Xaggerated claims from Intel? Psah, we've heard that googolplex of times before

Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2016 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: 3D XPoint, Intel, FMS 2016

You might have caught our reference to this on the podcast, XPoint is amazingly fast but the marketing clams were an order or magnitude or two off of the real performance levels.  Al took some very nice pictures at FMS and covered what Micron had to say about their new QuantX drives.  The Register also dropped by and offers a tidbit on the pricing, roughly four to five times as much as current flash or about half the cost of an equivalent amount of RAM.  They also compare the stated endurance of 25 complete drive writes per day to existing flash which offers between 10 to 17 depending on the technology used. 

The question they ask at the end is one many data centre managers will also be asking, is the actual speed boost worth the cost of upgrading or will other less expensive alternatives be more economical?

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"XPoint will substantially undershoot the 1,000-times-faster and 1,000-times-longer-lived-than-flash claims made by Intel when it was first announced – with just a 10-times speed boost and 2.5-times longer endurance in reality."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

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:

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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:

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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:

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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:

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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!

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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:

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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!

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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:

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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.

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

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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.

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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:

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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: Seagate Demos Facebook Lightning, 60TB 3.5" SSD!

Subject: Storage | August 10, 2016 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: FMS 2016, ssd, Seagate, Lightning, facebook, 60TB

Seagate showed off some impressive Solid State Storage at Flash Memory Summit 2016.

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First up is the Nytro XM1440. This is a 2TB M.2 22110 SSD complete with enterprise firmware and power loss protection. Nice little package, but what's it for?

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..well if you have 60 of them, you can put them into this impressive 1U chassis. This is Facebook's Lightning chassis (discussed yesterday). With Seagate's 2TB parts, this makes for 120TB of flash in a 1U footprint. Great for hyperscale datacenters.

Now onto what you came to see:

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This is the 'Seagate 60TB SAS SSD'. It really doesn't need a unique name because that capacity takes care of that for us! This is a 3.5" form factor SAS 12Gbit beast of a drive.

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They pulled this density off with a few tricks which I'll walk through. First was the stacking of three PCBs with flash packages on both sides. 80 packages in total.

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Next up is Seagate's ONFi fan-out ASIC. This is required because you can only have so many devices connected to a single channel / bus of a given SSD controller. The ASIC acts as a switch for data between the controller and flash dies.

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With so much flash present, we could use a bit of fault tolerance. You may recall RAISE from SandForce (who Seagate now owns). This is effectively RAID for flash dies, enabling greater resistance to individual errors across the array.

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Finally we have the specs. With a dual 12 Gbit SAS inteface, the 60TB SAS SSD can handle 1.5 GB/s reads, 1.0 GB/s writes, and offers 150,000 IOPS at 4KB QD32 random (SAS tops out at QD32). The idea behind drives like these is to cram as much storage into the smallest space possible, and this is certainly a step in the right direction.

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We also saw the XP7200 add-in card. I found this one interesting as it is a PCIe 3.0 x16 card with four M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs installed, but *without* a PLX switch to link them to the host system. This is possible only in server systems supporting PCIe Bifurcation, where the host can recognize that certain sets of lanes are linked to individual components.

More to follow from FMS 2016! Press blast after the break.

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:

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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.

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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:

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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.