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:
Subject: Storage | March 23, 2016 - 06:16 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: newegg, Mushkin, silicon motion, micron, ssd
Here's a brief post for our Canadian fans. If you have been interested in a decent, large SSD, then you might want to check out Newegg Canada. The Mushkin Enhanced Reactor 1TB is currently $100 off, which puts it at a price of $299.99 CDN plus tax and shipping. While 30c/GB might sound mundane to our neighbours to the south, the currency conversion works out to about 23c/GB USD.
Sure, it's not the fastest SSD on the market, but it's a solid, mainstream one. A 2TB version also exists, but you will be paying about $60 more than just getting two, 1TB SKUs. This version uses the Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller and Micron flash. We might end up with better or cheaper drives coming in the future, I have no idea, but this should be good for cheap, decent, and now.
Introduction and Specifications
Storage devices for personal computers have always been a tricky proposition. While the majority of computer parts are solid state, the computer industry has spent most of its life storing bits on electromechanical mechanical devices like tapes and floppy disks. Speaking relatively, it was only recently (less than a decade) that solid state storage became mainstream, and even today the costs of flash production make rotating media the better option for bulk data storage. Hard drives are typically vented to atmosphere, as the Bernoulli Effect is necessary as part of what keep the drive heads flying above the rotating platters. With any vented enclosure, there is always the risk of atmospheric contaminants finding their way in. Sure there are HEPA-class filters at the vent holes, but they can’t stop organic vapors that may slightly degrade the disk surface over time.
By filling a hard disk with an inert gas and hermetically sealing the disk housing, we can eliminate those potential issues. An added bonus is that if Helium is used, its lower density enables lower air friction of the rotating platters, which translates to lower power consumption when compared to an equivalent air-filled HDD. Ever since HGST released their Helium filled drives, I’ve been waiting for this technology to trickle down to consumer products, and Western Digital has recently brought such a product to market. Today we will be diving into our full performance review of the Western Digital 8TB Red.
Compared to the 6TB Red, the 8TB model doubles its cache size to 128MB. We also see a slight bump in claimed transfer rates. Idle power consumption sees a slight bump due to different electronics in use, and power/capacity figures check out as well (more on that later as we will include detailed power testing in this article).
Since Samsung’s August 2015 announcement of their upcoming 48-layer V-NAND, we’ve seen it trickle into recent products like the SSD T3, where it enabled 2TB of capacity in a very small form factor. What we have not yet seen was that same flash introduced in a more common product that we could directly compare against the old. Today we are going to satisfy our (and your) curiosity by comparing a 1TB 850 EVO V1 (32-layer - V2) to a 1TB 850 EVO V2 (48-layer - V3).
While Samsung has produced three versions of their V-NAND (the first was 24-layer V1 and only available in one of an enterprise SSDs), there have only been two versions of the 850 EVO. Despite this, Samsung internally labels this new 850 EVO as a 'V3' product as they go by the flash revision in this particular case.
Samsung’s plan is to enable higher capacities with this new flash (think 4TB 850 EVO and PRO), they also intend to silently push that same flash down into the smaller capacities of those same lines. Samsung’s VP of Marketing assured me that they would not allow performance to drop due to higher per-die capacity, and we can confirm that in part with their decision to drop the 120GB 850 EVO during the switch to 48-layer in favor of a planar 750 EVO which can keep performance up. Smaller capacity SSDs work better with higher numbers of small capacity dies, and since 48-layer VNAND in TLC form comes in at 32GB per die, that would have meant only four 48-layer dies in a 120GB SSD.
Other companies have tried silently switching flash memory types on the same product line in the past, and it usually does not go well. Any drops in performance metrics for a product with the same model and spec sheet is never welcome in tech enthusiast circles, but such issues are rarely discovered since companies will typically only sample their products at their initial launch. On the flip side, Samsung appears extremely confident in their mid-line flash substitution as they have voluntarily offered to sample us a 1TB 48-layer 850 EVO for direct comparison to our older 1TB 32-layer 850 EVO. The older EVO we had here had not yet been through our test suite, so we will be comparing these two variations directly against each other starting from the same fresh out of the box and completely unwritten state. Every test will be run on both SSDs in the same exact sequence, and while we are only performing an abbreviated round of testing for these products, the important point is that I will be pulling out our Latency Percentile test for detailed performance evaluation at a few queue depths. Latency Percentile testing has proven itself far more consistent and less prone to data scatter than any other available benchmark, so we’ll be trusting it to give us the true detailed scoop on any performance differences between these two types of flash.
Read on for our comparison of the new and the old!
(I just referred to a 3D Flash part as 'old'. Time flies.)
Subject: Storage | March 17, 2016 - 08:13 PM | 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!