Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

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This is it. This is the day we have been waiting for.  Ever since we feasted our eyes on the NVMe version of the Samsung SM951, we’ve been begging Samsung to release this as a consumer product. Bonus points if it was powered by their 3D VNAND technology. It took them a while, but they came through, officially announcing the 950 PRO exactly one month ago, and launching them today! Not only will we dive into the performance of this new model, we will also include its results in our new Latency Distribution and Percentile testing.

Specifications:

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Nothing has changed since the announcement. All specs remain the same very impressive 2.2-2.5 GB/s reads, 0.9-1.5 GB/s writes, and upwards of 300k IOPS, all from an M.2 2280 SSD consuming only 7 Watts!

While the 950 PROs will work with the built-in Microsoft NVMe driver (present in Windows 8 and up), Samsung has also provided their own driver, which will increase performance. The same was true for the Intel SSD 750 Series.

Packaging:

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There’s really not much to this packaging, but it’s the most ‘retail’ we’ve seen for packaging of a simple M.2 SSD.

Read on for the full review of the 256GB and 512GB Samsung 950 PROs!!

Western Digital to Buy SanDisk for $19 Billion

Subject: Storage | October 21, 2015 - 09:22 AM |
Tagged: western digital, WD, sandisk, ssd, hard drives, solid-state drive

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Western Digital has agreed to purchase Sandisk for $19 billion in cash and stock, a deal which values Sandisk at $86.50 per share and represents a 12% premium over yesterday's closing price. Current Western Digital CEO Steve Milligan will remain in charge of the company, which retains its headquarters in Irvine, California, while SanDisk's CEO Sanjay Mehrotra is expected to remain with Western Digital and join their board of directors.

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Sandisk had reportedly been looking for a buyer, with Micron the other likely candidate according to this morning's report from The Wall Street Journal. The move should help to better position Western Digital in the SSD space, something rival Seagate appeared to be focused on when purchasing LSI last year. Neither company has any significant presence in the consumer solid-state market dominated by Samsung, and it will be interesting to see where WD goes with the Sandisk brand.

Western Digital PiDrive Kit Easily Adds 1TB of Storage to Your Raspberry Pi

Subject: General Tech, Storage | October 15, 2015 - 09:05 PM |
Tagged: western digital, Raspberry Pi, external hard drive

Western Digital recently made storage simpler when it comes to the Raspberry Pi micro computer. The aptly-named PiDrive Kit allows you to easily pair the company’s 1TB 2.5” hard drive with the SFF PC.

Released last week, the PiDrive Kit consists of a 1TB laptop-style mechanical hard drive, a custom Micro USB cable, a microSD card, and a 5V USB AC power adapter. The hard drive has a micro USB 3.0 port (though the Raspberry Pi only supports 2.0 speeds) for data and power. One end of the cable connects to the drive. The cable then breaks out into three cables which connect to one of the Pi’s USB ports, the Pi’s micro USB power input, and the USB wall adapter. This allows the drive and Raspberry Pi to be powered off of one USB connection.

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Looking up the model number from the WD website, it looks like the hard drives are part of the company’s Passport Ultra line. The biggest bottleneck is likely to be the USB 2.0 interface, especially when it comes to burst speeds though. The included micro SD card (WD does not specify capacity or speeds) can be used to test out alternative operating systems or to test out setting up the external storage in Linux without messing with your main development install.

If you are using a Raspberry Pi Model B+ or a Pi 2 Model B and need a hefty terabyte of storage, WD has a simple option that is currently for sale on their website for $52. I’m sure enthusiasts will find uses for the massive storage upgrade beyond what micro SD can offer (at the moment). 

Is it time to dust off the Pi?

Synology DiskStation Manager 6.0 finally arrives along with some new kit

Subject: Storage | October 13, 2015 - 06:12 PM |
Tagged: synology, DS716+, RT1900AC, DiskStation Manager 6.0

Synology have released the new DiskStation Manager 6.0, which offers support for storage up to a petabyte of disk space, Docker and Virtual DSM instances, better support for 64bit storage and even Apple Watch connectivity.  Most of the new features will be more attractive to business users but the software is great for home users that have accumulated a lot of data as well.  They have also released a new RT1900AC Wireless Router with software built in to make connections to DSM based devices even better and a new and improved DS716+ disk station.  The DS716+ features a four core Braswell processor onboard which is a huge improvement over the previous model and can perform 4K video transcoding in real-time for those who would have a need for that kind of power.  Check out more on Synology's recent released over at Techgage.

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"Synology prepares for 2016 with refreshes of business and home NAS units, the release of its very first router, and a massive update to its OS, DiskStation Manager. DSM 6.0 introduces Docker and Virtualized environments, and something that’s sure to grab attention, support for Btrfs."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Techgage

Lexar Updates 633x, 2000x SD Card Lines with Higher Capacities

Subject: Storage | October 13, 2015 - 09:24 AM |
Tagged: XQD, SD, microSD, Lexar, flash, CFast

Lexar (Micron's portable media brand) is known for their versatile flash media readers and lines of portable flash memory products. Today they have updated two of their big SD Card lines. First up is their 2000x (300MB/s) product, which now comes in a 128GB capacity:

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As we pointed out in our SD Card Speed Classes, Grades, Bus Modes, and File Systems Explained piece, cameras and video recorders most likely won't use that super high 250MB/s write speed, but emptying a 128GB card at 300MB/s will take only 7 minutes (provided your destination device can write that fast)! This model comes with a small USB 3.0 reader, which makes sense as most systems can't hit 300MB/s with their built-in readers!

Next up is a HUGE capacity introduced in their 633x line:

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This model may be less than half the speed of the 2000x part above, but 95 MB/s is not too shabby considering this card can store a half a TB! Write speeds are a bit more limited as well, coming in at 45MB/s. The use case for this card is as a full-time backup slot for capable SLRs, or more commonly (I believe) as a semi-permanent secondary storage addition to Ultrabooks. The cost at $0.54/GB comes in far less than the internal storage upgrade prices of many laptops.

Lexar also updated their CFast lines with faster (3500x / 3600x) models, as well as their XQD lines (1400x / 2933x). Lastly, the Professional Workflow XR2 (XQD 2.0) and UR2 (microSD UHS-II) pods are now available.

Stand by for a review of the 633x 512GB SD Card as we have one in for testing!

Full press blast after the break.

Source: Lexar
Subject: Editorial, Storage
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

What you never knew you didn't know

While researching a few upcoming SD / microSD product reviews here at PC Perspective, I quickly found myself swimming in a sea of ratings and specifications. This write up was initially meant to explain and clarify these items, but it quickly grew into a reference too large to include in every SD card article, so I have spun it off here as a standalone reference. We hope it is as useful to you as it will be to our upcoming SD card reviews.

SD card speed ratings are a bit of a mess, so I'm going to do my best to clear things up here. I'll start with classes and grades. These are specs that define the *minimum* speed a given SD card should meet when reading or writing (both directions are used for the test). As with all flash devices, the write speed tends to be the more limiting factor. Without getting into gory detail, the tests used assume mostly sequential large writes and random reads occurring at no smaller than the minimum memory unit of the card (typically 512KB). The tests match the typical use case of an SD card, which is typically writing larger files (or sequential video streams), with minimal small writes (file table updates, etc).

Speed Class

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In the above chart, we see speed 'Class' 2, 4, 6, and 10. The SD card spec calls out very specific requirements for these specs, but the gist of it is that an unfragmented SD card will be able to write at a minimum MB/s corresponding to its rated class (e.g. Class 6 = 6 MB/s minimum transfer speed). The workload specified is meant to represent a typical media device writing to an SD card, with buffering to account for slower FAT table updates (small writes). With higher bus speed modes (more on that later), we also get higher classes. Older cards that are not rated under this spec are referred to as 'Class 0'.

Speed Grade

As we move higher than Class 10, we get to U1 and U3, which are referred to as UHS Speed Grades (contrary to the above table which states 'Class') in the SD card specification. The changeover from Class to Grade has something to do with speed modes, which also relates with the standard capacity of the card being used:

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U1 and U3 correspond to 10 and 30 MB/s minimums, but the test conditions are slightly different for these specs (so Class 10 is not *exactly* the same as a U1 rating, even though they both equate to 10 MB/sec). Cards not performing to U1 are classified as 'Speed Grade 0'. One final note here is that a U rating also implies a UHS speed mode (see the next section).

Read on as we decrypt all of the many specs and ratings present on SD and microSD cards!

Centon drops SandForce in favour of Phison

Subject: Storage | October 6, 2015 - 07:22 PM |
Tagged: Phison PS3110-S10, centon, C-380

The last time we heard from Centon they were using the SandForce 2281 SSD controller, which they have dropped in preference to a Phison controller in their new C-380 series of SSDs.  Benchmark Reviews recently reviewed their 480GB model, using MLC NAND and sporting a 4Gb cache of DDR3-1600.  The benchmark results were quite varied, sometimes the drive came in at the top of the pack yet other times it was well below average, especially writing to the drive.  There is a 1 year warranty on the drive and currently it is on sale at $219 for the 480GB model, down from the list price of $399.99 ... perhaps not a drive to recommend to your friends.

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"Centon isn’t a name many enthusiasts will know. I’d never heard of the company myself until this review sample; apparently, they’ve been in business for over 35 years manufacturing DRAM and flash memory products, and have only recently entered the consumer marketplace. The Centon C-380 480GB SSD SATA-III Solid State Drive, part of the “Enthusiast Solutions” series, is the focus of what Benchmark Reviews will be putting through our test suite."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Samsung 840 EVO mSATA Gets Long Awaited EXT43B6Q Firmware, Fixes Read Speed Issue

Subject: Storage | October 1, 2015 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, firmware, 840 evo, msata

It took them a while to get it right, but Samsung did manage to fix their read degradation issue in many of their TLC equipped 840 Series SSDs. I say many because there were some models left out when firmware EXT0DB6Q was rolled out via Magician 4.6. The big exception was the mSATA variant of the 840 EVO, which was essentially the same SSD just in a more compact form. This omission was rather confusing as the previous update was applicable to both the 2.5" and mSATA form factors simultaneously.

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The Magician 4.7 release notes included a bullet for Advanced Performance Optimization support on the 840 EVO mSATA model, but it took Samsung some time to push out the firmware update that enabled this possibility. We know from our previous testing that the Advanced Performance Optimization feature was included with other changes that enabled reads from 'stale' data at full speeds, compensating for the natural voltage drift of flash cell voltages representing the stored data.

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Now that the firmware has been made available (it came out early this week but was initially throttled), I was able to apply it to our 840 EVO 1TB mSATA sample without issue, and could perform the Advanced Performance Optimization and observe the expected effects, but my sample was recently used for some testing and did not have data old enough to show a solid improvement with the firmware applied *and before* running the Optimization. Luckily, an Overclock.net forum member was able to perform just that test on his 840 EVO 500GB mSATA model:

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Kudos to that member for being keen enough to re-run his test just after the update.

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It looks like the only consumer 840 TLC model left to fix is the original 840 SSD (not 840 EVO, just 840). This was the initial model launched that was pure TLC flash with no SLC TurboWrite cache capability. We hope to see this model patched in the near future. There were also some enterprise units that used the same planar 19nm TLC flash, but I fear Samsung may not be updating those as most workloads seen by those drives would constantly refresh the flash and not give it a chance to become stale and suffer from slowing read speeds. The newer and faster V-NAND equipped models (850 / 950 Series) have never been susceptible to this issue.

Source: Samsung

$700 for 2TB of SSD goodness

Subject: Storage | September 29, 2015 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Samsung 850 EVO 2 TB, 850 EVO, 2TB

That's right, currently $713 will pick you up a 2TB Samsung 850 EVO SSD but how does it perform?  The Tech Report is on the case with their latest review, checking out how 32-layer 128Gbit 3D V-NAND with 2GB of DRAM cache and an upgraded Samsung MHX controller perform.  It took some doing but once they had filled its over-provisioned area the drive levelled out at 7252 IOps on the random write test though the peak of 84423 was certainly impressive.  Check out the full review to see if this is the large sized SSD for you or if you prefer smaller, more agile SSDs which do not use TLC NAND. 

If you are like me and running out of mental storage space, you may have already forgotten about Al's review of this drive.

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"Samsung now offers its popular and affordable 850 EVO SSD in an enormous 2TB configuration. We put the EVO to the test to see how this behemoth performs"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Thirtysomething cents per gigabyte; Kingston's HyperX Fury versus the SanDisk Ultra II

Subject: Storage | September 23, 2015 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: kingston, HyperX Fury, Ultra II, sandisk, SandForce SF-2281, Marvell 88SS9189

The Kingston HyperX Fury 240GB SSD is currently $90 and the same size SanDisk Ultra II is $86 though the 960GB model that The Tech Report actually reviewed is a relatively decent $300.  At those prices they can be quite attractive although there is a big difference between the two drives, Kingston's uses SandForce's SF-2281 while SanDisk opted for the Marvell 88SS9189 controller.  Once the benchmarks started the difference did not show in real world applications, both are good performers overall though the HyperX did show some delays in the IOMeter testing.  The OCZ Arc 100 that they included did end up on top overall, a strong showing for a drive that is getting a little long in the tooth.

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"Kingston's HyperX Fury 240GB SSD and Sandisk's Ultra II 960GB drive both offer solid-state storage at budget-friendly prices for their capacity. We put them through their paces to see whether they're worthy of builders' hard-earned cash."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage