Corsair Launches Force LS Line Of Budget SSDs

Subject: Storage | August 22, 2013 - 01:11 AM |
Tagged: corsair, force ls, ssd, phison, toshiba mlc

Corsair has launched a new line of budget solid state drives (SSDs) under the Force LS branding. The new SSDs come in up to 240GB capacities, and despite being budget drives, still manage to max out the SATA III 6Gbps interface.

The new Force LS SSDs use 19nm Toshiba MLC NAND flash and a Phison SSD controller. Traditionally, Corsair has used LSI SandForce controllers in its Force and Force GT solid state drives. The Force LS line includes 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB SSDs. The drives are 7mm thick 2.5” form factor drives.

Corsair Force LS 240GB SSD.jpg

As far as performance, the drives support sequential write speeds of 535 MB/s and sequential read speeds of 555 MB/s. Information on IOPS have not been released, but expect it to be lower than the existing Force drives due to their budget nature.

There is no word on specific availability date(s), but the new Force LS drives will be priced at $70 for the 60GB, $110 for the 120GB, and $200 for the 240GB. At the top end, the drives are approximately 83 cents per Gigabyte ($0.83/GB). All Force LS drives come with three year warranties.

Source: Maximum PC

Samsung Open Sources exFAT File System

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Mobile | August 20, 2013 - 09:41 PM |
Tagged: exFAT, Samsung

But Linux distributions still cannot officially use it... sort of?

Samsung added support for exFAT on Linux, in kernel, with one of their tablets. At some point code was leaked on GitHub. At some other point the Software Freedom Conservancy determined certain GPL-dependent modifications were published in binary form alone. Eventually Samsung properly released their source code under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

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I am still unclear about how Samsung was allowed to do so, however. Copyright was never the main concern with exFAT but rather the patents Microsoft holds over the file system. The GPL mandates that code it covers must come with a non-exclusive worldwide and royalty-free license for applicable patents except under certain conditions. I would be curious how this license was accomplished unless Microsoft granted Samsung a patent license prior to March 28, 2007 (or some loophole like that).

I understand how people might be sympathetic to Microsoft and others asserting software patents because they are a for-profit business but that does not apply everywhere. You need to be careful when you apply a license to something as upstream as a file system or a kernel as everything downstream relies upon your decision.

Just imagine if you were separated from the contents of your SDXC card because, somehow, this patent found its way into the portfolio of a troll firm?

Current implementations of the file system are in user space until Samsung's in-kernel module. The Software Freedom Conservancy praised Samsung -- not only for their source code contribution -- but also for how open and public their response was.

Source: Phoronix

Samsung Launches First V-NAND SSD For Enterprise Market

Subject: Storage | August 14, 2013 - 10:11 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, charge trap flash, vertical nand, vnand, 128Gb, enterprise ssd

Last week, Samsung announced that it had started producing a new stackable NAND flash memory called V-NAND, or vertical NAND. The new 3D V-NAND would initially be available in 128Gb (Gigabit) chips, but could eventually scale into as much as 1 Tb (Terabit) per chip by stacking additional dies vertically. Doing so allows Samsung some flexibility in scaling to higher capacities without going to increasingly expensive and difficult to manufacturer smaller manufacturing processes, which has been the traditional method of attaining denser flash.

The company has now announced the V-NAND SSD, which is its first Solid State Drive to use the Vertical NAND technology. Aimed at the enterprise server market, the V-NAND SSD will come in 480GB and 960GB capacities. The 2.5” form factor drives are 7mm thick and come equipped with a SATA III 6Gbps controller. On the high end, the 960GB model uses 64 MLC 3D V-NAND 128Gb dies for a total physical capacity of 1TB. However, user-accessible capacity will be only 960GB. Unfortunately, Samsung did not reveal how many physical chips the drives use, so its hard to say how those 64 128Gb dies are distributed (4 high in 16 chips or 8 high in 8 chips, etc).

Samsung VNAND Enterprise SSD.jpg

The 960GB Samsung V-NAND SSD spotted by Engadget.

Samsung claims that the V-NAND SSD offers up to 20% increased performance and a 40% reduction in power consumption versus previous SSDs. Further, the 3D NAND using Samsung’s Charge Trap Flash technology is rated at 35K program erase cycles. Samsung rates the V-NAND memory itself as being twice as fast in writes and between two and ten times as reliable versus traditional 19nm floating gate NAND (the alternative to CTF NAND).

Samsung's 128Gb V-NAND die.

Samsung stated in a press release that it started production of the V-NAND SSD earlier this month. While it is introducing V-NAND into enterprise drives first, the technology will eventually trickle down into consumer drives. I’m interested to see this drive benchmarked for performance and write endurance to see if the 3D flash lives up to its potential.

Source: Engadget

4k alignment from a free partitioning tool

Subject: Storage | August 12, 2013 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: ssd, partition, MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition, 4k

SSDs and modern OSes no longer use the old 512 byte LBA alignment, or at least they don't need to and in the case of SSDs offer larger disk size and faster performance.  However many people are not aware of 4k alignment nor how to check if their SSD is aligned nor what to do even if they do know it is not aligned.  Hardware.Info put together a short article on the steps to verify if your SSD is aligned as well as covering a free partitioning tool called MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition which will help you align your SSD as well as other tasks common to partitioning software.  As with any major changes being made at this low a level, do realize that this could cause data loss, but aligning those sectors is a great IDEMA.

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"When you copy the contents of a hard disk from a PC or laptop to an SSD you have to make sure that the placement of the partitions corresponds to the underlying hardware structure. The same is true for the latest generation of hard disks. Today we'll discuss what this so-called '4k alignment' really means and what you can do in order to prevent a decrease in performance."

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Silicon Motion introduces new SM2246EN SATA SSD controller, promises lower power for mobile devices

Subject: Storage | August 12, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: ssd, silicon motion, sata, controller

You may very well have never heard of Silicon Motion (SMI), a major priducer of flash memory controllers, even if you've followed the SSD industry for a while. This is primarily because the vast majority of their products have been tailored for the devices that folks tend to not crack open during review, namely USB memory sticks, eMMC devices, and SD / CF cards:

silicon motion controller history.png

Creating controllers in those arenas will tend to force a company to do a few things very well:

  • Handle a very limited number of flash channels with the greatest speed possible, due to packaging requirements for very small devices.
  • Operate at the lowest power draw possible as to meet the current draw limits of the host interface.

This has resulted in SMI developing a 6Gb/sec SSD controller, dubbed the SM2246EN, using the above techniques:

SM2246EN Block Diagram.jpg

silicon motion bd specs.png

The block diagram shows what appears to be a fairly standard 4-channel configuration, though there are fewer steps in the pipeline as compared to SandForce and other controllers, which should help decrease latency and improve efficiency. There is also no compression engine, which means power consumption should be further reduced.

Read on for further details on specs and power consumption, followed by the full press blast.

Author:
Subject: Storage, Mobile
Manufacturer: Corsair

500GB on the go

Corsair seems to have its fingers in just about everything these days so why not mobile storage, right?  The Voyager Air a multi-function device that Corsair calls as "portable wireless drive, home network drive, USB drive, and wireless hub."  This battery powered device is meant to act as a mobile hard drive for users that need more storage on the go including PCs and Macs as well as iOS and Android users. 

The Voyager Air can also act as a basic home NAS device with a Gigabit Ethernet connection on board for all the computers on your local network. And if you happen to have DLNA ready Blu-ray players or TVs nearby, they can access the video and audio stored on the Voyager Air as well.

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Available in either red or black, with 500GB and 1TB capacities, the Voyager Air is slim and sleek, meant to be seen not hidden in a closet. 

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The front holds the power switch and WiFi on/off switch as well as back-lit icons to check for power, battery life and connection status. 

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Continue reading our review of the Corsair Voyager Air 500GB Wireless USB 3.0 HDD!!

Diablo Technologies Unveils Memory Channel Storage

Subject: Storage | July 31, 2013 - 05:34 AM |
Tagged: diablo technologies, DIMM, nand, flash memory, memory channel storage

Ottawa-based Diablo Technologies unveiled a new flash storage technology yesterday that it calls Memory Channel Storage. As the name suggest, the storage technology puts NAND flash into a DIMM form factor and interfaces the persistent storage directly with the processor via the integrated memory controller.

The Memory Channel Storage (MCS) is a drop-in replacement for DDR3 RDIMMs (Registered DIMMs) in servers and storage arrays. Unlike DRAM, MCS is persistent storage backed by NAND flash and it can allow servers to have Terabytes of storage connected to the CPU via the memory interface instead of mere Gigabytes of DRAM acting as either system memory or block storage. The photo provided in the technology report (PDF) shows a 400GB MCS module that can slot into a standard DIMM slot, for example.

Diablo Technologies claims that MCS exhibits lower latencies and higher bandwidth than PCI-E and SATA SSDs. More importantly, the storage latency is predictable and consistent, making it useful for applications such as high frequency stock trading where speed and deterministic latency are paramount. Further, users can get linear increases in throughput with each additional Memory Channel Storage module added to the system. Latencies with MCS are as much as 85% lower with PCI-E SSDs and 96% lower than SAS/SATA SSDs according to Diablo Technologies. NAND flash maintenance such as wear leveling is handled via an on-board logic chip.

Diablo Technologies Memory Channel Storage.jpg

Diablo Technologies is also aiming the MCS technology at servers running big data analytics, massive cloud databases, financial applications, server virtualization, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). MCS can act as super fast local storage or as a local cache for external (such as networked) storage in the form of mechanical hard drives or SSDs.

Some details about Memory Channel Storage are still unclear, but it looks promising. It will not be quite as fast in random access as DRAM but it will be better (more bandwidth, lower latency) than both PCI-E and SATA-connected NAND flash-based SSDs. It would be awesome to see this kind of tech make its way to consumer systems so that I can have a physical RAMDisk with fast persistent storage (at least as far as form factor, MCS uses NAND not DRAM chips).

The full press release can be found here.

Author:
Subject: Storage, Mobile
Manufacturer: Promise
Tagged:

Overview

Since the initial release of the first computers with Intel’s Thunderbolt technology, Promise has been on the forefront of Thunderbolt-enabled storage devices. Starting with the Pegasus R4 and R6, Promise was the first company to provide an external RAID solution with a Thunderbolt interface.
 
r4.jpg
 
Last year, we took a look the the Pegasus R4 in our initial Windows Thunderbolt testing, and were extremely satisfied with the performance we saw. Since then, a Pegasus Thunderbolt RAID device filled with SSDs has been crucial to our Frame Rating graphics testing methodology, providing the extremely high bandwidth we need to capture uncompressed video.
 
Today we are taking a look a different class of storage device from Promise, the Pegasus J2. The J2 is an external Thunderbolt-based SSD, which Promise says is capable of speeds up to  550 MB/s write and 750 MB/s read. Being one of the only standalone Thunderbolt drives we have seen, we were eager to take a look and evaluate these claims.
 
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The best way to describe the size of the Pegasus J2 would be approximately the same as standard deck of playing cards. While it may not be as small as some of the external USB3 SSDs we have seen, the J2 remains a reasonable size for throwing in a backpack or briefcase on the go.
 
Internals of the J2 consist of two mSATA SSDs each ssitting behind a ASmedia 1061 PCI-Express SATA 6G controller, which is then connected to Intel’s Port Ridge Thunderbolt controller. Due to the lack of RAID functionality in the ASMedia 1061, the SSDs appear as two separate logical drives, rely on software RAID inside of whatever OS you are using.
 
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The SSDs themselves are based on the Phison PS3108 controller. While Phison doesn’t get much coverage from their SSD controllers, their controllers have been found in some value SSDs from the likes of Kingston, Patriot, and other companies for a few years at this point. 
 

ASUS Launches ROG RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD

Subject: Storage | July 28, 2013 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: ssd, raidr express, raidr, pci-e ssd, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS has officially launched its PCI-E based ROG RAIDR Express SSD which was first shown off at CES 2013. The company posted details and high resolution photos on its Republic of Gamers blog on Friday.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD Installed In A System.jpg

The new PCI-E-based solid state drive measures 157 x 120 x 20mm and contains 240GB of NAND flash encased in a sleek metal Replublic Of Gamers themed exterior. Specifically, the RAIDR Express uses 19nm Toshiba synchronous MLC NAND flash and two LSI SandForce 2281 SSD controllers. As such, the drive is actually two SSDs that are placed in a RAID 0 configuration for the best performance. ASUS rates the drive at 830 MB/s sequential reads and 810 MB/s sequential writes. The PCI-E SSD is further capable of up to 100,000 4K random IOPS.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD Chips.png

ASUS has also included what it is calling a "DuoMode" BIOS switch that allows the drive to be used with either legacy or modern UEFI BIOSes. When the switch is in the EUFI position, PCs with the modern UEFI-equipped motherboards can boot up faster.

Beyond the RAIDR Express SSD itself, ASUS includes the following bundled software packages:

  • CrystalDiskMark
  • RAMDisk software
  • HybriDisk caching software
  • SSD TweakIT utility

ASUS is including RAMDisk software that is able to use as much as 80% of system RAM as a virtual drive that can be used to reduce wear on the SSD by using the RAM drive instead of the SSD for writing temporary files and the like. The above mentioned HybriDisk software allows the RAIDR Express SSD to be used as a cache drive for mechanical hard drives up to 4TB in capacity. Users can use the TweakIT utility to manage and optimize the SSD, and the CrystalDiskMark benchmark is being included to allow gamers to run benchmarks on the RAIDR Express to get an idea of its performance.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD.png

Oddly enough, ASUS has yet to release specific pricing or availability. More information along with the full press release can be found on the Republic of Gamers blog, however.

With that said, some sites are reporting that the RAIDR Express will be sold for around 440 Euros, which works out to about $600 USD or $2.5 per Gigabyte. Update: Commentor Roberto has pointed out that the RAIDR Express 240GB is available over in Japan for around 39,980 Yen, or ~$409 USD which is a much more reasonable price. US availability and pricing are still just estimates at this point, however. A bit on the expensive side (if the price is true) for sure, but it is nice to see another player in the PCI-E SSD space and it looks to be a speedy drive aimed at ROG fans and enthusiasts.

Also read: Details on a 120GB ASUS ROG RAIDR Express SSD @ PC Perspective.

Source: ASUS

More on Samsung's new cached SSD wizardry

Subject: Storage | July 26, 2013 - 06:08 PM |
Tagged: TurboWrite, tlc, ssd, slc, Samsung, 840 evo, MEX controller

Along with Al's review of the new EVO line you can get a second opinion from The Tech Report about the performance of the new SSD with a fast cache.  The majority of the storage is 19nm TLC NAND but there is an SLC cache sitting between the controller and that long term TLC storage to help with the overall responsiveness of the drive, aka TurboWrite. In the 120 and 250GB models that cache is 3GB while in the larger models you get a 6GB cache.  In their real world testing the new EVO drive is incredible at large file copying though Sandforce drives can beat it in small file copy speeds, likely thanks to the compressed write trickery that controller family is so good at.  Check out the review here and keep your fingers crossed that MSRP is the acual price these drives sell at.

TR_nand.jpg

"Samsung's entry-level 840 EVO SSD combines affordable TLC NAND with a server-style SLC cache. We explain the drive's unique buffering tech and explore how it affects performance."

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