Introduction and Background
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 18, 2014 - 06:58 PM | Ryan Shrout
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.
|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.
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.
Subject: Storage | March 17, 2014 - 02:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- OCZ Vertex 460 @ Benchmark Reviews
- OCZ Vertex 460 @ Kitguru
- Toshiba HG6 256GB @ Kitguru
- Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD @ NikKTech
- We test Intel's 730 480GB SSD Skulltrail scorcher @ The Register
- Plextor M6e PCIe M.2 SSD Review – RAID Tested at 1.4GB/s @ The SSD Review
- Intel 730 Jackson Ridge 240GB SSD @ Kitguru
- Toshiba 1TB (MQ01ABD100H) 2.5'' SSHD Review @ Madshrimps
- Silicon Power Stream S03 USB 3.0 Portable HDD Review @ Madshrimps
- Asustor AS-204TE @ Legion Hardware
- ASUSTOR AS-202TE NAS Server @ NikKTech
- Shuttle OMNINAS KD22 @ techPowerUp
- ASUSTOR AS-304T Multi Media Storage Server Review @ Hardware Asylum
- Western Digital EX4 8TB 4-bay My Cloud NAS @ eTeknix
- Synology DS214play 2-bay NAS Review @ Madshrimps
- WD My Cloud EX2 2-Bay Personal Cloud NAS Review @ Legit Reviews
- Icy Dock TurboSwap MB171SP-B Tray-Less 3.5" SATA Hard Drive Mobile Rack Review @HiTech Legion
- Mach Xtreme DIY 16GB SATA DOM @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2014 - 02:10 PM | Ken Addison
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!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the 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
Week in Review:
0:41:43 This podcast is brought to you by Coolermaster, and the CM Storm Pulse-R Gaming Headset
News items of interest:
1:03:15 Corsair Blogs About... Oh Come On!
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: Storage | February 27, 2014 - 02:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Intel SSD 730 Series @ The SSD Review
- The SSD Endurance Experiment: Data retention after 600TB @ The Tech Report
- OCZ Vector 150 and OCZ Vertex 460 Review: New SSDs from Toshiba's OCZ Storage Solutions @ X-Bit Labs
- Crucial M500 480GB SSD @ NikKTech
- Sandisk X210 240GB Business Class Solid State Drive @ eTeknix
- ntel’s 3rd Generation SSD Controller Manufactured By LSI @ SSD Review
- Angelbird Adler SSDs & SSD2Go PRO Review @ Hardware Canucks
- MyDigitalSSD Super Cache 2 128GB M.2 SATA 6G @ SSD Review
- 8 PCIe & SATA M.2 SSDs Test ASRock’s Fatal1ty 990FX Killer AM3+ AMD MotherBoard @ SSD Review
- SanDisk Extreme Pro 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Legit Reviews
- SanDisk Connect 64GB Wireless Flash Drive Review @ Legit Reviews
- ADATA DashDrive Elite SE720 128GB External SSD @ Kitguru
- Kingston DataTraveler Mini 3.0 16GB Flash Drive Review @ Legit Reviews
- Seagate Desktop HDD 4 TB vs. Western Digital WD Black 4 TB Hard Drive Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Matsunichi 500GB USB 3.0 Portable HDD @ TechwareLabs
- Seagate Desktop SSHD 2 TB Hard Drive Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Thecus N5550 NAS Server @ NikKTech
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
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).
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:
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 25, 2014 - 03:43 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Introduction and Design
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 04:21 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: Storage | February 6, 2014 - 03:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- OCZ Vector 150 - 120GB SSD @ Funky Kit
- OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD @ Custom PC Review
- OCZ Vector 150 120GB SSD Review @HiTech Legion
- Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme 256GB @ eTeknix
- Western Digital Black² Dual Drive 120GB SSD & 1TB HDD @ eTeknix
- Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G3 16GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive (DTLPG3) @ Custom PC Review
- LaCie 5Big 20TB Thunderbolt RAID @ Kitguru
- Thecus N2310 @ techPowerUp
- QNAP TurboNAS TS-470 NAS Server @ NikKTech
- Icy Dock Black Vortex MB074SP-B Review @HiTech Legion
- Lexar microSDHC UHS-I 633x 16GB Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- Transcend 25A3 1TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive Review @HiTech Legion