If you like a spartan interior then check out Corsair's Carbide 600C

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 19, 2016 - 07:11 PM |
Tagged: inverted motherboard, enclosure, corsair, Carbide 600C

A few weeks ago Sebastian published a review of Corsair's Carbide Series 600Q and today you can take a peek at its brother, the Carbide 600C.  The 600C differs in that it lacks the full noise shielding foam and has a hinged, latching side-panel, with a large window to show off your components.  It is 454x260x535mm (17.9x10.2x21") and so can handle even an eATX motherboard.  The inclusion of two 5.25" bays will please some but the sparse number of 3.5" bays is not likely to impress anyone who uses multiple drives.  There are many pluses for those who like a clean interior and the three fans and fan controller which come with the case is a nice touch.  Read more over at techPowerUp.

casenew2.jpg

"The Corsair Carbide 600C comes with an inverted motherboard layout and aims to offer a perfect mix for those looking to take advantage of such an interior with a wide body, plenty of liquid-cooling compatibility, a 3-stage fan controller, and great cable management."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

CASES & COOLING

Source: techPowerUp

Intel insists their clock is still running

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2016 - 06:34 PM |
Tagged: Intel, delay, 10nm

Today Intel has insisted that the rumours of a further delay in their scheduled move to a 10nm process are greatly exaggerated.  They had originally hoped to make this move in the latter half of this year but difficulties in the design process moved that target into 2017.  They have assured The Inquirer and others that the speculation, based on information in a job vacancy posting, is inaccurate and that the they still plan on releasing processors built on a 10nm node by the end of next year.  You can still expect Kaby Lake before the end of the year and Intel also claims to have found promising techniques to shrink their processors below 10nm in the future,

intel_10nm_panel2-Copy.png

"INTEL HAS moved to quash speculation that its first 10nm chips could be pushed back even further than the second half of 2017, after already delaying them from this year."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Linksys Releases EA7500 Max-Stream AC1900 MU-MIMO Router

Subject: Networking | February 19, 2016 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: wireless router, wi-fi, router, mu-mimo, MAX-STREAM AC1900, linksys, EA8500, EA7500, 802.11ac, 4x4, 3x3

Linksys has announced availability of a new MU-MIMO wireless router, and the EA7500 features 3x3 802.11ac Wi-Fi along with 4x Gigabit LAN ports.

EA7500_1.jpg

“The Linksys MAX-STREAM AC1900 features MU-MIMO, the latest advance toward uninterrupted, simultaneous Wi-Fi connections. Devices such as HD streaming media players, 4K TVs, tablets, and game consoles use a lot of bandwidth. But with MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) technology, the MAX-STREAM AC1900 sends advanced Wi-Fi to multiple devices at the same time and same speed. Your whole family can play, stream, and work at once, without experiencing lag or buffering - at up to 2x the speed of a non-MU-MIMO router.”

The specs include:

  • Wi-Fi Technology: AC1900 MU-MIMO Dual-band Gigabit, 600+1300 Mbps 
  • Wi-Fi Speed: AC1900 (N600 + AC1300) 
  • Wi-Fi Bands: 2.4 and 5 GHz (simultaneous dual band)
  • Power Antennas: 3x external, dual-band, detachable antennas
  • Operation Modes: Wireless Router, Access Point, Wired Bridge, Wireless Bridge
  • Processor: 1.4 GHz dual-core 
  • Number of Ethernet Ports: 4x Gigabit LAN ports, 1x Gigabit WAN port
  • Other Ports: 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 port 
  • Storage File System Support: FAT, NTFS, HFS+

EA7500_2.jpg

Retail pricing is $199.99, placing it $50 below the larger 4x4 MU-MIMO EA8500 router ($249.99). If you’re looking to upgrade your router to take advantage of MU-MIMO technology (the benefits of which we covered in our review of the Killer Wireless-AC 1535), this EA7500 provides a new, more affordable option.

Full press release after the break.

Source: Linksys

A new Trion appears, is it still a good choice for an entry level SSD?

Subject: Storage | February 18, 2016 - 08:14 PM |
Tagged: Trion 150, toshiba, tlc, ssd, slc, sata, ocz, A15nm

As you may remember from Al's post, the OCZ Trion 150 is essentially the same as the previous Trion 100, except for the use of 15nm TLC flash from Toshiba and a lower initial price.  Hardware Canucks got their paws on two of the drives from this series to benchmark, the 480GB and 960GB models.  The 480GB model retains the 256MB DDR3 cache, the 960 doubles that to 512MB but there is one thing missing from this new series; instead of relying on capacitors to prevent lost data from a power failure they rely on OCZ's firmware based Power Failure Management Plus.  Read Hardware Canucks full review to see if the new Trion can match the price to performance of the original.

board1_sm.jpg

"With the budget-focused SSD market exploding, OCZ is launching the Trion 150, a refresh of their original Trion 100 series which should offer better performance and an even lower price."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Podcast #387 - ASUS PB328Q, Samsung 750 EVO SSD, the release of Vulkan and more!

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 07:16 PM |
Tagged: x16 LTE, vulkan, video, ssd, Samsung, qualcomm, podcast, pb328q, opengl, nvidia, micron, Khronos, gtx 950, asus, apple, 840 evo, 750ti, 750 evo, 3d nand

PC Perspective Podcast #387 - 02/18/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS PB328Q, Samsung 750 EVO SSD, the release of Vulkan and more!

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

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

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

Program length: 1:34:18

  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:35:00 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Audible, the world's leading provider of audiobooks with more than 180,000 downloadable titles across all types of literature including fiction, nonfiction, and periodicals. For your free audiobook, go to audible.com/pcper
  3. News items of interest:
  4. 1:07:00 This episode of PC Perspective Podcast is brought to you by Braintree. Even the best mobile app won’t work without the right payments API. That’s where the Braintree v.0 SDK comes in. One amazingly simple integration gives you every way to pay. Try out the sandbox and see for yourself at braintree­payments.com/pcper
  5. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  6. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Warren Spector Returns to Game Development

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: system shock, pc gaming, otherside entertainment, night dive studios

Warren Spector helped create several classic video games, including Wing Commander, Ultima, System Shock, Crusader, Thief, and Deus Ex. His most recent titles were Epic Mickey 1 and 2, which took the classic, mischievous Mickey Mouse and gave it fairly adult game mechanics. Following the release of Epic Mickey 2 in 2012, he departed from the games industry to teach at the University of Texas at Austin.

warrenspector-2016-logo.png

Image Credit: His Twitter Avatar

Meanwhile, Otherside Entertainment was created from several Looking Glass Studios alumni. The company launched a crowd-funding campaign for a “spiritual successor” to Ultima Underworld, which they called Underworld Ascension. A year later, they announced that they purchased the rights to System Shock 3. It turns out that Warren Spector was interesting in joining this studio, because he just did yesterday (after being an adviser to them for years).

Yay!

According to his quote, via GamesIndustry.biz, he was lured by the opportunity to directly work on both titles. Warren Spector makes complex games, and adding his name to these revival projects should be exciting for those who miss the way PC gaming used to be. There really isn't much to say about this news; it's just promising to have one of the pioneers of PC gaming back in the industry.

A storage medium which will long outlast the readers and filesystem

Subject: General Tech | February 18, 2016 - 06:38 PM |
Tagged: laser, polarization vortex converter, voxel

Ever worry about long term storage of your valuable data but worry that tapes will rot, disks crash, flash die and optical media be cannibalized by the ink printed on them?  How about a process which should hold 360TB of data for 13.8 billion years at 190C and far longer at room temperatures?  Researchers in the UK have come up with a rather impressive technique for storing data for the long haul using lasers and optical media.  They are writing to fuzed quartz glass with femtosecond pulses of light to create three layers of voxels or an optical vortex if you prefer, which are created by the polarization of a vortex by firing that laser through nano-gratings.  Check out more at The Register.

voxel_producer.jpg

"Boffins in the UK’s Southampton University have devised a five-dimensional storage scheme using glass, femtolasers and a lifespan of billions of years, so they say."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Quantum Break Will Require Windows 10 (and DirectX 12)

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 11:47 PM |
Tagged: microsoft, windows 10, pc gaming, DirectX 12

Last week, Microsoft announced that Quantum Break would arrive on the PC. At the same time, they listed the system requirements, which included the requirement of Windows 10. It will only be available on Windows 10 (outside of Xbox One). They also mentioned that the game would require DirectX 12, which made the issue more interesting. It wasn't that Microsoft was pushing their OS with first-party software, they were using an API that is only available in Windows 10, and it had the potential to make a better video game.

microsoft-2016-quantumbreak-logo.jpg

Then they announced that it would only be available on Windows Store, which swings the pendulum back in the other direction. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

In all seriousness, we'll probably see games begin to deprecate DirectX 11 once DirectX 12 (or Vulkan) becomes ubiquitous. These new APIs significantly change how content is designed and submit to GPU(s), and do so in ways that seem difficult to scale back. Granted, I've talked to game developers and I've yet to have my suspicions validated, but it seems like the real benefit of the APIs will be when art and content can be created differently -- more objects, simpler objects, potentially splitting materials that are modified into separate instances, and so forth.

Quantum Break will come out on April 5th, along with a few other DX12-based titles.

Source: PC Gamer

All of your manuscripts will be illuminated with the SteelSeries Apex M800 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 09:40 PM |
Tagged: input, steelseries, Apex M800, mechanical keyboard

The Steelseries Apex M800 uses their own QS1 mechnical switches, designed by Kailh and similar in feel to a Cherry MX Red switch.  It uses seperate processors for input and lighting, which allows you to get very creative when using the SteelSeries Engine 3 to program effects. It is also capable of recording macros on the fly, which you can then edit from within the software if you so desire.  Some users will also like the two USB 2.0 ports present on the keyboard, perhaps not for data transfer but handy for charging your phone or if you have USB powered toys on your desk.  Check out the full review including a video of the lighting effects over at Techgage.

stock1.png

"SteelSeries has always been a heavy hitter in the world of peripherals. With a slew of highly touted mice, keyboards, and headsets, it looks to take things to the next level with the Apex M800 illuminated gaming keyboard. Does it have another winner on its hands, or are thousands of gamer nerds wrong? Read on to find out."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Techgage

Lian Li's PC-7N, retro case design with modern features

Subject: Cases and Cooling | February 17, 2016 - 09:03 PM |
Tagged: PC-7N, Lian Li, atx

7n-main.jpg

The new Lian Li PC-7N will appeal to those who prefer a case exterior with a simple clean design and modern conveniences inside.   The case has four tool-less drive trays for 3.5: or 2.5" drives as well as a pair of tool-less 5.25" trays, which some of us still like to have.  The case is 210x473x500mm (8.3x18.6x19.7") and can support CPU heatsinks up to 170mm as well as GPUs of up to 370mm (14.6") if you do not populate all the drive bays, 250mm (9.8") if you do.

7n-00.png

It can support a pair of 120mm fans in the front and a single one in the rear, or a radiator of 120x240x60mm in the front if you prefer watercooling.  The power and reset buttons are located on the top of the case, next to a pair of USB 3.0 ports and audio jacks which are protected by a hinged cover to help keep gunge out of your ports. You will be able to pick it up by the end of this month for around $100

7n-011.jpg

The full PR is below.

Source: Lian Li

More Tomb Raiding and a new bundle from NVIDIA

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 06:47 PM |
Tagged: gaming, tomb raider, nvidia, bundle, the division

The benchmarks that Ryan ran on the new Tomb Raider game were popular enough that it seems worth giving you a second opinion, in this case from [H]ard|OCP.  They use version 1.0 build 610.1_64 of the game, along with Crimson Edition 16.1.1 Hotfix and GeForce 361.75 during their testing.  For 1080p performance they tested the R9 380X 4GB against the GTX 960 4GB which saw AMD's card come out on top with similar results when testing the R9 390 against the GeForce GTX 970 at 1440p.  At the top end the R9 390X and GTX 980 performed similarly in single GPU configurations with AMD beating NVIDIA in multi GPU tests.  They also tried the TitanX, Fury and FuryX in single GPU configurations at 4k ... it did not go well.

1455189919EDyKUcGV8E_1_1.gif

Also worth noting is the new bundle from NVIDIA, if you pick up a GeForce GTX 970 or better GPU or purchase a notebook with a GeForce GTX 970M, 980M or 980 the you are eligible for a free copy of The Division.  Click here to redeem your code or to find out how to get one.

tom-clancys-header-gf-glp.png

"A new Tomb Raider game is out, Rise of the Tomb Raider. We take RoTR and find out how it performs and compares on no less than 14 of today's latest video card offerings from the AMD and NVIDIA GPU lineups from top-to-bottom using the latest drivers and game patch v1.0 build 610.1_64."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Samsung is showing off some very pretty displays

Subject: General Tech | February 17, 2016 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, transparent display, ML32E, TO55F

TechARP just posted a video of two reflective displays from Samsung, the 55" ML55E mirror display which has 55% reflectance and 90% transmittance and displays at 1920x1080 and a 32" model, the ML32E.  These will be used in store displays for now, but soon you may be upgrading your bathroom mirror so you can catch the news while you shave, or your Netflix stream while you take a quick break.

They also showed off the 55" O55F transparent OLED display, again 1080x1920 which is 45% transparent and they claim is able to provide 100% Adobe RGB colour space with 98% DCI color support.  As with the reflective displays you will first see these as store displays but it shouldn't be too long before we will be able to get our hands on them.  You can also see the Samsung PR here, unfortunately it does not specify what material was used in the transparent display but one hopes it is sturdy enough not to have to be protected from scratches and bumps.

Samsung-Electronics-Showcase-Latest-Monitor-and-Digital-Signage-Innovations-at-the-Southeast-Asia-Forum-2016_615,363.jpg

"At the recently-held Samsung Forum 2016, we came across these really cool transparent and mirror displays that Samsung will be bringing to the market shortly. Take a look!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TechARP

No bigger than a breadbox; a little love for a tiny system

Subject: Systems | February 16, 2016 - 08:36 PM |
Tagged: SFF, system build, gigabyte, ocz, G.Skill, evga, logitech

The Tech Report have put together a video tour of their Breadbox system, a SFF gaming system built around the Z170 chipset.  The machine uses a i5-6600K on the Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 motherboard with 16GB of DDR4-3000 and Gigabyte's tiny version of a GTX 970.  The components are all housed in a EVGA Hadron Hydro, a tight fit but sufficient to hold the parts.  Check out the video for more information on the components and how the system performs when gaming.

sideview.jpg

"We recently built a small-form-factor PC we like to call the Breadbox with some help from our sponsors at Gigabyte, OCZ, G.Skill, EVGA, and Logitech. We documented this Breadbox on video, and now it's ready to make its Hollywood debut. Grab some popcorn and enjoy our tour of this pint-sized gaming PC."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

MSI's mini-ITX Z170I GAMING PRO AC is versatile but perhaps not for the dedicated overclocker

Subject: Motherboards | February 16, 2016 - 07:42 PM |
Tagged: Z170i Gaming Pro AC, msi, Intel Z170, lga1151, mini ITX

At $172 the price of the MSI Z170I GAMING PRO AC may be bigger than the actual board, as it is a mini-ITX motherboard.  As with many modern mini-ITX boards, the amount of features included is nothing short of amazing, apart from the single PCIe 16x slot which all boards of this size are limited to.  It does have a pair of DDR4 slots supporting up to 32GB, four SATA 6Gbps ports, a single SEx port and M.2 slot, five USB 3.0 and a half dozen USB 3.1 ports; connectivity includes wired, WiFi and even Bluetooth.  The overall design is quite attractive though the reviewers at [H]ard|OCP were not a fan of the overclocking ability nor the positioning of the M.2 slot on the rear of the board, see if those negatives outweigh the positives in their full review.

1454298983aGnZOQ974l_1_8_l.jpg

"The Z170I GAMING PRO AC motherboard is poised to be a tiny powerhouse for SFF builds or for those of you looking to focus on "less is more." If you are looking to make the jump to an Small Form Factor build, or you want to update an existing build you won’t want to miss this feature rich Mini-ITX motherboard. "

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

This new type of Resistive RAM can be flexible and transparent

Subject: General Tech | February 16, 2016 - 06:53 PM |
Tagged: ReRAM, RRAM, aluminium oxide

Entirely transparent or translucent devices, which are also flexible are becoming less of a dream and coming closer to reality.  We have discussed RRAM quite a bit here on PCPer, most recently another teams research on creating transparent and flexible RRAM out of indium zinc oxide materials.  Nanotechweb have just linked to another set of researchers who are using aluminium oxide to design similar RRAM; great news as more research on the possible materials which will bring us the next generation of RAM the better.  Materials pricing is very important and as we move away from silicon the more choices manufacturers have, the less likely we will have shortages and prohibitive cost increases for production.  Pop over to Nanotechweb for an overview of this particular research if you are so inclined.

figure1.jpg

"Among the emerging memories, resistive switching memory (ReRAM) in particular has attracted much attention in recent times owing to its fast switching, simple structure, and non-volatility. Flexible and transparent electronic devices have also attracted considerable attention for making future electronic devices."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Nanotechweb

Report: NVIDIA Working on Another GeForce GTX 950 GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 16, 2016 - 05:01 PM |
Tagged: rumor, report, nvidia, Maxwell 2.0, GTX 950 SE, GTX 950 LP, gtx 950, gtx 750, graphics card, gpu

A report from VideoCardz.com claims that NVIDIA is working on another GTX 950 graphics card, but not the 950 Ti you might have expected.

gtx950.jpg

Reference GTX 950 (Image credit: NVIDIA)

While the GTX 750 Ti was succeeded by the GTX 950 in August of last year, the higher specs for this new GPU came at the cost of a higher TDP (90W vs. 60W). This new rumored GTX 950, which might be called either 950 SE or 950 LP according to the report, would be a lower power version of the GTX 950, and would actually have a lot more in common with the outgoing GTX 750 Ti than the plain GTX 750 as we can see from this chart:

chart.png

(Image credit: VideoCardz)

As you can see the GTX 750 Ti is based on GM107 (Maxwell 1.0) and has 640 CUDA cores, 40 TUs, 16 ROPs, and it operates at 1020 MHz Base/1085 MHz Boost clocks. The reported specs of this new GTX 950 SE/LP would be nearly identical, though based on GM206 (Maxwell 2.0) and offering greater memory bandwidth (and slightly higher power consumption).

The VideoCardz report was sourced from Expreview, which claimed that this GTX 950 SE/LP product would arrive next month at some point. This report is a little more vague than some of the rumors we see, but it could very well be that NVIDIA has a planned replacement for the remaining Maxwell 1.0 products on the market. I would have personally expected to see a"Ti” product before any “LE/LP” version of the GTX 950, and this reported name seems more like an OEM product than a retail part. We will have to wait and see if this report is accurate.

Source: VideoCardz

Samsung's HBM2 will be ready before you are

Subject: Memory | February 15, 2016 - 10:59 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, HBM2, Data Memory Systems

Samsung is ready to roll out the next generation of High Bandwidth Memory, aka HBM2, for your desktop and not just your next generation of GPU.  They have already begun production on 4GB HBM2 DRAM and promise 8GB DIMMs by the end of this year.  The modules will provide double the bandwidth of HBM1, up 256GB/s of bandwidth which is very impressive compared to the up to 70GB/s DDR4-3200 theoretically offers.

Not only is this technology going to appear in the next genertation of NVIDIA and AMD GPUs but could also work its way into main system memory.  Of course these DIMMs are not going to work with any desktop or mobile processor currently on the market but we will hopefully see new processors with compatible memory controllers in the near future.  You can also expect this to come with a cost, not just in expensive DIMMs at launch but also a comparible increaset in CPU prices as they will cost more to manufacture initially. 

It will be very interesting to see how this effects the overall market; will we see a split similar to what is currently seen in mainstream GPUs, a lower cost DDR version and a standard GDDR version?  The new market could see DDRx and HMBx models of CPUs and motherboards and could do the same for the GPU market, with the end of DDR on graphics cards.  If so will it spell the end of DDR5 development?  Interesting times to be living in, we should be hearing more from Samsung in the near future.

Samsung.png

You can read the full PR below.

Acer's Predator X34; it's a 21:9 curved 1440p display with G-SYNC

Subject: Displays | February 15, 2016 - 08:46 PM |
Tagged: Predator X34, ips, gsync, curved lcd, acer, 1440p

On paper it looks brilliant, a 3440x1440 IPS curved display with a a refresh rate that can be overclocked to 100Hz, with G-SYNC handling the adaptive sync duties.  It will cost you a bit to pick up of course, currently Amazon has it priced at $1350 so it does have a lot to live up to.  Techgage tested it out and found a lot to love, from physical control buttons instead of virtual controls, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors as well as four USB 3.0 ports speak well of the physical design. On the other hand the monitor has a serious case of IPS glow and some may not be able to hit 100Hz, then again neither can most GPUs even when in SLI.  Techgage offers advice on adjusting your display if you have issues and overall loved everything about the display ... excepting the price.

Ryan and the crew took a look at this display a while back.

Acer-X34-Predator-G-SYNC-Ultra-wide-Monitor-Overview-2.jpg

"On the lookout for a gaming monitor that can do it all? If price isn’t a concern, Acer's Predator X34 is the one to look at. It comes in at 34 inches, boasts a 3440×1440 ultra-wide resolution, makes images pop with an IPS panel, takes advantage of NVIDIA’s G-SYNC frame-smoothing technology, and if that’s not enough: it’s curved."

Here are some more Display articles from around the web:

Displays

Source: Techgage

Why can't we have nice things? USB Type-C can be as bad as the etherkiller

Subject: General Tech | February 15, 2016 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: USB 3 Type-C

USB 3.0 Type C cables have finally solved the strange physics defying issue of the originals and you no longer need to rotate your USB plug twice before it will connect.  Unfortunately it has introduced more serious problems, in some cases dangerous and expensive problems.  Back in November we posted about a Google researcher who found a variety of cables which did not have the correct resistor installed and which could release the magic smoke from your computer.  He is still at it and may be one of the only reasons to join Google+ as you can follow his findings there.  Unfortunately he won't be posting for a little while as the most recent one, a SurjTech 3M cable, destroyed his test equipment, including a $1499 Pixel 2.

Sadly it is not just cheap off brand cables you need to fear, Apple recently recalled numerous Type C cables which shipped with their products.  The Inquirer mentions a way to tell if your cable is definitely dangerous but this seems a situation where you are better safe than sorry.  Considering these dangers and the fact that in many cases the manufactures are actually using USB 3.0 cables with the Type C connection, it might be worth waiting on upgrading those peripherals.

maxresdefault.jpg

"APPLE IS the latest company to fall foul of the messy rollout of USB-C. The company has recalled a bunch of the cables that were official accessories sold separately or included with the most recent MacBook devices that eschewed USB=A and Lightning in favour of a single USB-C port for everything."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

What Micron's Upcoming 3D NAND Means for SSD Capacity, Performance, and Cost

Subject: Storage | February 14, 2016 - 07:51 PM |
Tagged: vnand, ssd, Samsung, nand, micron, Intel, imft, 768Gb, 512GB, 3d nand, 384Gb, 32 Layer, 256GB

You may have seen a wave of Micron 3D NAND news posts these past few days, and while many are repeating the 11-month old news with talks of 10TB/3.5TB on a 2.5"/M.2 form factor SSDs, I'm here to dive into the bigger implications of what the upcoming (and future) generation of Intel / Micron flash will mean for SSD performance and pricing.

progression-3-.png

Remember that with the way these capacity increases are going, the only way to get a high performance and high capacity SSD on-the-cheap in the future will be to actually get those higher capacity models. With such a large per-die capacity, smaller SSDs (like 128GB / 256GB) will suffer significantly slower write speeds. Taking this upcoming Micron flash as an example, a 128GB SSD will contain only four flash memory dies, and as I wrote about back in 2014, such an SSD would likely see HDD-level sequential write speeds of 160MB/sec. Other SSD manufacturers already recognize this issue and are taking steps to correct it. At Storage Visions 2016, Samsung briefed me on the upcoming SSD 750 Series that will use planar 16nm NAND to produce 120GB and 250GB capacities. The smaller die capacities of these models will enable respectable write performance and will also enable them to discontinue their 120GB 850 EVO as they transition that line to higher capacity 48-layer VNAND. Getting back to this Micron announcement, we have some new info that bears analysis, and that pertains to the now announced page and block size:

  • 256Gb MLC: 16KB Page / 16MB Block / 1024 Pages per Block

  • 384Gb TLC: 16KB Page / 24MB Block / 1536 Pages per Block

To understand what these numbers mean, using the MLC line above, imagine a 16MB CD-RW (Block) that can write 1024 individual 16KB 'sessions' (Page). Each 16KB can be added individually over time, and just like how files on a CD-RW could be modified by writing a new copy in the remaining space, flash can do so by writing a new Page and ignoring the out of date copy. Where the rub comes in is when that CD-RW (Block) is completely full. The process at this point is very similar actually, in that the Block must be completely emptied before the erase command (which wipes the entire Block) is issued. The data has to go somewhere, which typically means writing to empty blocks elsewhere on the SSD (and in worst case scenarios, those too may need clearing before that is possible), and this moving and erasing takes time for the die to accomplish. Just like how wiping a CD-RW took a much longer than writing a single file to it, erasing a Block takes typically 3-4x as much time as it does to program a page.

With that explained, of significance here are the growing page and block sizes in this higher capacity flash. Modern OS file systems have a minimum bulk access size of 4KB, and Windows versions since Vista align their partitions by rounding up to the next 2MB increment from the start of the disk. These changes are what enabled HDDs to transition to Advanced Format, which made data storage more efficient by bringing the increment up from the 512 Byte sector up to 4KB. While most storage devices still use 512B addressing, it is assumed that 4KB should be the minimum random access seen most of the time. Wrapping this all together, the Page size (minimum read or write) is 16KB for this new flash, and that is 4x the accepted 4KB minimum OS transfer size. This means that power users heavy on their page file, or running VMs, or any other random-write-heavy operations being performed over time will have a more amplified effect of wear of this flash. That additional shuffling of data that must take place for each 4KB write translates to lower host random write speeds when compared to lower capacity flash that has smaller Page sizes closer to that 4KB figure.

schiltron-IMFT-edit.jpg

A rendition of 3D IMFT Floating Gate flash, with inset pulling back some of the tunnel oxide layer to show the location of the floating gate. Pic courtesy Schiltron.

Fortunately for Micron, their choice to carry Floating Gate technology into their 3D flash has netted them some impressive endurance benefits over competing Charge Trap Flash. One such benefit is a claimed 30,000 P/E (Program / Erase) cycle endurance rating. Planar NAND had dropped to the 3,000 range at its lowest shrinks, mainly because there was such a small channel which could only store so few electrons, amplifying the (negative) effects of electron leakage. Even back in the 50nm days, MLC ran at ~10,000 cycle endurance, so 30,000 is no small feat here. The key is that by using that same Floating Gate tech so good at controlling leakage for planar NAND on a new 3D channel that can store way more electrons enables excellent endurance that may actually exceed Samsung's Charge Trap Flash equipped 3D VNAND. This should effectively negate the endurance hit on the larger Page sizes discussed above, but the potential small random write performance hit still stands, with a possible remedy being to crank up the Over-Provisioning of SSDs (AKA throwing flash at the problem). Higher OP means less active pages per block and a reduction in the data shuffling forced by smaller writes.

25nm+penny.jpg

A 25nm flash memory die. Note the support logic (CMOS) along the upper left edge.

One final thing helping out Micron here is that their Floating Gate design also enables a shift of 75% of the CMOS circuitry to a layer *underneath* the flash storage array. This logic is typically part of what you see 'off to the side' of a flash memory die. Layering CMOS logic in such a way is likely thanks to Intel's partnership and CPU development knowledge. Moving this support circuitry to the bottom layer of the die makes for less area per die dedicated to non-storage, more dies per wafer, and ultimately lower cost per chip/GB.

progression slide.png

Samsung's Charge Trap Flash, shown in both planar and 3D VNAND forms.

One final thing before we go. If we know anything about how the Intel / Micron duo function, it is that once they get that freight train rolling, it leads to relatively rapid advances. In this case, the changeover to 3D has taken them a while to perfect, but once production gains steam, we can expect to see some *big* advances. Since Samsung launched their 3D VNAND their gains have been mostly iterative in nature (24, 32, and most recently 48). I'm not yet at liberty to say how the second generation of IMFT 3D NAND will achieve it, but I can say that it appears the next iteration after this 32-layer 256Gb (MLC) /384Gb (TLC) per die will *double* to 512Gb/768Gb (you are free to do the math on what that means for layer count). Remember back in the day where Intel launched new SSDs at a fraction of the cost/GB of the previous generation? That might just be happening again within the next year or two.