Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Micron

Introduction and Specifications

Today Micron lifted the review embargo on their new M600 SSD lineup. We covered their press launch a couple of weeks ago, but as a recap, the headline new feature is the new Dynamic Write Acceleration feature. As this is a new (and untested) feature that completely changes the way an SSD must be tested, we will be diving deep on this one later in this article. For the moment, let's dispose with the formalities.

Here are the samples we received for testing:

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It's worth noting that since all M600 models use 16nm 128Gbit dies, packaging is expected to have a negligible impact on performance. This means the 256GB MSATA sample should perform equally to its 2.5" SATA counterpart. The same goes for comparisons against M.2 form factor units. More detail is present in the specs below:

Specifications:

M600-4.png

Highlights from the above specs are the increased write speeds (no doubt thanks to Dynamic Write Acceleration) and improved endurance figures. For reference, the prior gen Micron models were rated at 72TB (mostly regardless of capacity), so seeing figures upwards of 400TB indicates Micron's confidence in their 16nm process.

Packaging:

Sorry to disappoint here, but the M600 is an OEM targeted drive, meaning its 'packaging' will likely be the computer it comes installed in. If you manage to find it through a reseller, it will likely come in OEM-style brown/white box packaging.

We have been evaluating these samples for just under a week and have logged *many* hours on them, so let's get to it!

Continue reading our review of the Micron M600 SSDs!!

Son of Voyager, Corsair's second wireless HDD enclosure

Subject: Storage | September 25, 2014 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: corsair, Voyager Air 2, wireless hdd

The Corsair Voyager Air 2 is the second iteration of wireless drive, this years model coming with a 1TB drive, a totally redesigned shell and a $20 drop in price.  Legit Reviews warns that while the price drop is appreciated it no longer comes with the charging kit which will cost you extra.  It supports USB 3.0 and 802.11 b/g/n transfers as well as Internet passthrough, keep in mind that WiFi is disabled once the USB plug is connected.  The overall speeds were in line with what was expected and the battery life is impressive for 720p streaming, though 1080p streaming drains it much more quickly.  See the Voyager in action right here.

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"Last year we took a look at Corsair’s first wireless hard drive, called Voyager Air, which was a very sleek and impressive unit that we really liked. Today, we’re going to take a look at the more recently revamped version, conveniently called Voyager Air 2. We’ll take a look and see what this drive all has to offer and if there is anything new brought to the table."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Tech Report's SSD Endurance Test Is Down to Two

Subject: General Tech, Storage | September 21, 2014 - 05:41 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, kingston hyper x, kingston, endurance, corsair neutron gtx, corsair, 840 pro

Many drives have died over the last year and a bit. The Tech Report has been torturing SSDs with writes until they drop. Before a full petabyte of data was written, three of the six drives kicked the bucket. They are now at 1500TB of total writes and one of the three survivors, the 240GB Corsair Neutron GTX, dropped out. This was a bit surprising as it was reporting fairly high health when it entered "the petabyte club" aside from a dip in read speeds.

The two remaining drives are the Samsung 840 Pro (256GB) and Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB).

techreport-deadssds.jpg

Two stand, one fell (Image Credit: Tech Report)

Between those two, the Samsung 840 Pro is given the nod as the Kingston drive lived through uncorrectable errors; meanwhile, the Samsung has yet to report any true errors (only reallocations). Since the test considers a failure to be a whole drive failure, though, the lashings will persist until the final drive gives out (or until Scott Wasson gives up in a glorious sledgehammer apocalypse -- could you imagine if one of them lasted a decade? :3).

Of course, with just one unit from each model, it is difficult to faithfully compare brands with this marathon. While each lasted a ridiculously long time, the worst of the bunch putting up with a whole 2800 full-drive writes, it would not be fair to determine an average lifespan for a given model with one data point each. It is good to suggest that your SSD probably did not die from a defrag run -- but it is still a complete waste of your time and you should never do it.

Source: Tech Report
Subject: Editorial, Storage
Manufacturer: PC Perspecitve
Tagged: tlc, Samsung, bug, 840 evo, 840

Investigating the issue

** Edit ** (24 Sep)

We have updated this story with temperature effects on the read speed of old data. Additional info on page 3.

** End edit **

** Edit 2 ** (26 Sep)

New quote from Samsung:

"We acknowledge the recent issue associated with the Samsung 840 EVO SSDs and are qualifying a firmware update to address the issue.  While this issue only affects a small subset of all 840 EVO users, we regret any inconvenience experienced by our customers.  A firmware update that resolves the issue will be available on the Samsung SSD website soon.  We appreciate our customer’s support and patience as we work diligently to resolve this issue."

** End edit 2 **

Over the past week or two, there have been growing rumblings from owners of Samsung 840 and 840 EVO SSDs. A few reports scattered across internet forums gradually snowballed into lengthy threads as more and more people took a longer look at their own TLC-based Samsung SSD's performance. I've spent the past week following these threads, and the past few days evaluating this issue on the 840 and 840 EVO samples we have here at PC Perspective. This post is meant to inform you of our current 'best guess' as to just what is happening with these drives, and just what you should do about it.

The issue at hand is an apparent slow down in the reading of 'stale' data on TLC-based Samsung SSDs. Allow me to demonstrate:

840 EVO 512 test hdtach-2-.png

You might have seen what looks like similar issues before, but after much research and testing, I can say with some confidence that this is a completely different and unique issue. The old X25-M bug was the result of random writes to the drive over time, but the above result is from a drive that only ever saw a single large file write to a clean drive. The above drive was the very same 500GB 840 EVO sample used in our prior review. It did just fine in that review, and at afterwards I needed a quick temporary place to put a HDD image file and just happened to grab that EVO. The file was written to the drive in December of 2013, and if it wasn't already apparent from the above HDTach pass, it was 442GB in size. This brings on some questions:

  • If random writes (i.e. flash fragmentation) are not causing the slow down, then what is?
  • How long does it take for this slow down to manifest after a file is written?

Read on for the full scoop!

Micron's M600 SSD, SLC in the front MLC in the back

Subject: Storage | September 18, 2014 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: micron, M600, SLC. MLC, DWA

Micron's M600 SSD has a new trick up its sleeve, called dynamic write acceleration which is somewhat similar to the HDDs with an NAND cache to accelerate the speed frequently accessed data can be read but with a brand new trick.  In this case SLC NAND acts as the cache for MLC NAND but it does so dynamically, the NAND can switch from SLC to MLC and back depending on the amount of usage.  There is a cost, the SLC storage capacity is 50% lower than MLC so the larger the cache the lower the total amount of storage is available.  As well the endurance rating is also higher than previous drives, not because of better NAND but because of new trim techniques being used.  This is not yet a retail product so The Tech Report does not have benchmarks but this goes to show you there are plenty more tricks we can teach SSDs.

drives.jpg

"Micron's new M600 SSD can flip its NAND cells between SLC and MLC modes on the fly, enabling a dynamic write cache that scales with the drive's unused capacity. We've outlined how this dynamic write acceleration is supposed to impact performance, power consumption, and endurance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: ADATA

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

It seems a lot of folks have been incorporating Silicon Motion's SM2246EN controller into their product lines. We first reviewed the Angelbird SSD wrk, but only in a 512GB capacity. We then reviewed a pair of Corsair Force LX's (256GB and 512GB). ADATA has joined the club with their new Premier SP610 product line, and today we are going to take a look at all available capacities of this new model:

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It's fortunate that ADATA was able to sample us a full capacity spread, as this will let us evaluate all shipping SSD capacites that exist for the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller.

Continue reading as we evaluate the ADATA Premier SP610!

Micron launches M600 SATA SSD with innovative SLC/MLC Dynamic Write Acceleration

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 11:29 AM |
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, mlc, micron, M600, crucial

You may already be familiar with the Micron Crucial M550 line of SSDs (if not, familiarize yourself with our full capacity roundup here). Today Micron is pushing their tech further by releasing a new M600 line. The M600's are the first full lineup from Micron to use their 16nm flash (previously only in their MX100 line). Aside from the die shrink, Micron has addressed the glaring issue we noted in our M550 review - that issue being the sharp falloff in write speeds in lower capacities of that line. Their solution is rather innovative, to say the least.

Recall the Samsung 840 EVO's 'TurboWrite' cache, which gave that drive a burst of write speed during short sustained write periods. The 840 EVO accomplished this by each TLC die having a small SLC section of flash memory. All data written passed through this cache, and once full (a few GB, varying with drive capacity), write speed slowed to TLC levels until the host system stopped writing for long enough for the SSD to flush the cached data from SLC to TLC.

high_res_M600D_form_factors_1.jpg

The Micron M600 SSD in 2.5" SATA, MSATA, and M.2 form factors.

Micron flips the 'typical' concept of caching methods on its head. It does employ two different types of flash writing (SLC and MLC), but the first big difference is that the SLC is not really cache at all - not in the traditional sense, at least. The M600 controller, coupled with some changes made to Micron's 16nm flash, is able to dynamically change the mode of each flash memory die *on the fly*. For example, the M600 can place most of the individual 16GB (MLC) dies into SLC mode when the SSD is empty. This halves the capacity of each die, but with the added benefit of much faster and more power efficient writes. This means the M600 would really perform more like an SLC-only SSD so long as it was kept less than half full.

M600-1.png

As you fill the SSD towards (and beyond) half capacity, the controller incrementally clears the SLC-written data, moving that data onto dies configured to MLC mode. Once empty, the SLC die is switched over to MLC mode, effectively clearing more flash area for the increasing amount of user data to be stored on the SSD. This process repeats over time as the drive is filled, meaning you will see less SLC area available for accelerated writing (see chart above). Writing to the SLC area is also advantageous in mobile devices, as those writes not only occur more quickly, they consume less power in the process:

M600-2.png

For those worst case / power user scenarios, here is a graph of what a sustained sequential write to the entire drive area would look like:

M600-3.png

Realize this is not typical usage, but if it happened, you would see SLC speeds for the first ~45% of the drive, followed by MLC speeds for another 10%. After the 65% point, the drive is forced to initiate the process of clearing SLC and flipping dies over to MLC, doing so while the host write is still in progress, and therefore resulting in the relatively slow write speed (~50 MB/sec) seen above. Realize that in normal use (i.e. not filling the entire drive at full speed in one go), garbage collection would be able to rearrange data in the background during idle time, meaning write speeds should be near full SLC speed for the majority of the time. Even with the SSD nearly full, there should be at least a few GB of SLC-mode flash available for short bursts of SLC speed writes.

This caching has enabled some increased specs over the prior generation models:

M600-4.png

M600-5.png

Note the differences in write speeds, particularly in the lower capacity models. The 128GB M550 was limited to 190MB/sec, while the M600 can write at 400MB/sec in SLC mode (which is where it should sit most of the time).

We'll be testing the M600 shortly and will come back with a full evaluation of the SSD as a whole and more specifically how it handles this new tech under real usage scenarios.

Full press blast after the break.

Source: Micron

IDF 2014 Storage Roundup - RAM and NVMe and IOPS! Oh my!

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | September 16, 2014 - 09:49 AM |
Tagged: ram, NVMe, IOPS, idf 2014, idf, ddr4, DDR

The Intel Developer Forum was last week, and there were many things to be seen for sure. Mixed in with all of the wearable and miniature technology news, there was a sprinkling of storage goodness. Kicking off the show, we saw new cold storage announcements from both HGST and Western Digital, but that was about it for HDD news, as the growing trend these days is with solid state storage technologies. I'll start with RAM:

First up was ADATA, who were showing off 64GB DDR3 (!) DIMMs:

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Next up were various manufacturers pushing DDR4 technology quite far. First was SK Hynix's TSV 128GB DIMMs (covered in much greater depth last week):

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Next up is Kingston, who were showing a server chassis equipped with 256GB of DDR4:

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If you look closer at the stats, you'll note there is more RAM in this system than flash:

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Next up is IDT, who were showing off their LRDIMM technology:

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This technology adds special data buffers to the DIMM modules, enabling significantly higher amounts of installed RAM into a single system, with a 1-2 step de-rating of clock speeds as you take capacities to the far extremes. The above server has 768GB of DDR4 installed and running!:

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Moving onto flash memory type stuff, Scott covered Intel's new 40 Gbit Ethernet technology last week. At IDF, Intel had a demo showing off some of the potential of these new faster links:

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This demo used a custom network stack that allowed a P3700 in a local system to be matched in IOPS by an identical P3700 *being accessed over the network*. Both local and networked storage turned in the same 450k IOPS, with the remote link adding only 8ms of latency. Here's a close-up of one of the SFF-8639 (2.5" PCIe 3.0 x4) SSDs and the 40 Gbit network card above it (low speed fans were installed in these demo systems to keep some air flowing across the cards):

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Stepping up the IOPS a bit further, Microsoft was showing off the capabilities of their 'Inbox AHCI driver', shown here driving a pair of P3700's at a total of 1.5 million IOPS:

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...for those who want to get their hands on this 'Inbox driver', guess what? You already have it! "Inbox" is Microsoft's way of saying the driver is 'in the box', meaning it comes with Windows 8. Bear in bind you may get better performance with manufacturer specific drivers, but it's still a decent showing for a default driver.

Now for even more IOPS:

DSC05441.JPG

Yes, you are reading that correctly. That screen is showing a system running over 11 million IOPS. Think it's RAM? Wrong. This is flash memory pulling those numbers. Remember the 2.5" P3700 from a few pics back? How about 24 of them:

DSC05443.JPG

The above photo shows three 2U systems (bottom), which are all connected to a single 2U flash memory chassis (top). The top chassis supports three submodules, each with eight SFF-8639 SSDs. The system, assembled by Newisys, demonstrates just how much high speed flash you can fit within an 8U space. The main reason for connecting three systems to one flash chassis is because it takes those three systems to process the full IOPS capability of 24 low latency NVMe SSDs (that's 96 total lanes of PCIe 3.0!)!

So there you have it, IDF storage tech in a nutshell. More to come as we follow these emerging technologies to their maturity.

Apotop S3C SSD, Silicon Motion's new controller for less than $0.50/GB

Subject: Storage | September 12, 2014 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: SM2246EN, S3C, mlc, Apotop

The Apotop S3C SSD uses the same controller as the Angelbird drive Al reviewed recently.  It uses synchronous MLC NAND with the 4 channel present on the Silicon Motion controller and is able to provide more than the specified 490 MB/s read and 275 MB/s write in some benchmarks.  It can often read faster than the wrk SSD but the writes cannot always keep up though it is not something likely to be noticeable in real usage scenarios.  The MSRP is very attractive with the 512GB model expected to be released at $200.  Silicon Motion is likely to start appearing in a lot more SSDs in the near future with this mix of price and performance.  Read the full review at Kitguru.

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"The new Apotop S3C SSD features the Silicon Motion 2246EN controller which we first reviewed in the Angelbird 512GB wrk SSD back in August this year. The controller impressed us, so we have already high hopes for the Apotop S3C."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: KitGuru

SanDisk Launches 512GB SDXC Card for $799.99

Subject: General Tech, Storage | September 12, 2014 - 01:08 PM |
Tagged: sandisk, sdxc, sdhc, sd card, 512GB

Assuming your camera, card reader, or other device fully conforms to the SDXC standard, Sandisk has developed a half-terabyte (512GB) memory card. Beyond being gigantic, it can be read at up to 95 MB/s and written at up to 90 MB/s, which should be enough to stream 4K video. Sandisk claims that it is temperature proof, shock proof, water proof, and x-ray proof. It also comes with a lifetime warranty and "RescuePRO Deluxe" recovery software but, honestly, I expect people would just use PhotoRec or something.

It should be noted that the SDXC standard covers memory cards up to 2TB so it will probably not be too long before we see another standard get ratified. What is next? SDUC? SDYC? SDALLTHEC? Blah! This is why IEEE assigns names sequentially.

The SanDisk Extreme PRO UHS-I SDHC/SDXC 512GB memory card should be available now, although I cannot yet find them online, for $799.99 MSRP.

Source: SanDisk