Micron Launches SolidScale Platform Architecture, Consolidates NVMe in the Datacenter

Subject: Storage | May 24, 2017 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: SolidScale, NVMf, NVMe, micron, fabric, Cassandra

A few weeks back, I was briefed on Micron’s new SolidScale Architecture. This is essentially Micron’s off-the-shelf solution that ties together a few different technologies in an attempt to consolidate large pools of NVMe storage into a central location that can then be efficiently segmented and distributed among peers and clients across the network.

Traditionally it has been difficult to effectively utilize large numbers of SSDs in a single server. The combined IOPS capabilities of multiple high-performance PCIe SSDs can quickly saturate the available CPU cores of the server due to kernel/OS IO overhead incurred with each request. As a result, a flash-based network server would be bottlenecked by the server CPU during high IOPS workloads. There is a solution to this, and it’s simpler than you might think: Bypass the CPU!

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Read on for our deeper dive into Micron's SolidScale technology!

Source: Micron

Corsair Forces its way into the NVMe market with their MP500 M.2 SSD

Subject: Storage | May 18, 2017 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: corsair, corsair force mp500, mp500, M.2, NVMe, PS5007-E7, toshiba mlc

Corsair have entered the NVMe market with a new Force Series product, the MP500 drive which contains Toshiba's 15-nm MLC, run by the popular Phison PS5007-E7 controller.  There is a difference which The Tech Report noticed right away, that sticker is for more than just show, it hides a layer of heat-dissipating copper inside just like we have seen in Samsung products.  It may have been the sticker, or some sort of secret sauce which Corsair added but the MP500's performance pulled ahead of Patriot's Hellfire SSD overall.  Read the full review to see where the drive showed the most performance differential.

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"Corsair is throwing its hat into the NVMe SSD ring with the Force Series MP500 drive. We subjected this gumstick to our testing gauntlet to see how well the 240GB version fares against the rest of the formidable NVMe field."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction and Specifications

Introduction

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XPoint. Optane. QuantX. We've been hearing these terms thrown around for two years now. A form of 3D stackable non-volatile memory that promised 10x the density of DRAM and 1000x the speed and endurance of NAND. These were bold statements, and over the following months, we would see them misunderstood and misconstrued by many in the industry. These misconceptions were further amplified by some poor demo choices on the part of Intel (fortunately countered by some better choices made by Micron). Fortunately cooler heads prevailed as Jim Handy and other industry analysts helped explain that a 1000x improvement at the die level does not translate to the same improvement at the device level, especially when the first round of devices must comply with what will soon become a legacy method of connecting a persistent storage device to a PC.

Did I just suggest that PCIe 3.0 and the NVMe protocol - developed just for high-speed storage, is already legacy tech? Well, sorta.

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That 'Future NVM' bar at the bottom of that chart there was a 2-year old prototype iteration of what is now Optane. Note that while NVMe was able to shrink down the yellow bar a bit, as you introduce faster and faster storage, the rest of the equation (meaning software, including the OS kernel) starts to have a larger and larger impact on limiting the ultimate speed of the device.

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NAND Flash simplified schematic (via Wikipedia)

Before getting into the first retail product to push all of these links in the storage chain to the limit, let's explain how XPoint works and what makes it faster. Taking random writes as an example, NAND Flash (above) must program cells in pages and erase cells in blocks. As modern flash has increased in capacity, the sizes of those pages and blocks have scaled up roughly proportionally. At present day we are at pages >4KB and block sizes in the megabytes. When it comes to randomly writing to an already full section of flash, simply changing the contents of one byte on one page requires the clearing and rewriting of the entire block. The difference between what you wanted to write and what the flash had to rewrite to accomplish that operation is called the write amplification factor. It's something that must be dealt with when it comes to flash memory management, but for XPoint it is a completely different story:

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XPoint is bit addressible. The 'cross' structure means you can select very small groups of data via Wordlines, with the ultimate selection resolving down to a single bit.

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Since the programmed element effectively acts as a resistor, its output is read directly and quickly. Even better - none of that write amplification nonsense mentioned above applies here at all. There are no pages or blocks. If you want to write a byte, go ahead. Even better is that the bits can be changed regardless of their former state, meaning no erase or clear cycle must take place before writing - you just overwrite directly over what was previously stored. Is that 1000x faster / 1000x more write endurance than NAND thing starting to make more sense now?

Ok, with all of the background out of the way, let's get into the meat of the story. I present the P4800X:

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Read on for our full review of the P4800X!

ADATA Announces XPG SX7000 Line of NVMe PCIe SSDs

Subject: Storage | April 10, 2017 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: adata, pcie, M.2, NVMe

ADATA has added another line of M.2 PCIe SSDs to their catalog with the XPG SX7000. These drives support NVMe and claim up to 1800 MB/s sequential read performance and 850 MB/s sequential write performance, with both tests measured on CrystalDiskMark at a queue depth of 32. Interestingly enough, their ATTO sequential write results, 860 MB/s, exceed their claimed maximum. Again, each of these numbers are provided by ADATA, so it’s still up to third-parties (like us) to verify. That said, ADATA provided a lot of information in their performance chart, which is nice to see.

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The spec sheet (pdf) provides performance results for three SKUs: 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. A fourth model (if you guessed 1TB, then you would be right) is also acknowledged, but not elaborated upon. These are all based on 3D TLC flash, with some undefined amount of SLC cache.

Pricing and availability are TBD, but it will come with a 5 year warranty.

Source: ADATA

A new NVMe drive with familiar components, Patriot's Hellfire 480GB

Subject: Storage | January 24, 2017 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: patriot, hellfire 480gb, NVMe, M.2, PCIe SSD, M.2 2280

Patriot brings you what should be Arthur Miller's favourite SSD, the Hellfire 480GB M.2 PCIe NVMe drive.  The Tech Report recently published a review of this drive, comparing it to the dozens of SSDs they have recently tested, which is still a mere drop in the bucket that is the SSD market.  The drive uses Phison's PS5007-E7 controller and 15nm MLC NAND from Toshiba, components familiar to anyone who spends a lot of time looking inside of SSDs and which can give a good estimate of the speeds to expect.  With a sale price of about $230 it does not have to be the fastest NVMe drive in the world to be a great deal; read the full review to see if this might be the M.2 drive for you.

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"Patriot joins the high-end storage fray with its first NVMe SSD, the Hellfire series. We run the 480GB version of this drive through our testing gauntlet to see whether it can keep up with the rest of the NVMe crowd."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

CES 2017: Western Digital Launches WD Black NVMe PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | January 5, 2017 - 05:32 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ssd, pcie, NVMe, CES 2017, CES, Black

Following up on their Blue and Green SSDs launched back in October, Western Digital has now launched a Black series SSD:

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Unlike the Green and Blue which are SATA products available in 2.5" and M.2 (SATA) form factors, the Black is a pure M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 product. These were rumored to have a Marvell controller, but the samples I saw floating around CES appeared to have SanDisk branding. Flash will very likely be SanDisk 15nm TLC (with SLC cache). Specs are as follows:

  • 256GB / 512GB
  • $109 / $199 ($0.42 / $0.39 / GB)
  • Random read: 170k
  • Random write: 130k/134k
  • Sequential read: 2.05 GB/s
  • Sequential write: 700 / 800 MB/s
  • Endurance 80 / 160 TBW
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • Power: 5.5 mW idle / 8.25 W peak

Pricing looks very competitive for an NVMe SSD, but we will have to see how the performance shakes out when compared against other budget SSDs. The WD Blue 1TB performed very well in our new test suite, so here's hoping the Black is equally surprising.

WD's press blast appears 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!

WD and HGST Refresh Enterprise SSDs to Include 8TB, Push HDDs to 12TB and Beyond

Subject: Storage | December 6, 2016 - 08:58 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ultrastar, ssd, SS200, SN200, SAS, NVMe, hgst, helium, He8, He6, He12, He10, He, hdd, 12TB, 10TB

Since their acquisition of SanDisk and recent wrapping up of a long-time integration with HGST's Helium tech, Western Digital took the lid off of a round of product updates this morning.

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First up is a second generation of HGST-branded SSD products - the Ultrastar SN200. These enterprise SSDs boast impressive specs, pushing random reads beyond 1 million IOPS, coming in 8TB capacity, and if you opt for the HHHL PCIe 3.0 x8 SN260, 6.2GB/s maximum throughput.

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Moving into SAS SSDs, the SS200 uses a 12Gbit link to achieve 1.8 GB/s and 250,000 random read IOPS. Write specs dip to 37,000 random as this is a 1 DWPD endurance class product. These are also available in up to 8TB capacities.

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Last but certainly not least are preliminary specs for the He12, which boast particularly impressive low QD random write performance and a notable bump in Watts/TB despite the addition of an eighth platter to achieve the 12TB capacity. Note that this is not an archive class product and is meant for continuous random access.

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There is also a 14TB model in the lineup, but that is an archive class model that is essentially the He12 with Shingled Magnetic Recording enabled.

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Not bad HDD progress considering we were just discussing 10TB SMR this time last year. We'll be confirming the performance of these as samples arrive for testing.

Press blast appears after the break.

Source: HGST
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Since Samsung’s announcement of the 960 Series SSDs, I have been patiently waiting not for the 960 PRO (reviewed a few weeks back), but for the 960 EVO. It is the EVO, in my opinion, that is the big release here. Sure, it doesn’t have the quad Hexadecimal Die Packages, Package-on-Package DRAM and ultimate higher capacity of the PRO, but what it *does* potentially have is class leading performance / price in the M.2 form factor. Just as we all wanted lower cost SSDs in the 2.5” SATA form factor, M.2 is seeing greater adoption across laptops and desktop motherboards, and it’s high time we started seeing M.2 SSDs come down in price.

I know, don’t tell me, the Intel 600p carries a SATA-level cost/GB in an M.2 form factor. Sure that’s great, and while I do recommend that SSD for those on a budget, its caching scheme comes with some particularly nasty inconsistencies in sustained writes that may scare off some power users. Samsung 840/850 EVO SSDs have historically handled the transitions between SLC cache and TLC bulk writes far better than any competing units, and I’ve eagerly anticipated the chance to see how well their implementation carries over to an NVMe SSD. Fortunately for us, that day is today:

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Specifications:

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An important point to note in the performance specs - the lowest capacity model is the only one to see its performance significantly taper in stated specifications. That is because even with its 48-layer VNAND operating in SLC mode, there are only two packages on all 960 EVOs and the 250GB capacity comes equipped with the fewest dies to spread the work across. Less parallelism leads to lower ultimate performance. Still, it is impressive to see only 250GB of flash reaching near saturation of PCIe 3.0 x4 in reads.

I've appended the 'sustained' (TLC) performance specs at the bottom of the above chart. These 'after TurboWrite' figures are the expected performance after the SLC cache has been depleted. This is nearly impossible in actual usage scenarios, as it is extremely difficult for any typical (or even power user) desktop workloads to write fast and long enough to deplete such a cache, especially considering how much larger these caches are compared to prior models.

Packaging:

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Samsung has carried forward their simple packaging introduced with the 960 PRO. The felt pad on the bottom of the installation guide is both functional and elegant, keeping the 960 Pro safely in place during shipment.

Read on for the full review of the 250GB and 1TB Samsung 960 EVO!

More test results of the new Samsung 960 Pro, if your brain still has the free space to store it

Subject: Storage | October 18, 2016 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: vnand, ssd, Samsung, NVMe, 960 PRO, 48-layer, 2TB

Al has already exhaustively covered the new Samsung 960 Pro in his latest article, which also happens to be the premiere of PC Perspective's new storage testing suite.  An in depth discussion of the new testing methodology can be found on the third page and you can expect to hear about it on our podcast tomorrow and perhaps in a standalone article in the near future.  Several comments have inquired as to the effect this drive would have on a system used for gaming or multimedia and how it would compare to drives like the Intel 750 and DC P3700 or OZC's RD 400.  The best place to find those comparisons is over at The Tech Report, their RoboBench transfer test features a long list of drives you can look at.  Check it out once you have finished off our article.

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"Samsung's 960 Pro follows up on last year's 950 Pro with denser V-NAND, a brand-new controller, and space-age label technology. We put this drive to the test to see whether its performance is truly out-of-this-world."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Just under a year ago we published our review of the Samsung 950 PRO, their first foray into NVMe SSD territory. Today we have a 960 PRO, which strives to be more revolutionary than evolutionary. There are some neat new features like 16-die packages and a Package-on-Package controller/DRAM design, all cooled by a copper heat spreading label! This new model promises to achieve some very impressive results, so without further delay, let's get to it!

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Specifications:

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Specs have not changed since the announcement. Highlights include

  • A new 5-core Polaris controller (with one die solely dedicated to coordinating IO's to/from the host)
  • 4-Landing Design - It's tough fitting four flash packages onto an M.2 2280 SSD, but Samsung has done it, thanks to the below feature.
  • Package-on-Package - The controller and DRAM are stacked within the same package, saving space.
  • Hexadecimal Die Packages - For the 960 Pro to reach 2TB of capacity, 16 48-layer MLC V-NAND packages must be present within each package. That's a lot of dies per package!

Packaging:

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Nice touch with the felt pad on the bottom of the installation guide. This pad keeps the 960 Pro safely in place during shipment.

Read on for the full review of the 2TB Samsung 960 PRO!