Computex 2014: WD Shows SATA Express-based PCIe HDD

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 12:37 AM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, WD, ssd, pcie, SATA Express, hdd

SATA Express is an interface to either connect a hard drive to PCIe lanes, or up to two drives via SATA. Obviously, PCIe bandwidth over a cable connection is the real draw. To use the full speed, however, the drive needs to be able to communicate over PCIe. Currently, the standard uses two PCI Express 2.0 lanes (1 GB/s).

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Now that Z97 and H97 have launched, WD is set to show off the technology at Computex. The above image is apparently of a dual-drive product, containing 4TB of rotating media and 128GB of SSD memory. I am immediately reminded of the Western Digital Black2 dual drive which Allyn reviewed last November. That product crammed a 120GB SSD into a 2.5" 1TB HDD, which appeared to the system as two separate drives. The drive has "Technology Demonstration" written in red font right on it, but it could be a good representation of what the company is thinking about.

WD also asserts that their prototype uses standard AHCI drivers, for OS compatibility.

If you want to see this product in action, then -- well -- you kind-of need to be at Computex. At some point, you might be able to see it in your own PC. When? How much? No pricing and availability, again, because it is a tech demo.

Source: WD
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel
Tagged: ssd, pcie, NVMe, Intel, DC P3700

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Intel has a nasty habit of releasing disruptive technology, especially in the area of computer storage. Among the first of those releases was the X25-M, which was groundbreaking to say the least. At a time where most other SATA SSDs were just stopgap attempts to graft flash memory to a different interface, Intel's SATA SSD was really the first true performer.

With performance in the bag, Intel shifted their attention to reducing the cost of their products. The next few generations of the Intel line was coupled with leadership in die shrinks. This all came together in the form of SSD releases of increasingly reduced cost. Sure the enterprise parts retained a premium, but the consumer parts generally remained competitive.

Now Intel appears to have once again shifted their attention to performance, and we know it has been in the works for a while now. With the SATA bottleneck becoming increasingly apparent, big changes needed to me made. First, SATA, while fine for relatively high latency HDD's, was just never meant for SSD speeds. As SSD performance increased, the latencies involved with the interface overhead (translating memory-based addresses into ATA style commands) becomes more and more of a burden.

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The solution is to not only transition to PCIe, but to do so using a completely new software and driver interface, called NVM Express. NVMe has been in the works for a while, and offers some incredible benefits in that it essentially brings the flash memory closer to the CPU. The protocol was engineered for the purpose of accessing flash memory as storage, and doing so as fast and with the least latency as possible. We hadn't seen any true NVMe products hit the market, until today, that is:

Behold the Intel SSD DC P3700!

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Read on for our initial review!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Crucial
Tagged: ssd, sata, mx100, crucial, 16nm

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Back in July of last year, Micron announced production of 16nm flash memory. These were the same 128gbit dies as the previous gen parts, but 16nm means the dies are smaller, meaning more dies from a single wafer, ultimately translating to lower end user cost.

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It takes a bit of time for those new flash die shrinks to trickle into mainstream products. Early yields from a given shrink tend to not have competitive endurance on initial production. As production continues, the process gets tweaked, resulting in greater and longer enduring yields.

Continue reading for the full scoop!!

Computex 2014: Corsair's Flash Voyager GTX USB

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 2, 2014 - 04:01 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.0, thumb drive, ssd, flash drive, corsair, computex 2014, computex

The Flash Voyager GTX is Corsair's attempt to be an SSD over USB 3.0. Differentiating itself from a standard USB flash drive, the Voyager GTX includes TRIM support, S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, and interfaces with USB Attached SCSI. It also comes in two, SSD-sized capacities, 128GB ($119.99) and 256GB ($199.99). These drives are rated at 450MB/s read and 350MB/s write.

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This pricing structure puts the Voyager GTX against the Samsung 840 Pro, which is an interesting comparison to make. Both drives are backed by a five (5) year warranty and, while the 840 Pro has higher read bandwidth, the write speeds are fairly comparable. IOPS and write durability is not listed for the Corsair Flash Voyager GTX but, even if they are marginally behind, this has the advantage of USB.

Benchmarking should be interesting for this. I would be curious if this could lead to portable OS installations and abrupt boosts to Steam library sizes, both with SSD-like speeds.

The Corsair Flash Voyager GTX USB 3.0 drives will be available in July. The 128GB version has an MSRP of $119.99, while the 256GB is listed at $199.99.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: Corsair

Computex 2014: Corsair Announces Voyager Air 2 Wireless Storage Drive

Subject: Storage | June 2, 2014 - 04:00 AM |
Tagged: wireless storage, ios, Hard Drive, computex 2014, Android, airplay

Today Corsair annouces the Voyager Air 2, a wireless hard drive with 1TB of storage which can connect to iOS and Android devices, as well as PCs and Macs.

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The Voyager Air 2 is battery-powered and rechargeable (Corsair estimates 7-hour battery life from the high-capacity rechargeable lithium-ion battery), and the included software syncs with Dropbox and Google Drive and supports AirPlay streaming to an Apple TV. It supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi connections for multiple users within a 90 foot range, and can stream 720p high-definition video to up to five devices at once.

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And the Voyager Air 2 has quite a bit more functionality than just streaming content over Wi-Fi. It can serve as a wireless hub to share internet access via wireless passthrough, and it also functions as a USB 3.0 drive for fast data transfers when connected to a computer.

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 The Voyager Air 2 will be available this month with a suggested price of $179.99.

Source: Corsair
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Thecus

Introduction

The N2310 is a budget dual-bay NAS from Thecus and an interesting product beyond the low cost for this category, boasting a number of features that help set it apart.

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Apart from the primary role of a network attached storage (NAS) device - you know, storage - there are some interesting things a piece of hardware like the N2310 can do. This inexpensive NAS is actually a server, too, so beyond storing up to 8TB of data it’s powerful enough to replace a dedicated PC for certain tasks - the kind of tasks that some of us leave a PC running 24/7 to accomplish.

In this review we’ll take a look at some of the functionality that helps set the N2310 apart, as well as the kind of real-world performance you might expect to see.

It’s All About the Gigabytes

There are more reasons now than ever before for large storage options. Even though SSD’s are at their lowest prices ever most of us still need to supplement a fast boot drive with some traditional spinning disks. Just think about what accumulates in an average year on your PC… photos, music, videos, program backups and images, you name it. All those GB’s have to go somewhere, and there are obviously internal and external hard drives to share the load. However, regardless of the local storage option you might chose, it’s not always so convenient to actually access this stuff again. Clearly, the easier it is to access your files, the better - and not just from one device. So, having centralized storage is a great idea, right?

Between computers, tablets, and of course our phones, there are generally quite a few connected devices in the average technology-inclined home. And while every device mentioned can connect to the internet - and cloud storage has become very popular - there's still something to be said for local content management. Beyond the convenience of sharing sometimes massive amounts of data easily at home, another benefit of always-on storage is backup. Ideally, every computer in the home would be backed up locally as well as the cloud, and a great way to take care of the local side of backup is with a NAS. Setting one up is very easy these days, with a growing number of affordable options from various vendors.

Thecus makes an interesting case for a budget NAS with the N2310. For a comparison, Allyn recently looked at Western Digital’s My Cloud EX2 network drive, and this is a highly polished all-in-one solution is now selling for about $199 (without drives). The Thecus N2310 is less expensive at $149, and both offer two 3.5” drive bays. (The My Cloud is also offered pre-populated with drives providing up to 8TB of storage.) These “diskless” enclosures present a good opportunity to save some money up front, and whether you choose to run on two drives you happened to have around the house or office, or if you want to go out and grab a couple of Western Digital 4TB Red drives, they can accommodate your situation.

Let’s take a look at the Thecus N2310.

Continue reading our review of the Thecus N2310 SOHO NAS Server!!

Super Talent's RAIDDrive II Plus seems to know only one trick

Subject: Storage | May 28, 2014 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: super talent, RAIDDrive II Plus, pci-e ssd

The Super Talent RAIDDrive II Plus is a rather interesting take on a PCIe SSD card, it's USB 3.0 connected 25nm MLC NAND storage is on one PCB with a SF-2281 to handle the traffic and on the second PCB is an LSI 2108 RAID on a Chip and 1GB of DDR2-800.  That LSI RoC can support most RAID modes, giving you either higher performance or increased reliability all on a single PCIe SSD card.  For testing purposes The SSD Review used RAID 0 and found that except in one certain scenario the card was outclassed by a single Intel 480 SSD.  If you are not scared of a tough price of $4/GB on a 2TB device and need fast large block sequential reads and writes with no expectation of quick random reads nor writes this is a good choice.  Otherwise you might want to consider other alternatives but the technology on this device is rather intriguing.

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"The second type of PCIe add-in-card storage takes more of a brute force approach. These devices typically have off-the-shelf SATA/SAS controllers and connect via a PCIe bridge. Think of a HBA/RAID card connected to a SATA SSD, but on a single card. These designs have many advantages and disadvantages. While the cost and time-to-market can be low, they are inherently limited due to the architecture."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Corsair Brings Blazing Performance to the Masses with Budget-Friendly Force Series LX SSDs

Subject: Storage | May 28, 2014 - 10:43 AM |
Tagged: corsair, Force Series LX, mlc, toggle NAND, SM2246EN

Are you attracted to MLC SSDs with a price under $0.50/GB?  Corsair's new Force Series LX uses Silicon Motion's SM2246EN controller and is rated at speeds of  up to 560MB/s
sequential write and up to 300MB/s sequential read when tested by ATTO and both the 128GB and 256GB models are available on NewEgg now for just a bit over the recommended price.

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FREMONT, California — May 27, 2014 — Corsair, a worldwide designer of high-perform­­­­­­ance components to the PC hardware market, today announced the release of the Force Series LX solid-state drives (SSD). Available in either 256GB or 128GB capacities, Force Series LX SSDs bring the amazing performance benefits of an SSD to new lower price point – making it easier than ever to move your PC into the SSD fast lane.

The speedy benefits 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 dilemma, Corsair is bringing all the perks of an SSD to a new, even more budget-friendly price point so everyone can feel the rush. With the Force LX 256GB costing $129.99 and the 128GB just $74.99, there’s never been a better time to upgrade to faster SSD technology.

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. Force LX’s SATA 3 file transfer speeds of up to 560MB/sec read and 300MB/sec write can massively improve 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

Crucial Launching MX100 Mainstream SSD Series in June

Subject: Storage | May 22, 2014 - 09:23 AM |
Tagged: micron, crucial, mx100, ssd

You probably saw some news floating around yesterday that leaked out about an upcoming Crucial MX100 SSD using 16nm flash with an eye towards the mainstream price segment. While we are waiting for our samples of these units to arrive, we did get this comment from Crucial on the matter.

The word is out that Crucial will be launching a new SSD in the early June 2014 timeframe called the Crucial MX100 SSD. The new MX100 will be a competitively-priced, 2.5" SSD based on Micron’s new 16nm chips, and will be the successor to the Crucial M500 drive. The high-performance Crucial M550 drive will also remain part of the Crucial SSD product line-up.

We’re excited to share that PC Perspective has been fully briefed on the new Crucial MX100 by the Crucial SSD product marketing team and have a review sample in hand that we’re now rigorously testing. Once the MX100 drive is officially announced, we’ll have a complete product overview and benchmarks to share with you directly. Stay tuned for the full scoop here!

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Image source: Hardware.info

As a replacement for the Crucial M500 line, we expect the MX100 to be a big seller. Just look at the M500 price on Amazon.com today: 960GB for $459 or 480 GB for $219! That's really all we know for now, check back for Allyn's testing very soon!

Rumor: AMD Working With ASMedia on SATA Express

Subject: Storage | May 21, 2014 - 06:06 PM |
Tagged: storage, SATA Express, rumors, chipset, amd

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The new SATA Express (SATAe) and M.2 standards are hot topics in the storage world at the moment, and SATAe is one of the more interesting features of the new Intel Z97-based motherboards. Now it looks like it won't be long until AMD counters with support of its own. Well, kind of.

ASMedia is reportedly licensing their SATA Express IP to AMD for an upcoming platform. Didn't know that ASMedia already had a SATAe implementation? The ASUS Z97 Deluxe board which Morry recently reviewed uses an ASMedia controller for one of its two SATAe ports, along with one powered by the chipset.

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We can only speculate on the "next gen" platform from AMD mentioned in the report, and it will be interesting to see what kind of performance numbers might be seen from this alleged product.

Source: Digitimes