Friday storage roundup

Subject: Storage | April 20, 2018 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: round up, ssd, hdd, external drive, NAS

The SSD market is somewhat daunting to a newcomer, not just the various interfaces and technology but also the huge selection of models from the various suppliers.  HDDs and NAS devices are a little less so, but there is still a large variety to choose from. TechSpot offer their advice, with a round up of what they consider the best of the best in six categories of storage devices.  Quickly take a look to see if you agree, as it is all likely to change again very soon.

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"With solid state drives now fully mainstream and hard drives being more affordable than ever, there is a broad a mix of high-performance and high-capacity options to choose from in a range of form factors. Fortunately for you, we have spent dozens of hours testing storage devices, so we have a pretty clear idea about what devices are worth buying."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: TechSpot
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

While Western Digital has a huge history with spinning disks, their experience with SSDs has been touch and go. They expanded further into the HDD arena with their very long merging process with HGST, but they have only really dabbled in the solid-state arena. Their earliest attempt was with the Black2 back in 2013, which was a novel concept that never really caught mainstream fame. WD acquired SanDisk a few years back, but they were better known for SD cards and OEM SATA SSDs. More recently we began seeing WD test the waters with PCIe / NVMe parts, with a WD Black and Blue launching at CES 2017. Those were 'ok', but were more of a budget SSD than a powerhouse class-leading product worthy of the Black moniker. Today we see WD take another stab at a WD Black NVMe SSD:

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Enter the WD Black NVMe and SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D 1TB SSDs. Yes, I know the names are a mouthful, but I would be more worried about the potential for confusion when looking for a WD Black SSD on the market (as there are now two *very* similarly named products). Technically the new part is the 'Western Digital WD Black NVMe SSD'. Yes I know don't tell me - they said Western Digital twice.

We will also be reviewing the SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D SSD today. I'm including those results as well, but just as they did with their previous SATA SSD release, these are identical parts with different packaging and labeling. The specs are the same. Heck, the firmware is the same minus the bits that report the device name to the host. For the sake of simplicity, and the fact that the WD part is meant for retail/gamers (SanDisk for creative pros and OEMs), I'll stick with referring mostly to the WD side throughout this review.

Specifications:

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Strong specs here. Fast sequentials, but random IOPS is rated at QD32 across 8 threads (QD=256), which is, well, just silly. I know WD is doing this because 'everyone is doing it', and they have to compete, but I have a feeling we will also be seeing very good low QD performance today.

Packaging:

It doesn't get much more no frills than this.

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Read on for our full review of the Western Digital WD Black NVMe and SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe 3D 1TB SSDs!

ADATA Launches XPG GAMMIX S11 NVMe SSDs

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2018 - 05:04 PM |
Tagged: adata, xpg, NVMe, pci-e, ssd, 3d nand

ADATA recently unveiled a new M.2 solid state drive under its XPG (Xtreme Performance Group) brand that pairs a Silicon Motion SM2262 controller and DDR3 cache with second generation 64-layer 3D NAND flash from Micron (IMFT) to create the XPG GAMMIX S11 SSD that will be available in 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB capacities. Aimed at gamers and enthusiasts, the XPG branded SSD is cooled by a black and red heatsink that ADATA claims keeps the drive up to 10°C cooler than drives without heatshields.

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The XPG Gammix S11 uses the M.2 2280 form factor and PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface with the NVMe 1.3 protocol. The drive features a dual package DDR3 DRAM cache on a 32-bit bus as well as a second level intelligent SLC cache. RAID Engine and Data Shaping features along with low density parity check error correction (LDPC) help secure the integrity of data in transit and stored on the 3-bits per cell flash. ADATA rates the Gammix S11 SSD at up to 3200 MB/s sequential reads, 1700 MB/s sequential writes and random 4k read and write IOPS of 310K and 280K respectively. Note that the lower capacity models are a bit slower due to fewer flash dies.

ADATA rates the solid state drive at 2 million hours MTBF and offers up a 5 year warranty. As far as pricing (MSRP), the 240 GB drive is $139.99, the 480 GB is $259.99, and the 960 GB drive is $309.99. Reportedly a 2TB (1.92 TB) PCI-E SSD is also in the works but it's not quite ready yet. If you are turned off by the gamer-focused heatsink, it appears the SX8200 is the same drive with an optional black heatsink.

Source: ADATA / XPG

Microsoft looks to lower SSD peak pricing with Denali

Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2018 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: Intel, NVMe, ssd, denali

Less expensive NVMe SSDs are something we would all love to see and businesses are no different.  Facebook, Amazon, Google and other companies who store a lot of data which needs to be quickly accessed spend a lot on flash and they are intensely interested in anything that can be done to reduce the costs.  Microsoft have come up with a proposed change in SSD design which they call Denali.  It will reduce the cost of SSDs by moving many of functions SSD controllers currently handle up the stack, which would allow the use of less expensive controllers on the SSD which will reduce the cost of manufacturing.  They have many partners including controller designers such as Micron onboard, so we should see something come out of this project.  Pick up a truckload of more intel over at The Register.

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"Denali is a reference architecture for NVMe SSDs which removes software functionality found in many SSDs today and sends them up the stack. The functions include address mapping, garbage collection and wear-levelling."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

Will you still need me when I'm 64 layers? Crucial's MX 500 SSDs

Subject: Storage | March 28, 2018 - 06:13 PM |
Tagged: crucial, MX500, ssd, sata, 1TB, 500gb

Crucial's MX500 series of SSDs have been out for a little while now, Al reviewed them back in December and since then the price has only become more attractive.  The 500GB model now sells for $130US/$168CDN, which makes it fairly attractive and the 1TB model has an even better price per gigabyte.  The Tech Report tested these two drives out and the 1TB model was able to match the performance of much more expensive drives thought the rated endurance less.  Check out the full review for a reminder on how these drives perform.

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"It's been a while since Crucial's MX300 SSD arrived with 3D NAND. The latest drive in the series has been refined with the latest-generation 64-layer 3D TLC. Join us to see how the MX500 fares against the competition."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

PNY Adds CS900 960GB SATA SSD To Budget SSD Series

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 18, 2018 - 12:20 AM |
Tagged: ssd, sata 3, pny, 3d nand

PNY has added a new solid-state drive to its CS900 lineup doubling the capacity to 960GB. The SATA-based SSD is a 2.5" 7mm affair suitable for use in laptops and SFF systems as well as a budget option for desktops.

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The CS900 960GB SSD uses 3D TLC NAND flash and offers ECC, end-to-end data protection, secure erase, and power saving features to protect data and battery life in mobile devices. Unfortunately, information on the controller and NAND flash manufacturer is not readily available though I suspect it uses a Phison controller like PNY's other drives.

The 960GB capacity model is rated for sequential reads of 535 MB/s and sequential writes of 515 MB/s. PNY rates the drive at 2 million hours MTBF and they cover it with a 3-year warranty.

We may have to wait for reviews (we know how Allyn loves to tear apart drives!) for more information on this drive especially where random read/write and latency percentile performance are concerned. The good news is that if the performance is there the budget price seems right with an MSRP of $249.99 and an Amazon sale price of $229.99 (just under 24 cents/GB) at time of writing. Not bad for nearly a terabyte of solid state storage (though if you don't need that much space you can alternatively find PCI-E based M.2 SSDs in this price range).

Source: PNY
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: MyDigitalSSD

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

When one thinks of an M.2 SSD, we typically associate that with either a SATA 6GB/s or more recently with a PCIe 3.0 x4 link. The physical interface of M.2 was meant to accommodate future methods of connectivity, but it's easy to overlook the ability to revert back to something like a PCIe 3.0 x2 link. Why take a seemingly backward step on the interface of an SSD? Several reasons actually. Halving the number of lanes makes for a simpler SSD controller design, which lowers cost. Power savings are also a factor, as driving a given twisted pair lane at PCIe 3.0 speeds draws measurable current from the host and therefore adds to the heat production of the SSD controller. We recently saw that a PCIe 3.0 x2 can still turn in respectable performance despite lower bandwidth interface, but how far can we get the price down when pairing that host link with some NAND flash?

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Enter the MyDigitalSSD SBX series. Short for Super Boot eXpress, the aim of these parts is to offer a reasonably performant PCIe NVMe SSD at something closer to SATA SSD pricing.

Specifications:

  • Physical: M.2 2280 (single sided)
  • Controller: Phison E8 (PS5008-E8)
  • Capacities: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
  • PCIe 3.0 x2, M.2 2280
  • Sequential: Up to 1.6/1.3 GB/s (R/W)
  • Random: 240K+ / 180K+ IOPS (R/W)
  • Weight: 8g
  • Power: <5W

Packaging:

The MyDigitalDiscount guys keep things extremely simple with their SSD packaging, which is eaxctly how it should be. It doesn't take much to package and protect an M.2 SSD, and this does the job just fine. They also include a screwdriver and a screw just in case you run into a laptop that came without one installed.

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Read on for our full review of all capacities of the MyDigitalSSD SBX lineup!

Mid-octane Optane, Intel's 800P series

Subject: Storage | March 9, 2018 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: ssd, PCIe 3.0 x2, Optane, NVMe, Intel, Brighton Beach, 800p, 58GB, 3D XPoint, 118GB

The price of the 480GB 900P is somewhat prohibitive but the small size of the 32GB gumstick also causes one pause; hence the 800P family with a 58GB and a 118GB model.  They bear price tags of $130 and $200, as you may remember from Al's review.  The Tech Report also had a chance to test these two Optane sticks out, with some tests not covered in our review, such as their own real world copying benchmark.  If you are looking for a second opinion, drop by and take a look.

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"Intel's duo of Optane SSD 800P drives promises the same blend of impressively-low latency and performance consistency as its larger Optane devices at a price more builders can afford. We ran these drives through our storage-testing gauntlet to see whether they can make a name for themselves as primary storage."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Intel has wanted a 3D XPoint to go 'mainstream' for some time now. Their last big mainstream part, the X25-M, launched 10 years ago. It was available in relatively small capacities of 80GB and 160GB, but it brought about incredible performance at a time where most other early SSDs were mediocre at best. The X25-M brought NAND flash memory to the masses, and now 10 years later we have another vehicle which hopes to bring 3D XPoint to the masses - the Intel Optane SSD 800P:

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Originally dubbed 'Brighton Beach', the 800P comes in at capacities smaller than its decade-old counterpart - only 58GB and 118GB. The 'odd' capacities are due to Intel playing it extra safe with additional ECC and some space to hold metadata related to wear leveling. Even though 3D XPoint media has great endurance that runs circles around NAND flash, it can still wear out, and therefore the media must still be managed similarly to NAND. 3D XPoint can be written in place, meaning far less juggling of data while writing, allowing for far greater performance consistency across the board. Consistency and low latency are the strongest traits of Optane, to the point where Intel was bold enough to launch an NVMe part with half of the typical PCIe 3.0 x4 link available in most modern SSDs. For Intel, the 800P is more about being nimble than having straight line speed. Those after higher throughputs will have to opt for the SSD 900P, a device that draws more power and requires a desktop form factor.

Specifications:

  • Capacities: 58GB, 118GB
  • PCIe 3.0 x2, M.2 2280
  • Sequential: Up to 1200/600 MB/s (R/W)
  • Random: 250K+ / 140K+ IOPS (R/W) (QD4)
  • Latency (average sequential): 6.75us / 18us (R/W) (TYP)
  • Power: 3.75W Active, 8mW L1.2 Sleep

Specs are essentially what we would expect from an Optane Memory type device. Capacities of 58GB and 118GB are welcome additions over the prior 16GB and 32GB Optane Memory parts, but the 120GB capacity point is still extremely cramped for those who would typically desire such a high performing / low latency device. We had 120GB SSDs back in 2009, after all, and nowadays we have 20GB Windows installs and 50GB game downloads.

Before moving on, I need to call out Intel on their latency specification here. To put it bluntly, sequential transfer latency is a crap spec. Nobody cares about the latency of a sequential transfer, especially for a product which touts its responsiveness - something based on the *random* access latency, and the 6.75us figure above would translate to 150,000 QD1 IOPS (the 800P is fast, but it's not *that* fast). Most storage devices/media will internally 'read ahead' so that sequential latencies at the interface are as low as possible, increasing sequential throughput. Sequential latency is simply the inverse of throughput, meaning any SSD with a higher sequential throughput than the 800P should beat it on this particular spec. To drive the point home further, consider that a HDD's average sequential latency can beat the random read latency of a top-tier NVMe SSD like the 960 PRO. It's just a bad way to spec a storage device, and it won't do Intel any favors here if competing products start sharing this same method of rating latency in the future.

Packaging:

Our samples came in white/brown box packaging, but I did snag a couple of photos of what should be the retail box this past CES:

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Read on for our full review of the Intel Optane SSD 800P 58GB and 118GB!

MWC 2018: Western Digital Launches SN720 and SN520 M.2 NVMe SSDs

Subject: Storage | February 27, 2018 - 11:03 AM |
Tagged: wdc, WD, ssd, SN720, SN520, sandisk, NCMe, nand, M.2, BiCS, 2280, 2242, 2230

Western Digital launched a few new NVMe SSDs at Mobile World Congress today:

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To the left we have the WD PC SN720, a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD boasting speeds of up to 3.4GB/s and IOPS up to 500k. Available capacities are 1TB, 512GB, and 256GB. To the right we have the WD PC SN520, a more power efficient variant running on half of the PCIe lanes, and with specs coming in at roughly half of its faster brother. Capacities are also cut in half, with the range dropping to 512GB, 256GB, and 128GB. Interestingly, all capacities are available in three M.2 form factors (2280, 2242, and 2230).

We don't have a specific part number for the controller, but WD told us they are manufactured on a 28nm process, employ 8 NAND channels, and use DDR4 RAM (not DRAMless). The controller is optimized for interfacing with WD (/Toshiba) BiCS NAND flash, meaning these SSDs should prove to be a well integrated solution.

Press blast from WD appears after the break.