Podcast #413 - NVIDIA Pascal Mobile, ARM and Intel partner on 10nm, Flash Memory Summit and more!

Subject: Editorial | August 18, 2016 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: video, podcast, pascal, nvidia, msi, mobile, Intel, idf, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, gigabyte, FMS, Flash Memory Summit, asus, arm, 10nm

PC Perspective Podcast #413 - 08/18/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the new mobile GeForce GTX 10-series gaming notebooks, ARM and Intel partnering on 10nm, Flash Memory Summit and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Allyn Malventano, Sebastian Peak, Josh Walrath and Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:29:39
  1. Week in Review:
  2. This episode of PC Perspective is brought to you by Casper!! Use code “PCPER”
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:42:05 Final news from FMS 2016
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: VR Demi Moore
  5. Closing/outro

FMS 2016: Phison E8 Controller - NVMe Speed at SATA Cost

Subject: Storage | August 11, 2016 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: ssd, PS5008-E8/E8T, PS5008-E8, PS5007-E7, phison, PCIe 3.0 x2, NVMe, FMS 2016, FMS, E8

I visited Phison to check out their new E8 controller:


Phsion opted to take a step back from the higher performance PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe controllers out there, offering a solution with half the lanes. PCIe 3.0 x2 can still handle 1.5 GB/s, and this controller can exceed 200,000 random IOPS. Those specs are actually in-line with what most shipping x4 solutions offer today, meaning the E8 is more effectively saturating its more limited connectivity. Reducing the number of lanes helps Phison reduce the component cost of this controller to match the cost of typical SATA controllers while tripling the performance, greatly reducing the cost to produce NVMe SSDs.

In addition to 3D Flash support, the E8 is also a DRAM-less controller, meaning it has a small internal SRAM cache and has been architected to not need external DRAM installed on the PCB. DRAM-less means even lower costs. This can only be a good thing, since high performing NVMe parts at SATA costs is going to drive down the costs of even faster NVMe solutions, which is great for future buyers.

Press blast after the break.

Source: Phison

FMS 2016: Micron QuantX XPoint Prototype SSD Spotted

Subject: Storage | August 11, 2016 - 12:06 PM |
Tagged: FMS, FMS 2016, XPoint, micron, QuantX, nand, ram

Earlier this week, Micron launched their QuantX branding for XPoint devices, as well as giving us some good detail on expected IOPS performance of solutions containing these new parts:


Thanks to the very low latency of XPoint, the QuantX solution sees very high IOPS performance at a very low queue depth, and the random performance very quickly scales to fully saturate PCIe 3.0 x4 with only four queued commands. Micron's own 9100 MAX SSD (reviewed here), requires QD=256 (64x increase) just to come close to this level of performance! At that same presentation, a PCIe 3.0 x8 QuantX device was able to double that throughput at QD=8, but what are these things going to look like?


The real answer is just like modern day SSDs, but for the time being, we have the prototype unit pictured above. This is essentially an FPGA development board that Micron is using to prototype potential controller designs. Dedicated ASICs based on the final designs may be faster, but those take a while to ramp up volume production.


So there it is, in the flesh, nicely packaged and installed on a complete SSD. Sure it's a prototype, but Intel has promised we will see XPoint before the end of the year, and I'm excited to see this NAND-to-DRAM performance-gap-filling tech come to the masses!


FMS 2016: Liqid Combines Quad M.2 in to Powerful Packages

Subject: Storage | August 11, 2016 - 11:18 AM |
Tagged: FMS, FMS 2016, Liqid, kingston, toshiba, phison, U.2, HHHL, NVMe, ssd

A relative newcomer this year at Flash Memory Summit was Liqid. These guys are essentially creating an ecosystem from a subset of parts. Let's start with Toshiba:


At Toshiba's booth, we spotted their XG3 being promoted as being part of the Liqid solution. We also saw a similar demo at the Phison booth, meaning any M.2 parts can be included as part of their design. Now let us get a closer look at the full package options and what they do:


This demo, at the Kingston booth, showed a single U.2 device cranking out 835,000 4k IOPS. This is essentially saturating its PCIe 3.0 x4 link with random IO's, and it actually beats the Micron 9100 that we just reviewed!


How can it pull this off? The trick is that there are actually four M.2 SSDs in that package, along with a PLX switch. The RAID must be handled on the host side, but so long as you have software that can talk to multiple drives, you'll get full speed from this part.

More throughput can be had by switching to a PCIe 3.0 x8 link on a HHHL form factor card:


That's 1.3 million IOPS from a single HHHL device! Technically this is four SSDs, but still, that's impressively fast and is again saturating the bus, but this time it's PCIe 3.0 x8 being pegged!


We'll be tracking Liqid's progress over the coming months, and we will definitely test these solutions as they come to market (we're not there just yet). More to follow from FMS 2016!

FMS 2016: Supermicro All-Flash NVMe Systems - Switching PCIe up to 48 SSDs!

Subject: Storage | August 11, 2016 - 10:59 AM |
Tagged: FMS, SYS-2028U-TN24R4T+, SYS-1028U-TN10RT+, supermicro, SSG-2028R-NR48N, server, NVMe, FMS 2016

Supermicro was at FMS 2016, showing off some of their NVMe chassis:


The first model is the SYS-1028U-TN10RT+. This 1U chassis lets you hot swap 10 2.5" U.2 SSDs, connecting all lanes directly to the host CPUs.


Supermicro's custom PCB and interposer links all 40 PCIe lanes to the motherboard / CPUs.


Need more drives installed? Next up is the SYS-2028U-TN24R4T+, which uses a pair of PCIe switches to connect 24 U.2 SSDs to the same pair of CPUs.


Need EVEN MORE drives installed? The SSG-2028R-NR48N uses multiple switches to connect 48 U.2 SSDs in a single 2U chassis! While the switches will limit the ultimate sequential throughput of the whole package to PCIe 3.0 x40, we know that when it comes to spreading workloads across multiple SSDs, bandwidth bottlenecks are not the whole story, as latency is greatly reduced for a given workload. With a fast set of U.2 parts installed in this chassis, the raw IOPS performance would likely saturate all threads / cores of the installed Xeons before it saturated the PCIe bus!

More to follow as we wrap up FMS 2016!

Source: Supermicro

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:

64-Layer V-NAND.jpg

..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:



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.


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:

Photo Aug 10, 10 51 31.jpg

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



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: Micron Launches 3D UFS SSDs, Brands 3D XPoint as QuantX

Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, UFS, QuantX, micron, FMS 2016, FMS

The UFS standard aims to bring us lightning fast microSD cards that perform on-par with SATA SSDs. Samsung introduced theirs earlier this month, and now Micron has announced their solution:

Mobile 3D NAND UFS with specs and logo.jpg

As you can see, UFS is not just for SD cards. These are going to be able to replace embedded memory in mobile devices, displacing the horror that is eMMC with something way faster. These devices are smaller than a penny, with a die size of just over 60 mm squared and boast a 32GB capacity.


One version of the UFS 2.1 devices also contains Micron's first packaged offering of LPDDR4X. This low power RAM offers an additional 20% power savings over existing LPDDR4.

Also up is an overdue branding of Micron's XPoint (spoken 'cross-point') products:


QuantX will be the official branding of Micron products using XPoint technology. This move is similar to the one Intel made at IDF 2015, where they dubbed their solutions with the Optane moniker.

More to follow from FMS 2016. A few little birdies told me there will be some good stuff presented this morning (PST), so keep an eye out, folks!

Press blast for Micron's UFS goodness appears after the break.

FMS 2014: Silicon Motion announces new SM2256 controller driving 1xnm TLC NAND

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2014 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SM2256, silicon motion, sata, FMS 2014, FMS

Silicon Motion has announced their SM2256 controller. We caught a glimpse of this new controller on the Flash Memory Summit show floor:


The big deal here is the fact that this controller is a complete drop-in solution that can drive multiple different types of flash, as seen below:


The SM2256 can drive all variants of TLC flash.

The controller itself looks to have decent specs, considering it is meant to drive 1xnm TLC flash. Just under 100k random 4k IOPS. Writes are understandably below the max saturation of SATA 6Gb/sec at 400MB/sec (writing to TLC is tricky!). There is also mention of Silicon Motion's NANDXtend Technology, which claims to add some extra ECC and DSP tech towards the end of increasing the ability to correct for bit errors in the flash (more likely as you venture into 8 bit per cell territory).

Press blast after the break:

FMS 2014: Phison announces new quad-core PS3110 SATA 6Gb/s SSD controller

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2014 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, PS5007, PS3110, phison, pcie, FMS 2014, FMS

At the Flash Memory Summit, Phison has updated their SSD controller lineup with a new quad-core SSD controller.


The PS3110 is capable of handling TLC as well as MLC flash, and the added horsepower lets it push as high as 100k IOPS.


Also seen was an upcoming PS5007 controller, capable of pushing PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs at 300k IOPS and close to 3GB/sec sequential throughputs. While there were no actual devices on display of this new controller, we did spot the full specs:


Full press blast on the PS3110 appears after the break:

Source: Phison

FMS 2014: HGST Claims 3 Million IOPS and 1.5us Access Time SSD - updated with pics

Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | August 7, 2014 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: ssd, phase change memory, PCM, hgst, FMS 2014, FMS

According to an HGST press release, the company will bring an SSD based on phase change memory to the 2014 Flash Memory Summit in Santa Clara, California. They claim that it will actually be at their booth, on the show floor, for two days (August 6th and 7th).

The device, which is not branded, connects via PCIe 2.0 x4. It is designed for speed. It is allegedly capable of 3 million IOPS, with just 1.5 microseconds required for a single access. For comparison, the 800GB Intel SSD DC P3700, recently reviewed by Allyn, had a dominating lead over the competitors that he tested. It was just shy of 250 thousand IOPS. This is, supposedly, about twelve times faster.


While it is based on a different technology than NAND, and thus not directly comparable, the PCM chips are apparently manufactured at 45nm. Regardless, that is significantly larger lithography than competing products. Intel is manufacturing their flash at 20nm, while Samsung managed to use a 30nm process for their recent V-NAND launch.

What does concern me is the capacity per chip. According to the press release, it is 1Gb per chip. That is about two orders of magnitude smaller than what NAND is pushing. That is, also, the only reference to capacity in the entire press release. It makes me wonder how small the total drive capacity will be, especially compared to RAM drives.

Of course, because it does not seem to be a marketed product yet, nothing about pricing or availability. It will almost definitely be aimed at the enterprise market, though (especially given HGST's track record).

*** Update from Allyn ***

I'm hijacking Scott's news post with photos of the actual PCM SSD, from the FMS show floor:



In case you all are wondering, yes, it does in fact work:




One of the advantages of PCM is that it is addressed at smaller sections as compared to typical flash memory. This means you can see ~700k *single sector* random IOPS at QD=1. You can only pull off that sort of figure with extremely low IO latency. They only showed this output at their display, but ramping up QD > 1 should reasonably lead to the 3 million figure claimed in their release.

Source: HGST