like this without products or OEMs lined up.

Source: Toshiba

Kingston Digital Releases Larger Capacity mSATA Drives

Subject: Storage | April 22, 2014 - 11:24 AM |
Tagged: kingston, msata, ssdnow, SandForce SF-2241, SandForce SF-2281, ssd

Fountain Valley, CA – April 21, 2014 – Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, today announced the addition of 240GB and 480GB capacities to the existing SSDNow mS200 mSATA SSD line. Kingston’s SSDNow mS200 mSATA solid-state drive allows system builders and enthusiasts a cost-effective performance boost with quicker boot time and application loads while requiring less power than HDDs.

The mS200’s small-form factor is perfect for notebook, tablet and Ultrabook PCs, as well as a variety of embedded systems. It can also be used as a caching device with motherboards that support Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT) to improve system performance. mS200 has read speeds up to 550MB/s and write speeds up to 520MB/s.

The 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB mS200 mSATA SSDs have a caseless, PCB-only design with no moving parts and are backed by a two- or three-year warranty, free technical support and legendary Kingston reliability. For more information visit www.kingston.com.

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Features & Specifications:

  • LSI SandForce 2241 (30GB, 60GB, 120GB) and 2281 (240GB, 480GB) controller with SATA Rev. 3.0 (6Gb/s) interface: twice as fast as the previous generation, yet more cost-efficient 
  • mSATA interface: fully compliant with industry standard, easy to fit, guaranteed to work 
  • NAND Flash memory based: shock-resistant with low power consumption
  • Supports Intel’s SRT: combines capacity advantage of HDD with performance improvements of SSD in dual-storage configuration
  • Supports S.M.A.R.T.: monitors the status of your drive
  • Supports TRIM: maintains maximum performance on compatible operating systems
  • Interface: SATA Rev. 3.0 (6Gb/s), SATA Rev. 2.0 (3Gb/s), SATA Rev. 1.0 (1.5Gb/s) ·
  • Capacities1: 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
  • Automatic Encryption (AES 128-bit):Password at the drive level ensures secure data protection
  • Sequential Read/Write2:
    • 30GB – 550 MB/s / 510MB/s
    • 60GB – 550 MB/s / 520MB/s
    • 120GB – 550MB/s / 520MB/s
    • 240GB – 540MB/s / 530MB/s
    • 480GB – 530MB/s / 340MB/s ·
  • Maximum 4k Read/Write2:
    • 30GB – up to 86,000/ up to 77,000 IOPS
    • 60GB – up to 86,000/ up to 79,000 IOPS
    • 120GB – up to 86,000/ up to 48,000 IOPS
    • 240GB – up to 72,000/up to 40,000 IOPS
    • 480GB – up to 72,000/up to 18,000 IOPS ·
  • Random 4k Read/Write2:
    • 30GB – up to 7,500/71,000 IOPS
    • 60GB – up to 14,000/77,000 IOPS
    • 120GB – up to 17,000/45,000 IOPS
    • 240GB – up to 21,000/41,000 IOPS
    • 480GB – up to 21,000/13,000 IOPS
  • PCMARK® Vantage HDD Suite Score: 60,000
  • Power Consumption: 0.4W Idle / 1.2 (TYP) Read / 1.8W (TYP) Write
  • Storage temperature: -40°C ~ 85°C
  • Operating temperature: 0°C ~ 70°C
  • Dimensions: 50.88mm x 30mm 
  • Weight: 6.86g
  • TRIM Supported
  • Vibration operating: 2.17G
  • Vibration non-operating: 20G
  • MTTF: 1,000,000 Hrs
  • Warranty/support:
    • 30GB – two-year warranty with free technical support
    • 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB – three-year warranty with free technical support 
  • Total Bytes Written (TBW)3:
    • 30GB: 121TB 3 DWPD4
    • 60GB: 218TB 3 DWPD4
    • 120GB: 337TBW 2 DWPD4
    • 240GB: 585TBW 2 DWPD4
    • 480GB: 1562TBW 2 DWPD4

1 Some of the listed capacity on a Flash storage device is used for formatting and other functions and thus is not available for data storage. As such, the actual available capacity for data storage is less than what is listed on the products. For more information, go to Kingston's Flash Memory Guide.
2 Based on “out-of-box performance.” Speed may vary due to host hardware, software and usage.
3 Total Bytes Written (TBW) is derived from the JEDEC Workload (JESD219A).
4 Drive Writes Per Day (DWPD)

Source: Kingston

A tale of two SSDs; Crucial and ADATA's twins

Subject: Storage | April 3, 2014 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SP920, sata, Marvell, adata

Sticking with ADATA today, The Tech Report has also put together a review of the Premiere Pro SP920 which was eerily familiar to them.  The Marvell controller, Micron MLC NAND and DRAM cache all mirrored the Crucial M550 which they reviewed last month.  One difference they noted right off the start was support for third party utilities to read the SMART data, with which they had far more success than with Crucial's drive.  Their performance results were not surprising; the two drives performed the same which leaves price and support as the determining factor when purchasing one of these two twins, something that The Tech Report offers advice on in their conclusion.

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"Adata's latest Premiere Pro SP920 SSD bears an uncanny resemblance to a big-name drive that was released recently. This isn't a straight copycat, though. Read on to see what makes the SP920 different."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: ADATA
Tagged: ssd, SP920, sata, Marvell, adata

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

ADATA has been in the storage market for a good while now. I like to think of them as the patient underdog. They don't necessarily come out with the shiny new controller or flash technology. Instead they tend to sit back and wait for a given set of hardware to mature and drop in price a bit. Once that happens, they figure out how to package the matured technology into a device of relatively low cost as compared to the competition. They have done so again today, with their new Premier Pro SP920 lineup:

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As hinted at earlier, this line does not use the newest Marvell controller, but as Marvell controllers have been very capable SATA 6Gb/sec units for a long time now, that is not necessarily a bad thing. In addition, Marvell controllers have a track record of gaining significant performance margins as their firmware matures, which makes ADATA's later entrance more of a good thing.

Continue reading for the full scoop and performance benchmarks of all available capacities!!

Subject: Editorial, Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction and Background

Introduction:

Back in 2010, Intel threw a bit of a press thing for a short list of analysts and reviewers out at their IMFT flash memory plant at Lehi, Utah. The theme and message of that event was to announce 25nm flash entering mass production. A few years have passed, and 25nm flash is fairly ubiquitous, with 20nm rapidly gaining as IMFT scales production even higher with the smaller process. Last week, Intel threw a similar event, but instead of showing off a die shrink or even announcing a new enthusiast SSD, they chose to take a step back and brief us on the various design, engineering, and validation testing of their flash storage product lines.

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At the Lehi event, I did my best to make off with a 25nm wafer.

Many topics were covered at this new event at the Intel campus at Folsom, CA, and over the coming weeks we will be filling you in on many of them as we take the necessary time to digest the fire hose of intel (pun intended) that we received. Today I'm going to lay out one of the more impressive things I saw at the briefings, and that is the process Intel goes through to ensure their products are among the most solid and reliable in the industry.

Read on for more on how Intel tests their products!

Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD for $469, 750GB for $388

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 18, 2014 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, ocz, Intel, corsair

Back in January I wrote a short editorial that asked the question: "Is now the time to buy an SSD?" At that time we were looking at a combination of price drops with a lack of upcoming hardware releases. Since that published we have seen the release of the Intel 730 Series SSDs and even the new Crucial M550.  While those are interesting drives to be sure (review pending on the M550), they aren't changing our opinions on the currently available, and incredibly cheap, solid state options.

While looking for some new hardware for the office, I found that the 1TB Samsung 840 EVO is now at an all time low $469!  That is one of the faster SSDs on the market, and one of Allyn's favorites, for $0.469/GB!!  I have included an updated table below with some of the most popular SSDs and their prices.  

Series Capacity Cost/GB Price
Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB $0.69/GB $83 - Amazon
  250 GB $0.55/GB $139 - Amazon
  500 GB $0.51/GB $259 - Amazon
  750 GB $0.51/GB $388 - Amazon
  1000 GB $0.46/GB $469 - Amazon
Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB $0.92/GB $119 - Amazon
  256 GB $0.77/GB $199 - Amazon
  512 GB $0.74/GB $413 - Amazon
Intel 530 Series 120 GB $0.91/GB $89 - Amazon
  180 GB $0.80/GB $144 - Amazon
  240 GB $0.62/GB $149 - Amazon
  480 GB $0.87/GB $419 - Amazon
Crucial M500 Series 120 GB $0.57/GB $69 - Amazon
  240 GB $0.49/GB $119 - Amazon
  480 GB $0.47/GB $229 - Amazon
  960 GB $0.45/GB $439 - Amazon

The biggest price drops were seen in the higher capacity drives including, the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB and 750GB models, the Intel 530 Series 480GB drive and even the Crucial M500 960GB and 480GB drives.  Numerically the best value is with the 960GB Crucial M500 drive at $0.45/GB but it is followed very closely by that 1TB Samsung 840 EVO.  

evo1.jpg

As of now, the Intel 730 Series of SSDs is available for sale on Amazon.com but their price per GB comparisons don't really match that of the EVO or M500.  They are great drives, just read Allyn's review to see the proof of that, but they are targeted at the very performance conscious.  The Crucial M550 is brand new, and looks interesting; expect us to dive more into that line very soon.

For me personally, grabbing a 750GB SSD is incredibly enticing and I think I'll find a handful in my cart to update our older 180GB SSD test beds.

OCZ is still putting out; revisit the Vertex 460

Subject: Storage | March 17, 2014 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: vertex 460, ssd, sata, ocz, Indilinx Barefoot, 19nm

If you had any questions left after Al's review of the new OCZ Vertex 460 series then you can take another look at it today.  This tiny 7mm drive is perfect for Ultrabooks and other slim devices as well as fitting into any system that wants a boost to storage speeds.  The 240GB model that Hardware Canucks reviewed sports two 256MB DDR3-1333 DIMMs for cache to keep the Barefoot 3 M10 controller working full out transferring data between the 19nm NAND storage.  Those of you who have not yet upgraded to a SATA 6Gbps controller may be especially interested in the SATA II performance which is covered in the full review.

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"OCZ has begun a major turn-around and the Vertex 460 is meant to be their price / performance leader. With a barefoot controller and 19nm MLC NAND, it certainly has what it takes. "

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage