Intel Quietly Launches Official Optane Memory Site

Subject: Storage | February 16, 2017 - 01:58 AM |
Tagged: XPoint, ssd, Optane, memory, Intel, cache

We've been hearing a lot about Intel's upcoming Optane memory over the past two years, but the information had all been in the form of press announcements and leaked roadmap slides.

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We now have an actual Optane landing page on the Intel site that discusses the first iteration of 'Intel Optane Memory', which appears to be the 8000p Series that we covered last October and saw as an option on some upcoming Lenovo laptops. The site does not cover the upcoming enterprise parts like the 375GB P4800X, but instead, focuses on the far smaller 16GB and 32GB 'System Accelerator' M.2 modules.

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Despite using only two lanes of PCIe 3.0, these modules turn in some impressive performance, but the capacities when using only one or two (16GB each) XPoint dies preclude an OS install. Instead, these will be used, presumably in combination with a newer form of Intel's Rapid Storage Technology driver, as a caching layer meant as an HDD accelerator:

While the random write performance and endurance of these parts blow any NAND-based SSD out of the water, the 2-lane bottleneck holds them back compared to high-end NVMe NAND SSDs, so we will likely see this first consumer iteration of Intel Optane Memory in OEM systems equipped with hard disks as their primary storage. A very quick 32GB caching layer should help speed things up considerably for the majority of typical buyers of these types of mobile and desktop systems, while still keeping the total cost below that for a decent capacity NAND SSD as primary storage. Hey, if you can't get every vendor to switch to pure SSD, at least you can speed up that spinning rust a bit, right?

Source: Intel
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Micron

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Micron paper launched their 5100 Series Enterprise SATA SSD lineup early last month. The new line promised many sought after features for such a part, namely high performance, high-performance consistency, high capacities, and relatively low cost/GB (thanks to IMFT 3D NAND which is now well into volume production since launching nearly two years ago). The highs and lows I just rattled off are not only good for enterprise, they are good for general consumers as well. Enterprises deal in large SSD orders, which translates to increased production and ultimately a reduction in the production cost of the raw NAND that also goes into client SSDs and other storage devices.

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The 5100 Series comes in three tiers and multiple capacities per tier (with even more launching over the next few months). Micron sampled us a 2TB 'ECO' model and a 1TB 'MAX'. The former is optimized more for read intensive workloads, while the latter is designed to take a continuous random write beating.

I'll be trying out some new QoS tests in this review, with plans to expand out with comparisons in future pieces. This review will stand as a detailed performance verification of these two parts - something we are uniquely equipped to accomplish.

Read on for our full review of the Micron 5100 MAX 960GB and 5100 ECO 1920GB Enterprise SATA SSDs!

CES 2017: Western Digital Launches WD Black NVMe PCIe SSD

Subject: Storage | January 5, 2017 - 10:32 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!

CES 2017: Kingston Launches 2TB DataTraveler Ultimate GT USB 3.1 Portable SSD

Subject: Storage | January 3, 2017 - 07:46 PM |
Tagged: usb, Ultimate, Terabyte, ssd, kingston, GT, flash, drive, DataTraveler, CES 2017, CES, 2TB, 1TB

Kicking off the storage announcements at CES 2017, Kingston announced a 2TB thumb drive:

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Ok, well it's a bit big for a thumb drive, but it is definitely a high capacity portable SSD with a narrower profile (width wise) than a Samsung T3, and is meant to be plugged directly into a USB port. Thickness may be an issue for some applications, but I assume they would include a short extension for those trying to plug into tighter spaces like at the rear of a PC case. The release was light on details, particularly performance, though I'd expect these to be able to do a few hundred MB/s on sequentials at a minimum. More should come out about this and other Kingston products later in the week.

*edit* Here's a couple of pics I snagged at one of the events here:

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Full press blast 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!

Source: Kingston
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

Earlier this year we covered the lower two capacities of the Samsung 750 EVO. We had some requests for a review of the 500GB model as soon as it was added to their lineup, and Samsung promptly sent a sample, but I delayed that review in the interest of getting the full 750 EVO lineup tested under our new storage test suite. I've been running batches of SSDs through this new suite, and we now have enough data points to begin cranking out some reviews. The 750 EVO was at the head of the line, so we will be starting with it first. I'm 'reissuing' our review as a full capacity roundup of the 750 EVO lineup as these are fresh results on a completely new test suite.

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Specifications

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These are the 'Rev. 2' specifications from Samsung, which include the 500GB model of the 750 EVO. The changes are not significant, mainly a slight bump to random performance of the top capacity model along with a changeover to lower power DDR3 (of twice the capacity) for the 500GB model's system cache.

Packaging

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Nothing new here. This is the standard Samsung packaging for their SATA products.

Continue reading our full review of the Samsung 750 EVO series of SSDs!!

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

Subject: Storage | December 6, 2016 - 01:58 PM |
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

Micron Launches 5100 Series Enterprise SSDs - 3D TLC up to 8TB!

Subject: Storage | December 5, 2016 - 07:48 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, sata, micron

Today Micron initiated the first of a multi-tier launch of a new SATA Enterprise SSD lineup built around their IMFT 32-layer 3D NAND Flash. It may seem odd for a full enterprise line to use IMFT 3D TLC, as that flash has not been known for the high random IOPS demands of the datacenter, but Micron looks to be making it work, and work well.

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Above is a performance consistency plot of their MAX model. While this does have the highest OP of all of the models, the consistency is surpassing even NVMe models (using a bus *much* faster than SATA). Sure the results are only using 1-second averages and not our Latency Percentile, but we will be able to pick out any single-IO inconsistencies once we get samples in for detailed review.

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Saturated IOPS performance also looks good 'on paper'.

The advantage to operating their flash in TLC mode is that the per die capacity moves from 32GB to 48GB, ultimately driving down the cost/GB of these products and making them an easier sell to enterprise customers. It also enables high capacities - the max capacity of the model with the least overprovisioning (ECO) will reach 8TB in a 2.5" SATA form factor when the last leg of this launch is completed later next year.

The three lines are all using the same controller and base firmware, but with differences in how the dies are laid out with respect to expected performance and endurance.

Below are all of the products being launched. All products use a Marvell 88SS1074 controller at SATA 6Gbit:

  • 5100 ECO
    • 2.5" 7mm: 480, 960, 1920, 3840, 7680 GB
    • M.2 2280: 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 380-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 93k / 9k-31k IOPS
    • Endurance: <=1 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.45 - $0.55
  • 5100 PRO
    • 2.5" 7mm: 240, 480, 960, 1920, 3840 GB
    • M.2 2280: 240, 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 380-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 78 (240GB)-93k / 26k-43k IOPS
    • Endurance: 1-3 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.55 - $0.65
  • 5100 MAX
    • 2.5" 7mm: 240, 480, 960, 1920 GB
    • M.2 2280: (none)
    • Sequential read/write: 540 / 310-520 MB/s
    • Random read/write: 93k / 48k-74k IOPS
    • Endurance: 5 DWPD
    • Cost / GB: $0.65 - $0.75

All models come with Micron 'Flex Capacity', which enables custom *increases* in OverProvisioning. Flex Security enables FIPS 140-2 validated 256-bit AES encryption.

The specs are very good when you consider their performance consistency claims, meaning a 74k IOPS random write rating applies to random writes across the *entire span* of the SSD *at steady state*. Consumer SSD firmware typically chokes with this type of workload, even ones equipped with MLC flash.

We will have more on the 5100 Series from Micron as these products are rolled out and sampled to us for performance review.

Press blast after the break.

Source: Micron
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 - 07:30 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!