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 - 06:58 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.  

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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 - 02:46 PM |
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

Podcast #290 - Intel SSD 730, ASUS Maximus VI Formula, DirectX 12 and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2014 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: video, podcast, asus, amd, AM1, Maximus VI Formula, Intel, ssd, SSD 730, DirectX 12, GDC, coolermaster, CMStorm, R9 290X, Bay Trail

PC Perspective Podcast #290 - 03/06/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Intel SSD 730, ASUS Maximus VI Formula, DirectX 12 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

 
This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset!
 
Program length: 1:27:52
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:41:43 This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
  5. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

Overclocked SSDs are fast but also power hungry

Subject: Storage | February 27, 2014 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: SSD 730, ssd, Intel, Overclocked

Today marks the release of the first overclocked SSD to hit the market, the Intel 730 which is based on the SSD DC S3500 and SSD DC S3700 series for data centers.  As these were drives specifically crafted for the datacenter they were both more expensive than consumer models and were optimized for completely different uses.  The new Intel 730 drive is overclocked, the NAND functions at 600MHz compared to the DC's 400MHz and the cache RAM speed is jumped up to 100MHz from 83MHz.  The Tech Report discovered that extra frequency comes at a price, the wattage consumed by this drive is significantly higher than just about any other SSD they have reviewed, no wonder Intel labels this as specifically for desktops.

Make sure to check out Allyn's fresh off the presses review of this drive and don't let his temperature readings shock you too much.

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"Intel's new 730 Series desktop SSD is rather unique. It's based on the company's datacenter drives, it has an extra flash die onboard, and the controller and NAND are both clocked well beyond their usual speeds. We take a closer look."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel
Tagged: SSD 730, ssd, Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Intel launched their first consumer SSD more than five years ago. Their very first SSD, the X25-M, might have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, but once the initial bugs were worked out, it proved to be an excellent example of what a 3Gb/sec SATA SSD was capable of. While the competition was using 4 or 8 flash channels, Intel ran circles around them with their 10-channel controller. It was certainly a great concept, and it most definitely had legs. The very same controller, with only minor tweaks, was able to hold its own all the way through into the enterprise sector, doing so even though the competition was moving to controllers capable of twice the throughput (SATA 6Gb/sec).

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The various iterations featuring Intel's 10-channel controller, spanning the 20GB cache SSD (left), original X25M and X25-E (center), and  finally X25-M G2, SSD 320, and SSD 710 (right).

While the older controller was extremely nimble, it was bottlenecked by a slower interface than the competition, who had all moved to the more modern SATA 6Gb/sec link. Intel also moved into this area, but not with their own native controller silicon. The SSD 510 launched in 2011 equipped with a Marvell controller, followed by the SSD 520, launched in 2012 with a SandForce controller. While Intel conjured up their own firmware for these models, their own older and slower controller was still more nimble and reliable than those other solutions, proven by the fact that the SSD 710, an enterprise-spec SSD using the older 10-channel controller, was launched in tandem with the consumer SSD 510.

Fast forward to mid-2013, where Intel finally introduced their own native SATA 6Gb/s solution. This controller dropped the channel count to a more standard figure of 8, and while it did perform well, it was only available in Intel's new enterprise 'Data Center' line of SSDs. The SSD DC S3500 and SSD DC S3700 (reviewed here) were great drives, but they were priced too high for consumers. While preparing that review, I remember saying how that controller would be a great consumer unit if they could just make it cheaper and tune it for standard workloads. It appears that wish has just been granted. behold the Intel SSD 730:

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Continue reading our review of the Intel SSD 730!!

The Bigger They Are: The Titan They Fall? 48GB Install

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 25, 2014 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: titanfall, ssd

UPDATE (Feb 26th): Our readers pointed out in the comments, although I have yet to test it, that you can change Origin's install-to directory before installing a game to have them on a separate hard drive as the rest. Not as easy as Steam's method, but apparently works for games like this that you want somewhere else. I figured it would forget games in the old directory, but apparently not.

Well, okay. Titanfall will require a significant amount of hard drive space when it is released in two weeks. Receiving the game digitally will push 21GB of content through your modem and unpack to 48GB. Apparently, the next generation has arrived.

titanfall.jpg

Honestly, I am not upset over this. Yes, this basically ignores customers who install their games to their SSDs. Origin, at the moment, forces all games to be installed in a single directory (albeit that can be anywhere) unlike Steam, which allows games to be individually sent to multiple folders. It would be a good idea to keep those customers in mind... but not at the expense of the game itself. Like always, both "high-end" and "unoptimized" titles have high minimum specifications; we decide which one applies by considering how effectively the performance is used.

That is something that we will need to find out when it launches on March 11th.

Source: PC Gamer
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

PC163880.jpg

Alongside our T440s review unit was something slightly smaller and dear to our hearts: the latest entry in the ThinkPad X series of notebooks.  Seeing as this very review is being typed on a Lenovo X220, our interest was piqued by the latest refinements to the formula.  When the X220 was released, the thin-and-light trend was only just beginning to pick up steam leading into what eventually became today’s Ultrabook movement.  Its 2012 successor, the ThinkPad X230, went on to receive our coveted (and rarely bestowed) Editor’s Choice Award, even in spite of a highly controversial keyboard change that sent the fanbase into a panic.

But all of that has since (mostly) blown over, primarily thanks to the fact that—in spite of the minor ergonomic adjustments required to accustom oneself with what was once a jarringly different keyboard design—the basic philosophy remained the same: pack as many powerful parts as possible into a 12.5-inch case while still maintaining good durability and battery life.  These machines were every bit as capable as most other 13- and 14-inch notebooks of their time, and they were considerably smaller, too.  About the only thing they lacked was higher-resolution screens, discrete graphics, and quad-core CPUs.

PC163887.jpg

But with the X240 (and the T440s), portability has truly taken center stage, suggesting a complete paradigm shift—however subtly—away from “powerful (and light)” and toward “light (and powerful)”.  Coupled with Intel’s Haswell CPUs and Lenovo’s new Power Bridge dual-battery design, this will certainly yield great benefits in the realm of battery life.  But that isn’t all that’s different: we also find a (once again) revamped keyboard, as well as a completely new touchpad design which finally dispenses with the physical buttons entirely.  Like in the X230’s case, these changes have roiled the ThinkPad purists—but is it all just a matter of close-minded traditionalism?  That’s precisely what we’ll discover today.

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X240 Ultrabook!!

Corsair Tests Battlefield 4 with Hard Drives and SSDs

Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 04:21 PM |
Tagged: ssd, hdd, corsair

The Corsair Blog has been publishing several really interesting articles, lately. In January, they wrote an editorial which quantifies the benefits of modestly overclocking CPU, GPU, RAM, and all of the above. Their benchmarks showed which tests favored what type of component.

corsair-ssd-resized.jpg

This time, they look at the benefits of SSDs. Their Neutron Series GTX 240GB SSD was compared against a 3TB WD Black HDD (which is decent drive). To get into the campaign, they measured an SSD requiring a little over two minutes while the HDD took a little over two-and-a-half minutes. Multiplayer was much more significant: an SSD made it in game in 42 seconds while the hard drive took 69 second. That is a whole 40% faster.

Most importantly, getting into the game a whole 27 seconds earlier gives you first pick at vehicles. The game keeps them briefly locked to allow users to connect but, as is usual for Battlefield games, there is still an advantage for people with fast hard drives. Battlefield 2 was the unspoken benefit of purchasing a Western Digital 10,000 RPM Raptor drive, way back in 2006. You joined in as soon as you loaded which could mean nearly half of a minute to get your vehicle and go.

Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

Source: Corsair

SSD2Go Pro on the go

Subject: Storage | February 6, 2014 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: ssd, angelbird, SSD2Go Pro, usb 3.0

SSDs are perfect for mobility as they can be larger than USB drives and with a good controller they can saturate the USB 3.0 or eSATA bus which is good news for those filming or taking pictures on a trip.  The SSD Review has been using the Angelbird SSD2Go USB 3.0 External SSD for a long time now and it has survived quite a few trips.  The speed is also impressive, ATTO reports 533MB/s on eSATA and over 400MB/s using USB 3.0.  It also comes in snazzy colours.

Angelbird-Colors.jpg

"As a bit of a personal example, we reviewed the Angelbird SSD2Go USB 3.0 External SSD last June and that SSD has since been around the world and back, and then some. Wherever my camera equipment goes, it goes."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage