Tidbits from the 2014 Samsung SSD Summit

Subject: Storage | July 1, 2014 - 06:53 PM |
Tagged: V-NAND, Summit, ssd, Samsung, 2014

Here are some goodies from yesterdays briefings at the 2014 Samsung SSD Summit:

Slides from the 3D V-NAND discussion. These provide some additional visuals for what I explained in the intro to the 850 PRO series SSD review:

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Next we got into current launching lineups. First the 850 PRO that launched today:

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Samsung also launched an 845DC PRO, which uses the previous generation 24-layer V-NAND:

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Finally, as we walked out of the conference, we saw a 32-layer V-NAND wafer on display:

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Taking die pictures is tricky...

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...but persistence is rewarded:

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More to follow!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction

Samsung has certainly been pushing the envelope in the SSD field. For the past two years straight, they have launched class leading storage products, frequently showing outside-the-box thinking. Their 840 PRO series was an impressive MLC performer to say the least, but even more impressive was the 840 EVO, which combined cost-efficient TLC flash with a super-fast SLC cache. The generous SLC area, present on each die and distributed amongst all flash chips within the drive, enabled the EVO to maintain PRO-level performance for the majority of typical consumer (and even power user) usage scenarios. The main win for the EVO was the fact that it could be produced at a much lower cost, and since its release, we've seen the EVO spearheading the push to lower cost SSDs.

All of these innovations might make you wonder what could possibly be next. Today I have that answer:

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If you're going "Hey, they just changed the label from 840 to 850!", well, think again. This SSD might have the same MEX controller as its predecessor, but Samsung has done some significant overhauling of the flash memory itself. Allow me to demonstrate.

Here's standard (2D) flash memory, where the charge is stored on a horizontal plane:

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..and now for 3D:

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The charges (bits) are not stored at the top layer. They are stored within all of those smaller, thinner layers below it. You're still looking at a 2D plane (your display), so here's a better view:

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Read on as we dive even deeper into this awesome new 3D flash technology!

Where in the world is Allyn Malventano?

Subject: Storage | June 30, 2014 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ssd, Summit, Global

Chicago?

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Tokyo?

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Seeking asylum at some random baggage claim area?

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Guess again. Here's a hint:

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More to follow, boys and girls. Stay tuned!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Storage Solutions

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

OCZ's RevoDrive series has been around for quite some time. We reviewed the first of the series over four years ago, and they just kept coming after that initial launch

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The full line of (now legacy) Revo / Z-Drive series products.

With the recent acquisition by Toshiba, it was only a matter of time before OCZ revamped the RevoDrive line with their new flash. It just makes sense, as Toshiba can be obtained much more readily (and cheaply) since they are now an in-house source for OCZ. With the Vector 150 and Vertex 460 already driving 19nm Toshiba flash, we now have the RevoDrive 350:

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We suspected they might also count this as an update to the Revo line and not just a flash swap, so with a sample to test, let's see what's what!

Read on for our full review!

Is the flash drive going to be layer of landfill just above the optical media sediment?

Subject: Storage | June 24, 2014 - 04:43 PM |
Tagged: usb, flash drive, obsolete

A high capacity USB flash drive used to be the definition of great swag, a company could put whatever tools, media or programs on a promotional USB drive but what really counted was the size.  As 128GB and larger drives started to become more common and more reasonably priced may got in the habit of dumping all their optical media to be replaced by a handful of flash drives, some bootable and some not.  Take the Patriot SuperSonic Rage XT 128GB up for review at NikTech, for $80 you get 128GB of storage that can hit 200MB/s random or linear reads and is rather durable.  There is nothing wrong with the drive until you realize you can pick up a 128GB Crucial MX100 and an eSATA cable for the same price or double your storage for an extra $30.  Those SSDs are roughly twice as fast and every bit as rugged, so why pick up that flash drive in the first place?

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"Storage capacity needs increase on a daily basis and with them so does demand and thus in the end those two result in more competition between companies and lower prices (at least most of the time). Think about it, just two years ago i was running around carrying an 16GB USB flash drive with my keychain while now i have attached a permanent 32GB one which i sometimes replace with an 128GB one if i need to carry way too much data with me."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: NikkTech

Corsair Force Series LX SSDs Now Available in 512GB Capacity

Subject: Storage | June 24, 2014 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: corsair, Corsair Force Series, 512GB, ssd

They are not quite available yet but Corsair have just added a 512GB model to accompany the $80 128GB and $130 256GB Force Series LX SSDs.  You should expect to see the new larger model at it's MSRP of $260 in the very near future.

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FREMONT, California —June 24, 2014 — Corsair®, a worldwide designer of high-perform­­­­­­ance components to the PC hardware market, today announced the addition of a 512GB model to the recently announced Force Series LX line of solid-state drives (SSD). The new Force Series LX 512GB SSD brings the amazing performance benefits of high-capacity SSDs to a lower price point.

The faster performance and silent operation of solid-state drives have long attracted PC enthusiasts, but high prices may have put off some users from making the switch to this faster storage technology. In response to this, Corsair is bringing these SSD advantages to more budget-friendly price points. The Force Series LX are available in three capacities and price points—128GB for $79.99, 256GB for $129.99, and the 512GB at $259.99.

Powered by a Silicon Motion SSD controller, the Force Series LX SSDs offer fantastic performance up to 10 times faster than that of a conventional spinning-disk hard drive. The 512GB model and its SATA 3 interface delivers file transfer speeds of up to 560MB/sec read and 450MB/sec write which can deliver massive improvements in system performance. Operating system start-up and application load times accelerate to mere seconds, anti-virus scans complete far faster, and navigating your PC’s files feels much more responsive thanks to near-instant access times.

A slim-line 7mm aluminum housing makes it easy to install the Force LX into almost every desktop or notebook PC with a 2.5 inch drive bay – an ideal upgrade to breathe new life into an notebook, ultrabook or PC in need of a boost. Corsair’s bundled SSD Toolbox software utility is also included as a free download, allowing you to easily optimize your SSD’s performance, clone your existing hard drive, or securely erase all data on a drive. TRIM, NCQ and S.M.A.R.T. technologies automatically maintain drive performance for years to come, and Corsair tops off the package with a 3 year warranty and legendary customer service for total peace of mind.

Source: Corsair

Now on Amazon: 1TB Samsung 840 EVO SSD for $399, ASUS PB287Q 4K for $649

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Storage | June 19, 2014 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ssd, 840 evo, 1TB, amazon, pb287q, asus, 4k

A couple of really nice Amazon picks hit my email box today and I thought they were worth posting for our readers as well.

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1TB Samsung 840 EVO for $399

First, and clearly the most exciting: the 1TB version of the Samsung 840 EVO SSD is now selling for just $399. That comes in at $0.399/GB, which is actually better than the cost per GB of the Crucial MX100 that launched this month. If you haven't picked up an SSD that is big enough to hold all your games, this is the perfect opportunity!

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ASUS PB287Q 4K 28-in monitor for $649

Also, after our review went up at the end of May, the 4K ASUS PB287Q 28-in monitor is finally up for sale on Amazon for $649 with a shipping date of July 1st. If you think you might be interested in the universe of gaming at 4K, now is a great time to jump in.

Thanks for supporting PC Perspective!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Seagate
Tagged: sshd, Seagate, hybrid, 4TB

Introduction

Introduction

We've looked at many hybrid options over the past few years. First we checked out Intel's RST Caching solution, introduced on the Z68 chipset. Then we looked into Seagate's first few rounds of SSHD's, which were basically a standard HDD with an 8GB cache tacked on to the controller. Despite larger adoption of SSD's taking place, Seagate continues to push further into the hybrid market, with the addition of dual mode caching and other advancements. Today we take a look at their most recent push:

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Yup, that's 4TB of hybrid goodness right there. No doubt this is a desktop class product, but how well can it handle desktop workloads?

Read on for the full review!

Plextor's M.2 PCIe SSD, the M6e

Subject: Storage | June 17, 2014 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: plextor, Plextor M6e, M.2, PCIe SSD

The Plextor M6e M.2 SSD Series comes in 128, 256 and 512GB models and for those lacking a M.2 slot you can opt for the model below which ships with a PCIe 2.0 adapter for an additional $60.  One caveat that Legit Reviews offers immediately is that for many models of motherboards you must manually enable the M.2 slot in the UEFI, otherwise your drive may not be detected.  Once enabled properly and benchmarked the performance was found to be in line with the advertised speeds of 770MB/s sequential read and 580MB/s sequential write speeds for the 256GB version.  It would seem that the SATA 6Gbs limitation can indeed be overcome but of course that was not enough for the crew at Legit Reviews, they picked up a second M6e and RAIDed them to reach 1408MB/s read and 1098MB/s write!

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"Are you wanting to get beyond 550MB/s without having to do a RAID setup? Are you willing to try a new interface? Meet the Plextor M6e Series of PCI Express SSDs! Plextor is leading the charge for native PCIe SSDs and has come up with the first readily-available M.2 PCIe SSD on the consumer market. Other drives like the Samsung XP941 series have been around much longer, but they are OEM only and aren’t really meant for end users. Plextor has stepped up to the plate with a drive that had end user firmware updates, an impressive 5-year warranty and mouth watering speeds."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Why would SanDisk buy Fusion-io for $1.1 Billion?

Subject: Editorial, Storage | June 17, 2014 - 06:56 AM |
Tagged: sandisk, fusion-io, buyout

Fusion-io was once a behemoth of flash memory storage. Back when SSDs were having a hard time saturating SATA 3Gb/sec, Fusion-io was making fire breathing PCIe SSDs full of SLC flash and pushing relatively insane IOPS and throughput figures. Their innovations were a good formula at the time. They made the controller a very simple device, basically just a simple bridge from the PCIe bus to the flash memory. This meant that most of the actual work was done in the driver. This meant that Fusion-io SSDs were able to leverage the CPU and memory of the host system to achieve very high performance.

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Fusion-io ioDrive 160 creams the competition back in 2010.

Being the king of IOPS back in the early days of flash memory storage, Fusion-io was able to charge a premium for their products. In a 2010 review, I priced their 160GB SSD at about $40/GB. In the years since, while flash memory prices (and therefore SSD products) have steadily dropped in price while achieving higher and higher performance figures, Fusion-io products have mostly remained static in price. All of this time, the various iterations of the ioDrive continued to bank on the original model of a simple controller and the bulk of the work taking place in the driver. This actually carries a few distinct disadvantages, in that the host system has to spent a relatively large amount of CPU and memory resources towards handling the Fusion-io devices. While this enables higher performance, it leaves less resources available to actually do stuff with the data. This ends up adding to the build cost of a system, as more CPU cores and memory must be thrown at the chassis handling the storage. In more demanding cases, additional systems would need to be added to the rack space in order to handle the additional storage overhead in addition to the other required workloads. Lastly, the hefty driver means Fusion-io devices are not bootable, despite early promises to the contrary. This isn't necessarily a deal breaker for enterprise use, but it does require system builders to add an additional storage device (from a different vendor) to handle OS duties.

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In 2014, the other guys are making faster stuff. Note this chart is 4x the scale of the 2010 chart.

Lets fast forward to present times. Just over a week ago, Fusion-io announced their new 'Atomic' line of SSDs. The announcement seemed to fall flat, and did little to save the continuous decline of their stock price. I suspect this was because despite new leadership, these new products are just another iteration of the same resource consuming formula. Another reason for the luke warm reception might have been the fact that Intel launched their P3700 series a few days prior. The P3700 is a native PCIe SSD that employs the new NVM Express communication standard. This open standard was developed specifically for flash memory communication, and it allows more direct access to flash in a manner that significantly reduces the overhead required to perform high data throughputs and very high IO's per second. NVMe is a very small driver stack with native support built into modern operating systems, and is basically the polar opposite of the model Fusion-io has relied on for years now.

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Intel's use of NVMe enables very efficient access to flash memory with minimal CPU overhead.

Fusion-io's announcement claimed "The Atomic Series of ioMemory delivers the highest transaction rate per gigabyte for everything from read intensive workflows to mixed workloads.". Let's see how this stacks up against the Intel P3700 - an SSD that launched the same week:



Model Fusion-io PX600 Intel P3700
Capacity (TB) 1.0 1.3 2.6 5.2 0.4 0.8 1.6 2.0
Interface / Flash type PCIe 2.0 x8 / 20nm MLC PCIe 3.0 x4 / 20nm MLC
Read BW (GB/sec) 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.7 2.8 2.8 2.8
Write BW (GB/sec) 1.5 1.7 2.2 2.1 1.2 1.9 1.9 1.9
4k random read IOPS 196,000 235,000 330,000 276,000 450,000 460,000 450,000 450,000
Read transactions/GB 196 181 127 53 1,125 575 281 225
4k random write IOPS 320,000 370,000 375,000 375,000 75,000 90,000 150,000 175,000
Write transactions/GB 320 285 144 72 188 113 94 88
4k 70/30 R/W IOPS Unlisted 150,000 200,000 240,000 250,000
Read latency 92us 20/115us
Write latency 15us 20/25us
Endurance (PBW) 12 16 32 64 7.3 14.6 29.2 36.5
Endurance / TB 12.0 12.3 12.3 12.3 18.3 18.3 18.3 18.3
Cost Unlisted $1,207 $2,414 $4,828 $6,035
Cost/GB Unlisted $3.02 $3.02 $3.02 $3.02
Warranty 5 years 5 years
                 

Source: Fusion-io / Intel

We are comparing flagship to flagship (in a given form factor) here. Starting from the top, the Intel P3700 is available in generally smaller capacities than the Fusion-io PX600. Both use 20nm flash, but the P3700 uses half the data lanes at twice the throughput. Regarding Fusion-io's 'transaction rate per GB' point, well, it's mostly debunked by the Intel P3700, which has excellent random read performance all the way down to its smallest 400GB capacity point. The seemingly unreal write specs seen from the PX600 are, well, actually unreal. Flash memory writes take longer than reads, so the only logical explanation for the inversion we see here is that Fusion-io's driver is passing those random writes through RAM first. Writing to RAM might be quicker, but you can't sustain it indefinitely, and it consumes more host system resources in the process. Moving further down the chart, we see Intel coming in with a ~50% higher endurance rating when compared to the Fusion-io. The warranties may be of equal duration, but the Intel drive is (on paper / stated warranty) guaranteed to outlast the Fusion-io part when used in a heavy write environment.

For pricing, Intel launched the P3700 at a competitive $3/GB. Pricing data for Fusion-io is not available, as they are behind a bit of a 'quote wall', and no pricing at all was included with the Atomic product launch press materials. Let's take a conservative guess and assume the new line is half the cost/GB of their previous long-standing flagship, the Octal. One vendor lists pricing directly at $124,995 for 10.24TB ($12.21/GB) and $99,995 for 5.12TB ($19.53/GB), both of which require minumum support contracts as an additional cost. Half of $12/GB is still more than twice the $3/GB figure from Intel.

My theory as to why SanDisk is going for Fusion-io?

  • A poor track record since the Fusion-io IPO have driven the stock price way down, making it prime for a buyout.
  • SanDisk is one of the few remaining flash memory companies that does not own their own high end controller tech.
  • Recent Fusion-io product launch overshadowed by much larger (Intel) company launching a competing superior product at a lower cost/GB.

So yeah, the buyout seemed inevitable. The question that remains is what will SanDisk do with them once they've bought them? Merging the two will mean that Fusion-io can include 'in house' flash and (hopefully) offer their products at a lower cost/GB, but that can only succeed if the SanDisk flash performs adequately. Assuming it does, there's still the issue of relatively high costs when compared to freshly competing products from Intel and others. Last but not least is the ioDrive driver model, which grows incresingly dated while the rest of the industry adopts NVMe.