Samsung Magician 4.6 and 840 EVO Firmware Released - Downloads Throttled

Subject: Storage | April 23, 2015 - 02:21 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo

For those who watched last night's podcast live, I predicted that Samsung would be posting their 840 EVO Firmware and new Magician 4.6 software 'soon'. Turns out that 'soon' was actually this morning, but there's a catch - Samsung decided to limit the daily downloads:

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If you went to the Samsung SSD Download Page and got the above error, don't fret, there are a few mirrors out there:

I downloaded from these three sources and at the time of this posting can confirm all three are identical to the Magician 4.6 download available from Samsung.

Once installed, you *should* be able to use Magician to update the firmware on your 840 EVO and (hopefully) see its performance come back to where it should be. There have been some reports of users unable to update, but that appears to be Samsung's servers being hammered and Magician's default / timeout is to report that you are on the latest firmware. Restarting Magician may force it to re-check and get the update.

Linux and Mac users are not yet able to update as the ISO updater has not been released for the new firmware. Those capable can update their Linux or Mac 840 EVOs connected as a secondary drive under Windows with Magician 4.6 installed. Also, if you're running Linux and happen use fstrim during boot, read this post prior to updating.

Source: Samsung
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

There's been a lot of recent talk about the Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe SSD. It was supposed to launch as an NVMe product, but ended up coming out in AHCI form. We can only assume that Samsung chose to hold back on their NVMe-capable iteration because many devices are unable to boot fron an NVMe SSD. Sitting back for a few months was a wise choice in this case, as an NVMe-only version would limit the OEM products that could equip it. That new variant did finally end up launching, and we have rounded it and the other Samsung M.2 PCIe SSDs up for some much awaited testing:

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I'll be comparing the three above units against some other PCIe SSDs, including the Intel SSD 750, Kingston HyperX Predator, G.Skill Phoenix Blade, Plextor M6e Black, and more!

Continue reading our review of these hot new M.2 products!

A philosophical look at SSD benchmarking

Subject: General Tech | April 14, 2015 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: ssd, benchmarking, synthetic

[H]ard|OCP will be resuming their benchmarking of SSDs in the near future and wanted to introduce both their new contributor and his thoughts on benchmarking SSDs.  These drives offer several challenges when comparing performance that are not present when benchmarking spinning rust.  For instance some controllers use compression to increase IOPS whenever possible but slow down when incompressible data is passed through the drive, providing a challenge to properly show performance comparisons to similar drives with difference or no compression whatsoever.  Read through the article to see which synthetic benchmarks will remain as well as Chris' thoughts on new tests to accurately contrast the performance of SSDs.

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"Many of our readers embrace our "real world" approach with hardware reviews. We have not published an SSD review for almost 2 years while we have been looking to revamp our SSD evaluation program. Today we wanted to give you some insight as to how we learned to stop worrying and love the real world SSD benchmark."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Editor's note: We are hosting a live stream event with our friends at Intel's SSD group today to discuss the new SSD 750 Series launch and to giveaway a couple of the 400GB units as well! Be sure you stop by to ask quesitons, learn about the technology and have a chance to win some hardware!!

Introduction:

Intel has a habit of overlapping their enterprise and consumer product lines. Their initial X25-M was marketed to both consumer and enterprise, with heavier workloads reserved for the X25-E. Their SSD 320 Series was also spec'd for both consumer and enterprise usage. Their most recent SSD 730 Series was actually an overclocked version of their SSD DC S3500 units. Clearly this is an established trend for Intel, so when they dominated flash memory performance with the SSD DC P3700 launch last year, pretty much everyone following these sorts of things eagerly waited in anticipation of a consumer release.

While they were hard to find outside of enterprise supply chains, some dedicated users picked up that enterprise part for their enthusiast systems, but many were disappointed as the P3700's enterprise hardware and firmware conflicted with many consumer motherboards' BIOS, rendering it unbootable for some and causing address space conflicts for others. In short, the P3700 was a great product that simply did not function properly with most consumer motherboards. All anyone could do was wait for Intel to spin a consumer product from this enterprise part, and that day is today:

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This is the add-in card version of the new Intel SSD 750 Series that brings NVMe technology and insane performance levels to consumers at a cost that is more affordable than you might think.

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As with the enterprise variant, Intel chose to launch the SSD 750 Series in the familiar HHHL PCIe x4 form factor as well as a 2.5" SFF-8639 packaging. The 2.5" model contains the exact same set of components, just rearranged into a smaller device.

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Despite being 2.5", this is not a SATA device. While the connector may look similar, it is *very* different:

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As you can see above, SFF-8639 further extends on the familiar SATA power and data connections, which had already been extended a few times to add additional SAS data lines. The new spec adds a complete row of pins on the back side of the connector to support four lanes of PCIe. This means the SFF variant of the SSD 750 will perform identically to the PCIe half-height card version. Since SFF-8639 was born as an enterprise spec, one question remains - how do you connect it to a consumer desktop motherboard? Well, desktop motherboards are coming with M.2 ports that can support up to PCIe 3.0 x4, so all you really need is a simple way to get from point A to point B:

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Pictured above (left) is the ASUS 'Hyper Kit' adapter PCB, which was sampled to us with their new Sabertooth X99 motherboard just for testing these new 2.5" devices. The connector you see at the right may look familiar, as it is an internal Mini-SAS HD (SFF-8643) cable commonly used with high end SAS RAID cards. Intel is basically borrowing the physical spec, but rewiring those four SAS lanes over to the PCIe pins of the SFF-8639 connector at the other end of the cable.

Continue reading our review of the Intel SSD 750 Series NVMe 1.2TB PCIe drives!!

Samsung's 850 EVO now comes in M.2 flavour too

Subject: Storage | March 31, 2015 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, Samsung, msata, M.2 SATA, 850 EVO, 500gb, 1TB, 120gb

As Al's review of the 850 EVO exists in a cat like superposition of being biased both for and against Samsung, perhaps you would like a second opinion.  That is where The Tech Report's review comes in handy, which was published just a few short hours ago.  Their findings were perfectly in line with the others, exactly the same performance as the 2.5" drives but in a nice bite sized form factor.  The only drawback is the size, the new M.2's are missing the 1TB model at the moment.

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"Samsung's 850 EVO SSD debuted in December inside the usual 2.5" case. Now, the drive is spreading to smaller mSATA and M.2 form factors. We've examined the new drives to see how the mini lineup compares to its full-sized forbear."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Following the same pattern that Samsung led with the 840 Pro and 840 EVO, history has repeated itself with the 850 Pro and 850 EVO. With the 850 EVO launching late last year and being quite successful, it was only a matter of time before Samsung expanded past the 2.5" form factor for this popular SSD. Today is that day:

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Today we will be looking at the MSATA and M.2 form factors. To clarify, the M.2 units are still using a SATA controller and connection, and must therefore be installed in a system capable of linking SATA lanes to its M.2 port. As both products are SATA, the DRAM cache based RAPID mode included with their Magician value added software is also available for these models. We won't be using RAPID for this review, but we did take a look at it in a prior article.

Given that 850 EVOs use VNAND - a vastly different technology than the planar NAND used in the 840 EVO, we suspect it is not subject to the same flash cell drift related issues (hopefully to be corrected soon) in the 840 EVO. Only time will tell for sure on that front, but we have not see any of those issues present in 850 EVO models since their launch.

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Cross sectional view of Samsung's 32-layer VNAND. Photo by TechInsights.

Samsung sampled us the M.2 SATA in 120GB and 500GB, and the MSATA in 120GB and 1TB. Since both are SATA-based, these are only physical packaging differences. The die counts are the same as the 2.5" desktop counterparts. While the pair of 120GB models should be essentially identical, we'll throw both in with the results to validate the slight differences in stated specs below.

Continue reading our review of these new Samsung 850 EVOs!!

Intel / Micron Announce 3D NAND Production with Industry's Highest Density: >10TB on a 2.5" SSD

Subject: Storage | March 26, 2015 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: storage, ssd, planar, nand, micron, M.2, Intel, imft, floating-gate, 3d nand

Intel and Micron are jointly announcing new 3D NAND technology that will radically increase solid-storage capacity going forward. The companies have indicated that moving to this technology will allow for the type of rapid increases in capacity that are consistent with Moore’s Law.

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The way Intel and Micron are approaching 3D NAND is very different from existing 3D technologies from Samsung and now Toshiba. The implementation of floating-gate technology and “unique design choices” has produced startling densities of 256 Gb MLC, and a whopping 384 Gb with TLC. The choice to base this new 3D NAND on floating-gate technology allows development with a well-known entity, and benefits from the knowledge base that Intel and Micron have working with this technology on planar NAND over their long partnership.

What does this mean for consumers? This new 3D NAND enables greater than 10TB capacity on a standard 2.5” SSD, and 3.5TB on M.2 form-factor drives. These capacities are possible with the industry’s highest density 3D NAND, as the >3.5TB M.2 capacity can be achieved with just 5 packages of 16 stacked dies with 384 Gb TLC.

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A 3D NAND cross section from Allyn's Samsung 850 Pro review

While such high density might suggest reliance on ever-shrinking process technology (and the inherent loss of durability thus associated) Intel is likely using a larger process for this NAND. Though they would not comment on this, Intel could be using something roughly equivalent to 50nm flash with this new 3D NAND. In the past die shrinks have been used to increase capacity per die (and yields) such as IMFT's move to 20nm back in 2011, but with the ability to achieve greater capacity vertically using 3D cell technology a smaller process is not necessary to achieve greater density. Additionally, working with a larger process would allow for better endurance as, for example, 50nm MLC was on the order of 10,000 program/erase cycles. Samsung similarly moved to a larger process with with their initial 3D NAND, moving from their existing 20nm technology back to 30nm with 3D production.

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This announcement is also interesting considering Toshiba has just entered this space as well having announced 48-layer 128 Gb density 3D NAND, and like Samsung, they are moving away from floating-gate and using their own charge-trap implementation they are calling BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling). However with this Intel/Micron announcement the emphasis is on the ability to offer a 3x increase in capacity using the venerable floating-gate technology from planar NAND, which gives Intel / Micron an attractive position in the market - depending on price/performance of course. And while these very large capacity drives seem destined to be expensive at first, the cost structure is likely to be similar to current NAND. All of this remains to be seen, but this is indeed promising news for the future of flash storage as it will now scale up to (and beyond) spinning media capacity - unless 3D tech is implemented in hard drive production, that is.

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So when will Intel and Micron’s new technology enter the consumer market? It could be later this year as Intel and Micron have already begun sampling the new NAND to manufacturers. Manufacturing has started in Singapore, plus ground has also been broken at the IMFT fab in Utah to support production here in the United States.

Source: Intel

Can OCZ's Vector change 180 degrees with their new SSD?

Subject: Storage | March 25, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: Vector 180, ssd, sata, ocz, 960GB, 480GB, 240gb, barefoot 3, toshiba mlc

If you haven't already done so you should start out with Al's deep dive into the new OCZ Vector 180 SSDs, which uses the Barefoot 3 controller with Toshiba A19 MLC flash and suffers similar issues to other drives using these components.  Once you are done studying you can take a look at other reviews, such as the performance overview at The Tech Report of this drive which is extremely similar to the ARC 100 and Radeon R7 SSDs.  The drives are definitely aimed at the value conscious user, while most are currently not in stock at Amazon, the pricing of 120GB @ $90, 240GB at $185 and 480 at $270 are not bad for initial release.  The Tech Report does plan on doing more testing but from what they saw in their testing the new Vector 180 beats the 150 for performance.

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"OCZ's Vector SSDs are among the fastest around, and now there's a new one. The Vector 180 combines the company's proprietary Barefoot 3 controller with Toshiba's latest "A19" NAND. We've taken a closer look at the drive—and OCZ's recent reliability rep—to see what's what."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Storage Solutions

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

OCZ has been on a fairly steady release track since their aquisition by Toshiba. Having previously pared down their product lines, taking a minimalist approach, the other half of that cycle has taken place with releases like the OCZ AMD Radeon R7. Today we see another addition to OCZ's lineup, in the form of a newer Vector - the Vector 180 Series:

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Today we will run all three available capacities (240GB, 480GB, and 960GB) through our standard round of testing. I've thrown in an R7 as a point of comparison, as well as a hand full of the competition.

Specifications:

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Here are the specs from OCZ's slide presentation, included here as it gives a good spec comparison across OCZ's SATA product range.

Packaging:

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Standard packaging here. 3.5" adapter bracket and Acronis 2013 cloning software product key included.

Continue reading our review of the new OCZ Vector 180 SSD!!

The Tech Report Endurance Test Ends Just After 2.4PB

Subject: Storage | March 16, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, samsung 840 pro, Samsung, endurance

The Samsung 840 Pro was the last SSD standing in The Tech Report's experiment with a final score of over 2.4 petabytes written. Granted, only one (or two in the case of the Kingston HyperX) of each model participated, which means that one unit could have been top of its batch and another could have been bottom -- and can simply never know. What it does say, however, is that you really should not be worried about writing your SSD to death under normal (or even modestly abnormal) conditions.

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This almost looks like one of our Frame Rating charts.

Again, that whole warning (above) about “this could be 100% binning luck” still holds true. Even so, here is the final ranking of contestants!

  1. Samsung 840 Pro (256GB)
  2. Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB with Compression)
  3. Corsair Neutron GTX (240GB)
  4. Samsung 840 (No Suffix and 250GB)
  5. Intel 335 (240GB)
  6. Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB)

The Tech Report notes that the Samsung drives did not warn users through SMART as much as their competitors. In both cases, death from write wearing was abrupt, albeit far into the future. I'd wonder what is next for them, but part of me expects that they never want to run anything like this again.

Source: Tech Report