Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: ADATA
Tagged: ssd, SP920, sata, Marvell, adata

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

ADATA has been in the storage market for a good while now. I like to think of them as the patient underdog. They don't necessarily come out with the shiny new controller or flash technology. Instead they tend to sit back and wait for a given set of hardware to mature and drop in price a bit. Once that happens, they figure out how to package the matured technology into a device of relatively low cost as compared to the competition. They have done so again today, with their new Premier Pro SP920 lineup:

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As hinted at earlier, this line does not use the newest Marvell controller, but as Marvell controllers have been very capable SATA 6Gb/sec units for a long time now, that is not necessarily a bad thing. In addition, Marvell controllers have a track record of gaining significant performance margins as their firmware matures, which makes ADATA's later entrance more of a good thing.

Continue reading for the full scoop and performance benchmarks of all available capacities!!

Subject: Editorial, Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction and Background

Introduction:

Back in 2010, Intel threw a bit of a press thing for a short list of analysts and reviewers out at their IMFT flash memory plant at Lehi, Utah. The theme and message of that event was to announce 25nm flash entering mass production. A few years have passed, and 25nm flash is fairly ubiquitous, with 20nm rapidly gaining as IMFT scales production even higher with the smaller process. Last week, Intel threw a similar event, but instead of showing off a die shrink or even announcing a new enthusiast SSD, they chose to take a step back and brief us on the various design, engineering, and validation testing of their flash storage product lines.

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At the Lehi event, I did my best to make off with a 25nm wafer.

Many topics were covered at this new event at the Intel campus at Folsom, CA, and over the coming weeks we will be filling you in on many of them as we take the necessary time to digest the fire hose of intel (pun intended) that we received. Today I'm going to lay out one of the more impressive things I saw at the briefings, and that is the process Intel goes through to ensure their products are among the most solid and reliable in the industry.

Read on for more on how Intel tests their products!

Samsung 840 EVO 1TB SSD for $469, 750GB for $388

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 18, 2014 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, ocz, Intel, corsair

Back in January I wrote a short editorial that asked the question: "Is now the time to buy an SSD?" At that time we were looking at a combination of price drops with a lack of upcoming hardware releases. Since that published we have seen the release of the Intel 730 Series SSDs and even the new Crucial M550.  While those are interesting drives to be sure (review pending on the M550), they aren't changing our opinions on the currently available, and incredibly cheap, solid state options.

While looking for some new hardware for the office, I found that the 1TB Samsung 840 EVO is now at an all time low $469!  That is one of the faster SSDs on the market, and one of Allyn's favorites, for $0.469/GB!!  I have included an updated table below with some of the most popular SSDs and their prices.  

Series Capacity Cost/GB Price
Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB $0.69/GB $83 - Amazon
  250 GB $0.55/GB $139 - Amazon
  500 GB $0.51/GB $259 - Amazon
  750 GB $0.51/GB $388 - Amazon
  1000 GB $0.46/GB $469 - Amazon
Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB $0.92/GB $119 - Amazon
  256 GB $0.77/GB $199 - Amazon
  512 GB $0.74/GB $413 - Amazon
Intel 530 Series 120 GB $0.91/GB $89 - Amazon
  180 GB $0.80/GB $144 - Amazon
  240 GB $0.62/GB $149 - Amazon
  480 GB $0.87/GB $419 - Amazon
Crucial M500 Series 120 GB $0.57/GB $69 - Amazon
  240 GB $0.49/GB $119 - Amazon
  480 GB $0.47/GB $229 - Amazon
  960 GB $0.45/GB $439 - Amazon

The biggest price drops were seen in the higher capacity drives including, the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB and 750GB models, the Intel 530 Series 480GB drive and even the Crucial M500 960GB and 480GB drives.  Numerically the best value is with the 960GB Crucial M500 drive at $0.45/GB but it is followed very closely by that 1TB Samsung 840 EVO.  

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As of now, the Intel 730 Series of SSDs is available for sale on Amazon.com but their price per GB comparisons don't really match that of the EVO or M500.  They are great drives, just read Allyn's review to see the proof of that, but they are targeted at the very performance conscious.  The Crucial M550 is brand new, and looks interesting; expect us to dive more into that line very soon.

For me personally, grabbing a 750GB SSD is incredibly enticing and I think I'll find a handful in my cart to update our older 180GB SSD test beds.

OCZ is still putting out; revisit the Vertex 460

Subject: Storage | March 17, 2014 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: vertex 460, ssd, sata, ocz, Indilinx Barefoot, 19nm

If you had any questions left after Al's review of the new OCZ Vertex 460 series then you can take another look at it today.  This tiny 7mm drive is perfect for Ultrabooks and other slim devices as well as fitting into any system that wants a boost to storage speeds.  The 240GB model that Hardware Canucks reviewed sports two 256MB DDR3-1333 DIMMs for cache to keep the Barefoot 3 M10 controller working full out transferring data between the 19nm NAND storage.  Those of you who have not yet upgraded to a SATA 6Gbps controller may be especially interested in the SATA II performance which is covered in the full review.

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"OCZ has begun a major turn-around and the Vertex 460 is meant to be their price / performance leader. With a barefoot controller and 19nm MLC NAND, it certainly has what it takes. "

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

OCZ launches Z-Drive 4500, now with Toshiba 19nm flash

Subject: Storage | March 4, 2014 - 06:51 AM |
Tagged: z-drive, toshiba, ocz

OCZ launched the original Z-Drive R4 back in 2011 (reviewed here). That unit proved OCZ's VCA 2.0 architecture could scale to very high IOPS under extremely heavy loads. With the recent changes, OCZ has been revamping their existing lines to include Toshiba flash - first with the Vector, then the Vertex, and today with the Z-Drive:

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OCZ's VCA tech yields some impressive results. Here's some details:

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...and here is where the Z-Drive falls in OCZ's enterprise lineup:

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Pricing is as follows. Remember, these are enterprise units:

  • 800GB = $2944
  • 1.6TB = $4757
  • 3.2TB = $8166

Full press blast after the break:

Source: OCZ
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction and Packaging

Introduction:

Last October, Western Digital launched the My Cloud. This device was essentially a network connected version of their My Book line of external hard drives, but with Internet connectivity and apps that could reach back to the My Cloud even when you were away from home. One month later, WD launched the My Cloud EX4, a much beefier version which supported redundant arrays of 4 hard disks, redundant network and power, and a load of other features. There was a rather large gap in features between these two devices, as the only RAID option was more of a small business one. Today Western Digital closed that gap:

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The My Cloud EX2 is essentially a My Cloud, but with dual drive bays, and a few additional features. Check out this projected trend below:

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You can see there was a definite void in the 2-drive range that needed filling. With those two drives, you get a few options for redundancy or capacity+speed:

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All standard RAID options for a 2-bay appliance are met here, though the vast majority of users should opt for the default RAID-1 mirrored set.

 

Packaging:

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Packaging is simple here with only a power adapter, ethernet cable, and quick start guide needed.

Read on for more on Western Digital's new My Cloud EX2!

Overclocked SSDs are fast but also power hungry

Subject: Storage | February 27, 2014 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: SSD 730, ssd, Intel, Overclocked

Today marks the release of the first overclocked SSD to hit the market, the Intel 730 which is based on the SSD DC S3500 and SSD DC S3700 series for data centers.  As these were drives specifically crafted for the datacenter they were both more expensive than consumer models and were optimized for completely different uses.  The new Intel 730 drive is overclocked, the NAND functions at 600MHz compared to the DC's 400MHz and the cache RAM speed is jumped up to 100MHz from 83MHz.  The Tech Report discovered that extra frequency comes at a price, the wattage consumed by this drive is significantly higher than just about any other SSD they have reviewed, no wonder Intel labels this as specifically for desktops.

Make sure to check out Allyn's fresh off the presses review of this drive and don't let his temperature readings shock you too much.

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"Intel's new 730 Series desktop SSD is rather unique. It's based on the company's datacenter drives, it has an extra flash die onboard, and the controller and NAND are both clocked well beyond their usual speeds. We take a closer look."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel
Tagged: SSD 730, ssd, Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Intel launched their first consumer SSD more than five years ago. Their very first SSD, the X25-M, might have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, but once the initial bugs were worked out, it proved to be an excellent example of what a 3Gb/sec SATA SSD was capable of. While the competition was using 4 or 8 flash channels, Intel ran circles around them with their 10-channel controller. It was certainly a great concept, and it most definitely had legs. The very same controller, with only minor tweaks, was able to hold its own all the way through into the enterprise sector, doing so even though the competition was moving to controllers capable of twice the throughput (SATA 6Gb/sec).

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The various iterations featuring Intel's 10-channel controller, spanning the 20GB cache SSD (left), original X25M and X25-E (center), and  finally X25-M G2, SSD 320, and SSD 710 (right).

While the older controller was extremely nimble, it was bottlenecked by a slower interface than the competition, who had all moved to the more modern SATA 6Gb/sec link. Intel also moved into this area, but not with their own native controller silicon. The SSD 510 launched in 2011 equipped with a Marvell controller, followed by the SSD 520, launched in 2012 with a SandForce controller. While Intel conjured up their own firmware for these models, their own older and slower controller was still more nimble and reliable than those other solutions, proven by the fact that the SSD 710, an enterprise-spec SSD using the older 10-channel controller, was launched in tandem with the consumer SSD 510.

Fast forward to mid-2013, where Intel finally introduced their own native SATA 6Gb/s solution. This controller dropped the channel count to a more standard figure of 8, and while it did perform well, it was only available in Intel's new enterprise 'Data Center' line of SSDs. The SSD DC S3500 and SSD DC S3700 (reviewed here) were great drives, but they were priced too high for consumers. While preparing that review, I remember saying how that controller would be a great consumer unit if they could just make it cheaper and tune it for standard workloads. It appears that wish has just been granted. behold the Intel SSD 730:

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Continue reading our review of the Intel SSD 730!!

Western Digital launches surveillance-oriented WD Purple series of 3.5" HDDs

Subject: Storage | February 25, 2014 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, surveillance, Purple

Western Digital has several lines of hard disks to choose from. You have Greens, Blues, Blacks, enterprise RE's, and even ones named after dinosaurs. Then came a mix of RE and GP in the form of the RE4-GP. Then came the Red series, which carried some more of the enterprisey features from the RE series over into a NAS-tailored drive that sipped power like a Green. Then there was the AV-GP which took a green and tweaked the firmware to better handle multiple video streams being read to and written from the disk simultaneously.

You'd figure they had every possible angle covered, but apparently there was a hole to fill. Turns out the home / small business surveillance market is a bit of a big deal. We're talking about those security systems you see capturing 16 or even 32 video streams simultaneously. Add the fact that these larger systems tend to store their streams to a RAID as opposed to a single disk. What was needed was a drive capable of handling a greater number of simultaneous streams than an AV-GP, while also carrying over the RAID features of the Red, and doing so without driving costs into the enterprise territory of the SE/RE.

Behold the solution:

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The WD Purple is an Advanced Format HDD that is optimized for recording up to 32 HD video streams simultaneously:

WD Purple efficiency slide.png

Writing 32 separate streams to a hard drive would usually lead to the heads thrashing about, trying to keep up with what appears to be random writes. The Purple has much smarter firmware that has been tuned for this specific purpose (seen above maintaining 50% idle time while handling 32 HD streams). While these firmware optimizations would hurt performance in normal consumer use, for heavy surveillance usage, this is likely the closest you can get to SSD performance for this application - without high cost/GB of using solid state as a solution to such a capacity hungry problem.

Speaking of cost/GB, Purple drives are quite reasonable, starting at $89 for 1TB up to $199 for the flagship 4TB capacity.

Press blast after the break:

Toshiba Launching HG6 SSD Series In Multiple Form Factors

Subject: Storage | February 21, 2014 - 10:49 AM |
Tagged: toshiba, toggle NAND, M.2, hg6, 19nm

Toshiba has announced a new series of solid state drives under it's own brand. Called the HG6, the new Toshiba drives come in 2.5," mSATA, and M.2 form factors and range in capacity from 60GB to 512GB. Despite the acquisition of OCZ, it appears that Toshiba will continue to produce drives internally and under the Toshiba name.

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The new Toshiba HG6 SSDs are aimed at both consumer and business use with multiple form factors to allow the drives to be used in ultrabooks, desktops, and servers. The drives will be available in 2.5" SATA 6Gbps (7mm and 9.5mm), mSATA, and the newer M.2 specification. The drives use Toshiba's 19nm Toggle 2.0 MLC NAND flash. Toshiba has not release random read/write numbers, but claims that the drives achieve up to 534 MB/s sequential reads and 482 MB/s sequential writes.

Enterprise friendly features include QSBC ECC (Quadruple Swing-By Code error correction) and TCG opal 2.0 compatible self encryption.

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The Toshiba HG6 SSD series will be available in March 2014. The company has not yet released pricing information on the new drives, however.

Source: Toshiba