Last July, I went on a bit of a mini-rant about how using a bunch of drives not meant to be in a RAID could potentially lead to loss of the entire array from only a few bad sectors spread across several disks. Western Digital solved this problem by their introduction of the WD Red series. That series capped out at 3TB, and users were pushing for larger storage capacities for their NAS devices. In addition to the need for larger disks came the need for *smaller* disks as well, as there are some manufacturers that wish to create NAS / HTPC type devices that house multiple 2.5" HDD's. One such device is the Drobo Mini - a 4x2.5" device which has not really had a 'proper' NAS storage element available - until now:
Today Western Digital has announced a twofold expansion to their Red Series. First is a 4TB capacity in their 3.5" series, and second is a 2.5" iteration of the Red, available in both 750GB and 1TB capacities.
As a recap of what can potentially happen if you have a large RAID with 'normal' consumer grade HDD's (and by consumer grade I mean those without any form of Time Limited Error Recovery, or TLER for short):
- Array starts off operating as normal, but drive 3 has a bad sector that cropped up a few months back. This has gone unnoticed because the bad sector was part of a rarely accessed file.
- During operation, drive 1 encounters a new bad sector.
- Since drive 1 is a consumer drive it goes into a retry loop, repeatedly attempting to read and correct the bad sector.
- The RAID controller exceeds its timeout threshold waiting on drive 1 and marks it offline.
- Array is now in degraded status with drive 1 marked as failed.
- User replaces drive 1. RAID controller initiates rebuild using parity data from the other drives.
- During rebuild, RAID controller encounters the bad sector on drive 3.
- Since drive 3 is a consumer drive it goes into a retry loop, repeatedly attempting to read and correct the bad sector.
- The RAID controller exceeds its timeout threshold waiting on drive 3 and marks it offline.
- Rebuild fails.
- Blamo, your data is now (mostly) inaccessible.
I went into much further detail on this back in the intro to the WD 3TB Red piece, but the short of it is that you absolutely should use a HDD intended for RAID when building one, and Western Digital is removing that last excuse for not doing so by introducing a flagship 4TB capacity to the Red Series.
Subject: Storage | September 3, 2013 - 05:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, red, NAS, hdd
Today Western Digital launched both a 4TB 3.5" Red, as well as a new 2.5" form factor available in both 750GB and 1TB:
Subject: Storage | August 22, 2013 - 12:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, endurance, anvils storage utility
The Tech Report is currently testing several SSDs to destruction, or at least trying to. They are using a new tool called Anvil's Storage Utilities which includes a test designed to determine the longevity of the flash storage inside SSDs. They started with factory fresh SSDs, never having a bit written to them before and are currently writing to every address on those drives with a goal of 22TB to be written before they test the speeds of the drives again. Will some fare better than others? Perhaps some will sacrifice capacity to keep their speed up? Stay tuned, even with SATA 6Gbps it takes a while to write that much data!
"We all know that flash memory has a limited tolerance for write cycling, but what does that mean for SSD endurance? We're testing six SSDs to failure to find out."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- 256 GB OCZ Vector @ TechARP
- Intel SSD 530 240GB @ Hardware.info
- Samsung unveils its first 3D V-NAND SSDs for the enterprise @ The Inquirer
- Kingston SSDNow mS200 / RunCore Pro V 120GB mSATA SSDs review: ideal upgrade for laptops @ Hardware.info
- HGST Travelstar 5K1500 2.5-inch Mobile Hard Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Western Digital Blue Slim 1TB hard Drive Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Patriot Gauntlet 320 Wireless External Hard Drive Review @ TechwareLabs
- HGST Touro Mobile Pro 500GB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive Review @ Legit Reviews
- Seagate Wireless Plus External Storage @ Bjorn3D
- ADATA DashDrive Durable HD710 External Hard Drive @ Benchmark Reviews
- SanDisk Extreme UHS-I microSDXC Card SDSDQX @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: Storage | August 21, 2013 - 10:11 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: corsair, force ls, ssd, phison, toshiba mlc
Corsair has launched a new line of budget solid state drives (SSDs) under the Force LS branding. The new SSDs come in up to 240GB capacities, and despite being budget drives, still manage to max out the SATA III 6Gbps interface.
The new Force LS SSDs use 19nm Toshiba MLC NAND flash and a Phison SSD controller. Traditionally, Corsair has used LSI SandForce controllers in its Force and Force GT solid state drives. The Force LS line includes 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB SSDs. The drives are 7mm thick 2.5” form factor drives.
As far as performance, the drives support sequential write speeds of 535 MB/s and sequential read speeds of 555 MB/s. Information on IOPS have not been released, but expect it to be lower than the existing Force drives due to their budget nature.
There is no word on specific availability date(s), but the new Force LS drives will be priced at $70 for the 60GB, $110 for the 120GB, and $200 for the 240GB. At the top end, the drives are approximately 83 cents per Gigabyte ($0.83/GB). All Force LS drives come with three year warranties.
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | August 20, 2013 - 06:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: exFAT, Samsung
But Linux distributions still cannot officially use it... sort of?
Samsung added support for exFAT on Linux, in kernel, with one of their tablets. At some point code was leaked on GitHub. At some other point the Software Freedom Conservancy determined certain GPL-dependent modifications were published in binary form alone. Eventually Samsung properly released their source code under the GNU General Public License (GPL).
I am still unclear about how Samsung was allowed to do so, however. Copyright was never the main concern with exFAT but rather the patents Microsoft holds over the file system. The GPL mandates that code it covers must come with a non-exclusive worldwide and royalty-free license for applicable patents except under certain conditions. I would be curious how this license was accomplished unless Microsoft granted Samsung a patent license prior to March 28, 2007 (or some loophole like that).
I understand how people might be sympathetic to Microsoft and others asserting software patents because they are a for-profit business but that does not apply everywhere. You need to be careful when you apply a license to something as upstream as a file system or a kernel as everything downstream relies upon your decision.
Just imagine if you were separated from the contents of your SDXC card because, somehow, this patent found its way into the portfolio of a troll firm?
Current implementations of the file system are in user space until Samsung's in-kernel module. The Software Freedom Conservancy praised Samsung -- not only for their source code contribution -- but also for how open and public their response was.
Subject: Storage | August 14, 2013 - 07:11 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Samsung, charge trap flash, vertical nand, vnand, 128Gb, enterprise ssd
Last week, Samsung announced that it had started producing a new stackable NAND flash memory called V-NAND, or vertical NAND. The new 3D V-NAND would initially be available in 128Gb (Gigabit) chips, but could eventually scale into as much as 1 Tb (Terabit) per chip by stacking additional dies vertically. Doing so allows Samsung some flexibility in scaling to higher capacities without going to increasingly expensive and difficult to manufacturer smaller manufacturing processes, which has been the traditional method of attaining denser flash.
The company has now announced the V-NAND SSD, which is its first Solid State Drive to use the Vertical NAND technology. Aimed at the enterprise server market, the V-NAND SSD will come in 480GB and 960GB capacities. The 2.5” form factor drives are 7mm thick and come equipped with a SATA III 6Gbps controller. On the high end, the 960GB model uses 64 MLC 3D V-NAND 128Gb dies for a total physical capacity of 1TB. However, user-accessible capacity will be only 960GB. Unfortunately, Samsung did not reveal how many physical chips the drives use, so its hard to say how those 64 128Gb dies are distributed (4 high in 16 chips or 8 high in 8 chips, etc).
The 960GB Samsung V-NAND SSD spotted by Engadget.
Samsung claims that the V-NAND SSD offers up to 20% increased performance and a 40% reduction in power consumption versus previous SSDs. Further, the 3D NAND using Samsung’s Charge Trap Flash technology is rated at 35K program erase cycles. Samsung rates the V-NAND memory itself as being twice as fast in writes and between two and ten times as reliable versus traditional 19nm floating gate NAND (the alternative to CTF NAND).
Samsung's 128Gb V-NAND die.
Samsung stated in a press release that it started production of the V-NAND SSD earlier this month. While it is introducing V-NAND into enterprise drives first, the technology will eventually trickle down into consumer drives. I’m interested to see this drive benchmarked for performance and write endurance to see if the 3D flash lives up to its potential.
Subject: Storage | August 12, 2013 - 02:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, partition, MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition, 4k
SSDs and modern OSes no longer use the old 512 byte LBA alignment, or at least they don't need to and in the case of SSDs offer larger disk size and faster performance. However many people are not aware of 4k alignment nor how to check if their SSD is aligned nor what to do even if they do know it is not aligned. Hardware.Info put together a short article on the steps to verify if your SSD is aligned as well as covering a free partitioning tool called MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition which will help you align your SSD as well as other tasks common to partitioning software. As with any major changes being made at this low a level, do realize that this could cause data loss, but aligning those sectors is a great IDEMA.
"When you copy the contents of a hard disk from a PC or laptop to an SSD you have to make sure that the placement of the partitions corresponds to the underlying hardware structure. The same is true for the latest generation of hard disks. Today we'll discuss what this so-called '4k alignment' really means and what you can do in order to prevent a decrease in performance."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- ULLtraDIMM: combining SSD and DRAM for the enterprise @ Hardware.info
- Seagate 600 SSD 240GB (ST240HM000) @ NikKTech
- Plextor M5 Pro 256 GB SSD @ techPowerUp
- SanDisk Extreme 2 240GB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- SanDisk Extreme II Solid State Drive SDSSDXP @ Legion Hardware
- Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD 500GB @ NikKTech
- ASUS RAIDR Express 240GB PCI-Express SSD @ Hardware.info
- Silicon Power Blaze B20 USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Corsair Voyager Air 500GB @ Legion Hardware
- WD My Passport Ultra 1TB Portable Hard Drive Review @ Techgage
- Patriot Tab 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive @ eTeknix
- Kingston DT Ultimate 3.0 G3 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive 2 Funky Kit
- Seagate Business Storage 2-bay 6TB @ Hardware.info
- Synology DS713+ @ techPowerUp
- Seagate NAS HDD 4TB Review @ Techgage
- QNAP TS-421 and TS-420 @ Legion Hardware
- Teratrend (SilverStone) TS231U 2 Bay USB3.0 RAID Enclosure @ eTeknix
Subject: Storage | August 12, 2013 - 06:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, silicon motion, sata, controller
You may very well have never heard of Silicon Motion (SMI), a major priducer of flash memory controllers, even if you've followed the SSD industry for a while. This is primarily because the vast majority of their products have been tailored for the devices that folks tend to not crack open during review, namely USB memory sticks, eMMC devices, and SD / CF cards:
Creating controllers in those arenas will tend to force a company to do a few things very well:
- Handle a very limited number of flash channels with the greatest speed possible, due to packaging requirements for very small devices.
- Operate at the lowest power draw possible as to meet the current draw limits of the host interface.
This has resulted in SMI developing a 6Gb/sec SSD controller, dubbed the SM2246EN, using the above techniques:
The block diagram shows what appears to be a fairly standard 4-channel configuration, though there are fewer steps in the pipeline as compared to SandForce and other controllers, which should help decrease latency and improve efficiency. There is also no compression engine, which means power consumption should be further reduced.
Read on for further details on specs and power consumption, followed by the full press blast.
500GB on the go
Corsair seems to have its fingers in just about everything these days so why not mobile storage, right? The Voyager Air a multi-function device that Corsair calls as "portable wireless drive, home network drive, USB drive, and wireless hub." This battery powered device is meant to act as a mobile hard drive for users that need more storage on the go including PCs and Macs as well as iOS and Android users.
The Voyager Air can also act as a basic home NAS device with a Gigabit Ethernet connection on board for all the computers on your local network. And if you happen to have DLNA ready Blu-ray players or TVs nearby, they can access the video and audio stored on the Voyager Air as well.
Available in either red or black, with 500GB and 1TB capacities, the Voyager Air is slim and sleek, meant to be seen not hidden in a closet.
The front holds the power switch and WiFi on/off switch as well as back-lit icons to check for power, battery life and connection status.
Subject: Storage | July 31, 2013 - 02:34 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: diablo technologies, DIMM, nand, flash memory, memory channel storage
Ottawa-based Diablo Technologies unveiled a new flash storage technology yesterday that it calls Memory Channel Storage. As the name suggest, the storage technology puts NAND flash into a DIMM form factor and interfaces the persistent storage directly with the processor via the integrated memory controller.
The Memory Channel Storage (MCS) is a drop-in replacement for DDR3 RDIMMs (Registered DIMMs) in servers and storage arrays. Unlike DRAM, MCS is persistent storage backed by NAND flash and it can allow servers to have Terabytes of storage connected to the CPU via the memory interface instead of mere Gigabytes of DRAM acting as either system memory or block storage. The photo provided in the technology report (PDF) shows a 400GB MCS module that can slot into a standard DIMM slot, for example.
Diablo Technologies claims that MCS exhibits lower latencies and higher bandwidth than PCI-E and SATA SSDs. More importantly, the storage latency is predictable and consistent, making it useful for applications such as high frequency stock trading where speed and deterministic latency are paramount. Further, users can get linear increases in throughput with each additional Memory Channel Storage module added to the system. Latencies with MCS are as much as 85% lower with PCI-E SSDs and 96% lower than SAS/SATA SSDs according to Diablo Technologies. NAND flash maintenance such as wear leveling is handled via an on-board logic chip.
Diablo Technologies is also aiming the MCS technology at servers running big data analytics, massive cloud databases, financial applications, server virtualization, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). MCS can act as super fast local storage or as a local cache for external (such as networked) storage in the form of mechanical hard drives or SSDs.
Some details about Memory Channel Storage are still unclear, but it looks promising. It will not be quite as fast in random access as DRAM but it will be better (more bandwidth, lower latency) than both PCI-E and SATA-connected NAND flash-based SSDs. It would be awesome to see this kind of tech make its way to consumer systems so that I can have a physical RAMDisk with fast persistent storage (at least as far as form factor, MCS uses NAND not DRAM chips).
The full press release can be found here.
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