Toshiba laptops are so hot right now

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2016 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, recall, fire

Forget the concerns about fertility when using a laptop placed directly on your lap, having your lap catch fire is a bit more of a concern.  If you are using a Toshiba laptop right now, quickly flip it over and check if it is on fire, or if the serial number resembles G71Cxxxxxxxx.  If either of those conditions are true, please contact Toshiba customer support on this page, which also has a software utility you can run to see if you are affected by this recall.  According to The Register, some of these batteries may have been sold individually or as repair kit for Satellite, Portégé and Tecra models so you should check; better safe than on fire.

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"Toshiba is recalling the battery packs in 39 notebook models over fears they could be prone to catching fire."

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Source: The Register

A new Trion appears, is it still a good choice for an entry level SSD?

Subject: Storage | February 18, 2016 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: Trion 150, toshiba, tlc, ssd, slc, sata, ocz, A15nm

As you may remember from Al's post, the OCZ Trion 150 is essentially the same as the previous Trion 100, except for the use of 15nm TLC flash from Toshiba and a lower initial price.  Hardware Canucks got their paws on two of the drives from this series to benchmark, the 480GB and 960GB models.  The 480GB model retains the 256MB DDR3 cache, the 960 doubles that to 512MB but there is one thing missing from this new series; instead of relying on capacitors to prevent lost data from a power failure they rely on OCZ's firmware based Power Failure Management Plus.  Read Hardware Canucks full review to see if the new Trion can match the price to performance of the original.

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"With the budget-focused SSD market exploding, OCZ is launching the Trion 150, a refresh of their original Trion 100 series which should offer better performance and an even lower price."

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OCZ Launches Trion 150, Successor to Trion 100 SATA SSD, Now Using 15nm Flash

Subject: Storage | February 3, 2016 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: Trion 150, toshiba, tlc, ssd, slc, sata, ocz, A15nm

*Note* This piece originally stated 'A15nm', however this was an error in the Trion 150 spec sheet at OCZ. It has been corrected in this article (as well as at the OCZ web site).

2015 was a bit of a rough year for OCZ, as their integration with parent company Toshiba ran into a few performance bumps in the road. First was the Vector 180 launch, which saw some particularly troublesome stalls during writes and TRIM operations. The Trion 100 launch went a bit smoother, but we did note some inconsistencies in caching performance of those TLC/SLC caching SSDs.

OCZ hopes to turn things around by kicking off 2016 with some updates to their product lines. First up is the just announced Trion 150:

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Looking at the spec sheets of the Trion 100 and 150, it may be difficult to spot any differences. I’ll save you the trouble and say that only *one digit* changes, but it is an important one. The Trion 150 will use Toshiba 15nm TLC flash (the Trion 100 used A19nm). What is interesting about this is that the Trion 150 carries the same endurance rating as its predecessor. A flash memory die shrink typically comes with a corresponding reduction in endurance, so it is good to see Toshiba squeeze this likely last die shrink to their planar flash for all of the endurance they can. Further backing up that endurance claim, the Trion 150 will carry OCZ’s ShieldPlus warranty, which offers shipping-paid advance-RMA (without receipt) of this product line for three years!

OCZ has Trion 150 samples on the way to us, and we will get a full performance review of them up as soon as we can! Full press blast follows after the break.

Source: OCZ

Not the Toshiba Satellite of yore, the Satellite Radius 12 has new tricks

Subject: Mobile | January 21, 2016 - 06:14 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, Satellite Radius 12

Ah, the old Toshiba Satellite; like a Volvo it was never the best nor the prettiest but short of a major collision nothing could kill it.  Since those times Toshiba has had a rough go of it, The Inquirer states they have predicted a $4.5bn loss, just after being caught cooking the books.  That has not stopped them from improving their Satellite lineup and the Satellite Radius 12 ultraportable is a great example of that.

The screen on this 300x209x15.4mm (11.8x8.2x0.6") and 1.32kg (2.9lb), 12.1" convertible laptop is an impressive 3840x2160 IPS display which can be fully flipped open to a tablet like form factor.  An i7-6500U, 8GB RAM and an unspecified 256GB SSD offer great performance, although battery life does suffer somewhat due to the screen and components.  Toshiba also included a dedicated Cortana button, cellphone like volume rocker, 0.9MP webcam and an infrared camera which works with Windows Hello but is not a RealSense camera.  The Inquirer found a lot to like about this laptop as well as some fairly serious shortcomings, read about them all in their review.

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"This is the latest in Toshiba's rotating display convertible line, and the first of its kind to include a so-called 4K screen, making it an interesting proposition regardless of its creator's misfortunes."

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Source: The Inquirer

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.

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"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?

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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:

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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

Introduction:

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:

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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:

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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.

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"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.

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"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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