Subject: Storage | October 29, 2014 - 03:10 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: tlc, Samsung, firmware, 840
If you own a Samsung 840 SSD, it appears that after much repeated and vocal pressure, Samsung has acknowledged the slow down also affects your drive. We're not talking about the EVO or the Pro, this is the original pure TLC model that launched (the EVO is a TLC+SLC cache hybrid while the Pro is all MLC). Here's the quote from Samsung, via Computer Base:
Uns ist durch das Feedback, das uns erreicht hat, bekannt, dass es auch beim Zugriff auf bestimmte Daten bei Modellen der SSD 840 zu niedrigeren Leseleistungen als angegeben kommen kann.
Im Moment untersuchen unsere Produktexperten systematisch die betreffenden SSD-Modelle innerhalb verschiedener Systemumgebungen und arbeiten an einer schnellstmöglichen Lösung.
Aufgrund der unterschiedlichen Technologien sind die Modelle der PRO-Serie (840 PRO und 850 PRO) nicht betroffen.
What? You can't read German? Neither can we, but paraphrasing from the poor quality translation from several online tools, we deduce that Samsung has acknowledged the issue on the 840, and is working on a solution as quickly as possible. This is similar verbiage to the statement issued for the 840 EVO acknowledgement.
** Update **
Thanks to Zyhmet, who commented shortly after posting, here's a human translation:
Because of the feedback we got, we realized that, accessing specific data with units of SSD 840 could lead to lower reading performance.
For the moment our experts are systematically examining the SSD-units with different system environments and we are working on a solution as fast as possible.
Due to different technologies the PRO-series (840 PRO and 850 PRO) are not affected.
** End update **
Side note - of those who have used the 840 EVO Performance Restoration Tool, a few have reported an issue cropping up. The error manifests as a SMART data misreporting error:
What's odd about this error is that it was present on some of our pre-production test samples (firmware EXT0AB0Q), and was corrected once we updated those samples to the first retail build (EXT0BB0Q). The image above was an actual screen shot taken during our temperature-dependency testing of the slow down issue. While none of our samples had the issue return when updating all the way to the performance restored firmware, one of those updates did corrupt the Master File Table, rendering the majority of the SSD inaccessible. While we have seen no other reports of corrupted partitions, several users noticed the SMART reporting issue after updating. It's odd to see this sort of a regression with firmware updates, in that a bug fixed in the initial shipping firmware has returned (for some) in a subsequent update. If you've updated your 840 EVO with their Performance Restoration Tool, it may be a good time to check your SMART attributes. If you see the error above, please leave us a note in the comments.
Circling back to the slow down issue - given that it is present in two TLC-based SSDs from Samsung, one has to wonder if this issue exists in other Samsung TLC SSDs as well. Here's the list of potentials (thanks to an anonymous comment on a prior story):
- 840 EVO - 19nm TLC
- 840 - 21nm TLC
- PM841 - 21nm TLC
- PM851 - 21nm TLC (some SKUs)
- 845DC EVO - 19nm TLC
- PM843 - 21nm TLC
- PM853T - 21nm TLC
We have several questions out to Samsung on these issues, but to date they have not been answered. More to follow as we wait for an official (English) response.
In conjunction with Dell World, LiteOn has announced their new EP1 M.2 PCIe SSD:
Designed primarily for enterprise workloads and usage, the EP1 sports impressive specs for such a small device. Capacities are 480 and 960GB, random 4k IO is rated at 150k/44k (R/W), sequentials are as high as 1.5GB/sec, and max latencies are in the 30-40 us range (this spec is particularly important for enterprise OLTP / transactional database workloads). Given the enterprise specs, power loss protection is a given (and you can see the capacitors in the upper right of the above photo). Here are the full specs:
It should be noted that larger PCIe-based SSDs are rated for greater than the 1 drive write per day of the EP1, but they are also considerably larger (physically) when compared to the M.2 EP1. As an additional aside, the 960GB capacity is a bit longer than you might have seen so far in the M.2 form factor. While the 480GB model is a familiar 2280 (80mm long), the 960GB model follows the 22110 form factor (110mm long). The idle power consumption seems a bit high, but enterprise devices are typically tuned for instantaneous response over idle wattage.
Subject: Storage | October 28, 2014 - 01:30 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, sata, Samsung, 850 EVO
Thanks to an updated SKU list and some searching, we've come across some initial photos, specs, and pricing for the upcoming Samsung 850 EVO.
You may have heard of an 850 EVO 1TB listing over at Frys, but there's actually more information out there. Here's a quick digest:
- Memory: 3D VNAND
- Read: 550MB/sec
- Write: 520MB/sec
- Weight: 0.29 lbs
Pricing (via Antares Pro listings at time of writing):
- 120GB (MZ-75E120B/AM): $100 ($0.83 / GB)
- 250GB (MZ-75E250B/AM): $146 ($0.58 / GB)
- 500GB (MZ-75E500B/AM): $258 ($0.52 / GB)
- 1TB (MZ-75E1T0B/AM): $477 ($0.48 / GB)
In addition to the above, we saw the 1TB model listed for $500 at Frys, and also found the 500GB for $264 at ProVantage. The shipping date on the Frys listing was initially November 3rd, but that has since shifted to November 24th, presumably due to an influx of orders.
We'll be publishing a full capacity roundup on the 850 Pro in anticipation of the 850 EVO launch, which based on these leaks is imminent.
Subject: Storage | October 27, 2014 - 04:17 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Transporter Genesis, transporter, connected data
Connected Data (whose members are merged with Drobo), have really been pushing their new Transporter line. When we saw them this past CES, there was only a small desktop appliance meant to connect and sync files between homes or small offices. Now they are stepping up their Transporter game by scaling all the way up to 24TB rack mount devices!
For those unaware, Transporter is a personal cloud solution, but with software and mobile app support akin to that of Dropbox. Their desktop software tool has seen rapid addition of features, and the company has even rolled out version history support. Features are nice, but what will now set Transporter apart from competing options is scalability:
The base level Transporter (right) is a relatively simple device with a single 2.5" HDD installed. These devices scale through the '5' and '15' models, which appear to be built on Drobo hardware. The 'Genesis' models (left) are not simply Drobo 1200i's with blue stickers on them, they are full blown Xeon systems with redundant power supplies, an 80GB SSD, up to 32GB or RAM and 24TB of raw storage capacity. Here is what a typical business rollout of Transporter might look like with these new additions at play:
Features currently supported across the line:
- 256 Bit AES communication
- Transporter Desktop software solution (Windows and Mac)
- Transporter mobile app (iOS and Android)
- Redundancy within each node ('5' and above)
- Redundancy across nodes (via sync)
- Active Directory support
- No recurring fees
The 12TB Genesis 75 comes in at $9,999, but the '15' and '5' should prove to be lower cost options. The base model single bay Transporter can be found for just over $100 (BYOHDD). Full press blast after the break.
Subject: Storage | October 27, 2014 - 04:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: M.2, ssd, transcend, MTS800
M.2 is quickly gaining popularity thanks to its small size and power requirements as well as the possible speed increase and other features. Transcend's 128GB MTS800 drive features fill AES encryption, wear levelling and garbage collection as well as something new, StaticDataRefresh Technology. That is their name for a process which automatically restores the charge levels in the NAND cells which both prevents errors from accumulating as well as performance reduction over time. M.2 drives do come with a price premium, the 128GB model is available for $76 on Amazon but the performance is impressive, the lowest transfer speed The SSD Review saw during their testing was 265.61MB/s.
"We have been seeing more M.2 SSDs lately, a lot of which are companies’ first steps into the market since the form factor is so new. They have been designed to meet strict size requirements and allow for greater flexibility in product development. They are the perfect fit for mobile devices with their compact size and light weight."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- KINGMAX M.2 2242 SATA SSD Review (128GB) @ The SSD Review
- SanDisk Ultra 2 SSD @ HardwareHeaven
- SanDisk Extreme Pro 480GB SSD @ eTeknix
- Crucial MX100 512GB & Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSDs @ Silent PC Review
- oshiba 2.5-inch 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive @ eTeknix
- Western Digital My Passport Pro 2 TB Portable (Thunderbolt) HDD @ TechARP
- Thecus N2560 Dual-bay SOHO NAS Review @ Techgage
- Silicon Power Armor A30 2TB USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Silicon Power Mobile OTG X20 USB 2.0 Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Kingston HyperX Fury 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | October 27, 2014 - 02:59 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Samsung, firmware, 840 evo
Over the weekend Samsung silently updated their 840 EVO Performance Restoration Tool. The incremental update improved support for some system configurations that were previously not recognizing an installed 840 EVO. Samsung also improved how the GUI progress bar responds during the update process, presumably to correct the near silent failure that occurred when the tool was unable to update the drive's firmware. Previously, the tool would halt at 15% without any clear indication that the firmware could not be updated (this would occur if the tool was unable to issue the necessary commands to the SSD, mainly due to the motherboard being in the wrong storage controller mode or using an incompatible storage driver).
Still no word on relief for those owners of the original 840 (non EVO or Pro). We've also heard from some users with Samsung OEM TLC-based SSDs that showed the same type of slow down (some variants of the PM851 apparently used TLC flash). More to follow there.
We evaluated the Samsung 840 EVO Performance Restoration Tool here. If you've already successfully run the 1.0 version of the tool, there is no need to re-run the 1.1 version, as it will not do anything additional to an EVO that has been updated and restored.
Subject: Storage | October 17, 2014 - 05:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: icy dock, ICY CUBE MB561U3S-4S, MB662U3-2S, external drive
Techgage has an assortment of Icy Dock products that they examined to make up this review. The ICY CUBE MB561U3S-4S is a 4-bay external drive enclosure, which will take all of the installed drives and create a single volume out of them. This happens automatically, there are no other RAID options available when you use this particular dock but it does simplify the setup process. The MB662U3-2S is a two bay enclosure which offers more choices for setup, you can set the drives to Large, JBOD, RAID 1 or RAID 0. If you just have a single drive, they also have an external 3.5” SATA HDD enclosure and finally two HDD caddies which slide into a 5.25" drive bay. The first can be set up to fit a pair of 2.5" drives and the second is for hotswapping. Check them out if you are in need of storage accessories.
"It has been quite some time since we have looked to see what ICY DOCK has been up to. This is a company that established its reputation by making some very good hard drive accessories through the years. In this article we are going to take a look at several offerings from the company – from mobile to desktop. Let’s see what it has to offer."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- IronKey Workspace W700 Secure Flash Drive @ The SSD Review
- Synology DS415+ NAS @ HardwareHeaven
- Thecus N2310 @ Legion Hardware
- QNAP SilentNAS HS-251 2-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- QNAP TS-451 Turbo NAS Server @ Benchmark Reviews
- Synology DiskStation DS415+ @ Legion Hardware
- Thecus N7710-G 7-Bay NAS with 10 GbE @ Silent PC Review
- Kingston M.2 2280 SATA 120GB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- OCZ ARC 100 240GB SSD Review @HiTech Legion
- Micron M600 mSATA @ The SSD Review
Introduction and Features
EZ-Clone in Standalone disk-cloning mode
Kingwin’s new EZ-Clone (Model: USI-2535CLU3) is a HDD/SSD adapter that can be used as a standalone disk-cloning device or as an external hard drive adapter. When used in standalone mode, the self-powered EZ-Cone can quickly clone one SATA/IDE drive to a new SATA drive in minutes (IDE to SATA or SATA to SATA) without being connected to a PC.
EZ-Clone being used as an external drive adapter
When used as an external drive adapter the EZ-Clone provides connectors for attaching two SATA drives (SSD or HDD) and one IDE hard drive in 2.5” or 3.5” form factors. The EZ-Clone adapter connects to a PC using the high-speed USB 3.0 interface. When used as an external drive adapter, the user can access up to two external drives at the same time (two SATA drives or one SATA and one IDE drive).
Kingwin EZ-Clone Key Features: (from the Kingwin website)
• EZ-Clone model: USI-2535CLU3
• External USB 3.0 to dual-SATA & single-IDE clone adapter
• Standalone disk duplicator with One-Touch Clone Button (no PC required)
• Supports 2.5” and 3.5” IDE and SATA drives (HDD or SSD)
• Compatible with SATA I/II/III (1.5/3.0/6.0 Gbps)
• SATA Drive Hot-swap compatibility
• Supports hard drives up to 3TB disk size
• Dual output power supply with standard 4-pin and SATA power connectors
• Up to 5 Gbps data transfer rate with USB 3.0 (also compatible with USB 2.0)
• USB Plug-and-play capability
• 2 Drive LEDs (red) and four Clone Progress LEDs (blue)
• Screw-less, easy to attach connectors
• Windows and Mac OS compatible (no driver installation required)
• 1-Year Warranty from Kingwin
• MSRP $39.99 USD ($33.99 from Amazon.com, Oct. 2014)
** Edit **
The tool is now available for download from Samsung here. Another note is that they intend to release an ISO / DOS version of the tool at the end of the month (for Lunix and Mac users). We assume this would be a file system agnostic version of the tool, which would either update all flash or wipe the drive. We suspect it would be the former.
** End edit **
As some of you may have been tracking, there was an issue with Samsung 840 EVO SSDs where ‘stale’ data (data which had not been touched for some period of time after writing it) saw slower read speeds as time since written extended beyond a period of weeks or months. The rough effect was that the read speed of old data would begin to slow roughly one month after written, and after a few more months would eventually reach a speed of ~50-100 MB/sec, varying slightly with room temperature. Speeds would plateau at this low figure, and more importantly, even at this slow speed, no users reported lost data while this effect was taking place.
An example of file read speeds slowing relative to file age.
Since we first published on this, we have been coordinating with Samsung to learn the root causes of this issue, how they will be fixed, and we have most recently been testing a pre-release version of the fix for this issue. First let's look at the newest statement from Samsung:
Because of an error in the flash management software algorithm in the 840 EVO, a drop in performance occurs on data stored for a long period of time AND has been written only once. SSDs usually calibrate changes in the statuses of cells over time via the flash management software algorithm. Due to the error in the software algorithm, the 840 EVO performed read-retry processes aggressively, resulting in a drop in overall read performance. This only occurs if the data was kept in its initial cell without changing, and there are no symptoms of reduced read performance if the data was subsequently migrated from those cells or overwritten. In other words, as the SSD is used more and more over time, the performance decrease disappears naturally. For those who want to solve the issue quickly, this software restores the read performance by rewriting the old data. The time taken to complete the procedure depends on the amount of data stored.
This partially confirms my initial theory in that the slow down was related to cell voltage drift over time. Here's what that looks like:
As you can see above, cell voltages will shift to the left over time. The above example is for MLC. TLC in the EVO will have not 4 but 8 divisions, meaning even smaller voltage shifts might cause the apparent flipping of bits when a read is attempted. An important point here is that all flash does this - the key is to correct for it, and that correction is what was not happening with the EVO. The correction is quite simple really. If the controller sees errors during reading, it follows a procedure that in part adapts to and adjusts for cell drift by adjusting the voltage thresholds for how the bits are interpreted. With the thresholds adapted properly, the SSD can then read at full speed and without the need for error correction. This process was broken in the EVO, and that adaptation was not taking place, forcing the controller to perform error correction on *all* data once those voltages had drifted near their default thresholds. This slowed the read speed tremendously. Below is a worst case example:
We are happy to say that there is a fix, and while it won't be public until
some time tomorrow now, we have been green lighted by Samsung to publish our findings.
Subject: Storage | October 6, 2014 - 02:51 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, slc, mlc, micron, M600, Dynamic Write Acceleration
The Tech Report took a different look at Micron's M600 SSD than Al did in his review. Their benchmarks were focused more on a performance comparison versus the rest of the market, with over two dozen SSDs listed in their charts. As you would expect the 1TB model outperformed the 256GB model but it was interesting to note that the 256GB MX100 outperformed the newer M600 in many tests. In the final tally the new caching technology helped the 256GB model perform quite well but it was the 1TB model, which supposedly lacks that technology proved to be one of the fastest they have tested.
"Micron's new M600 SSD has a dynamic write cache that can treat any block on the drive as high-speed SLC NAND. This unique feature is designed to help lower-capacity SSDs keep up with larger drives that have more NAND-level parallelism, and we've tested the 256GB and 1TB versions to see how well it works."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- MyDigitalSSD BP4e mSATA SSD @ The SSD Review
- Top 10 SSDs: Price, performance and capacity @ The Register
- Micron M600 M.2 SATA SSD @ The SSD Review
- Some thoughts on the performance of SSD RAID 0 arrays @ Hardware Secrets
- Transcend SSD370 128GB SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
- Micron M600 SSD @ The SSD Review
- QNAP TS-653 Pro @ Legion Hardware
- QNAP SilentNAS HS-251 NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Mach Xtreme MX-ES Ultra SLC USB 3.0 Flash Drive @ The SSD Review
- Silicon Power Marvel M70 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech