Toshiba 15nm Flash Memory in Mass Production

Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 23, 2014 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, 15nm

While we often see smaller fabrication nodes discussed in terms of faster and more power efficient processors, it also increases storage density for memory circuits. In fact, it is probably easier to visualize how a process shrink will increase memory capacity than it is to ponder the benefits for CPUs and GPUs. Smaller features in the same area gives more places to cram data. Toshiba is starting to mass produce 15nm NAND Flash at Fab 5 in Yokkaichi.

Toshiba_15nm_NAND_Flash_Memories.jpg

While not mentioned in the press release, I believe that SanDisk and Toshiba are still in a partnership. The facility being discussed was actually a $4 Billion USD joint-venture between these two companies. I, reasonably, expect that SanDisk will also see some benefits from today's announcement. According to the press release, 15nm MLC is already in mass production with TLC following in June.

I brought up this story to Allyn, to see if he had any insights on it. He noted that 15nm is getting quite small. I asked about its implications in terms of write longevity, as that is has been the biggest concern in previous node shrinks. He guesses that the flash should be able to handle around 1,000 writes on average, compared to ~3,000 writes on IMFT's 20nm process. Keep in mind, IMFT prides itself on enterprise longevity and so, at least to me, it sounds fairly reasonable. Toshiba also mentions that they will have products for the high reliability market, such as enterprise SSDs.

The announcement does not mention anything that you can go out and buy yet, though. At the moment, it is behind-the-scenes stuff. It should be soon. I doubt that Toshiba would mass produce components like this without products or OEMs lined up.

Source: Toshiba

Kingston Digital Releases Larger Capacity mSATA Drives

Subject: Storage | April 22, 2014 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: kingston, msata, ssdnow, SandForce SF-2241, SandForce SF-2281, ssd

Fountain Valley, CA – April 21, 2014 – Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., the independent world leader in memory products, today announced the addition of 240GB and 480GB capacities to the existing SSDNow mS200 mSATA SSD line. Kingston’s SSDNow mS200 mSATA solid-state drive allows system builders and enthusiasts a cost-effective performance boost with quicker boot time and application loads while requiring less power than HDDs.

The mS200’s small-form factor is perfect for notebook, tablet and Ultrabook PCs, as well as a variety of embedded systems. It can also be used as a caching device with motherboards that support Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT) to improve system performance. mS200 has read speeds up to 550MB/s and write speeds up to 520MB/s.

The 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB mS200 mSATA SSDs have a caseless, PCB-only design with no moving parts and are backed by a two- or three-year warranty, free technical support and legendary Kingston reliability. For more information visit www.kingston.com.

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Features & Specifications:

  • LSI SandForce 2241 (30GB, 60GB, 120GB) and 2281 (240GB, 480GB) controller with SATA Rev. 3.0 (6Gb/s) interface: twice as fast as the previous generation, yet more cost-efficient 
  • mSATA interface: fully compliant with industry standard, easy to fit, guaranteed to work 
  • NAND Flash memory based: shock-resistant with low power consumption
  • Supports Intel’s SRT: combines capacity advantage of HDD with performance improvements of SSD in dual-storage configuration
  • Supports S.M.A.R.T.: monitors the status of your drive
  • Supports TRIM: maintains maximum performance on compatible operating systems
  • Interface: SATA Rev. 3.0 (6Gb/s), SATA Rev. 2.0 (3Gb/s), SATA Rev. 1.0 (1.5Gb/s) ·
  • Capacities1: 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
  • Automatic Encryption (AES 128-bit):Password at the drive level ensures secure data protection
  • Sequential Read/Write2:
    • 30GB – 550 MB/s / 510MB/s
    • 60GB – 550 MB/s / 520MB/s
    • 120GB – 550MB/s / 520MB/s
    • 240GB – 540MB/s / 530MB/s
    • 480GB – 530MB/s / 340MB/s ·
  • Maximum 4k Read/Write2:
    • 30GB – up to 86,000/ up to 77,000 IOPS
    • 60GB – up to 86,000/ up to 79,000 IOPS
    • 120GB – up to 86,000/ up to 48,000 IOPS
    • 240GB – up to 72,000/up to 40,000 IOPS
    • 480GB – up to 72,000/up to 18,000 IOPS ·
  • Random 4k Read/Write2:
    • 30GB – up to 7,500/71,000 IOPS
    • 60GB – up to 14,000/77,000 IOPS
    • 120GB – up to 17,000/45,000 IOPS
    • 240GB – up to 21,000/41,000 IOPS
    • 480GB – up to 21,000/13,000 IOPS
  • PCMARK® Vantage HDD Suite Score: 60,000
  • Power Consumption: 0.4W Idle / 1.2 (TYP) Read / 1.8W (TYP) Write
  • Storage temperature: -40°C ~ 85°C
  • Operating temperature: 0°C ~ 70°C
  • Dimensions: 50.88mm x 30mm 
  • Weight: 6.86g
  • TRIM Supported
  • Vibration operating: 2.17G
  • Vibration non-operating: 20G
  • MTTF: 1,000,000 Hrs
  • Warranty/support:
    • 30GB – two-year warranty with free technical support
    • 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB – three-year warranty with free technical support 
  • Total Bytes Written (TBW)3:
    • 30GB: 121TB 3 DWPD4
    • 60GB: 218TB 3 DWPD4
    • 120GB: 337TBW 2 DWPD4
    • 240GB: 585TBW 2 DWPD4
    • 480GB: 1562TBW 2 DWPD4

1 Some of the listed capacity on a Flash storage device is used for formatting and other functions and thus is not available for data storage. As such, the actual available capacity for data storage is less than what is listed on the products. For more information, go to Kingston's Flash Memory Guide.
2 Based on “out-of-box performance.” Speed may vary due to host hardware, software and usage.
3 Total Bytes Written (TBW) is derived from the JEDEC Workload (JESD219A).
4 Drive Writes Per Day (DWPD)

Source: Kingston

A swiss army NAS from Asustor

Subject: Storage | April 16, 2014 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: asustor, AS-204TE, NAS, xmbc

The Asustor AS-204TE is an Atom powered Linux Network Attached Storage device for home use which comes with a respectable amount of applications.  uTorrent will run on the device, it is capable of communicating with the XBone Media Centre as well as iTunes as well as FTP transfers and even PLEX to allow it to connect to your mobile devices.  You can install up to 16TB of storage on four 3.5 or 2.5" disks which will run at SATA II and can be set up as single disks, JBOD and RAID 0, 1, 5, 5 + Hot Spare, 6 or 10.  All of those features do come with a cost, the NAS will run you almost $500 without any disks included; if the sticker shock doesn't scare you away you should read techPowerUp's comprehensive review.

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"Asustor is hard at work to establish itself as a good name on the NAS scene, and they are on the right track. Today, we will take a look at the AS-204TE, which Asustor says to be the best multimedia and storage-center solution for your home because it comes equipped with all typical NAS functions, an HDMI port, and XBMC support."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: techPowerUp

Seagate Packs 6TB Into 3.5" 7200 RPM Enterprise Capacity Hard Drive

Subject: Storage | April 8, 2014 - 11:22 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, sata 6Gbs, SAS, Hard Drive, enterprise, 6tb

Seagate's latest enterprise class hard drive offers up to 6TB of space in a 3.5" form factor. The Enterprise Capacity series drive comes in both SATA III 6Gbps and 12Gbps SAS interfaces. Seagate was able to achieve an impressive 1,000 Gb/inch or about 1.25 TB per platter with the drive's five total platters adding up to the 6TB capacity. Perhaps even more impressively, Seagate was able to offer up a 6TB, five platter, 7,200 RPM drive without using helium.

The 6TB Enterprise Capacity hard drive comes with a 128MB DRAM cache. It is rated at 216 MB/s for sequential transfer speeds and an average latency of 4.16 milliseconds. The drive also supports 256-bit AES encryption and an instant secure erase function which overwrites data multiple times. Seagate further claims the drive is rated for 24/7 workloads at 550TB/year with a MTBF of 1.4 million hours. The drive comes with a five year warranty.

Seagate Enterprise Capacity 6TB Hard Drive.jpg

The drive will come in several variants depending on the storage interface. LaCie has already committed to using the new drives in its dual bay external storage products. Seagate has not released pricing on the new 6TB drive, but stated that it would price the drive at the same $/GB as last year's 4TB model. Expect the price to be around $650 MSRP before contract and bulk order deals.

It is a neat drive for sure, and I hope that the technology trickles down to the consumer space quickly, as 4TB has been the maximum single drive capacity for far too long!

For now, the drive will be used in the datacenter, production house, and security/surveillance markets (particularly in the datacenter market where rack space is at a premium).

Source: Tech Report

Plextor Launches M6e PCI-E SSD In United States, Initially A Newegg Exclusive

Subject: Storage | April 4, 2014 - 02:05 AM |
Tagged: plextor, PCIe SSD, pci-e ssd, M6e, M.2

Update: Plextor has provided MSRP pricing for all three drives (see table below). Further, the company expects Newegg prices to be at or possibly slightly below MSRP. The new pricing information certainly makes the drives more attractive than previous estimates.

Plextor showed off its M6e PCI-E SSD at CES earlier this year, and the drives will soon be available for purchase in the US. The M6e is a M.2 form factor SSD that uses a Marvell 88SS9183 controller and Toshiba Toggle NAND MLC flash to offer up to 512GB of speedy (and bootable!) storage.

Plextor M6e PCI-E SSD.png

The Plextor M6e drive comes as a bare M.2 drive or as a version paired with a M.2-to-PCI-E adapter card for desktop PCs without the newer M.2 connector on the motherboard itself. In either case, the M6e utilizes two PCI-E 2.0 lanes and avoids the SATA III 6Gbps storage bottleneck altogether. The drive has its own BIOS implementation and should not require users to install separate drivers. The SSD supports both legacy and UEFI BIOSes along with standard storage technology such as AHCI, NCQ, encryption (AES-256), TRIM, SMART, et al.

The drives come in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities. The M6e SSDs are rated with a 2,400,000 hour MTBF and come with a 5 year warranty. Both the 256GB and 512GB drives reportedly offer up 770 MB/s sequential reads, 105,000 4K random read IOPS, and 100,000 4K random write IOPS. The 512GB M6e SSD has the highest sequential write speeds at up to 625 MB/s with the 256GB model topping out at 580 MB/s. The 128GB version is a bit slower in sequential writes and random read/write IOPS due to fewer NAND chips and channels, but still manages to offer up to 770 MB/s reads, 335 MB/s writes, 96,000 4K random read IOPS, and 83,000 4K random write IOPS.

The table below lays out the speeds and estimated pricing of the drives at the available capacities according to Plextor. Fortunately, Tek Syndicate found that at least the 256GB drive performs very close to its rated speeds in their video review.

Plextor M6e Capacities 128GB 256GB 512GB
DRAM 256MB DDR3 512MB DDR3 1GB DDR3
Sequential Read* 770 MB/s 770 MB/s 770 MB/s
Sequential Write* 335 MB/s 580 MB/s 625 MB/s
Random Read IOPS* 96,000 105,000 105,000
Random Write IOPS* 83,000 100,000 100,000
Price MSRP $179.99 $299.99 $549.99

*All listed speeds are "up to n MB/s."

The drives will be available later this month at as-yet-unreleased MSRPs. The drives will initially be a Newegg exclusive in the US from April 7th to April 13th, after which it should make its way to other retailers. Note that the USD prices in the above chart are estimates based on pricing information scattered around the internet for the M6e drives. I have reached out to Plextor for comment and will update with official MSRP information as soon as possible.

Source: Plextor

A tale of two SSDs; Crucial and ADATA's twins

Subject: Storage | April 3, 2014 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SP920, sata, Marvell, adata

Sticking with ADATA today, The Tech Report has also put together a review of the Premiere Pro SP920 which was eerily familiar to them.  The Marvell controller, Micron MLC NAND and DRAM cache all mirrored the Crucial M550 which they reviewed last month.  One difference they noted right off the start was support for third party utilities to read the SMART data, with which they had far more success than with Crucial's drive.  Their performance results were not surprising; the two drives performed the same which leaves price and support as the determining factor when purchasing one of these two twins, something that The Tech Report offers advice on in their conclusion.

top.jpg

"Adata's latest Premiere Pro SP920 SSD bears an uncanny resemblance to a big-name drive that was released recently. This isn't a straight copycat, though. Read on to see what makes the SP920 different."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

NitroWare Reviews Seagate Business 4-Bay NAS (16TB)

Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 2, 2014 - 02:27 AM |
Tagged: Seagate, NAS

Seagate released a network-attached storage (NAS) device intended for businesses with "up to 50 employees", called the Seagate Business 4-Bay 16TB NAS. Dominic Sharoo of NitroWare reviewed one and, obviously/hopefully, gave his opinion in the process. In short, while he liked the connectivity options, he shies away from a recommendation without a price cut and a firmware update (its built-in software is not compatible with Windows 8).

seagate_nas_box_angle.jpg

As for what it did well, he was pleased by its relatively compact chassis, USB 3.0 support, and the inclusion of dual gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. It is configurable in RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, or "JBOD" (just a bunch of drives). He also liked that, in his testing, the unit did not seem to require drives from a specific vendor. If you buy the unit already loaded with drives, they are formatted in RAID 5. For a four-bay NAS, that seems like a good default. It also uses a standard laptop power supply, which should make finding a replacement (or a spare) easy.

While the device is a mixed bag, check out his review if you are interested.

Source: NitroWare
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: ADATA
Tagged: ssd, SP920, sata, Marvell, adata

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

ADATA has been in the storage market for a good while now. I like to think of them as the patient underdog. They don't necessarily come out with the shiny new controller or flash technology. Instead they tend to sit back and wait for a given set of hardware to mature and drop in price a bit. Once that happens, they figure out how to package the matured technology into a device of relatively low cost as compared to the competition. They have done so again today, with their new Premier Pro SP920 lineup:

DSC00644.JPG

As hinted at earlier, this line does not use the newest Marvell controller, but as Marvell controllers have been very capable SATA 6Gb/sec units for a long time now, that is not necessarily a bad thing. In addition, Marvell controllers have a track record of gaining significant performance margins as their firmware matures, which makes ADATA's later entrance more of a good thing.

Continue reading for the full scoop and performance benchmarks of all available capacities!!

Subject: Editorial, Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction and Background

Introduction:

Back in 2010, Intel threw a bit of a press thing for a short list of analysts and reviewers out at their IMFT flash memory plant at Lehi, Utah. The theme and message of that event was to announce 25nm flash entering mass production. A few years have passed, and 25nm flash is fairly ubiquitous, with 20nm rapidly gaining as IMFT scales production even higher with the smaller process. Last week, Intel threw a similar event, but instead of showing off a die shrink or even announcing a new enthusiast SSD, they chose to take a step back and brief us on the various design, engineering, and validation testing of their flash storage product lines.

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At the Lehi event, I did my best to make off with a 25nm wafer.

Many topics were covered at this new event at the Intel campus at Folsom, CA, and over the coming weeks we will be filling you in on many of them as we take the necessary time to digest the fire hose of intel (pun intended) that we received. Today I'm going to lay out one of the more impressive things I saw at the briefings, and that is the process Intel goes through to ensure their products are among the most solid and reliable in the industry.

Read on for more on how Intel tests their products!

Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD for $469, 750GB for $388

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 18, 2014 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, ocz, Intel, corsair

Back in January I wrote a short editorial that asked the question: "Is now the time to buy an SSD?" At that time we were looking at a combination of price drops with a lack of upcoming hardware releases. Since that published we have seen the release of the Intel 730 Series SSDs and even the new Crucial M550.  While those are interesting drives to be sure (review pending on the M550), they aren't changing our opinions on the currently available, and incredibly cheap, solid state options.

While looking for some new hardware for the office, I found that the 1TB Samsung 840 EVO is now at an all time low $469!  That is one of the faster SSDs on the market, and one of Allyn's favorites, for $0.469/GB!!  I have included an updated table below with some of the most popular SSDs and their prices.  

Series Capacity Cost/GB Price
Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB $0.69/GB $83 - Amazon
  250 GB $0.55/GB $139 - Amazon
  500 GB $0.51/GB $259 - Amazon
  750 GB $0.51/GB $388 - Amazon
  1000 GB $0.46/GB $469 - Amazon
Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB $0.92/GB $119 - Amazon
  256 GB $0.77/GB $199 - Amazon
  512 GB $0.74/GB $413 - Amazon
Intel 530 Series 120 GB $0.91/GB $89 - Amazon
  180 GB $0.80/GB $144 - Amazon
  240 GB $0.62/GB $149 - Amazon
  480 GB $0.87/GB $419 - Amazon
Crucial M500 Series 120 GB $0.57/GB $69 - Amazon
  240 GB $0.49/GB $119 - Amazon
  480 GB $0.47/GB $229 - Amazon
  960 GB $0.45/GB $439 - Amazon

The biggest price drops were seen in the higher capacity drives including, the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB and 750GB models, the Intel 530 Series 480GB drive and even the Crucial M500 960GB and 480GB drives.  Numerically the best value is with the 960GB Crucial M500 drive at $0.45/GB but it is followed very closely by that 1TB Samsung 840 EVO.  

evo1.jpg

As of now, the Intel 730 Series of SSDs is available for sale on Amazon.com but their price per GB comparisons don't really match that of the EVO or M500.  They are great drives, just read Allyn's review to see the proof of that, but they are targeted at the very performance conscious.  The Crucial M550 is brand new, and looks interesting; expect us to dive more into that line very soon.

For me personally, grabbing a 750GB SSD is incredibly enticing and I think I'll find a handful in my cart to update our older 180GB SSD test beds.