Seagate says hard drive industry will take a year to recover

Subject: Storage | November 19, 2011 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: thailand, Seagate, Hard Drive, flooding

Last month we noticed that hard drive prices were spiking very high and we took a quick look at exactly why this was: most notably, the devastating flooding in Thailand.  While at one point you could buy 2TB hard drives for under the $100 mark when on special, those days seem long gone.  Our original story quoted the CEO of Western Digital as saying it could take "multiple quarters" for recovery to occur.

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Pricing graph from Pricegrabber.com for Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

According to this quote seen on Bloomberg, Seagate's CEO, Stephen Luczo, says it might be much worse:

The projections by some Wall Street analysts that production will be back to pre-flood levels by summer are nonsense, Luczo says.

“This is going to take a lot longer than people are assuming, until the end of 2012 at least,” he says. “And by then, demand will have gone up.”

Well....crap.  Users looking to build new systems or even buy them from third parties will likely see increases in costs because of this.  And while not every need can really be addressed by SSDs (I type while looking for room on a system using one to install Skyrim...), the hard drive price increases could drive quicker adoption of solid state media in the near term. 

seagate.png

In the interim, if you happen to find a good deal on spindle based hard drives, you might want to gobble them up!  Newegg has 2TB hard drives starting at $199 while Amazon has some starting at $174.

Source: Bloomberg

Podcast #179 - Sandy Bridge-E Review, X79 Motherboards, a new NAS device from Western Digital, Aquarium PCs and more!

Subject: Editorial | November 17, 2011 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: x79, western digital, storage, sandy bridge-e, podcast, nvidia, NAS, Intel, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #179 - 11/17/2011

Join us this week as we talk about our Sandy Bridge-E Review, X79 Motherboards, a new NAS device from Western Digital, Aquarium PCs and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

Program length: 1:14:31

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:24 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:02:00 Intel Sandy Bridge-E Review - Core i7-3960X and X79 Chipset Tested
    1. Sandy Bridge-E Prices Leaked In Company Bulletin
  6. 0:27:45 X79 Motherboard Roundup Video Preview
    1. ASUS
    2. Gigabyte
    3. MSI
  7. 0:28:53 Alienware M17x (R3) Gaming Notebook Review: It Glows!
  8. 0:30:25 Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1200W Power Supply Review
  9. 0:31:20 NVIDIA Reports Q3 2012 Results
  10. 0:39:15 Western Digital launches Sentinel Series of NAS devices, bringing enterprise features to the small business.
  11. 0:46:20 The mineral oil in this Aquarium will be hard on the fish but not your components
  12. 0:53:45 Antec Announces P280 Enclosure
  13. 0:54:50 Win a Free Copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim from PC Perspective
    1. You missed it, but Jared H. didn't!
  14. 0:56:15 Bulldozers at Knights Corner; duelling server chips
  15. 0:59:45 More Free Stuff Friday: XFX Radeon HD 6870 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  16. 1:00:12 The Intel 32 in 32 Challenge on Facebook
  17. 1:01:22 Free Stuff Wednesday: Gigabyte G1 Assassin X58 Motherboard Giveaway!!
  18. 1:02:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Random.org - finally get an answer to "where should we eat tonight?"
    2. Jeremy: Buckets are teh win but to be more useful Disconnect for Chrome is a nice choice
    3. Josh: Fast 120GB SSD for $140
    4. Allyn: Ironkey - now available in MLC
  19. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  20. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  21. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  22. Closing

Kingston Digital Launches its Fastest USB Flash Drive

Subject: Storage | November 17, 2011 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: usb 2.0, usb 3.0, kingston, hyperx, flash

Fountain Valley, CA -- November 17, 2011 -- Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, today announced the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 3.0. The DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 is designed for enthusiasts and gamers, and features the fastest speeds and largest capacities that Kingston has to offer in a USB Flash drive.

Flash11b.jpg

Its high-speed eight-channel architecture provides USB 3.0 data transfer rates of up to 225MB/s read and 135MB/s write. Users can save time associated with opening, editing and copying large files and applications between devices. The fast write speeds also allow users to work on large files or applications directly from the USB 3.0 drive without performance lag.

"Enthusiasts have long known HyperX as the memory of choice for overclockers and power users who need the most performance from system memory," said Andrew Ewing, Flash memory business manager, Kingston. "The new DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 USB Flash drive continues this tradition. With the fastest speeds and largest capacity, this storage device is the perfect solution for users who require high performance and carry a lot of data."

The DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 is available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities. The 256GB capacity can store approximately 10 Blu-ray Discs (25GB each), 54 DVDs (4.7GB each), 48,640 MP3s (4MB each) or 13,473,684 Microsoft Word files pages with various formatting and basic graphics.

With a durable and sleek design, the Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 is a terrific portable storage solution for gamers, enthusiasts, early adopters and high-end consumers who require the best performance and highest capacities to carry their digital library. Faster speeds and higher capacities enable users to quickly store their digital files and keep it with them at all times, in HyperX style.

DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 features a metal and rubberized casing with a reinforced key ring hole for daily use. It allows users to keep it with them at all times, as it can be easily attached to a key ring or lanyard.

A video of the device can be found here.

DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 is backed by a five-year warranty, 24/7 tech support and legendary Kingston reliability. For more information visit www.kingston.com.

Kingston DataTraveler HyperX 3.0 Features and Specifications:

  • Capacities: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB
  • Speed:
    • USB 3.0: up to 225MB/s read and 135MB/s write
    • USB 2.0: up to 30 MB/s read/write
  • 8-Channel Architecture Backwards Compatible: with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 ports
  • Solid/rugged design: durable metal and rubberized casing provides increased protection
  • ReadyBoost Support
  • Dimensions: 2.952" x 0.916" x 0.626" (74.99mm x 23.29mm x 15.9mm)
  • Operating Temperature: 32°F to 140°F (0°C to 60°C)
  • Storage Temperature: -4°F to 185°F (-20°C to 85°C)
  • Simple: just plug into any USB port
  • Practical: durable casing with a solid lanyard loop
  • Warranty: 5 Years

Flash11c.jpg

Western Digital launches Sentinel Series of NAS devices, bringing enterprise features to the small business.

Subject: Storage | November 15, 2011 - 08:08 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, NAS, home, hdd

 Today Western Digital launches their Sentinel line of NAS devices. These Intel Atom powered devices can store up to 12TB when equipped with 3TB drives. The OS of choice is Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, which supports RAID levels 1 and 5, as well as built in backup routines and the ability to configure the devices dual Gigabit ports with Adaptive Fault Tolerance (redundancy).

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Also available are some interesting yet agressive service options via Western Digital's Guardian Services, which include options for next-day warranty replacement of defective or failed parts, as well as the option to extend the warranty period from three to five years.

Pricing starts at $949.99 for 4TB (3 bay) and $1449.99 for 8TB (4 bay).

Following is the press release, and even more detail and pics should be available from WD themselves once their product link page goes live.

WD® DELIVERS NEW LINE OF NETWORK STORAGE SERVERS FOR SMALL TO MEDIUM BUSINESSES

WD Sentinel™ DX4000 Small Office Storage Server Combines Centralized Storage, Backup-and-Restore Protection for 25 Network Devices and Allows SMBs to Connect, Protect, and Collaborate

IRVINE, Calif. – Nov. 15, 2011 – Western Digital® (NYSE: WDC), the world’s leader in digital storage solutions, is introducing WD Sentinel™ DX4000 (photo), a complete network storage solution designed specifically to meet the demands of today's small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs). WD Sentinel DX4000 includes the Windows® Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials operating system software and the Intel® D525 Dual Core Atom CPU. The WD Sentinel DX4000 is centralized shared storage and automatic server-based backup and restore for up to 25 devices (PC and Mac®) in the network. It offers complete data protection with built-in hardware and software redundancy for all of the connected devices in the network. With capacities including 4 TB and 8 TB, WD Sentinel DX4000 lets small business owners expand small office server storage capacity as their business and storage demands grow. In addition, the WD Sentinel DX4000 small office storage server acts as the “on-premise cloud storage" for the SMB.

“The WD Sentinel small office storage server is the ideal storage, backup, and secure remote access solution for any SMB,” said Thomas Gallivan, vice president of marketing for WD’s SMB Solutions Group.

WD® Introduces New Line of Network Storage Servers for Small to Medium Businesses

“The ability to have centralized storage that is both on-premise and offers secure remote access provides a small business owner and employees the flexibility needed for today’s mobile lifestyle. WD is providing small business owners with a hands-free solution that offers complete data protection and unparalleled peace-of-mind.”

“The requirement for collaboration across multiple devices and locations necessitates the need for a centralized storage solution in today’s SMB environment”, said David Tuhy, General Manager, Intel Data Center and Connected Systems Group. “Intel is working closely with the industry and companies like Western Digital to provide the technology that is at the core of these storage solutions and provide SMBs a platform to manage, organize and secure their data to ensure business continuity.”

“Built on Windows Storage Server, WD Sentinel gives small business customers the storage and file services capabilities of Windows Server, as well as a solution aimed specifically at the SMB segment,” said Thomas Pfenning, general manager, Storage, at Microsoft. “We are pleased to see WD Sentinel serve our mutual customers.”

Whether they’re personal or professional, digital content and important files are invaluable and often irreplaceable if lost or compromised. WD Sentinel small office storage server provides several ways for businesses to protect their information without user intervention. WD Sentinel comes preconfigured with enterprise-class drives, RAID storage protection, built-in server based backup and recovery software, redundant networking ports and a redundant power option. In addition, WD Sentinel offers users the ability to connect to a “public cloud” storage provider, which offers small businesses an economical and integrated disaster recovery solution against earthquake, theft and fire or water damage.

Software included with WD Sentinel provides business owners and their employees the freedom and flexibility to remotely access files and share files with external employees, independent consultants and satellite offices anywhere in the world.

Five Levels of Data Protection

WD Sentinel DX4000 provides five levels of data protection for every device on the small office network and is supported by WD Guardian Services.

WD® Introduces New Line of Network Storage Servers for Small to Medium Businesses

1. The Drives Inside: Pre-configured with WD’s award-winning enterprise-class drives for durability and reliability.

2. RAID: Featuring levels 1 and 5 for data protection and speed.

3. Daily Backup: Automatic backup and recovery software provides daily full system back ups for up to 25 devices on your network. Simply set it and forget it.

4. Redundant Network Connectivity: Dual Gigabit Ethernet configured in Adaptive Fault Tolerance (AFT) automatically switches to second network port in the event of a network failure.

5. Optional Disaster Recovery Protection: Connect to the small business cloud provided by optional disaster recovery software and store your data offsite for disaster recovery.

WD Sentinel is certified to be compatible with a variety of Operating Systems (OS) including Windows XP, Windows Vista®, and Windows 7. In addition, WD Sentinel is compatible with Mac OS X® Leopard® and Snow Leopard® for file sharing among Windows, Mac and Unix/Linux operating systems and allows businesses to share files with clients, consultants, and inter-office personnel regardless of the OS used.

WD Guardian™Services for Small Business

WD Sentinel DX4000 is backed by WD’s world-class customer service and support. All WD Sentinel small business customers will receive free tech support for 30 days from the time of the first call. WD Sentinel customers may wish to upgrade their service plan to one of three options:

1. WD Guardian Express: Offers next-day parts replacement service including shipping and handling costs.

2. WD Guardian Pro: Offers a one year support agreement with WD service, express parts replacement and priority access to technical support.

3. Guardian Extended Care: Service that extends the product warranty from the standard three year warranty to five years.

The OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid, a PCIe SSD with a HDD piggybacking a ride

Subject: Storage | November 10, 2011 - 01:18 PM |
Tagged: revodrive hybrid, PCIe SSD, ocz

If you have $500 and a free PCI-E x4 2.0 slot then OCZ has a rather unique product you could try out.  This new RevoDrive Hybrid is a 100GB PCIe SSD card with a low power 2.5" Toshiba 1TB HDD spinning at 5400RPM.  You could think of it as similar to an Agility 3 120GB, though in this case it is acting as a very large cache for a HDD using OCZ's proprietary Virtualized Controller Architecture 2.0.  Performance-wise this odd looking beast surprised Hardware Canucks, beating the hybrid drive from Seagate as well as the Intel SRT that they tested against, but they caution prospective buyers about some sacrifices that had to be made by OCZ.  These drives are not quite plug and play, they require software to be installed in order to function properly and it turns out that the software is quite CPU intensive.  Read through the article and see if the sacrifices are worth the gains for your system.

HWC_OCZ_RevoDrive_Hybrid_ang.jpg

"Searches for affordable high capacity SSDs usually come up blank so several manufacturers have begun releasing hybrid solutions which combine the performance of an SSD with the storage space of the hard drive. OCZ's RevoDrive Hybrid is the latest to take on this challenge by combining a 100GB SSD with a 2.5" 1TB HDD. This isn't exactly a match made in heaven but the benefits are tangible."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Good news storage fans, the motors are revving up again

Subject: General Tech, Storage | November 8, 2011 - 10:54 AM |
Tagged: thailand, nidec, hdd

While Western Digital is still nowhere near the point where they can think about cleaning up their factory and getting started on the road to recovery there is good news for other HDD manufacturers from Thailand.  Nidec, a company which provides about 75% of the global supply of motors for HDDs, also has quite a bit of their manufacturing capacity in Thailand, in the neighbourhood of 62% according to DigiTimes.  Two of their Thailand based plants are back in business and they are redistributing quite a bit of workload to their Philippines manufacturing plants, in the hopes of increasing the supply of these critical motors.

Seagate, Fujitsu and other major HDD manufacturers desperately need these parts in order to help meet the demand from the market before we can even think to see prices begin to return to previous levels.  This is not going to be a quick return since Western Digital and its subsidiaries accounted for about 50% of the HDD market and they have much more work to do in order to repair their factories than Nidec.

spindles_transp.gif

"Nidec currently has 10 production bases in Thailand with eight of them have been damaged by the floods. As water started to recede, Nidec announced its Rangsit plants, which stopped operation on October 13, already resumed production on October 25, while Ayutthaya plants also started operating normally on November 4.

Nidec's two plants in Philippine will also see their monthly capacity rise from 15 million units originally to 25 million units with capacity in China plants also increase from 10 million units to 15 million units. However, the total capacity in the fourth quarter will still drop close to 30% from 140 million units in the third."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

OCZ Technology Introduces the RevoDrive 3 Max IOPS Edition

Subject: Storage | November 7, 2011 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: ocz, RevoDrive 3, Max IOPS, X2 Max IOPS, PCIe SSD

SAN JOSE, CA - Nov. 7, 2011 - OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, today launched the RevoDrive 3 Max IOPS and RevoDrive 3 X2 Max IOPS solid state drives. Designed to deliver maximum throughput in multithreaded applications, the new Max IOPS edition is an extension of the company's industry-leading RevoDrive 3 product line, supporting workstation users that require greater transactional throughput and bandwidth.

The RevoDrive 3 X2 Max IOPS series combines a proven cutting-edge PCI Express architecture and OCZ proprietary Virtualized Controller Architecture™ (VCA) 2.0 flash virtualization layer with premium NAND flash components to deliver exceptional 4KB random write performance of up to 245,000 IOPS, along with increased transfer rates at 1900MB/s reads and 1725MBs/ writes.

"The new RevoDrive 3 Max IOPS solid state drives further expand on our original PCIe series, and are designed to deliver even more bandwidth for the most demanding applications," said Daryl Lang, VP of Product Management, OCZ Technology Group. "Engineered to leverage the benefits of multi-threaded processors and applications, the Max IOPS provides both the performance and features required by clients to address the most intensive workloads common in high performance computing and workstation environments."

revo3.jpg

The RevoDrive 3 Max IOPS edition will be available in 120GB to 480GB capacities while the RevoDrive 3 X2 Max IOPS edition will be available in 240GB to 960GB capacities, providing ample space for primary persistent storage, multimedia files, and operating systems with the superior durability, energy efficiency, and reliability of SSDs. The new RevoDrive 3 Max IOPS and RevoDrive 3 X2 Max IOPS will be available throughout OCZ's global distribution channel and come with a three warranty.

OCZ's new Sandforce SF2281 firmware update tested

Subject: Storage | November 4, 2011 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: ocz, firmware, Sandforce SF2281

The Tech Report has been investigating the OCZ 2.15 firmware update for their Sandforce SF2281 based SSDs.  The firmware was released to fix several specific issues that users were encountering which caused BSODs or stuttering during normal usage.  The testing was a little odd for The Tech Report, they certainly didn't see any BSODs after flashing to the new firmware, however they never saw any BSODs on their drives previously.  A little investigation showed them a significant decrease in the number of people complaining about BSODs on forums which leads them to believe the firmware update is effective at what it does.  Even better, the firmware has no real negative effect on the drives performance.

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"SandForce SSDs have been dogged by reports of BSODs and other issues, but new firmware promises relief. We take a quick look at OCZ's recent 2.15 firmware update to see how it affects SSD performance and the BSOD bug."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Check out LSI's Raid cards before the purchase of SandForce

Subject: Storage | October 31, 2011 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: LSI, 9265-8i MegaRAID, Adaptec 6805, RAID Card, 6gbps

Many readers may have had their first introduction to LSI with the news that they had purchased SandForce and have never encountered their products.  Understandable as the bill the SSD Review had to face in order to test out the card was just short of $50,000, which is far more than even the most devoted enthusiast is going to pay.  In the realms of the server room however, that represents a fairly major investment but certainly within budget for a large upgrade.  The card its self is powered by the LSIISAS2208 dual-core 6Gb/s ROC-x2 800MHz PowerPC processor and can handle eight storage devices out of the box, for real space you will need to pick up an extender which will raise the total possible number of connected drives to 240.  Drop by the SSD Review to see the current leader of speedy reliable RAID cards; nothing even comes close to this monster.

SSDR_LSI.jpg

"The SSD Review has put together a 6Gbps ShowDown that we don't ever think can be matched. Total value of testing equipment exceeds $45,000 US. Top speeds come in at 2.7GB/s performance performance and over 461000 IOPS and we have absolutely pushed two RAID cards and 13 SSDs as far as we think they can be pushed. Grab a seat and buckle up because this is going to be our best ride yet, one you definitely won't be seeing attempted elsewhere anytime soon!"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: SSD Review

Intel Releases Updated SSD Toolbox

Subject: Storage | October 27, 2011 - 09:19 PM |
Tagged: trim, toolbox, ssd, Intel, 34nm

Intel recently updated it's SSD Toolbox software to version 3.0. The new version has a few under the hood changes; however, the most obvious change is an overhauled interface. If you're not familiar with the Intel SSD Toolbox, it is a small application provided by Intel to manage and diagnose the company's solid state drive lineup. The software includes tools to optimize the SSD using TRIM functionality, estimate drive health, and provide diagnostic scans to verify data integrity. According to the changelog, version 3 builds upon the previous version by adding:

  • A new graphical interface
  • An integrated help and support system
  • Support for additional languages
  • The ability to update firmware on supported Intel SSDs (SSDs in IDE mode and older 50nm drives need not apply).  Users of older SSDs and those running their solid state drives in IDE mode can update their drive firmware by using this Intel Firmware Update tool.
  • Viewing drive health
  • Displaying estimated remaining drive life
  • Viewing and exporting system information

As mentioned above, the first thing you are likely to notice upon starting the software is the new interface.  Intel has kept the blue and white color scheme of the older versions; however, that is where the similarities end.  Fortunately, Intel has not downsized the tools and you are able to do the same actions as the previous iterations; they are just easier to access.  The interface is now made of two panes split horizontally.  On the left are tabs that users click on to navigate to the various tools while the right side of the window is where the action takes place with the selected tool's output being displayed therein.

IntelSSD.PNG

The new Intel SSD Toolbox's home page

For a full breakdown of the new interface in the SSD Toolbox including screenshots and a video, follow this link to the full story!!

Source: Intel

Hard Drive Prices Spike on Thailand Flooding

Subject: General Tech, Storage | October 27, 2011 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: wdc, shortage, Seagate, Samsung, hitachi, hdd, Hard Drive

Chances are good you have heard about the recent flooding in Thailand - as Yahoo puts it: "The country's worst flooding in half a century, caused in part by unusually heavy monsoon rain, has killed 373 people since mid-July and disrupted the lives of nearly 2.5 million."  Obviously this is a horrific disaster and we feel for the people affected by it.

But there is a tech angle to the story that has been showing up in many of our discussions as late and is the impact this disaster has had on the production of spindle-based hard drives.  Looking for a 2TB hard drive today on Newegg.com this is what I found:

price01.png

Prices for hard drives have sky rocketed in the last week or so due to the pending shortage of them across the world.  Many of the top manufacturers have facilities based in Thailand for production as well as partners that are responsible for supplying companies like Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi with the parts they need to produce platter-based drives. 

While we used to talk about finding 2TB hard drives in the $89 price range, the best prices we could find on comparable units today start at $129; and this is for the slower units.  Western Digital Caviar Black drives are starting at unit prices of $229 now!

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Pricing graph from Pricegrabber.com for Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

If you are careful and shop around, you can still find drives like this for the $149 price point at sellers like Amazon are bit slower to update their prices.  (Scratch that, after publication this was already at $199!)  But don't just blindly purchase drives at this point - do your research!

WD drives aren't the only ones affected.  When doing a search for a Seagate 2TB drive, these were our results:

price03.png

When asked for comment, a representative of one of the affected manufacturers expressed concern for the people of Thailand first, but when pressed, said:

"The entire hard drive business is affected. Two of our factories are inundated with water, which supports 60% of our output. But a ton of suppliers that the entire industry uses are also flooded so we are all impacted."

While looking over at WD's press center we found this comment from John Coyne, President and CEO:

In mid-October, to protect our employees and our equipment and facilities, we temporarily suspended production at our two factories in Thailand, which have been inundated by floodwater. In addition, many of our component suppliers have been impacted, leaving material for hard drive production considerably constrained. We are working with suppliers to assess the extent of their impact and help devise short- and long-term solutions. This is a complex and dynamic challenge that will require extensive rebuilding for the Thai people and government, and present unprecedented obstacles to the hard drive industry for multiple quarters.

Obviously with a majority of the facilities affected we can only expect these prices hikes to increase and to linger.  That fact that Coyne specifically notes "multiple quarters" indicates that users likely won't see a return to the pricing we were used to until at least mid-2012.  With competition from solid-state drives heating up, this could be bad timing for companies dependent on spindle drives as the driving revenue source: comparing a $300 SSD to a $90 standard drive is a much different decision than that same $300 SSD and a $240 standard drive of high capacity. 

According to this report from Xbit labs, the industry has "two to four weeks" of hard drive inventory available.  The author claims that this points to the situation not being so dire, but with the WD's CEO stating the effects will be seen for "multiple quarters", I am guessing we will see a major buy-up of inventory from system builders like HP and Dell that will cause drive shortages much more quickly than anticipated.  

PC Perspective will keep tracking the effects on driving pricing and if any player in the business has other input they want to offer us.  Stay tuned!

SandForce jumps into bed with LSI, not OCZ

Subject: Storage | October 27, 2011 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: LSI, sandforce, merger, purchase

LSI, known for their high quality RAID cards here at PC Perspective have just agreed to purchase our favourite designer of  SSD controllers, namely Sandforce.  The deal is for $322 million in cash, with another $48 million of unvested stock options and restricted shares also being picked up.  This deal makes an interesting pair of bedfellows, with Sandforce being well known by consumers but making few inroads into the server room or other corporate markets.  LSI is the opposite, with very few consumers running out and picking up a $700 SAS RAID controller while in the corporate environment they are a common purchase. 

The two markets are very different; consumers want both speed and affordability in a drive and are quite willing to sacrifice a little reliability to that end.  Corporate usage places reliability first, there is no point having incredibly fast storage medium if it is occasionally unreachable and so are willing to pay a high price for that reliability.  This purchase seems to be indicating that SandForce feels that there is a market for their controller in the corporate world, if they can overcome the reliability and MTBF of their SSD drives.  LSI can provide experience with that in spades, their testing methodology is capable of detecting and pinpointing flaws that a consumer would never notice but which a heavily loaded server might.  This might just see SandForce arrive as a controller in a server room near you.  Keep your eyes peeled for more information from Allyn.

lsi-logo.gif

MILPITAS, Calif., October 26, 2011 – LSI Corporation (NYSE: LSI) today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire SandForce, Inc., the leading provider of flash storage processors for enterprise and client flash solutions and solid state drives (SSDs). Under the agreement, LSI will pay approximately $322 million in cash, net of cash assumed, and assume approximately $48 million of unvested stock options and restricted shares held by SandForce employees.
 
SandForce’s award-winning products include flash storage processors at the heart of PCIe flash adapters and SSDs. Flash storage processors provide the intelligence required to deliver the performance and low-latency benefits of flash storage in enterprise and client applications. With market-proven, differentiated DuraClass™ technology, SandForce flash storage processors improve the reliability, endurance and power efficiency of flash-based storage solutions.
 
The acquisition greatly enhances LSI's competitive position in the fast-growing server and storage PCIe flash adapter market, where the WarpDrive™ family of products from LSI already uses SandForce flash storage processors. The complementary combination of LSI’s custom capability and SandForce’s standard product offering propels LSI into an industry-leading position in the rapidly growing, high-volume flash storage processor market space for ultrabook, notebook and enterprise SSD and flash solutions.
 
“Flash-based solutions are critical for accelerating application performance in servers, storage and client devices,” said Abhi Talwalkar, LSI president and chief executive officer. “Adding SandForce’s technology to LSI’s broad storage portfolio is consistent with our mission to accelerate storage and networking. The acquisition represents a significant, rapidly growing market opportunity for LSI over the next several years.”
 
Michael Raam, SandForce president and CEO, said, “The combination of SandForce and LSI allows us to deliver differentiated solutions in the PCIe flash adapter segment by tightly integrating flash memory and management. In addition, leveraging our flash storage processors with LSI’s comprehensive IP portfolio and leading-edge silicon design platforms will lead to innovative solutions.”
 
The transaction is expected to close early in the first quarter of 2012 subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Upon closing, the SandForce team will become part of LSI’s newly formed Flash Components Division, with Raam as general manager.

Source: LSI

Pump up the volume; pump up the IOPs? The performance scaling of larger SSDs

Subject: Storage | October 20, 2011 - 05:49 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Corsair Force Series, Crucial m4, Intel 320. Intel 510

We know that there are several reasons that larger SSDs perform better than their smaller compatriots.  More flash memory means more channels for the data to traverse, which has a very noticeable effect on SATA 6Gb/s drives.  The Tech Report demonstrates just how effective a larger SSD can be, with 10 SSDs ranging from 120GB up to 300GB as well as having a healthy mix of different 25nm flash and a variety of controllers.  As you'd expect Sandforce continues their dominance by simultaneously offering better performance and a lower cost than Intel's SSDs.  Of course, the stability and durability of those drives is a hot topic right now.

lucky_TR.jpg

"Fresh from rounding up a collection of the latest 120-128GB solid-state drives, we've turned our attention to a pack of 240-300GB models to see how SSD performance scales as one climbs the capacity ladder."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

OCZ Technology Introduces Octane SATA 6Gbps and Octane-S2 SATA 3Gbps Solid State Drives

Subject: Storage | October 20, 2011 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: Indilinx Everest, Octane, sata 6Gbs, sata, ssd, ocz

SAN JOSE, CA - Oct. 20, 2011 - OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs), today launched the Indilinx Everest-based Octane SATA 3.0 and SATA 2.0 SSD series, striking the ideal balance between capacity, physical size, and speed. In addition to being the world's first SSD to achieve up to a 1TB capacity in a compact 2.5 inch format, OCZ's Octane SSD series combines high-speed data transfer rates with record-breaking access times to provide a superior user experience and improved application performance.

"OCZ has reached an important milestone in the development of its own controller technology," said James E. Bagley, Senior Analyst with Storage Strategies NOW. "The high sustained performance, even with compressed files, the rapid boot feature and high access speeds using SATA 3.0 protocol puts their controller technology in the major league."

"Until now SSDs have been tailored for specific applications, forcing users into a product which maximizes performance for a narrow band of applications, but is significantly lacking in others," said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ Technology. "The Octane Series solves this problem by providing the highest level of performance across varied workloads including mixed file sizes and mixed compressible and uncompressible data, all while nearly doubling NAND flash endurance."

The Octane series leverages the cutting-edge Indilinx Everest platform to deliver up to 560MB/s of bandwidth and 45,000 IOPS and is optimized for the complete spectrum of file types and sizes. In particular, the Octane's proprietary page mapping algorithms allow for steady mixed-workload performance, mirroring real world conditions across a wide range of applications. The Octane series also includes a number of advanced features unique to Indilinx, including innovative latency reduction technology, enabling both read and write access times as low as 0.06ms and 0.09ms respectively, the lowest of any commercially available SSD. This enhances application responsiveness and enables features such as "fast boot" in consumer applications.

Octane SSDs also come equipped with Indilinx's proprietary NDurance™ technology, increasing the lifespan of the NAND flash memory, ensuring the most consistent and reliable performance as well as minimizing performance degradation even after the drive's storage capacity is highly utilized. In addition, Octane series drives support AES and automatic encryption to secure critical data.

octane.jpg

Octane Product Features:

  • Dual Core CPU
  • Up to 512MB DRAM cache
  • 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB models
  • High sequential speeds: Octane (SATA 3.0) Read: 560MB/s; Write: 400MB/s Octane-S2 (SATA 2.0) Read: 275MB/s; Write: 265MB/s
  • High transactional performance
  • Optimized for 4K to 16K compressed files Octane (SATA 3.0) 45,000 random read 4K IOPS Octane-S2 (SATA 2.0) 30,000 random read 4K IOPS
  • Industry-low latency: Read: 0.06ms; Write: 0.09ms
  • Strong performance at low queue depths (QD 1 – 3) 
  • Up to 8 channels with up to 16-way Interleaving
  • Advanced BCH ECC engine enabling more than 70 bits correction capability per 1KB of data
  • Proprietary NDurance Technology: increases NAND life up to 2X of the rated P/E cycles
  • Efficient NAND Flash management: Dynamic and static wear-leveling, and background garbage collection
  • Boot time reduction optimizations
  • NCQ support up to 32 queue depth - End-to-end data protection
  • TRIM support
  • Industry standard SMART reporting

The OCZ Octane SSD Series will be available November 1st in models ranging from 128GB-1TB capacities throughout OCZ's global channel.

SandForce finally patches elusive 2200 series SSD controller bug. OCZ issues firmware, others soon to follow.

Subject: Storage | October 18, 2011 - 12:25 AM |
Tagged: ssd, sandforce, ocz, firmware, bug, BSOD

Over the past few months, we had noted a seemingly disproportionate surge of negative reports from users of SandForce-2200 based SSD's. These include OCZ's Vertex and Agility 3, Corsair's Force 3 and GT, Patriot's Pyro and Wildfire, along with many others. The complete list is available in our handy SSD Decoder.

The issue at hand was random BSOD's, with the possibility of an eventual complete failure of the SSD, rendering it unrecognizeable to the BIOS or Operating System. More details (and the fix) after the break:

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I witnessed this personally, as the SF-2281 pictured above suffered the same fate when we attempted to use it a few weeks ago.

Today (hopefully) marks the answer to everyone's prayers. SandForce issued base firmware 3.3.2 for SF-2000 series controllers.

snap-397-.png

OCZ's Toolbox software V 2.40.02 can patch OCZ's line of SF-2200 SSD's with the new fix.

The release notes follow (and seem to lack mention of the aforementioned bugfix):

OCZ Toolbox version 2.40.02
---------------------------
- Modified Identity data display
- Fixed Smart data display for power fail backup attributes
- Added BIOS update for Hybrid drive

Known Issues:
- Update Firmware feature prohibited for primary drives with 1500 & 2000 controllers
- Intel RST Driver 10.1.0.1008 prohibits SSD detection

OCZ's press tidbit for the new firmware(s):

OCZ is pleased to announce that the cause of a BSOD issue experienced by some SF-2000-based drive owners has been identified by OCZ and SandForce. A new firmware update which directly addresses this BSOD occurrence related to SF-2000 based SSDs is available here. All newly manufactured OCZ SF-2000 based SSDs will feature the new 2.15 firmware revision (which is based on SandForce firmware version 3.3.2.) We highly recommend that any customers that have experienced the BSOD issue update their firmware to 2.15.
 
We sincerely appreciate the support from our customers, and if any customers have any questions or require additional support please do not hesitate to contact a customer service representative and we will be happy to address any questions or concerns.

If you own any of the affected SSD's, I highly recommend updating as soon as possible. Until then, I also recommend you back up any data present on these drives, as the above statements confirm the presence of an issue that can potentially brick your SandForce SSD at any moment.

Remember, patch only applies to the 2200 Series controller (i.e. SandForce SSD's capable of SATA 6Gb/sec).

Salt + electrons = 6x increase in HDD platter density?

Subject: Storage | October 14, 2011 - 05:21 PM |
Tagged: hdd, Hard Drive

With all of this SSD talk lately, let's not forget where storage stuff originated from - the HDD. Here's your spinning rust... ah-hem, Hard Drive lesson for the day:

Hard drives store bits by changing the magnetic alignment of magnetic 'grains' which have been 'sputtered' onto the surface of an extremely flat surface, or platter. Here are some grains created with current tech (lesson after the break):

HardDrivesGrainsSEM100nm.jpg

Due to the random arrangement, storing bits on the above requires each bit to span across several grains as to ensure it is properly written.

The Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), based in Singapore, does all sorts of experimentation with, well, materials research. They had the bright idea to mix in a pinch of table salt into the sputtering process. This, combined with the use of electron-beam lithography, allows much greater control over grain creation - namely they can actually 'draw' them.

etched.jpg

E-beam-etched grains formed with IMRE's new process.

Not only does this enable them to have more control over grain size, but it also allows them to create them in defined tracks. This lets the drive store one-bit per grain. Combine smaller grains with a better ratio of bits to grains and you've got potential for increasing magnetic storage by nearly an order of magnitude. IMRE has already tested the process at densities of 1.9Tb/in2, and they've created platters at up to 3.3Tb/in2. Consider current HDD's run at ~0.5Tb/in2, we're talking 6x the capacity - just when we thought HDD's were leveling off.

IMRE claims the new tech can be easily implemented with existing manufacture lines. The only potential catch I see is that with current HDD's, they make the platter and form tracks onto it once it's already fully assembled. This new tech creates the tracks in the middle of the process. This makes for potential alignment issues when going for a perfect 1-bit per grain density. Think of it as writing to a CD or DVD - the tracks are already there, so your drive's laser has extra components to help it keep the beam locked onto the track during writing (to account for any wobble, etc). HDD's using this new tech may need to employ a similar method, adding complexity to what is likely already the most complex part of these drives.

This development will not only enable higher capacity drives, it should help drop the price of current capacities. I guess SSD's will have to wait a bit longer before taking over the world.

Intel's 710 SATA III 200GB SSD ... and you though PCIe SSDs were expensive

Subject: Storage | October 13, 2011 - 06:05 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SATA3, Intel 710

The Intel 720 is a 200GB SATA 3 SSD with rated specs of 270MBs read/210MBs write or 38500 IOPS read and 2700 IOPS write, which makes it sound great until the sticker shock hits.  At an MSRP of $1300 you suddenly realize that there is more to this drive than just those specifications.  The extra money comes into the picture due to several reasons which make this an enterprise class drive.  The drive is overprovisioned by 120GB, while it does have 320GB of storage the extra memory is not available to you, only to the drive.  That overprovisioning should mean a greatly extended lifetime, just as the 64MB DRAM cache and six transistors ensure you won't suffer data corruption if the drive loses power unexpectedly.  There is more hidden inside this drive, which you can read about at The SSD Review.

SSDR_intel720.jpg

"The SSD Review has compiled a detailed analysis of the newly released Intel 710 SATA III 200GB SSD, an SSD priced at an unexpected $1299. Contrary to original predictions, the 710 is not intended as a consumer product and we believe that it will meet with a great deal of success in the enterprise sector. Follow along as we try to explain why this SSD is such a special addition to the SSD arena."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: SSD Review

A quick and easy way to duplicate your drives

Subject: Storage | October 7, 2011 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: Startech, eSATA, usb, SATA HD Duplicator

Startech's eSATA USB to SATA drive duplicator is a portable device that lets you clone SATA, eSATA and USB disks.  It is quite handy in that you do not need a running PC to be able to clone a disk which can be handy when you are copying an OS installation and need access to all files on the drive.  It is also great in data emergencies or even better, to prevent an emergency from ever happening because you back up your drives frequently.  Plug and Play is very appropriate for this device, you could put in two drives to the duplicator and leave it copying over night as you do not need to monitor its operation at all.  Drop by R&B Mods for their full review of the duplicator

 

rab_duplicator.jpg

"Today we will take take a look at an interesting product from Startech. Startech Portable eSATA USB to SATA Standalone HD Duplicator Dock is a hard disk duplication device that you can do easy hard disk cloning with. Let’s see how it performs in our tests and how easy it is to use."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Corsair Releases High Capacity Force GT and Force 3 SSDs

Subject: Storage | October 6, 2011 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: storage, ssd, sata 3, corsair

Corsair today released three new solid state drives (SSDs) that deliver both speedy performance and high capacity. The new models include two new Force 3 SSDs at 180 GB and 480 GB and one new Force GT SSD at 480 GB. All of the new models are powered by the SandForce 2280 controller and utilize the SATA 3 (6GB/s) storage interface. All models will include a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter for use in desktops, and are backward compatible with older SATA specifications.

The Corsair Force GT being the faster lineup of drives now has a 480 GB Force GT SSD that is capable of 555 MB/s read speeds and write speeds of 525 MB/s. Further, the drive uses ONFI synchronous flash memory and achieves 85K random write IOPS (input/output operations per second).

ssd_fgt3_angle_480gb.png

Although Corsair already has 120 GB and 240 GB models of solid state drives, the lineup now has a 180 GB SSD (to match the 180 GB capacity of the Force GT line) and a 480 GB drive. These two new SSDs use the same asynchronous flash that the other SSDs in Corsair’s Force 3 lineup utilizes as well as the same SandForce 2280 controller. In being compatible with SATA 3 (6GB/s) interface, the drives are able to pump out 85K random write IOPS, 550 MB/s read speeds, and 520 MB/s write speeds. This puts them slightly below the Force GT series, but still delivering respectable performance.

The new solid state drives are available now from authorized distributors and retailers worldwide. The Force 3 SSDs carry an MSRP of $249 USD for the 180GB version and $799 USD for the 480GB SSD. Finally, the 480GB Force GT has an MSRP of $999 USD. Remember to check out our SSD Decoder for help in picking out your solid state drives!

Source: Corsair

Sandforce keeps spreading, check out the EDGE Boost Pro

Subject: Storage | September 30, 2011 - 12:23 PM |
Tagged: SF-2281 controller, sata 6Gbs, EDGE Boost Pro

While you certainly have a wide variety of choice when choosing the manufacturer of your next SSD purchase, the internals will likely be identical.  If you want the fastest SATA 6GB/s SSD you can get then it will be a Sandforce controller handling the data transfer, likely the new SF-2281.  EDGE Tech won't be the first manufacturer you think of but don't let the lack of name recognition turn you off, especially if you are going to be transferring data and software installations as they sell an upgrade kit to make the process even easier.  Benchmark Reviews takes you through the speed and security features of this SSD, especially favouring the three year warranty.

BMR_EDGE-Boost-Pro-SSD-Angle.jpg

"EDGE Tech Corporation has been a manufacturer of peripheral computer hardware for two decades, but only recently have they offered enthusiast storage solutions. New for 2011, the EDGE Boost Pro SSD offers SATA 6GB/s transfer speeds using the latest second-generation SandForce SF-2200 solid state controller technology. EDGE Tech specifies the Boost Pro SSD as capable of 550 MB/s read speeds and 85,000 IOPS write operations. In this article, Benchmark Reviews test the EDGE Boost Pro SSD against the leading competitors and we find out just how much speed and performance this new solid state drive offers."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage