IDF 2013: Promise Technology Shows Off Thunderbolt 2 Equipped Storage

Subject: Storage | September 13, 2013 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: Thunderbolt 2, SANlink 2, raid, promise, 4k

Promise Technology has announced that it is launching new storage solutions with Intel's new Thunderbolt 2 interface. Shown off at IDF 2013, the storage products include the Pegasus 2 series and SANLink 2 Thunderbolt 2 to 8G Fiber Channel bridge. The Pegasus 2 series is a RAID 5 external storage array that connects to Windows or Mac machines using Thunderbolt 2. The SANLink 2 bridge product allows users to connect a PC using Thunderbolt 2 to Promise Technology's VTrak or VTrak A-Class shared SAN storage.

Promise Technology Logo.jpg

The storage products are aimed mainly at professional video editors that are working with 4K content. According to Promise Technology, the 20Gbps bi-directional Thunderbolt 2 connection enables video editors to simultaneously transfer and display 4K video content.

Promise Technology VTrak A-Class Storage.jpg

Promise Technology CEO James Lee was quoted as saying:

"With the industry now poised for the widespread adoption of 4K video, the Pegasus2 Series with Thunderbolt 2 technology will revolutionize how video creators are managing 4K workflows in addition to delivering unprecedented performance to artists and enthusiasts who love to create captivating content."

Both the Pegasus2 and SANLink2 products with Thunderbolt 2 will be available in Fall 2013 for so-far undisclosed prices. The full press blast is below, for more information.

22 Terabytes of hammering on the Anvil

Subject: Storage | September 6, 2013 - 02:25 PM |
Tagged: endurance, ssd, anvils storage utility

The Tech Report have seen some mixed results from their SSD endurance testing using Anvil's Storage Utility.  There has not been any mentionable performance degradation for any of the SSDs they have been testing but Kingston's drives have shown some unpredicted behaviour. The HyperX series displayed speed increases, a slight increase in sequential reads and writes as well as random writes and a large increase in random reads.   Tune in next time when they reach 100TB.

TR_anvil.jpg

"We're testing six SSDs to see how many writes they can take before burning out and what happens to performance as the flash degrades. Today, we check in on our subjects after 22TB of writes."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Kingspec Reveals 1TB PCI-E SSD Using Eight RAIDed mSATA SSDs

Subject: Storage | September 4, 2013 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: ssd, PCIe SSD, msata, LSI, kingspec, jmicron

KingSpec recently started shipping a new PCI-E based SSD that achieves more than 2.5GB/s sequential read performance from multiple mSATA SSDs behind a 6Gbps LSI RAID controller. The KingSpec MC2J677M1T is a full height expansion card with a PCI-E 2.0 x8 interface.

The new KingSpec solid state drive is bootable and uses a 6Gbps LSI RAID controller that connects to eight 6Gbps mSATA slots. The drive comes in 1TB and 2TB total capacities and the eight 6Gbps mSATA slots are occupied by eight 128GB or 256GB mSATA SSDs. Each mSATA SSD is powered by a Jmircon SSD controller, NANYA-manufactured DRAM cache, and Intel MLC NAND flash. Further, the LSI RAID controller is actively cooled by a small fan.

KingSpec MC2J677M1T PCI-E SSD.png

As far as performance goes, the 1TB model is rated at 84,000 IOPS and approximately 2GB/s sequential read and write transfer speeds. The SSD Review received a sample of the new drive and provided some preliminary benchmark results in the form of an ATTO benchmark run. At a queue depth of 4, the KingSpec MC2J677M1T achieved 4K reads of 2567 MB/s and 4K writes of 1613 MB/s.

The 1TB KingSpec PCI-E SSD will be available later this year for between $2,000 and $3,000 USD.

When asked for his thoughts, PC Perspective storage editor Allyn Malventano noted that the eight JMicron-driven mSATA SSDs in RAID is just asking for trouble, and the 4K random IO offered by the drive is actually less than some single drive SATA SSDs on the market. Unfortunately, the LSI RAID controller is “a major bottleneck for SSD-level random access.”

Corsair Announces High-Capacity, High-Peformance USB 3.0 Flash Drives

Subject: Storage, Mobile | September 3, 2013 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, flash drive, corsair

FREMONT, California — September 3, 2013 — Corsair®, worldwide designer of high-perform­­­­­­ance components to the PC hardware market, today announced the immediate availability of three new USB 3.0 flash drive models—Flash Voyager GS, Flash Voyager Mini, and Flash Voyager LS.

Flash Voyager GS

FV_GS_open.png

The Flash Voyager GS are large-capacity, high performance USB 3.0 flash drives housed in sleek, scratch-resistant brushed metal enclosures. Available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities, the drives take full advantage of high-speed USB 3.0 interfaces reaching speeds of up to 285MB per second read and 180MB per second write, while providing full USB 2.0 backward compatibility for older systems. Their brushed metal housings resist scratches and fingerprints and can be attached to a key ring. Like all Corsair flash drives, they are compatible with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, with no driver installation necessary.

CorsairGS.png

Flash Voyager Mini USB 3.0

FV_MINI3_A.png

The Flash Voyager Mini USB 3.0 are tiny USB flash drives with full-size USB 3.0 performance. Their USB 3.0 interfaces allow for file transfer speeds that are dramatically faster than USB 2.0. For maximum compatibility, the drives fully support USB 2.0. At just 1.25” (32mm) long and equipped with a detachable key ring loop, the Flash Voyager Mini USB 3.0 drives are convenient and easy to take everywhere. The drives are housed in a slim, stylish, and durable brushed metal housing that protects data and resists wear and tear.

Corsairvoyager.png

Flash Voyager LS

FV_LS_135degrees.png

The Flash Voyager LS are high-performance USB 3.0 flash drives with a premium retracting design that protects their USB connectors and eliminates the need for a protective cap. They are small enough to attach to a key ring, and are fully backward compatible with USB 2.0. Their attractive brushed metal design resists scratching and fingerprints. They drives are available in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities.

Corsairls.png

Source: Corsair

WD Improves Red, expands line to include 4TB and 2.5" form factor

Subject: Storage | September 3, 2013 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, red, NAS, hdd

Today Western Digital launched both a 4TB 3.5" Red, as well as a new 2.5" form factor available in both 750GB and 1TB:

WD Red 4TB et SFF 083013.jpg

The full press blast from WD appears after the break. Once you're done perusing, be sure to check out our Full Review of these two new models!

A new way to kill your SSD

Subject: Storage | August 22, 2013 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: ssd, endurance, anvils storage utility

The Tech Report is currently testing several SSDs to destruction, or at least trying to.  They are using a new tool called Anvil's Storage Utilities which includes a test designed to determine the longevity of the flash storage inside SSDs.  They started with factory fresh SSDs, never having a bit written to them before and are currently writing to every address on those drives with a goal of 22TB to be written before they test the speeds of the drives again.  Will some fare better than others?  Perhaps some will sacrifice capacity to keep their speed up?  Stay tuned, even with SATA 6Gbps it takes a while to write that much data!

software-anvil.jpg

"We all know that flash memory has a limited tolerance for write cycling, but what does that mean for SSD endurance? We're testing six SSDs to failure to find out."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Corsair Launches Force LS Line Of Budget SSDs

Subject: Storage | August 22, 2013 - 01:11 AM |
Tagged: corsair, force ls, ssd, phison, toshiba mlc

Corsair has launched a new line of budget solid state drives (SSDs) under the Force LS branding. The new SSDs come in up to 240GB capacities, and despite being budget drives, still manage to max out the SATA III 6Gbps interface.

The new Force LS SSDs use 19nm Toshiba MLC NAND flash and a Phison SSD controller. Traditionally, Corsair has used LSI SandForce controllers in its Force and Force GT solid state drives. The Force LS line includes 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB SSDs. The drives are 7mm thick 2.5” form factor drives.

Corsair Force LS 240GB SSD.jpg

As far as performance, the drives support sequential write speeds of 535 MB/s and sequential read speeds of 555 MB/s. Information on IOPS have not been released, but expect it to be lower than the existing Force drives due to their budget nature.

There is no word on specific availability date(s), but the new Force LS drives will be priced at $70 for the 60GB, $110 for the 120GB, and $200 for the 240GB. At the top end, the drives are approximately 83 cents per Gigabyte ($0.83/GB). All Force LS drives come with three year warranties.

Source: Maximum PC

Samsung Open Sources exFAT File System

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | August 20, 2013 - 09:41 PM |
Tagged: exFAT, Samsung

But Linux distributions still cannot officially use it... sort of?

Samsung added support for exFAT on Linux, in kernel, with one of their tablets. At some point code was leaked on GitHub. At some other point the Software Freedom Conservancy determined certain GPL-dependent modifications were published in binary form alone. Eventually Samsung properly released their source code under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

anonymous-raid.png

I am still unclear about how Samsung was allowed to do so, however. Copyright was never the main concern with exFAT but rather the patents Microsoft holds over the file system. The GPL mandates that code it covers must come with a non-exclusive worldwide and royalty-free license for applicable patents except under certain conditions. I would be curious how this license was accomplished unless Microsoft granted Samsung a patent license prior to March 28, 2007 (or some loophole like that).

I understand how people might be sympathetic to Microsoft and others asserting software patents because they are a for-profit business but that does not apply everywhere. You need to be careful when you apply a license to something as upstream as a file system or a kernel as everything downstream relies upon your decision.

Just imagine if you were separated from the contents of your SDXC card because, somehow, this patent found its way into the portfolio of a troll firm?

Current implementations of the file system are in user space until Samsung's in-kernel module. The Software Freedom Conservancy praised Samsung -- not only for their source code contribution -- but also for how open and public their response was.

Source: Phoronix

Samsung Launches First V-NAND SSD For Enterprise Market

Subject: Storage | August 14, 2013 - 10:11 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, charge trap flash, vertical nand, vnand, 128Gb, enterprise ssd

Last week, Samsung announced that it had started producing a new stackable NAND flash memory called V-NAND, or vertical NAND. The new 3D V-NAND would initially be available in 128Gb (Gigabit) chips, but could eventually scale into as much as 1 Tb (Terabit) per chip by stacking additional dies vertically. Doing so allows Samsung some flexibility in scaling to higher capacities without going to increasingly expensive and difficult to manufacturer smaller manufacturing processes, which has been the traditional method of attaining denser flash.

The company has now announced the V-NAND SSD, which is its first Solid State Drive to use the Vertical NAND technology. Aimed at the enterprise server market, the V-NAND SSD will come in 480GB and 960GB capacities. The 2.5” form factor drives are 7mm thick and come equipped with a SATA III 6Gbps controller. On the high end, the 960GB model uses 64 MLC 3D V-NAND 128Gb dies for a total physical capacity of 1TB. However, user-accessible capacity will be only 960GB. Unfortunately, Samsung did not reveal how many physical chips the drives use, so its hard to say how those 64 128Gb dies are distributed (4 high in 16 chips or 8 high in 8 chips, etc).

Samsung VNAND Enterprise SSD.jpg

The 960GB Samsung V-NAND SSD spotted by Engadget.

Samsung claims that the V-NAND SSD offers up to 20% increased performance and a 40% reduction in power consumption versus previous SSDs. Further, the 3D NAND using Samsung’s Charge Trap Flash technology is rated at 35K program erase cycles. Samsung rates the V-NAND memory itself as being twice as fast in writes and between two and ten times as reliable versus traditional 19nm floating gate NAND (the alternative to CTF NAND).

Samsung's 128Gb V-NAND die.

Samsung stated in a press release that it started production of the V-NAND SSD earlier this month. While it is introducing V-NAND into enterprise drives first, the technology will eventually trickle down into consumer drives. I’m interested to see this drive benchmarked for performance and write endurance to see if the 3D flash lives up to its potential.

Source: Engadget

4k alignment from a free partitioning tool

Subject: Storage | August 12, 2013 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: ssd, partition, MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition, 4k

SSDs and modern OSes no longer use the old 512 byte LBA alignment, or at least they don't need to and in the case of SSDs offer larger disk size and faster performance.  However many people are not aware of 4k alignment nor how to check if their SSD is aligned nor what to do even if they do know it is not aligned.  Hardware.Info put together a short article on the steps to verify if your SSD is aligned as well as covering a free partitioning tool called MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition which will help you align your SSD as well as other tasks common to partitioning software.  As with any major changes being made at this low a level, do realize that this could cause data loss, but aligning those sectors is a great IDEMA.

free-download-minitool-partition-wizard-8.0-home-edition-portable.jpg

"When you copy the contents of a hard disk from a PC or laptop to an SSD you have to make sure that the placement of the partitions corresponds to the underlying hardware structure. The same is true for the latest generation of hard disks. Today we'll discuss what this so-called '4k alignment' really means and what you can do in order to prevent a decrease in performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Silicon Motion introduces new SM2246EN SATA SSD controller, promises lower power for mobile devices

Subject: Storage | August 12, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, silicon motion, sata, controller

You may very well have never heard of Silicon Motion (SMI), a major priducer of flash memory controllers, even if you've followed the SSD industry for a while. This is primarily because the vast majority of their products have been tailored for the devices that folks tend to not crack open during review, namely USB memory sticks, eMMC devices, and SD / CF cards:

silicon motion controller history.png

Creating controllers in those arenas will tend to force a company to do a few things very well:

  • Handle a very limited number of flash channels with the greatest speed possible, due to packaging requirements for very small devices.
  • Operate at the lowest power draw possible as to meet the current draw limits of the host interface.

This has resulted in SMI developing a 6Gb/sec SSD controller, dubbed the SM2246EN, using the above techniques:

SM2246EN Block Diagram.jpg

silicon motion bd specs.png

The block diagram shows what appears to be a fairly standard 4-channel configuration, though there are fewer steps in the pipeline as compared to SandForce and other controllers, which should help decrease latency and improve efficiency. There is also no compression engine, which means power consumption should be further reduced.

Read on for further details on specs and power consumption, followed by the full press blast.

Diablo Technologies Unveils Memory Channel Storage

Subject: Storage | July 31, 2013 - 05:34 AM |
Tagged: diablo technologies, DIMM, nand, flash memory, memory channel storage

Ottawa-based Diablo Technologies unveiled a new flash storage technology yesterday that it calls Memory Channel Storage. As the name suggest, the storage technology puts NAND flash into a DIMM form factor and interfaces the persistent storage directly with the processor via the integrated memory controller.

The Memory Channel Storage (MCS) is a drop-in replacement for DDR3 RDIMMs (Registered DIMMs) in servers and storage arrays. Unlike DRAM, MCS is persistent storage backed by NAND flash and it can allow servers to have Terabytes of storage connected to the CPU via the memory interface instead of mere Gigabytes of DRAM acting as either system memory or block storage. The photo provided in the technology report (PDF) shows a 400GB MCS module that can slot into a standard DIMM slot, for example.

Diablo Technologies claims that MCS exhibits lower latencies and higher bandwidth than PCI-E and SATA SSDs. More importantly, the storage latency is predictable and consistent, making it useful for applications such as high frequency stock trading where speed and deterministic latency are paramount. Further, users can get linear increases in throughput with each additional Memory Channel Storage module added to the system. Latencies with MCS are as much as 85% lower with PCI-E SSDs and 96% lower than SAS/SATA SSDs according to Diablo Technologies. NAND flash maintenance such as wear leveling is handled via an on-board logic chip.

Diablo Technologies Memory Channel Storage.jpg

Diablo Technologies is also aiming the MCS technology at servers running big data analytics, massive cloud databases, financial applications, server virtualization, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). MCS can act as super fast local storage or as a local cache for external (such as networked) storage in the form of mechanical hard drives or SSDs.

Some details about Memory Channel Storage are still unclear, but it looks promising. It will not be quite as fast in random access as DRAM but it will be better (more bandwidth, lower latency) than both PCI-E and SATA-connected NAND flash-based SSDs. It would be awesome to see this kind of tech make its way to consumer systems so that I can have a physical RAMDisk with fast persistent storage (at least as far as form factor, MCS uses NAND not DRAM chips).

The full press release can be found here.

ASUS Launches ROG RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD

Subject: Storage | July 28, 2013 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: ssd, raidr express, raidr, pci-e ssd, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS has officially launched its PCI-E based ROG RAIDR Express SSD which was first shown off at CES 2013. The company posted details and high resolution photos on its Republic of Gamers blog on Friday.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD Installed In A System.jpg

The new PCI-E-based solid state drive measures 157 x 120 x 20mm and contains 240GB of NAND flash encased in a sleek metal Replublic Of Gamers themed exterior. Specifically, the RAIDR Express uses 19nm Toshiba synchronous MLC NAND flash and two LSI SandForce 2281 SSD controllers. As such, the drive is actually two SSDs that are placed in a RAID 0 configuration for the best performance. ASUS rates the drive at 830 MB/s sequential reads and 810 MB/s sequential writes. The PCI-E SSD is further capable of up to 100,000 4K random IOPS.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD Chips.png

ASUS has also included what it is calling a "DuoMode" BIOS switch that allows the drive to be used with either legacy or modern UEFI BIOSes. When the switch is in the EUFI position, PCs with the modern UEFI-equipped motherboards can boot up faster.

Beyond the RAIDR Express SSD itself, ASUS includes the following bundled software packages:

  • CrystalDiskMark
  • RAMDisk software
  • HybriDisk caching software
  • SSD TweakIT utility

ASUS is including RAMDisk software that is able to use as much as 80% of system RAM as a virtual drive that can be used to reduce wear on the SSD by using the RAM drive instead of the SSD for writing temporary files and the like. The above mentioned HybriDisk software allows the RAIDR Express SSD to be used as a cache drive for mechanical hard drives up to 4TB in capacity. Users can use the TweakIT utility to manage and optimize the SSD, and the CrystalDiskMark benchmark is being included to allow gamers to run benchmarks on the RAIDR Express to get an idea of its performance.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD.png

Oddly enough, ASUS has yet to release specific pricing or availability. More information along with the full press release can be found on the Republic of Gamers blog, however.

With that said, some sites are reporting that the RAIDR Express will be sold for around 440 Euros, which works out to about $600 USD or $2.5 per Gigabyte. Update: Commentor Roberto has pointed out that the RAIDR Express 240GB is available over in Japan for around 39,980 Yen, or ~$409 USD which is a much more reasonable price. US availability and pricing are still just estimates at this point, however. A bit on the expensive side (if the price is true) for sure, but it is nice to see another player in the PCI-E SSD space and it looks to be a speedy drive aimed at ROG fans and enthusiasts.

Also read: Details on a 120GB ASUS ROG RAIDR Express SSD @ PC Perspective.

Source: ASUS

More on Samsung's new cached SSD wizardry

Subject: Storage | July 26, 2013 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo, MEX controller

Along with Al's review of the new EVO line you can get a second opinion from The Tech Report about the performance of the new SSD with a fast cache.  The majority of the storage is 19nm TLC NAND but there is an SLC cache sitting between the controller and that long term TLC storage to help with the overall responsiveness of the drive, aka TurboWrite. In the 120 and 250GB models that cache is 3GB while in the larger models you get a 6GB cache.  In their real world testing the new EVO drive is incredible at large file copying though Sandforce drives can beat it in small file copy speeds, likely thanks to the compressed write trickery that controller family is so good at.  Check out the review here and keep your fingers crossed that MSRP is the acual price these drives sell at.

TR_nand.jpg

"Samsung's entry-level 840 EVO SSD combines affordable TLC NAND with a server-style SLC cache. We explain the drive's unique buffering tech and explore how it affects performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Seagate Introduces Enterprise Turbo SSHD 2.5" SAS Drive For Servers

Subject: Storage | July 26, 2013 - 12:35 AM |
Tagged: turbo sshd, sshd, Seagate, nand, enterprise

Earlier this week Seagate took the wraps off of its latest Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD). Dubbed the Enterprise Turbo SSHD, this latest model is aimed at the enterprise server market. The drives combine a traditional 10K SAS mechanical hard drive in capacities up to 600GB with up to 32GB of NAND flash.

The 2.5" Enterprise Turbo SSHDs are aimed at servers with big data analytics, virtual desktops, and transaction processing workloads. The NAND flash acts as a cache for the mechanical hard drive, and caching is done by the controller at an I/O level.

Seagate Enterprise Turbo SSHD Angled.jpg

According to Seagate, the company has been working with IBM over the past year to put the new SSHD through its paces. As such, the hybrid drives will first be available in the IBM X and BladeCentral servers. The IBM versions will have 16GB of NAND flash and one year warranties according to the documentation available online.

Seagate further claims up to three times random performance increase versus 15K SAS mechanical hard drives. The 600GB 10K SSHD is rated to have up to two times better IOPS than a traditional 10K SAS hard drive without a NAND cache.

Seagate Enterprise Turbo SSHD.jpg

The Enterprise Turbo also comes with enterprise-friendly drive self encryption options. The Seagate product page notes that the Enterprise Turbo SSHD will have a five year warranty. Pricing and detailed benchmarks are not yet available though some preliminary performance results can be found here.

The full press release can be found here.

Source: Seagate

Please Tip Your Server of Raspberry Pi. 5V DC Customary.

Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 18, 2013 - 04:56 PM |
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, nvidia, HPC, amazon

Adam DeConinck, high performance computing (HPC) systems engineer for NVIDIA, built a personal computer cluster in his spare time. While not exactly high performance, especially when compared to the systems he maintains for Amazon and his employer, its case is made of Lego and seems to be under a third of a cubic foot in volume.

It is a cluster of five Raspberry Pi devices and an eight-port Ethernet switch.

NVIDIA_Pi.jpg

Image source: NVIDIA Blogs

Raspberry Pi is based on a single-core ARM CPU bundled on an SoC with a 24 GFLOP GPU and 256 or 512 MB of memory. While this misses the cutesy point of the story, I am skeptical of the expected 16W power rating. Five Raspberry Pis, with Ethernet, draw a combined maximum of 17.5W, alone, and even that neglects the draw of the networking switch. My, personal, 8-port unmanaged switch is rated to draw 12W which, when added to 17.5W, is not 16W and thus something is being neglected or averaged. Then again, his device, power is his concern.

Despite constant development and maintenance of interconnected computers, professionally, Adam's will for related hobbies has not been displaced. Even after the initial build, he already plans to graft the Hadoop framework and really reign in the five ARM cores for something useful...

... but, let's be honest, probably not too useful.

Source: NVIDIA Blogs

Micron Is Now Sampling 16nm NAND Flash, And Drives Using the Smaller Chips Are Expected in 2014

Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 18, 2013 - 02:29 AM |
Tagged: nand, micron, flash, 16nm

Micron recently announced that is has begun sampling 16nm NAND flash to select partners. Micron expects to begin full production of the NAND chips using the smaller flash manufacturing process in the fourth quarter of this year (Q4 2013). Drives based on its new 16nm MLC NAND flash are expected to arrive as early as next year. (PC Perspective's own storage expert is currently overseas, but I managed to reach out over email to get some clarification, and his thoughts, on the Micron annuoncement.)

The announcement relates to new NAND flash that is smaller, but not necessarily faster, than the existing 20nm and 25nm flash chips used in current solid state drives. In the end, Micron is still delivering 128Gb (Gigabit) per die, but using a 16nm process. The 16nm flash is a pure shrink of 20nm which is, in turn, a shrink of 25nm flash. In fact, Micron is able to get just under 6 Terabytes of storage out of a single 300mm wafer. These wafers are then broken down into dies in individual flash chips that are used in all manner of solid state storage devices from smartphone embedded storage to desktop SSDs. This 16nm flash still delivers 128Gb --which is 16GB-- per die allowing for a 128GB SSD using as few as eight chips.

high_res_micron_16nm_nand_die_ssd.jpg

A single 16nm NAND flash die with a SSD in the background

Micron expects the 16nm MLC (multi-level cell) flash to be used in consumer SSDs, USB thumb drives, mobile devices, and cloud storage.

The 16nm process will allow Micron to get more storage out of the same sized wafer (300mm) used for current processes, which in theory should mean flash memory that is not only smaller, but (in theory) cheaper.

high_res_micron_16nm_nand_wafer.jpg

A single wafer of 16nm NAND flash (just under 6TBs)

As Allyn further notes, the downside to the new 16nm NAND flash is a reduction in the number of supported PE cycles. Micron has not released specific information on this, but the new 16nm MLC flash is expected to have fewer than 1,000 P/E cycles. For comparison, 25nm and 20nm flash has P/E cycles of 3,000 and 1,000 respectively.

In simple terms, P/E (program-erase) cycles relate to the number of times that a specific portion of flash memory can be written to before wearing out. SSD manufacturers were able to work around this with the transition from 25nm to 20nm and still deliver acceptable endurance on consumer drives, and I expect that similar techniques will be used to do the same for 16nm flash. For example, manufactuers could enable compression that is used prior to writing out the data to the physical flash or over-provisioning the actual hardware versus the reported software capacity (ie a drive sold as a 100GB model that actually has 128GB of physical flash).

I don't think it will be a big enough jump that typical consumers wil have to worry too much about this, considering the vast majority of operations will be read operations and not writes. Despite the reduction in P/E cycles, SSDs with 16nm NAND MLC flash will still likely out-last a typical mechanical hard drive.

What do you think about the Micron announcement?

The full press release can be found below:

Source: Micron

Samsung SSD EVO suggested pricing revealed

Subject: Storage | July 18, 2013 - 01:39 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, pricing, EVO, 840 evo

Samsung just showed us the pricing slide for their new 1x nm TLC TurboWrite cache equipped SSD line. Without further delay, here is suggested pricing for the Samsung 840 EVO:
 
image.jpg

New Samsung 840 EVO employs TLC and pseudo-SLC TurboWrite cache

Subject: Storage | July 18, 2013 - 01:12 AM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, slc, sata, Samsung, cache, 840 evo

Samsung's release of the 840 EVO earlier today likely prompted some questions, such as what type of flash does it employ and how does it achieve such high write speeds. Here is the short answer, with many slides in-between, starting off with the main differences between the 840 and the 840 EVO:

DSC04627.JPG

So, slightly increased specs to help boost drive performance, and an important tidbit in that the new SSD does in fact keep TLC flash. Now a closer look at the increased write specs:

DSC04633.JPG

Ok, the speeds are much quicker, even though the flash is still TLC and even on a smaller process. How does it pull off this trick? Tech that Samsung calls TurboWrite.

DSC04637.JPG

A segment of the TLC flash is accessed by the controller as if it were SLC flash. This section of flash can be accessed (especially written) much faster. Writes are initially dumped to this area and that data is later moved over to the TLC area. This happenes as it would in a normal write-back cache - either during idle states or once the cache becomes full, which is what would happen during a sustained maximum speed write operation that is larger than the cache capacity. Here is the net effect with the cache in use and also when the cache becomes full:

DSC04638.JPG

For most users, even the smallest cache capacity will be sufficient for the vast majority of typical use. Larger caches appear in larger capacities, further improving performance under periods of large write demand. Here's the full spread of cache sizes per capacity point:

DSC04639.JPG

So there you have it, Samsung's new TurboWrite technology in a nutshell. More to follow (along with a performance review coming in the next few days). Stay tuned!

Samsung releases 840 EVO SSD at Global SSD Summit

Subject: Storage | July 17, 2013 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ssd, sata

Good morning from Seoul, Korea!

IMG_0041.JPG

We're covering the 2013 Samsung Global SSD Summit, and the press embargo has just been lifted on a new SSD - the 840 EVO:

IMG_0007.JPG

The EVO will push 10nm-class (1x nm) flash, promises increased (2x-3x) write speed improvements over the 840, and will be available in capaities as high as 1TB:

IMG_0005.JPG

Full press blast after the break, and more to follow as the Samsung SSD Summit continues.