Remember when Flash was plentiful? Samsung's Fabs remember!

Subject: General Tech | July 5, 2017 - 12:42 PM |
Tagged: flash, Samsung

Historically, memory prices have been as volatile as the RAM they are used in but recently this has changed.  The demand for flash storage, volatile or not, has grown tremendously with the advent of SSDs, the ever increasing local flash storage provided on your phone and now even cars and other members of the IoT are devouring flash as quickly as it can be made.  This has lead to the new pricing trend we have been seeing, a slow increase in the price of flash memory.  Samsung is addressing this shortage, and looking to increase their revenue, by making a large investment in their existing infrastructure in South Korea.  All told these investments total $31.2 billion dollars and will enhance existing production lines as well as adding Extreme Ultra Violet machinery to a Fab which currently lacks that technology.  Drop by The Register for more detail.

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"It says it will invest KRW 30 trillion ($26.1bn) by 2021 in its existing plant in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, to expand its semiconductor fabrication capacity. This fab, claimed to be the single largest in the industry, is now making 64-layer 4th generation V-NAND flash chips."

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Source: The Register

Enable Flash for a $5 FedEx coupon?

Subject: General Tech | March 27, 2017 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: security, flash, fedex, coupon

FedEx seems to be indicating they are not quite ready for Adobe Flash to go away, by offering certain customers a $5.00 coupon to enable it.  This was likely triggered by the mass migration of browsers from Adobe's much beleaguered media program; Chrome only loads Flash content after user intervention and both Edge and Firefox will soon discontinue support as well.  The offer is for FedEx Office Print customers but you can certainly take a peek yourself if you want to try it, though The Register cautions against abusing it lest we all lose the benefit.  There is a link to download Flash on FedEx's website but if you do decide to update or install Flash we would suggest you head straight to Adobe to get it.

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"The offer's being made to users of FedEx Office Print, the custom printing tentacle of the transport company. FedEx Office Print lets customers design posters, signs, manuals, banners and even promotional magnets."

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Source: The Register

CES 2017: Kingston Launches 2TB DataTraveler Ultimate GT USB 3.1 Portable SSD

Subject: Storage | January 3, 2017 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: usb, Ultimate, Terabyte, ssd, kingston, GT, flash, drive, DataTraveler, CES 2017, CES, 2TB, 1TB

Kicking off the storage announcements at CES 2017, Kingston announced a 2TB thumb drive:

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Ok, well it's a bit big for a thumb drive, but it is definitely a high capacity portable SSD with a narrower profile (width wise) than a Samsung T3, and is meant to be plugged directly into a USB port. Thickness may be an issue for some applications, but I assume they would include a short extension for those trying to plug into tighter spaces like at the rear of a PC case. The release was light on details, particularly performance, though I'd expect these to be able to do a few hundred MB/s on sequentials at a minimum. More should come out about this and other Kingston products later in the week.

*edit* Here's a couple of pics I snagged at one of the events here:

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Full press blast after the break.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Kingston

Phison Announces UFS 2.1 NAND Controller - Death to eMMC!

Subject: Storage | December 22, 2016 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: UFS 2.1, UFS, PS8313, PS8311, phison, nand, flash, controller

Following up on Micron's UFS 2.1 announcement, Phison has announced the launch of their own PS8311 UFS 2.1 controller:

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For those unaware, UFS 2.1 is a much-anticipated replacement for eMMC, which is the equivalent of trying to run your laptop OS off of an SD Card. Fortunately, eMMC only appears in budget systems, but the transition to UFS 2.1 should bring the storage performance bar up considerably in those systems.

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UFS Architecture Overview. Source: JEDEC

Devices following the Universal Flash Storage standard will enable less protocol overhead and more direct communication with the flash.

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Looking at an older roadmap, we see Phison was relatively on target with the PS8311, with a faster PS8313 scheduled for later in 2017.

Press blast after the break.

Source: Phison

"HTML5 by Default" Rolling in to Chrome Userbase

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2016 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: google, chrome, Adobe, flash

Google is about to begin transitioning their users away from Flash, unless they explicitly enable it on a site-by-site basis. This is a step beyond click-to-activate, which refuses to activate the plug-in until the user permits it, that will not even acknowledge the plug-in’s existence unless the user requests it. The difference is that this tells sites to treat the browser as not having Flash, which, for PC Perspective as an example, should load our HTML5 article carousel instead of presenting a click-to-activate Flash one that has an expanding oval transition animation.

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Because changes like these could have side-effects, Google is dipping their toe before jumping in. About 1% of users on the current Chrome 55 (and ~50% of Chrome 56 pre-release users) will have this change flipped on any day now, which contains the outrage if it breaks something popular or, otherwise, causes user grief. If it all goes well, though, it will be enabled for everyone when Chrome 56 arrives for the general public in February.

Source: Google

FMS 2016: Samsung To Announce 64-Layer 4th Gen V-NAND, 32TB 2.5" SSD

Subject: Storage | August 10, 2016 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: 2.5, V-NAND, ssd, Samsung, nand, FMS 2016, FMS, flash, 64-Layer, 32TB, SAS, datacenter

At a huge press event like Flash Memory Summit, being in the right place at the right time (and with the right camera), matters greatly. I'll just let a picture say a thousand words for me here:

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..now this picture has been corrected for extreme parallax and was taken in far from ideal conditions, but you get the point. Samsung's keynote is coming up later today, and I have a hunch this will be a big part of what they present. We did know 64-Layer was coming, as it was mentioned in Samsung's last earnings announcement, but confirmation is nice.

*edit* now that the press conference has taken place, here are a few relevant slides:

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With 48-Layer V-NAND announced last year (and still rolling out), it's good to see Samsung pushing hard into higher capacity dies. 64-Layer enables 512Gbits (64GB) per die, and 100MB/s per die maximum throughput means even lower capacity SSDs should offer impressive sequentials.

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Samsung 48-Layer V-NAND. Pic courtesy of TechInsights.

64-Layer is Samsung's 4th generation of V-NAND. We've seen 48-Layer and 32-Layer, but few know that 24-Layer was a thing (but was mainly in limited enterprise parts).

We will know more shortly, but for now, dream of even higher capacity SSDs :)

*edit* and this just happened:

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*additional edit* - here's a better picture taken after the keynote:

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The 32TB model in their 2.5" form factor displaces last years 16TB model. The drive itself is essentially identical, but the flash packages now contain 64-layer dies, doubling the available capacity of the device.

FMS 2016: Facebook Talks WORM QLC NAND Flash, Benchmarks XPoint

Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 05:59 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, Worm, storage, ssd, RocksDB, Optane, nand, flash, facebook

At their FMS 2016 Keynote, Facebook gave us some details on the various storage technologies that fuel their massive operation:

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In the four corners above, they covered the full spectrum of storing bits. From NVMe to Lightning (huge racks of flash (JBOF)), to AVA (quad M.2 22110 NVMe SSDs), to the new kid on the block, WORM storage. WORM stands for Write Once Read Many, and as you might imagine, Facebook has lots of archival data that they would like to be able to read quickly, so this sort of storage fits the bill nicely. How do you pull off massive capacity in flash devices? QLC. Forget MLC or TLC, QLC stores four bits per cell, meaning there are 16 individual voltage states for each cell. This requires extremely precise writing techniques and reads must appropriately compensate for cell drift over time, and while this was a near impossibility with planar NAND, 3D NAND has more volume to store those electrons. This means one can trade the endurance gains of 3D NAND for higher bit density, ultimately enabling SSDs upwards of ~100TB in capacity. The catch is that they are rated at only ~150 write cycles. This is fine for archival storage requiring WORM workloads, and you still maintain NAND speeds when it comes to reading that data later on, meaning that decade old Facebook post will appear in your browser just as quickly as the one you posted ten minutes ago.

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Next up was a look at some preliminary Intel Optane SSD results using RocksDB. Compared to a P3600, the prototype Optane part offers impressive gains in Facebook's real-world workload. Throughput jumped by 3x, and latency reduced to 1/10th of its previous value. These are impressive gains given this fairly heavy mixed workload.

More to follow from FMS 2016!

You were to bring balance to the ads, not leave us in darkness HTML5

Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2016 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: VPAID, VAST, security, Malware, javascript, html5, flash

Upsetting news today from GeoEdge, not only is HTML5 not going to prevent drive by infections from ads but it also turns out that Flash was nowhere near as responsible for these infections as we thought.  Hard to say which of those two facts is more upsetting but don't worry, you can still malign JavaScript.  The security problems actually stem from the two advertising standards used on the web, VAST and VPAID which are the vector of infection of the JavaScript code which runs to display the ad on your browser.  Follow the link from Slashdot for a detailed explanation of what is happening. 

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"A study from GeoEdge, an ad scanning vendor, reveals that Flash has been wrongly accused of being the root cause of today's malvertising campaigns, but in reality, switching to HTML5 ads won't safeguard users from attacks because the vulnerabilities are in the ad platforms and advertising standards themselves."

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Source: Slashdot

Oh, we like this; Edge will now pause some Flash content

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2016 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: flash, microsoft, edge, windows 10

The new insider build of Windows 10 includes a new feature on Edge, similar to the one already found on Chrome, it will pause Flash assets on webpages which are not the main content.  This should mean far less annoying advertisements blaring from your speakers if you happen to visit an uncouth website which features that type of advertisement.  It is also a step in the right direction for security, considering Adobe has posted yet another critical update for a gaping security hole in Flash.  You can follow the links from Slashdot to grab the update if you wish, or delve into the morass of comments about this update.

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"Microsoft Edge will "intelligently auto-pause" Flash content that is "not central to the webpage." If you want to try this out now, you can take the feature for a spin with Windows 10 build 14316, which was recently made available to Windows Insiders"

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Source: Slashdot
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction

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).

**edit**

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.

**end edit**

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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.

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Samsung's 48-Layer V-NAND, dissected by TechInsights
(Similar analysis on 32-Layer V-NAND here)

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.)