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

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2014 - 02:32 AM |
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.

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

Subject: Storage | January 3, 2014 - 03:07 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 - 07:00 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 - 04:44 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 - 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!!