Drobo is frequently referred to as ‘the Apple of external storage products’. They got this name because their products go for the simplest possible out-of-the-box experience. Despite their simplicity, the BeyondRAID concept these units employ remains extremely robust and highly resistant to data loss in even the most extreme cases of drive failures and data loss. I reviewed the DroboPro 8-bay unit over 5 years ago and was so impressed by it that I continue to use one to this day (and it has never lost data, despite occasional hard drive failures).
Over those past 5 years since our review of the DroboPro, Drobo (then known as Data Robotics) has also had a bit of an Apple story. Their original CEO started the company but was ousted by the board in late 2009. He then started Connected Data in 2011, quickly growing to the point where they merged with Drobo in 2013. This was not just a merger of companies, it was a merger of their respective products. The original Transporter was only a single drive unit, where Drobo’s tech supercharged that personal cloud capability to scale all the way up to corporate environments.
Many would say that for that period where their original CEO was absent, Drobo’s products turned more towards profitability, perhaps too soon for the company, as the products released during that period were less than stellar. We actually got a few of those Drobos in for review, but their performance was so inconsistent that we spent more time trying to figure out what was causing the issues than completing a review we could stand behind. With their founder back in the CEO chair, Drobo's path was turned back to its roots - making a good, fast, and low cost product for their customers. This was what they wanted to accomplish back in 2009, but in many ways the available tech was not up to speed yet. USB 2.0 was the fastest widely available standard, aside from iSCSI over Gigabit (but that was pricey to implement and appeared in the DroboPro). Nowadays things are very different. USB 3.0 controllers are vastly more compatible and faster than they used to be, as is SATA controller hardware and ARM microcontrollers. These developments would ultimately enable Drobo to introduce what they wanted to in the first place:
This is the third generation 4-Bay Drobo. The 4-Bay model is what started it all for them, but was a bit underpowered and limited to USB 2.0 speeds. The second gen unit launched mid 2008, adding FireWire as a faster connection option, but it was still slower than most would have liked given its $500 price tag. This third generation unit promises to change all of that.
USB is once again the only connectivity option, but this time it’s USB 3.0. There have previously been other 5-bay Drobos with this as an option (Drobo S, S gen 2, 5D, Mini), but many of those units saw compatibility issues with some USB 3.0 host controllers. We experienced some of these same frustrating incompatibilities first hand, and can confirm those frustrations. Drobo is putting that behind them with a revised chipset, and today we will put it all to the test.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 28, 2014 - 01:18 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, ssd, ncix, directcanada, deals
A couple of Canadian stores, NCIX and DirectCanada, have marked down the Intel 730 SSD in both 240GB and 480GB models. While sites like Amazon and Newegg are selling it for $530 and $547, respectively, NCIX has the 480GB version on for $259.99 and the 240GB version for $169.99. DirectCanada is close, their price is about $10 more expensive for the 480GB and a few cents cheaper for the 240GB (480GB - $269.89 and 240GB - $169.95). This is even cheaper than the American Amazon price, which is going for $456.99 USD.
You can see in Allyn's review from February, he really liked the drive. He notes that it is a bit hot and power hungry, but he also notes that the controller is overclocked and that is probably why you want to buy it. If you are Canadian, or are somehow able to make a purchase in Canada, this is a ridiculous price. For everyone else, who knows? It might be a sign that its price could drop altogether. Either that, or NCIX and DirectCanada just feel like throwing money around today.
Introduction and Internals
We've seen USB 3.0 in devices for a few years now, but it has only more recently started taking off since controllers, drivers, and Operating Systems have incorporated support for the USB Attached SCSI Protocol. UASP takes care of one of the big disadvantages seen when linking high speed storage devices. USB adds a relatively long and multi-step path for each and every transaction, and the initial spec did not allow for any sort of parallel queuing. The 'Bulk-Only Transport' method was actually carried forward all the way from USB 1.0, and it simply didn't scale well for very low latency devices. The end result was that a USB 3.0 connected SSD performed at a fraction of its capability. UASP fixes that by effectively layering the SCSI protocol over the USB 3.0 link. Perhaps its biggest contributor to the speed boost is SCSI's ability to queue commands. We saw big speed improvements with the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX and other newer UASP enabled flash drives, but it's time we look at some ways to link external SATA devices using this faster protocol. Our first piece will focus on a product from Inateck - their FE2005 2.5" SATA enclosure:
This is a very simple enclosure, with a sliding design and a flip open door at the front.
Subject: Storage | December 15, 2014 - 01:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SAS, hdd, DIY, LSI, Seagate, icy dock
You may want to build a server consisting of enterprise level SSDs to make sure it provides the best possible speeds to anyone accessing data stored there but the chances of you getting the budget for it are slim going on none. That is why reading the guide on building servers from Modders Inc is worth your time if you find yourself pondering the best way to build a storage server on a budget without making it abysmally slow. You have many choices when you are designing a storage server but if you are not quite sure where to start the list of components and the arguments for their usefulness will get you headed in the right direction. For example the LSI MegaRAID SAS 9271-8i is an impressive RAID controller and with good SAS HDDs you can expect to see very good data throughput and will be more important than the CPU you select. Check out the article right here.
"IT infrastructure and storage has always been part of serious conversation between IT engineers and their bosses. As always IT Engineers want to use the best of the newest technologies while their bosses want to keep every project under a tight budget. It's always an ongoing battle, however both sides always come to some mutual agreement that benefits both sides."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Western Digital Red (WD60EFRX) 6 TB Hard Disk @ TechARP
- QNAP TS-451 Network Attached Storage @ Modders-Inc
- LaCie d2 Thunderbolt Review @ TechwareLabs
- Inateck FE2005 USB 3.0 Tool-Less 2.5″ HDD Enclosure @ eTeknix
- Transcend SSD370 256GB SSD Review @HiTech Legion
- Samsung 850 EVO 500GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- Samsung 850 EVO 120GB review @ Bjorn3d
- Kingston SSDnow M2 SATA 120GB Solid State Drive @ eTeknix
Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 11, 2014 - 03:30 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: vnand, TEM, SEM, Schiltron, Samsung, cross section, 3D VNAND
Once a technology is released to the public, the only thing stopping you from knowing how it works is the ability to look inside. With detailed imagery of 32-layer VNAND recently released by TechInsights, not only was Andy able to conduct a very thorough analysis at his blog, we are able to get some incredibly detailed looks at just what makes this new flash memory tick:
Flash packaging, showing interconnect traces (which connect the outside of the package to the flash dies contained within).
1x: The 3D VNAND die itself. We'll use this as a point of reference of the magnification levels moving forward.
350x: This is the edge of the die, showing how the word (data) lines are connected to the individual layers.
1,500x: There it is, all 32 layers in all of their vertical glory. The only thing more amazing about the technology at play to create such a complex 3D structure at such a small scale, is the technology used to slice it in half (some of the material is tungsten) and take such a detailed 'picture' of that cross section.
30,000x: Finally, we have a top down slice of the channels themselves. This lets us get a good idea of the rough process node at play here. While the columns are 80nm in diameter, there are other features that are smaller, so the process itself still seemes to be in the ~40nm range.
Our focus is of course on the performance more than the extremeny low level bits, but it is definitely cool to see imagery of this new tech. For those curious, we encourage you to check out the detailed analysis done over at 3DInCities.
Subject: Storage | December 8, 2014 - 02:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: 3d nand, tlc, 256 bit aes, 850 EVO, raid, RAPID, Samsung, sata, ssd
Not only does Samsung's new 850 EVO family introduce us to three dimensional triple level cell NAND, it also incorporates an SLC cache to boost write speeds. The Tech Report received the 250GB and 1TB models to test, with a spotlight on how they fared against the 840 Pro and 840 Evo. Their testing shows that the new way of creating NAND has helped mitigate the reduction in speed which accompanied the first generation of TLC drives. There is no question that the SLC write cache also helps as long as it has space available but this new technology does come with a price, expect $500 for the 1TB and $150 for for the 250GB model. The 5 year warranty is a nice touch for those who have reliability concerns.
Make sure to ready through Al's review as well, along with single drive benchmarks you can see how these drives perform in RAID.
"Samsung's long-awaited 850 EVO SSD employs three-dimensional NAND with three bits per cell. It augments that TLC storage with an SLC write cache, and it has a higher endurance rating and longer warranty than most MLC drives. We've taken a closer look to see how it holds up against the competition."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung SSD 850 EVO @ Benchmark Reviews
- Samsung 850 EVO SSD @ The SSD Review
- AMD R7 240GB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Silicon Power Stream S06 4TB USB 3.0 3.5" External Hard Drive Review @ NikKTech
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Mid last year, Samsung introduced the 840 EVO. This was their evolutionary step from the 840 Pro, which had launched a year prior. While the Pro was a performance MLC SSD, the EVO was TLC, and for most typical proved just as speedy. The reason for this was Samsung’s inclusion of a small SLC cache on each TLC die. Dubbed TurboWrite, this write-back cache gave the EVO the best write performance of any TLC-based SSD on the market. Samsung had also introduced a DRAM cache based RAPID mode - included with their Magician value added software solution. The EVO was among the top selling SSDs since its launch, despite a small hiccup quickly corrected by Samsung.
Fast forward to June of this year where we saw the 850 Pro. Having tested the waters with 24-layer 3D VNAND, Samsung revises this design, increasing the layer count to 32 and reducing the die capacity from 128Gbit to 86Gbit. The smaller die capacity enables a 50% performance gain, stacked on top of the 100% write speed gain accomplished by the reduced cross talk of the 3D VNAND architecture. These changes did great things for the performance of the 850 Pro, especially in the lower capacities. While competing 120/128GB SSDs were typically limited to 150 MB/sec write speeds, the 128GB 850 Pro cruises along at over 3x that speed, nearly saturating the SATA interface. The performance might have been great, but so was the cost - 850 Pro’s have stuck around $0.70/GB since their launch, forcing budget conscious upgraders to seek competing solutions. What we needed was an 850 EVO, and now I can happily say here it is:
As the 840 EVO was a pretty big deal, I believe the 850 EVO has an equal chance of success, so instead of going for a capacity roundup, this first piece will cover the 120GB and 500GB capacities. A surprising number of our readers run a pair of smaller capacity 840 EVOs in a RAID, so we will be testing a matched pair of 850 EVOs in RAID-0. To demonstrate the transparent performance boosting of RAPID, I’ll also run both capacities through our full test suite with RAPID mode enabled. There is lots of testing to get through, so let’s get cracking!
Subject: General Tech, Storage | December 4, 2014 - 10:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, kingston
Once again, we're talking about The Tech Report and their attempt at working SSDs to death. At the last checkpoint, 1.5 petabytes of total writes, the Samsung 840 Pro and the Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB) became the final two. Which will become the sole survivor? How long will it go before dying? Who knows. We just crossed 2 petabytes and these things simply won't die.
Image Credit: The Tech Report
So yeah, we have hit 2 petabytes and these drives seem to be chugging along. Neither of the two survivors have even displayed any major drops in read or write performance, at least not permanently. The Samsung 840 Pro has experienced a few, temporary dips in write performance, from around 500MB/s to around 450MB/s, boo hoo, but has recovered each time.
That said, both drives are using their reserve space. The Samsung 840 Pro has used about 60 percent of its reserve in the last 1300 TB of writes, following a fairly linear decline. If it continues, this drive should finally kick the bucket just before 3 petabytes of writes (~2.87PB). The Kingston HyperX, on the other hand, who knows. That SSD seems to have had a rough time over the last 500TB, but that could be just a hiccup. It could also be on its way out, who knows?
Subject: Storage | December 4, 2014 - 03:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: petabyte, petaphile, ssd, torture, 840 pro, hyperx 3k
It is now down to two drives at The Tech Report, only the Samsung 840 Pro and a HyperX 3K which was brought in to replace an model with no stamina have reached the 2 petabyte mark and are still going. The 840 Pro has now used 61% of its used block reserve due to flash failures and while the Sandforce compression has allowed the HyperX to hit this mark with only 1.4 petabytes actually written it has still had 31 sectors reallocated and 2 uncorrectible errors. That puts the HyperX in a difficult spot in that while it is still writing data it is not truly trustworthy anymore. The drive speeds have remained remarkably consistent though the 840 is slowing down somewhat over time, check out the actual benchmark results in the latest update to The Tech Report's torture test.
"Our SSD Endurance Experiment has reached an astounding two petabytes of writes. Only two drives remain, and they're coping very differently. We've checked in on their health and performance to see how each one is holding up."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Flash Memory Endurance Testing @ Hack a Day
- What benchmarks CAN tell you about your solid-state drives @ The Register
- Synology DiskStation DS215j @ Legion Hardware
- SanDisk Connect SDWS2 16 GB Wireless Flash Drive @ eTeknix
Subject: Storage | December 2, 2014 - 05:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, sata, ocz, ARC, m10, Indilinx Barefoot
It has been a while since we last talked about the OCZ ARC family but seeing as how you can currently pick up the 256GB model for $100 it seems a good time to revisit the drive. Bjorn3D recently reviewed this drive and it's Indilinx Barefoot M10 controller and Toshiba A19 nm flash. Before delving into the speeds this drive is capable of it is worth reminding possible purchasers of the three year ShieldPlus warranty, if you encounter issues with the drive OCZ will ship you out a brand new advanced replacement along with a prepaid return label to the customer which you then use to send your failed drive back. As far as the performance of this drive, it is a close match to the Crucial MX 100, not the best drive out there but certainly good all around at this price point. In fact with the MX 100 costing only $10 more its slightly better performance might make it more attractive but Crucial's warranty is not as user friendly as OCZs. Check out the full review to see which company you feel deserves your money.
"As expected, with OCZ now owned by Toshiba, OCZ would be using the in-house brew Toshiba NAND for their SSDs as oppose to Intel/Micron. OCZ has transitioned their mainstream Vertex SSDs to the Toshiba NAND already. And the latest budget line of SSD, the ARC 100, continues the trend of using all in-house made components of pairing the Indilinx controller with the Toshiba NAND."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Mushkin Scorpion 480GB PCIe x2 SSD Review @ NikKTech
- G.Skill Phoenix Blade 480GB PCIe x8 SSD @ Kitguru
- Samsung M9T 2TB (2.5-inch) & Seagate SSHD 2TB @ Silent PC Review
- Synology DS215j NAS @ Kitguru
- QNAP TS-653 Pro SMB NAS Review @ Madshrimps
- Silicon Power Armor Series A30 USB 3.0 2TB Portable HDD Review @ Madshrimps