The evolution of hybrid drives, Seagate's new SSHD 500GB

Subject: Storage | April 19, 2013 - 07:20 PM |
Tagged: sshd, Seagate, Hybrid Drive, 500gb

We have seen many hybrid drives come and go, most of which only benefited desktop users who were accessing certain files often enough that they were cached on the flash memory.  Seagate has introduced a new iteration of the SSHD specifically for laptops, uniting 500GB of 5400 RPM platter based storage with 8GB of MLC NAND and a 64MB cache which [H]ard|OCP recently benchmarked.  They didn't forget desktop users as they released 1TB and 2TB models at 7200 RPM but it is the laptop version which is perhaps more interesting as not many models allow the installation of a second drive like desktops do.  The testing results were mixed, with several obvious benefits interspersed with odd performance changes after multiple runs, however the small price differential between a standard HDD and a SSHD might just convince you to pick up this new breed of hybrid drive.

HSSHD.jpg

"Seagate has introduced the next generation of Solid State Hybrid Drives, commonly referred to as "SSHD." These drives use a small amount of MLC NAND to accelerate the performance of a 5400 RPM spinning disk. Today we test the mobile version against other available SSD caching solutions."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS Adding RAIDR PCI-E SSDs To Its ROG Lineup

Subject: Storage | April 19, 2013 - 06:10 AM |
Tagged: trim, ssd, sandforce 2281, sandforce, ROG, raidr, raid, PCIe SSD, asus

ASUS is reportedly adding two new PCI-E Solid State Drives (SSD) to its Republic Of Gamers lineup. Dubbed RAIDR, the new PCI-E SSDs use 19nm Toshiba MLC NAND flash driven by two SandForce 2281 controllers. In turn, the two SandForce drives are put into a hardware RAID 0 configuration for maximum speed. The RAIDR SSD internals are encased in a stylized EMI shield along with a ROG-branded back-plate. In all, ASUS’ RAIDR SSDs measure 157 x 120 x 20mm.

Asus RAIDR PCI-E SSD.jpg

The ASUS RAIDR drives show up as a single disk driven by a standard AHCI controller, which allows the two RAID 0 SSDs connected via the PCI-E bus to be boot-able and support the TRIM command. Both RAIDR solid state drives also support Native Command Queuing (NCQ), SMART, Secure Erase, Windows 8 Secure Boot.

According to specifications provided by Sweclockers, ASUS is launching 120GB and 240GB versions of the PCI-E SSDs. Both capacities feature 100,000 IOPS, 128-bit AES encryption, and 620,000 MTBF ratings.

ASUS RAIDR PCI-E SSD Backplate.jpg

The 120GB RAIDR SSD supports up to 765MB/s sequential reads and 775MB/s sequential write speeds. On the other hand, the 240GB RAIDR drive supports up to 830MB/s sequential reads and 810MB/s sequential writes.

Additionally, ASUS is bundling its RAIDR drives with Kaspersky Antivirus 2013 and a number of ASUS utilities (including SSD TweakIt). The drives should be available sometime next month, but pricing is still unknown. Adding PCI-E SSDs is an interesting move by ASUS that should help the company diversify and expand its ROG branding. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how the drives stack up when they are released (and hopefully a PC Perspective review)!

Source: Sweclockers
Subject: Storage

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

A while back, we saw OCZ undergo a major restructuring. 150+ product SKUs were removed from their lineup, leaving a solid core group of products for the company to focus on. The Vertex and Agility lines were spared, and the Vector was introduced and well received by the community. With all of that product trimming, we were bound to see another release at some point:

ext-front.JPG

Today we see a branch from one of those tree limbs in the form of the Vertex 3.20. This is basically a Vertex 3, but with the 25nm IMFT Sync flash replaced by newer 20nm IMFT Sync flash. The drop to 20nm comes with a slight penalty in write endurance (3000 cycles, down from the 5000 rating of 25nm) for the gain of cheaper production cost (more dies per 300mm wafer).

imft 20 nm.jpg

IMFT has been cooking up 20nm flash for a while now, and it is becoming mature enough to enter the mainstream. The first entrant was Intel's own 335 Series, which debuted late last year. 20nm flash has no real groundbreaking improvements other than the reduced size, so the hope is that this shrink will translate to lower cost/GB to the end user. Let's see how the new Vertex shakes out.

Specifications:

  • Capacity: 120, 240GB
  • Sequential read:  550 MB/sec
  • Sequential write: 520 MB/sec
  • Random read IOPS (up to):  35 k-IOPS
  • Random write IOPS (up to):  65 k-IOPS

Packaging:

packaging.JPG

This simple plastic packaging does away with the 3.5" bracket previously included with all OCZ models.

Continue reading our review of the OCZ Vertex 3.20 240GB SSD!!

NAB 2013: G-Technology Launches G-Dock With Thunderbolt

Subject: Storage | April 9, 2013 - 08:24 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, thunderbolt, hard drives, g-technology, g-drive, g-dock

G-Technology took the wraps off of a new external storage product lineup during NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) this week. The new series includes the G-Dock thunderbolt-connected hard drive dock, and the G-Drive and G-Drive Plus Evolution external hard drives.

The G-Dock is an aluminum external hard drive enclosure that features two hot-swappable drive bays that can accept up to two G-Drive (or G-Drive Plus) external hard drives. The G-Dock includes two Thunderbolt ports for daisy chaining other Thunderbolt devices and to connect to the PC. While in the G-Dock, the drives connect via SATA 6Gbps ports. The G-Dock supports JBOD, RAID 1, and RAID 0 modes to configure it for storage, data redundancy, and performance. The G-Dock comes with a Thunderbolt cable and two 1TB G-Drive Evolution external hard drives. It has a MSRP of $749.95 and will be available in May.

G-Technology Evolution G-Dock and G-Drive Lineup.jpg

G-Technology's G-Dock enclosure accepts the company's own G-Drive ruggedized hard drives. The G-Drive Evolution drives are fitted into an aluminum case. The 2.5" 7200 RPM drives come in 500GB and 1TB capacities. According to G-Technology, the external hard drives are capable of up to 126MB/s transfer speeds. The G-Drives connect via SATA 6Gbps while in the G-Dock, but the drives also feature USB 3.0 ports to connect to PCs when it is used as an individual drive. Available in May, the G-Drives have an MSRP of $149.95 for the 500GB capacity and $199.95 for the 1TB model.

Finally, the G-Drive Plus is a 2.5" 7200 RPM drive that is also installed in an aluminum case (though it is a bit thicker than the non-plus G-Drive). It has the same USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps ports, but it is only available as a 1TB drive. It is reportedly capable of up to 250MB/s transfer rates. The speed increase comes at the cost of a higher MSRP of $349.95. The G-Drive Plus will be available this summer.

The G-Dock and included G-Drives are Mac formatted out of the box and have a 3 year warranty. The company is positioning the multi-bay dock and hard drives at media professionals that need high-capacity portable storage and high-bandwidth connections.

Source: G-Technology

When only 4TB will do

Subject: Storage | April 9, 2013 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wd black, hdd, 4TB

SSDs may be the speed kings but when you need a lot of storage space they quickly become quite expensive which is where the new WD Black 4TB HDD shines as it is only $85 $300.  It spins at 7200RPM and has a 64MB cache which ought to make it a bit faster than other high density HDDs which are on the market though the 800GB platters could slow that expected performance somewhat.  It also comes with a 5 year warranty which is much better than the usual 2 year warranty many companies have adopted as standard for their platter based drives.  Check out the full review at The Tech Report.

TR_drive.jpg

"Western Digital's Black 4TB the only desktop hard drive to combine that top-of-the-line capacity with a 7,200-RPM spindle speed and five years of warranty coverage. We take a closer look."

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Storage

Intel Shows DSL4510/4410 and Falcon Ridge 20 Gbps Thunderbolt at NAB

Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 8, 2013 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt, nab 13, Intel, falcon ridge, DSL4510, cactus ridge

Way back in July of 2012 Tim Verry wrote a news story on PC Perspective discussing the upcoming Falcon Ridge and Cactus Ridge Thunderbolt controllers, due out in 2014 and 2013 respectively.  It appears this is coming to fruition at the NAB Show 2013 this week in Las Vegas, with two new variants of Thunderbolt on display by Intel.

tb1.jpg

Cactus Ridge, now known as the DSL4510 and 4410 controllers will add support for DisplayPort 1.2 when connected to native DisplayPort displays while also improving power management and lowering the implementation costs for hardware designers. 

Maybe more exciting is the prototype of next-generation silicon for Thunderbolt, code named Falcon Ridge, that runs at 20 Gbps, double that of current Thunderbolt implementations.  Intel promises that this will enable 4K video file transfer and display simultaneously.  As expected, production will start in late 2013 with ramping in 2014.

tb2.jpg

Thunderbolt's integration into the consumer market has been slower than expected but professionals are seeing more and more uses for this kind of extreme bandwidth as the video production pipeline prepares for large scale 4K distribution.  We are using Thunderbolt internally at PC Perspective for our Frame Rating capture based graphics testing running at nearly 800 MB/s we have been happy with the results. 

Source: Intel

The Vertex 3.20, shrinking down to 20nm

Subject: Storage | April 4, 2013 - 07:22 PM |
Tagged: 20nm, ocz, vertex 3.20, synchronous flash, SandForce SF-2281

There is very little change between the original Vertex 3 and the new Vertex 3.20, as the controller remains as an SF-2281 and the rated speeds match, the only real difference is in the new 20nm NAND.  In a way [H]ard|OCP was disappointed that OCZ did not reduce the size of the Vertex to fit in mobile devices as the new NAND is very power efficient and would be welcomed more by mobile users than desktop users.  As far as performance per dollar it is still the Samsung 840 which remains on top but OCZ has a solid contender.

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"OCZ releases the Vertex 3.20 240GB SSD as part of the continued restructuring of its product lines. With 20nm NAND and a LSI SandForce SF-2281 controller the Vertex 3.20 SSD is geared for budget conscious buyers, and today we test it with the other top value-oriented SSDs."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Seagate Launches 4TB, Four-Platter Hard Drive For $200

Subject: Storage | April 3, 2013 - 06:26 AM |
Tagged: Seagate, 1TB Platter, 4TB, Hard Drive, storage

Seagate recently took the wraps off of a new 4TB hard drive. The new drive uses the company's 1TB platters, and the ST4000DM000 uses four 1TB platters. Other characteristics include a 7,200 RPM spindle speed, 64MB cache, and support for the SATA III 6 Gbps interface.

According to the company, the 4TB drive boasts an average read/write data rate of 146MB/s (which is good for a mechanical hard drive), max sustained transfer speed of 180MB/s, and sub-8.5ms and 9.5ms average seek times for read and write operations respectively.

Seagate Desktop Hard Drive.jpg

The drive is compatible with Seagate's DiskWizard technology, allowing the full 4TB to be used on legacy operating systems. At 4TB, this drive is perfect for digital pack rats and media enthusiasts.
The 4TB Seagate drive can be found for around $190 USD online for the bare-bones drive, or approximately $205 for retail packaging. You can find more information on the 4TB mechanical hard drive on this Seagate data sheet (PDF) or the drive's product page.

I have to admit that I'm tempted by this, despite not having filled my 2TB drive yet.

Source: Seagate
Manufacturer: Oyen Digital

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

full-package.jpg

Courtesy of Oyen Digital

Oyen Digital, a popular manufacturer of portable storage enclosures and devices, provided us with its MiniPro™ eSATA / USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive enclosure for testing USB 3.0 enhanced mode on the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard. This enclosure offers support for USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA ports in conjunction with a 2.5" hard drive. We put this enclosure on the test bench with the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe board to test the performance limits of the device. The MiniPro™ enclosure can be found at your favorite e-tailer for $39.95.

front.jpg

back.jpg

Oyen Digital

The MiniPro™ SATA / USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive enclosure is a simple aluminum enclosure supporting any 2.5" form factor hard drive up to SATA III speeds. The enclosure itself supports USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA connections. Because of its use of the ASMedia 1053e chipset for USB 3.0 support, the enclosure supports both USB 3.0 normal mode transfer speeds and UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) mode transfer speeds. UASP mode is a method of bulk transfer for USB 3.0 connections that increases transfer speeds through the use of parallel simultaneous packet transfers. Per our sources at ASUS, UASP can be explained as follows:

The adoption of the SCSI Protocol in USB 3.0 provides its users with the advantage of having better data throughput than traditional BOT (Bulk-Only Transfer) protocol, all thanks to its streaming architecture as well as the improved queuing (NCQ support) and task management, which eliminated much of the round trip time between USB commands, so more commands can be sent simultaneously. Moreover, thanks to the multi-tasking aware architecture, the performance is further enhanced when multiple transfers occur.
The downside of UASP is that the receiving device (Flash drive/external hard drive etc) must also be UASP enabled for the protocol to work. This requires checking your peripherals before purchase. However since UASP is an industry standard, the device support for ASUS UASP implementation is not restricted to a particular controller manufacturer or device type, so the overall number of peripherals available should undoubtedly grow.

Technical Specifications (taken from the Oyen Digital website)

Ports

eSATA 6G (Up to 6.0 Gbps)
USB 3.0: (Up to 5.0 Gbps)

Interface

SATA III (up to 15mm SATA 2.5" HDD/SSD)

Chipset

USB 3.0
ASMedia 1053e

eSATA
ASMedia 1456pe

Weight

10 oz.

Certifications

CE, FCC

Requirements

Windows XP/Vista/7/8 & above; MAC OS 10.2 & above; Linux 2.4.22 & above

Continue reading our review of the Oyen Digital MiniPro™ enclosure!

SuperSSpeed mixess Intel SSLC and SSandforce

Subject: Storage | March 28, 2013 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: SuperSSpeed, S301 Hyper Gold, ssd, slc, SandForce SF-2281

SuperSSpeed is mixing the performance and endurance of SLC flash storage with the lower cost of the SandForce SF-2281 in an attempt to bring the price of their SLC drive to an affordable level for the consumer.  The mix seems a good idea as the reduced write latency of SLC flash may help to overcome SandForce's weakness when writing incompressible data.  [H]ard|OCP's testing bears this out as the drive kept up with a larger Samsung 840 Pro, one of the current performance kings.  You will pay for the privilege however as the 128GB drive currently retails for $250 as SLC flash is not cheap.  Consider that in almost any casual usage scenario, you are never going to push this drive to its limits ... unless you are going to start your own Frame Rating machine.

H_SSS.jpg

"The SuperSSpeed S301 128GB SLC SSD brings SLC flash into the consumer market. The extreme endurance and excellent write performance makes for an interesting SSD powered by the SandForce SF-2281 controller. The Intel 25nm SLC NAND removes much of the Achilles heel of the SandForce processors, delivering consistent performance."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP