Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
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:
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.
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.
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.
Subject: Storage | November 1, 2014 - 08:10 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
Subject: Storage | October 29, 2014 - 03:10 PM | Allyn Malventano
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.
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.
** 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:
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.
In conjunction with Dell World, LiteOn has announced their new EP1 M.2 PCIe SSD:
Designed primarily for enterprise workloads and usage, the EP1 sports impressive specs for such a small device. Capacities are 480 and 960GB, random 4k IO is rated at 150k/44k (R/W), sequentials are as high as 1.5GB/sec, and max latencies are in the 30-40 us range (this spec is particularly important for enterprise OLTP / transactional database workloads). Given the enterprise specs, power loss protection is a given (and you can see the capacitors in the upper right of the above photo). Here are the full specs:
It should be noted that larger PCIe-based SSDs are rated for greater than the 1 drive write per day of the EP1, but they are also considerably larger (physically) when compared to the M.2 EP1. As an additional aside, the 960GB capacity is a bit longer than you might have seen so far in the M.2 form factor. While the 480GB model is a familiar 2280 (80mm long), the 960GB model follows the 22110 form factor (110mm long). The idle power consumption seems a bit high, but enterprise devices are typically tuned for instantaneous response over idle wattage.
Subject: Storage | October 28, 2014 - 01:30 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, sata, Samsung, 850 EVO
Thanks to an updated SKU list and some searching, we've come across some initial photos, specs, and pricing for the upcoming Samsung 850 EVO.
You may have heard of an 850 EVO 1TB listing over at Frys, but there's actually more information out there. Here's a quick digest:
- Memory: 3D VNAND
- Read: 550MB/sec
- Write: 520MB/sec
- Weight: 0.29 lbs
Pricing (via Antares Pro listings at time of writing):
- 120GB (MZ-75E120B/AM): $100 ($0.83 / GB)
- 250GB (MZ-75E250B/AM): $146 ($0.58 / GB)
- 500GB (MZ-75E500B/AM): $258 ($0.52 / GB)
- 1TB (MZ-75E1T0B/AM): $477 ($0.48 / GB)
In addition to the above, we saw the 1TB model listed for $500 at Frys, and also found the 500GB for $264 at ProVantage. The shipping date on the Frys listing was initially November 3rd, but that has since shifted to November 24th, presumably due to an influx of orders.
We'll be publishing a full capacity roundup on the 850 Pro in anticipation of the 850 EVO launch, which based on these leaks is imminent.
Subject: Storage | October 27, 2014 - 04:17 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Transporter Genesis, transporter, connected data
Connected Data (whose members are merged with Drobo), have really been pushing their new Transporter line. When we saw them this past CES, there was only a small desktop appliance meant to connect and sync files between homes or small offices. Now they are stepping up their Transporter game by scaling all the way up to 24TB rack mount devices!
For those unaware, Transporter is a personal cloud solution, but with software and mobile app support akin to that of Dropbox. Their desktop software tool has seen rapid addition of features, and the company has even rolled out version history support. Features are nice, but what will now set Transporter apart from competing options is scalability:
The base level Transporter (right) is a relatively simple device with a single 2.5" HDD installed. These devices scale through the '5' and '15' models, which appear to be built on Drobo hardware. The 'Genesis' models (left) are not simply Drobo 1200i's with blue stickers on them, they are full blown Xeon systems with redundant power supplies, an 80GB SSD, up to 32GB or RAM and 24TB of raw storage capacity. Here is what a typical business rollout of Transporter might look like with these new additions at play:
Features currently supported across the line:
- 256 Bit AES communication
- Transporter Desktop software solution (Windows and Mac)
- Transporter mobile app (iOS and Android)
- Redundancy within each node ('5' and above)
- Redundancy across nodes (via sync)
- Active Directory support
- No recurring fees
The 12TB Genesis 75 comes in at $9,999, but the '15' and '5' should prove to be lower cost options. The base model single bay Transporter can be found for just over $100 (BYOHDD). Full press blast after the break.
Subject: Storage | October 27, 2014 - 04:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: M.2, ssd, transcend, MTS800
M.2 is quickly gaining popularity thanks to its small size and power requirements as well as the possible speed increase and other features. Transcend's 128GB MTS800 drive features fill AES encryption, wear levelling and garbage collection as well as something new, StaticDataRefresh Technology. That is their name for a process which automatically restores the charge levels in the NAND cells which both prevents errors from accumulating as well as performance reduction over time. M.2 drives do come with a price premium, the 128GB model is available for $76 on Amazon but the performance is impressive, the lowest transfer speed The SSD Review saw during their testing was 265.61MB/s.
"We have been seeing more M.2 SSDs lately, a lot of which are companies’ first steps into the market since the form factor is so new. They have been designed to meet strict size requirements and allow for greater flexibility in product development. They are the perfect fit for mobile devices with their compact size and light weight."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- KINGMAX M.2 2242 SATA SSD Review (128GB) @ The SSD Review
- SanDisk Ultra 2 SSD @ HardwareHeaven
- SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB SSD @ eTeknix
- Crucial MX100 512GB & Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSDs @ Silent PC Review
- oshiba 2.5-inch 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive @ eTeknix
- Western Digital My Passport Pro 2 TB Portable (Thunderbolt) HDD @ TechARP
- Thecus N2560 Dual-bay SOHO NAS Review @ Techgage
- Silicon Power Armor A30 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Silicon Power Mobile OTG X20 USB 2.0 Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Kingston HyperX Fury 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | October 27, 2014 - 02:59 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Samsung, firmware, 840 evo
Over the weekend Samsung silently updated their 840 EVO Performance Restoration Tool. The incremental update improved support for some system configurations that were previously not recognizing an installed 840 EVO. Samsung also improved how the GUI progress bar responds during the update process, presumably to correct the near silent failure that occurred when the tool was unable to update the drive's firmware. Previously, the tool would halt at 15% without any clear indication that the firmware could not be updated (this would occur if the tool was unable to issue the necessary commands to the SSD, mainly due to the motherboard being in the wrong storage controller mode or using an incompatible storage driver).
Still no word on relief for those owners of the original 840 (non EVO or Pro). We've also heard from some users with Samsung OEM TLC-based SSDs that showed the same type of slow down (some variants of the PM851 apparently used TLC flash). More to follow there.
We evaluated the Samsung 840 EVO Performance Restoration Tool here. If you've already successfully run the 1.0 version of the tool, there is no need to re-run the 1.1 version, as it will not do anything additional to an EVO that has been updated and restored.
Subject: Storage | October 17, 2014 - 05:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: icy dock, ICY CUBE MB561U3S-4S, MB662U3-2S, external drive
Techgage has an assortment of Icy Dock products that they examined to make up this review. The ICY CUBE MB561U3S-4S is a 4-bay external drive enclosure, which will take all of the installed drives and create a single volume out of them. This happens automatically, there are no other RAID options available when you use this particular dock but it does simplify the setup process. The MB662U3-2S is a two bay enclosure which offers more choices for setup, you can set the drives to Large, JBOD, RAID 1 or RAID 0. If you just have a single drive, they also have an external 3.5” SATA HDD enclosure and finally two HDD caddies which slide into a 5.25" drive bay. The first can be set up to fit a pair of 2.5" drives and the second is for hotswapping. Check them out if you are in need of storage accessories.
"It has been quite some time since we have looked to see what ICY DOCK has been up to. This is a company that established its reputation by making some very good hard drive accessories through the years. In this article we are going to take a look at several offerings from the company – from mobile to desktop. Let’s see what it has to offer."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- IronKey Workspace W700 Secure Flash Drive @ The SSD Review
- Synology DS415+ NAS @ HardwareHeaven
- Thecus N2310 @ Legion Hardware
- QNAP SilentNAS HS-251 2-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- QNAP TS-451 Turbo NAS Server @ Benchmark Reviews
- Synology DiskStation DS415+ @ Legion Hardware
- Thecus N7710-G 7-Bay NAS with 10 GbE @ Silent PC Review
- Kingston M.2 2280 SATA 120GB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- OCZ ARC 100 240GB SSD Review @HiTech Legion
- Micron M600 mSATA @ The SSD Review