Subject: Storage | March 26, 2015 - 02:12 PM | Sebastian Peak
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Subject: Storage | May 21, 2014 - 09:06 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, SATA Express, rumors, chipset, amd
The new SATA Express (SATAe) and M.2 standards are hot topics in the storage world at the moment, and SATAe is one of the more interesting features of the new Intel Z97-based motherboards. Now it looks like it won't be long until AMD counters with support of its own. Well, kind of.
ASMedia is reportedly licensing their SATA Express IP to AMD for an upcoming platform. Didn't know that ASMedia already had a SATAe implementation? The ASUS Z97 Deluxe board which Morry recently reviewed uses an ASMedia controller for one of its two SATAe ports, along with one powered by the chipset.
We can only speculate on the "next gen" platform from AMD mentioned in the report, and it will be interesting to see what kind of performance numbers might be seen from this alleged product.
Subject: Storage | April 3, 2013 - 06:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Seagate, 1TB Platter, 4TB, Hard Drive, storage
Seagate recently took the wraps off of a new 4TB hard drive. The new drive uses the company's 1TB platters, and the ST4000DM000 uses four 1TB platters. Other characteristics include a 7,200 RPM spindle speed, 64MB cache, and support for the SATA III 6 Gbps interface.
According to the company, the 4TB drive boasts an average read/write data rate of 146MB/s (which is good for a mechanical hard drive), max sustained transfer speed of 180MB/s, and sub-8.5ms and 9.5ms average seek times for read and write operations respectively.
The drive is compatible with Seagate's DiskWizard technology, allowing the full 4TB to be used on legacy operating systems. At 4TB, this drive is perfect for digital pack rats and media enthusiasts.
The 4TB Seagate drive can be found for around $190 USD online for the bare-bones drive, or approximately $205 for retail packaging. You can find more information on the 4TB mechanical hard drive on this Seagate data sheet (PDF) or the drive's product page.
I have to admit that I'm tempted by this, despite not having filled my 2TB drive yet.
Subject: Storage | March 8, 2013 - 12:21 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: synology, storage, networked attached storage, NAS, dsm 4.2
Synology recently took the wraps off its latest NAS management software, called DiskStation Manager (DSM) 4.2. The new software suite is available as a free update for a number of its products.
Diskstation Manager provides a number of features for home and business uses. Business users are now able to take advantage of Synology High Availability duplication on all x86-based NAS products. A RAIDIUS server, SSL encryption between devices and Diskstation Cloud, and two step authentication are among the available security features with DSM 4.2.
DSM 4.2 comes with a web-accessible user interface and desktop-like environment. You can access all its features in a GUI, see disk/RAM/CPU usage, schedule tasks, and even PXE boot other networked machines. Some of the updated software bits include Cloud Station, Photo Station, File Station, Video Station, and Audio Station.
Cloud Station now has 52% faster file transfers to Mac OSX computers. Further, DSM 4.2 supports almost-unlimited user accounts, LDAP, Active Director, and Amazon’s Glacier backup service. File station now supports hot keys. Video Station has a revamped user interface that supports MKV subtitles, HDHomerun DVB-T tuners with mutli-channel TV streaming and recording. Users can also watch movies over the network on DLNA devices or Apple’s AirPlay. DSM 4.2 supports the use of smartphones as remote controls to control playback of media. Finally, Audio Station has added Bluetooth A2DP streaming support, and Photo Station supports file drag and drop and improved thumbnail generation speeds.
DiskStation Cloud now supports automatic backup and file synchronization of media stored on iOS and Android devices. DiskStation Video adds support to stream media to smartphones and DiskStation Photo+ has the Dropbox-like automated backup of photos from your smartphone. DSM 4.2 further features QuickConnect, which takes care of port forwarding automatically. QuickConnect is compatible with DS Photo+, DS Audio, and DS Cloud.
According to Synology, the following devices are eligible for a free update to DSM 4.2. Users can update by manually downloading and applying the update or by going through the updater in the DSM software itself.
"Synology DSM 4.2 is free to download for users who own a DiskStation or RackStation x09 series and onward. Supported models include: DS213+, DS413, DS213, DS413j, DS213air, DS2413+, DS713+, RS10613xs+, RS3413xs+, DS712+, DS212, DS212+, DS212j, RS212, RS812, DS1512+, DS1812+, DS3612xs, RS3412xs, RS3412RPxs, DS112j, DS112, DS412+, RS812+, RS812RP+, RS2212+, RS2212RP+, DS112+, DS3611xs, RS3411xs, RS3411RPxs, DS2411+, RS2211+, RS2211RP+, DS1511+, RS411, DS411, DS411+II, DS411+, DS411j, DS411slim, DS211+, DS211, DS211j, DS111, DS1010+, RS810+, RS810RP+, DS410, DS410j, DS710+, DS210+, DS210j, DS110+, DS110j, DS509+, RS409+, RS409RP+, RS409, DS409+, DS409, DS209+II, DS209+, DS209, DS209j, DS109+, DS109, DS109j, and DS409slim"
Also read: ioSafe N2 - The Performance NAS is now Disaster-proof @ PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2013 - 09:14 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, isuppli, Hard Drive
Analytics firm IHS recently released its iSuppli Storage Space Market Brief. According to the report, 2013 does not look good for hard drive manufacturers who may see up to a 12% decline in revenues. In 2012 the hard drive industry brought in $37.1 billion, but IHS estimates only $32.7 billion in 2013. Further, revenue in 2014 is estimated at a mere $32 billion.
In response to new hard drive technologies and pressure from solid state drives, IHS predicts hard drive selling prices will fall 7%. Thanks to this price erosion, the report suggests that hard drive manufacturers across the board will experience declines in gross and operating profit margins. The hard drive industry will have to contend with cheaper solid state drives as well as competition within the industry. Seagate and Western Digital will continue to battle it out for market dominance with new technologies and a continued price war that will see margins becoming thinner than ever as $/GB metrics continue to fall rapidly.
Reportedly, the hard drive makers will also have to contend with smartphones and tablets (that use solid state storage) making inroads into the PC market. Sales of traditional PCs are said to be somewhat cannibalized by mobile devices, and those reduced sales will affect the hard drive component manufacturers negatively.
On the other hand, it is not all bad news for the HDD makers. Hard drives still have per-drive capacity and $/GB on their side. Hard drives may be losing ground to SSDs, but for cheap consumer computers and large storage arrays used in the enterprise space hard drives are still the way to go. Consumer PC sales may no longer be growing rapidly, but big data is still a growing market so that will help the hard drive market.
All in all, 2013 will be beneficial for consumers as they will be getting cheaper and more-dense hard drives. This year is not looking good for the hard drive manufacturers, however.
Image of hard disk drive courtesy Walknboston via Flickr Creative Commons.
Subject: Storage | December 6, 2012 - 10:12 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: transporter, storage, NAS, cloud
I was recently briefed on an interesting new product called the Transporter, a file sharing device engineered by the same folks that took part in the creation of the Drobo. Connected Data has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its production, so I am now free to talk about it. Here's what it looks like:
Transporter is basically a local area network share. It connects to your router via Gigabit Ethernet (and reportedly runs at close to HDD throughput). With the software installed to your local PCs or Macs, it enables folder sharing and real-time syncing to any other Transporter-equipped location (i.e. a family member). There will also be versions of Transporter with 1TB or 2TB internal hard drives, which shift the file storage burden off of the local computers, if desired.
This may sound a lot like other cloud-based sharing solutions out there, but there are some very significant differences:
- User data is only stored on local systems or shared with other user-invited locations (via their Transporter).
- The capacity shared is only limited by your local storage capacity (plus whatever internal storage is installed into the Transporter via its internal 2.5" drive bay).
To put it simply, Transporter is similar to Dropbox in functionality and convenience, but your data is *only* stored privately, and there are no subscription fees or storage limits (beyond that of your local storage capacity). The Kickstarter has only been going for a few hours, and the 'early adopter' pre-orders are more than half gone. Once the 'early' orders are used up, price for a bare Transporter goes from $149 to $179. 1TB models go for $269 and 2TB for $359. We're definitely keeping our eye on this one.
Subject: Storage | July 14, 2012 - 07:43 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, ssd, SF2000, sandforce, msi
The solid state market is heating up as spindle-based drives continue to sell at much higher prices than last year and NAND flash is getting cheaper. The latest entrant may be motherboard and laptop vendor MSI, if a recent addition to SandForce’s SSD partner list holds true.
Unfortunately, we do not have any further details so it’s hard to say what sort of drive this will be other than it will use solid state NAND flash. Being a 2000-series SandForce controller is promising for performance, however. Stay tuned for more details as they develop. I’m excited to see what MSI can bring to the SSD table, and here’s hoping that they break a cost/GB record (I can dream heh). For now though, we will have to suffice with the currently available SSD options, which you can check out on our SSD Decoder at pcper.com/ssd. What do you think about the prospect of an MSI SSD?
Seagate announced today that they will be pursuing a controlling interest in LaCie. The two companies deal in complementary areas of the storage industry with Seagate manufacturing drives and LaCie developing mobile and desktop drive enclosures and NAS solutions. In order to achieve a controlling (more than 50%) interest in the company, Seagate has offered to purchase all of Philippe Spruch’s–LaCie’s Chairman and CEO–shares. In addition to shares from an unnamed affiliate, such a buy would net Seagate 64.5% of outstanding shares of LaCie stock. Seagate is offering the LaCie shareholders €4.05 (approximately $5.09 USD) for their stock, and may be increased to as much as €4.17 should Seagate get 95% of LaCie shares and voting rights within 6 months of closing.
The merging of Seagate and LaCie logos (hehe).
After acquiring a controlling interest, they would then work to buy back all other otustanding shares with a cash offer. The initial purchase of stock is still pending governmental approval. Ricol Lasteyrie & Associates has been appointed as an independent expert by the board of directors for LaCie to examine the offer and determine whether or not to accept. Should it go through, Philippe Spruch would join Seagate as the president of Seagate’s consumer storage division. He would have the current Seagate vice president Patrick Connolly and LaCie deputy general manager Pierre van der Elst reporting to him. At this time, Seagate has not disclosed how much the former LaCie employees would be paid to work for Seagate. If all the appropriate governing bodies “okay” it, the buyout is expected to happen in the third quarter of 2012 (Q3 2012).
Steve Luczo, Seagate chairman, president and CEO was quoted in the press release in stating: “Seagate has a strong commitment to the growing consumer storage market and bringing the most dynamic products to market. LaCie has built an exceptional consumer brand by delivering exciting and innovative high-end products for many years. This transaction would bring a highly complementary set of capabilities to Seagate, significantly expand our consumer product offerings, add a premium-branded direct-attached storage line, strengthen our network-attached storage business line and enhance our capabilities in software development."
The combination of Seagate and LaCie seems odd a first, because LaCie does not manufacture their own drives (so it’s not a hard drive patent portfolio Seagate is after); but they are actually complementary services. While Seagate has the hard drive storage down, LaCie has a lineup of drive enclosures and NAS boxes. By combining the two, Seagate can manufacture the drives and the enclosures themselves. Seagate does currently have a few enclosures but their expertise is primarily in the drive technology itself. The opposite is true to Lacie, so the two companies coming together is a good thing for Seagate. One thing that LaCie has done that instantly benefits Seagate is focusing on high end and premium drive enclosures. While Seagate has focused on low and midrange drive enclosures, LaCie has solely focused on high end. This is beneficial because Seagate can integrate those higher profit margin premium LaCie products into their lineup without the need for extensive research and development. Whether it will also result in an improved product lineup and/or cheaper products for consumers remains to be seen, but it has the potential to be a good thing.
Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2012 - 04:23 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: dropbox, storage, free storage, google, google drive
Users of online storage have been spoiled by services like Dropbox, Spider Oak, and Box.com who offer up gobs of free storage space. Before they became prevalent, there was Gmail and rumors of a Google Drive. This Google Drive never really materialized beyond user workarounds to upload files using a program that stored them in Google’s Email service’s approximate 9 GB of space.
Finally, after years of other services entrenching themselves in the market, it seems like Google may be jumping in. If rumors are true, the new online storage service will launch in the middle of next week at the drive.google.com URL. The Google Drive will reportedly offer 5GB of free storage space as well as paid tiers for increased storage levels (pricing unknown). Further, users will be able to access the files via the website and using applications. So far, rumors are pointing to a Windows and Mac OSX application, though it would not be surprising to see an Android app in the future.
I’m excited to see this service finally launch and what Google’s take on online storage will be. My only concern is whether they are jumping into the game at a time when it is too little too late. Sure, everyone and their grandmother likely have at least one Google/Gmail account but many of those people also have Dropbox accounts. The free services that were not really around when the first hints of a Google Drive emerged have not blossomed and dug their roots into the market. Even Apple and Microsoft have beat Google to the punch with cloud storage, so it is going to be an uphill battle for Google requiring something unique in order for it to catch on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely going to be checking it out, but I believe they are really going to have to knock this out of the park on the first try in order to succeed. Will you be checking it out, and when (if?) you do please report back and let us know what you think of it. How do you think the other free and paid storage services will react to Google entering the market?
Image courtesy pmsyyz via Flickr Creative Commons
Subject: Storage | March 20, 2012 - 01:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, Seagate, hard drives, HAMR, density, 1 Tb/in^2
In April 2006 Seagate began shipping the first 3.5" desktop hard drive using Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology and since then PMR has become essential in allowing all of the hard drive manufacturers to create the 2 TB+ drives available today. As we approach the limits of what drive manufacturers are able to do using PMR alone; however, they are starting to look at additional technologies to boost the storage density. One such technology on the horizon is Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording, or HAMR. According to a recent press release, Seagate is not only experimenting with HAMR but is the first drive manufacturer to use HAMR to reach 1 Terabit per square in of areal density.
HAMR works by using a laser to heat up the storage medium before the compounds used to store data have their orientation aligned by the write heads of the drive. As bits get smaller and smaller, traditional magnetic recording methods are not strong enough to permanently change the magnetic orientation of the bits, which means that there is an inherent, if theoretical, minimum bit size and corresponding maximum storage density possible with current Perpendicular Magnetic Recording. HAMR further allows drive makers to get around that limitation by heating the physical bits to the point that traditional magnetic write heads can change the orientation.
Via Bit-Tech. The laser heats up the platter before being written to.
The current 1 Terabit per square inch achieved using HAMR is also the theoretical maximum storage density for PMR alone (as mentioned above), which is promising as it implies HAMR still has a lot of working room to improve and has matched the maximum proposed for PMR.
Seagate expects to use HAMR to produce 60 TB+ 3.5" and 20 TB+ 2.5" hard drives within the next ten years. To put this areal density in perspective, current 3 TB desktop drives feature approximately 620 Gigabits per square inch while current 750 GB laptop (2.5") drives feature about 500 Gigabits per square inch. Interestingly, when comparing the 1 Tb/in^2 mechanical drive density to flash (ie SSD) storage at equivalent densities, it works out such that a single bit equals 1nm of flash storage!
Unfortunately, we won't be seeing 60 TB drives any time soon. Rather, Seagate expects 6 TB desktop drives and 2 TB laptop drives to be the most immediate benefits of the heat assisted recording technology. Still, as my 2 TB drive is filling up more quickly than I ever imagined (thanks to working with HD video and making regular backups of data), I welcome as much increased storage as I can get!