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Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD Review

Western Digital today is launching the latest version of its Black-series NVMe SSDs. Like its predecessor, the WD Black SN750 is targeted at gamers, introducing a new "Gaming Mode" that tunes the drive to favor performance over power efficiency.

The drive will be available in two variants — one including a heatsink and one without — in capacities up to 2TB. Western Digital worked with cooling experts EK to design the heatsink.

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We had a brief time to review the 1TB non-heatsink model and have some initial performance results to share.

Read on for our review of the WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD.

The biggest little storehouse in Texas ... terabytes on gumsticks

Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2018 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: SK Hynix, Terabyte, toshiba, QLC NAND

This year at the Flash Memory Summit big is in as Toshiba unveils an 85TB 2.5" SSH and suggested a 20TB M.2 drive is not far off.  SK Hynix will release a 64TB 2.5" SSD with a 1Tbit die size which analysts expect to offer somewhat improved reads and writes compared o their previous offerings.  The two companies will be using 96-layer QLC 3D NAND in these drives and The Register expects we will see them use an NVMe interface as opposed to SATA.  Check out the story for more detail on these drives as well as what Intel is working on.

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"The Flash Memory Summit saw two landmark capacity announcements centred on 96-layer QLC (4bits/cell) flash that seemingly herald a coming virtual abolition of workstation and server read-intensive flash capacity constraints."

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Source: The Register

The whole DRAM market is changing

Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2018 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: SK Hynix, Samsung, micron, DRAM

According to this story out of DigiTimes we may finally be hitting peak DRAM demand and that supplies and prices may start to decline.  This seems somewhat counter intuitive, the drop in sales of smartphones and cryptomining will reduce the demand somewhat but we should expect to see a surge in demand from auto manufacturers as our cars become more and more complex ... and possibly intelligent.  The counterpoint would be the maturation of current process tech and the numerous plants coming online over the next year or so.  Samsung, Micron, SK Hynix, Innotron and even Jin Hua will be facing a lot of changes over the coming months.  Let us hope part of the changes are a downwards trend in price.

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"Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix would be forced to overhaul their current profit-oriented business strategy as both firms believe that the booming memory market, which has continued for 2-3 years, is likely to be over by the end of 2018, according to a Korea-based Digital Times report."

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Source: DigiTimes

SK Hynix Sampling Enterprise SSDs With 72-Layer 512Gb 3D TLC Flash

Subject: Storage | February 7, 2018 - 10:03 PM |
Tagged: tlc, SK Hynix, enterprise ssd, 72-layer tlc, 3d-v4, 3d nand

SK Hynix has revealed its new enterprise solid state drives based on 72-layer 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND flash dies paired with the company's own in-house controller and firmware. The SK Hynix eSSDs are available in a traditional SAS/SATA interfacing product with capacities up to 4TB and a PCI-E variant that comes in 'above 1TB." Both drive types are reportedly being sampled to datacenter customers in the US.

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SK Hynix has managed to double the capacity and improve the read latency of its new 512 Gb 72-layer NAND flash over its previous 256 Gb 72-layer flash which debuted last year. The eSSD product reportedly hits sequential read and write speeds of 560 MB/s and 515 MB/s respectively. Interestingly, while random read IOPS hit 98,000, random write performance is significantly lower at 32,000 IOPS. SK Hynix did not go into details, but I suspect this has to do with the tuning they did to improve read latency and the nature of the 72-layer stacked TLC flash.

Moving up to the PCI-E interfacing eSSD, customers can expect greater than 1TB capacities (SK Hynix did not specify the maximum capacity they will offer) with sequential reads hitting up to 2,700 MB/s and sequential writes hitting 1,100 MB/s. The random performance is similar to the above eSSD with write performance being much lower than read performance at 230K read IOPS and 35K write IOPS maximum. The greatly limited write performance may be the result of the drive not having enough flash channels or the flash itself not being fast enough at writes which was a tradeoff SK Hynix had to make to hit the capacity targets with larger capacity 512 Gb (64 GB) dies.

Unfortunately, SK Hynix has not yet provided further details on its new eSSDs or the 3D-V4 TLC NAND it is using in the new drives. SK Hynix continuing to push into the enterprise storage market with its own SSDs is an interesting play that should encourage them push for advancements and production efficiencies to advance NAND flash technology.

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SK Hynix Launches Its 8Gb GDDR6 Memory Running at 14 Gbps

Subject: Graphics Cards, Memory | January 24, 2018 - 11:04 PM |
Tagged: SK Hynix, graphics memory, gddr6, 8gb, 14Gbps

SK Hynix recently updated its product catalog and announced the availability of its eight gigabit (8 Gb) GDDR6 graphics memory. The new chips come in two SKUs and three speed grades with the H56C8H24MJR-S2C parts operating at 14 Gbps and 12 Gbps and the H56C8H24MJR-S0C operating at 12 Gbps (but at higher voltage than the -S2C SKU) and 10 Gbps. Voltages range from 1.25V for 10 Gbps and either 1.25V or 1.35V for 12 Gbps to 1.35V for 14 Gbps. Each 8 Gb GDDR6 memory chip holds 1 GB of memory and can provide up to 56 GB/s of per-chip bandwidth.

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While SK Hynix has a long way to go before competing with Samsung’s 18 Gbps GDDR6, its new chips are significantly faster than even its latest GDDR5 chips with the company working on bringing 9 Gbps and 10 Gbps GDDR5 to market. As a point of comparison, its fastest 10 Gbps GDDR5 would have a per chip bandwidth of 40 GB/s versus its 14 Gbps GDDR6 at 56 GB/s. A theoretical 8GB graphics card with eight 8 Gb chips running at 10 Gbps on a 256-bit memory bus would have maximum bandwidth of 320 GB/s. Replacing the GDDR5 with 14 Gbps GDDR6 in the same eight chip 256-bit bus configuration, the graphics card would hit 448 GB/s of bandwidth. In the Samsung story I noted that the Titan XP runs 12 8 Gb GDDR5X memory chips at 11.4 Gbps on a 384-bit bus for bandwidth of 547 GB/s. Replacing the G5X with GDDR6 would ramp up the bandwidth to 672 GB/s if running the chips at 14 Gbps.

Theoretical Memory Bandwidth
Chip Pin Speed Per Chip Bandwidth 256-bit bus 384-bit bus 1024-bit (one package) 4096-bit (4 packages)
10 Gbps 40 GB/s 320 GB/s 480 GB/s    

12 Gbps

48 GB/s 384 GB/s 576 GB/s    
14 Gbps 56 GB/s 448 GB/s 672 GB/s    
16 Gbps 64 GB/s 512 GB/s 768 GB/s    
18 Gbps 72 GB/s 576 GB/s 864 GB/s    
HBM2 2 Gbps 256 GB/s     256 GB/s 1 TB/s

GDDR6 is still a far cry from High Bandwidth Memory levels of performance, but it is much cheaper and easier to produce. With SK Hynix ramping up production and Samsung besting the fastest 16 Gbps G5X, it is likely that the G5X stop-gap will be wholly replaced with GDDR6 and things like the upgraded 10 Gbps GDDR5 from SK Hynix will pick up the low end. As more competition enters the GDDR6 space, prices should continue to come down and adoption should ramp up for the new standard with the next generation GPUs, game consoles, network devices, ect. using GDDR6 for all but the highest tier prosumer and enterprise HPC markets.

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Still no good news on the DRAM front

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2017 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: DRAM, Samsung, SK Hynix, micron

The change process technology continues to have a negative effect on DRAM supplies and according to the story posted on Electronics Weekly there is no good news in sight.  The three major vendors, Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron are all slowing production as a result of new fabs being built and existing production lines upgraded for new process technology such as EUV.  This will ensure that prices continue to slowly creep up over the remainder of this year and likely into 2018.  Drop by for more information on the challenges each are facing.

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"While overall DRAM demand will remain high in 2018, new fabs being planned will not be ready for mass production until 2019 at the earliest."

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Happy Monday, that shiny new graphics card you've been eyeing just got even more expensive

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 28, 2017 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, SK Hynix

Just when you thought it was safe to start GPU shopping, with demand from miners dropping off somewhat, the NAND shortage is set to crank up prices again.  First time miners have realize they are not about to become overnight billionaires and the dedicated miners have already picked up their GPUs; unless they just picked up this board, so there was some hope GPU prices might descend closer to their original MRSP.  Unfortunately the suppliers of VRAM have shifted their production capacity more heavily in favour of server memory and RAM for smartphones which has lead to a dearth of VRAM.  DigiTimes reports you can expect the price of NVIDIA cards to jump from 3-10% at the end of the month.

AMD's new offerings will not be effected by this; few and far between are the servers or phones which use HBM2.  It would be interesting to discover that part of their original pricing took this into account; not that it matters overly as their original pricing statement has been tossed.

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"With Samsung and SK Hynix cutting their memory supply for the graphics card segment, August quotes for RAMs used in graphics cards have risen to US$8.50, up by 30.8% from US$6.50 in July. Both memory suppliers have allocated more of their production capacities to making memories for servers and handsets, reducing output for the graphics cards segment and fueling the price rally."

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Source: DigiTimes

Well that's not good, VGA RAM prices spike 30%

Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2017 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, SK Hynix, micron, EVGA G3 850W

DigiTimes is the bearer of bad news for fans of GPUs, as the supply challenges which have marked 2017 are now spreading to GDDR5(x).  This month the price has spiked up just over 30% and that trend is going to continue into September and perhaps beyond.  This will not have an immediate effect on the MSRPs of graphics cards, not that we would notice due to the price inflation from the current mining craze however it will reduce the margins that NVIDIA and AMD receive from sales.  They do not specifically mention AMD in the article, nor HBM2, however the same companies fabricate both so there are likely to be repercussions felt by both technologies.  On the positive side, flash storage prices are reported to have stabilized; so we have that going for us.

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"August quotes for RAMs used in VGA graphics cards have risen to US$8.50, up by 30.8% from US$6.50 in July. Both RAM industry leaders Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix have allocated part of their VGA RAM production capacities to producing memories for servers and handsets, fueling the price rally."

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Source: DigiTimes

Sadly not a NAND gate; even if some of these RAM rumours are false we are in for shortages

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2017 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: ram, micron, rumour, SK Hynix, toshiba

As is tradition, after we received hopeful news yesterday about Samsung's investing in the expansion of their flash production we now have bad news out of Micron.  DRAMeXchange reported a nitrogen leak in Micron's Taoyuan fab which prompted an evacuation and the possible stillbirth of ~60,000 wafer starts, or about 5.5% cut in the amount of RAM available by the end of the month.  Trendforce also reported the same incident and numbers

Micron has released a statement contradicting these stories, stating that while there was an incident, there was no real impact to the business or to employees.  One hopes that is the more accurate report as that particular Fab produces LPDDR4, which is already in high demand and short supply.  Indeed, another story mentions that SK Hynix and Toshiba's 3D NAND production was well below expectations and that the supply of NAND for iPhones may fall short by as much as 30%.

This would imply that any impact on Micron's RAM production, even if nowhere near the amount mentioned by the press, would have a large effect on the market in the coming quarters.  Samsung will certainly try to capture some of this demand, but the upgrades to their Fabs are still a while off and they are already operating at close to maximum capacity.   Fingers crossed we don't hear bad news from GLOFO tomorrow morning!

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"Micron Technology has issued a statement regarding recent reports about its fabrication facility in Taoyuan, Taiwan. Micron clarified that there was no nitrogen leaking incident nor evacuation of personnel. A minor event did occurred at the facility, but operations are recovering speedily without material impact to the business."

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Source: DigiTimes

SK Hynix has huge stacks of NAND

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2017 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: SK Hynix, 72 layer, tlc

SK Hynix have created an impressive die which has 72 layers of TLC 3D NAND.  The storage density of their chips are somewhat lower than the competition, this particular chip sports 256Gb of capacity.  This is due to the larger size of SK Hynix's cells, which has the benefit of allowing more layers than other manufacturers have been able to successfully create.  The Register was told that compared to the previous generation of 48 layer NAND you could expect to see up to a 20% increase in read and write speeds, another benefit to their new process.  To think, it was just a year ago that Al first introduced us to what 3D NAND would mean to the PC industry.

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"Korean flash fabber SK Hynix has built a 72-layer 3D NAND die with 256Gb capacity. That number of layers, in effect a higher-rise flash chip than anybody else has built, is impressive but the 256Gb capacity is not; Toshiba's 64-layer flash die has a 512Gb capacity. Like the SK Hynix chip, it is a TLC (3bits/cell) device. It started sample shipping in February."

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Source: The Register