Followers of PC Perspective have likely seen a pair of stories previewing the upcoming performance and features of USB 3.1. First we got our hands on the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK motherboard and were able to run through our very first hands-on testing with USB 3.1 hardware. The motherboard had built-in USB 3.1 support and a device that was configured with a RAID-0 of Intel SSD 730 Series drives.
We followed that up with a look at the ASUS USB 3.1 implementation that included a PCIe add-on card and a dual-drive mSATA device also in RAID-0. This configuration was interesting because we can theoretically install this $40 product into any system with a free PCI Express slot.
Performance was astounding for incredibly early implementations, reaching as high as 835 MB/s!
In that last article I theorized that it would be some time before we got our hands on retail USB 3.1 hardware but it appears I wasn't giving the industry enough credit. ASUS passed us a list of incoming devices along with release schedules. There are 27 devices scheduled to be released before the end of April and ~35 by the middle of the year.
It's a daunting table to look at, so be prepared!
The product categories are mostly dominated by the likes of the a USB 3.1 to 2.5-in adapter; that would be useful but you aren't going to top out the performance of the USB 3.1 with a single 2.5-in SATA device. Iomaster has one listed as a "USB 3.1 to MSATA & M2 SSD enclosure" which could be more interesting - does it accept PCI Express M.2 SSDs?
Minerva Innovation has a couple of interesting options, all listed with pairs of mSATA or M.2 ports, two with Type-C connections. What we don't know based on this data is if it supports PCIe M.2 SSDs or SATA only and if it supports RAID-0.
A couple more list dual SATA ports which might indicate that we are going to see multiple hard drives / SSDs over a single USB 3.1 connection but without RAID support. That could be another way to utilize the bandwidth of USB 3.1 in a similar way to how we planned to use Thunderbolt daisy chaining.
We don't have pricing yet, but I don't think USB 3.1 accessories will be significantly more expensive than what USB 3.0 devices sell for. So, does this list of accessories make you more excited to upgrade your system for USB 3.1?
Subject: Storage | February 23, 2015 - 05:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, SM2246EN, sata, micron, crucial, BX100, 1TB
It has been about a week since Al posted his review of the 256GB and 512GB models of the Crucial BX100 and what better way to remind you than with a review of the 1TB model, currently a mere $380 on Amazon (or only $374 on BHPhoto.com!). Hardware Canucks cracked open the 1TB budget priced consumer level SSD for your enjoyment right here, as well as running it through a gamut of tests. As expected their results are in line with the 512GB model as they both use a 4 channel controller, which does mean they are slower than some competitors drives. On the other hand the BX100 also has a significantly lower price making the 1TB model much more accessible for users. Check out their post here.
"Crucial's BX100 combines performance, endurance and value into one awesome budget-friendly SSD The best part? The 1TB version costs just $400."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- OCZ Challenge update: 2nd ARC 100 drive dies at 352TB @ Kitguru
- Crucial BX100 @ The SSD Review
- Crucial MX200 @ The SSD Review
- PNY CS2111 XLR8 @ The SSD Review
- Plextor M6e Black Edition PCIe 256GB @ Kitguru
- Thecus N4310 @ techPowerUp
- BeyondCloud BC214se 2300 by Synology @ TechwareLabs
- Lexar JumpDrive M20 2-in-1Flash Drive @ eTeknix
- Toshiba TransMemory-EX II USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Asus USB 3.1 Hands-on Preview @ Kitguru
Subject: Storage | February 20, 2015 - 06:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Samsung, 840 evo
Just over a week or so ago Allyn spent some time with the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK motherboard, a fact that might seem a little odd to our frequent readers. Why would our storage editor be focusing on a motherboard? USB 3.1 of course! When we visited MSI at CES in January they were the first company to show working USB 3.1 hardware and performance numbers that we were able duplicate in our testing when MSI sent us similar hardware.
But ASUS is in this game as well, preparing its product lines with USB 3.1 support courtesy of the same ASMedia controller we looked at before. ASUS has a new revision of several motherboards planned with integrated on-board USB 3.1 but is also going to be releasing an add-in card with USB 3.1 support for existing systems.
Today we are going to test that add-in card to measure ASUS' implementation of USB 3.1 and see how it stacks up to what MSI had to offer and what improvements and changes you can expect from USB 3.0.
USB 3.1 Technology Background
Despite the simple point denomination change in USB 3.1, also known as SuperSpeed+, the technological and speed differences in the newest revision of USB are substantial. Allyn did a good job of summarizing the changes that include a 10 Gbps link interface and a dramatic drop in encoding overhead that enables peak theoretical performance improvements of 2.44x compared to USB 3.0.
USB 3.1 is rated at 10 Gbps, twice that of USB 3.0. The little-reported-on nugget of info from the USB 3.1 specification relates to how they classify the raw vs. expected speeds. Taking USB 3.0 as an example, Superspeed can handle a raw 5Gbps data rate, but after subtracting out the overhead (packet framing, flow control, etc), you are left with ~450MB/s of real throughput. Superspeed+ upgrades the bit encoding type from 8b/10b (80% efficient) to 128b/132b (97% efficient) *in addition to* the doubling of raw data rate. This means that even after accounting for overhead, Superspeed+’s best case throughput should work out to ~1.1GB/s. That’s not a 2x speed improvement – it is actually 2.44x of USB 3.0 speed. Superspeed+ alright!
Subject: Storage | February 16, 2015 - 04:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ocz, ARC 100, endurance
The sample size for the tests at KitGuru to see how well the OCZ ARC 100 SSDs stand up to their warranty are only five drives, now four as one has failed. The ARC 100 is rated for 20GB/day of host writes for 3 years, a total of 21.9TB and this one made it to about 322TB of writes before succumbing to errors. The other four are still going strong which lends credence to the claimed improvements that the Toshiba owned OCZ has made with their new SSD controllers. Even if you do suffer the death of a drive during the warranty period of three years the new hassle free ShieldPlus Warranty makes it very easy for you to get a replacement.
"The drives all passed the warranty figure of 300TB on 3rd February 2015 – but one of them has just failed with 322TB showing before failure."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Patriot Ignite SSD Review (480GB) - Asynch Flash Takes On a Whole New Look @ The SSD Review
- Crucial MX200 500GB & 1TB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Plextor M6e Black Edition PCIe 256GB SSD @ eTeknix
- ADATA Premier Pro SP900 M.2 6Gbps SSD @ The SSD Review
- Synology DiskStation BeyondCloud Preconfigured NAS Review @ Techgage
- QNAP TurboNAS TS-431 NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Silicon Power Mobile X31 OTG USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Inateck HB3001G OTG 3-Port USB Hub and Card Reader @ eTeknix
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Micron's Crucial brand has been cranking out some great low cost SSDs for the past several years now. While their early drives pushed into the SATA 6Gb/sec interface before most of the competition, their performance was inconsistent and lagged behind some of the other more nimble solutions available at that time. This pattern was broken around the time of the M550 and MX100 launches. Those two drives were heavily competitive in performance and even moreso in pricing. Actually the pricing is probably the bigger story - when they launched, one of our readers caught a 512GB MX100 on sale for $125 ($0.24/GB)! We are coming up on a year since the MX100, and at CES 2015 Micron launched a pair of SSD models - the BX100 and MX200. Today we are going to look at the BX100 series:
Crucial aims to make the BX100 as their lowest cost/GB SSD ever - even cheaper than the MX100. Since Micron makes the flash, the best way to drive costs down is to use a lower cost controller. The Silicon Motion SM2246EN is cheaper to procure than the equivalent Marvell part, yet still performs rather well.
The Silicon Motion SM2246EN SSD controller
This is a great controller, as we have seen in our prior review of the ADATA SP610, Corsair Neutron LX, and Angelbird SSD WRK. From the specs, we can see that Micron has somehow infused their variant with increased write speeds even though it appears to use the same flash as those competing models listed above. We'll see how this plays out as the review progresses.
Subject: Storage | February 13, 2015 - 02:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Seagate, micron
The large storage companies have been teaming up for a while now, not simply through mergers and takeovers but also joint ventures between those who were once competitors. It is debatable if consumers will see much cost benefit from this cooperation but at least the products do seem to improve as specialties are combined. In this particular case we will see the traditionally disk based Seagate working with the flash memory maker Micron develop SAS products as well as SSDs for Enterprise customers. The idea of Serial attached SCSI SSDs is certainly interesting but in the current business environment you have to wonder how many companies will have the budget to invest in large scale migrations to flash based storage. It is far more likely this will bring new hybrid storage servers to the market, with SSDs in the front to provide bandwidth to frequently accessed data with HDD behind them for backups and cold storage. You can get a quick refresher on the other companies which have started cooperative ventures in the article at The Inquirer.
"SEAGATE AND MICRON have announced that they will join forces to work on projects together over a number of years."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Torvalds Polls Desire for Linux's Next Major Version Bump @ Slashdot
- AMD stops shipping chips as bloated channel begs 'Please, no more' @ The Register
- Microsoft launches wobbly Windows 10 phone preview for Lumia daredevils only @ The Register
- Hacker kicks one bit XP to 10 Windows scroll goal @ The Register
- HP's Sprout computer proves the desktop isn't dead @ The Inquirer
- The Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Media Preview @ TechARP
Introduction and Background
We first got a peek of USB 3.1 at CES 2015. MSI had a cool demo showing some throughput figures including read and write speeds as high as 690 MB/s, well over the ~450 MB/s we see on USB 3.0 options shipping today.
We were of course eager to play around with this for ourselves, and MSI was happy to oblige, sending along a box of goodies:
Stuff we will be testing today (Samsung T1 was not part of the MSI demo).
For those unaware, USB 3.1 (also known as Superspeed+), while only a 0.1 increment in numbering, incorporates a doubling of raw throughput and some dramatic improvements to the software overhead of the interface.
Don't be confused between the USB 3.1 standard and the new USB Type-C connector - they are unrelated and independent of each other.
Yes, you’re all going to have to buy *more* cables in the future.
Type-C connectors will enable more simple cable design and thinner connections going forward but USB 3.1 will exist in both Type-A/B and Type-C going forward. Our benchmarking today will utilize Type-A.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | February 11, 2015 - 09:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, asmedia
USB 3.0, for storage, is fast. If you are using an external, spindle-based hard drive, it will perform basically as fast as an internal sibling would. Apart from my two SSDs, I do not even have an internal drive anymore. You can safely install games to external hard drives now.
But with USB 3.1, the spec doubled to 10 Gbps, which matches the first generation Thunderbolt connector. A couple of weeks ago, Tom's Hardware put it to the test with an ASMedia USB3.1 to SATA 6 Gbps developer board. Sure enough, when you are raiding a pair of Intel 730 SSDs, you can achieve over 700 MB/s read/write in CrystalDiskMark.
About the most interesting part of Tom's Hardware testing is their CPU usage benchmark. While USB 3.0 on Intel's controller choked a CPU thread, USB 3.1 on ASMedia's controller did not even reach half of a thread's maximum (the CPU in question is a Core i7-5930K Haswell-E at 3.5 GHz).
So until we get flash drives that are constrained by USB 3.0's fairly high ceiling, we might be able to have reduced CPU usage.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Plextor launched their M6e PCIe SSD in mid-2014. This was the first consumer retail available native PCIe SSD. While previous solutions such as the OCZ RevoDrive bridged SATA SSD controllers to PCIe through a RAID or VCA device, the M6e went with a Marvell controller that could speak directly to the host system over a PCIe 2.0 x2 link. Since M.2 was not widely available at launch time, Plextor also made the M6e available with a half-height PCIe interposer, making for a painless upgrade for those on older non M.2 motherboards (which at that time was the vast majority).
With the M6e out for only a few months time (and in multiple versions), I was surprised to see Plextor launch an additonal version of it at the 2015 CES this past January. Announced alongside the upcoming M7e, the M6e Black Edition is essentially a pimped out version of the original M6e PCIe:
We left CES with a sample of the M6e Black, but had to divert our attention to a few other pressing issues shortly after. With all of that behind us, it's time to get back to cranking out the storage goodness, so let's get to it!