Subject: Editorial, Storage | October 24, 2012 - 08:26 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: hybrid, fusion drive, fusion, apple
Dubbed 'Fusion Drive', this tech enables the late 2012 Mac Mini and iMac models to have a pseudo-hybrid drive. There's been a lot of speculation today on just how this technology will work, but I've cut through the chaff to try and shed some proper light on just how this new thing works, and how it is so different than any other 'hybrid' solution out there.
First, it's not a hybrid drive. The iMac or Mac Mini comes with an SSD and a HDD. Two individual SATA devices. Both devices appear as individual drives, even in Disk Utility. Where the magic happens is that OSX can be configured (and is pre-configured in these new systems) to combine the two drives into one drive that presents itself to the user as a single logical volume. The important point is that the drives are 'fused' together, not merged or mirrored. The SSD and HDD each have their own partition, and OSX can reach beneath the Fusion layer and shift files back and forth between the two as it sees fit. Frequently used apps and files can be shifted back and forth between the SSD and HDD, as seen in the below pic:
The biggest differences are in that since it's not a mirrored hybrid solution, where the SSD space is not available, and a failure of the HDD causes loss of all data. Fusion Drive combines the two volumes and *adds* the space together, and the apps or files will sit on either device (but not both). All files written go to the SSD first and are later shifted to the HDD in the background. This is actually a very smart way to handle things. The entire OSX install always stays on the SSD, so there is no concern of OS files 'rolling off' of the SSD cache, causing intermittent slowdowns. More (perhaps most) importantly, if the HDD fails on a Fusion Drive setup, OSX should theoretically just keep on chugging, albeit without access to the files or apps that were stored on the HDD. On the flip side, if the SSD were to fail, the HDD could simply be mounted in Target Mode under another Mac, and all files stored to that drive could then be recovered. Sure you won't get everything back in these scenarios, but it provides *much* more flexibility for data recovery, and it's worth repeating the fact that an HDD failure in any other hybrid solution results in the loss of ALL data.
A couple of other quick gotchas: You can still dual boot with boot camp under a Fusion Drive setup, but the boot camp partition will only be at the end of the HDD, not on the SSD. Windows will not only run slower because it's on the spinning disk, it will run slower because the latter portions of a HDD typically see about half of the throughput as compared to the start of that disk. Also, you are only allowed *one* additional (non-Fusion) partition on the HDD, which can be used for another OSX install *or* for the Boot Camp Windows install. Users who prefer to boot greater than two operating systems on their newer Mac will have to do so with Fusion Drive disabled.
More to follow as more data comes in. For now I'm only working off of the other speculation and the Apple Support Page on the matter.
Subject: Storage | October 17, 2012 - 07:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: cache, ssd, sandisk, ReadyCache 32GB
SanDisk has been making flash based storage product for quite a long time and while they may not come to your mind when you are thinking of buying an SSD, they do have a variety of product lines available. [H]ard|OCP recently reviewed their 32GB ReadyCache SSD, which is powered by their own software and is a full sized SSD, so you won't need an mSATA slot in order to use the device. SanDisk also ensures your data's integrity by copying any data it is going to cache, so that a copy remains on your HDD in case the SSD dies on you. [H] were impressed by the ability of this drive to cache multiple HDDs and RAID volumes, a trick many other solutions can not manage. If you are looking for an inexpensive and easy way to increase your PCs performance you could do a lot worse than SanDisk's ReadyCache.
"SanDisk enters the caching solution market with the SanDisk ReadyCache 32GB SSD. This SSD provides instant acceleration to users' computers through intelligent software provided by Condusiv Technologies and hardware from SanDisk. By adding two tiers of data storage, both SSD and RAM, this solution looks promising."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Corsair's Neutron and Neutron GTX solid-state drives @ The Tech Report
- Corsair Neutron and Corsair Neutron GTX Solid State Drives @ X-bit Labs
- SanDisk Extreme 240GB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ADATA SX300 128GB mSATA SSD Review @ OCC
- Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB Solid State Drive Review @ eTeknix
- Micron P320h PCIe SSD (700GB) @ AnandTech
- Transcend SSD320 256GB SSD @ Tweaktown
- Micron P320h HHHL 700GB PCIe Enterprise SSD Review - Unbelievable IOPS and Absurd Endurance @ SSD Review
- OCZ Vertex 4 128GB SATA III 2.5" SSD Review @ Madshrimps
- 240GB SanDisk Extreme Sold State Drive Review @ PCSTATS
- Corsair Neutron 240GB Solid State Drive Review @ eTeknix
- SMART Storage Systems Optimus 400GB SAS SSD @ SSD News
- Verbatim 2.5" SATA-II SSD 128GB @ Rbmods
- Crucial m4 mSATA 256GB SSD Review @ TechwareLabs
- Transcend SSD720 256GB SSD @ Tweaktown
- PNY Prevail Elite SATA 3 SSD @ SSD Review
- Patriot Gauntlet 320 Wireless HDD PCGTW320S @ Benchmark Reviews
- Silicon Power Diamond D05 Limited Edition 500GB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive @ NikKtech/A>
- Kingston DT R3.0 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- ADATA 16GB UV100 and ADATA 32GB S107 Flash Drives @ Funky Kit
- TonidoPlug 2 Small Home Server Review @ Kitguru
- Shuttle OMNINAS K20 NAS Server Review @ Madshrimps
- QNAP TS869U-RP 8-Bay Rackmount NAS Review @ eTeknix
- Icy Dock Hard Drive Bays (2-bay, 4-bay and 2-bay + Optical) Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Synology DiskStation DS413 4-bay NAS Server for Workgroups and Offices Review @ Madshrimps
- Synology DS412+ NAS @ Tweaktown
- Dane-Elec My Ditto 1TB NAS Review @ eTeknix
- Vantec NexStar HX 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Shuttle OmniNAS KD20 review: first time's the charm? @ Hardware.info
- QNAP TS-869L and TS-269L Turbo NAS @ Legion Hardware
- StarTech mSATA to 2.5 SATA Enclosure Review @ TechwareLabs
- Review of Adata HV610, HD710 and HE720 external hard drives: Something for everyone @ Hardware.info
- Thecus TopTower N6850 6-Bay NAS Review @ eTeknix
Wireless storage for PC, Mac, iOS and Android
Today we are taking a look at the new Patriot Gauntlet 320 external USB 3.0 and wireless hard drive, available starting at $149 at Newegg.com.
The premise is quite simple: take a portable hard drive with USB 3.0 support and add in the ability to share the unit wirelessly with up to 8 different machines and power it by a lithium-ion battery. Not only does the Gauntlet show up in your network as a mountable drive in Windows and Mac OS, the Gauntlet supports using free applications for iOS devices and Android devices to share and stream media.
There are some limitations that you might want to consider including the inability to access network-based devices when using the pass through Internet capability the Gauntlet provides. Also, data transfer performance on the wireless connectivity that the Gauntlet provides seemed pretty low, even with the 802.11n support.
Potential uses cases for the Gauntlet include any time you need a shared data source like working on group projects for school or the office, on-the-go storage for devices like Ultrabooks with smaller hard drives and users that have large media collections they want to use with smart phones and tablets.
Check out our full video review below!
Note that in the video, our early sample of the Gauntlet 320 has the "node" label on it; the Gauntlet Node is a separate device that is only a DIY enclosure WITHOUT an included hard drive. Originally there was a sticker cover the "node" label but incorrectly removed it before filming. Just a heads up!
Introduction and Internals
The Western Digital RAID Edition line of hard drives has been around for some time now, and has largely impressed us with each subsequent release. Since the launches of the RE4-GP and later, the faster spinning RE4, WD's enterprise line had been capped at the 2TB mark. Now that has changed with the introduction of a new line: simply named the RE Series:
Yup, that's right. 4 TeraBytes! With the Green and Red series capped at 3TB, this new RE is the largest capacity drive available from Western Digital. The catch is that, since it's tailored and built for enterprise use, it comes at a rather hefty price premium.
Subject: Storage | October 10, 2012 - 09:30 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ram disk, radeon ramdisk, radeon memory, amd memory, amd
AMD launched a new Radeon branded memory product today called the Radeon RAMDisk. Despite the rather unoriginal name, it is a piece of software that will allow you to use a portion of your system RAM as a hard drive-like storage device where you can install programs. AMD has partnered with Dataram to develop the software.
The AMD Radeon RAMDisk will create drives up to 64GB in size, and is designed to be used with AMD's own Radeon-branded DDR3 modules (though other manufacturer's RAM will work as well). The RAM disk offers up almost-instantaeous access times and impressive read and write speeds for your applications and virtual machines.
According to AMD, the Radeon RAMDisk can reach read speeds as high as 25,600 MB/s with DDR3 1600 RAM and up to 1700% faster game loading times than a traditional mechanical hard drive. It further supports the Windows operating system (Vista and above), and has a minimum system requirement of 4GB of system RAM.
The software costs $18.99 at time of writing for the full version.
The best part about this announcement though is the release of a freeware version of the Radeon RAMDisk that can create disks up to 6GB with AMD-branded RAM or 4GB with RAM from any other manufacturer! While that is fairly limiting in that you are not really going to be able to put much ont there (and installing games is almost out of the question entirely) you can still do a lot with a 4GB RAM disk by installing Office, photo editors, virtual machines (like Peppermint Linux), and other heavily used programs to speed up the important stuff.
You can acess the full press release on the Radeon RAMDisk website.
- Free version - Limited to 4GB or 6GB RAMDisks depending on memory brand.
- Paid version - Create disks up to 64GB
If you have been with the site for at least the year that I’ve been writing here, you will know that I’m a huge fan of RAM disks. So, naturally, when I was passed the press release I just had to try it out.
While the extent of the performance increase is going to vary from program to program, the drive itself is extremely fast. When copying a .iso file to the Radeon RAMDisk, it was limited by my SSD's read speed, for example.
The RAM Disk was set up om my main desktop which has basic specifications as follows:
- Intel Core i7 -860 CPU
- 8GB (4 x 2GB) G.Skill DDR3 at 1333 MHz and 9-9-9-24 CAS timings
- Gigabyte P55-UD3R Motherboard
- 4096 MB Radeon RAMDisk
- 80GB Intel X25-M G2 SSD
- 2TB Samsung Spinpoint hard drive
- Windows 8 RTM
In addition to the file copy tests, I also used the HDTune benchmark to measure transfer speeds. Needless to say, RAM blows solid state NAND out of the water in speed (though it does cost more and is volatile storage).
In fact, it pulled such impressive numbers from HDTune that it skewed the chart a lot. Those little blips underneath it are from my Intel X25-M G2 80GB SSD and my 2TB Samsung Spinpoint mechanical hard drive.
HDTune also reports access times and burst speeds. The RAM disk had a 0.0 ms access time, the SSD has a 0.1 ms access time, and the mechanical hard drive brought up the rear with a 13.9 ms access time. Interestingly, the Samsung hard drive actually beat the SSD in burst speed. The RAM disk crush both of the other drives by a significant margin, however with a burst speed of 5,155 MB/s.
Over the years, I have used a RAMDisk for hosting photo editors as as using the drive for media I was currently working on. It worked well at the time, but the free software was not exactly what I would call stable. However, the AMD software is a mere 6.2 MB download that installs quickly and is easy to configure. The UI is spartan (and resembles Windows Classic), but it gets the job done and has yet to crash on me after trying to break it today (heh). It does not feel "janky" at all, and I have to give AMD and Dataram props for that.
Below are screenshots of the Radeon RAMDisk interface. You can create new disks as well as loading saved ones.
Yes, RAM being faster than hard drive storage is not new information, but I did find it surprising just how much faster it was, even compared to my SSD. Heck, even compared to a DDR2 based RAM disk, it was fast. It really puts into perspective why the hard drive is the slowest aspect of modern computers, and why things can slow to a crawl when the CPU has to reach out past the internal cache and system RAM to the hard drive to fetch data. If you are running a system with a lot of 'extra' RAM, I encourage you to take AMD's new Radeon RAMDisk software for a test drive. It's time to give those DDR3 DIMMs a workout!
Do you use RAM disks to speed up your favorite applications?
Subject: Storage | October 7, 2012 - 03:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, Aspire S5, Aspire S Series, acer
The Acer Aspire S5 is a 13.3", 1366x768 ultrabook with a Intel Core i7-3317U, 4GB of DDR3 and two 128GB SSDs in RAID 0. At its thickest point it measures 0.59" and overall is a blazing fast ultraportable system, in fact TechSpot saw some results where the S5 outperformed a system with OCZ's RevoDrive X3 PCIe SSD inside. Connectivity options are very impressive as well with not only the usual suspects,USB 3.0 and HDMI, there is also a Thunderbolt port on the back. The news is not all good however, as this ultrabook is likely to cost around $1400 which is much higher than the supposed sub-$1000 ultrabook price requirement.
"'Easier said than done' is the best phrase I can think of to describe Intel's ultrabook initiative. On paper, the plan seemed easy enough, although manufacturing partners and knowledgeable consumers alike would testify that it's been anything but. Aspirations to compete with Apple's ultrathin MacBook Air have been met with a number of compromises as hardware makers struggle to find the perfect blend of features while keeping the overall price somewhere around Intel's $1,000 target.
Could a few hundred bucks tacked on the top end make a difference between a vanilla ultrabook and something truly special? That's something Acer is willing to gamble on with its latest flagship ultrabook. "
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Alienware M18x R2 Notebook Review: NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 680M in SLI @ AnandTech
- AVADirect Clevo P170EM: Has AMD’s HD 7970M Got Game @ AnandTech
- Dell U2713HM - Unbeatable performance out of the box @ AnandTech
- GIGABYTE P2542G Gaming Laptop @ Tweaktown
- ASUS G75VW-T1086V @ Hardware.info
- Lenovo ThinkPad Edge S430 @ Kitguru
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon @ Kitguru
- Samsung Series 5 535 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Dell Latitude 6430u hands-on @ The Inquirer
- NZXT Cryo E40 Notebook Cooler Review @ eTeknix
- Cooler Master NotePal I300 Review @ Pro-Clockers
- Glacialtech Igloo Pad Series R15 Laptop Cooling Pad Review @ Frostytech
- Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 3G Review @ TechReviewSource
- Acer Iconia Tab A210 @ XSReviews
- Lenovo IdeaTab A2109 Review @ TechReviewSource
- ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity (TF700T) @ TweakTown
- Apple iOS 6 Mobile OS Review (on an iPad 3) @ TweakTown
- LunaTik Watch Band for the Apple iPod Nano @ TechwareLabs
- Apple AirPort Express review: new generation @ Hardware.info
- Nokia Lumia 900 Cell Phone Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Apple iPhone 5 Review: Thinner, Lighter, Faster @ TechSpot
- Apple iPhone 5 @ Tweaktown
- Apple Iphone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy S3 head to head @ The Inquirer
- Samsung Galaxy Note II vs Apple iPhone 5 @ Hardware.info
- Hands-on with BlackBerry 10 @ Hardware.info
Subject: Storage | October 7, 2012 - 03:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ocz, Vertex 4, indilinx everest 2, ssd, 240gb, Marvell 9145
The Vertex 4 series from OCZ will end up being an intermediary controller between the old Marvell 9145 based Indilinx design which OCZ now owns and a new controller that is being designed in house by OCZ and the Indilinx team which came as part of the acquisition. That doesn't mean this drive should be avoided, the prices are quite good with the 512GB model being one of the most affordable new drives on the market. [H]ard|OCP's testing had it performing at the top of the pack in many benchmarks and the drive comes with a 5 year warranty so you are getting quite a lot for a relatively low price.
"The Vertex 4 is a departure from OCZ's tried and true model of using third party controllers and firmware for its SSDs. Taking control of the firmware with the Vertex 4 gives OCZ the ability to tune the SSDs for speed and performance at lower queue depths and optimize for low latency. We test to see if the Everest 2 Platform delivers."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- SSD prices continue tumbling in Q3 @ The Tech Report
- OCZ Vertex 4 256GB @ LanOC Reviews
- ADATA Premier Pro SP900 256GB SSD Review @ TechwareLabs
- Corsair Accelerator 30GB SSD Cache Drive Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Samsung 830 256GB Solid State Drive Review @ circuitREMIX
- KingFast F3 Plus 240GB 7mm SSD @ Tweaktown
- Samsung 840 Series 250GB SSD @ The SSD Review
- Corsair Neutron 240GB SSD Review @ eTeknix
- Samsung SSD 840 250GB @ Hardware.info
- OWC Mercury Helios PCIe Thunderbolt Expansion Chassis Review - Imagine 800GB/s and 150,000 IOPS @ The SSD Reveiw
- TeleCommunication Systems Proteus Plus Military SSD Preview @ Tweaktown
- MDSSD TweakTown Chris Ramseyer Signature Edition by SuperSSpeed 128GB SLC @ Tweaktown
- Toshiba MK01GRRB/R 2.5-inch 6Gb/s SAS 15,000 RPM Enterprise HDD @ Tweaktown
- Synology DS212 Network Attached Storage @ X-bit Labs
- Synology NAS DSM Software Deep Dive @ Tweaktown
- Thecus N5550 – The Perfect NAS? @ COD
- MCE OptiBay for Unibody Kit Review @ Madshrimps
- QNAP TurboNAS TS-269L NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Thecus N5550 5-bay SMB/SOHO NAS Server Review @ Techgage
- LaCie 2big NAS @ X-bit Labs
- Kingston DataTraveler Locker+ G2 16GB USB Drive Review @ Neoseeker
- Pretec SDHC 32GB 433x Media Card Review @ eTeknix
- Patriot Memory 32GB Supersonic Rage XT USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Patriot Supersonic Boost XT and Rage 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive @ Hi Tech Legion
- Silicon Power Marvel M60 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | October 7, 2012 - 12:44 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Thecus, qnap, NAS, Intel, atom d2550, atom d2500, asustor
Earlier this week, Intel announced that two of its Cedar Trail Atom-series processors would be powering several upcoming Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. Intended to be used in devices for home and small business users, they will feature either the Intel Atom D2500 or D2550 processor. Centralized content vaults, so-called personal clouds (internet and LAN-accessible storage), and security systems are all possible uses of the Intel Atom CPU-powered NAS boxes.
Both 32nm chips have a 10W TDP, 1MB of L2 cache, and are clocked at 1.86GHz. The D2500 has two cores while the D2550 is a dual core part with HyperThreading for a total of four threads. Both processors have an integrated northbridge and a PowerVR SGX545 GPU. The D2500 has the integrated GPU clocked at 400MHz while the Atom D2550’s SGX545 GPU is running at 640MHz.
|Cores (with HT)||2 / 2||2 / 4|
|Clockspeed||1.86 GHz||1.86 GHz|
|L2 Cache||1 MB||1 MB|
|Graphics Clock||400 MHz||640 MHz|
|TDP||10 W||10 W|
The Intel-powered NAS boxes will have anywhere from two to eight hard drives and offer up a number of features. For example, the storage devices will be able to integrate the McAfee AV SDK to run virus scans on your media files on the NAS itself. And thanks to the GPU, platforms with storage and the Atom chips will be able to support up to two external displays. The example Intel provided is a security system where the D2500/D2550 can power a computer with lots of attached storage and up to output up to four HD video stream on up to two displays thanks to GPU acceleration.
The Thecus N5550 NAS using the Intel Atom processor.
NAS boxes from QNAP, Asustor, and Thecus will be available at launch, with additional devices from other manufacturers coming in the future. The Thecus device is available for purchase now for around $600 without hard drives pre-installed.
On the small business side of things, Intel has announced that Mostor and Dane-Elec have also jumped on board to provide optimized software for the hardware used in business environments.
Read the full press release on Intel's website.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Last week, Samsung flew myself and a few of my fellow peers in the storage review community out to Seoul, Korea. The event was the 2012 Samsung SSD Global Summit:
At this event, Samsung officially announced their new 840 Pro, which we were able to obtain early under NDA and therefore publish in concert with the announcement. The 840 Pro was largely an incremental inprovement over their 830 Series. Newer, faster flash coupled with a higher clocked controller did well to improve on an already excellent product.
As the event closed, we were presented with the second model of the lineup - the 840. This model, sans the 'Pro' moniker, is meant more for general consumer usage. The first mass marketed SSD to use Triple Level Cell (TLC) flash, it sacrifices some write speed and long-term reliability in favor of what should become considerably lower cost/GB as production ramps up to full capacity. TLC flash is the next step beyond MLC, which is in turn a step after SLC. Here's a graphic to demonstrate:
Subject: Storage | September 27, 2012 - 08:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, RE, RAID Edition, raid
This update brings the maximum capacity to 4TB and includes a SAS line as well. SATA connectivity will be 6Gb/sec, while SAS will employ dual port full duplex connectivity for the higher end enterprise sector. These drives appear to use the same platter capacity scheme employed by the recent WD Red Series, though the PR blast states 800GB/platter. I'm awaiting clarification on that point, as the math doesn't seem to work out evenly. Pricing is at a premium for these models, as they are intended for enterprise use. Mid to high $400's for SATA and SAS. Pricey, but still 1/10th of current good deals on SSDs.
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