Subject: Storage | March 18, 2016 - 12:13 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: 64TB, western digital, wdc, red, 8TB, He8
We've got a lot of storage testing cooking at the PC Perspective offices, and while I usually hold off on publishing things until all testing is complete, I found myself merging two new products in a way that just begged for a photo and quick status update post:
This is a Drobo B810i on our test bench being loaded with 64TB of Helium-filled Western Digital Red 8TB goodness. I made it a point to evaluate this capability since Drobos have historically been limited to 16TB (or 32TB) maximum volume sizes. Drobo has been rolling out firmware updates enabling the new 64TB volume size in units with sufficient performance and bay count to support it (starting with the B1200i last year, and most recently with the 5N). This test was mainly to confirm the B810i's 64TB maximum volume size. The end result looks something like this:
With single drive redundancy (a minimum requirement for any Drobo array), the available capacity comes in at just under 50TB.
Dual redundancy mode drops available capacity down to just over 43TB. Not too shabby considering the Drobo can sustain two drive failures in this mode.
Drobo testing is still in progress and will take a bit more time, but I've completed the initial round on an individual 8TB WD Red and will be posting that review up shortly. Speaking of which, I'm off to get back to it!
Subject: Storage | March 17, 2016 - 06:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zotac, Premium Edition 480GB, ssd, Phison PS3110
That's right, ZOTAC offers a number of SSDs, including a PCIe based one, but today Hardware Canucks examines the Premium Edition 480GB. It uses the Phison PS3110 controller, 256MB NANYA DDR3 for cache and the slightly older 19nm Toshiba Toggle MLC NAND. This is similar to other lower cost SSDs and so you would expect the performance to be similar as well. This is indeed the case, performance is similar to the PNY XLR8 and the Crucial MX200 drives and the price is attractive, Hardware Canucks saw it on sale for $65US for the 240GB model and less than $140 for the 480GB. If you are looking for a lower cost SSD you should check out the full review.
"The mid-tier SSD market is a crowded place these days but Zotac may have a standout contender with their affordable yet fast Premium Edition."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung 950 PRO SSD RAID-0 Performance @ Benchmark Reviews
- ADATA XPG SX930 240GB @ Kitguru
- OCZ Trion 150 480 GB @ techPowerUp
- QNAP TS-253A Network Attached Storage @ Modders-Inc
- Synology DS216play 2-bay NAS @ techPowerUp
- QNAP TAS-268 QTS and Android Combo NAS @ eTeknix
- ASUSTOR AS3102T NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
The big difference between the Trion 100 and the new 150 is the NAND, it moves from 19nm TLC from Toshiba to the new 15nm TLC but apart from that the drives are essentially the same. Using TLC and making a minimum amount of changes gives a pricing benefit, The Tech Report saw the 480GB model for sale at $130, impressive pricing even for an entry level SSD such as this one. Their testing shows performance improvements across the board compared to the Trion 100 in real life testing; though not enough to challenge the higher priced performance SSDs. Check out the full review if you are in the market for a low cost SSD that will still net you some serious improvements over a HDD.
"With its Trion 150 SSD, OCZ takes another stab at a low-cost TLC drive by putting Toshiba's 15-nm NAND under the hood. We tested out this drive to see if it fares better than the Trion 100, OCZ's first TLC SSD."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- OCZ Trion 150 SSD @ The SSD Review
- OCZ Trion 150 480GB @ Benchmark Reviews
- OCZ Trion150 @ eTeknix
- Transcend's SSD370 @ The Tech Report
- Zotac Premium Edition SSD @ The SSD Review
- Crucial BX 200 480 GB @ techPowerUp
- Mushkin Reactor 512GB @ eTeknix
- Samsung 950 Pro 512GB M.2 NVM Express SSD Review @ NikKTech
- Seagate NAS HDD 8TB SATA III HDD Review @ NikKTech
- SilverStone CS01-HS NAS Chassis @ Kitguru
- Synology DS416j NAS @ TechwareLabs
Subject: Storage | March 8, 2016 - 08:07 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, Seagate, pcie, NVMe, flash drive
Today Seagate announced that they are production ready on a couple of NVMe PCIe SSD models. These are data-center tailored units that focus on getting as much parallel flash into as small of a space as possible. From engineering drawings, the first appears to be a half height (HHHL) device, communicates over a PCIe 3.0 x8 link, and reaches a claimed 6.7GB/s:
The second model is a bit more interesting for a few reasons. This is a PCIe 3.0 x16 unit (same lane configuration as a high end GPU) that claims 10 GB/s:
10 GB/s, hmm, where have I seen that before? :)
The second image gives away a bit of what may be going on under that heatsink. There appears to be four M.2 form factor SSDs in there, which would imply that it would appear as four separate NVMe devices. This is no big deal for enterprise data applications that can be pointed at multiple physical devices, but that 10 GB/s does start to make more sense (as a combined total) as we know of no single SSD controller capable of that sort of throughput. It took four Intel SSD 750’s for us to reach that same 10 GB/s figure, so it stands to reason that Seagate would use that same trick, only with M.2 SSDs they can fit everything onto a single slot card.
That’s all we have on this release so far, but we may see some real product pics sneak out of the Open Compute Project Summit, running over the next couple of days.
Subject: Storage | March 1, 2016 - 01:00 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: WD, hgst, HelioSeal, He8, He6, He10, 8TB
Helium-filled HDD technology has been around for a few years, but since HGST launched their He series a couple of years ago, Helium has been stuck in the enterprise sector. Western Digital has been in a lengthy merger process with HGST, and I figured (hoped) that it would be only a matter of time before we saw Helium-filled consumer HDDs. I’m happy to report that time is now:
The first product lines to see this expansion will be WD’s external offerings (My Book / My Book Duo / My Cloud / My Cloud Mirror / My Cloud EX2 Ultra) and a few internal lines (Purple / Red / Red Pro). Taking a look at the new housing for the 8TB Red:
…we can tell that it appears to be the same HelioSeal tech used by HGST, right down to the external housing design. Here is an HGST He8 housing for reference / comparison:
I’m excited to see He making its way down the product chains, as a sealed HDD enclosure significantly reduces environmental effects on HDD reliability and performance. Helium also means less air friction, causing less heat production and therefore less power consumption. While the capacities are higher, we suspect performance won’t be taking any large leaps with WD’s first generation of Helium filled Hard Disk Drives. We will be testing a few of these once samples arrive and will deliver a full review as soon as possible. Since it appears that Western Digital was holding off on their 8TB capacity point until HelioSeal was integrated, it's a safe bet that their other product lines will receive the same technology and capability in the future.
Subject: Storage | February 23, 2016 - 01:05 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: DroboPro, drobo, B810i, B800i
The B810i comes with several improvements over preceding products in the line:
- 180MB/s reads / 110 MB/s writes (across a pair of iSCSI enabled Gigabit Ethernet ports).
- New 64TB max volume size
- Data Tiering
- SSDs installed as part of the array are automatically assigned to caching duties.
- Cache performance is claimed 5-10x faster than the 'cold' HDD tier.
- Cache Pre-heat
- Metadata describing the contents / duplicated data in the cache is also saved to the array, meaning the cache can survive a reboot of the device.
- Accelerated self-healing
- Drobo claims rebuilds are now 8x faster. This is due to increased parallelism taking place during that process.
- This is in addition to Drobo rebuilds that have only ever needed to re-duplicate the data present (and not all disks front to back as with traditional RAID).
- This is the same near-bulletproof system that has proven itself extremely resistant to failure (but remember, RAID is *not* a backup!).
Along with this launch, Drobo is running a promotion where sales by 4/30/2016 will receive two free 2TB HDDs as part of the $1699 purchase of a B810i.
The B810i replaces the B800i in the current Drobo lineup:
We're working on a round of NAS / SAN pieces here...
...along with an ioSafe 1515+, which would have collapsed the desk if I had it tried to fit it into this picture. That 75 lb beast will have to stay on the floor :).
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Around this same time last year, Samsung launched their Portable SSD T1. This was a nifty little external SSD with some very good performance and capabilities. Despite its advantages and the cool factor of having a thin and light 1TB SSD barely noticeable in your pocket, there was some feedback from consumers that warranted a few tweaks to the design. There was also the need for a new line as Samsung was switching over their VNAND from 32 to 48 layer, enabling a higher capacity tier for this portable SSD. All of these changes were wrapped up into the new Samsung Portable SSD T3:
Most of these specs are identical to the previous T1, with some notable exceptions. Consumer feedback prompted a newer / heavier metal housing, as the T1 (coming in at only 26 grams) was almost too light. With that newer housing came a slight enlarging of dimensions. We will do some side by side comparisons later in the review.
Subject: Storage | February 18, 2016 - 08:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Trion 150, toshiba, tlc, ssd, slc, sata, ocz, A15nm
As you may remember from Al's post, the OCZ Trion 150 is essentially the same as the previous Trion 100, except for the use of 15nm TLC flash from Toshiba and a lower initial price. Hardware Canucks got their paws on two of the drives from this series to benchmark, the 480GB and 960GB models. The 480GB model retains the 256MB DDR3 cache, the 960 doubles that to 512MB but there is one thing missing from this new series; instead of relying on capacitors to prevent lost data from a power failure they rely on OCZ's firmware based Power Failure Management Plus. Read Hardware Canucks full review to see if the new Trion can match the price to performance of the original.
"With the budget-focused SSD market exploding, OCZ is launching the Trion 150, a refresh of their original Trion 100 series which should offer better performance and an even lower price."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- OCZ Trion 150 480GB @ Legion Hardware
- Mushkin Striker 480GB @ eTeknix
- Samsung 750 EVO @ The SSD Review
- PNY CS1311 & XLR8 CS2211 SSDs Review @ Hardware Canucks
- QNAP TS-453A 4-bay NAS @ techPowerUp
- Kingston DataTraveler 2000 @ The Inquirer
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
The steady increase in flash memory capacity per die is necessary for bringing SSD costs down, but SSDs need a minimum number of dies present to maintain good performance. Back when Samsung announced their 48-layer VNAND, their Senior VP of Marketing assured me that the performance drop that comes along with the low die count present in lower capacity models would be dealt with properly. At the time, Unsoo Kim mentioned the possibility of Samsung producing 128Gbit 48-layer VNAND, but it now appears that they have opted to put everything into 256Gbit on 3D side. Fortunately they still have a planar (2D) NAND production line going, and they will be using that same flash in a newer line of low capacity models. When their 850 Series transitions over to 48-layer (enabling 2TB capacities), Samsung will drop the 120GB capacity of that line and replace it with a new OEM / system builder destined 750 EVO:
The SSD 750 EVO Series is essentially a throwback to the 840 EVO, but without all of the growing pains experienced by that line. Samsung assured me that the same corrections that ultimately fixed the long-term read-based slow down issues with the 840 EVO also apply to the 750 EVO, and despite the model number being smaller, these should actually perform a bit better than their predecessor. Since it would be silly to just launch a single 120GB capacity to make up for the soon to be dropped 850 EVO 120GB, we also get a 250GB model, which should make for an interesting price point.
Baseline specs are very similar to the older 840 EVO series, with some minor differences (to be shown below). There are some unlisted specs that are carried over from the original series. For those we need to reference the slides from the 840 EVO launch:
Subject: Storage | February 14, 2016 - 07:51 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: vnand, ssd, Samsung, nand, micron, Intel, imft, 768Gb, 512GB, 3d nand, 384Gb, 32 Layer, 256GB
You may have seen a wave of Micron 3D NAND news posts these past few days, and while many are repeating the 11-month old news with talks of 10TB/3.5TB on a 2.5"/M.2 form factor SSDs, I'm here to dive into the bigger implications of what the upcoming (and future) generation of Intel / Micron flash will mean for SSD performance and pricing.
Remember that with the way these capacity increases are going, the only way to get a high performance and high capacity SSD on-the-cheap in the future will be to actually get those higher capacity models. With such a large per-die capacity, smaller SSDs (like 128GB / 256GB) will suffer significantly slower write speeds. Taking this upcoming Micron flash as an example, a 128GB SSD will contain only four flash memory dies, and as I wrote about back in 2014, such an SSD would likely see HDD-level sequential write speeds of 160MB/sec. Other SSD manufacturers already recognize this issue and are taking steps to correct it. At Storage Visions 2016, Samsung briefed me on the upcoming SSD 750 Series that will use planar 16nm NAND to produce 120GB and 250GB capacities. The smaller die capacities of these models will enable respectable write performance and will also enable them to discontinue their 120GB 850 EVO as they transition that line to higher capacity 48-layer VNAND. Getting back to this Micron announcement, we have some new info that bears analysis, and that pertains to the now announced page and block size:
256Gb MLC: 16KB Page / 16MB Block / 1024 Pages per Block
384Gb TLC: 16KB Page / 24MB Block / 1536 Pages per Block
To understand what these numbers mean, using the MLC line above, imagine a 16MB CD-RW (Block) that can write 1024 individual 16KB 'sessions' (Page). Each 16KB can be added individually over time, and just like how files on a CD-RW could be modified by writing a new copy in the remaining space, flash can do so by writing a new Page and ignoring the out of date copy. Where the rub comes in is when that CD-RW (Block) is completely full. The process at this point is very similar actually, in that the Block must be completely emptied before the erase command (which wipes the entire Block) is issued. The data has to go somewhere, which typically means writing to empty blocks elsewhere on the SSD (and in worst case scenarios, those too may need clearing before that is possible), and this moving and erasing takes time for the die to accomplish. Just like how wiping a CD-RW took a much longer than writing a single file to it, erasing a Block takes typically 3-4x as much time as it does to program a page.
With that explained, of significance here are the growing page and block sizes in this higher capacity flash. Modern OS file systems have a minimum bulk access size of 4KB, and Windows versions since Vista align their partitions by rounding up to the next 2MB increment from the start of the disk. These changes are what enabled HDDs to transition to Advanced Format, which made data storage more efficient by bringing the increment up from the 512 Byte sector up to 4KB. While most storage devices still use 512B addressing, it is assumed that 4KB should be the minimum random access seen most of the time. Wrapping this all together, the Page size (minimum read or write) is 16KB for this new flash, and that is 4x the accepted 4KB minimum OS transfer size. This means that power users heavy on their page file, or running VMs, or any other random-write-heavy operations being performed over time will have a more amplified effect of wear of this flash. That additional shuffling of data that must take place for each 4KB write translates to lower host random write speeds when compared to lower capacity flash that has smaller Page sizes closer to that 4KB figure.
A rendition of 3D IMFT Floating Gate flash, with inset pulling back some of the tunnel oxide layer to show the location of the floating gate. Pic courtesy Schiltron.
Fortunately for Micron, their choice to carry Floating Gate technology into their 3D flash has netted them some impressive endurance benefits over competing Charge Trap Flash. One such benefit is a claimed 30,000 P/E (Program / Erase) cycle endurance rating. Planar NAND had dropped to the 3,000 range at its lowest shrinks, mainly because there was such a small channel which could only store so few electrons, amplifying the (negative) effects of electron leakage. Even back in the 50nm days, MLC ran at ~10,000 cycle endurance, so 30,000 is no small feat here. The key is that by using that same Floating Gate tech so good at controlling leakage for planar NAND on a new 3D channel that can store way more electrons enables excellent endurance that may actually exceed Samsung's Charge Trap Flash equipped 3D VNAND. This should effectively negate the endurance hit on the larger Page sizes discussed above, but the potential small random write performance hit still stands, with a possible remedy being to crank up the Over-Provisioning of SSDs (AKA throwing flash at the problem). Higher OP means less active pages per block and a reduction in the data shuffling forced by smaller writes.
A 25nm flash memory die. Note the support logic (CMOS) along the upper left edge.
One final thing helping out Micron here is that their Floating Gate design also enables a shift of 75% of the CMOS circuitry to a layer *underneath* the flash storage array. This logic is typically part of what you see 'off to the side' of a flash memory die. Layering CMOS logic in such a way is likely thanks to Intel's partnership and CPU development knowledge. Moving this support circuitry to the bottom layer of the die makes for less area per die dedicated to non-storage, more dies per wafer, and ultimately lower cost per chip/GB.
Samsung's Charge Trap Flash, shown in both planar and 3D VNAND forms.
One final thing before we go. If we know anything about how the Intel / Micron duo function, it is that once they get that freight train rolling, it leads to relatively rapid advances. In this case, the changeover to 3D has taken them a while to perfect, but once production gains steam, we can expect to see some *big* advances. Since Samsung launched their 3D VNAND their gains have been mostly iterative in nature (24, 32, and most recently 48). I'm not yet at liberty to say how the second generation of IMFT 3D NAND will achieve it, but I can say that it appears the next iteration after this 32-layer 256Gb (MLC) /384Gb (TLC) per die will *double* to 512Gb/768Gb (you are free to do the math on what that means for layer count). Remember back in the day where Intel launched new SSDs at a fraction of the cost/GB of the previous generation? That might just be happening again within the next year or two.