Subject: Storage | April 20, 2016 - 05:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: owc, apple, PCIe SSD, Aura, 1TB, mlc
It has been a while since we heard from OWC, over a year since Al saw their offerings at Storage Vision, so it is interesting to see a new PCIe SSD from them. Their days of Sandforce are over, two SMI 2246 XT 4-channel controllers are paired with a Marvell 9230 RAID controller which allows the four unbranded 256GB MLC flash chips to act as a 1TB RAID 0 drive. The SSD Reviews found the Macbook Air upgrade drive to run slightly slower than the original 256GB SSD but with quadruple the storage the slight slow down is offset by the extra space. Check out the Aura drive if you have a Mac in need of upgrade, or if you are simply interested in a tiny 1TB SSD.
"Because of its limited storage capacity and Apples horrendous cost for upgrades, it was very close to being replaced, at least until OWC contacted me a week ago asking if we might like to review their latest 1TB Aura PCIe SSD replacement for mid-2013 and later MacBooks."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- PNY CS2211 XLR8 240GB @ eTeknix
- Kingston DataTraveler Micro 3.1 128GB USB 3.1 Gen 1 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Synology DiskStation DS216+ NAS @ Modders-Inc
- Kingston DataTraveler 2000 32GB Encrypted USB Drive Review @ OCC
Subject: Storage | April 19, 2016 - 05:00 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: SSL, remote access, NAS, DroboAccess, drobo, B810n, 5N
We are currently testing a round of Drobos here at PC Perspective, and Drobo recently rolled out a new feature that I thought would be better written up as a quick news post. This is a remote access feature that applies to the NAS-style models, specifically the 5N and B810n, and leverages the Drobo Apps capabilities of these devices. If you are a current 5N or B810n owner, you can update your Dashboard application and firmware to unlock this newly announced ‘DroboAccess’ feature.
DroboAccess falls under the ‘myDrobo’ category of Drobo Apps. These are apps developed and supported by Drobo (as opposed to coming from a third party). With Drobo more involved in the end-to-end aspect of this process, they were able to work some additional magic into their implementation:
After a Drobo owner registers their device, they can install any/all of the supported apps (DroboAccess, Koken, and Wordpress). Upon registering, each app prompts for a public URL (a subdomain of .mydrobo.com). Drobo handles the behind-the-scenes registration of a 2k SSL certificate which is installed in the chain, which means that any browser access to the new subdomain is over an SSL (HTTPS) end-to-end encrypted connection. Drobo has set up a relay server that manages incoming internet connections to the 5N or B810n. Home NAT routers are not an issue as the device running the app maintains an outbound link to the same relay server. This eliminates any custom router configurations / port forwarding necessary on the user-side of things, and that free SSL cert keeps prying eyes out of the data coming across the wire. I stepped through this process myself and it was about as simple and seamless as it could possibly be. Once set up, I could browse to (chosen subdomain).mydrobo.com from any internet-connected browser and see the files on the B810n:
The interface is similar to what you’d see from other remote access apps (Dropbox, etc). There is also an iPhone and Android app available, but Drobo has chosen to charge $0.99 for this app - an odd choice given the vast majority of remote file access companion apps are free downloads. I spent some time with the iOS app and while functional, I found it a bit clunky in its current form. As an example, sending a photo to DroboAccess from the iOS Share Menu gave an ‘Upload to’ prompt with no ability to choose a destination folder (images were simply dumped in the root, which is *not* mountable on the local network - only subdirectories of root are mountable on the LAN). This means that you would have to log into the Drobo via web browser to access those uploads and move them to shares so they would be visible to local SMB-connected machines.
In testing browser access, I discovered a few more issues:
- The data throughput rate appears to be capped at 8 Mbps by the myDrobo relay server.
- Downloading files >2GB failed silently, resulting in a 0-byte file placed on the host.
…so while things are a bit rough around the edges right now, the setup was quick and painless, which was Drobos initial goal for this feature roll out. We’ve fed back our findings thus far, and I suspect the other parts should receive more polish and tweaking over the coming weeks. I’ve include Drobo’s press blast for DroboAccess after the break.
Subject: Storage | April 19, 2016 - 08:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Xe, western digital, wdc, WD, se, RE, Media Cache, hgst, HelioSeal, gold, 8TB
Western Digital rolled out their Se / Re / Xe branding back in mid-2013. Since that time, a lot has changed in the rapidly evolving enterprise storage industry. SSDs are encroaching into more of the data center rack space out there, and the need for small capacity 10k and 15k RPM drives is dropping substantially in favor of more power efficient (in power and capacity per dollar), larger spinning disks.
With these winds of change comes today’s announcement from Western Digital:
The new Gold lineup appears to be a merging of old and new product lines. The 6TB and below Re series are essentially being absorbed under the new Gold label, but 6TB will no longer be the top capacity offered to WD enterprise customers. A new 8TB capacity will be offered in the form of a HelioSeal drive. The 8TB model will share more parts with the HGST He8 than WD’s previously released 8TB Red, including HGST’s Media Cache architecture, which should yield a nice boost to sustained random write performance over drives lacking this technology.
The press release does not state this, but I suspect WD will be phasing out their Se and Xe product lines over the coming months in favor of Helium-filled drives of the 5400 (Red) and 7200 (Gold) RPM variety. Fewer lines to manage should help them tighten things up a bit and reduce costs even further over time.
We’ll be reviewing the new 8TB Gold just as soon as samples arrive for testing, so stay tuned!
Full press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | April 18, 2016 - 12:32 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, sony, optical disc archive, optical disc, ODA, hard drives, backup, Archival
Sony has developed a higher-capacity version of their Optical Disc Archive (ODA), which now allows up to 3.3 TB of archival storage with the promise of 100-year retention.
Sony ODS-D280U (Image credit: Sony via Computer Base)
Of course the viability of such a system in the next century is unknown, and a working cartridge (which is similar to the multi-CD systems found in cars a few years ago) would be needed to access the data. The idea is certainly interesting considering the potential for failure with traditional hard drives, though hard drives are relatively inexpensive and offer more utility, unlike the write-once Sony ODA cartridges.
Cartridge exploded view (Image credit: Sony via Computer Base)
For those seeking pure read-only archival storage, the higher capacity of the second-generation Sony ODA at least brings it closer to parity with current hard drive storage.
At IDF Shenzhen, Intel talked more about 3D XPoint (spoken cross-point). Initially launched in July of last year, 3D XPoint is essentially a form of phase change memory which has speeds closer to that of DRAM.
It can be addressed at the byte level, unlike flash which transfers in pages (~8KB) and erases in blocks (~6MB). There have been a few demos since the initial launch, and this morning there was another:
It is great to see XPoint / Optane technology being demonstrated again, but as far as demos go, this was not the best / fairest example that Intel could have put together. First of all, the 'NAND SSD' they are using is a Thunderbolt 3 connected external, which was clearly bottlenecked badly somewhere else in the chain (when was the last time you saw a 6 Gbit SATA SSD limited to only 283 MB/s?). Also, using SATA for the NAND example while using PCIe x4 NVMe for the Optane example seems a bit extreme to me.
The Optane side of the demo is seen going 1.94 GB/s. That is an impressive figure for sure, but it is important to note that a faster Intel 'NAND SSD' product has already been shipping for over a year:
Yes, the P3700 (reviewed by us here), can reach the speeds seen in this demo, as evidenced by this ATTO run on one of our 1.6TB samples:
Looking at the P3700 specs, we can see that the 2TB model performs even better and would likely beat the Optane SSD used in today's demo:
Further, in the IDF 2015 demo (where they launched the Optane brand), Intel showed off Optane's random IO performance:
This demo showed 464,300 4K random IOPS, and if you do the math, that works out to 1.9 GB/s *worth of random IO*, which is far more impressive than sequentials that basically match that of the current generation NVMe product of the same form factor and interface.
I'm still happy to see these demos happen, as it means we are absolutely going to see 3D XPoint in our hands sooner than later. That said, I'd also like to see demos that better demonstrate the strengths of the technology, because if today's demo was comparing apples to apples, it would have shown a P3700 matching the speed of Optane, which does not make the previously stated 1000x speed improvement nearly as obvious as it should be presented.
Subject: Storage | April 13, 2016 - 05:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sandisk, x400, tlc, M.2 SATA, 88SS1074-BSW2
SanDisk have updated their SSD lineup with the X400 family, available in sizes of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB all of which are available in 2.5" and M.2 form factors. They have continued their tradition of adding a small SLC flash cache to the drive, with the majority of storage being TLC. Inside you will find Marvell's 88SS1074-BSW2 four channel controller and 256MB of DDR3L-1600 and as you can see, a lot of extra space. SanDisk also united their SSDs lines in the 400, with 256-bit AES on these drives there is unlikely to be a new generation of the 300s. Check out KitGuru for the full performance numbers of this consumer level SSD.
"The X400 family features SanDisk’s 6th generation 15nm Triple Level Cell TLC NAND and just like the previous X300 uses SanDisk’s nCache technology where some of the NAND runs in SLC mode to bolster performance."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Mushkin TRIACTOR 480GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- ADATA XPG SX930 240GB @ Modders-Inc
- Synology DiskStation DS716+ NAS Review @ OCC
- WD My Cloud EX4 8TB NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | April 12, 2016 - 11:30 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: vmware, ssd, S600DC, S3100, P3520, P3320, Nexenta, micron, Intel, D3700, D3600, Ceph, 9100, 7100, 5410s, 540s, 5400s
There has been a lot of recent shuffling about in the world of enterprise storage. I’m writing up this post from a Micron product launch event in Austin, Texas. Today they are launching a round of enterprise SSD products. These lines cover the full storage gamut from M.2 to U.2 to HHHL. While prior Micron SSDs were bottlenecked by AHCI and PCIe 2.0, these new lines are using Marvell controllers and are capable of PCIe 3.0 x4 speeds (plus NVMe).
The workhorse of the lineup is the 9100, which will be available in HHHL and U.2 2.5” 15mm form factors.
Micron is not the only company pushing further into this space. Less than two weeks ago, Intel ran their ‘Cloud Day’ event, where they launched a new Xeon CPU and a plethora of new SSDs, some of which were based on IMFT 3D NAND tech (SSD DC P3320). Intel also launched the client 540s and business 5400s product lines, which are based on Silicon Motion SM2256 controllers driving SK Hynix hybrid (SLC+TLC) flash. While these controllers and flash are coming from external sources, they must still pass Intel’s rigorous qualification and compatibility validation testing, so failure rates should be kept to a minimum.
Another aspect of this Micron launch day is their push into the production of not only SSDs, but all-flash storage devices. Dubbed ‘Micron Accelerated Solutions’, these are devices built, serviced, and supported by Micron. They naturally contain Micron SSDs, but also draw on other vendors like Supermicro and Nexenta. The products range from VMware SANs, to Ceph solutions capable of 1 million IOPS and 140 Gbps, to software-defined storage. I’ll be sitting through briefings and asking questions about these products when this post is set to go live, and I will update this space with any additional juicy tidbits once we wrap up for the day.
Apparently we are going to see consumer IMFT 3D TLC NAND *this month* in the form of a Crucial MX300!
...and in a couple of months we will see Crucial M.2 PCIe SSDs:
There was also some discussion on XPoint (spoken 'cross point') and where Micron sees this new storage being implemented. Expected to see scaled production in 2017 and 2018, XPoint is non-volatile (like flash) but extremely fast (like DRAM). There was not much said beyond generalities, but they did have a wafer, and you know I love die shots:
I was not permitted to get a better die shot of the wafer at this event, as the Micron rep specifically requested that journalists only use photos that were shot from stage distance. Fortunately, this was not the only event where I have photographed a XPoint wafer. Here is a photo I caught at a prior event:
Here is a quick breakdown of the products launched by both Intel and Micron over the last two weeks:
- SSD DC P3520 and P3320
- First SSDs to use 256Gbit/die 32-layer IMFT 3D NAND.
- PCIe 3.0 x4 HHHL and 2.5” U.2
- SSD DC D3700 and D3600
- PCIe 3.0 x4 2.5” U.2 dual-port design.
- Dual-port means two hosts can access a single SSD through the use of a special backplane that merges the PCIe lanes from two separate systems into a single U.2 connector. This is a move for increased redundancy, as one system can fail and the same flash storage will still be available to the failover system.
- PCIe 3.0 x4 2.5” U.2 dual-port design.
- SSD DC S3100
- SATA 2.5” SLC+TLC hybrid for enterprise
- Intended for boot OS / caching / index storage duties
- SATA 2.5” SLC+TLC hybrid for enterprise
- SSD 540s and Pro 5400s
- Silicon Motion SM2256 + SK Hynix SLC+TLC hybrid flash
- Pro 5200s adds Intel vPro / OPAL 2.0 and Microsoft eDrive support
- SSD E 5400s and E 5410s
- Silicon Motion SM2256 + SK Hynix flash
- Small capacity M.2 2280 and 2.5” SATA
- 9100 PCIe SSD
- PCIe 3.0 x4 HHHL and 2.5” U.2 15mm
- Up to 3.2TB capacity
- 7100 PCIe SSD
- PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 22110 and 2.5” U.2 7mm
- SAS 2.5”
- Micron Accelerated Solutions
That’s a whole lot of flash related product launches in a very short period of time. I’m excited to see large pushes into the enterprise because that means we will see this tech trickle down to consumers and power users that much sooner!
The Micron NVMe press release was a bit light on details, so I’ve included their Accelerated Solutions release after the break.
Subject: Storage | March 31, 2016 - 03:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: adata, XPG SX930, JMF670H, mlc
Now that Adata's XPG SX930 240GB SSD has been out for a while it is worth revisiting for enthusiasts on a budget. It is currently $80 on Amazon, short of Ryan's pricing goals as it is just over $0.33/GB but still an attractive price for a drive with JMicron's JMF670H controller. Also worth noting is the lifespan of the drive, when The Tech Report reached out to ADATA they were told it was 280TB, more than enough for most users. Check out their review to see how it performs as there are many drives only $30-40 more that have very impressive performance, such as the Trion and 850 EVO.
"Adata's XPG SX930 combines a JMicron controller and Micron MLC flash into an enthusiast-oriented 240GB SSD. We put it to the test to see whether it's worth its cost of admission."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung 850 EVO With 3rd Gen 48 Layer V-NAND @ The SSD Review
- Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD V5 8TB SATA III Review @ NikKTech
- Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM) 6.0 @ eTeknix
- Mushkin IMPACT 256GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Kingston MobileLite Wireless G3 and Mobile Wireless Pro 64GB Review @ OCC
Subject: Storage | March 31, 2016 - 02:03 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: synology, SOHO, network storage, NAS, media streaming, DSM, ds416slim
Synology recently revealed a new small and lightweight NAS for home and small business users. The DS416slim is a small networked attached storage device that uses up to four 2.5" SATA drives to offer up to 8TB of storage that can be used for backups, media streaming, file synchronization, and offsite storage thanks to its dual core ARM processor and DiskStation Manager 6.0 operating system.
This new NAS is fairly compact at 7.24" x 6.61" x 9.05" (18.4cm x 16.8cm x 23cm) and weighing just over one and a half pounds (700 grams). It is roughly rectangular with the front decked out in status LEDs and a single USB 3.0 port. The laptop-sized hard drives (up to 12.5mm so basically any 2.5" SATA drive will work) are loaded vertically into the unit using snap-in drive trays that slide into the back. The back panel also holds dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and a second USB 3.0 port.
Interestingly, the DS416slim supports link aggregation as well as failover and load balance modes depending on your settings. Using link aggregation to connect to a Windows PC, Synology rates transfer speeds at up to 177 MB/s reads and 77 MB/s writes. Using a single Gigabit link the NAS can hit read speeds up to 112.77 MB/s.
With all four drives installed, users can choose from all the usual RAID suspects including RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10. Of course, single volumes and JBOD are also options with the total raw storage capacity being 8TB (4 x 2TB hard drives or solid state drives). A bottom-mounted removable 60mm fan module keeps the drives running cool and reportedly the Synology NAS has noise levels of 20.3 dBA.
Internally, the NAS is powered by a dual core Armada 385 processor clocked at 1.0 GHz with dedicated hardware encryption engine and 512 MB of DDR3 memory. The also recently released DSM 6.0 OS allows the NAS to be a backup destination for multiple PCs, a media server, file synchronization hub, and a source to sync files to all the various cloud storage providers for offsite backup. Synology's browser-accessed OS GUI also lets you add various services and features using downloadable applications to expand its out-of-the-box functionality (e.g. torrent box).
The front and rear USB 3.0 ports can be used to easily transfer data to or from external hard drives to make offsite backups easy. The DS416slim is interesting in that its small size makes it a nice portable option for video editors, photographers, or other small business users that need on site access to lots of fast file storage at various job sites. The use of laptop hard drives means that storage is going to be a bit more expensive per GB and not quite as fast, but the drives are built a bit more robustly when it comes to moving them around versus your standard desktop drive. I do wonder about the reliability versus 3.5-inch drives over time, but the difference is likely marginal today and the lower power usage is much more suited to SOHO NAS duties. I would like to see this decked out with RAIDed SSDs though!
Synology rates the laptop-drive inspired NAS at 17.17W during disk access and 11.63W power usage while the drives are hibernating.
The Synology DS416slim comes with a 2 year warranty and with be avaialable early next month and retail (without drives) for around $290 (Amazon lists it at $289+shipping though once more units are available I would expect it to drop a smidge in price).
As we were publishing our full review of the Western Digital Red 8TB, we noted something odd. While the street prices of the bare drives seemed to be a bit high ($333), the WD My Book was on sale for $250. Ryan happened to look them up and discovered that our local Best Buy actually had them available for store pick-up. Since the 8TB Red and My Book 8TB were launched simultaneously, and we were just provided early samples of the 8TB Reds last week, how could there already be 8TB Reds on the shelf just down the street? Could they have shipped some earlier form of the 8TB Red in the external My Book and continued tweaking their NASware algorithms / firmware prior to the Red launching? Our curiosity got the best of us, and we decided to find out.
Sebastian ran out to his local Best Buy and picked up a single WD My Book 8TB model, promptly took it home and ripped it open. I don’t think he even plugged it in first. This is what he found:
Well, that’s not a Red label, but it does say Western Digital, and it’s clearly a HelioSeal housing (common to HGST He Series and WD Red 8TB). One thing that immediately stuck out to me was the model number. WD model numbers have a specific pattern (WD80EFZX), and that number above does *not* follow that pattern. The pattern it does follow, however, is that of the HGST He8 line:
Sebastian noted something else almost immediately. The label looked like it was on top of another one. Peeling this one back showed this pure white label:
…and peeling back *that* label gave us this: