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Subject: Storage | October 6, 2015 - 07:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Phison PS3110-S10, centon, C-380
The last time we heard from Centon they were using the SandForce 2281 SSD controller, which they have dropped in preference to a Phison controller in their new C-380 series of SSDs. Benchmark Reviews recently reviewed their 480GB model, using MLC NAND and sporting a 4Gb cache of DDR3-1600. The benchmark results were quite varied, sometimes the drive came in at the top of the pack yet other times it was well below average, especially writing to the drive. There is a 1 year warranty on the drive and currently it is on sale at $219 for the 480GB model, down from the list price of $399.99 ... perhaps not a drive to recommend to your friends.
"Centon isn’t a name many enthusiasts will know. I’d never heard of the company myself until this review sample; apparently, they’ve been in business for over 35 years manufacturing DRAM and flash memory products, and have only recently entered the consumer marketplace. The Centon C-380 480GB SSD SATA-III Solid State Drive, part of the “Enthusiast Solutions” series, is the focus of what Benchmark Reviews will be putting through our test suite."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- KingFast 256GB F9 SSD Review @ Madshrimps
- Micron M510DC 480GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- Plextor M6V 256GB @ Kitguru
- The Ultimate Guide To SSD Benchmark Software @ The SSD Review
Subject: Storage | October 1, 2015 - 05:42 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Samsung, firmware, 840 evo, msata
It took them a while to get it right, but Samsung did manage to fix their read degradation issue in many of their TLC equipped 840 Series SSDs. I say many because there were some models left out when firmware EXT0DB6Q was rolled out via Magician 4.6. The big exception was the mSATA variant of the 840 EVO, which was essentially the same SSD just in a more compact form. This omission was rather confusing as the previous update was applicable to both the 2.5" and mSATA form factors simultaneously.
The Magician 4.7 release notes included a bullet for Advanced Performance Optimization support on the 840 EVO mSATA model, but it took Samsung some time to push out the firmware update that enabled this possibility. We know from our previous testing that the Advanced Performance Optimization feature was included with other changes that enabled reads from 'stale' data at full speeds, compensating for the natural voltage drift of flash cell voltages representing the stored data.
Now that the firmware has been made available (it came out early this week but was initially throttled), I was able to apply it to our 840 EVO 1TB mSATA sample without issue, and could perform the Advanced Performance Optimization and observe the expected effects, but my sample was recently used for some testing and did not have data old enough to show a solid improvement with the firmware applied *and before* running the Optimization. Luckily, an Overclock.net forum member was able to perform just that test on his 840 EVO 500GB mSATA model:
Kudos to that member for being keen enough to re-run his test just after the update.
It looks like the only consumer 840 TLC model left to fix is the original 840 SSD (not 840 EVO, just 840). This was the initial model launched that was pure TLC flash with no SLC TurboWrite cache capability. We hope to see this model patched in the near future. There were also some enterprise units that used the same planar 19nm TLC flash, but I fear Samsung may not be updating those as most workloads seen by those drives would constantly refresh the flash and not give it a chance to become stale and suffer from slowing read speeds. The newer and faster V-NAND equipped models (850 / 950 Series) have never been susceptible to this issue.
Subject: Storage | September 29, 2015 - 07:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Samsung 850 EVO 2 TB, 850 EVO, 2TB
That's right, currently $713 will pick you up a 2TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD but how does it perform? The Tech Report is on the case with their latest review, checking out how 32-layer 128Gbit 3D V-NAND with 2GB of DRAM cache and an upgraded Samsung MHX controller perform. It took some doing but once they had filled its over-provisioned area the drive levelled out at 7252 IOps on the random write test though the peak of 84423 was certainly impressive. Check out the full review to see if this is the large sized SSD for you or if you prefer smaller, more agile SSDs which do not use TLC NAND.
If you are like me and running out of mental storage space, you may have already forgotten about Al's review of this drive.
"Samsung now offers its popular and affordable 850 EVO SSD in an enormous 2TB configuration. We put the EVO to the test to see how this behemoth performs"
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Plextor M6V SSD @ The SSD Review
- Kingston SSDnow KC380 @ eTeknix
- AData XPG SX930 240GB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Synology DS215+ 2-bay NAS @ techPowerUp
- Samsung Portable SSD T1 @ Bjorn3d
Subject: Storage | September 23, 2015 - 02:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: kingston, HyperX Fury, Ultra II, sandisk, SandForce SF-2281, Marvell 88SS9189
The Kingston HyperX Fury 240GB SSD is currently $90 and the same size SanDisk Ultra II is $86 though the 960GB model that The Tech Report actually reviewed is a relatively decent $300. At those prices they can be quite attractive although there is a big difference between the two drives, Kingston's uses SandForce's SF-2281 while SanDisk opted for the Marvell 88SS9189 controller. Once the benchmarks started the difference did not show in real world applications, both are good performers overall though the HyperX did show some delays in the IOMeter testing. The OCZ Arc 100 that they included did end up on top overall, a strong showing for a drive that is getting a little long in the tooth.
"Kingston's HyperX Fury 240GB SSD and Sandisk's Ultra II 960GB drive both offer solid-state storage at budget-friendly prices for their capacity. We put them through their paces to see whether they're worthy of builders' hard-earned cash."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Intel SSD DC P3608 @ The SSD Review
- The Compact NAS Battle: Synology DS414slim vs. QNAP TS-453mini @ Legion Hardware
- Seagate NAS Pro 6-Bay 24TB NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- PowerNAS CMA 8TB @ Kitguru
- Synology DiskStation DS715 @ Kitguru
- Kingston DataTraveler microDUO 3C USB 3.1 Drive @ Modders-Inc
- Kingston 32GB Data Traveler Micro Duo 3C Review @ OCC
Subject: Storage | September 22, 2015 - 06:10 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: vnand, V-NAND, Samsumg, 4TB, 48-layer, 2TB, 1TB
During yesterday's SSD Summit, obscured by their 950 PRO launch was new branding for their 32 (and now 48) layer Vertical NAND technology:
This new branding is more in line with what folks were calling their NAND anyway (Samsung was previously using the term '3D VNAND'. Dropping the 3D made sense, as it was implied with the 'V').
Also of interest were some announcements of upcoming higher capacities of their existing models:
4TB 850 EVO and PRO? Yes please.
1TB in the 850 EVO M.2 edition, and while there is no slide for this, the 950 PRO is also expected to be updated with a 1TB model within the same time frame as well.
How is all of this expansion possible? The answer is their third generation V-NAND, which is 48 layers and 256 GBit (32 GB) capacity per die. Samsung intends to roll this flash out and update all model lines currently using V-NAND technology. This decision was made by Samsung's Senior VP of Marketing, UnSoo Kim:
...now before you get out the pitchforks and form up the 'don't change the flash without a new model' lynch mob, I'd like to point out a few things that make this change different than what you might have seen in the past.
- Samsung is trying to prevent confusion by adding product lines with nearly identical specs.
- Samsung is being very open about this change (others were secretive / deceptive).
- Samsung has promised that they will only implement this change in a way that *increases* the performance and *decreases* the power consumption of these products.
I did leave the Q+A with some further questions about this change. The lower capacities of the 850 EVO still see slower write performance when writing straight to TLC flash (SLC cache is full). This is because there are fewer dies available to write the data, and each die can only write so fast in TLC mode. Since the 48-layer V-NAND is to have double the capacity per die, that would mean half the dies per SSD and possibly slower write speeds in the overall product.
I approached UnSoo Kim after the Q+A and asked this specific question, and his answer was both interesting and refreshing. First, he understood my question immediately and assured me that they will not roll out 256Gbit 48-layer V-NAND into their smaller capacity models - in order to prevent any performance reduction over their current 32-layer equipped parts. Second, he told me that they also intend to produce a 128Gbit variant of 48-layer V-NAND at some point in the future, and use *that* part to substitute the 128Gbit 32-layer V-NAND in those smaller capacity models, keeping the die counts (and therefore sequential write speeds) equal. That additional variant of their third generation V-NAND is the only way (in my mind) that they could update their smaller capacity parts without losing performance, and it was great to see that Samsung has thought out the execution of this rollout in such a proper manner.
Subject: Storage | September 22, 2015 - 02:39 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: vnand, V-NAND, ssd, Samsung, pcie, NVMe, M.2 2280, M.2, 950 PRO, 512GB, 256GB
Samsung’s new product launching will be called the 950 PRO. This will be an M.2 2280 form factor product running at PCIe 3.0 x4. Equipped with Samsung’s 32-layer V-NAND and using the NVMe protocol enabled by a new UBX controller, the 950 PRO will be capable of up to an impressive 300,000 random read IOPS. Random writes come in at 110,000 IOPS and sequential throughputs are expected to be 2.5 GB/sec reads and 1.5 GB/sec for writes. Available capacities will be 256GB and 512GB.
- 256GB - $199.99 ($0.78/GB)
- 512GB - $349.99 ($0.68/GB)
- 1TB - (early next year with the switch to 48-layer V-NAND)
The 950 PRO will be shipping with a 5-year warranty rated at 200 terabytes written for the 256GB model and 400 TBW for the 512GB. That works out to just over 100GB per day for both capacities.
These hit retail in October and we currently have samples in hand for testing.
(for those curious, both capacities only have components on the front side of the PCB)
Subject: Storage | September 21, 2015 - 11:32 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: vnand, Summit, ssd, Seoul, Samsung, M.2, Korea, Global, 2015
As I hinted during last week's podcast, I am in Seoul, Korea to cover an upcoming press conference.
..and with a Samsung SSD Global Summit comes product announcements. Those don't happen until tomorrow (late tonight for you folks back in the states), but I did notice a clue on the cover of our itinerary folder:
See it? Here, let me help:
A VNAND powered M.2 (presumably NVMe) SSD is *exactly* the thing I have been waiting for Samsung to unleash into the wild ever since we reviewed their NVMe SM951. Given that Samsung's prior M.2 offerings gave the Intel SSD 750 a run for its money all while consuming half the power, and did so with Samsung's older 2D Planar NAND, you can bet a VNAND version will be something to behold. Let's hope this new model is released as a consumer product and doesn't end up as OEM-channel unobtanium like the NVMe SM951 was!
Keep an eye out for additional posts from our coverage of the 2015 Samsung SSD Global Summit!
Subject: Storage | September 10, 2015 - 03:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb 3.1, asus, BOT, UASP
[H]ard|OCP is taking a look at the new USB standard and how it functions on versions of Windows newer than Win7 which support the new transfer protocol. Gone are Bulk Only Transfers, modern OSes support USB Attached SCSI which offers much better transfer speeds. With a Rampage V Extreme USB 3.1 and a bundled PCIe 2.0 x2 USB 3.1 card (available with two USB 3.1 Type A or one of the new USB 3.1 Type C) they tested the difference in transfer speeds between BOT and UASP. Check out their results here.
"Recent changes to the USB spec claim to provide a brighter future for those dependent on USB storage. We have all heard about just how great USB has become, or should have become. We test some of these advances to see if the new USB can deliver the goods when it comes to moving data."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- WD My Passport Ultra 2TB Portable 2.5-Inch Hard Drive Review @ Techgage
- Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive 2TB USB 3.0 @ eTeknix
- SilverStone Teratrend TS432U 4 Bay 3.5" HDD Tower Enclosure Review @ NikKTech
- Synology DiskStation DS415play 4-bay NAS Review @ Techgage
- QNAP TVS-471-4G High Performance NAS with Intel Processor @ Bjorn3d
- QNAP TS-563 @ Legion Hardware
- PowerNAS Business Mini @ Kitguru
- VisionTek Go Drive SSD RAID 0 @ Bjorn3d
- OCZ Trion 100 480GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- Intel SSD 750 Series Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Crucial BX100 250GB SSD Review @ Madshrimps
- ADATA Premier SP550 @ Benchmark Reviews
- Adata Premier SP550 @ The SSD Review
- Samsung SM863 & PM863 @ The SSD Review
Subject: Storage | September 8, 2015 - 03:43 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, thunderbolt, My Book Pro
Western Digital has launched a new Thunderbolt RAID-capable external drive called the My Book Pro:
The My Book Pro connects a pair of 3, 4, 5, or 6TB HDD's to a host system via either 20 Gbps Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 (at 5 Gbps). The unit comes preconfigured as a RAID-0 to give full capacities of 6, 8, 10, or 12 TB, but can be switched to RAID-1 or JBOD mode upon connection to a host system. Note that RAID-1 (mirroring) will cut the usable capacity in half - limiting to the capacity of a single drive. As seen above, there are also a pair of USB 3.0 ports at the front of the unit for connecting additional devices to the host via the My Book Pro.
Looking at the rear, we see a pair of Thunderbolt ports (daisy chaining of up to six My Book Pros is supported), as well as a USB 3.0 port.
We are not sure which drives come pre-installed, but the press release clearly states 7200 RPM and since WD just launched a higher capacities of the Red Pro, we'd guess that was their choice here.
Subject: Storage | September 1, 2015 - 08:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Seagate, hdd, Enterprise NAS, Enterprise Capacity 3.5, 8TB
Just when we were starting to get comfortable with the thought of 6TB hard drives, Seagate goes and announces their lineup of 8TB HDDs:
Now before you get too excited about throwing one of these into your desktop, realize that these models are meant for enterprise and larger NAS environments:
As you can see from the above chart, Seagate will be moving to 8TB maximum capacities on their 'Enterprise NAS' and 'Enterprise Capacity 3.5' models, which are meant for larger storage deployments.
Home and small business users opting to go with Seagate for their storage will remain limited to 4TB per drive for the time being.
For those curious about Kinetic, this is Seagate's push to connect arrays of drives via standard Ethernet, which would allow specialized storage applications to speak directly to the raw storage via standard network gear. Kinetic HDDs are currently limited to 4TB, with 8TB planned this coming January.
Seagate's full press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | September 1, 2015 - 03:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, OS3, My Cloud Mirror
A little over a year ago, we took a look at the Western Digital My Cloud Mirror. This was a simple network connected storage device that came with a suite of software and mobile apps to give remote access to the data stored at home.
Today Western Digital announced a refresh to the My Cloud Mirror. Available for pre-order today and in stores at the end of this month, the new Mirror is essentially just a speed boosted version of the original version (which was no slouch really). Something the added speed may help with is the functionality being added to WD's My Cloud OS software:
The new 'OS3' version adds some requested features, such as using the My Cloud as a hub for syncing across multiple systems (similar to Dropbox, but with your own storage being used instead of their servers).
Another requested feature was the ability to backup and/or offload pictures and videos from mobile devices. This can be done only when connected to WiFi or over cellular data if the user has the GB/month to spare on their data plan.
Another interesting feature is My Cloud Albums. This feature lets you invite your friends/family to share *their* photos / videos from an event. You send them a link and they can then upload their content directly to your My Cloud via their mobile browser or via the My Cloud app (if they have it installed). This sounds like a great idea for collecting photos taken at group events like birthday parties or weddings.
My Cloud OS3 is slated for a 21 September release. We will take a look another look at its features once released.
Western Digital's full press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | August 25, 2015 - 06:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sandisk, Ultra II, Marvell 88SS9189, Marvell 88SS9190
We've seen Sandisk's Ultra series before but the Ultra II is relatively new to the market. If anything, they have made the pricing even more attractive, the top end 960GB model is a mere $310, $0.32/GB is getting closer to Ryan's preferred SSD pricing. As far as the advertised speeds, sequential read and write remain constant at 550MB/s and 500MB/s but IOPS vary by the size of the drive from 81K/80K random read/write for the 120GB model to 99K/83K for the 960GB model. [H]ard|OCP's testing shows performance more or less in line with the OCZ Trion 100 but somewhat slower than the Samsung 850 EVO, both of which are almost the exact same price. Check out the full review to see the exact differences, or simply rejoice in the fact that SSDs are approaching prices below $0.30/GB.
"Most of you know that the easiest way to get a performance boost from your old mechanical hard drive is to get rid of it and replace it with a shiny new SSD. SanDisk's Ultra II offers a lot of capacity for the money and comes with a 3 year warranty. Is that enough to compete in a market where prices are falling across every category?"
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- ADATA XPG SX930 Gaming SSD @ Benchmark Reveiws
- Samsung SSD 850 Evo 2TB @ Legion Hardware
- Toshiba HK3R2 960 GB @ techPowerUp
- QNAP TS-453mini NAS @ Kitguru
- Lexar Professional 2000x SDXC UHS-II Card @ SSD Review
- Toshiba AL13SXB600N 600GB SAS 6Gb/s HDD Review @ NikKTech
- Seagate 2TB Backup Plus Slim Portable Drive @ Kitguru
- Seagate Personal Cloud 2 Bay @ Kitguru
- Thecus N5810 Pro 5-bay NAS @ techPowerUp
Subject: Storage | August 19, 2015 - 09:41 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: IDF 2015, ocz, revodrive, RevoDrive 400, M.2, HHHL, pcie, NVMe, ssd
While roaming around at IDF, Ryan spotted a couple of new OCZ parts that were strangely absent from Flash Memory Summit:
You are looking at what is basically a Toshiba NVMe PCIe controller and flash, tuned for consumer applications and packaged/branded by OCZ. The only specific we know about it is that the scheduled release is in the November time frame. No specifics on performance yet but it should easily surpass any SATA SSD, but might fall short of the quad-controller-RAID RevoDrive 350 in sequentials.
As far as NVMe PCIe SSDs go, I'm happy to see more and more appearing on the market from every possible direction. It can only mean good things as it will push motherboard makers to perfect their UEFI boot compatibility sooner rather than later.
More to come on the RevoDrive 400 as November is just around the corner!
Subject: Storage | August 19, 2015 - 09:26 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, pcie, NVMe, kingston, IDF 2015
**Edit** There was some speculation about which controller was in this SSD. It has since been solved. Here's a shot of the top of the PCB:
Now lets compare that with a shot I caught at FMS 2015 last week:
...from the Phison booth. I hadn't wirtten up my Phison post yet but this new Kingston SSD is most certainly going to be using the Phison E7 controller. Here's the placard stating some high level specs:
We saw a draft copy of Kingston’s HyperX Predator at CES 2014. That demo unit was equipped with a SandForce 3700 series controller, but since SandForce never came through on that part, Kingston had to switch gears and introduce the HyperX Predator with a Marvell 88SS9293 controller. The Marvell part was very capable, and the HyperX Predator turned out to be an attractive and performant PCIe SSD. The one catch was that Marvell’s controller was only an AHCI part, while newer NVMe-based SSDs were quickly pushing the Predator down in our performance results.
Kingston’s solution is a newer generation PCIe SSD, this time equipped with NVMe:
We have very little additional information about this new part, though we can tell from the above image that the flash was provided by Toshiba (toggle mode). They also had Iometer running:
We were not sure of the exact workload being run, but those results are in line with the specs we saw listed on Silicon Motion’s SM2260, seen last week at Flash Memory Summit.
We’ll keep track of the development of this new part and hope to see it in a more disclosed form at CES 2016. Kingston's IDF 2015 press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | August 18, 2015 - 02:20 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, ssd, Optane, Intel, IDF 2015
Just three weeks ago, we reported 3D XPoint Technology. This was a 2-layer stack of non-volatile memory that couples the data retention of NAND flash memory with speeds much closer to that of DRAM.
The big question at that time was less about the tech and more about its practical applications. Ryan is out covering IDF, and he just saw the first publically announced application by Intel:
Intel Optane Technology is Intel’s term for how they are going to incorporate XPoint memory dies into the devices we use today. They intend to start with datacenter storage and work their way down to ultrabooks, which means that XPoint must come in at a cost/GB closer to NAND than to DRAM. For those asking specific performance figures after our earlier announcement, here are a couple of performance comparisons between an SSD DC P3700 and a prototype SSD using XPoint:
At QD=8, the XPoint equipped prototype comes in at 5x the performance of the P3700. The bigger question is how about QD=1 performance, as XPoint is supposed to be far less latent than NAND?
Yes, you read that correctly, that’s 76k IOPS at QD=1. That means only issuing the SSD one command at a time, waiting for a reply, and only then issuing another command. Basically the worst case for SSD performance, as no commands are stacked up in the queue to enable parallelism to kick in and increase overall throughput. For comparison, SATA SSDs have a hard time maintaining that figure at their maximum queue depths of 32.
Exciting to see a follow-on announcement so quickly after the announcement of the technology itself, but remember that Intel did state ‘2016’ for these to start appearing, so don’t put off that SSD 750 purchase just yet.
More to follow as we continue our coverage of IDF 2015!
Subject: Storage | August 18, 2015 - 08:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Red Pro, hdd, Black, 6tb
It's been a while since Western Digital updated their Black series of HDDs, with their 4TB release taking place over two years ago. I'm happy to say that for those looking for a massive HDD suited for holding that enormous games folder too large to fit on your SSD, your wait is finally over, as today WD has updated the Black line to include 5TB and 6TB capacity units.
The Black series introduced that nifty dual stage actuator technology nearly five years ago, and has added a few more bells and whistles along the way. These new models include a 128MB cache and run on dual-core processors.
Along with that news also comes an update to their Red Pro series, which was also limited to 4TB in capacity when they launched last year. Red Pro models will now also include 5TB and 6TB units, so those wanting the most performance and lowest response time from their NAS can now also enjoy that performance at a 50% gain in capacity.
The new 6TB Red Pro also includes a 128MB cache and can peak at 214MB/sec (at the start of the disk). Also included in these is WD's NASware 3.0 firmware, which is specifically tuned to enable packs of these operating in packs while minimizing the effects of vibration on performance.
The 5TB Black comes in at $264 while the 6TB comes in at $294. The Red Pro's come at only an additional $5 over the Black, respectively (small price to pay for better compatibility with larger arrays). Both the Red Pro and Black carry a 5-year warranty.
Subject: Storage | August 14, 2015 - 04:44 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: FMS 2015, silicon motion, SM2260, SM2256, SM2246EN, pcie, NVMe, ssd, controller
We’ve reviewed a few Silicon Motion SSDs in the past (Angelbird | Corsair Force LX | Crucial BX100), and I have always been impressed with their advances in SSD controller technology. Their SM2246EN SATA controller was launched two years ago, and strived to be a very efficient and performant unit. Based on our reviews that turned out to be true, and this allowed Silicon Motion to slide into the void left by SandForce, who repeatedly delayed their newer developments and forced the many companies who were sourcing their parts to look elsewhere.
The many SSDs using Silicon Motion’s SM2246EN controller.
Silicon motion pushed this further with their SM2256, which we first saw at the 2014 Flash Memory Summit and later saw driving SLC/TLC hybrid flash at this past Consumer Electronics Show. While the SM2256 makes its way into more and more products, I was glad to see an important addition to their lineup at this year’s FMS:
Finally we see Silicon Motion doing a PCIe controller! This is the SM2260, seen here in the M.2 form factor…
…and here in SATA Express. While the latter will likely not be as popular due to the more limited PCIe lanes present in SATA Express, I’m sure we will see this controller appearing in many PCIe devices very soon. The stated performance figures may be a bit shy of currently comparing SSDs like the Intel SSD 750 and Samsung SM951, but with the recent introduction of Z170 motherboards and RST PCIe RAID, it is now easier to RAID a smaller capacity pair of these devices, increasing the performance of slower units. Further, the point of the SM2260 is likely to get a low cost NVMe PCIe SSD controller into the hands of SSD makers, which can only mean good things for those looking to make the move away from SATA.
I’ve included Silicon Motion’s FMS press blast after the break.
Subject: Storage | August 13, 2015 - 08:12 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: FMS 2015, ssd, sata, SAS, pcie, NVMe, novachips, HLNAND, flash
It turns out Samsung wasn’t the only company to have 16TB SSDs at Flash Memory Summit after all:
Now that I’ve got your attention, Novachips is an SSD company that does not make their own flash, but I would argue that they make other peoples flash better. They source flash memory wafers and dies from other companies, but they package it in a unique way that enables very large numbers of flash dies per controller. This is handy for situations where very large capacities per controller are needed (either physically or logically).
Normally there is a limit to the number of dies that can communicate on a common bus (similar limits apply to DRAM, which is why some motherboards are picky with large numbers of DIMMs installed). Novachips gets around this with an innovative flash packaging method:
The 16-die stack in the above picture would normally just connect out the bottom of the package, but in the Novachips parts, those connections are made to a microcontroller die also present within the package. This part acts as an interface back to the main SSD controller, but it does so over a ring bus architecture.
To clarify, those 800 or 1600 MB/sec figures on the above slide are the transfer rates *per ring*, and Novachips controller is 8-channels, meaning the flash side of the controller can handle massive throughputs. Ring busses are not limited by the same fanout requirements seen on parallel addressed devices, which means there is no practical limit to the number of flash packages connected on a single controller channel, making for some outrageous amounts of flash hanging off of a single controller:
That’s a lot of flash on a single card (and yes, the other side was full as well).
The above pic was taken at last years Flash Memory Summit. Novachips has been making steady progress on controller development as well. Here is a prototype controller seen last year running on an FPGA test system:
…and this year that same controller had been migrated to an ASIC:
It’s interesting to see the physical differences between those two parts. Note that both new and old platforms were connected to the same banks of flash. The newer photo showed two complete systems – one on ONFi flash (IMFT Intel / Micron) and the other on Toggle Mode (Toshiba). This was done to demonstrate that Novachips HLNAND hardware is compatible with both types.
Novachips also had NVMe PCIe hardware up and running at the show.
Novachips was also showing some impressive packaging in their SATA devices:
At the right was a 2TB SATA SSD, and at the left was a 4TB unit. Both were in the 7mm form factor. 4TB is the largest capacity SSD I have seen in that form factor to date.
Novachips also makes an 8TB variant, though the added PCB requires 15mm packaging.
All of this means that it is not always necessary to have huge capacity per die to achieve a huge capacity SSD. Imagine very high capacity flash arrays using this technology, connecting a single controller to a bank of Toshiba’s new QLC archival flash or Samsung’s new 256Gbit VNAND. Then imagine a server full of those PCIe devices. Things certainly seem to be getting big in the world of flash memory, that’s for sure.
Even more Flash Memory Summit posts to follow!
Subject: Storage | August 11, 2015 - 08:40 PM | Allyn Malventano
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 | August 11, 2015 - 04:59 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Samsung, vnand, 48-layer, tlc, 16TB, FMS 2015
I get these emails and comments all the time - "I want a larger capacity SSD". Ok, here ya go:
Samsung's earlier 48-layer VNAND announcement was exciting, but we already knew about it going into the keynote. What we did not know was that Samsung was going to blew the doors off of their keynote when they dropped this little gem. It's not just the largest capacity SSD, as this thing is more dense than any HDD's available today as well. That's 16TB of 48-layer TLC VNAND packed into a 2.5" form factor SAS-connected SSD.
...now what do you do once you have such a high density device? Well, you figure out how many you can cram into a 2U chassis of course!
Yup, that's 48 of those new SSDs, making for a capacity of 768TB in a 2U chassis. Samsung described this as a "JBOF" (Just a Bunch Of Flash), so processing the 2 million IOPS this array is capable of will have to be left to the connected system.
No word on pricing, but I'd think we are in 'mortgage the house' territory if you want to put this into your home PC.
There is more to follow from Flash Memory Summit, but for now I've got to run to another meeting!