Rumor: AMD Working With ASMedia on SATA Express

Subject: Storage | May 21, 2014 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: storage, SATA Express, rumors, chipset, amd

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The new SATA Express (SATAe) and M.2 standards are hot topics in the storage world at the moment, and SATAe is one of the more interesting features of the new Intel Z97-based motherboards. Now it looks like it won't be long until AMD counters with support of its own. Well, kind of.

ASMedia is reportedly licensing their SATA Express IP to AMD for an upcoming platform. Didn't know that ASMedia already had a SATAe implementation? The ASUS Z97 Deluxe board which Morry recently reviewed uses an ASMedia controller for one of its two SATAe ports, along with one powered by the chipset.

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We can only speculate on the "next gen" platform from AMD mentioned in the report, and it will be interesting to see what kind of performance numbers might be seen from this alleged product.

Source: Digitimes

Pioneer Respects Base-2 with 256GB Blu-ray Discs

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 17, 2014 - 02:47 AM |
Tagged: Pioneer, bluray

By layering eight layers of 32GB Blu-ray media, Pioneer has achieved 256GB worth of storage on a single-sided optical disc. If you are more interested in storage than labels, the company acknowledges the obvious extension to double-sided media with 512GB of capacity. They also leave the door open for 1TB and larger discs by extending their signaling method to more than twelve layers.

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

It suffices to say that this is a lot of storage. If cost can be kept low enough, optical media could once again be viable for archival and backup. Once a drive is purchased, and USB 3.0 makes it trivial to purchase a single drive for multiple computers, a single disc could bit-for-bit copy a full SSD and other, more modern amounts of data. Basically, it is much less work backing up in 256GB chunks than 4.7GB or 25GB ones.

If cost can be kept low enough is a serious point, though. BD-Rs retail for about $50/1.3TB (according to a few Newegg searches) and DVD-Rs are around the same ($25/500GB). This is not too far from hard drive territory (~100$/2 TB). Of course, hard drives are also faster, rewritable, and do not need to be inserted into a drive for reading and writing... because they are one. People are transitioning away from optical media to hard drives. Cost would need to be phenomenal to reverse that momentum.

4K and UHD video content was not discussed but, let's face it, your mind went there, too.

Source: Pioneer

What is the ASUS Hyper Express SATA Express Drive?

Subject: Storage | May 12, 2014 - 05:54 PM |
Tagged: asus, hyper express, SATA Express

In this case the picture below is definitely worth 1000 words, it is easy to see just how ASUS created a RAID 0 in a single SSD.  Those SanDisk mSATA SSDs are both 128GB and communicate via a ASMedia ASM1062R controller.  Astute readers will wonder what this means for TRIM, as those commands often do not pass through a RAID controller and you are right to be concerned for as of yet TRIM is not supported on this drive.  Even without proper garbage collection the performance of this drive is rather tempting, as you can see for yourself in Legit Reviews full article.

asus-hyper-express-inside-645x408.jpg

"Last week we talked about what makes SATA Express important and showed off some performance benchmarks of the ASUS Hyper Express SATA Express External Enclosure. We’ve been able to acquire our own ASUS Hyper Express drive and we spent this week trying it out on our own systems to see how it performed on one of our own systems..."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

SanDisk Unveils 4TB SSDs... Because.

Subject: General Tech, Storage | May 6, 2014 - 03:46 AM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, sandisk, 4TB SSD

If you are an enterprise, SanDisk is getting a bit SAS-y with some pretty large SSDs. How large? 4TB. Not large enough? Why are you the way you are. Also, according to VR-Zone, 6TB and 8TB versions will follow, in 2015 (Update: 5/6/2014 @ 5:56pm EST -- VR-Zone might have meant "16TB"... as Tom's IT Pro claims to have heard from SanDisk). These drives will be produced with 19nm NAND, not utilizing the 15nm cells from their partnership with Toshiba. SanDisk claims their choice of 19nm was for reliability. Also, clearly, they are not suffering with density.

Speaking of reliability, the SanDisk warranty is rated in both time as well as the supported number of full drive writes per day. The Optimus MAX SSD is rated at one-to-three drive writes per day, or 4-12TB per day, over the course of its 5-year warranty.

4TB Optimus MAX SSDs are expected to launch "to select OEMs and through the channel" in Q3.

Source: SanDisk

Get Speedy Portable Storage With mSATA to USB 3.0 Enclosures

Subject: Storage | May 6, 2014 - 01:32 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, ssd, portable storage, msata

VisionTek recently released a new storage product dubbed the mSATA mini USB 3.0 Bus-Powered SSD Enclosure (900696). Despite the name, VisionTek has an interesting product on its hands as it not only enables speedy portable storage (assuming you have hardware with USB 3.0 ports of course), but allows users to put any mSATA SSDs that would otherwise be gathering dust in a drawer to good use! Essentially, it is a small metal enclosure that accepts a mSATA SSD and interfaces it with a PC over USB 3.0.

Visiontek mSATA SSD USB 3.0 Enclosure.jpg

The mSATA USB 3.0 enclosure measures 2.88" x 1.63" x 0.51" and is constructed of aluminum with a textured titanium color (for aesthetics) and rounded edges. Users can install any mSATA SSD up to 50mm in length. A third generation ASMedia ASM1153E controller then performs the conversion from the drive's SATA I, II, or III interface to USB 3.0. Naturally, you are going to take a performance hit due to the added latency and interface conversion introduced by the ASMedia controller versus directly attaching the drive to a motherboard's mSATA slot. Fortunately, the hit to performance is fairly minimal when dealing with large file transfers and sequential read and write performance.

According to Legit Reviews, their Kingston 120GB (SATA 3 6 Gbps) mSATA solid state drive saw sequential read and write speeds of 271 MB/s and 160 MB/s respectively when connected to a motherboard slot. When installed in the USB 3.0 enclosure, speeds dropped to 250 MB/s sequential reads and 158 MB/s sequential writes. Further, a large 71GB 4K video file transfer averaged out to 151 MB/s. The exact speeds will vary with the specific drive users install, but the thing to note is that the performance hit should be minimal (at least the performance relating to dealing with file copies, random access will take a larger hit) despite adding the USB 3.0 interface to the equation. 

mSATA to USB 3 portable SSD enclosure.jpg

The VisionTek drive is available now with a three year warranty for $30.72 from Amazon, which is a tempting price for fast portable storage especially if you already have a mSATA drive laying around! Notably, it seems that VisionTek is not the only manufacturer sourcing these boards, as MyDigitalSSD has a simlar drive with an MSRP of $24.99.

If you are interested in putting together your own SSD-powered portable drive, check out the full review linked above.

Now, if I can only encourage Allyn to recycle some of his mSATA drives...

Source: Tech Report

PCIe SATA Express - Faster than the speed of NDA

Subject: Storage | May 1, 2014 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: SATA Express, pcie, asus, ssd, Z97-Deluxe

KitGuru had a chance to test the ASUS Z97-Deluxe with a Concept Edition SATA Express SSD from ASUS to see what happens when you can feed the data from an SSD across two SATA ports, giving it the bandwidth of two PCIe lanes.  That should allow a theoretical 10Gbps bandwidth as PCIe 3.0 lanes are still being held in reserve as there are not that many available on an LGA1150 board but as KitGuru points out "leaked information suggest (we still cannot confirm anything) that M.2 support will be native to the ‘future Intel chipset’."  Check out their review and be prepared to be amazed that the speed of 728MBps was lower than expected.

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"We revisit the SATA Express interface to obtain a more up-to-date look at what the next generation of SATA connections is capable of. Our tools for the job; a retail Asus motherboard set to release soon, and a concept version of Asus’ Hyper Express enclosure, internally powered by solid state storage."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: KitGuru

OCZ Launches the RevoDrive 350 PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | April 24, 2014 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: RevoDrive 350, PCIe SSD, ocz, SF-2282

OCZ has announced the release of the RevoDrive 350, a PCIe SSD using the SandForce 2282 controller and available in 240, 480 and 960GB models which should be priced at  $530, $830 and $1300 respectively.  This is certainly more expensive than SATA SSDs but then again if you check out the three reviews you can see that this drive is also significantly faster than SATA drvies.

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SAN JOSE, CA – April 24, 2014 - OCZ Storage Solutions - a Toshiba Group Company and leading provider of high-performance solid state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, today announced the RevoDrive 350 Series with workstation-grade design capabilities and maximum performance for professional content creation, multimedia, and extreme gaming applications. Achieving three times the performance of SATA-based SSD solutions, RevoDrive 350 is based on proven performance architecture and features 19nm Toshiba NAND to complete OCZ’s portfolio transition to in-house flash, offering a high-performance yet cost-efficient SSD solution for bandwidth-intensive client applications.

Using the PCI Express Gen. 2 x8 interface and up to four LSI SF-2282 processors to offer more available bandwidth than the previous generation, RevoDrive 350 features up to 1.8GB/s sequential speeds and up to 140,000 4K random write IOPS, delivering SSD RAID performance without the hassle in an easy-to-deploy, single card solution. Enabling both performance and functionality for applications ranging from scientific computing to extreme gaming systems, this workstation-class storage product accelerates application performance and takes full advantage of today’s multithreaded processors and software, supporting up to 50GB of host writes per day for 3 years to provide leading endurance for media professionals over less robust consumer SSDs.

“The new RevoDrive 350 is built using proven technology with the added benefit of utilizing in-house premium Toshiba flash and OCZ’s proprietary Virtualized Controller Architecture (VCA) 2.0 to deliver highly efficient performance aggregation while reducing the burden on host resources,” said Daryl Lang, Senior Vice President of Product Management for OCZ Storage Solutions. “This next generation PCIe SSD is the ideal solution for performance-minded users looking to maximize both bandwidth and density for the complete gamut of gaming, content creation and workstation applications.”

VCA 2.0 effectively makes the RevoDrive 350’s multi-controller design appear and act as a single drive to the host system to enable drive-level management features such as secure erase, SMART, and TRIM. In addition to mass data storage, the RevoDrive 350 can also be used as bootable device, promoting ultra-fast system boot-ups.

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Improving on the previous generation, RevoDrive 350 features a sleek integrated heatsink that provides a more stable and cooler thermal SSD environment, and includes optimized drivers redesigned from the ground up with new Linux support in addition to Windows® OS. Available in 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB capacities, RevoDrive 350 provides ample space, and comes backed by a 3-year warranty.

Source: OCZ

Toshiba 15nm Flash Memory in Mass Production

Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 23, 2014 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, 15nm

While we often see smaller fabrication nodes discussed in terms of faster and more power efficient processors, it also increases storage density for memory circuits. In fact, it is probably easier to visualize how a process shrink will increase memory capacity than it is to ponder the benefits for CPUs and GPUs. Smaller features in the same area gives more places to cram data. Toshiba is starting to mass produce 15nm NAND Flash at Fab 5 in Yokkaichi.

Toshiba_15nm_NAND_Flash_Memories.jpg

While not mentioned in the press release, I believe that SanDisk and Toshiba are still in a partnership. The facility being discussed was actually a $4 Billion USD joint-venture between these two companies. I, reasonably, expect that SanDisk will also see some benefits from today's announcement. According to the press release, 15nm MLC is already in mass production with TLC following in June.

I brought up this story to Allyn, to see if he had any insights on it. He noted that 15nm is getting quite small. I asked about its implications in terms of write longevity, as that is has been the biggest concern in previous node shrinks. He guesses that the flash should be able to handle around 1,000 writes on average, compared to ~3,000 writes on IMFT's 20nm process. Keep in mind, IMFT prides itself on enterprise longevity and so, at least to me, it sounds fairly reasonable. Toshiba also mentions that they will have products for the high reliability market, such as enterprise SSDs.

The announcement does not mention anything that you can go out and buy yet, though. At the moment, it is behind-the-scenes stuff. It should be soon. I doubt that Toshiba would mass produce components like this without products or OEMs lined up.

Source: Toshiba

Kingston Digital Releases Larger Capacity mSATA Drives

Subject: Storage | April 22, 2014 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: kingston, msata, ssdnow, SandForce SF-2241, SandForce SF-2281, ssd

Fountain Valley, CA – April 21, 2014 – Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, today announced the addition of 240GB and 480GB capacities to the existing SSDNow mS200 mSATA SSD line. Kingston’s SSDNow mS200 mSATA solid-state drive allows system builders and enthusiasts a cost-effective performance boost with quicker boot time and application loads while requiring less power than HDDs.

The mS200’s small-form factor is perfect for notebook, tablet and Ultrabook PCs, as well as a variety of embedded systems. It can also be used as a caching device with motherboards that support Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT) to improve system performance. mS200 has read speeds up to 550MB/s and write speeds up to 520MB/s.

The 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB mS200 mSATA SSDs have a caseless, PCB-only design with no moving parts and are backed by a two- or three-year warranty, free technical support and legendary Kingston reliability. For more information visit www.kingston.com.

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Features & Specifications:

  • LSI SandForce 2241 (30GB, 60GB, 120GB) and 2281 (240GB, 480GB) controller with SATA Rev. 3.0 (6Gb/s) interface: twice as fast as the previous generation, yet more cost-efficient 
  • mSATA interface: fully compliant with industry standard, easy to fit, guaranteed to work 
  • NAND Flash memory based: shock-resistant with low power consumption
  • Supports Intel’s SRT: combines capacity advantage of HDD with performance improvements of SSD in dual-storage configuration
  • Supports S.M.A.R.T.: monitors the status of your drive
  • Supports TRIM: maintains maximum performance on compatible operating systems
  • Interface: SATA Rev. 3.0 (6Gb/s), SATA Rev. 2.0 (3Gb/s), SATA Rev. 1.0 (1.5Gb/s) ·
  • Capacities1: 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
  • Automatic Encryption (AES 128-bit):Password at the drive level ensures secure data protection
  • Sequential Read/Write2:
    • 30GB – 550 MB/s / 510MB/s
    • 60GB – 550 MB/s / 520MB/s
    • 120GB – 550MB/s / 520MB/s
    • 240GB – 540MB/s / 530MB/s
    • 480GB – 530MB/s / 340MB/s ·
  • Maximum 4k Read/Write2:
    • 30GB – up to 86,000/ up to 77,000 IOPS
    • 60GB – up to 86,000/ up to 79,000 IOPS
    • 120GB – up to 86,000/ up to 48,000 IOPS
    • 240GB – up to 72,000/up to 40,000 IOPS
    • 480GB – up to 72,000/up to 18,000 IOPS ·
  • Random 4k Read/Write2:
    • 30GB – up to 7,500/71,000 IOPS
    • 60GB – up to 14,000/77,000 IOPS
    • 120GB – up to 17,000/45,000 IOPS
    • 240GB – up to 21,000/41,000 IOPS
    • 480GB – up to 21,000/13,000 IOPS
  • PCMARK® Vantage HDD Suite Score: 60,000
  • Power Consumption: 0.4W Idle / 1.2 (TYP) Read / 1.8W (TYP) Write
  • Storage temperature: -40°C ~ 85°C
  • Operating temperature: 0°C ~ 70°C
  • Dimensions: 50.88mm x 30mm 
  • Weight: 6.86g
  • TRIM Supported
  • Vibration operating: 2.17G
  • Vibration non-operating: 20G
  • MTTF: 1,000,000 Hrs
  • Warranty/support:
    • 30GB – two-year warranty with free technical support
    • 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB – three-year warranty with free technical support 
  • Total Bytes Written (TBW)3:
    • 30GB: 121TB 3 DWPD4
    • 60GB: 218TB 3 DWPD4
    • 120GB: 337TBW 2 DWPD4
    • 240GB: 585TBW 2 DWPD4
    • 480GB: 1562TBW 2 DWPD4

1 Some of the listed capacity on a Flash storage device is used for formatting and other functions and thus is not available for data storage. As such, the actual available capacity for data storage is less than what is listed on the products. For more information, go to Kingston's Flash Memory Guide.
2 Based on “out-of-box performance.” Speed may vary due to host hardware, software and usage.
3 Total Bytes Written (TBW) is derived from the JEDEC Workload (JESD219A).
4 Drive Writes Per Day (DWPD)

Source: Kingston

A swiss army NAS from Asustor

Subject: Storage | April 16, 2014 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: asustor, AS-204TE, NAS, xmbc

The Asustor AS-204TE is an Atom powered Linux Network Attached Storage device for home use which comes with a respectable amount of applications.  uTorrent will run on the device, it is capable of communicating with the XBone Media Centre as well as iTunes as well as FTP transfers and even PLEX to allow it to connect to your mobile devices.  You can install up to 16TB of storage on four 3.5 or 2.5" disks which will run at SATA II and can be set up as single disks, JBOD and RAID 0, 1, 5, 5 + Hot Spare, 6 or 10.  All of those features do come with a cost, the NAS will run you almost $500 without any disks included; if the sticker shock doesn't scare you away you should read techPowerUp's comprehensive review.

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"Asustor is hard at work to establish itself as a good name on the NAS scene, and they are on the right track. Today, we will take a look at the AS-204TE, which Asustor says to be the best multimedia and storage-center solution for your home because it comes equipped with all typical NAS functions, an HDMI port, and XBMC support."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: techPowerUp

Seagate Packs 6TB Into 3.5" 7200 RPM Enterprise Capacity Hard Drive

Subject: Storage | April 8, 2014 - 11:22 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, sata 6Gbs, SAS, Hard Drive, enterprise, 6tb

Seagate's latest enterprise class hard drive offers up to 6TB of space in a 3.5" form factor. The Enterprise Capacity series drive comes in both SATA III 6Gbps and 12Gbps SAS interfaces. Seagate was able to achieve an impressive 1,000 Gb/inch or about 1.25 TB per platter with the drive's five total platters adding up to the 6TB capacity. Perhaps even more impressively, Seagate was able to offer up a 6TB, five platter, 7,200 RPM drive without using helium.

The 6TB Enterprise Capacity hard drive comes with a 128MB DRAM cache. It is rated at 216 MB/s for sequential transfer speeds and an average latency of 4.16 milliseconds. The drive also supports 256-bit AES encryption and an instant secure erase function which overwrites data multiple times. Seagate further claims the drive is rated for 24/7 workloads at 550TB/year with a MTBF of 1.4 million hours. The drive comes with a five year warranty.

Seagate Enterprise Capacity 6TB Hard Drive.jpg

The drive will come in several variants depending on the storage interface. LaCie has already committed to using the new drives in its dual bay external storage products. Seagate has not released pricing on the new 6TB drive, but stated that it would price the drive at the same $/GB as last year's 4TB model. Expect the price to be around $650 MSRP before contract and bulk order deals.

It is a neat drive for sure, and I hope that the technology trickles down to the consumer space quickly, as 4TB has been the maximum single drive capacity for far too long!

For now, the drive will be used in the datacenter, production house, and security/surveillance markets (particularly in the datacenter market where rack space is at a premium).

Source: Tech Report

Plextor Launches M6e PCI-E SSD In United States, Initially A Newegg Exclusive

Subject: Storage | April 4, 2014 - 02:05 AM |
Tagged: plextor, PCIe SSD, pci-e ssd, M6e, M.2

Update: Plextor has provided MSRP pricing for all three drives (see table below). Further, the company expects Newegg prices to be at or possibly slightly below MSRP. The new pricing information certainly makes the drives more attractive than previous estimates.

Plextor showed off its M6e PCI-E SSD at CES earlier this year, and the drives will soon be available for purchase in the US. The M6e is a M.2 form factor SSD that uses a Marvell 88SS9183 controller and Toshiba Toggle NAND MLC flash to offer up to 512GB of speedy (and bootable!) storage.

Plextor M6e PCI-E SSD.png

The Plextor M6e drive comes as a bare M.2 drive or as a version paired with a M.2-to-PCI-E adapter card for desktop PCs without the newer M.2 connector on the motherboard itself. In either case, the M6e utilizes two PCI-E 2.0 lanes and avoids the SATA III 6Gbps storage bottleneck altogether. The drive has its own BIOS implementation and should not require users to install separate drivers. The SSD supports both legacy and UEFI BIOSes along with standard storage technology such as AHCI, NCQ, encryption (AES-256), TRIM, SMART, et al.

The drives come in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities. The M6e SSDs are rated with a 2,400,000 hour MTBF and come with a 5 year warranty. Both the 256GB and 512GB drives reportedly offer up 770 MB/s sequential reads, 105,000 4K random read IOPS, and 100,000 4K random write IOPS. The 512GB M6e SSD has the highest sequential write speeds at up to 625 MB/s with the 256GB model topping out at 580 MB/s. The 128GB version is a bit slower in sequential writes and random read/write IOPS due to fewer NAND chips and channels, but still manages to offer up to 770 MB/s reads, 335 MB/s writes, 96,000 4K random read IOPS, and 83,000 4K random write IOPS.

The table below lays out the speeds and estimated pricing of the drives at the available capacities according to Plextor. Fortunately, Tek Syndicate found that at least the 256GB drive performs very close to its rated speeds in their video review.

Plextor M6e Capacities 128GB 256GB 512GB
DRAM 256MB DDR3 512MB DDR3 1GB DDR3
Sequential Read* 770 MB/s 770 MB/s 770 MB/s
Sequential Write* 335 MB/s 580 MB/s 625 MB/s
Random Read IOPS* 96,000 105,000 105,000
Random Write IOPS* 83,000 100,000 100,000
Price MSRP $179.99 $299.99 $549.99

*All listed speeds are "up to n MB/s."

The drives will be available later this month at as-yet-unreleased MSRPs. The drives will initially be a Newegg exclusive in the US from April 7th to April 13th, after which it should make its way to other retailers. Note that the USD prices in the above chart are estimates based on pricing information scattered around the internet for the M6e drives. I have reached out to Plextor for comment and will update with official MSRP information as soon as possible.

Source: Plextor

A tale of two SSDs; Crucial and ADATA's twins

Subject: Storage | April 3, 2014 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SP920, sata, Marvell, adata

Sticking with ADATA today, The Tech Report has also put together a review of the Premiere Pro SP920 which was eerily familiar to them.  The Marvell controller, Micron MLC NAND and DRAM cache all mirrored the Crucial M550 which they reviewed last month.  One difference they noted right off the start was support for third party utilities to read the SMART data, with which they had far more success than with Crucial's drive.  Their performance results were not surprising; the two drives performed the same which leaves price and support as the determining factor when purchasing one of these two twins, something that The Tech Report offers advice on in their conclusion.

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"Adata's latest Premiere Pro SP920 SSD bears an uncanny resemblance to a big-name drive that was released recently. This isn't a straight copycat, though. Read on to see what makes the SP920 different."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

NitroWare Reviews Seagate Business 4-Bay NAS (16TB)

Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 2, 2014 - 02:27 AM |
Tagged: Seagate, NAS

Seagate released a network-attached storage (NAS) device intended for businesses with "up to 50 employees", called the Seagate Business 4-Bay 16TB NAS. Dominic Sharoo of NitroWare reviewed one and, obviously/hopefully, gave his opinion in the process. In short, while he liked the connectivity options, he shies away from a recommendation without a price cut and a firmware update (its built-in software is not compatible with Windows 8).

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As for what it did well, he was pleased by its relatively compact chassis, USB 3.0 support, and the inclusion of dual gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. It is configurable in RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, or "JBOD" (just a bunch of drives). He also liked that, in his testing, the unit did not seem to require drives from a specific vendor. If you buy the unit already loaded with drives, they are formatted in RAID 5. For a four-bay NAS, that seems like a good default. It also uses a standard laptop power supply, which should make finding a replacement (or a spare) easy.

While the device is a mixed bag, check out his review if you are interested.

Source: NitroWare

Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD for $469, 750GB for $388

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 18, 2014 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, ocz, Intel, corsair

Back in January I wrote a short editorial that asked the question: "Is now the time to buy an SSD?" At that time we were looking at a combination of price drops with a lack of upcoming hardware releases. Since that published we have seen the release of the Intel 730 Series SSDs and even the new Crucial M550.  While those are interesting drives to be sure (review pending on the M550), they aren't changing our opinions on the currently available, and incredibly cheap, solid state options.

While looking for some new hardware for the office, I found that the 1TB Samsung 840 EVO is now at an all time low $469!  That is one of the faster SSDs on the market, and one of Allyn's favorites, for $0.469/GB!!  I have included an updated table below with some of the most popular SSDs and their prices.  

Series Capacity Cost/GB Price
Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB $0.69/GB $83 - Amazon
  250 GB $0.55/GB $139 - Amazon
  500 GB $0.51/GB $259 - Amazon
  750 GB $0.51/GB $388 - Amazon
  1000 GB $0.46/GB $469 - Amazon
Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB $0.92/GB $119 - Amazon
  256 GB $0.77/GB $199 - Amazon
  512 GB $0.74/GB $413 - Amazon
Intel 530 Series 120 GB $0.91/GB $89 - Amazon
  180 GB $0.80/GB $144 - Amazon
  240 GB $0.62/GB $149 - Amazon
  480 GB $0.87/GB $419 - Amazon
Crucial M500 Series 120 GB $0.57/GB $69 - Amazon
  240 GB $0.49/GB $119 - Amazon
  480 GB $0.47/GB $229 - Amazon
  960 GB $0.45/GB $439 - Amazon

The biggest price drops were seen in the higher capacity drives including, the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB and 750GB models, the Intel 530 Series 480GB drive and even the Crucial M500 960GB and 480GB drives.  Numerically the best value is with the 960GB Crucial M500 drive at $0.45/GB but it is followed very closely by that 1TB Samsung 840 EVO.  

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As of now, the Intel 730 Series of SSDs is available for sale on Amazon.com but their price per GB comparisons don't really match that of the EVO or M500.  They are great drives, just read Allyn's review to see the proof of that, but they are targeted at the very performance conscious.  The Crucial M550 is brand new, and looks interesting; expect us to dive more into that line very soon.

For me personally, grabbing a 750GB SSD is incredibly enticing and I think I'll find a handful in my cart to update our older 180GB SSD test beds.

OCZ is still putting out; revisit the Vertex 460

Subject: Storage | March 17, 2014 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: vertex 460, ssd, sata, ocz, Indilinx Barefoot, 19nm

If you had any questions left after Al's review of the new OCZ Vertex 460 series then you can take another look at it today.  This tiny 7mm drive is perfect for Ultrabooks and other slim devices as well as fitting into any system that wants a boost to storage speeds.  The 240GB model that Hardware Canucks reviewed sports two 256MB DDR3-1333 DIMMs for cache to keep the Barefoot 3 M10 controller working full out transferring data between the 19nm NAND storage.  Those of you who have not yet upgraded to a SATA 6Gbps controller may be especially interested in the SATA II performance which is covered in the full review.

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"OCZ has begun a major turn-around and the Vertex 460 is meant to be their price / performance leader. With a barefoot controller and 19nm MLC NAND, it certainly has what it takes. "

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

OCZ launches Z-Drive 4500, now with Toshiba 19nm flash

Subject: Storage | March 4, 2014 - 09:51 AM |
Tagged: z-drive, toshiba, ocz

OCZ launched the original Z-Drive R4 back in 2011 (reviewed here). That unit proved OCZ's VCA 2.0 architecture could scale to very high IOPS under extremely heavy loads. With the recent changes, OCZ has been revamping their existing lines to include Toshiba flash - first with the Vector, then the Vertex, and today with the Z-Drive:

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OCZ's VCA tech yields some impressive results. Here's some details:

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...and here is where the Z-Drive falls in OCZ's enterprise lineup:

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Pricing is as follows. Remember, these are enterprise units:

  • 800GB = $2944
  • 1.6TB = $4757
  • 3.2TB = $8166

Full press blast after the break:

Source: OCZ

Overclocked SSDs are fast but also power hungry

Subject: Storage | February 27, 2014 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: SSD 730, ssd, Intel, Overclocked

Today marks the release of the first overclocked SSD to hit the market, the Intel 730 which is based on the SSD DC S3500 and SSD DC S3700 series for data centers.  As these were drives specifically crafted for the datacenter they were both more expensive than consumer models and were optimized for completely different uses.  The new Intel 730 drive is overclocked, the NAND functions at 600MHz compared to the DC's 400MHz and the cache RAM speed is jumped up to 100MHz from 83MHz.  The Tech Report discovered that extra frequency comes at a price, the wattage consumed by this drive is significantly higher than just about any other SSD they have reviewed, no wonder Intel labels this as specifically for desktops.

Make sure to check out Allyn's fresh off the presses review of this drive and don't let his temperature readings shock you too much.

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"Intel's new 730 Series desktop SSD is rather unique. It's based on the company's datacenter drives, it has an extra flash die onboard, and the controller and NAND are both clocked well beyond their usual speeds. We take a closer look."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Western Digital launches surveillance-oriented WD Purple series of 3.5" HDDs

Subject: Storage | February 25, 2014 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, surveillance, Purple

Western Digital has several lines of hard disks to choose from. You have Greens, Blues, Blacks, enterprise RE's, and even ones named after dinosaurs. Then came a mix of RE and GP in the form of the RE4-GP. Then came the Red series, which carried some more of the enterprisey features from the RE series over into a NAS-tailored drive that sipped power like a Green. Then there was the AV-GP which took a green and tweaked the firmware to better handle multiple video streams being read to and written from the disk simultaneously.

You'd figure they had every possible angle covered, but apparently there was a hole to fill. Turns out the home / small business surveillance market is a bit of a big deal. We're talking about those security systems you see capturing 16 or even 32 video streams simultaneously. Add the fact that these larger systems tend to store their streams to a RAID as opposed to a single disk. What was needed was a drive capable of handling a greater number of simultaneous streams than an AV-GP, while also carrying over the RAID features of the Red, and doing so without driving costs into the enterprise territory of the SE/RE.

Behold the solution:

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The WD Purple is an Advanced Format HDD that is optimized for recording up to 32 HD video streams simultaneously:

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Writing 32 separate streams to a hard drive would usually lead to the heads thrashing about, trying to keep up with what appears to be random writes. The Purple has much smarter firmware that has been tuned for this specific purpose (seen above maintaining 50% idle time while handling 32 HD streams). While these firmware optimizations would hurt performance in normal consumer use, for heavy surveillance usage, this is likely the closest you can get to SSD performance for this application - without high cost/GB of using solid state as a solution to such a capacity hungry problem.

Speaking of cost/GB, Purple drives are quite reasonable, starting at $89 for 1TB up to $199 for the flagship 4TB capacity.

Press blast after the break:

Toshiba Launching HG6 SSD Series In Multiple Form Factors

Subject: Storage | February 21, 2014 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, toggle NAND, M.2, hg6, 19nm

Toshiba has announced a new series of solid state drives under it's own brand. Called the HG6, the new Toshiba drives come in 2.5," mSATA, and M.2 form factors and range in capacity from 60GB to 512GB. Despite the acquisition of OCZ, it appears that Toshiba will continue to produce drives internally and under the Toshiba name.

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The new Toshiba HG6 SSDs are aimed at both consumer and business use with multiple form factors to allow the drives to be used in ultrabooks, desktops, and servers. The drives will be available in 2.5" SATA 6Gbps (7mm and 9.5mm), mSATA, and the newer M.2 specification. The drives use Toshiba's 19nm Toggle 2.0 MLC NAND flash. Toshiba has not release random read/write numbers, but claims that the drives achieve up to 534 MB/s sequential reads and 482 MB/s sequential writes.

Enterprise friendly features include QSBC ECC (Quadruple Swing-By Code error correction) and TCG opal 2.0 compatible self encryption.

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The Toshiba HG6 SSD series will be available in March 2014. The company has not yet released pricing information on the new drives, however.

Source: Toshiba