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Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 5, 2014 - 04:19 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: FMS, vnand, tlc, ssd, Samsung, FMS 2014, Flash Memory Summit
Just minutes ago at the Flash Memory Summit, Samsung announced the production of 32-layer TLC VNAND:
This is the key to production of a soon-to-be-released 850 EVO, which should bring the excellent performance of the 850 Pro, with the reduced cost benefit we saw with the previous generation 840 EVO. Here's what the progression to 3D VNAND looks like:
3D TLC VNAND will look identical to the right most image in the above slide, but the difference will be that the charge stored has more variability. Given that Samsung's VNAND tech has more volume to store electrons when compared to competing 2D planar flash technology, it's a safe bet that this new TLC will come with higher endurance ratings than those other technologies. There is much more information on Samsung's VNAND technology on page 1 of our 850 Pro review. Be sure to check that out if you haven't already!
Another announcement made was more of an initiative, but a very interesting one at that. SSDs are generally dumb when it comes to coordinating with the host - in that there is virtually no coordination. An SSD has no idea which pieces of files were meant to be grouped together, etc (top half of this slide):
Stuff comes into the SSD and it puts it where it can based on its best guess as to how it should optimize those writes. What you'd want to have, ideally, is a more intelligent method of coordination between the host system and the SSD (more like the bottom half of the above slide). Samsung has been dabbling in the possibilities here and has seen some demonstrable gains to be made. In a system where they made the host software aware of the SSD flash space, and vice versa, they were able to significantly reduce write latency during high IOPS activity.
The key is that if the host / host software has more control over where and how data is stored on the SSD, the end result is a much more optimized write pattern, which ultimately boosts overall throughput and IOPS. We are still in the experimentation stage on Storage Intelligence, with more to follow as standards are developed and the industry pushes forward.
It might be a while before we see Storage Intelligence go mainstream, but I'm definitely eager to see 3D TLC VNAND hit the market, and now we know it's coming! More to follow in the coming days as we continue our live coverage of the Flash Memory Summit!
Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 29, 2014 - 07:24 PM | Scott Michaud
You might remember Allyn say that Samsung's 850 Pro is the closest to total saturation of SATA 6Gbps. The other option that we have seen is the bunch of SSDs that are attached to a PCI Express bus. HGST, formerly Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, has just SAS'd back (that was a terrible pun... which I refuse to apologize for) with a Serial Attached SCSI 12 Gbps model (pdf link). They claim a maximum read throughput of 1100 MB/s, with 64K chunks, and 130,000 IOPS, with 4K random accesses.
The drives will be based on Intel 20nm enterprise-grade NAND with two bits per memory cell (MLC). Its durability is rated at 25 full driver writes per day for 5 years. Models will range from 100GB, all the way up to 1600GB (1.6TB).
While I am limited to Google Translate, there does not appear to be any price or availability information provided. They are enterprise drives, however, so I expect it to be above typical consumer drives.
Subject: Storage | July 28, 2014 - 03:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: adata, SP610, corsair, Force LX, 512GB
Two drives are competing for the budget segments money on Legit Reviews, the $250 Corsair Force LX 512GB and the $240 ADATA SP610 512GB SSD. 512GB should be enough for most budget users to store their needed software on and save them the cost of an HDD but which will offer the most value for the money? Both drives have Silicon Motion's SM2246EN controller and 20nm Micron MLC NAND, the same 3 year warranty and the same physical measurements. Does one stand out over the other? Read the full review to see.
"Solid-State Drive (SSD) have been steadily growing in capacity and thanks to improvements to the manufacturing processes the price of NAND and SSD controllers has been falling at an impressive rate. This means that fairly large SSDs are now fairly affordable and something the for the average consumer can justify purchasing."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Corsair Force LX 256GB SSD Review @ Madshrimps
- Crucial MX100 256GB @ eTeknix
- ADATA SP610 SSD Review (512GB) @ The SSD Review
- Plextor M6S PX-256M6S 256GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- SanDisk Extreme PRO 480GB SATA SSD @ Custom PC Review
- Crucial MX100 512GB SSD Review @ TechwareLabs
- Kingston SSDNow V310 960GB SSD Upgrade Kit Review @ NikKTech
- Sandisk Extreme Pro 480GB @ Kitguru
- Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series 240GB Enterprise SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Intel P3700 NVMe SSD Installed In a Win 8.1 Consumer PC – Drivers Benched @ The SSD Review
- Samsung 845DC PRO 400GB SATA SSD @ Custom PC Review
- SSD Throughput, Latency and IOPS Explained – Learning To Live With Flash @ The SSD Review
- ALLONE Cloud Disk Drive 101 RAMDisk Review (32GB) – 500K IOPS of DDR3 Storage @ The SSD Review
- Silicon Power Superior SDXC UHS-1 64GB Review @ Madshrimps
- Patriot STELLAR 64GB USB/microUSB 3.0 OTG Flash Drive Review @ OCC
- Lexar JumpDrive P10 64GB @ Funky Kit
- Toshiba Nearline MG04ACA500A 5TB SATA III HDD Review @ NikKTech
- Thecus N2520 2-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- Synology DS414j Budget-friendly 4-bay NAS Server Review @ Madshrimps
- QNAP TS-451 @ Legion Hardware
- Synology DS415play @ Kitguru
Subject: Storage | July 23, 2014 - 06:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Red Pro, red, 6tb, 4TB
Western Digital has extended its Red line with 5 and 6TB models, sporting 1.2TB per platter. Performance is expected to be slightly improved over the older / smaller capacities of the Red. The upgraded line will use an improved 'NASware 3.0' firmware, which makes improvements to Western Digital's software based vibration compensation. These improvements mean WD can now support up to 8 Reds in a single chassis (up from 5 with NASware 2.0).
Also announced was the new Red Pro line, available in capacities up to 4TB. The Red Pro is just as it sounds - a 'Pro' version of the Red. This model borrows more features from WD's enterprise line, making it very similar to an SE series HDD. Imagine a Red, but at 7200RPM and more aggressive seek times. The Red Pro also borrows the enterprise-grade 5-year warranty and is supported in chassis up to 16 bays, thanks to built-in hardware vibration compensation. When all is said and done, the Red Pro is basically a WD SE with firmware tweaked for NAS workloads.
We typically have our WD reviews post right at the NDA. On this piece, we opted to hold back as we've been working with Western Digital on some abnormal performance results we saw with the 6TB Red. Below are the results seen in Iometer. Note that the 6TB Red failed to demonstrate the expected 'ramp up' seen with other drives. HDDs normally show increased performance as Queue Depth increases. This is because the HDD controller is able to see multiple pending requests and optimize its access pattern. The more commands in the queue (higher QD), the more the HDD can optimize the pattern, and therefore the higher resulting IOPS seen.
As you can see above, the 6TB Red appears to behave as if NCQ is disabled. Some might argue (in reviews that have already published) that the drive still performs well, but the plain truth of the matter is that a HDD effectively operating without NCQ removes the drives ability to scale when multiple commands are issued. Any test issuing more than one command simultaneously will see a lesser result as compared to a properly configured drive, so things like streaming multiple videos or several users actively simultaneously accessing a NAS will see a negative impact on performance.
The 4TB Red Pro did not demonstrate the issues noted above, and Western Digital has just issued this statement in response to our feedback. Here it is:
WD has learned that initial production units of WD Red 5* and 6 TB drives perform below our expectations in random-read benchmark tests when measured with specific testing software. We have found a configuration setting to be causing these particular test results, for which we are developing a firmware update to correct the configuration setting. In the intended application -- multi-drive NAS systems -- the drives have performed to our high expectations in WD’s labs and by our system partners; users will experience normal WD Red performance.
WD is committed to providing optimally performing storage products, designed for intended applications, and we will have a firmware update available through the WD Red Product Customer Service support line as it becomes available.
*Limited quantities of 5 TB have shipped with the earlier configuration setting.
We have decided to publish the full article covering both new drives, including the 6TB Red in its (currently shipping) misconfigured form. It will go live once I add the necessary verbiage explaining the misconfiguration seen on the 5TB and 6TB Red.
Stay tuned for that piece later tonight (**EDIT** our review is now live **EDIT**), as well as a follow-on piece to be published as soon as we have the updated firmware from Western Digital.
Subject: Storage | July 22, 2014 - 04:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, ssd, Pro 2500, enterprise, encryption, mcafee
Intel has not offered many products which take advantage of their takeover of McAfee, now known as Intel Security but today's release of the Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series changes that. This family of SSDs will work with McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator to allow the automatic implementation of hardware-based 256-bit encryption on these drives in a similar manner to what Endpoint Encryption has done in the past. Since it sits on the hardware Intel claims no impact to the speed is caused by the on the fly encryption. If you use Intel Setup and Configuration Software with vPro you can even monitor the health of deployed drives. Check out Intel's page here and the PR below.
SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 22, 2014 – Intel Corporation today announced an addition to the Intel® Solid-State Drive (SSD) Professional Family: the Intel® SSD Pro 2500 Series. This new business-class SSD delivers lower total cost of ownership, security and manageability features, and blazing-fast SSD performance demanded by today’s business users.
Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series offers IT departments peace of mind with advanced security features and capabilities designed for businesses ranging from small companies through large IT-managed enterprises. Security and remote manageability features, combined with lower annual failure rates than hard disk drives (HDDs), help to reduce the need for resource-intensive deskside visits.
Managing data security is critical for businesses and a challenge for IT leaders. Data breaches, often a result of lost or stolen PCs, can cost a business nearly $50,000 in lost productivity, replacement, data recovery and legal costs.1 To help businesses mitigate the threat of such costly breaches, the Intel Pro 2500 Series SSDs are self-encrypting drives (SED) utilizing hardware-based 256-bit encryption to protect data without a loss of performance. Additionally, the new Intel drives feature the Trusted Computing Group’s OPAL 2.0* standard and are Microsoft eDrive* capable. These policy-based controls help to prevent data breaches and support crypto erase to repurpose the drive for reuse.
“The need to protect assets, keep an eye on the bottom line and ensure employees have the best tools is a challenge for IT departments,” said Rob Crooke, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group. “The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series is a well-rounded solution to help balance those often competing needs. Adding the Pro 2500 Series to the Intel SSD Professional Family delivers a powerful storage solution to help businesses of all sizes meet their critical IT needs.”
“The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series is the second-generation OPAL-based client storage solution that helps IT departments protect their users’ data and also provides valuable features to reduce operational costs,” stated Candace Worley, senior vice president and general manager, Endpoint Security, McAfee*, part of Intel Security. “The Pro 2500 Series is a perfect companion to our data protection solutions, managed by McAfee ePolicy Orchestrator*, all working in concert to provide IT departments with data security, management and control, wherever their endpoints may be.”
In an environment with Intel® vPro™ Technology, with Intel® Setup and Configuration Software and leading security software, the Pro 2500 Series drives can be managed remotely allowing IT to monitor and report drive health as well as track assets and remedy faults. This remote manageability enforces IT policies to help prevent mishaps and simultaneously provides a great user experience. Embedded and Internet of Things applications can also take advantage of the remote manageability features to help limit the number of IT professionals needed to oversee devices. To assist in protecting user data and lower the total cost of ownership, applications such as ATMs and remote digital signage can be updated, monitored and managed remotely.
“Corporations of every size are facing the growing challenge of protecting sensitive data and ensuring compliance with a litany of data protection laws and regulations,” said Bill Solms, president and CEO of Wave Systems*. “The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series offers a sound foundation for any data security program, incorporating hardware-level encryption without impacting drive performance. Wave’s on-premise and cloud-based management software complements the Intel SSD Pro 2500 by offering remote drive provisioning, automated password recovery and secure audit logs to document that encryption was in place should a laptop become lost or stolen.”
The Intel SSD Professional Family is part of the Intel® Stable Image Platform Program, including a 15-month availability of the components and drivers for compatibility and stability across a qualified IT image. This helps minimize IT qualification and deployment times. The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series also features five advance power modes helping to balance performance and power to enable a longer battery life and provide a better mobile experience.
The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series will be available in both 2.5-inch and M.2 form factors and in capacities ranging from 120GB to 480GB. The Intel SSD Pro 2500 Series is backed by a 5-year limited warranty and features a world-class annualized failure rate (AFR) well below 1 percent. The AFRs of other SSDs and HDDs can reach as high as 5 percent or more in mobile environments.
Subject: Storage | July 15, 2014 - 06:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hdd, Seagate, enterprise, 6tb, sata
For many users the purchase of a 6TB SSD is out of their price range and for many businesses who need long term storage the return on investment simply doesn't justify an SSD. In some cases tape backup is sufficient but not always which is where products like Seagate's 6TB Enterprise drive excel, a 7200 RPM with an impressive 216MB/s stated sustained transfer rate. It comes with a 5 year warranty and is rated at 550TB per year which means that even if it is heavily used you should not expect failure rates to be high. It does cost a bit at $480 which makes the SAS 4TB model a bit more attractive but when your data needs its space it is hard to find a larger drive. Check out the benchmarks at Overclockers Club.
"Compared to your standard consumer level 3TB drive this thing is double the capacity and brings home the money with the performance. To have capacity and performance at the same time is the golden ticket. Although this drive has the added cost of being an enterprise drive, having dealt with some enterprise drives I can say it is well worth it if longevity and long up time is what you are looking for.”
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Thecus NAS 5550 Server Review @ TechwareLabs
- Thecus N4800Eco 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- QNAP TurboNAS TS-121 NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Teratrend TS432U 4-bay RAID Enclosure Review @ Techgage
- Thecus N5550 Network Attached Storage Review @ Modders-Inc
- Synology DS415Play 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- KingFast Encrypted USB Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Legit Reviews
- Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB @ Kitguru
- Plextor M6e Review: Solid State Drive for PCI Express @ X-bit Labs
- Intel SSD DC P3700 Enthusiast Report (800GB) @ SSD Review
- Silicon Power Slim S55 240GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- SanDisk Extreme PRO Series SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: Storage | July 7, 2014 - 03:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vertical, V-NAND, ssd, sata, Samsung, 850 PRO, 3d
As you saw in Al's review, the Samsung 850 drive is more than just a small bump in model number and performance, it is the stellar introduction to 3D NAND. The Tech Report is likely having nightmares from the drives reported longevity which is expected to be up to 10 times the cycles of current drives and means an update to their long running endurance test could see them testing into the 2020's. While they haven't yet added the 850 to that particular test they did post a review which starts out with a comprehensive look at the history of Flash technology and why 3D NAND is faster and more resilient than previous types; read on to get a better understanding of the fastest consumer SATA drive on the market.
"Most flash memory is limited to a single layer, but the V-NAND chips in Samsung's new 850 Pro SSD stack 32 layers on top of each other. This is next-level stuff, literally, and it's supposed to make the 850 Pro the fastest SATA drive around. We investigate."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung SSD 850 PRO @ Benchmark Reviews
- Samsung SSD 850 Pro @ Legion Hardware
- Samsung 850 PRO 512GB SATA SSD @ Custom PC Review
- Samsung 850 Pro 1TB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Samsung 850 Pro SSD Review - Showing Off With 3D V-NAND @ The SSD Review
- Samsung 845DC EVO 240GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- Samsung 845DC EVO 240GB, 960GB SATA SSD @ Custom PC Review
- Crucial MX100 512GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- OCZ RevoDrive 350 480 GB Review @ OCC
- OCZ RevoDrive 350 480GB PCIe SSD @ Custom PC Review
- ADATA XPG SX300 SATA 6Gb/s mSATA SSD Review @ Modders-Inc
- Seagate Laptop SSHD 1 TB Solid State Hybrid Drive @ TechARP
- Synology DS414slim 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- OWC ThunderBay 4 RAID5 Edition Review - Speed, Capacity and Data Security @ The SSD Review
- Samsung Pro microSDXC UHS-1 U1 Card @ The SSD Review
Subject: Storage | July 1, 2014 - 09:53 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: V-NAND, Summit, ssd, Samsung, 2014
Here are some goodies from yesterdays briefings at the 2014 Samsung SSD Summit:
Slides from the 3D V-NAND discussion. These provide some additional visuals for what I explained in the intro to the 850 PRO series SSD review:
Next we got into current launching lineups. First the 850 PRO that launched today:
Samsung also launched an 845DC PRO, which uses the previous generation 24-layer V-NAND:
Finally, as we walked out of the conference, we saw a 32-layer V-NAND wafer on display:
Taking die pictures is tricky...
...but persistence is rewarded:
More to follow!
Seeking asylum at some random baggage claim area?
Guess again. Here's a hint:
More to follow, boys and girls. Stay tuned!
Subject: Storage | June 24, 2014 - 07:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb, flash drive, obsolete
A high capacity USB flash drive used to be the definition of great swag, a company could put whatever tools, media or programs on a promotional USB drive but what really counted was the size. As 128GB and larger drives started to become more common and more reasonably priced may got in the habit of dumping all their optical media to be replaced by a handful of flash drives, some bootable and some not. Take the Patriot SuperSonic Rage XT 128GB up for review at NikTech, for $80 you get 128GB of storage that can hit 200MB/s random or linear reads and is rather durable. There is nothing wrong with the drive until you realize you can pick up a 128GB Crucial MX100 and an eSATA cable for the same price or double your storage for an extra $30. Those SSDs are roughly twice as fast and every bit as rugged, so why pick up that flash drive in the first place?
"Storage capacity needs increase on a daily basis and with them so does demand and thus in the end those two result in more competition between companies and lower prices (at least most of the time). Think about it, just two years ago i was running around carrying an 16GB USB flash drive with my keychain while now i have attached a permanent 32GB one which i sometimes replace with an 128GB one if i need to carry way too much data with me."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Patriot Supersonic Phoenix Flash Drive (256GB) @ SSD Review
- Crucial MX100 256GB & 512GB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Corsair Force LX 256GB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Intel DC P3700 800GB NVMe SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Thecus N2310 NAS Review – Home Networking Made Easy @ The SSD Review
- Thecus N4560 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- Zalman ZM-VE300 External Hard Drive Enclosure Review @HiTech Legion
Subject: Storage | June 24, 2014 - 05:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: corsair, Corsair Force Series, 512GB, ssd
They are not quite available yet but Corsair have just added a 512GB model to accompany the $80 128GB and $130 256GB Force Series LX SSDs. You should expect to see the new larger model at it's MSRP of $260 in the very near future.
FREMONT, California —June 24, 2014 — Corsair®, a worldwide designer of high-performance components to the PC hardware market, today announced the addition of a 512GB model to the recently announced Force Series LX line of solid-state drives (SSD). The new Force Series LX 512GB SSD brings the amazing performance benefits of high-capacity SSDs to a lower price point.
The faster performance and silent operation of solid-state drives have long attracted PC enthusiasts, but high prices may have put off some users from making the switch to this faster storage technology. In response to this, Corsair is bringing these SSD advantages to more budget-friendly price points. The Force Series LX are available in three capacities and price points—128GB for $79.99, 256GB for $129.99, and the 512GB at $259.99.
Powered by a Silicon Motion SSD controller, the Force Series LX SSDs offer fantastic performance up to 10 times faster than that of a conventional spinning-disk hard drive. The 512GB model and its SATA 3 interface delivers file transfer speeds of up to 560MB/sec read and 450MB/sec write which can deliver massive improvements in system performance. Operating system start-up and application load times accelerate to mere seconds, anti-virus scans complete far faster, and navigating your PC’s files feels much more responsive thanks to near-instant access times.
A slim-line 7mm aluminum housing makes it easy to install the Force LX into almost every desktop or notebook PC with a 2.5 inch drive bay – an ideal upgrade to breathe new life into an notebook, ultrabook or PC in need of a boost. Corsair’s bundled SSD Toolbox software utility is also included as a free download, allowing you to easily optimize your SSD’s performance, clone your existing hard drive, or securely erase all data on a drive. TRIM, NCQ and S.M.A.R.T. technologies automatically maintain drive performance for years to come, and Corsair tops off the package with a 3 year warranty and legendary customer service for total peace of mind.
Subject: General Tech, Displays, Storage | June 19, 2014 - 03:56 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Samsung, ssd, 840 evo, 1TB, amazon, pb287q, asus, 4k
A couple of really nice Amazon picks hit my email box today and I thought they were worth posting for our readers as well.
First, and clearly the most exciting: the 1TB version of the Samsung 840 EVO SSD is now selling for just $399. That comes in at $0.399/GB, which is actually better than the cost per GB of the Crucial MX100 that launched this month. If you haven't picked up an SSD that is big enough to hold all your games, this is the perfect opportunity!
Also, after our review went up at the end of May, the 4K ASUS PB287Q 28-in monitor is finally up for sale on Amazon for $649 with a shipping date of July 1st. If you think you might be interested in the universe of gaming at 4K, now is a great time to jump in.
Thanks for supporting PC Perspective!
Subject: Storage | June 17, 2014 - 06:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: plextor, Plextor M6e, M.2, PCIe SSD
The Plextor M6e M.2 SSD Series comes in 128, 256 and 512GB models and for those lacking a M.2 slot you can opt for the model below which ships with a PCIe 2.0 adapter for an additional $60. One caveat that Legit Reviews offers immediately is that for many models of motherboards you must manually enable the M.2 slot in the UEFI, otherwise your drive may not be detected. Once enabled properly and benchmarked the performance was found to be in line with the advertised speeds of 770MB/s sequential read and 580MB/s sequential write speeds for the 256GB version. It would seem that the SATA 6Gbs limitation can indeed be overcome but of course that was not enough for the crew at Legit Reviews, they picked up a second M6e and RAIDed them to reach 1408MB/s read and 1098MB/s write!
"Are you wanting to get beyond 550MB/s without having to do a RAID setup? Are you willing to try a new interface? Meet the Plextor M6e Series of PCI Express SSDs! Plextor is leading the charge for native PCIe SSDs and has come up with the first readily-available M.2 PCIe SSD on the consumer market. Other drives like the Samsung XP941 series have been around much longer, but they are OEM only and aren’t really meant for end users. Plextor has stepped up to the plate with a drive that had end user firmware updates, an impressive 5-year warranty and mouth watering speeds."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Crucial MX100 256GB SSD @ Custom PC Review
- Kingston SSDNow E100 200GB Solid-State Drive Review @ NikKTech
- SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD Review - Wicked Speed & 10 Year Warranty @ The SSD Review
- Crucial MX100 512GB @ eTeknix
- KingFast F8 240GB SSD Review @ Madshrimps
- Crucial MX100 @ The SSD Review
- Crucial M550 @ X-bit Reviews
- Samsung 840 Pro @ Benchmark Reviews
- Seagate Surveillance 3TB SATA III HDD Review @ NikKTech
- Thecus N2560 Network Attached Storage (NAS) Review @HiTech Legion
- The eTeknix Guide To Building Your Own NAS System For Under $220
- SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-II Memory Card @ The SSD Review
- ADATA Premier Pro SDXC UHS-1 U3 Card @ The SSD Review
Subject: Editorial, Storage | June 17, 2014 - 09:56 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: sandisk, fusion-io, buyout
Fusion-io was once a behemoth of flash memory storage. Back when SSDs were having a hard time saturating SATA 3Gb/sec, Fusion-io was making fire breathing PCIe SSDs full of SLC flash and pushing relatively insane IOPS and throughput figures. Their innovations were a good formula at the time. They made the controller a very simple device, basically just a simple bridge from the PCIe bus to the flash memory. This meant that most of the actual work was done in the driver. This meant that Fusion-io SSDs were able to leverage the CPU and memory of the host system to achieve very high performance.
Fusion-io ioDrive 160 creams the competition back in 2010.
Being the king of IOPS back in the early days of flash memory storage, Fusion-io was able to charge a premium for their products. In a 2010 review, I priced their 160GB SSD at about $40/GB. In the years since, while flash memory prices (and therefore SSD products) have steadily dropped in price while achieving higher and higher performance figures, Fusion-io products have mostly remained static in price. All of this time, the various iterations of the ioDrive continued to bank on the original model of a simple controller and the bulk of the work taking place in the driver. This actually carries a few distinct disadvantages, in that the host system has to spent a relatively large amount of CPU and memory resources towards handling the Fusion-io devices. While this enables higher performance, it leaves less resources available to actually do stuff with the data. This ends up adding to the build cost of a system, as more CPU cores and memory must be thrown at the chassis handling the storage. In more demanding cases, additional systems would need to be added to the rack space in order to handle the additional storage overhead in addition to the other required workloads. Lastly, the hefty driver means Fusion-io devices are not bootable, despite early promises to the contrary. This isn't necessarily a deal breaker for enterprise use, but it does require system builders to add an additional storage device (from a different vendor) to handle OS duties.
In 2014, the other guys are making faster stuff. Note this chart is 4x the scale of the 2010 chart.
Lets fast forward to present times. Just over a week ago, Fusion-io announced their new 'Atomic' line of SSDs. The announcement seemed to fall flat, and did little to save the continuous decline of their stock price. I suspect this was because despite new leadership, these new products are just another iteration of the same resource consuming formula. Another reason for the luke warm reception might have been the fact that Intel launched their P3700 series a few days prior. The P3700 is a native PCIe SSD that employs the new NVM Express communication standard. This open standard was developed specifically for flash memory communication, and it allows more direct access to flash in a manner that significantly reduces the overhead required to perform high data throughputs and very high IO's per second. NVMe is a very small driver stack with native support built into modern operating systems, and is basically the polar opposite of the model Fusion-io has relied on for years now.
Intel's use of NVMe enables very efficient access to flash memory with minimal CPU overhead.
Fusion-io's announcement claimed "The Atomic Series of ioMemory delivers the highest transaction rate per gigabyte for everything from read intensive workflows to mixed workloads.". Let's see how this stacks up against the Intel P3700 - an SSD that launched the same week:
|Model||Fusion-io PX600||Intel P3700|
|Interface / Flash type||PCIe 2.0 x8 / 20nm MLC||PCIe 3.0 x4 / 20nm MLC|
|Read BW (GB/sec)||2.7||2.7||2.7||2.7||2.7||2.8||2.8||2.8|
|Write BW (GB/sec)||1.5||1.7||2.2||2.1||1.2||1.9||1.9||1.9|
|4k random read IOPS||196,000||235,000||330,000||276,000||450,000||460,000||450,000||450,000|
|4k random write IOPS||320,000||370,000||375,000||375,000||75,000||90,000||150,000||175,000|
|4k 70/30 R/W IOPS||Unlisted||150,000||200,000||240,000||250,000|
|Endurance / TB||12.0||12.3||12.3||12.3||18.3||18.3||18.3||18.3|
|Warranty||5 years||5 years|
We are comparing flagship to flagship (in a given form factor) here. Starting from the top, the Intel P3700 is available in generally smaller capacities than the Fusion-io PX600. Both use 20nm flash, but the P3700 uses half the data lanes at twice the throughput. Regarding Fusion-io's 'transaction rate per GB' point, well, it's mostly debunked by the Intel P3700, which has excellent random read performance all the way down to its smallest 400GB capacity point. The seemingly unreal write specs seen from the PX600 are, well, actually unreal. Flash memory writes take longer than reads, so the only logical explanation for the inversion we see here is that Fusion-io's driver is passing those random writes through RAM first. Writing to RAM might be quicker, but you can't sustain it indefinitely, and it consumes more host system resources in the process. Moving further down the chart, we see Intel coming in with a ~50% higher endurance rating when compared to the Fusion-io. The warranties may be of equal duration, but the Intel drive is (on paper / stated warranty) guaranteed to outlast the Fusion-io part when used in a heavy write environment.
For pricing, Intel launched the P3700 at a competitive $3/GB. Pricing data for Fusion-io is not available, as they are behind a bit of a 'quote wall', and no pricing at all was included with the Atomic product launch press materials. Let's take a conservative guess and assume the new line is half the cost/GB of their previous long-standing flagship, the Octal. One vendor lists pricing directly at $124,995 for 10.24TB ($12.21/GB) and $99,995 for 5.12TB ($19.53/GB), both of which require minumum support contracts as an additional cost. Half of $12/GB is still more than twice the $3/GB figure from Intel.
My theory as to why SanDisk is going for Fusion-io?
- A poor track record since the Fusion-io IPO have driven the stock price way down, making it prime for a buyout.
- SanDisk is one of the few remaining flash memory companies that does not own their own high end controller tech.
- Recent Fusion-io product launch overshadowed by much larger (Intel) company launching a competing superior product at a lower cost/GB.
So yeah, the buyout seemed inevitable. The question that remains is what will SanDisk do with them once they've bought them? Merging the two will mean that Fusion-io can include 'in house' flash and (hopefully) offer their products at a lower cost/GB, but that can only succeed if the SanDisk flash performs adequately. Assuming it does, there's still the issue of relatively high costs when compared to freshly competing products from Intel and others. Last but not least is the ioDrive driver model, which grows incresingly dated while the rest of the industry adopts NVMe.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 17, 2014 - 01:38 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, Samsung 840, Samsung, kingston hyper x, kingston, endurance, corsair neutron gtx, corsair
In The Tech Report's ongoing SSD endurance challenge, three SSDs are soldiering forward. We have reached the thousand-terabyte mark, which is at least five times more than any of the survivors are rated for. These survivors: The Corsair Neutron GTX, the Samsung 840 Pro, and the Kingston HyperX 3K. Technically, the HyperX was able to reach 1PB of written data with performing only 716TB of actual writes, due to compression.
Image Credit: The Tech Report
Of course, each of the drives are less-than prestine. The Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB was slowly decreasing in its "life" attribute since the beginning, claiming to be somewhere between 75% and 80% with a fairly linear decline. If this trend continues, the drive will reach "zero" at around 4-5PB of writes. That said, its read speed has substantially dropped from the time between 900TB and 1000TB of total writes, from 500MB/s to just under 400MB/s. Also, this "life" could drop substantially if the drive encounters reallocated sectors (which this model has apparently yet to do).
The other two drives are a similar, remarkably successful story.
The Kingston HyperX drive is reporting itself to be substantially worse off, within the last 10% of its life. That said, even though it claims to be pining for the fjords, it is still working and has only reported a couple of reallocated sectors, those occurring in the last 100TB of writes.
The Samsung 840 Pro seems to still be going strong, although it had more zero or "a couple" of reallocated sectors -- every hundred terabytes yields about 500 reallocations.
As always, this is just our brief discussion of what The Tech Report found out. Be sure to check out their full article for many more benchmarks, tests, and conclusions.
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | June 16, 2014 - 01:54 AM | Scott Michaud
CFast is a standard, based on the merging of CompactFlash with SATA, for memory cards to have SSD-like performance. It has been around for a while, CFast 2.0 having been released in Q4 2012, but with very limited adoption. You could count the number of camera models which use it on a single hand. Still, ADATA is entering that market with a lineup of memory cards, with quite a bit of variety.
The ADATA ISC3E will come in SLC (one stored bit per memory cell) and MLC (two stored bits per memory cell) models. Capacities will range from 4GB to 64GB (SLC) or 4GB to 128GB (MLC). Speeds are fairly low, compared to modern SSDs. SLC is rated at 165 MB/s read and 170 MB/s write, while MLC can read at 435 MB/s and write at 120 MB/s. They support ECC and S.M.A.R.T.
Of course, this is kind-of interesting in terms of its small, removable form factor. Beyond that, it seems to be a few years back in terms of SSD technology. For the high resolution (or high frame rate) camera use case, read and write speeds really do not matter, except when you transfer your media off of your device (which the MLC version is clearly better suited for). Otherwise, as long as your write speed is consistently above what the camera can output, going bigger will be wasted overhead. ADATA suggests using these CFast 2.0 cards in POS terminals and kiosks but, at that point, would you really need small and removable memory?
ADATA has not released pricing and availability.
For a mere $100 you can pick up the 256GB model or for $200 you can double that to 512GB. That certainly makes the drives attractive but the performance is there as well, often beating its predecessor the MX500 series. If reliability is a concern the onboard RAIN feature guards against writes to bad flash, there are onboard capacitors to allow writes to finish in the case of power outages and a 3 year warranty. Check out the full review at The Tech Report if you need a second opinion after Allyn's review.
"The Crucial MX100 is the first solid-state drive to use Micron's 16-nm MLC NAND. It's also one of the most affordable SSDs around, with the 256GB version priced at $109.99 and the 512GB at $224.99. We take a closer look at how the two stack up against a range of competitors, and the results might surprise you."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Crucial MX100 Solid State Drive @ Benchmark Reviews
- Toshiba Q Series Pro 256GB SSD @ NikKTech
- Samsung 845DC EVO @ SSD Review
- OCZ Vertex 460 240GB Review @ OCC
- OCZ RevoDrive 350 480GB PCIe SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Vantec EZ SWAP M3500 Series Review @HiTech Legion
- Netgear ReadyNAS RN312, RN314 & RN316 @ Legion Hardware
- Thecus N4560 SOHO/Home NAS Server Review @ Madshrimps
- Thecus N7710-G @ techPowerUp
- ADATA XPG SDXC UHS-1 U3 Card @ The SSD Review
Subject: General Tech, Memory, Storage | June 9, 2014 - 11:08 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: kingston, ssd, hyperx
Kingston, known primarily for RAM, flash drives, and SSDs, discussed the health of their company. VR-Zone reported on the interview and highlighted the company's sentiments about the PC industry. Long story short, Kingston sees growth in sales of PC gaming hardware -- apparently 20% year-over-year. The company expects that this growth comes primarily from SSD upgrades, either from rotating media or, they claim, replacing years-old, entry-level SSDs with more modern (probably in both speed and size) options.
Nathan Su, APAC (Asia-Pacific) director of Kingston, believes that "many users" have experienced low-tier SSDs and, it seems, would be willing to invest in the full thing. He does not clarify what he means, whether he is talking about SSD caching, or just a really small (or slow) SSDs from drive generations past.
There is a bit of a concern that SSD prices will continue to fall, with some drives reaching under 40c/GB in recent sales. As a consumer, I (selfishly) hope that prices continue to drop, while still remaining profitably sustainable for the manufacturers. Hopefully Kingston is accounting for this and will continue to see growth at the same time.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 4, 2014 - 07:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex 2014, computex, tlc, ssd, Samsung, 845DC EVO
Well that was an alphabet soup of a title.
Samsung has just announced a new line of SSDs, based on three bit per cell (TLC) memory, for enterprise customers. The Samsung 845DC EVO is rated at 530MB/s reads with 87,000 IOPS. The company will also cover up to 600TB of writes under its warranty (no mention of length in years, though). The drive will be available "later this month" in 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB models. Samsung did not mention price in their press release, but Anandtech claims the 240GB will be $250, the 480GB will be $490, and the 960GB will be $969.
Samsung's SSDs will give you some TLC???
This is basically $1/GB scaling, plus $10. I must admit, this is getting pricy. In the consumer space, we have recently seen 512GB for $199. That said, SSDs are not known for sticking to their MSRP. Also, these are enterprise-rated drives. Being TLC-based, I wonder how much (if any) SLC-style write cache was included, as per the consumer 840 EVO.
Lastly, Samsung claims that these drives use around 4W under load. This is much lower than hard drives but a little high for SSDs, according to benchmarks that I have seen. That said, there are a few ways to parse that (for example, if they mean that its peak is typically 4W, which would be pretty good for a 960GB drive).
The Samsung 845DC EVO will be available later this month for a little over $1/GB.
Subject: Memory, Storage | June 4, 2014 - 11:15 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: ssd, solid state drive, pcie, pci-e ssd, memory, M.2, ddr4, computex 2014, computex, adata, 2tb ssd
ADATA has been showing off some upcoming products at Computex, and it's all about DRAM.
We'll begin with an upcoming line of PCIe Enterprise/Server SSDs powered by the SandForce SF3700-series controller. We've been waiting for products with the SF3700 controller since January, when ADATA showed a prototype board at CES, and ADATA is now showcasing the controller in the "SR1020" series drives.
The first is a 2TB 2.5" drive, but the interface was not announced (and the sample on the floor appeared to be an empty shell). The listed specs are performance up to 1800MB/s and 150K IOPS, with the drive powered by the SF-3739 controller. Support for both AHCI and NVMe is also listed, along with the usual TRIM, NCQ, and SMART support.
Another 2TB SSD was shown with exactly the same specs as the 2.5" version, but this one is built on the M.2 spec. The drive will connect via 4 lanes of Gen 2 PCI Express. Both drives in ADATA's SR1020 PCIe SSD lineup will be available in capacities from 240GB - 2TB, and retail pricing and availability is forthcoming.
Continuing the DRAM theme, ADATA also showed new DDR4 modules in commodity and enthusiast flavors. Both of the registered DIMMs on display (an ultra-low profile DIMM was also shown) had standard DDR4 specs of 2133MHz at 1.2V, but ADATA also showed some performance DDR4 at their booth.
A pair of XPG Z1 DDR4 modules in action
No pricing or availability just yet on these products.