Author:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Various

The stars are aligned

One of the most frequent questions we get at PC Perspective is some derivative of "is now the time to buy or should I wait?"  If you listen to the PC Perspective Podcast or This Week in Computer Hardware you'll know that I usually err on the side of purchasing now. Why should you hold yourself back on the enjoyment of technology unless something DRAMATIC is just over the horizon.

This week I got another such email that prompted me to do some thinking.  After just returning from CES 2014 in Las Vegas, I think its fair to say that we didn't hear anything concrete about upcoming SSD plans that would really be considered monumental.  Sure, we saw plenty of PCIe SSDs as well as some M.2 options, but little for PC enthusiasts or even users that are looking to replace the hard drives in their PlayStation 4. Our team thinks that now is about as good of a time to buy an SSD as you will get.

And while you are always going to see price drops on commodity goods like flash storage, the prices on some of our favorite SSDs are at a low that we haven't witnessed without the rebates and flash deals of Black Friday / Cyber Monday.  Let's take a look at a few:

Note: It should go without saying that all of these price discussions are as of this writing and could change...

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Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD (Red: Amazon, Yellow: Newegg) - Graph courtesy HoverHound

The flagship SSD from the Samsung 840 EVO series SSDs, also the personal favorite of Allyn and most of the rest of the PC Perspective team, is near its all-time low in price at just $529 for a 1TB capacity.  That is a cost per GB of just $0.529; no rebates, no gimmicks.  

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Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD (Red: Amazon, Yellow: Newegg) - Graph courtesy HoverHound

Likely the most popularly purchased of the EVO series is the 500GB model that is currently selling on Amazon for $309, or $0.618/GB.  Obviously that is a higher mark than the 1TB hits but as you'll see in our tables below, in general, the higher capacity you purchase at the better value per GB you are going to find.  

There are other capacities of the Samsung 840 EVO starting at 120GB, going to 250GB, and even a 750GB, all are included in the pricing table below.  Depending on your budget and your need for the best perceived value, you can make a decision on your own.

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Let's not forget the other options on the market; Samsung may be the strongest player today but companies like Intel, OCZ and Corsair continue to have a strong presence.  The second best selling series of SSD during the holidays was the Intel 530 series of drives that utilize the LSI SandForce SF2281 controller.  How do they stack up price-wise?

Continue reading our analysis to determine if this is the best time to buy an SSD!!

Heavy peta-ing; fondling SSDs in a bad way

Subject: Storage | January 10, 2014 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: ssd, petabyte, SSD test, endurance

The Tech Report's attempts to test SSDs to destruction have hit the 500TB mark, with three two-bit MLC NAND drives and one three-bit TLC model all trying to survive.  They are using raw SMART data to keep track of sectors reallocated from the spare area to replace flash which has died due to repeated usage.  So far the Samsung 840 with its three bit TLC has suffered the most loss of sectors but like the other drives it has not shown much performance degradation.  There have been a few other bumps in the road during the tests, check out the full story here.

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"Our SSD Endurance Experiment has reached the half-petabyte mark, so it's time for another checkup."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

CES 2014: OCZ shows Barefoot/Toshiba powered Vertex 460 and new Z-Drive 4500

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2014 - 10:56 PM |
Tagged: z-drive, toshiba, ssd, ocz, CES 2014, CES, barefoot 3

Earlier today we swing by OCZ for a look at what was new. First up is a fresh launch, the Vertex 460:

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This new SSD will sport a Barefoot 3 M10 controller driving Toshiba 19nm flash. With OCZ's recent acquisition by Toshiba, this makes things handy, as OCZ can now source this flash at a much lower cost. I suspect much of OCZ's lineup will make a similar transition as time goes on.

Also up is a few changes in the enterprise sector:

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The Intrepid (center) sticks around, while the PCIe solutions get a bit of a shuffle. To the left is the Z-Drive 4500, which is a shorter iteration of OCZ's previous enterprise offerings.

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The Z-Drive XL (right) may look a bit familiar from the back. It's actually a slight repackage of the Z-Dive R4. The main tweaks here were cooling optimizations and a heatsink that keeps the same form and function as the smaller 4500.

We will have a review of the Vertex 460 up in a few weeks time, and we are happy to see OCZ won't be going anywhere any time soon.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES 2014: Increased M.2 SSD presence at Storage Visions

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2014 - 11:32 PM |
Tagged: ssd, M.2, CES 2014, CES

During our roam of Storage Visions we noticed a bit of a trend. Of the limited devices on display, an increasing number of them were of the M.2 form factor. Our first sighting of an M.2 device was last CES, at a Micron press briefing. Since then, we have only seen a few announcements of support for this form factor. The key to M.2 is that host will be able to support both SATA and PCIe connectivity through the same physical port. While many of the SSDs available will start off using well-known SATA controllers, M.2 will make the transition to PCIe storage controllers significantly easier.

Here are some of the M.2 devices we spotted. First a couple from SanDisk:

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M.2 makes things a bit simpler as far as PCB size goes. Where mSATA had a bunch of random names denoting various sized, M.2 simply puts the dimensions (in mm) right after the name. For example, M.2 2260 is 22mm wide band 60mm in length. Below are some more examples from various vendors:

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Above we see samples from Toshiba (upper left), Kingston (center left), and Intel (two right). We also spoted an engineering sample of an M.2 Intel 1500 Pro:

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The part number of this unit is CVDA321500BX180H, and like other 1500 Pro models it is equipped with a newer low-power SandForce 2281.

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Here's hoping these devices trickle out into the mainstream. Standardization should help with adoption and upgradeability, especially in Ultrabooks and smaller devices incorporating these units.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Tiny storage that will grow in 2014; meet M.2

Subject: Storage | January 3, 2014 - 12:07 PM |
Tagged: M.2, ssd, kingspec, jmicron

If you aren't familiar with just how cute the M.2 form factor is, the picture below shows it attached just below a SATA power and data connector which, when you include the plugs, is significantly larger than the 128GB M.2 SSD.  This allows you to slip this style of SSD into just about any sized device you could want as long as you have an M.2 connector.  The KingSpec models that The SSD Review just benchmarked use a JMicron so aren't the fastest on the block but that has nothing to do with the size as these top out at SATA 6Gbps just like any other drive.  Check their full reivew here.

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"The KingSpec CHA-M2B7 M.2 NGFF ultrabook SSD is available in capacities of 32, 64 an 128GB and is a 42mm(L) X 22mm(W)X3.2mm(H) SATA M.2 SSD. To say it is small is an understatement as we can fit four of these on a typical business card with plenty of room to spare. "

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

The Samsung 840 goes mSATA in a big way

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2013 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: ssd, msata, Samsung 840, 1TB

The new Samsung 840 EVO mSATA SSD has arrived with 1TB of storage at a price comparable to the existing 2.5" form.  This different way to connect an SSD will not be with us long as M.2 starts to be adopted but currently offers the same benefits as the full sized connection you are more familiar with.  From the tests conducted at SSD Review you can see that this would be a great update to a laptop which possesses an mSATA slot and will greatly improve performance.  While endurance is possibly a concern the fact that Samsung offers a 3 year warranty should assuage your worries somewhat.

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"There is no doubt in anyones mind that 2014 will be the year of the M.2/NGFF SSD, however, Samsung is about to release an SSD that is guaranteed to rock the SSD community like few others have. This SSD is the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB mSATA SSD and it, not only is the one and only mSATA SSD capable of 1TB storage available in the world, but also, Samsung has priced this SSD at only $10 higher than it’s sister 1TB notebook form factor SSD. To say that there are more than a few mSATA SSD storage based notebook owners that have been waiting for some time for exactly this type of capacity is an understatement; Lenovo Thinkpad sales surpassed the 60 million mark some time ago."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: SSD Review

OCZ updates their enterprise lineup with two new Intrepid 3000 Series models

Subject: Storage | December 12, 2013 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: ssd, ocz, intrepid, 3800, 3600, 3000

OCZ hasn't exactly been having a smooth run lately. Despite, or perhaps in spite of talks of bankruptcy and buyouts, they have launched an update to their enterprise lineup:

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The new Intrepid 3000 Series is built on a Marvell 88SS9187 controller running custom firmware developed in-house by OCZ. This combination achieves a claimed 91,000 random 4K read IOPS and a steady 40,000 random 4K write IOPS. These specs are significantly higher than OCZ's previous generation enterprise SSD, the SandForce-driven Deveva 2. This combination has also enabled greater data endurance and protection via BCH error correction of up to 85 bits per 2Kb. The controller and new firmware also treat the flash as a RAID to further increase redundancy.

The Intrepid will be available in two models, segmented by the endurance rating of the installed 19nm Toshiba flash:

  • Intrepid 3600:
    • 19nm MLC
    • Rated for 5 years at 1 full drive write per day
  • Intrepid 3800:
    • 19nm eMLC
    • Rated for 5 years at 5 full drive writes per day

Both models will be available in 100, 200, 400, and 800GB capacities beginning Q1 2014.

Full press release after the break:

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

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Contortionist PCs are a big deal these days as convertible models take the stage to help bridge the gap between notebook and tablet. But not everyone wants to drop a grand on a convertible, and not everyone wants a 12-inch notebook, either. Meanwhile, these same people may not wish to blow their cash on an underpowered (and far less capable) Chromebook or tablet. It’s for these folks that Lenovo has introduced the IdeaPad Flex 14 Ultrabook, which occupies a valuable middle ground between the extremes.

The Flex 14 looks an awful lot like a Yoga at first glance, with the same sort of acrobatic design and a thoroughly IdeaPad styling (Lenovo calls it a “dual-mode notebook”). The specs are also similar to that of the x86 Yoga, though with the larger size (and later launch), the Flex also manages to assemble a slightly more powerful configuration:

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The biggest internal differences here are the i5-4200U CPU, which is a 1.6 GHz Haswell model with a TDP of 15 W and the ability to Turbo Boost (versus the Yoga 11S’ i5-3339Y, which is Ivy Bridge with a marginally lower TDP of 13 W and no Turbo Boost), the integrated graphics improvements that follow with the newer CPU, and a few more ports made possible by the larger chassis. Well, and the regression to a TN panel from the Yoga 11S’ much-appreciated IPS display, which is a bummer. Externally, your wallet will also appreciate a $250 drop in price: our model, as configured here, retails for just $749 (versus the $999 Yoga 11S we reviewed a few months back).

You can actually score a Flex 14 for as low as $429 (as of this writing), by the way, but if you’re after any sort of respectable configuration, that price quickly climbs above the $500 mark. Ours is the least expensive option currently available with both a solid-state drive and an i5 CPU.

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14!!!

Leaked Intel Slides Show Possible 2TB SSDs in Q2 2014?

Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 5, 2013 - 07:23 PM |
Tagged: Intel, ssd

Computer storage website, Myce, got a hold of a few slides from Intel's SSD division. The semiconductor giant is expected to have (at least) nine active product lines with new SKUs apparently coexisting with certain older models. Two of the PCIe-based product lines, the P3700 series and the P3500 series, are expected to be available in capacities of up to 2TB. They will apparently be available in 2.5" form factor as well.

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Image Credit: Myce

Intel has not produced the most mindblowing components over the last 3-4 years but, to my knowledge, they have been effective at wooing the enterprise customers. 2.8 GB/s reads and 1.7 GB/s writes at 450,000 IOPS for reading (150,000 IOPS for writes) seem pretty good, though. Combined with Intel's 5-year warranty and it will probably find its way into a few servers.

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Each of the new products will be fabricated on the 20nm process (the older 910 Series and DC S3700 Series, both from 2012, will remain 25nm). Of course Intel has access to smaller processes at this point but, since these are enterprise products, it makes sense for them to use the more tried and true methods for the time being.

If you are interested in enterprise SSDs, keep an eye out in a couple of quarters. Maybe we will even see some stuff coming out of CES in a month.

Also check out Myce for the rest of the leaked slides.

Source: Myce

HGST's SASsy 12Gps SSD, brought to you by Intel

Subject: Storage | December 5, 2013 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: hgst, SAS, ssd, SSD800MM, enterprise ssd

For Enterprise level performance nothing beats SAS as it can sustain transfer speeds of up to 12Gbps if your storage media is fast enough.  The partnership of Intel and HGST bring you just such a drive, rated at 700MB/s and 1150MB/s for sequential reads and writes and IOPS of 145K and 70K for random reads and writes respectively.  If that isn't enough to make you jealous, The SSD Review also had a chance to test this SSD as part of an eight disk RAID.

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"If you have been following The SSD Review in 2013, you are probably familiar with our coverage of 12Gbps SAS. Throughout the year we have covered HBAs, RAID Adapters, Enclosures and SSDs. We have been incredibly busy reviewing new products, but one product in particular has stood out. In all of our 12Gbps SAS reviews we have sung the praises of the HGST SSD800MM. Since the SSD800MM was more of a means to an end when reviewing the LSI SAS 9300-8e, we never really gave it its proper due. With this update, we wanted to put this SSD into perspective after nearly a year’s worth of 12Gbps SAS testing."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage