Intel 313 Hawley Creek SRT Caching Drives Now Available

Subject: Storage | April 7, 2012 - 08:15 PM |
Tagged: Intel SRT, Intel, caching, 313, 25nm

Intel is continuing the Intel SRT caching technology with two new Single Level Cell (SLC) SSD drives in both 2.5” SATA and mSATA form factors. The new Intel 313 series SSDs come in 20 GB and 24 GB capacities and are available for purchase now. Intel hopes that vendors will integrate the caching drives into their machines to improve performance while offering lots of storage with a mechanical hard drive.  They further advertise the drives as "ultrabook ready."

SSD-313-series-288x288.png

The specifications can be found in the chart below, but they do seem to be a little strange, in that the larger capacity drive is actually slower in 4K random and sequential reads (which does not seem correct). After all, who would pay extra money for a slower caching drive (and a measly 4GB extra capacity) where read speeds are going to be more important than write speeds as far as general desktop performance.

  Intel 311 Intel 313 20 GB Intel 313 24 GB
Random 4K Read IOPS 37,000 36,000 33,000
Random 4K Write IOPS 3,300 3,300 4,000
Sequential Read 200 MB/s 220 MB/s 160 MB/s
Sequential Write 105 MB/s 100 MB/s 115 MB/s
Manufacturing Process 34nm 25nm 25nm
NAND Type SLC SLC SLC
Price ($USD) 119.99 (retail) 119.99 (retail) 139.99 (retail)

Compared to the previous generation "Larsen Creek" Intel 311 series SSD, the new "Hawley Creek" drives offer faster sequential read and write speeds.  The 24 GB Intel 313 drive does manage to beat both the 20 GB Haswell and previous generation Intel 311 drive on 4K random writes, but otherwise the new drives are equal to, or slower than, the previous generation in 4K random IOPS (input/output per second).  Considering the new drives are retailing for the same or more than the previous generation, the new Intel 313 SSDs really are not looking all that promising, despite the move to a 25nm NAND manufacturing process.

I am personally waiting for reviews to come out on the new Intel 313 drives before making a final decision, but they are nonetheless perplexing.  More information is available here (PDF).

*Edit by Allyn*:

The 'odd' differences in performance are due to the channel routing. The 20GB model has the standard Intel 3Gb/sec controller using 5 of the 10 data channels (similar to the old 40GB X25-V). Each of those channels is routed to a 4GB SLC die. This lays out to 5 TSOP packages with 1 die each. The 24GB model also uses the same controller and channel layout, but those 5 channels are routed to 6x 4GB dies. This is an odd configuration, and assuming Intel kept the same PCB layouts, the 2.5" model has provision for additional mounted TSOPs but the mSATA PCB is too tight on room, meaning they would have had to shift only one of the 5 flash packages to a double stacked configuration. More to follow on that once we see these in the flesh.

Source: Intel

OCZ's brand new Vertex 4 arrives

Subject: Storage | April 4, 2012 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: ocz, ssd, sata 6Gbs, Vertex 4, Indilinx, vertex

There are quite a few changes in the 4th version of OCZ's Vertex SSDs, not only the new Indilinx controller but the positioning of it right in the centre of the PCB.  You will also notice what looks like an mSATA interface, but The Tech Report is sad to say that it is only a connector for OCZ's internal testing machinery and is not a standard connector.  Of course, we may have to see what the modders do with it.  The performance is as good as you would expect in most circumstances though there were some tests the new prefetch mechanism had troubles with.  OCZ claims that the drive was intended to be partitioned and doing so could help the performance.  Also worth applauding is the move to a 5 year warranty, signalling OCZ's increased faith in reliability.

Our own Al Malventano took a look at not only the drive but also the difference between the 1.30 and 1.52 firmware revisions.

TR_board.jpg

"Just a few months after its Indilinx Everest controller debuted in the OCZ Octane, a second-generation Everest chip has taken root in the Vertex 4 SSD. We take a closer look at the latest Vertex to see what's changed and how its performance measures up."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

OCZ's Virtualized Controller Architecture doesn't need any steenking bridges

Subject: Storage | April 2, 2012 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: RevoDrive 3 X2 240GB, PCIe SSD, ocz

The thing which most caught The Tech Report's eye when they examined the OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 240GB PCIe SSD was the complete lack of bridge chips.   When they inquired as to just how the SuperScale storage controller manages this they didn't get a precise answer, as that would be giving away secrets, but were told it "combines processing and full DMA cores, as well as internal PCIe, SATA and SAS interfaces."  Putting that mystery aside, they installed the SSD to see just how four SSDs on one card perform in real world and synthetic tests.  The tests will impress you but keep in mind the cost of the card, at $2.83/GB it does not come cheap.

Long time readers might remember Al's review of this drive from last summer.

TR_standing.jpg

"Using virtualization voodoo, the RevoDrive 3 X2 combines four SandForce-based SSDs on a single PCIe card purportedly capable of transfer rates up to 1500MB/s. We take a closer look to see if the Revo is as impressive as it sounds. "

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Toshiba MK4001GRZB 400GB SAS, take your SSD to work

Subject: Storage | March 26, 2012 - 11:26 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Toshiba 400GB SAS SSD, SAS

The main concern for enterprises is reliability, perhaps the main reason that most companies have not immediately jumped onto SSD storage as their primary solution.  The cost is another barrier but for high volume database usage as well as disk intensive tasks like transforming video the speed advantage can pay for the initial investment in very little time, as long as the medium is reliable.  Where an SSD failure on your home machine is frustrating, it can cost a business a lot of money.  This is changing as we are starting to see more companies offering Enterprise class SSDs, usually SAS SSDs which can help ameliorate the possibility of downtime due to a failed drive.  The Toshiba MK4001GRZB 400GB SAS 6Gb/s Enterprise SLC SSD is one such drive and when the SSD Review had a chance to test this $7000 drive they jumped at the chance.  Check out the review to see its speed in action and keep in mind the stellar warranty which Toshiba offers, unlimited writes for the life of the 5-year warranty, when you are considering the drive for business use.

AADR_IMG_2267.jpg

"Our SSD review today will be on the Toshiba MK4001GRZB 400GB SAS 6Gb/s Enterprise SLC SSD and will be the first to experience our new Enterprise Test Protocol. This SSD brings with it some of the best sustainable performance in the realm, and also has recently taken the Grand Prize for Excellence in Energy Efficiency and Conservation from the Japan Energy Conservation Center, so it is definitely a top candidate to initiate our new Enterprise Test Protocol."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: SSD Review

Ceton Announces SandForce Based SATA III SSD Lineup

Subject: Storage | March 26, 2012 - 10:11 AM |
Tagged: ssd, centon, sandforce, mlc, 20nm

Centon Electronics today announced an expansion of their solid state drive lineup with new SATA III offerings. The 2.5” SATA III drives utilize 20nm class MLC (multi level cell) flash memory and a SandForce 2281 SSD controller. They claim that the drives will take full advantage of the extra bandwidth provided by SATA III with read and write speeds of 400 MB per second and 300 MB per second respectively.

centon_vvs1_240gb_sataiii_01.jpg

According to a chart on Centon’s website, the new SATA III SSDs are part of a new VVS1 series and they come in 60 GB (though this is listed as VS1 series), 120 GB, and 240 GB capacities. The drives support RAID and are rated for a mean time before failure (MTBF) of 2 million+ hours. They further carry a two year warranty. The 240 GB and 120 GB SATA III SSDs are rated at the 400 MB/s and 300 MB/s read and write speeds, but the 60 GB SATA III SSD is only rated at a max of 300 MB/s read and 200 MB/s write.  More information can be found on the company's website.Currently, there is no word on pricing or availability.  Also, don't forget about our SSD Decoder for all your SSD research!

Source: PR Web

Super Talent Releases New RAIDDrive upStream PCI-E SSD

Subject: Storage | March 22, 2012 - 04:28 AM |
Tagged: super talent, ssd, pcie

Super Talent, a Silicon Valley based company most well known for their RAM and SSD products, today launched a new Solid State Drive (SSD) that eschews the SATA interface for a PCIe x8 connector. The new RAIDDrive upStream upstream joins the RAIDDrive family of PCIe SSDs and utilizes MLC (multi-level cell) NAND flash to deliver between 220 GB and 960 GB of fast storage.

Super Talent PCIe upStream.jpg

According to the company, their new RAIDDrive SSD is comprised of four Sandforce based SSDs in a RAID array using an LSI RAID controller to deliver up to 1 GB/s of performance. Specifically, access time of the upStream SSD is 0.1ms, and has a maximum read and write speed of 1.0 GB per second and 900 MB/s respectively. The 460 GB upStream drive was benchmarked (granted, by Super Talent) using HD Tune which showed an average sequential read speed of 832.9 MB/s and an average sequential write speed of 719.0 MB/s. As far as random 4 KB IOPS, the drive hit 3606 read IOPS and 5159 write 4KB IOPS.

Super Talent has further benchmarks and information on the new RAIDDrive upStream SSDs in this product data sheet (PDF). Unfortunately, there is no official word on pricing or availability yet, though Engadget has said the Super Talent upStream drives should be hitting store shelves in April.

If I had to guess; however, this drive is going to be expensive.  Drives like these are a boon for businesses doing work that requires large amount of throughput (CAD work, animation, working and serving large databases, et al), but are still largely priced out of the market of most PC builders.  Here's hoping that high performance PCIe SSDs trickle down to computer enthusiasts as fast as possible!

Source: Super Talent

Biwin America Founded To Develop New SSDs

Subject: Storage | March 20, 2012 - 09:34 PM |
Tagged: ssd, nand, biwin america, biwin

Biwin is a flash storage manufacturer founded in 1995 that holds headquarters in Shenzhen, China and specializing in USB, memory card, and SSD flash storage. They have 20 SMT assembly lines, ISO9001:2000 factories, and employ more than 50 skilled engineers. Recently, the company founded a subsidiary, Biwin America with headquarters in San Jose, California. The new company will further expand the company's SSD offerings by developing and producing advanced solid state drives for the Enterprise, Embedded, and Consumer markets.

Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for the newly founded Biwin America stated that the company "will be dedicated to developing flash storage solutions that deliver superior performance and reliability." He further noted that the team is very excited to bring new SSDs to the market.

elite-series-sata-iii-ssd.jpg

A Biwin SATA 3 SSD

Biwin features 20 SMT (surface-mount technology) lines, die sorting, die packaging, and "sophisticated test and QC processes." They are bringing their experience with flash storage to bear on the US market as they prepare new and expanded SSD products that it will sell direct to OEMs as well as to consumers through authorized distributors.

More information on the company can be found here.

Seagate Achieves 1 Terabit Per Square Inch Storage Density

Subject: Storage | March 20, 2012 - 10:27 AM |
Tagged: storage, Seagate, hard drives, HAMR, density, 1 Tb/in^2

In April 2006 Seagate began shipping the first 3.5" desktop hard drive using Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology and since then PMR has become essential in allowing all of the hard drive manufacturers to create the 2 TB+ drives available today. As we approach the limits of what drive manufacturers are able to do using PMR alone; however, they are starting to look at additional technologies to boost the storage density. One such technology on the horizon is Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording, or HAMR. According to a recent press release, Seagate is not only experimenting with HAMR but is the first drive manufacturer to use HAMR to reach 1 Terabit per square in of areal density.

HAMR works by using a laser to heat up the storage medium before the compounds used to store data have their orientation aligned by the write heads of the drive. As bits get smaller and smaller, traditional magnetic recording methods are not strong enough to permanently change the magnetic orientation of the bits, which means that there is an inherent, if theoretical, minimum bit size and corresponding maximum storage density possible with current Perpendicular Magnetic Recording. HAMR further allows drive makers to get around that limitation by heating the physical bits to the point that traditional magnetic write heads can change the orientation.

heat-assisted-magnetic-recording-vs.-perpendicular.jpg

Via Bit-Tech.  The laser heats up the platter before being written to.

The current 1 Terabit per square inch achieved using HAMR is also the theoretical maximum storage density for PMR alone (as mentioned above), which is promising as it implies HAMR still has a lot of working room to improve and has matched the maximum proposed for PMR.

Seagate expects to use HAMR to produce 60 TB+ 3.5" and 20 TB+ 2.5" hard drives within the next ten years. To put this areal density in perspective, current 3 TB desktop drives feature approximately 620 Gigabits per square inch while current 750 GB laptop (2.5") drives feature about 500 Gigabits per square inch.  Interestingly, when comparing the 1 Tb/in^2 mechanical drive density to flash (ie SSD) storage at equivalent densities, it works out such that a single bit equals 1nm of flash storage!

Unfortunately, we won't be seeing 60 TB drives any time soon. Rather, Seagate expects 6 TB desktop drives and 2 TB laptop drives to be the most immediate benefits of the heat assisted recording technology. Still, as my 2 TB drive is filling up more quickly than I ever imagined (thanks to working with HD video and making regular backups of data), I welcome as much increased storage as I can get!

Source: Seagate

Marvell Shows Off New 88SS9187 SATA 6Gbps SSD Controller

Subject: Storage | March 15, 2012 - 06:30 PM |
Tagged: ssd, marvel, controller, 88SS9187

Marvell, a storage technology company founded in 1995, today announced a new SSD controller in the form of the 88SS9187 that supports many of the latest storage technologies and is set to debut in several products this year.

Marvell_logotype_c_300dpi.jpg

The new 88SS9187 SSD controller is reportedly powered by a powerful embedded processor and supports the SATA 3.1 (6Gbps) interface as well as a NAND flash interface that is capable of up to 200 MB/s per channel. Also, the Marvell controller can support on-chip RAID functionality as well as Adaptive Read and Write Scheme technology in the ECC (error correction code) engine.

Marvell also claims that the 88SS9187 controller supports the DDR3 DRAM interface for "up to 1 G byte memory," and approximately 500 MB/s of sequential write performance under dirty drive conditions. The claim that the new controller will provide Random read and write IOPS with minimum over provisioning and performance degradations (where provisioning is used to provide a buffer for wear leveling algorithms and extra space for the drive controller to work with to increase performance). The Vice President of Marketing for Marvell's Storage Business Group Alan Armstrong, stated that the new 88SS9187 controller will enable SSD manufacturers "to fully customize their products to meet specific customer demands and distinguish their products based on price, performance, power and functionality."

They plan for the new controller to have an impact in both the consumer and enterprise markets and have announced that additional partners will integrate the 88SS9187 controller into their SSDs later this year. For now though, they have only stated that a "significant number" of popular SSD manufacturers will have drives ready in the immediate future. More information is available here.

Source: Marvell

OCZ's RevoDrive 3; the other kind of hybrid

Subject: Storage | March 12, 2012 - 04:00 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.

TG official.jpg

"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 - 08:58 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 - 10:39 AM |
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 - 10:26 AM |
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 - 02:40 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 23, 2012 - 11:48 PM |
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 - 03:19 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 - 02:53 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 - 10:53 AM |
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 - 08:12 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!

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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 - 06:51 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