Toshiba's new Skylake powered Portégé series

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 9, 2015 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, portege, Skylake

The Inquirer hasn't received a model for review yet but they did get a quick peek at the new line of Portégé business laptops from Toshiba.  The new models are the 13.3" Portégé Z20t-C, 14" Portégé Z30-C, 14" Tecra Z40-C, and 15.6" Tecra Z50-C and will ship running either Windows 7 or Windows 10 depending on your preference.  From what they were told only the small Z20t-C will have the new USB 3.1 Type-C port, other models will sport USB 3.0.  One nice feature with the new Z series is that they will all use the same docking station, handy for when you are managing multiple models.  If you are looking for a new business laptop or your company is fishing for vendors then you might want to wait to check out Toshiba's new line when it officially launches.


"TOSHIBA HAS UNVEILED fresh iterations of its flagship business laptop range, the Z Series, adding Intel's latest 6th-gen Core processors."

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Source: The Inquirer

Microsoft to Announce New Windows 10 Devices

Subject: Systems | October 5, 2015 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, surface, Surface Pro, surface pro 4, hp, Lenovo, dell, asus, acer, toshiba

Tomorrow at 10 am ET, Microsoft will host a live stream to announce “new Windows 10 devices from Microsoft”. It's pretty obvious that we'll get at least one new Surface device announced, which rumors suggest will be the Surface Pro 4 with a low-bezel, 13-inch display. W4pHub, via VR-Zone, goes a bit further to claim that the display can shrink to 12 inches when in tablet mode, giving a frame for the user to hold. If true, I wonder how applications will handle the shift in resolution. Perhaps the only problem is a little flicker, which will be hidden by the rest of Continuum's transition?


Image Credit: VR-Zone

The Microsoft Blog post also lists the announcement dates of their partners. Here's the rundown:

  • October 7th -- HP
  • October 8th -- Dell
  • October 9th -- ASUS
  • October 12th -- Acer
  • October 13th -- Toshiba
  • October 19th -- Lenovo

While the rush of Windows 10 devices have missed the Back to School season, despite Microsoft's attempts to rush development with a July release, it looks like we might get a good amount of them for the holiday season. I was a bit worried, seeing how slowly Threshold 2 seems to be advancing, but they seem to have convinced OEMs to make a big deal out of it.

Then again, it could be holiday fever.

Source: Microsoft

FMS 2015: Toshiba Announces QLC (4-bit MLC) 3D Archival Flash

Subject: Storage | August 11, 2015 - 08:40 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, FMS 2015, flash, BiCS, Archive, Archival, 3d

We occasionally throw around the '3-bit MLC' (Multi Level Cell) term in place of 'TLC' (Triple Level Cell) when talking about flash memory. Those terms are interchangeable, but some feel it is misleading as the former still contains the term MLC. At Toshiba's keynote today, they showed us why the former is important:


Photo source: Sam Chen of Custom PC Review

That's right - QLC (Quadruple Level Cell), which is also 4-bit MLC, has been mentioned by Toshiba. As you can see at the right of that slide, storing four bits in a single flash cell means there are *sixteen* very narrow voltage ranges representing the stored data. That is a very hard thing to do, and even harder to do with high performance (programming/writing would take a relatively long time as the circuitry nudges the voltages to such a precise level). This is why Toshiba pitched this flash as a low cost solution for archival purposes. You wouldn't want to use this type of flash in a device that was written constantly, since the channel materials wearing out would have a much more significant effect on endurance. Suiting this flash to be written only a few times would keep it in a 'newer' state that would be effective for solid state data archiving.

The 1x / 0.5x / 6x figures appearing in the slide are meant to compare relative endurance to Toshiba's own planar 15nm flash. The figures suggest that Toshiba's BiCS 3D flash is efficient enough to go to QLC (4-bit) levels and still maintain a higher margin than their current MLC (2-bit) 2D flash.

More to follow as we continue our Flash Memory Summit coverage!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Since their acquisition by Toshiba in early 2014, OCZ has gradually transitioned their line of SSD products to include parts provided by their parent company. Existing products were switched over to Toshiba flash memory, and that transition went fairly smoothly, save the recent launch of their Vector 180 (which had a couple of issues noted in our review). After that release, we waited for the next release from OCZ, hoping for something fresh, and that appears to have just happened:


OCZ sent us a round of samples for their new OCZ Trion 100 SSD. This SSD was first teased at Computex 2015. This new model would not only use Toshiba sourced flash memory, it would also displace the OCZ / Indilinx Barefoot controller with Toshiba's own. Then named 'Alishan', this is now officially called the 'Toshiba Controller TC58'. As we found out during Computex, this controller employs Toshiba's proprietary Quadruple Swing-By Code (QSBC) error correction technology:


Error correction tech gets very wordy, windy, and technical and does so very quickly, so I'll do my best to simplify things. Error correction is basically some information interleaved within the data stored on a given medium. Pretty much everything uses it in some form or another. Some Those 700MB CD-R's you used to burn could physically hold over 1GB of data, but all of that extra 'unavailable' space was error correction necessary to deal with the possible scratches and dust over time. Hard drives do the same sort of thing, with recent changes to how the data is interleaved. Early flash memory employed the same sort of simple error correction techniques initially, but advances in understanding of flash memory error modes have led to advances in flash-specific error correction techniques. More advanced algorithms require more advanced math that may not easily lend itself to hardware acceleration. Referencing the above graphic, BCH is simple to perform when needed, while LDPC is known to be more CPU (read SSD controller CPU) intensive. Toshiba's proprietary QSB tech claims to be 8x more capable of correcting errors, but what don't know what, if any, performance penalty exists on account of it.

We will revisit this topic a bit later in the review, but for now lets focus on the other things we know about the Trion 100. The easiest way to explain it is this is essentially Toshiba's answer to the Samsung EVO series of SSDs. This Toshiba flash is configured in a similar fashion, meaning the bulk of it operates in TLC mode, while a portion is segmented off and operates as a faster SLC-mode cache. Writes first go to the SLC area and are purged to TLC in the background during idle time. Continuous writes exceeding the SLC cache size will drop to the write speed of the TLC flash.

Read on for the full review!

NRAM research gets a financial boost

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2015 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: non-volatile RAM, Nantero, NRAM, STT-MRAM, RRAM, memristor, hp, Panasonic, toshiba

Non-volatile memory technology is now at a turning point where we find out which technology will be doomed to be BETAMAX and which will carry on to become the VHS equivalent; hopefully that analogy is not too accurate as VHS was not the better of the two.  Allyn discussed the reasons why the market is looking for a new technology back in 2012 and his predictions that NAND still had some life in it have been proven over the past few years but we are seeing new limitations with the current technology.

In the past we have covered HP's Resistive RAM, also called a Memrisitor, which has been in development for many years but has finally appeared in some Panasonic microcomputers which control sensors.  STT-MRAM, spin transfer torque magnetoresistive random access memory, is Toshiba's project and while we still haven't seen any product it has been in development for more than 3 years and news of prototypes should arrive soon.  Lastly is NRAM, nano-RAM so named for the use of carbon based nanotubes in its design which is being developed by Nantero.

It is Nantero which is in the news today, having secured $31.5 million in funding this year, triple what they have seen in previous years according to the numbers The Inquirer has.  This particular technology offers densities in the terabytes per chip, storage which requires no active power source once written to and data retention of over 1,000 years at 85 degrees Celsius.  The speeds should match those expected from STT-RAM but at a fabrication price closer to the much lower cost RRAM; don't hold off buying your next SSD but do not think that market is going to get boring any time soon.


"It got $31.5m in an over-subscribed round to continue developing its nanotube-based non-volatile RAM (NRAM) semiconductor technology, which it says has DRAM read/write speed and is ultra-high density – think terabits."

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Source: Slashdot

Toshiba's portable backup drive, the Canvio Connect

Subject: Storage | May 7, 2015 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, Canvio Connect, backup, external drive

At a $90 price point the 2TB Toshiba Canvio Connect is not a huge investment to give yourself another way to back up your precious data; remember kids the equation is Actual Number of backups = Number of Backups - 1.  It is also a good choice for portable storage, at 8.2oz and 111x79x21mm (4.4x3.1x0.8") it will easily fit into your bag or laptop case.  Hardware Secrets tested it for speed and found it a bit slower than the competition but certainly within expectations for a USB 3.0 drive.  They prefer the Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB overall, for the same price it is slightly faster and slimmer as well.


"Users are always damanding more and more storage space, not only inside their computers, but also as portable external hard disk drives. Nowadays, 2 TB portable external drives are becoming popular, and we will test the Toshiba 2 TB Canvio Connect, comparing it to the Seagate 2 TB Backup Plus Slim and the Western Digital 2 TB My Passport Ultra that we've already reviewed. They are all compact drives and make use of the USB 3.0 interface. Which one is the fastest? Let's see!"

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Kingston and Phison and Toshiba; oh my

Subject: Storage | April 28, 2015 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: Phison PS3110, 19nm, toshiba, toggle NAND, kingston hyper x, ssd

When you pick up a Kingston HyperX Savage SSD you have a choice of the barebones model at $122 for the 240GB model or you can pay an extra $25 for the upgrade kit which contains 2.5mm z-height adapter, a SATA 6Gb/s cable, a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter plate, Acronis True Image HD imaging software, a micro-screwdriver set, and a USB 3.0 enclosure with USB 3.0 cable.  That upgrade kit is perfect for those looking for an easy way to move their entire OS to the new SSD with a minimum of fuss.  Inside the drive is the Phison PS3110 controller with a 256MB DDR3-1600 cache and Toshiba's 19nm Toggle Mode NAND.  Hardware Canucks put the drive to the test and it shows huge improvements from the first generation, enough to put it in competition with offerings from OCZ, Intel and Crucial.  This demonstrates a faster evolution that competitors products but it does unfortunately come at a price that is a bit high compared to those competitors offerings.


"The affordable Kingston HyperX Savage is one of the first SSDs to use the new Phison PS3110 controller and the end results are extremely impressive to say the least."

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Reliable high volume storage; the 4TB Toshiba MG04ACA400A

Subject: Storage | March 23, 2015 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, MG04ACA400A, datacenter, enterprise

Toshiba's new MG04ACA series are Enterprise class HDDs available in increments of 1TB, from 2TB to 6TB and ship with either 4K or 512B emulation depending on your preference.  Mad Shrimps just wrapped up a review of the 4TB model which certainly cannot match a SSD for speed but it is rated for 1400000 hours and workloads of 550TB a year, constant usage.  You do pay a premium for enterprise level drives but spinning rust is still far more economical in high densities that flash based drives are.  If you are looking for reliable HDDs for your servers, check this review out.


"The new MG04ACA series from Toshiba is composed from drives which are meant for enterprise, mission-critical applications, while sporting higher transfer rates and capacities. The tested sample comes with 128MB of cache and comes in two versions, depending on the applications it is needed for: with 512 sector emulation or strictly with 4K sector. Make sure to choose wisely which drive is for you and your setups in order to bypass any incompatibilities which may arise."

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Source: Mad Shrimps

OCZ's ARC provides decent performance and a better warranty

Subject: Storage | December 2, 2014 - 05:14 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, sata, ocz, ARC, m10, Indilinx Barefoot

It has been a while since we last talked about the OCZ ARC family but seeing as how you can currently pick up the 256GB model for $100 it seems a good time to revisit the drive.  Bjorn3D recently reviewed this drive and it's Indilinx Barefoot M10 controller and Toshiba A19 nm flash.  Before delving into the speeds this drive is capable of it is worth reminding possible purchasers of the three year ShieldPlus warranty, if you encounter issues with the drive OCZ will ship you out a brand new advanced replacement along with a prepaid return label to the customer which you then use to send your failed drive back.  As far as the performance of this drive, it is a close match to the Crucial MX 100, not the best drive out there but certainly good all around at this price point.  In fact with the MX 100 costing only $10 more its slightly better performance might make it more attractive but Crucial's warranty is not as user friendly as OCZs.  Check out the full review to see which company you feel deserves your money.


"As expected, with OCZ now owned by Toshiba, OCZ would be using the in-house brew Toshiba NAND for their SSDs as oppose to Intel/Micron. OCZ has transitioned their mainstream Vertex SSDs to the Toshiba NAND already. And the latest budget line of SSD, the ARC 100, continues the trend of using all in-house made components of pairing the Indilinx controller with the Toshiba NAND."

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Source: Bjorn3D

Only 1920x1080 or better need apply

Subject: Mobile | November 27, 2014 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: 1080p, Chillblast, Prestige i5-4200SH, dell, Inspiron 17 7000, hp, Beats Special Edition, Lenovo, Yoga 2 13, toshiba, Satellite S70-B-10U

Sick of the standard laptop screen resolution of 1366x768, especially on a laptop with a 17" screen?  The Register has collected five laptops which have a 1080p resolution, several of which feature touchscreen capabilities for use with Win 8.1 and range in screen size up to 17.3". There is a variety of quality, the lower cost HP notebook does not feature an IPS display and so is not as sharp as some other models but then again it is not as expensive as the other models either.  There is not much in the way of benchmarks but it is not too hard to estimate performance based on the components which are inside these laptops as they are common among the current generation of laptops.  This review focuses on the screen, much like your eyes do.


"For the more discerning eye, that’s just not enough, and while we’ll be looking at the more expensive HiDPI laptops soon, full HD laptops are certainly more affordable these days, especially if you’re prepared to trade having a high-performance CPU or a speedy solid-state drive for a crisper, higher resolution image instead."

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Source: The Register