Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Plextor
Tagged: ssd, plextor, pcie, 256GB

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

In recent years, Plextor has branched beyond their renowned lines of optical storage devices, and into the realm of SSDs. They have done fairly well so far, treading carefully on their selection of controllers and form factors. Their most recent offerings include the M6S and M6M (reviewed here), and are based on Marvell controllers coupled with Toshiba flash. Given that the most recent Marvell controllers are also available in a PCIe variant, Plextor also chose to offer their M6 series in PCIe half height and M.2 form factor. These last two offerings are not simply SATA SSDs bridged over to PCIe, they are natively PCIe 2.0 x2 (1 GB/s), which gives a nice boost over the current SATA limit of 6Gb/sec (600 MB/sec). Today we are going to kill two birds with one stone by evaluating the half-height PCIe version:

DSC06024.JPG

As you can see, this is nothing more than the M.2 version on a Plextor branded interposer board. All results of this review should be identical to the bare M.2 unit plugged into a PCIe 2.0 x2 capable M.2 port on either a motherboard or mobile device. Note that those devices need to support the 2280 form factor, which is 80mm in length.

15-m.2-bracket-in-board-with-ssd.jpg

Here's the M.2 version installed on an ASUS X99-Deluxe, as tested by Morry.

Read on for the full review!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Corsair

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

During our coverage of the Flash Memory Summit, we spotted the new Phison PS3110-S10 controller:

DSC04260.JPG

At that time we only knew that Phison was going to team up with another SSD manufacturer to get these to market. We now know that manufacturer is Corsair, and their new product is to be called the Neutron XT. How do we know this? Well, we've got one sitting right here:

DSC06034.JPG

While the Neutron has not officially launched (pricing is not even available), we have been afforded an early look into the performance of this new controller / SSD. While this is suspected to be a cost effective entry into the SSD marketplace, for now all we can do is evaluate the performance, so let's get to it!

Read on for the full review!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Inateck

Meet the Inateck barebones tool-free HDD

in1.png

Recently Inatek sent over two products to test out, the FEU3NS-1 USB 3.0 HDD Tool Free External Enclosure and the BP2001 10W Bluetooth Stereo Speaker.  Inatek has been around for a while, though originally their products were only available in the EU they have recently expanded to North America.  They sell a variety of peripherals such as PCIe USB cards, cables and chargers as well as Bluetooth input devices and mobile device protectors, in addion to external HDDs enclosures and of course Bluetooth speakers.

in2.png

The first product to take a look at is the USB 3.0 enclosure which ships with a USB cable and manual in addition to the tool free USB HDD enclosure.  It is a very simple product at a very low price and is small enough to stick in a laptop bag without having an unsightly bulge.  The base model is currently $14 on Amazon and for an extra $5 you can get one which supports USB Attached SCSI Protocol to allow an SSD to hit full speed when installed in the enclosure.  The USB 3.0 cable is a dual male cable; no proprietary plugs or breakable adapters needed to make this work and as enough power can be provided over USB that this is the only cable you will need. The only compatibility issue concerns the relatively uncommon 12mm 2.5" drives which will not fit, 9.5mm and 7mm are both acceptable and there is a removable cushion to keep your 7mm drive nice and snug.

Continue reading our review of an Inateck HDD Enclosure and Bluetooth speaker!

SSDs, Linux and alternate file systems

Subject: Storage | November 14, 2014 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: btrfs, EXT4, XFS, F2FS, 530 series, Intel, raid, unix humour, linux

When you use Linux you have a choice as to which file system you wish to use, a choice that never occurs to most Windows users but can spark an argument every bit as vicious as the eternal debate over EMACS versus VIM versus whichever text editor you prefer.  There has not been much SSD benchmarking done on alternate files systems until now, Phoronix has benchmarked the Intel 530 series SSD in numerous configurations on Btrfs, EXT4, XFS, and F2FS. With four of the 120GB model available they were able to test the speed of the drives in RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and 1+0.  There is obviously still some compatibility issues as some tests failed to run in certain configurations but overall these drives performed as expected.  While the results did not vary widely it is worth reading through their article if you plan on building a high speed storage machine which will run Linux.

image.php_.jpg

"Following the recent Btrfs RAID: Native vs. Mdadm comparison, the dual-HDD Btrfs RAID benchmarks, and four-SSD RAID 0/1/5/6/10 Btrfs benchmarks are RAID Linux benchmarks on these four Intel SATA 3.0 solid state drives using other file-systems -- including EXT4, XFS, and Btrfs with Linux 3.18."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Phoronix

The Intel SSD DC P3500 is coming sooner than we thought

Subject: Storage | November 12, 2014 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: ssd, pcie, NVMe, Intel, DC P3500

Since we reviewed the Intel SSD DC P3700, many of you have been drooling over the idea of an 18-channel NVMe PCIe SSD, even more so given that the P3500 variant was to launch at a $1.50/GB target price. It appears we are getting closer to that release, as the P3500 has been appearing on some web sites in pre-order or out of stock status.

P3500.jpg

ShopBLT lists the 400GB part at $629 ($1.57/GB), while Antares Pro has an out of stock listing at $611 ($1.53/GB).  The other two capacities are available at a similar cost/GB. We were hoping to see an 800GB variant, but it appears Intel has stuck to their initial plan. Here are the part numbers we’ve gathered, for your Googling pleasure:

Half-height PCIe:

  • 400GB: SSDPEDMX400G401
  • 1.2TB: SSDPEDMX012T401
  • 2TB: SSDPEDMX020T401

2.5” SFF-8639 (*not SATA*):

  • 400GB: SSDPE2MX400G401
  • 1.2TB: SSDPE2MX012T401
  • 2TB: SSDPE2MX020T401

We did spot a date of December 12th in an Amazon listing, but I wouldn't count that as a solid date, as many of the listings there had errors (like 10 packs for the price of one).

Intel refreshes SSD DC S3500 Series to include larger capacities, M.2 form factor

Subject: Storage | November 11, 2014 - 05:32 PM |
Tagged: Intel, ssd, dc s3500, M.2

Today Intel refreshed their Datacenter Series of SSDs, specifically their DC S3500. We have reviewed this model in the past. It uses the same controller that is present in the S3700, as well as the SSD 730 Series (though it is overclocked in that series).

130611-221736-7.31.jpg

The full line of Intel Datacenter SSDs (minus the P3700). DC S3500 is just right of center.

Todays refresh includes higher capacities to the S3500, which now include 1.2TB and 1.6TB on the hign end of capacity. This suggests that Intel is stacking 20nm dies as many as 8 to a package. IOPS performance sees a slight penalty at these new higher capacities, while maximum sequentials are a bit higher due to the increased die count.

Intel SSD DC S3500 Series - M.2.png

Also announced was an M.2 version of the S3500. This packaging is limited to only a few capacity points (80GB, 120GB, 340GB), and is p;rimarily meant for applications where data integrity is critical (i.e. ATM's, server boot partitions, etc).

A standard press blast was unavailable, but full specs are listed after the break.

Source: Intel
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: G.Skill
Tagged: ssd, pcie

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

G.Skill is likely better known for their RAM offerings, but they have actually been in the SSD field since the early days. My first SSD RAID was on a pair of G.Skill Flash SSDs. While they were outmaneuvered by the X25-M, they were equipped with SLC flash, and G.Skill offered them at a significantly lower price than the Samsung OEM units they were based on.

Since those early days of flash, G.Skill has introduced a few additional models but has not been known as a major player in the SSD market. That is set to change today, with their introduction of the Phoenix Blade PCIe SSD:

DSC06010.JPG

If you're eager to know what is inside or how it works, I'll set your mind at ease with this brief summary. The Phoenix Blade is essentially an OCZ RevoDrive 350, but with beefier specs and improved performance. The same SandForce 2281 controllers and Toshiba flash are used. The difference comes in the form of a smaller form factor (half height vs. full height PCIe), and the type of PCIe to SATA bridge chip used. More on that on the disassembly page.

Read on for the full review!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction

Given that we are anticipating a launch of the Samsung 850 EVO very shortly, it is a good time to back fill on the complete performance picture of the 850 Pro series. We have done several full capacity roundups of various SSD models over the past months, and the common theme with all of them is that as the die count is reduced in lower capacity models, so is the parallelism that can be achieved. This effect varies based on what type of flash memory die is used, but the end result is mostly an apparent reduction in write performance. Fueling this issue is the increase in flash memory die capacity over time.

progression-2.png

There are two different ways to counteract the effects of write speed reductions caused by larger capacity / fewer dies:

  • Reduce die capacity.
  • Increase write performance per die.

Recently there has been a trend towards *lower* capacity dies. Micron makes their 16nm flash in both 128Gbit and 64Gbit. Shifting back towards the 64Gbit dies in lower capacity SSD models helps them keep the die count up, increasing overall parallelism, and therefore keeping write speeds and random IO performance relatively high.

Read on for the results of our full capacity roundup!

Toshiba Launches New 4TB and 5TB 7200 RPM Desktop Hard Drives

Subject: Storage | November 1, 2014 - 08:10 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, sata 3, hdd, Hard Drive, 7200 rpm, 5TB, 4TB

This week, Toshiba introduced 4TB and 5TB hard drives to the consumer space. Coming from Toshiba's Digital Products Division, the new drives are part of the company's PH3*00U-1I72 series and are the first four and five Terabyte 3.5" consumer hard drives sporting 7200 RPM spindle speeds (though enterprise and NAS focused drives have been available prior to these new drives).

The new 4TB and 5TB HDDs are 3.5-inch desktop drives with four and five platters respectively. Toshiba is using Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) and Tunnel Magneto-Resistive (TMR) technologies to hit 1TB per platter. The 7,200 RPM spindle speed allows Toshiba to hit an average seek time of 10.5ms, and the 128MB of cache stores frequently accessed data. The new drives are paired with a SATA 3 6Gbps interface. Toshiba has included NCQ (Native Command Queuing) support along with shock sensors and ramp on/off loading safety features.

storage-PH3500U-1I72 5TB Toshiba Hard Drivejpg.jpg

The new drives are compatible with Linux, Mac OSX 10.6, and Windows 7 or newer. Both the 4TB PH3400U-1I72 and 5TB PH3500U-1I72 come with a three year manufacturer warranty.

The 4TB drive has an MSRP of $299 while the 5TB model has an MSRP of $399. Fortunately for digital hoarders, the drives are currently selling at prices below the MSRP. The 5TB model is being priced around $320 while the 4TB model is priced between $220 and $240 at the time of writing depending on your retailer of choice.

Source: Toshiba

Samsung Germany acknowledges '840 Basic' performance slow down, promises fix

Subject: Storage | October 29, 2014 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: tlc, Samsung, firmware, 840

If you own a Samsung 840 SSD, it appears that after much repeated and vocal pressure, Samsung has acknowledged the slow down also affects your drive. We're not talking about the EVO or the Pro, this is the original pure TLC model that launched (the EVO is a TLC+SLC cache hybrid while the Pro is all MLC). Here's the quote from Samsung, via Computer Base:

Uns ist durch das Feedback, das uns erreicht hat, bekannt, dass es auch beim Zugriff auf bestimmte Daten bei Modellen der SSD 840 zu niedrigeren Leseleistungen als angegeben kommen kann.

Im Moment untersuchen unsere Produktexperten systematisch die betreffenden SSD-Modelle innerhalb verschiedener Systemumgebungen und arbeiten an einer schnellstmöglichen Lösung.

Aufgrund der unterschiedlichen Technologien sind die Modelle der PRO-Serie (840 PRO und 850 PRO) nicht betroffen.

Samsung

What? You can't read German? Neither can we, but paraphrasing from the poor quality translation from several online tools, we deduce that Samsung has acknowledged the issue on the 840, and is working on a solution as quickly as possible. This is similar verbiage to the statement issued for the 840 EVO acknowledgement.

** Update **

Thanks to Zyhmet, who commented shortly after posting, here's a human translation:

Because of the feedback we got, we realized that, accessing specific data with units of SSD 840 could lead to lower reading performance.

For the moment our experts are systematically examining the SSD-units with different system environments and we are working on a solution as fast as possible.

Due to different technologies the PRO-series (840 PRO and 850 PRO) are not affected.

Samsung

** End update **

Side note - of those who have used the 840 EVO Performance Restoration Tool, a few have reported an issue cropping up. The error manifests as a SMART data misreporting error:

temp (cooling).png

What's odd about this error is that it was present on some of our pre-production test samples (firmware EXT0AB0Q), and was corrected once we updated those samples to the first retail build (EXT0BB0Q). The image above was an actual screen shot taken during our temperature-dependency testing of the slow down issue. While none of our samples had the issue return when updating all the way to the performance restored firmware, one of those updates did corrupt the Master File Table, rendering the majority of the SSD inaccessible. While we have seen no other reports of corrupted partitions, several users noticed the SMART reporting issue after updating. It's odd to see this sort of a regression with firmware updates, in that a bug fixed in the initial shipping firmware has returned (for some) in a subsequent update. If you've updated your 840 EVO with their Performance Restoration Tool, it may be a good time to check your SMART attributes. If you see the error above, please leave us a note in the comments.

Circling back to the slow down issue - given that it is present in two TLC-based SSDs from Samsung, one has to wonder if this issue exists in other Samsung TLC SSDs as well. Here's the list of potentials (thanks to an anonymous comment on a prior story):

  • 840 EVO - 19nm TLC
  • 840 - 21nm TLC
  • PM841 - 21nm TLC
  • PM851 - 21nm TLC (some SKUs)
  • 845DC EVO - 19nm TLC
  • PM843 - 21nm TLC
  • PM853T - 21nm TLC

We have several questions out to Samsung on these issues, but to date they have not been answered. More to follow as we wait for an official (English) response.