Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Samsung launched their 850 line of SSDs in mid-2014 (over three years ago now). The line evolved significantly over time, with the additions of PRO and EVO models, capacity expansions reaching up to 4TB, and a later silent migration to 64-layer V-NAND. Samsung certainly got their money's worth out of the 850 name, but it is now time to move onto something newer:
Of note above is a significantly higher endurance rating as compared to the 850 Series products, along with an update to a new 'MJX' controller, which accounts for a slight performance bump across the board. Not mentioned here is the addition of queued TRIM, which is more of a carryover from the enterprise / Linux systems (Windows 10 does not queue its TRIM commands).
Aside from some updated specs and the new name, packaging remains very much the same.
Read on for our review of the Samsung 860 PRO and EVO SSDs (in multiple capacities!)
(Those of you interested in Samsung's press release for this launch will find it after the break)
Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2018 - 07:38 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: tlc, ssd, slc, sata, nand, MX500, DWA, crucial, CES 2018, CES, 3d nand
Crucial showed off the upcoming M.2 variant of its MX500 product, available in capacities up to 1TB. They also announced (press release after the break) that the MX500 will be available from 250GB up to 2TB capacities.
Here is Crucial's product tour video for the MX500:
We previously tested the 1TB MX500, and Crucial passed along a 500GB model that I was able to spot check to ensure there was no performance fall-off at the smaller capacities of this line:
Looks good so far, and nearly identical to the 1TB capacity across our entire test suite. We did also speak with Crucial reps (Jon and Jon) about the TRIM speed issues noted in our previous review. They are looking into replicating our testing and may be pushing out a firmware to help improve this metric moving forward.
We also saw some sweet looking new RGB Ballistix memory, due out shortly. More to follow there! Crucial's MX500 CES announcement appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | November 20, 2017 - 10:56 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Z-NAND, SZ985, slc, Samsung, P4800X, nand, Intel, flash
We haven't heard much about Samsung's 'XPoint Killer' Z-NAND since Flash Memory Summit 2017, but now we have a bit more to go on:
Yes, actual specs. In print. Not bad either, considering the Samsung SZ985 appears to offer a bus-saturating 3.2GB/s for reads and writes. The 30 DWPD figure matches Intel's P4800X, which is impressive given Samsung's part operates on flash derived from their V-NAND line (but operating in a different mode). The most important figures here are latency, so let's focus there for a bit:
While the SZ985 runs at ~1/3rd the latency of Samsung's own NAND SSDs, it has roughly double the latency of the P4800X. For the moment that is actually not as bad as it seems as it takes a fair amount of platform optimization to see the full performance benefits of optane, and operating slightly higher on the latency spectrum helps negate the negative impacts of incorrectly optimized platforms:
Source: Shrout Research
As you can see above, operating at slightly higher latencies, while netting lower overall performance, does lessen the sting of platform induced IRQ latency penalties.
Now to discuss costs. While we don't have any hard figures, we do have the above slide from FMS 2017, where Samsung stressed that they are trying to get the costs of Z-NAND down while keeping latencies as low as possible.
Image Source: ExtremeTech
Samsung backed up their performance claims with a Technology Brief (available here), which showed decent performance gains and cited use cases paralleling those we've seen used by Intel. The takeaway here is that Samsung *may* be able to compete with the Intel P4800X in a similar performance bracket - not matching the performance but perhaps beating it on cost. The big gotcha is that we have yet to see a single Samsung NVMe Enterprise SSD come through our labs for testing, or anywhere on the market for that matter, so take these sorts of announcements with a grain of salt until we see these products gain broader adoption/distribution.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | September 14, 2017 - 10:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: western digital, toshiba, nand, flash memory, bain capital
Toshiba remains in a financial crisis in the aftermath of massive losses in its Westinghouse US Nuclear power division and has been attempting to sell off its still very much profitable NAND flash manufacturing business to compensate and right the company to avoid being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Unfortunately for Toshiba it has now missed three target dates for selling off the business. Not for lack of suitors, but primarily because of legal issues resulting from anti-trust concerns as well as legal battles brought by Western Digital – who Toshiba is in a joint venture with for flash manufacturing in Japan – to attempt to prevent the sale.
Jumping to the present, Toshiba has decided to proceed with the negotiations with an investment group led by Bain Capital despite disappointment (and more legal objections) from Western Digital who tried to block similar negotiations back in June. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Toshiba had signed a “memorandum of understanding” and is engaging in private talks to negotiate the sale with an investment group led by Bain Capital and including SK Hynix (who is allegedly only providing financing at this point and not going after a stake in the business to try to avoid further delaying the sale from increased anti-trust red tape), Apple, Dell, Seagate, and two Japanese government controlled entities known as Innovation Network Corp and Development Bank of Japan (again, Bain Capital is offering them the chance to invest post any WD concessions and legal battles in the business to improve chances of the sale going through). As the preferred (by Toshiba) buyer, the Bain Capital-lead group deal is reportedly worth nearly 2.4 trillion Yen ($22 billion USD) including $1.8 billion earmarked for infrastructure. The company expects come to an agreement in late September and is hoping that it will be able to finalize the sale by March so that it can avoid reporting negative net worth and risking being de-listed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange and being cut off from a huge swath of public investors and capital.
Due to the negotiations being private, details are not readily available yet. It is not clear whether Toshiba will be able to pull it off or what the implications will be for the market if it does. (With Toshiba being the world’s second largest flash memory supplier, whoever ends up acquiring the company is going to have a lot of influence on the market and flash technology R&D.) It certainly seems Toshiba’s battle to right itself is going to continue into next year and Western Digital is not going to make it easy. The US-based WD stated:
“We are disappointed that Toshiba would take this action. Our goal has been — and remains — to reach a mutually beneficial outcome that satisfies the needs of Toshiba and its stakeholders.”
A California court has reportedly ordered Toshiba to give Western Digital two weeks’ notice of any deal with the consortium and its two previous arbitration requests through ICC are still pending resolution. Barrons reports that Toshiba may convince WDC to allow the sale if it gives its joint venture partner enough concessions such as an assured long term NAND supply contract and agreed participation in joint Fab projects that would protect SanDisk's contractual rights. Other interested parties for the sale include Foxconn and Western Digital itself. Perhaps SoftBank or the $100 Billion Vision Fund will come in and scoop it up as well.
[Opinions follow heh] I am interested to see how it all will eventually shake out. It remains less than ideal to see Toshiba must sell it off and have the market possibly lose a big flash memory player as the market share power gets more consolidated if it does get picked up by an existing memory manufacturer (see: hard drives, flash memory seems to be going through the same consolidation of companies from lots of little players into fewer bigger ones). I am not certain on the deal specifics as far as ownership and control of TMC and any cash only vs equity splits but with Japanese investors as part of all three bidding / competing consortiums it seems at least part of the business (if only money from it if not voting power) will remain rooted in Japan even if not under the Toshiba brand.
- Apple Is in Talks With Bain for Toshiba Chips Business (VIDEO) @ Bloomberg
- Toshiba to focus on chip talks with Bain, but doesn't rule out other suitors @ Reuters
- Toshiba Says It Favors Bain Group’s Bid for Microchip Business @ NYT
- Toshiba agrees sale with Bain Capital over protests @ ABC News
- Group Including Apple, Dell Moves to Buy Toshiba’s Chip Business @ WSJ (requires subscription)
- Toshiba Plans To Spin Off Storage Business, Sell 20% Of New Company @ PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2017 - 01:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nand, bad news
The trend we have seen over 2017 is predicted to continue, with the price of NAND steadily increasing thanks to the limited supply. Over the first two quarters we have seen prices rise between 3-10% and this trend is expected to continue. The two driving factors are the coming launch of a new generation of smartphones from most manufacturers, all of which are purchasing NAND in large volumes as well as Enterprise class SSDs which are starting to see more adoption. At the same time, all manufacturers are seeing an impressive increase in their profitability, even those which are having production issues. You can see the breakdown in the article posted by Trendforce.
"We expect supply to be under strain for the rest of 2017. Relief will come later in 2018, when the manufacturing of 64- and 72-layer 3D-NAND Flash reaches maturity."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Foxit PDF Reader is well and truly foxed up, but vendor won't patch @ The Register
- Nanoscatterers make solar panels green – and red and blue and white @ Nanotechweb
- EUV finally makes it @ Electronics Weekly
- Monoprice Mini Delta @ Hackaday
- Western Digital announces monster 20TB desktop hard drive @ The Inquirer
- Intel might have leaked a new Surface Book in 8th-gen promo video @ The Inquirer
- Ultimate Mesh WiFi Router Shootout @ Kitguru
- Gong Yoo Madness @ The ASUS “We Love Photo” Event! @ TechARP
- Verizon To Start Throttling All Smartphone Videos To 480p or 720p @ Slashdot
Subject: Storage | August 2, 2017 - 06:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, tlc, slc, QLC, nand, mlc, flash, 96GB, 768Gb, 3d
A month ago, WD and Toshiba each put out releases related to their BiCS 3D Flash memory. WD announced 96 layers (BiCS4) as their next capacity node, while Toshiba announced them reliably storing four bits per cell (QLC).
WD recently did their own press release related to QLC, partially mirroring Toshiba's announcement, but this one had some additional details on capacity per die, as well as stating their associated technology name used for these shifts. TLC was referred to as "X3", and "X4" is the name for their QLC tech as applied to BiCS. The WD release stated that X4 tech, applied to BiCS3, yields 768Gbit (96GB) per die vs. 512Gbit (64GB) per die for X3 (TLC). Bear in mind that while the release (and the math) states this is a 50% increase, moving from TLC to QLC with the same number of cells does only yields a 33% increase, meaning X4 BiCS3 dies need to have additional cells (and footprint) to add that extra 17%.
The release ends by hinting at X4 being applied to BiCS4 in the future, which is definitely exciting. Merging the two recently announced technologies would yield a theoretical 96-layer BiCS4 die, using X4 QLC technology, yielding 1152 Gbit (144GB) per die. A 16 die stack of which would come to 2,304 GB (1.5x the previously stated 1.5TB figure). The 2304 figure might appear incorrect but consider that we are multiplying two 'odd' capacities together (768 Gbit (1.5x512Gbit for TLC) and 96 layers (1.5x64 for X3).
Press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | July 24, 2017 - 05:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, ocz, NVMe, nand, M.2, XG5, BiCS, 64-Layer
We first saw Toshiba's XG5 M.2 SSD at Computex this year but as of yet we have not had a chance to review it. The Tech Report on the other hand did get their mitts on the 512GB model of this drive and they put it through its paces in this review right here. Their results show a drive that beats OCZs' RD400 across the board and is impinging on Samsung's 960 Pro and EVO, though they are not quite there yet. The next generation will improve on performance which should spur Samsung to new heights with their next NVMe product. At the start of the article is some history on the current state of Toshiba which is worth checking out if you are not familiar with what is going on there.
"Toshiba's XG5 NVMe SSD is shipping to the company's OEM partners now. We run it through our test suite to see if the company's newfangled 64-layer BiCS NAND helps it compete with the best in the business."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- HP SSD S700 @ Benchmark Reviews
- Apacer Z280 M.2 PCIe 240GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- The 8TB WD Gold Datacenter Drive @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2017 - 11:40 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: xeon, x299, video, thunderbolt 3, sapphire, RX470, rift, radeon, podcast, nand, Intel, HDK2, gigabyte, external gpu, asus, 10GbE
PC Perspective Podcast #458 - 07/13/17
Join us for Intel Xeon launch, external ThunderBolt3 GPUs, 10Gb Ethernet, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg
Subject: Storage | June 28, 2017 - 09:49 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: wdc, WD, toshiba, QLC, nand, BiCS, 96-layer, 3d
A couple of announcements out of Toshiba and Western Digital today. First up is Toshiba announcing QLC (4 bit per cell) flash on their existing BiCS 3 (64-layer) technology. QLC may not be the best for endurance as the voltage tolerances become extremely tight with 16 individual voltage states per cell, but Toshiba has been working on this tech for a while now.
In the above slide from the Toshiba keynote at last year's Flash Memory Summit, we see the use case here is for 'archival grade flash', which would still offer fast reads but is not meant to be written as frequently as MLC or TLC flash. Employing QLC in Toshiba's current BiCS 3 (64-layer) flash would enable 1.5TB of storage in a 16-die stack (within one flash memory chip package).
Next up is BiCS 4, which was announced by Western Digital. We knew BiCS 4 was coming but did not know how many layers it would be. We now know that figure, and it is 96. The initial offerings will be the common 256Gbit (32GB) capacity per die, but stacking 96 cells high means the die will come in considerably smaller, meaning more per wafer, ultimately translating to lower cost per GB in your next SSD.
While these announcements are welcome, their timing and coordinated launch from both companies seems odd. Perhaps it has something to do with this?
Subject: Storage | June 28, 2017 - 02:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Toshiba XG5, toshiba, ssd, NVMe, nand, M.2, BiCS, 64-Layer
We first heard about the Toshiba XG5 1TB NVMe SSD at Computex, with its 64 layer BiCS flash and stated read speeds of 3GB/s, writes just over 2 GB/s. Today Kitguru published a review of the new drive, including ATTO results which match and even exceed the advertised read and write speeds. Their real world test involved copying 30GB of movies off of a 512GB Samsung 950 Pro to the XG5, only Samsung's new 960 lineup and the OCZ RD400 were able to beat Toshiba's new SSD. Read more in their full review, right here.
"The Toshiba XG5 1TB NVMe SSD contains Toshiba's newest 3D 64-Layer BiCS memory and our report will examine Toshiba's newest memory, as well as their newest NVMe controller to go along with it."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba N300 8TB HDD @ Kitguru
- Kingston Gold Series UHS-1 Speed Class 3 64GB MicroSDXC @ Modders-Inc
- Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate GT 2TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 Flash Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Drobo 5D3 DAS Review (Thunderbolt 3) @ Kitguru
- LaCie 2TB Rugged Thunderbolt USB-C Professional All-Terrain Mobile Storage Review @ NikKTech