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 - 10:23 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 - 05:08 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

(TechReport) SSD Endurance Gets Interesting at 300TB

Subject: General Tech, Storage | November 26, 2013 - 03:46 AM |
Tagged: ssd, endurance

Update 11/26/2013 @ 11:20pm Allyn weighed in, particularly about the Samsung drives. One thing that he notes (as does Tech Report in the original article) is that Samsung might just be more severe in its reporting of errors. For instance, he believes that it is just about impossible for SSDs to write 300TB of data without ever seeing a flash read error. Regardless of what they report, each of these drives keep on ticking. It is "significantly beyond the expectations of a consumer (non-Prosumer) SSD".

The Tech Report has been testing a batch of SSDs for their life expectancy over several months now. Results have been fairly interesting: drives were relatively stable even up to 200TB of cumulative writes; some drives even got faster. Now they have passed the 300TB threshold and we are seeing certain drives hit some harsh realities. As Scott Wasson said in a tweet:

 

 

In all, though, even the TLC offerings have surpassed reasonable expectations. Consumer drives are designed for consumer machines and will likely take decades to reach the hundreds-of-terabytes order of magnitude for today's usage.

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Image Credit: The Tech Report

It makes me wonder exactly how over-provisioned enterprise hardware is if these, consumer, parts have such high reliability.

Source: Tech Report
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

If you're into the laptop storage upgrade scene, you hear the same sort of arguments all the time. "Do I go with a HDD for a large capacity and low cost/GB, but suffer performance"? "I want an SSD, but can't afford the capacity I need"! The ideal for this scenario is to combine both - go with a small capacity SSD for your operating system and apps, while going with a larger HDD for bulk storage at a lower cost/GB. The catch here is that most mobile platforms only come with a single 2.5" 9.5mm storage bay, and you just can't physically fit a full SSD and a full HDD into that space, can you? Well today Western Digital has answered that challenge with the Black2 Dual Drive:

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Yup, we're not kidding. This is a 120GB SSD *and* a 1TB HDD in a single package. Not a hybrid. Two drives, and it's nothing short of a work of art.

Continue reading our review of the Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Sony

Does downloading make a difference?

This is PART 2 of our testing on the PlayStation 4 storage systems, with the stock hard drive, an SSHD hybrid and an SSD.  Previously, we compared performance based on Blu-ray based installations though today we add downloaded titles from PSN to the mix.  Be sure you read PART 1, PlayStation 4 (PS4) HDD, SSHD and SSD Performance Testing.

I posted a story earlier this week that looked at the performance of the new PS4 when used with three different 2.5-in storage options: the stock 500GB hard drive, a 1TB hybrid SSHD and a 240GB SSD.  The results were fairly interesting (and got a good bit of attention) but some readers wanted more data.  In particular, many asked how things might change if you went the full digital route and purchased games straight from the Sony's PlayStation Network.  I also will compare boot times for each of the tested storage devices.

You should definitely check out the previous article if you missed it. It not only goes through the performance comparison but also details how to change the hard drive on the PS4 from the physical procedure to the software steps necessary. The article also details the options we selected for our benchmarking.

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Today I purchased a copy of Assassin's Creed IV from the PSN store (you're welcome Ubisoft) and got to testing.  The process was the same: start the game then load the first save spot.  Again, each test was run three times and the averages were reported. The PS4 was restarted between each run.

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The top section of results is the same that was presented earlier - average load times for AC IV when the game is installed from the Blu-ray.  The second set is new and includes average load times fro AC IV after the installation from the PlayStation Network; no disc was in the drive during testing.

Continue reading our story on the performance testing of HDD, SSD and SSHD with downloaded and Blu-ray installed games on PS4!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Sony

Load time improvements

This is PART 1 of our testing on the PlayStation 4 storage systems, with the stock hard drive, an SSHD hybrid and an SSD.  In PART 2 we take a look at the changes introduced with PSN downloaded games versus Blu-ray installed games as well as show boot time differences.  Be sure you read PART 2, PlayStation 4 (PS4) Blu-ray and Download Storage Performance, Boot Times.

On Friday Sony released the PlayStation 4 onto the world.  The first new console launch in 7 years, the PS4 has a lot to live up to, but our story today isn't going to attempt to weigh the value of the hardware or software ecosystem.  Instead, after our PS4 teardown video from last week, we got quite a few requests for information on storage performance with the PS4 and what replacement hardware might offer gamers.

Hard Drive Replacement Process

Changing the hard drive in your PlayStation 4 is quite simple, a continuation of a policy Sony's policy with the PS3.

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Installation starts with the one semi-transparent panel on the top of the unit, to the left of the light bar.  Obviously make sure your PS4 is completely turned off and unplugged.

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Simply slide it to the outside of the chassis and wiggle it up to release.  There are no screws or anything to deal with yet.

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Once inside you'll find a screw with the PS4 shapes logos on them; that is screw you need to remove to pull out the hard drive cage. 

Continue reading our analysis of PS4 HDD, SSHD and SSD Performance!!

OCZ shrinks their flash and is proud to show it off

Subject: Storage | November 8, 2013 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: Vector 150, toshiba mlc, ssd, ocz, 19nm, Indilinx, barefoot 3

OCZ's newest contribution to the SSD market is the Vector 150 with 19nm flash and a tiny footprint perfect for today's ultra-mobile devices.  One of the most welcome advances in this family is increased over-provisioning of flash storage which allows increased lifespan by letting the drive retire more flash as it slowly becomes unusable without shrinking the size of the drive.  As far as the performance goes it beats out almost all previous drives we have seen and while The Tech Report is a little worried about the lifetime of the Barefoot controller the 5 year warranty mitigates that concern somewhat.

You can also see how well it survived Al's torture testing here.

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"There's a new SSD in town. OCZ's Vector 150 combines the Indilinx Barefoot 3 controller with 19-nm Toshiba NAND and additional spare area. We take a closer look at how it measures up."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

It has been a while since OCZ introduced their Vector SSD, and it was in need of a refresh to bring its pricing more in-line with the competition, which had been equipping their products with physically smaller flash dies (therefore reducing cost). Today, OCZ launched a refresh to their Vector - now dubbed the Vector 150:

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The OCZ strategy changed up a while back. They removed a lot of redundancy and confusing product lines, consolidating everything into a few simple solutions. Here's a snapsot of that strategy, showing the prior and newer iterations of three simple solutions:

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The Vector 150 we look at today falls right into the middle here. I just love the 'ENTHUSIST' icon they went with:

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Read on for our full review of the new OCZ Vector 150!

The continuing Tech Report SSD torture test

Subject: Storage | November 4, 2013 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: ssd, endurance

The Tech Report have hit the 200TB mark on their testing of ~250GB SSDs from Corsair, Intel, Samsung and Kingston and the drives are starting to feel it.  At the 100TB mark Intel and Samsung drives started to lose blocks of storage and at 200TB all but two drives have shown evidence of degradation.  The non-Pro Samsung 840 has suffered the most but its performance is very similar to what it was in the beginning while the Corsair and the Kingston drive receiving only compressed data report themselves in perfect health.  Check out the exact performance deltas in their article.

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"We're in the process of hammering six SSDs with an unrelenting torrent of writes to see what happens as the flash wears out. Today, we check in on the drives after 200TB of writes."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage