OCZ's RevoDrive 3; the other kind of hybrid

Subject: Storage | March 12, 2012 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Sandforce SF2281, revodrive hybrid, RevoDrive 3, PCIe SSD, ocz, hybrid ssd

If you are looking for the speed of an SSD but can't afford one big enough to hold your OS and programs there are two main ways to work around this.  The first is only available to Intel SandyBridge owners and that is Intel's SRT which allows you to use a mSATA SSD as a cache drive to speed up commonly used programs.  The second is to pick up a hybrid SATA drive like the Seagate Momentus XT line, which does essentially the same thing but is compatible with most systems and is self contained.  Techgage would like to remind you that there is a third choice, albeit perhaps more expensive than the other two; the OCZ RevoDrive 3 Hybrid PCIe SSD.  This drive sports 1TB of HDD space and 128GB of flash memory split between two SandForce 2281 controllers and at a cost of $330 gives you a lot more space than a $330 SSD.

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"SSDs are expensive and often don't offer enough capacity to meet user needs. The recent SSD caching craze attempts to alleviate both these issues, but OCZ has done one better. Combining a RevoDrive 3 with a 1TB HDD the RevoDrive Hybrid offers a self-contained SSD caching solution that is guaranteed to work."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: Techgage

OCZ Technology Talos SAS SSDs to be Deployed in Drobo’s Business-Class Storage Systems

Subject: Storage | March 8, 2012 - 11:58 AM |
Tagged:

If you have money and a need for a lot of very fast storage then OCZ's announcement of the Talos SAS SSD Series for the Drobo B1200i is going to make your day.  Drobo has posted information on the new model of Drobo, the first to take advantage of SSDs, sports 12 drive bays capable of running 3.5" SAS-1/SAS-2 or any SATA drives at their current full speed.  The full specs of the Drobo are available here but unfortunately it is unclear which Talos series drive will be included for those that order the B1200i.  The press release specifically mentions 200GB capacity which would suggest that these $959 Talos drives are likely populating the bays of the highest end model.

drobo1200i.png

SAN JOSE, CA – March 8, 2012 - OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, today announced that Drobo will utilize the OCZ Talos SAS SSD Series for integration into its B1200i iSCSI SAN solutions for business environments. Drobo, makers of award-winning data storage products for businesses and professionals, has chosen to provide customers with even faster and more robust storage systems by complementing the sophisticated feature set of the B1200i with the superior performance, energy efficiency, and maximum endurance of Talos SSDs.

Ideal for small-and-medium businesses (SMBs), the Drobo B1200i provides reliable, high-performance, and self-optimizing storage for server virtualization, email, and data protection and features seamless integration with existing infrastructures as an iSCSI SAN device. With innovative automated data-aware tiering, the B1200i delivers a level of automation and technical sophistication that is easier to use and less costly to deploy than typical enterprise solutions. The B1200i is the first Drobo product to leverage the benefits of SSDs for increased bandwidth, lower power consumption, and instantaneous access times. “Drobo is a leader in data storage products for both professionals and businesses and we are thrilled that they have qualified and selected our enterprise-class Talos SAS SSDs for their business oriented solutions,” said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ Technology. “This collaboration is a perfect example of how our SSD technology can act within a complete solution to deliver superior application-optimized storage for small- and medium-business IT.”

“Just like larger organizations, SMBs should be able to afford and enjoy the benefits of SSD technology and performance,” said Tom Buiocchi, CEO of Drobo. “For the best capacity and performance, our unique automated data-aware tiering allows customers to easily and affordably add SSDs to the same Drobo environment that already has high-capacity traditional disk drives.”

Drobo will offer the B1200i Series with OCZ Talos 3.50-inch SAS 6Gb/s SSDs in 200GB capacities. For SMBs seeking an easy to deploy yet state-of-the-art storage system, Drobo with Talos SSDs offer incredible reliability, unparalleled responsiveness, and optimized energy efficiency when compared to traditional storage systems that only leverage mechanical hard drives. The new Drobo B1200i with OCZ SSDs will be available through Drobo’s worldwide network of authorized distributors and resellers.

The SSD market gets passed a TRIM command

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 7, 2012 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: western digital, ssd, hitachi, flash, EMC

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which was the result of the merger of Hitachi and IBM's HDD businesses, is likely being purchased by Western Digital tomorrow for about $4.3 billion.  This makes sense as WD has been using Hitachi GST as a sales partner when providing  EMC with high end flash disks.  This deal comes on the heels of a major sell, the SSD400S flash disk which uses Intel's 34nm SLC NAND and the SSD400S-B which utilizes the new 25nm NAND developed by Intel.  Check out the specifications of the flash drives as well as the new SSD company over at The Register.

intel-nand.jpg

"WD is buying Hitachi GST and the acquisition is expected to be formally announced tomorrow with a condition of two years of independence for Hitachi GST - imposed by a Chinese anti-competition regulator. EMC has certified Hitachi GST's SSD400S flash disks for use in its VNX mid-range unified storage arrays, including the all-flash VNX5500-F, so WD will effectively fulfil this deal once the acquisition is announced."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

A 240GB SSD roundup

Subject: Storage | March 2, 2012 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: sata 6Gps, intel 520, mushkin chronos, corsair force 3, kingston hyper x

OC3D have rounded up a batch of 240GB SATA 6GBs SSDs, the Intel 520, the Mushkin Chronos, the Corsair Force 3, and the Kingston Hyper X.  The consistent size helps to highlight the difference a controller can make as there are several current generation SandForce controllers represented in the review.  Reading through the review keep an eye out not only for the drives that provide the best performance in each test but also for the drives which provide the most consistent performance as some benchmarks will not represent the usage you would get from an SSD in your own system.

OC3D_SSD.jpg

"As we bring a new benchmark to the OC3D suite of testing, we thought we'd give you a quick run through of some popular SSDs."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: Overclock3D

Intel / Micron Flash Technology Venture Expands, Micron Assumes Two Plants

Subject: Storage | February 28, 2012 - 05:40 PM |
Tagged: micron, Intel, imft, flash, fab

Earlier today we caught some news of Intel and Micron extending their joint agreement to develop and create flash memory under the IMFT name. Along with this extension came some rearrangements to the current plan. Intel will be selling off their stake in two of the smaller fabs, located in Singapore and Manassas, VA. The sale is for $600 million, half of which will stay with Micron as a credit that Intel can use to later purchase NAND flash produced from those factories.

The 'tip of the spear' IMFT fab located in Lehi, Utah, will remain jointly owned and operated. This makes good business sense as the Lehi fab is the first to shift to smaller process nodes. IMFT announced 25nm flash memory production at this very fab in early 2010.

IMFT.jpg

PC Perspective toured IMFT Utah during the 25nm launch announcement.

Some may see this as Intel taking a step away from flash memory, but I see it as quite the contrary. Micron has always tended towards being a bulk producer of memory products, while Intel are the promary innovators in the arena. This move allows Intel to focus on the bleeding edge plant while Micron handles the particulars of cranking out those technologies developed at the Lehi Plant. It is likely that the highest grade flash comes from the Lehi plant, and Intel's half of the output is more than enough to supply their SSD production lines.

Click to view full article for the press release.

Source: Micron

Box.com Offering 50GB of Free Cloud Storage For Life To Users of Android App

Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2012 - 02:48 AM |
Tagged: storage, media, Internet, free, cloud, box, backup

The online storage space is really starting to heat up as companies start getting competitive to grab their share of the 'cloud storage user base' pie. Dropbox is a popular file syncing and online storage space solution offering 2GB free and routinely offering extra free space to those that want it though promotions and referrals. On the other side of things, Microsoft offers 25GB of online storage space with SkyDrive minus the computer syncing (currently) for free to those with a Windows Live (or Hotmail) account and they are in the process of overhauling the service to make it easier to use. Besides those two juggernauts, there are several alternative solutions that offer extra space or cheaper paid storage in order to remain competitive with the larger services. One such service that has not gotten the same amount of public recognition is a site called Box.com. They primarily provide Internet based (paid) storage for businesses; however, it seems that they are starting to make a big push to get deeper into the consumer market.

boxcom_50gb.PNG

The company is currently offering 50 GB (yes, you read that right) of free online storage space for life (or at least the life of the company) if you install their recently updated Android application and sign up for an account (or sign into an existing account) within the next 30 days (as of writing, that would mean 3/24/2012).

Further, if you download the Android Box application before March 23, 2012 at 11:59 they will up the individual file size limit from 25 MB per file to 100 mb per file. Although that is still not big enough for movies, the increased per file limit makes it easy to backup your photos even in RAW.

boxcom_batch.PNG

Once you download the Box android application from the Android Market, and sign up (or sign into an existing account) a message will pop up indicating that you have been given 50 GB of free storage and it is immediately accessible. There are a few caveats; however. The Box.com service has mobile applications that are free; however, they do not provide a free application for Windows or Mac. To get the desktop/laptop syncing service, you will need to upgrade to a paid Business or Enterprise account. Also, the Android application itself may concern some users as one of the application permissions during installation includes access to your contact list. The company has stated that this is necessary to make the sharing and collaboration process easy for the user. It certainly would not be the first application to ask for (to the user) strange permissions, however. You could always install the app on an Android VM or another phone if you're that paranoid (heh).

While you do not get a desktop application for free, you can still access your files (and the increased 50 GB of storage) from the website, and they do allow bulk uploads that can include multiple sub-folders. One snag that I ran into was that if the uploader identified any file in a folder as being over 100 MB, it would refuse to upload the entire folder. This may be a bug or an issue on my end; however, I was not able to figure out a way to just skip that one file and upload the rest of the files in the folder.

boxcom_batch.PNG

The batch uploader allows uploading multiple subfolders via drag and drop.

One thing that I enjoyed about the process (aside from the plentiful storage) was that they made it easy to sign up, all they ask for is an email (which doesn't need to be verified to get access to storage) and password.  It's kind of nice to not have to slog through the process of handing out a bunch of personal information just for an online account!

I'm currently uploading my photos to the site to back them up (I learned two years ago that it can never hurt to have too many backups!) and the upload is going smoothly. The website batch uploader is Flash based and does not require IE like SkyDrive does, so that's a positive thing in my book. Let us know in the comments if you've tried Box out before, and how you're going to use the 50 GB of cloud storage.  It really seems like the cloud / Internet based storage market is heating up, and this is a good thing for end users as it means more options, more innovation, and cheaper prices!  If Box.com isn't for you, Dropbox and SkyDrive are also offering plenty of free storage space.

Source: Maximum PC

It ain't easy being the littlest sibling in a family of SSDs

Subject: Storage | February 23, 2012 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: Octane, Indilinx Everest, Octane 128GB, ocz, 6gbps

The trade offs with SSDs are a little harsh compared to HDDs, where size does not impact performance to a large degree only the physical location of the data.  The price per gigabyte tends to be a little higher than larger models but again is relatively close.  With an SSD you not only take a noticeable hit to performance with the smaller models you also pay a big premium on the price per gigabyte.  That said, some people simply cannot afford $300+ for an SSD over 200GB. 

For those who want SSD performance for a reasonable price of admission, the 128GB OCZ Octane is worthy of consideration.  There have been no reports of drive failure but at the same time The Tech Report could only find 10 user reviews so it is possible that the sample size is too small to make a definitive conclusion.  If you don't draw that conclusion the Octane becomes a little less attractive as competitor's drives tend to be cheaper to buy, even if you lose 8GB of space.  Check out the full review before you go shopping for a small SSD.

TR_wide.jpg

"We were impressed by OCZ's Indilinx-powered Octane SSD when we reviewed the 512GB version last year. Now, we have the 128GB model in-house to see if the Octane's appeal extends to the sweet spot."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Upgrade your PS3 with an SSD... or just play on the PC.

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 20, 2012 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: ssd, PS3

There is an interesting article down at Eurogamer which covers the possible benefits of upgrading a PS3 with a solid state drive. Those who know me can guess that I am snickering while crossing another perceived advantage off of my console versus PC list. Still, if for some reason you want to play exclusives to a disposable platform that are only exclusive because you let them be and you desire to upgrade your experience, check out the interesting article.

PS3SSDSkyrim.png

Isn’t “not needing to do this” the whole reason for having a console?

Consoles titles are naturally becoming as hard drive-intensive as they are allowed to be due to their abysmally small quantity of RAM. Developers have been using tricks to increase the usefulness of their available RAM such as disallowing split screen, streaming content as needed, and rendering at low resolutions.

The first Halo, for instance, was famous for their quick load times. The load speed is due in part to having their game assets copied multiple times on the disk which allows choice in loading whichever copy requires the least seek time to access. Also, having a hard drive helped Halo too.

The article itself focuses mostly on RAGE and Skyrim due to their harsh issues with lag and pop-in. Skyrim has had known issues with getting progressively worse as time progressed. This issue was mostly corrected in version 2.03 as was also demonstrated in Eurogamer’s article making an SSD almost unnecessary, but prior to 2.03 an SSD surprisingly helped substantially with the problem. It should also be no surprise that throwing faster storage at RAGE helped immensely just as it does on the PC.

If you were considering upgrading to a faster drive for your Sony console be sure to check out Eurogamer -- or the new Hardware Leaderboard and just play on the PC.

Source: Eurogamer

Intel Inside. Thecus' Next-Gen NAS introduced: N4800, N2800

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Storage | February 20, 2012 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: Thecus, NAS

Home users are starting to look at Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices to serve their home media needs. Also popular are products which allow you to browse the internet and play media on your TV. Just announced by Thecus are two NAS devices which fit both roles and many others. The N2800 contains a built-in media card reader while the N4800 has a built in mini Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS), OLED status screen, and a second USB3.0 port.

thecus4800-2800.jpg

I hear they're a NASty bunch...

The obvious selling features of the two devices are the inclusion of HDMI output to enable the above roles as well as an updated 3rd Generation Intel Atom CPU D2700. The D2700 is a 2.13GHz Dual Core and hyper threaded Intel Atom processor manufactured at 32nm.

Check out the highlights of their press release below.

02/20/2012- As part of the Intel Embedded Alliance, Thecus has precedence and access to a multitude of Intel prototypes and the latest technologies. Working on those products for months now, Thecus is delighted to finally release its Vision Series.

The new N2800 and N4800 are going to be some of the first Intel(r) Atom(tm) D2700 based NAS! They will set the standard for what's best in the market to help you build a true multimedia center: USB 3.0, Dual Gigabit Ports, SD Card reader (N2800), Mini-UPS (N4800), etc.

And the most important feature is the HDMI output. With Thecus Local Display module, it's now possible to connect the NAS directly to a monitor and control it through USB mouse/keyboard. Playing HD movies, browsing the web, controlling the NAS... everything is now possible directly from your TV! Thanks to this feature, Thecus is now creating a new standard among the NAS industry.

About Thecus(r)

Thecus(r) Technology Corp. specializes in IP Storage Server and Network Video Recorder solutions. The company was established in 2004 with the mission to make technology that is as transparent as it is easy-to-use and products that are not only the best on the market, but are accessible to experts and novices alike. Combining a world-class R&D team highly experienced in storage hardware and software development with a keen customer focus, Thecus(r) stays close to the market to develop high-quality products to fulfill the storage and surveillance needs of today's world.

Source: Thecus

Microsoft Allegedly Overhauling SkyDrive With Increased Paid Storage, Applications, and Other Goodies

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 11:12 AM |
Tagged: storage, skydrive, paid storage, free, cloud backup, bitlocker, app integration

Update: Some of the rumors have been confirmed by Microsoft in a blog post, though the individual file size increase was a bit off.  Microsoft will be allowing files up to 2 GB in size as compared to the rumored 300 MB file sizes.

Every so often, I run across a rumor that sounds almost too good to be true. On the other hand, it sounds so good that I just can't stop myself from being excited about it. Over the weekend, I saw an article that talked about Windows Live Skydrive offering paid storage tiers and I now really want this to come to fruition.

For those curious, SkyDrive is Microsoft's "cloud storage" service that gives users 25 GB of free storage space to hold files. There are some restrictions with the individual file size (that can be worked around if you really want to backup a home movie for example), but otherwise it is a boatload of space for free and saved my butt when the, um, "formatting catastrophe" of 2010 happened by having most of my digital photos backed up!

whatwouldidoifilostthesefunnyphotos.png

SkyDrive as it is now, funny old photos and all!

The service is connected to your Microsoft Live or hotmail account and can be accessed by navigating to skydrive.live.com. There are some usability issues with the service; however, including the fact that it's a pain in the rear to upload more than one or two files. The website doesn't make it easy to batch upload, say, a folder or folders only a file at a time. Further, it is not nearly as easy to manage those files once they are in the SkyDrive as it should be. Now, if you use IE, the SkyDrive website will allow you to upload multiple files easier; however, the other browsers are left without a way to do it. There is also the aforementioned individual file size limit of 100 MB per file.

The exciting bit about the rumors and (allegedly) leaked screen shots is that if they stay true the service is about to get a whole lot better by offering cheap storage and fixing many of the issues people have had with the service.

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The leaked image

On the storage front, Microsoft is allegedly adding new paid storage tiers and increasing the individual file size limit to 300 MB (from 100 MB). Among the new plans are 20 GB, 50 GB, and 100 GB offerings (which is in addition to the free 25 GB of space) for $10, $25, and $50 a year respectively. Not a bad price at all in my opinion! Assuming the pricing is accurate, they are vastly undercutting the competition. Dropbox, for example, is currently offering 50 GB for $99 a year and 100 GB for $199 per year. Granted, Dropbox has syncing functionality, no individual file size limit, and is a much easier to use service with an established user base, but at these prices the Microsoft offering is likely to win over many people who just want some cheap off site backup space!

 

Paid Storage Space SkyDrive (Price Per Year) Dropbox (Price Per Year)
20 GB $10 n/a
50 GB $25 $99
100 GB $50 $199

Dropbox pricing just for comparision.

While there are currently mobile applications for Windows Phone and Apple iOS smart phones, users must turn to third party explorer extensions (like SDExplorer) for Windows OS integration on the desktop. More leaked images seem to suggest that Microsoft will be launching applications for Windows and Mac operating systems to better integrate SkyDrive into the OS (and hopefully enable easier cloud file management). SDExplorer is a third party extension that I used to upload all my photos to SkyDrive and it allows mounting the SkyDrive account as a "hard drive" under Windows Explorer. Unfortunately, it costs money to get the full feature set, so hopefully Microsoft can provide similar (or more) features for free with their OS.

SkyDrive-App-for-Windows_thumb.png

In addition, Microsoft will allegedly be adding URL shortening for public and shared SkyDrive file links as well as the ability to share files to Twitter and Facebook from within the SkyDrive website. For the latter, there are already APIs and Microsoft is likely just leveraging them to make sharing files a bit more convenient. On the other hand, Microsoft will be using their own URL shortening service via the sdrv.ms domain instead of integrating with an existing service.

As a user of Libre Office (the fork off of what was once Open Office), I deal a lot with .odt files, which is the open document standard. For users of Microsoft's web application of Office, they have been forced to save files to the Microsoft standards; however, rumors suggest that the service will soon support creating and saving to the .odt, .odp, and .ods document formats. If you are using Office Web Apps, then you are already likely fairly integrated into the Office universe, and this feature won't mean much. On the other hand, this will help out others who may need to edit one of the Libre Office created documents backed up to their SkyDrive on the go. Better compatibility is always a step in the right direction for MS after all.

Last up on the rumor pile for SkyDrive is the ability to store BitLocker recovery keys directly to SkyDrive so that you have a backup should you ever forget your encryption password. The flip side of that convenience feature is that it provides another attack vector should someone attempt to get their hands on your encryption keys, and it is a location that you must depend on someone else to keep secure. As weird as it may sound, you might want to encrypt your encryption key before uploading it to any "cloud" service (heh), just in case. Still, it's good to have options.

More photos and information on the alleged leaks can be found here and here.

Needless to say, there was quite the leak this weekend over Microsoft SkyDrive features!  It is a lot to take in, but in my opinion it sounds like they are really giving the service special attention it needs to get it into fighting form.  And if the rumors hold true it will be much more comptetitive with other cloud storage backup options as a result of the overhaul.  I'm excited about this, obviously, but what about you?  Do you use SkyDrive?

Source: Gemind.com

VIA teams with Tensilica to roll their own SSD controller

Subject: Storage | February 16, 2012 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: Xtensa, VIA, Tensilica, ssd, DPU, controller

VIA has always been known for the 'slow and steady' approach to computing. They might not have the quickest stuff around, but they certainly tend to have the lowest power draw. While we haven't seen many releases from VIA as of late, they appear to be gearing up for a rediscovered purpose for their mantra - Solid State Storage.

VIA has brought on a company called Tensilica, who make a System on a Chip (SoC) architecture that has been purpose built for moving data around. The system, dubbed the Xtensa dataplane processor (DPU), has some particular math strengths that would be very beneficial if applied to the realm of an SSD controller. For example, the DPU is capable of performing multiple simultaneous table lookups within a single clock cycle. This is handy for increasing the IOPS rating of an SSD, since wear leveling and write amplification are handled by remapping the LBA's (sectors) to flash memory space. Each IO results in a necessary table lookup, which the DPU can perform very quickly.

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With the DPU being so efficient at these tasks, it could be run at lower clock speeds and outmaneuver competing SSD controllers - all while consuming less power. We're going to be watching VIA closely in the coming months on this one for sure.
Source: X-bit labs

Getting vibration-less storage without having to invest in an SSD

Subject: Storage | February 14, 2012 - 05:30 PM |
Tagged: vibration, Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer, hdd

At first glance they may just look like colourful metal 3.5" to 5.25" drive bay adapters but the Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer kit includes a rubber suspension intended to stop the noise and vibrations generated by a spinning hard disk.  It should help with cooling since the drives have more space around them in a 5.25" bay and it will help save space as three drives will fit in only two 5.25" slots.  SPCR's testing disproved the first as they saw noticeably higher temperatures from the drives once installed in the mounts, but not worryingly so.  They did see seriously positive results when they looked at the effectiveness of vibration reduction as well as noise reduction.  If you've got a drive that shakes your house when you boot this kit is worth checking out.

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"The Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer is an aftermarket internal hard drive suspension system that is simple but effective and cost efficient."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

OCZ Launches Z-Drive R4 CloudServ 16TB Solid State Storage System

Subject: Storage | February 14, 2012 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: z-drive R4 CloudServ, SandForce 2581, PCIe SSD, ocz

How does 6.4TB of Synchronous Mode Multi-Level Cell NAND storage sound to you?  It is still a PCIe 2.0 device but it is capable of up to 6,000 MB/s which is none too shabby.

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SAN JOSE, CA—February 14, 2012—OCZ Technology Group, Inc. (Nasdaq:OCZ), a leading provider of high-performance solid-state drives (SSDs) for computing devices and systems, today announced the Z-Drive R4 CloudServ PCI Express (PCIe) flash storage solution, designed to dramatically accelerate cloud computing applications and significantly reduce operating expenses in the data center. The new Z-Drive R4 CloudServ features monumental data throughput, and raises the bar in performance and capacity.

“The Z-Drive R4 CloudServ PCIe solid state drive delivers game-changing performance and enables clients to process massive data-sets with up to 16TB of storage capacity on a single, easy-to-deploy card,” said Ryan Petersen, CEO of OCZ Technology. “With this new solution, system architects are able to design more efficient and dynamic cloud computing infrastructures while simultaneously reducing system complexity and the high maintenance costs associated with traditional infrastructures.”

With increasing emphasis on cloud computing and the sheer growth in data, PCIe-based flash storage systems have the ability to bypass traditional storage overhead by reducing latencies, increasing throughput, and enabling efficient processing of massive quantities of data. The Z-Drive R4 CloudServ is capable of transferring multiple gigabytes per second and delivering over a million IOPS with a level of concentrated performance that enables system architects to design more productive infrastructures while lowering costs associated with hardware failure, maintenance, structural footprint, and energy consumption.

The latest evolution of the Z-Drive R4, the CloudServ, is specifically designed for the most demanding cloud computing applications with increased capacities and even greater bandwidth capabilities delivering up to 1.4 million IOPS. Melding hardware and software managed solutions with OCZ’s integrated Virtualized Controller Architecture™ (VCA) 2.0 and OCZ’s SANRAD VXL virtual acceleration caching software, the Z-Drive R4 CloudServ can be employed as a high-performing host-based flash cache that works in conjunction with the VXL to dynamically allocate flash resources to accelerate all virtual machines. This maximizes the performance of critical applications and provides a seamless migration from one host to another without the loss of cache data. As these virtual machines are migrated from one host to another, they must retain full access to the flash cache without loss of performance or interruption of service. OCZ’s SANRAD VXL software is the only software that allows for this seamless migration without loss of access to the flash cache.

The Z-Drive R4 CloudServ PCIe SSD will be available in models ranging from 300GB-16TB capacities throughout OCZ's global channel in the coming weeks. As with all OCZ enterprise products, customer-specific configurations and functionality are available upon request.

Increased Hard Drive Write Speed and Density - Using Frickin' Lasers

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 8, 2012 - 11:34 AM |
Tagged: laser, hdd, Hard Disk

The big hoopla as of late has been wrapped around SSD's and flash memory technology, with constant die shrinks promising cheaper and faster solid state storage for your PC. Everyone seems to be slowly forgetting about good old HDD's, but spinning rust may have some life left after all.

A team of scientists formed iron and gadolinium into a series of alloy 'nanoislands'. These are basically isolated mini magnets. Each one carries a magnetic charge. Normally you would write to materials like this by hitting them with a much larger magnetic field (i.e. from your HDD write head). This team had a different trick up their sleeve - don't bother with the bigger magnet, just hit it with a burst of heat and get it to change state on its own.

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Magnetic nanoislands getting hit by a frickin' laser.

Picture a sling shot, stretched out, and frozen in a block of ice. If you melt the ice, the rubber band will just snap back to its unstretched state and stay there. The same kind of thing happens when you heat a magnet - it becomes demagnetized. Now imagine if you could melt the ice, but flash freeze it while the rubber band has extended in the opposite direction. You've reversed the direction of the sling shot. Pull off the same trick with a magnet, and you can flip its poles. The trick is finding just the right length of time to heat the magnet and catch the 'flip' on the other end of its resonance. This team appears to have figured it out, and the magic number (for their material) is 60 femtoseconds. They can heep hitting the same spot repeatedly, and each time causes another flip in the poles.

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Each pulse flips the bit.

To back this down into typical computer terms. A 1GHz CPU clock triggers every 1.00000 nanosecond, and 60 femtoseconds is 0.00006 nanoseconds. Ultrashort Pulse lasers have been around for a while. One was even used on my eyeballs a few years back. These pulses are so fast that the biggest issue would be getting information to the laser fast enough. The straight line theoretical speed of this technique ranges in the Terabytes per second, with densities limited by the capabilities of the nanotech used to create the islands.

To be clear, this isn't the first time heat or lasers has been used in magnetic media. TDK pioneered Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording tech years ago, but that tech is only heat *assisted*. This new breakthrough is writing, with heat, without the magnet at all. Now the only trick is figuring out how to read such a high density of tiny written bits. Since the laser writes much smaller than a magnetic head could accomplish, we might see a reversion back to optics for the reads.We're not sure how long before this technology appears on your desktop, but what we can say is that magnetic storage is not dead yet.

Source: Physorg.com

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em; Intel goes Sandforce

Subject: Storage | February 6, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SF-2281 controller, sandforce, Intel, 520 Cherryville, 25nm

While the Intel 320 Series did hold the top spot for quite a while it has been a while since Intel refreshed their SSD line and has fallen behind new controllers in performance.  As of today that changes for the 520 Cherryville series has arrived and it is using none other than SandForce's SF-2281 controller.  Using such a popular controller leaves Intel with a bit of a problem, how do they stand out in such a crowded market?  One way that they have chosen is their home made 25nm synchronous NAND flash; Intel designs and fabs their own which gives them the opportunity to ensure the best flash chips make it into their drives.  The other way they've chosen to differentiate themselves is with a 5-year warranty for owners of this new drive.  Read how they did performance-wise at The Tech Report or else head straight to Al's review right here.

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"Intel's newest solid-state drive pairs a SandForce controller with custom firmware and 25-nm NAND. We've tested the 60 and 240GB models to see how they fare against more than two dozen SSDs, hybrids, and mechanical drives."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Take your SSD to work day

Subject: Storage | January 30, 2012 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: ssd, enterprise, eMLC, Samsung, SM825 400GB

Enterprise level storage has vastly different priorities than consumer grade storage as data that is lost is of a different level than lost pictures and home movie.  As precious as those memories are it is unlikely that family members will sue you or disown you because you lost their data, internal and external customers on the other hand are very likely to.  This places a large priority on reliability which must be considered even before the cost savings are considered.  For companies with large databases and numerous users connecting to them concurrently there is a huge time savings possible from introducing an SSD to the front end, but only if it can be guaranteed to be available and not down.

The SSD Review takes a look at Samsung's enterprise class SSD, the SM825 which has 400GB of eMLC flash storage which is rated at 7000TBW (terabytes written) before failure; consumer models are usually 60TBW.  When the SSD Review cracked the case and did some addition, they spotted 112GB being used for over-provisioning as well as four impressively sized capacitors for protection against power outages.  Check out the full review to see how it performs.

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"In reviewing the Samsung SSD SM825 Data Center Edition 400GB eMLC solid state drive, we understand that we have wandered off the beaten path of normal consumer reviews but there are some things in this SSD that will just grab your attention. Although it’s interesting to see that Samsung has chosen its own premium eMLC NAND flash memory in the SM825, we believe that it is the total write endurance that truly stands out in this enterprise class SSD."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: SSD Review

LaCie's Little Big Disk now comes in Thunderbolt

Subject: Storage | January 20, 2012 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, LaCie, Little Big Disk, ssd, external drive

Thunderbolts and lightning have been gracing the front page of PC Perspective for a while now, the new external interfaces are well described but there is a lack of products on the market to review.   Hopefully that will change soon as there is little point of having an interface with nothing to plug into it.  LaCie is one of the few to have actually managed to get a product to market, a Thunderbolt connected external 240GB SSD version of their Little Big Disk.  It was certainly fast in the testing that TechReviewSource performed but it does leave one with a question, who needs to back up 200GB in a big hurry and is willing to spend over $900 for the ability to do so?

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"The LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt (240GB SSD) is currently the least expensive way to obtain Thunderbolt speeds for your late-model Mac. It's half the price of the Promise Pegasus R6, the only other Thunderbolt drive on the market, but that doesn't mean it's cheap."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

CES Storage Roundup Part 4 - Sandisk, PQI

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 16, 2012 - 06:36 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sandisk, PQI, memory, flash, CES

Sandisk

Sandisk had a booth with a large array of small nand flash storage devices, though most of it appeared to be SD, CF, or for embedded mobile applications:

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One of the more interesting pieces was a 64GB e.MMC nand flash part that fit *within* the dimensions of a penny! This is not a plug-in module - it's the type that would be soldered onto the mainboard of a cell phone or other small mobile device:

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While the booth was generally light on SSD's, there were a couple on display, namely the U100, in both 7mm (left) and 9.5mm (right) form factors:

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The U100 is also available in even smaller form factor. We're currently taking a look at an Ultrabook equipped with the same Sandisk U100 SSD - mounted to an even smaller PCB.

PQI

PQI has been a favorite of mine for years. They were among the first to make a really tiny thumb drive, and I'm glad to see they continue to make a versatile line of products:

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A little known fact is that PQI also has a line of SATA SSD's:

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The S525 Series (also available as the S518 - 1.8" form factor), is a bit long in the tooth and uses a dated JMicron controller, but PQI made the extra effort to include the optional USB 2.0 interface that most other manufacturers chose to omit.

More to follow

I've still got some pics to sift through, so stay tuned for more CES Storage goodies!

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

CES Storage Roundup Part 3 - Intel Cherryville and IMFT 20nm flash die spotted!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 16, 2012 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: ssd, micron, Intel, imft, flash, cherryville, CES, 20nm

CES is sort of like a Where's Waldo book. There are thousands of places to look, with new technology spread around all over the place. Some of that unreleased tech shows up right in front of you and you don't even realize what you were looking at until later on. It's how we caught a look at prototype Light Peak (now Thunderbolt) two years ago, and this year we saw some more goodies not previously seen in the wild. I tend to be a bit of a shutterbug, and I take seemingly random pics of things as the PCPer gang runs around the various vendor booths and hotel suites. While going through the pics from my phone, I ran across this shot of what I thought was an Intel 320 Series SSD:

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Definitely not a 320, that's an Intel 520 Series (Cherryville) SSD. While Intel had their 520 Series locked up tight at their Storage Visions booth, this one was powering another motherboard makers product elsewhere in Vegas. Unfortunately this system was only to demo the motherboard itself, without a connected display, so it would not have been possible to run our own benches.

At storage visions, we also saw this display at the Micron booth. It's interesting to see how 16GB of flash memory has shrunk over the past few years. We've certainly come a long way from the good old X25-M:

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Some of you may know that I'm a sucker for a good die shot, so I snuck back out to Micron's suite later on to get my own macro shot of the 20nm IMFT flash die:

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Micron is, like many other vendors, working on their own SSD solution specifically for SSD caching applications. It's currently unreleased, so more to follow on this.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

OCZ's RevoDrive Hybrid tries for the best of both worlds

Subject: Storage | January 12, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: ocz, revodrive hybrid, PCIe SSD

Although Al polished off his review of the OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid just before Christmas it is worth revisiting this unique hybrid of PCIe SSD and HDD.   Consisting of a PCIe SSD with 100GB of usable storage and a 1TB 5400RPM HDD which uses the SSD as a cache.  The Dataplex software which is needed for the RevoDrive to function properly has a small flaw; in order to function you need to be using the Hybrid drive as your boot drive.  That complaint is the exact opposite of Al's problem with the first generation of PCIe SSD which could not be used as a boot drive.  Read how the drive performed on RealWorldLabs test bench here.

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"Aimed mostly towards professionals and enthusiasts the latest RevoDrive Hybrid 1TB PCI Express Storage Solution by OCZ combines the breathtaking read/write speeds of the RevoDrive3 PCI-E SandForce based SSD with the large capacity of a 1TB 2.5inch hard disk drive, all in one very convenient package."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage