Subject: Storage
Tagged: 335, Intel, ssd

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

It's been a short while since we've seen a consumer SSD release from Intel, and with pressure coming from Samsung in the form of lower cost/GB 20nm flash, it was high time Intel followed suit. The Intel 335 Series launches today, and is essentially the same SandForce-driven product as their SSD 520 Series released earlier this year. The key change is this time around that controller will be driving Intel 20nm flash. This should bring a much needed price reduction to the SSD arena, as the 335 is not being marketed as a 'Pro' unit (like the Samsung's 840 Pro). So long as this new model performs similarly to the 520 Series, we should be in for a good, low cost SSD just in time for the Christmass shopping season.

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Read on for the full review!

Plextor's M5 Pro features new flash and a new controller

Subject: Storage | October 26, 2012 - 02:52 PM |
Tagged: plextor, m5 pro, ssd, toggle NAND, Marvell, Monet 88SS9187-BLD2

The Plextor M5 Pro introduces both Toshiba's new 19nm toggle NAND and Marvell's new 8-channel dual core Monet controller.  [H]ard|OCP tried out the 256GB model, availble for $250, and were impressed not only by the performance but also the error correction abilities and the system utilities which were included.  They were disappointed that the familiar Plextool software is not supported by this drive but they feel it is only a matter of time before Plextor remedies that issue.  Check out the results of the benchmarks in their full review.

H_M5_Pro.jpg

"Plextor brings the M5 Pro with the new Marvell Monet controller powering its banks of high performance Toshiba Toggle NAND. This is the debut of the first SSD with 19nm Toshiba Toggle NAND, the debutof the new Marvell Monet 88SS9187-BLD2 controller. We take a look and see what these new components bring to the table."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: [H]ard|OCP

A quick look at the data on Apple's Fusion Drive

Subject: Editorial, Storage | October 24, 2012 - 08:26 PM |
Tagged: hybrid, fusion drive, fusion, apple

Yesterday, amongst a bunch of other announcements, Apple mentioned a 'new' technology that was built into OSX (10.8.2 and up).

fusion drive 1-.png

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:

fusion drive 2-.png

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.

$50 cache SSD anyone?

Subject: Storage | October 17, 2012 - 07:39 PM |
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.

H_Sandish.jpg

"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:

Storage

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: Storage, Mobile
Manufacturer: Patriot

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.

Gauntlet_320_Pkg_Left.jpg

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.

Gauntlet_320-Left.png

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!

Subject: Storage

Introduction and Internals

Introduction:

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:

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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.

Read on for the full review!

AMD Launches Radeon RAMDisk, Free 6GB Disks With AMD Memory

Subject: Storage | October 10, 2012 - 09:30 PM |
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.

Radeon RAMDisk.jpg

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.

Download links:

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.

File Transfer To RAMDisk limited by SSD.jpg

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).

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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. 

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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?

Source: AMD

It's expensive but impressive, Acer's new Aspire S5 Ultrabook

Subject: Storage | October 7, 2012 - 03:33 PM |
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.

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"'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. "

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Source: TechSpot

The Vertex series returns to it's roots with the Indilinx infused Everest 2 controller

Subject: Storage | October 7, 2012 - 03:05 PM |
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.

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"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:

Storage

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel Atom D2500 and D2550 Processors Powering Upcoming NAS Devices

Subject: Storage | October 7, 2012 - 12:44 AM |
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.

Intel Atom Inside.jpg

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.

  D2500 D2550
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
Pricing (tray) $42 $47

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.

Thecus-N5550_front_open.jpg

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.

Source: Intel