CES 2015: Crucial launches new MX200, BX100 SSDs, intros Storage Executive

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2015 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: Storage Executive, SM2246EN, MX200, Dynamic Write Acceleration, DWA, crucial, CES 2014, CES, BX100

At CES, I took a trip to the LVCC to be briefed us on a pair of new Crucial SSD models:

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The new MX200 is an evolution of the previous MX100 line, with the most notable addition being Dynamic Write Acceleration. DWA can flip dies between SLC and MLC mode on-the-fly, and is detailed in our previous write-up of the Crucial M600 SSD. While the performance was a bit inconsistent in our M600 review, there have likely been improvements if Crucial is putting this feature into their mainstream consumer line. Also interesting is how Crucial intends to package this product in mSATA and M.2 form factors - these have historically been reserved for their higher end M550 line and were not available in the MX100.

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Another addition is the BX100. For this drive, Crucial has decided on the Silicon Motion 2246EN, which should be able to let them get the costs lower than what is possible with the Marvell controller. As a budget targeted model, this one will only be available in the 2.5" SATA form factor. Below are the briefed specs from these two products;

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Another addition is a software solution dubbed 'Crucial Storage Executive'. This is basically their 'Toolbox' solution and handles reporting of S.M.A.R.T. data as well as firmware updates. Crucial has chosen to go the unique route of configuring this tool as a background service that is accessed through a web browser on the host system (most competing solutions are a standalone application).

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The best part of this launch is the pricing. Crucial SSDs have always been highly cost competitive, but look at that launch pricing on the BX100:

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That's $0.40/GB for what looks to be a very decent SSD. These two models are set to ship Q1 2015, so we'll likely see them within the next month or so.

The full press blast for these pair of SSD releases appears after the break.

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Source: Crucial

CES 2015: OCZ shows off new JetExpress SSD controller, Vector 180, Z-Drive 6000

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2015 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: Z-Drive 6000, Vector 180, ssd, SFF-8639, sata, pcie, ocz, NVMe, M.2, JetExpress, CES 2014, CES

At CES, we stopped by OCZ and were briefed on their new SSD controller, the JetExpress:

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As indicated on the placard, the JetExpress supports M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 (M.2 is typically PCIe 2.0), and natively supports both SATA and PCIe / NVMe connectivity.

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I found out some more goodies about this new controller. Aside from being configurable during production to support SATA or PCIe, this is actually a 10 channel controller (SSDs are typically limited to 8 channels). The controller can support LDPC *in addition to* BCH error correction. This is important as LDPC requires more compute power and is slower than BCH, so OCZ is baking in the capability to use BCH early on, and transition over to LDPC as the flash wears to the point where BCH can no longer efficiently correct bad pages. This means the JetExpress should be able to maintain very high performance while extending flash life out with LDPC only when it's needed.

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Above is the Vector 180, which is launching soon. We are under NDA on this product, but nothing is stopping you from checking out the pic of what they had displayed above :).

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Here's the Z-Drive 6000, an SFF-8639 (PCIe 3.0 x4) 2.5" enterprise SSD. The PMC Sierra controller supports NVMe connectivity and power modes are switchable to enable even higher performance. Performance looks to be very competitive with the Intel P3700, rated at 3GB/sec reads and 2GB/sec writes, as well as 700,000 4k random read and 175,000 4k random write IOPS. Our next OCZ review should be of the Vector 180, but samples are not out yet, so stay tuned!

OCZ's press blast for the JetExpress launch appears after the break.

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Source: OCZ

CES 2015: Mycestro Gesture Controller

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2015 - 12:01 PM |
Tagged: mycestro, ces 2015, CES

I just saw a video for the “Mycestro”, pronounced somewhat like maestro, on IGN and it looks interesting. Basically, the device clings to your index finger and lets you use it as a pointer wand. Movement engages when the thumb touches the thumbpad, and it has three buttons below for click events (which apparently allows click and drag). Dragging your thumb against the thumbpad acts as scroll events.

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Seeing the reporter, Alaina Yee, attempting to use it makes it look a bit more precise than a Wii remote, but a definite step down from a mouse or even a trackpad. It looks like it could be annoying, or at least take some practice, to use in a desktop environment, but a home theater PC with a “20-foot UI” might benefit from the convenience (if it can be taken on and off easily).

On the other hand, it has the capability of tracking in 3D space, despite its current role as a mouse. An SDK is not yet available, but the company says that it is in development. Of course, if future applications is what you are interested in, you may want to wait until after the development kit is released to see what it actually supports.

The Mycestro is available now (and has been since November) at their website for $149.

Source: Mycestro

CES 2015: Audi & LG Partner on Smartwatch Running webOS

Subject: General Tech, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 03:26 AM |
Tagged: smartwatch, LG, ces 2015, CES, audi

There is a unique smartwatch at CES this year, which unfolds to become a camera quadcopter. I guess surprisingly, for some people, a selfie stick is not offbeat enough. And that's fine, more power to them.

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Image Credit: Android Central

There is also a second, unique smart watch at CES this year because it does not run Android (or iOS). The unnamed device, which is a collaboration between LG and Audi, is powered by webOS. In case you missed it, LG has licensed webOS from HP for use in its smart TVs. The operating system is open source under the permissive Apache license.

When Android Central was playing around with the watch, they noticed the listing of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC (MSM8626). The 8626 is a quad-core, ARM Cortex A7-based processor (up to 1.2 GHz) with a Qualcomm Adreno 305 GPU. This is a fair amount of power for a smartwatch, although core count and frequency could be reduced for battery life.

With Mobile World Congress coming up in February (update Jan 9th @ 11:30am: sorry for the mistake... it's the first week of March), we might see more details soon.

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CES 2015: ASUS Talks 500 Million Motherboard Mark, Ecosystem Goals

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 02:51 AM |
Tagged: video, ces 2015, CES, asus, 500 million motherboards

In 2014, ASUS crossed the 500 million motherboards sold mark for total units, an achievement to be proud of for certain. And while I would have thought that the awesome keychains made for the occasion that feature the X99-Deluxe on one side and the ISA-386C from 1989 on the other would be enough, ASUS is going to go further. Expect a several month long celebration that will feature unique content, prizes and giveaways as well as special edition hardware like the Sabertooth Z97 Mark S and its all white PCB.

I got the chance to speak with Dennis Pang about the 500 million mark, what the company sees as its vision for the immediate future and how it has used its experience to move into other consumer markets like keyboards, mice, monitors, networking and more.

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CES 2015: Plextor announces M7e

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 01:44 AM |
Tagged: plextor, pcie, NVMe, Marvell 88SS9293, M7e, M6e Black, M.2, CES 2014, CES

Today Plextor announced the successor to the M6e (that we reviewed here) - the M7e:

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The M7e uses the same Marvell 88SS9293 that will be in Kingston's Hyperx Predator, and the performance is certainly impressive:

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1.4GB/sec reads and 1.0GB/sec writes. Plextor's demo compared to an identical testbed running a Samsung XP941, and the M7e was faster in nearly every performance trait.

Next up is a bit of a gorgeous refresh to the M6e - the M6e Black Edition:

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The above photo was taken HDR, so the Black Edition appears darker than in the above photo. This is basically a repackaging of the M6e, in a housing that should run much cooler. Plextor got a bit creative designing this one, and they even added a SATA power connector - an option for those who feel their motherboard may not be providing sufficient power over the PCIe connector. Here's an exploded diagram for your viewing pleasure:

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Plextor also announced an update to their DRAM caching solution, dubbed PlexTurbo 2.0:

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Cached speeds were certainly impressive here, showing a roughly 2x improvement over the initial release of their software.

The M7e does not launch until mid-2015, but the M6e Black Edition will be coming *much* sooner, and we will have a review of the latter up within the next few days.

Press blast for the M7e after the break.

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Source: Plextor

CES 2015: Silicon Motion SM2256 seen in action, capable of hybrid TLC/SLC caching

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 01:17 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2015, silicon motion, SM2256, ssd, tlc, slc

We first saw the Silicon Motion SM2256 controller at Flash Memory Summit, but now we've seen it live, in action, and driving several different types of TLC NAND.

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Silicon Motion had this live demo running on a testbed at their suite:

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The performance looked very good considering the 2256 is designed to efficiently push TLC flash, which is slower than MLC. As their representative was explaining that the SM2256 is currently being tested with Samsung, Toshiba, and SK Hynix TLC flash, I noticed the HDTune write trace:

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Those familiar with HDTune and Samsung SSDs with Samsung's TurboWrite cache (from the 840/850 EVO) will recognize the above - the SSD begins writing at SLC speed and after that cache is full, the SSD then drops to writing at TLC speed. I specifically asked about this, as we've only Samsung flash provisioned with an SLC portion of each die, and the answer was that Toshiba and SK Hynix TLC flash also supports such a subdivision. This is good news, as it means increased competition from competing SSDs that can accomplish the same SLC burst writes as the Samsung EVO series.

We heard from a few vendors that will soon be launching SM2256 equipped SSDs this year, and we eagerly await the opportunity to see what they are capable of.

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CES 2015: Mushkin launches Striker SSD, teases 4TB consumer PCIe, new M.2 and SandForce SSDs

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 01:00 AM |
Tagged: Striker, ssd, Mushkin, ces 2015, CES

At CES 2015, Mushkin launches their Striker 2.5" SSD product line:

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The Striker is based on the Phison S10 controller, which should perform comparably to the Neutron XT that we reviewed back in November. We should point out that in the above photo, the Striker is sitting next to the Reactor, which is currently selling for $0.36/GB on Newegg.

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This is a prototype of looks is to be a monster of a budget PCIe SSD. Using a Marvell SATA RAID chip to link four Silicon Motion controlled SSDs together in RAID-0, this beast is to (hopefully) be available in 960GB all the way up to 4TB capacities, and Mushkin is targeting $0.50/GB or lower when it launches later this year.

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Details are slim here, but Mushkin is smartly jumping on the M.2 bandwagon.

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SandForce has had their new controller in the works for far too long (we saw silicon demos like this last CES in fact), but we are hoping to see actual product released this year. Note this delay is solely due to delays in SandForce's development process.

Full press blast for the Striker after the break.

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Source: Mushkin

CES 2015: EVGA Shows Two New GTX 980 Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 12:46 AM |
Tagged: video, maxwell, Kingpin, hydro copper, GTX 980, GM204, evga, classified, ces 2015, CES

EVGA posted up in its normal location at CES this year and had its entire lineup of goodies on display. There were a pair of new graphics cards we spotted too including the GTX 980 Hydro Copper and the GTX 980 Classified Kingpin Edition.

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Though we have seen EVGA water cooling on the GTX 980 already, the new GTX 980 Hydro Copper uses a self-contained water cooler, built by Asetek, rather than a complete GPU water block. The memory and power delivery is cooled by the rest of the original heatsink and blower fan but because of lowered GPU temperatures, the fan will nearly always spin at its lowest RPM.

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Speaking of temperatures, EVGA is saying that GPU load temperatures will be in the 40-50C range, significantly lower than what you have with even the best air coolers on the GTX 980 today. As for users that already have GTX 980 cards, EVGA is planning to sell the water cooler individually so you can upgrade yourself. Pricing isn't set on this but it should be available sometime in February.

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Fans of the EVGA Classified Kingpin series will be glad to know that the GTX 980 iteration is nearly ready, also available in February and also without an known MSRP.

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EVGA has included an additional 6-pin power connector, rearranged the memory traces and layout for added memory frequency and includes a single-slot bracket for any users that eventually remove the impressive air cooler for a full-on water block.

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CES 2015: Storage Visions Sightings Part 2: OWC, Intel, Micron, Samsung

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 12:40 AM |
Tagged: storage visions, ssd, Samsung, owc, micron, Intel, ces 2015, CES

We covered some other Storage Visions sightings in a prior post, so now that a bit of the CES dust is settling down, here's the rest of what was cool to see at Storage Visions:

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We'll start off with the Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro Plus, seen here with a pair of OWC Mercury Extreme Pro SSDs installed. This is a PCIe to 4-channel SATA HBA. The controller does not appear to employ RAID, leaving that functionality up to the host system OS. Two 2.5" SATA devices can be mounted directly to the PCB, and an additional two SATA channels are available through the rear panel eSATA ports. This card is marketed primarily as a storage expander for Mac products, and can be connected to a Mac Pro via a Thunderbolt-to-PCIe card expander.

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Here is an ASUS Copper, which bridges M.2 (enclosed within a 2.5" housing) to a SATA Express link. This may be handy for current generation PCIe 2.0 x2 M2 devices, but with PCIe 2.0 x4 and 3.0 x4 SSDs on the horizon, a SATA Express device of this type will rather quickly become a throughput bottleneck.

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Various recent enterprise SSDs. Bottom left is our first sighting of a P3500, sitting next to a Micron P420M, which is just below a Micron M500DC. The right side is all Samsung, and includes an XS1715, which is not SATA, but PCIe/NVMe via an SFF-8639 connector. There are a few M.2 units in the center, and what appears to be another 1715 HHHL unit (PCIe/NVMe) at the bottom right.

That wraps up the Storage Visions goodies. Stand by for more storage related posts as we comb through all of the press releases and photos from the meetings we attended earlier this week.

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PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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