Subject: Editorial, Storage | October 24, 2012 - 08:26 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: hybrid, fusion drive, fusion, apple
Dubbed 'Fusion Drive', this tech enables the late 2012 Mac Mini and iMac models to have a pseudo-hybrid drive. There's been a lot of speculation today on just how this technology will work, but I've cut through the chaff to try and shed some proper light on just how this new thing works, and how it is so different than any other 'hybrid' solution out there.
First, it's not a hybrid drive. The iMac or Mac Mini comes with an SSD and a HDD. Two individual SATA devices. Both devices appear as individual drives, even in Disk Utility. Where the magic happens is that OSX can be configured (and is pre-configured in these new systems) to combine the two drives into one drive that presents itself to the user as a single logical volume. The important point is that the drives are 'fused' together, not merged or mirrored. The SSD and HDD each have their own partition, and OSX can reach beneath the Fusion layer and shift files back and forth between the two as it sees fit. Frequently used apps and files can be shifted back and forth between the SSD and HDD, as seen in the below pic:
The biggest differences are in that since it's not a mirrored hybrid solution, where the SSD space is not available, and a failure of the HDD causes loss of all data. Fusion Drive combines the two volumes and *adds* the space together, and the apps or files will sit on either device (but not both). All files written go to the SSD first and are later shifted to the HDD in the background. This is actually a very smart way to handle things. The entire OSX install always stays on the SSD, so there is no concern of OS files 'rolling off' of the SSD cache, causing intermittent slowdowns. More (perhaps most) importantly, if the HDD fails on a Fusion Drive setup, OSX should theoretically just keep on chugging, albeit without access to the files or apps that were stored on the HDD. On the flip side, if the SSD were to fail, the HDD could simply be mounted in Target Mode under another Mac, and all files stored to that drive could then be recovered. Sure you won't get everything back in these scenarios, but it provides *much* more flexibility for data recovery, and it's worth repeating the fact that an HDD failure in any other hybrid solution results in the loss of ALL data.
A couple of other quick gotchas: You can still dual boot with boot camp under a Fusion Drive setup, but the boot camp partition will only be at the end of the HDD, not on the SSD. Windows will not only run slower because it's on the spinning disk, it will run slower because the latter portions of a HDD typically see about half of the throughput as compared to the start of that disk. Also, you are only allowed *one* additional (non-Fusion) partition on the HDD, which can be used for another OSX install *or* for the Boot Camp Windows install. Users who prefer to boot greater than two operating systems on their newer Mac will have to do so with Fusion Drive disabled.
More to follow as more data comes in. For now I'm only working off of the other speculation and the Apple Support Page on the matter.
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2012 - 10:07 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Thinkpad, Lenovo, hybrid, CES
Earlier in the weekend we heard about Lenovo's new ThinkPad X1 Hybrid notebook that combines standard Intel x86 hardware with a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor running an open-source Linux OS. While you will not be able to run both pieces of hardware at the same time the Media Mode allows you to put the Windows OS and hardware to sleep and run the light-weight OS with about double the battery life.
Lenovo was on hand at CES Unveiled to give us a walk through of how the feature really works. Take a look!
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Editorial | December 8, 2011 - 05:44 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: revodrive hybrid, podcast, nvidia, notebook, Intel, hybrid, asus, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #181 - 12/08/2011
Join us this week as we talk about our Hybrid Storage Roundup, the ASUS US36SD-XA1 notebook, News of the week and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano
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- 0:00:40 Introduction
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- 0:02:05 Hybrid Storage Roundup: Seagate Momentus XT vs. OCZ RevoDrive Hybrid vs. Intel Z68
- 0:15:20 ASUS U36SD-XA1 Notebook Review: The Battery That Never Dies
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- 0:25:12 ASRock Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 LGA 1155 Motherboard Review
- 0:27:15 Asus GeForce Direct CU II Series Reviews
- 0:28:16 Intel, Micron double single-chip flash capacity
- 0:33:46 Mobile madness minus benchmarks; new mobile GPUs from AMD & NVIDIA
- 0:40:39 Ivy Bridge should be here by the spring
- 0:46:05 Chrome passes Firefox and is now the 2nd most used browser
- 0:49:50 It's a bit early for 11.12, but how about Catalyst 11.11c?
- 0:51:15 Memorieeessssss lots of memoriesssss
- 0:55:06 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- Josh: Treat yourself for Christmas with a new vid card and game
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Subject: Storage | November 29, 2011 - 06:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hybrid, momentus XT, hdd, ssd, Seagate, sata 6Gbs
Over the past few years Seagate has been trying to perfect a way to get the best of both storage worlds by combining an SSD as a semi-permanent cache for a large platter based hard drive. The new Seagate Momentus XT is the third generation of this series, a 750GB HDD with a 8GB SLC SSD available to cache frequently used files and are calling it FAST (Flash-Assisted Storage Technology). Legit Reviews investigated their performance claims, after repeatedly using the drive to fill the cache as this drive will perform exactly like the platter based drive it is until that cache has moved frequently accessed or slow to load files into the flash memory. It did seem to reduce boot times and program loading to almost SSD levels, though it does not effect infrequently used programs. It was significantly less expensive than an SSD so if you tend to do similar tasks on your PC every day and need the large storage space this drive might just be for you.
"Overall, we'd certainly recommend the Momentus XT and frankly wouldn't go back to a plain old hard drive unless we were forced to. The expediency of boot and application load times are something that, once you get used to it, you can't seem to live without. Keep in mind that it may take two or three times for the Adaptive Memory Technology to decide that it should be cached and speed things up. On the down side, every operation is not SSD fast, especially if you're performing it for the first time..."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Seagate's Momentus XT 750GB hybrid hard drive @ The Tech Report
- Seagate Momentus XT ST750LX003 Hybrid 750GB Review @ OCC
- Seagate Momentus XT 750GB Hybrid Hard Drive Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Seagate Momentus XT Solid State Hybrid @ Benchmark Reviews
- Seagate Momentus 7200.5 750GB Hard Drive Review @ Legit Reviews
- Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB 5400RPM @ Tweaktown
- QNAP TS-879U-RP High Performance SMB NAS @ CoD
- Thecus N8900 8-Bay Rackmount NAS @ Tweaktown
- Synology DiskStation DS712+ NAS Review @ TechwareLabs
- QNAP TurboNAS TS-219P II NAS Server Review @ Real World Labs
- Corsair Performance Pro 256GB SSD Review @ HardwareHeaven
- OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 120GB Review @ HCW
- Silicon Power Diamon D05 USB 3.0 External Drive @ Bjorn3D
- Patriot Pyro SE 6Gbps 240GB SSD Review @ The SSD Review
- Kingston HyperX 3.0 128GB 8-Channel USB Flash Drive Review @ Real World Labs
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 08:37 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ssd, revodrive, ocz, hybrid, computex
OCZ is definitely pushing its SSD products to the consumer and it was no different when we stopped by the OCZ suite at Computex 2011. The most interesting devices came in the form of PCI Express based SSDs including the pending RevoDrive 3 model that upgrades the SSD controllers to SandForce 2200 models and gets some pretty hefty performance boosts because of it.
The RevoDrive 3 includes a pair of SF-2200 controllers and was rated at 900 MB/s read and 700 MB/s write using the PCIe x4 interface. The 240GB model is apparently only going to have a $599 price tag and it should be available in a matter of a short few weeks. The X2 model adds another module to the mix and doubles the controller count to four and improves performance to as high as 1500 MB/s read and 1200 MB/s write. Obviously these types of devices are only for those that REALLY need to push the envelope in storage performance.
Also, more good news: OCZ has implemented a newer firmware feature on the RevoDrive 3 (and other newer PCIe based models) that will enable support for features like TRIM natively. This is done by hiding the multiple controllers from the operating system and passing on / delegating the TRIM commands as needed. Allyn will have more on this when we get a sample later this month.
Another new PCIe-based SSD was the new Z-Drive R4 that fits more into the enterprise market with insanely high IOPS and performance.
OCZ actually showed a server running a pair of the R4 88 models that were able to achieve a 1 million IOPS rating on random 4K.
Another option for consumers was the new RevoDrive Hybrid that is exactly what it sounds like it is - a combination of a PCI Express SSD and a standard 2.5-in spindle based drive on a single unit. This will bring the performance benefits of not only an SSD but a PCIE SSD to consumers that want to have the appearance of a single large hard drive inside their system. It will use SandForce SF-2200 controllers and is rated at 575 MB/s read and 500 MB/s writes with several models planned for production. The SSD portion that acts as the cache will be available in either 60GB of 120GB capacities while the HDD will start at 500GB and go up from there. Pricing will apparently start at $400 for the 60GB/500GB version and will definitely be appealing for enthusiasts. Now everyone can get the advantages of hybrid storage without being locked into the Z68 chipset or even an Intel platform at all.
This implementation does not use any kind of Intel technology at all and instead is based on a firmware option from NVELO called Dataplex. Based on the marketing numbers we saw the implementation that OCZ has created with the PCIe-based SSD will outperform Intel's SATA-based SRT technology by a noticeable margin, at least in benchmarks. We can't wait to get our hands on one to see for ourselves.
Finally, OCZ is going to throw their hat into the ring with the mSATA offering called the Devena 2 that runs on a SandForce SF-2181/2141 controller. Expect to see this marketed as an option even for Intel SRT. It looks like the rest of 2011 will be very busy for Allyn and our storage test bed.
For the past few months, we've seen rumors upon rumors of a hybrid combination of the H67 and P67 chipsets into a 'Z' series. As the storage editor, I don't normally focus on a chipset update unless there is a corresponding increase in SATA bus speeds and/or ports available on the newer product.
This time things were different. While the Z series had the same SATA bandwidth specs as its older brothers, there was an extra feature that was rather huge in the storage world: Smart Response Technology.