Computex 2015: Micron Announces 16nm TLC For Consumer SSDs

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2015 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, micron, flash, computex 2015, computex, 16nm

Chugging right along that TechInsights Flash Roadmap we saw last year, Micron has announced the TLC extension to their 16nm flash memory process node.

Micron Roadmap.png

While 16nm TLC was initially promised Q4 of 2014, I believe Micron distracted themselves a little with their dabbles into Dynamic Write Acceleration technology. No doubt wanting to offer ever more cost effective SSDs to their portfolio, the new TLC 16nm flash will take up less die space for the same capacity, meaning more dies per 300mm wafer, ultimately translating to lower cost/GB of consumer SSDs.

micron_128gb_16nm_nand_flash.jpg

Micron's 16nm (MLC) flash

The Crucial MX200 and BX100 SSDs have already been undercutting the competition in cost/GB, so the possibility of even lower cost SSDs is a more than welcome idea - just so long as they can keep the reliability of these parts high enough. IMFT has a very solid track record in this regard, so I don't suspect any surprises in that regard.

Full press blast appears after the break.

Samsung 840 EVO Standalone ISO Updater Now Available

Subject: Storage | April 28, 2015 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo

For those of you following the Samsung 840 EVO saga, last week we saw the release of Magician 4.6. Samsung was initially throttling downloads and firmware update rates, but those limits appear to have been lifted as of this morning. Another thing we noticed this morning was the inclusion of the standalone ISO updater for those who are otherwise unable to run the Magician software (i.e. Mac users):

EXT0DB6Q ISO.png

For those on laptops or other devices with no optical drive, I've confirmed the ISO can be used via USB if placed there with a tool such as Rufus.

Note to Linux users:

There was an early report of complications from a user who was running a full disk fstrim during boot, where that operation was causing errors (corrected once that operation was disabled). It should be noted that full disk TRIM operations are redundant so long as the OS is issuing TRIM on-the-fly during regular file moves / deletions. This may be an issue with queued TRIM handling of the new 840 EVO firmware. If not reproduced / corrected by Samsung, the Linux devs may be able to add this firmware revision to the queued TRIM blacklist to possibly fix the problem on their end.

Note to mSATA 840 EVO users:

It appears the update does not currently apply to these. I've asked Samsung about this.

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:

magician download error.png

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

Meet Silicon Motion's new flash agnostic controller

Subject: Storage | March 3, 2015 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, SM2256, slc, silicon motion

You may remember the Silicon Motion SM2256 SSD controller that Al reported on during CES this year, even if you do not you should be interested in a controller which can work with 1x/1y/1z nm TLC NAND from any manufacturer on the market.  The SSD Review managed to get a prototype which uses the new SM2256 controller, Samsung’s 19nm TLC planar NAND flash and a Hynix 440Mhz 256MB DDR3 DRAM chip.  In benchmarking they saw 548MB/s sequential reads and 484MB/s writes, with 4K slowing down to 38MB/s for read and 110MB/s for write.  Check out the rest of the review here as well as keeping your eyes peeled for our first review of the new controller.

618x412xSilicon-Motion-SM2256-Main-1024x683.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.MsJr8DUd2Dl19vb5ls7F.jpg

"Controllers are the heart and soul of every SSD. Without one, an SSD would be a useless PCB with some components slapped on it. It is responsible for everything from garbage collection and wear leveling to error correction and hardware encryption. In simple terms, all these operations can be quite complicated to implement as well as expensive to develop."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Samsung Promises Another Fix for 840 EVO Slow Down Issue

Subject: Storage | February 20, 2015 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Samsung, 840 evo

Some of you may have been following our coverage of the Samsung 840 EVO slow down issue. We first reported on this issue last September, and Samsung issued a fix a couple of months later. This tool was effective in bringing EVOs back up to speed, but some started reporting their drives were still slowing down. Since our January follow up, we have been coordinating with Samsung on a possible fix. We actually sent one of our samples off to them for analysis, and have just received this statement: 
 
In October, Samsung released a tool to address a slowdown in 840 EVO Sequential Read speeds reported by a small number of users after not using their drive for an extended period of time. This tool effectively and immediately returned the drive’s performance to normal levels. We understand that some users are experiencing the slowdown again. While we continue to look into the issue, Samsung will release an updated version of the Samsung SSD Magician software in March that will include a performance restoration tool.
 
image.jpg
 
A look at the reduced read speeds of stale data on an 840 EVO which had the original fix applied. Unpatched drives were slowing much further (50-100 MB/s).
 
So it appears that Samsung is still looking into the issue, but will update their Magician software to periodically refresh stale data until they can work out a more permanent fix that would correct all affected 840 EVOs. We have not heard anything about the other TLC models which have been reported to see this same sort of slow down, but we will keep you posted as this situation develops further.

CES 2015: Silicon Motion SM2256 seen in action, capable of hybrid TLC/SLC caching

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 01:17 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2015, silicon motion, SM2256, ssd, tlc, slc

We first saw the Silicon Motion SM2256 controller at Flash Memory Summit, but now we've seen it live, in action, and driving several different types of TLC NAND.

DSC06942_resize.JPG

Silicon Motion had this live demo running on a testbed at their suite:

DSC06936_resize.JPG

The performance looked very good considering the 2256 is designed to efficiently push TLC flash, which is slower than MLC. As their representative was explaining that the SM2256 is currently being tested with Samsung, Toshiba, and SK Hynix TLC flash, I noticed the HDTune write trace:

DSC06939_resize.JPG

Those familiar with HDTune and Samsung SSDs with Samsung's TurboWrite cache (from the 840/850 EVO) will recognize the above - the SSD begins writing at SLC speed and after that cache is full, the SSD then drops to writing at TLC speed. I specifically asked about this, as we've only Samsung flash provisioned with an SLC portion of each die, and the answer was that Toshiba and SK Hynix TLC flash also supports such a subdivision. This is good news, as it means increased competition from competing SSDs that can accomplish the same SLC burst writes as the Samsung EVO series.

We heard from a few vendors that will soon be launching SM2256 equipped SSDs this year, and we eagerly await the opportunity to see what they are capable of.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Lite-On Introduces World's First TLC SSD With LDPC Technology

Subject: Storage | January 6, 2015 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Marvell, LiteOn, LDPC, 88SS1074

Al first introduced us to Low Density Parity Check, the successor to BCH code error correction when he visited Marvell at FMS 2014 and was shown the 88SS1093 controller.  Lite-On has used a slightly different chip, the 88SS1074 to provide LDPC to their new CV2 family of solid state drives.  In addition to the new error detection capabilities the new controller offers 256-bit AES encryption and device sleep modes to enhance the battery life of mobile devices.  The controller has 4 channels and is paired with 128, 256 or 512GB of triple level cell Toshiba A19 NAND which we have seen on Corsair, OCZ and Silicon Motion products.  The press release references results of 4KB throughput at 100,000 IOPS which we hope to be able to verify in the future.

index.jpg

Click through to read the full press release.

 

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Lite-On

A little 3D TLC from Samsung, the new 850 EVO

Subject: Storage | December 8, 2014 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: 3d nand, tlc, 256 bit aes, 850 EVO, raid, RAPID, Samsung, sata, ssd

Not only does Samsung's new 850 EVO family introduce us to three dimensional triple level cell NAND, it also incorporates an SLC cache to boost write speeds.  The Tech Report received the 250GB and 1TB models to test, with a spotlight on how they fared against the 840 Pro and 840 Evo.  Their testing shows that the new way of creating NAND has helped mitigate the reduction in speed which accompanied the first generation of TLC drives.  There is no question that the SLC write cache also helps as long as it has space available but this new technology does come with a price, expect $500 for the 1TB and $150 for for the 250GB model.  The 5 year warranty is a nice touch for those who have reliability concerns.

Make sure to ready through Al's review as well, along with single drive benchmarks you can see how these drives perform in RAID.

drives.jpg

"Samsung's long-awaited 850 EVO SSD employs three-dimensional NAND with three bits per cell. It augments that TLC storage with an SLC write cache, and it has a higher endurance rating and longer warranty than most MLC drives. We've taken a closer look to see how it holds up against the competition."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Samsung Germany acknowledges '840 Basic' performance slow down, promises fix

Subject: Storage | October 29, 2014 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: tlc, Samsung, firmware, 840

If you own a Samsung 840 SSD, it appears that after much repeated and vocal pressure, Samsung has acknowledged the slow down also affects your drive. We're not talking about the EVO or the Pro, this is the original pure TLC model that launched (the EVO is a TLC+SLC cache hybrid while the Pro is all MLC). Here's the quote from Samsung, via Computer Base:

Uns ist durch das Feedback, das uns erreicht hat, bekannt, dass es auch beim Zugriff auf bestimmte Daten bei Modellen der SSD 840 zu niedrigeren Leseleistungen als angegeben kommen kann.

Im Moment untersuchen unsere Produktexperten systematisch die betreffenden SSD-Modelle innerhalb verschiedener Systemumgebungen und arbeiten an einer schnellstmöglichen Lösung.

Aufgrund der unterschiedlichen Technologien sind die Modelle der PRO-Serie (840 PRO und 850 PRO) nicht betroffen.

Samsung

What? You can't read German? Neither can we, but paraphrasing from the poor quality translation from several online tools, we deduce that Samsung has acknowledged the issue on the 840, and is working on a solution as quickly as possible. This is similar verbiage to the statement issued for the 840 EVO acknowledgement.

** Update **

Thanks to Zyhmet, who commented shortly after posting, here's a human translation:

Because of the feedback we got, we realized that, accessing specific data with units of SSD 840 could lead to lower reading performance.

For the moment our experts are systematically examining the SSD-units with different system environments and we are working on a solution as fast as possible.

Due to different technologies the PRO-series (840 PRO and 850 PRO) are not affected.

Samsung

** End update **

Side note - of those who have used the 840 EVO Performance Restoration Tool, a few have reported an issue cropping up. The error manifests as a SMART data misreporting error:

temp (cooling).png

What's odd about this error is that it was present on some of our pre-production test samples (firmware EXT0AB0Q), and was corrected once we updated those samples to the first retail build (EXT0BB0Q). The image above was an actual screen shot taken during our temperature-dependency testing of the slow down issue. While none of our samples had the issue return when updating all the way to the performance restored firmware, one of those updates did corrupt the Master File Table, rendering the majority of the SSD inaccessible. While we have seen no other reports of corrupted partitions, several users noticed the SMART reporting issue after updating. It's odd to see this sort of a regression with firmware updates, in that a bug fixed in the initial shipping firmware has returned (for some) in a subsequent update. If you've updated your 840 EVO with their Performance Restoration Tool, it may be a good time to check your SMART attributes. If you see the error above, please leave us a note in the comments.

Circling back to the slow down issue - given that it is present in two TLC-based SSDs from Samsung, one has to wonder if this issue exists in other Samsung TLC SSDs as well. Here's the list of potentials (thanks to an anonymous comment on a prior story):

  • 840 EVO - 19nm TLC
  • 840 - 21nm TLC
  • PM841 - 21nm TLC
  • PM851 - 21nm TLC (some SKUs)
  • 845DC EVO - 19nm TLC
  • PM843 - 21nm TLC
  • PM853T - 21nm TLC

We have several questions out to Samsung on these issues, but to date they have not been answered. More to follow as we wait for an official (English) response.

Podcast #320 - Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: X99 Classified, X99, video, tlc, tegra k1, ssd, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, micron, M600, iphone 6, g-sync, freesync, evga, broadwell-u, Broadwell, arm, apple, amd, adaptive sync, a8, 840 evo, 840

PC Perspective Podcast #320 - 10/02/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!

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