FMS 2016: Facebook Talks WORM QLC NAND Flash, Benchmarks XPoint

Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 05:59 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, Worm, storage, ssd, RocksDB, Optane, nand, flash, facebook

At their FMS 2016 Keynote, Facebook gave us some details on the various storage technologies that fuel their massive operation:

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In the four corners above, they covered the full spectrum of storing bits. From NVMe to Lightning (huge racks of flash (JBOF)), to AVA (quad M.2 22110 NVMe SSDs), to the new kid on the block, WORM storage. WORM stands for Write Once Read Many, and as you might imagine, Facebook has lots of archival data that they would like to be able to read quickly, so this sort of storage fits the bill nicely. How do you pull off massive capacity in flash devices? QLC. Forget MLC or TLC, QLC stores four bits per cell, meaning there are 16 individual voltage states for each cell. This requires extremely precise writing techniques and reads must appropriately compensate for cell drift over time, and while this was a near impossibility with planar NAND, 3D NAND has more volume to store those electrons. This means one can trade the endurance gains of 3D NAND for higher bit density, ultimately enabling SSDs upwards of ~100TB in capacity. The catch is that they are rated at only ~150 write cycles. This is fine for archival storage requiring WORM workloads, and you still maintain NAND speeds when it comes to reading that data later on, meaning that decade old Facebook post will appear in your browser just as quickly as the one you posted ten minutes ago.

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Next up was a look at some preliminary Intel Optane SSD results using RocksDB. Compared to a P3600, the prototype Optane part offers impressive gains in Facebook's real-world workload. Throughput jumped by 3x, and latency reduced to 1/10th of its previous value. These are impressive gains given this fairly heavy mixed workload.

More to follow from FMS 2016!

Microsemi Flashtec Controllers Offer PCIe 3.0 x8 NVMe SSDs up to 20TB

Subject: Storage | August 8, 2016 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: storage, ssd, solid state drive, PCIe 3.0 x8, PCI-E 3.0, NVMe2032, NVMe2016, NVMe, Microsemi, Flashtec

Microsemi's Flashtec NVMe SSD controllers are now in production, and as Computer Base reports (Google-translated version of the page available here) these controllers use twice as many PCIe lanes than current offerings with a x8 PCI-E 3.0 connection, and can support up to 20 TB of flash capacity.

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Image credit: Computer Base

"The NVMe controller destined for the professional high-performance segment and work with PCIe 3.0 x8 or two x4 PCIe 3.0. The NVMe2032 has 32 memory channels (and) NVMe2016 (has) 16. When using 256-Gbit flash SSDs can be implemented with up to 20 terabytes of storage."

The 32-channel NVMe2032 boasts up to 1 million IOPS in 4K random read performance, and the controller supports DDR4 memory for faster cache performance. The announcement of the availability of these chips comes just before the start of Flash Memory Summit, which our own Allyn Malventano will be attending. Stay tuned for more flashy SSD news to come!

Thecus Announces N4810 4-Bay NAS with 4K Video Output

Subject: Storage | August 3, 2016 - 01:19 PM |
Tagged: UHD, Thecus, storage, NAS, N4810, N2810PRO, htpc, hdmi, DisplayPort, 4k, 4-Bay

Thecus has announced their newest NAS with the N4810, an 4-bay design based on the existing N2810PRO 2-bay model. The N4810 offers up to 40 TB of hard drive storage support, and an Intel Celeron N3160 (quad-core) processor with 4GB of RAM, which can be expanded to 8GB.

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Image credit: Thecus

"With the N4810 built on the hardware of its little brother, the N2810PRO, users are equipped with the same immersive multimedia experience. Delivering superb sharpness and colour contrasts in 4K resolution playback, accessed through the HDMI output or DisplayPort output, guaranteeing that the picture quality from movies is just as the director envisioned.

Connection to your digital sound system via a SPDIF output is available, providing crystal clear audio for music and movies. A new USB 3.0 Type-C port has been added to the three already equipped USB 3.0 ports. This Type-C connector is the size of a microUSB and has a reversible plug allowing cables to be conveniently plugged in either direction."

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Image credit: Thecus

The NAS is geared toward the living room, with HDMI output along with DisplayPort, and display output up to UHD/4K. We took a look at the 2-bay N2560 NAS a couple of years ago, and on paper this new model offers a substantial upgrade as an entertainment/HTPC solution. Availability is set for this month.

Source: Thecus

Sony's Optical Disc Archive Storage Reaches 3.3 TB

Subject: Storage | April 18, 2016 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: storage, sony, optical disc archive, optical disc, ODA, hard drives, backup, Archival

Sony has developed a higher-capacity version of their Optical Disc Archive (ODA), which now allows up to 3.3 TB of archival storage with the promise of 100-year retention.

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Sony ODS-D280U (Image credit: Sony via Computer Base)

Of course the viability of such a system in the next century is unknown, and a working cartridge (which is similar to the multi-CD systems found in cars a few years ago) would be needed to access the data. The idea is certainly interesting considering the potential for failure with traditional hard drives, though hard drives are relatively inexpensive and offer more utility, unlike the write-once Sony ODA cartridges.

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Cartridge exploded view (Image credit: Sony via Computer Base)

For those seeking pure read-only archival storage, the higher capacity of the second-generation Sony ODA at least brings it closer to parity with current hard drive storage.

Samsung's Enterprise SSD PM1725 Hits 6 GB/s and 1 Million IOPS in Demo

Subject: Storage | October 23, 2015 - 01:28 AM |
Tagged: storage, ssd, solid-state drive, Samsung, PM1725, enterprise

The 950 Pro SSD is here, (and Allyn has the full review right here) and while it's the fastest consumer SSD out there, the latest enterprise SSD demo from Samsung is absolutely insane.

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Image credit: Kit Guru

The PM1725 has a PCI Express 3.0 x8 interface, and a 2.5" version will also be available (though limited to PCI Express 3.0 x4). And with read speeds in excess of 6.2 GB/s the PM1725 sounds like a RAM disk. And if that wasn't enough the drive managed a million IOPS from a demo performance for this new SSD at Dell World in Austin, Texas.

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Image credit: Tom's Hardware

Tom's Hardware had hands-on time with the card and was able to run a few benchmarks verifying the outlandish speeds from this SSD, with their 6.2+ GB/s result coming from a 128k QD32 sequential test, with the IOPS test run as a 4k random read.

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Image credit: Tom's Hardware

I'm sure the price will be similarly out of this world and this of course isn't a consumer-oriented (or likely even bootable) option. For now the Samsung 950 Pro is the object of NVMe desire for many, and for $199.99 ($0.78/GB) for the 256 GB model and $349.99 ($0.68/GB) for the 512 GB model on Amazon.com the 950 Pro is pretty reasonable - even if they "only" offer up to 2.5 GB/s reads and 1.5 GB/s writes. I'd certainly take it!

Lenovo Tech World: High-Performance S2200 and S3200 Storage Arrays

Subject: Storage | May 27, 2015 - 10:00 PM |
Tagged: storage, SAN, S3200, S2200, Lenovo, datacenter

Lenovo has announced two new high-performance storage products aimed at small and medium business, and the new S2200 and S3200 storage arrays are designed with speed in mind.

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The Storage S2200 and S3200 arrays offer dual and single controllers in 2U-12 and 24 drive configurations. The S2200 supports up to 96 drives and the S3200 supports up to 192 drives to easily support storage growth. The S2200 and S3200 make connectivity simple. The S2200 and S3200 support Fibre Channel, iSCSI and SAS, with the S3200 supporting multi-protocol connectivity that can work with Fibre Channel and iSCSI at the same time. This combination of flexibility and scalability makes integration into nearly any environment easy.

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Lenovo is also using a technology called "Intelligent Real-Time Tiering" to approximate the performance of flash storage by prioritizing frequently accessed data as it "automatically moves frequently accessed data to higher performing drives every five seconds, significantly increasing storage performance".

With hybrid configurations and Intelligent Real-Time Tiering, the Lenovo Storage S3200 can provide near All-Flash-Array (AFA) performance for up to 120,000 IOPS at a fraction of the cost of today’s Flash only systems.

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The Lenovo S2200 and S3200 SANs will be available worldwide starting in June.

Source: Lenovo

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

Rumor: AMD Working With ASMedia on SATA Express

Subject: Storage | May 21, 2014 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: storage, SATA Express, rumors, chipset, amd

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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.

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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.

Source: Digitimes

Seagate Launches 4TB, Four-Platter Hard Drive For $200

Subject: Storage | April 3, 2013 - 06:26 AM |
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.

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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.

Source: Seagate

Synology Launches DSM 4.2 NAS Management Software

Subject: Storage | March 8, 2013 - 12:21 AM |
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.

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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.

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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.

Source: Synology