Build and Upgrade Components
Spring is in the air! And while many traditionally use this season for cleaning out their homes, what could be the point of reclaiming all of that space besides filling it up again with new PC hardware and accessories? If you answered, "there is no point, other than what you just said," then you're absolutely right. Spring a great time to procrastinate about housework and build up a sweet new gaming PC (what else would you really want to use that tax return for?), so our staff has listed their favorite PC hardware right now, from build components to accessories, to make your life easier. (Let's make this season far more exciting than taking out the trash and filing taxes!)
While our venerable Hardware Leaderboard has been serving the PC community for many years, it's still worth listing some of our favorite PC hardware for builds at different price points here.
Processors - the heart of the system.
No doubt about it, AMD's Ryzen CPU launch has been the biggest news of the year so far for PC enthusiasts, and while the 6 and 4-core variants are right around the corner the 8-core R7 processors are still a great choice if you have the budget for a $300+ CPU. To that end, we really like the value proposition of the Ryzen R7 1700, which offers much of the performance of its more expensive siblings for a really compelling price, and can potentially be overclocked to match the higher-clocked members of the Ryzen lineup, though moving up to either the R7 1700X or R7 1800X will net you higher clocks (without increasing voltage and power draw) out of the box.
Really, any of these processors are going to provide a great overall PC experience with incredible multi-threaded performance for your dollar in many applications, and they can of course handle any game you throw at them - with optimizations already appearing to make them even better for gaming.
Don't forget about Intel, which has some really compelling options starting even at the very low end (Pentium G4560, when you can find one in stock near its ~$60 MSRP), thanks to their newest Kaby Lake CPUs. The high-end option from Intel's 7th-gen Core lineup is the Core i7-7700K (currently $345 on Amazon), which provides very fast gaming performance and plenty of power if you don't need as many cores as the R7 1700 (or Intel's high-end LGA-2011 parts). Core i5 processors provide a much more cost-effective way to power a gaming system, and an i5-7500 is nearly $150 less than the Core i7 while providing excellent performance if you don't need an unlocked multiplier or those additional threads.
Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2017 - 11:54 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nm, storage
As we are not going to see scanning tunnelling microscopes included in our home computers anytime soon this experiment is simply proof of the concept that data can be stored on a single atom. That does not make it any less interesting for those fascinated by atomic storage techniques. A single atom of holmium can be made to spin either up or down, signifying either a 0 or 1, and that spin state can be 'read' by measuring the vibration of a single iron atom located close by. The holmium atoms used for storage can be separated by a mere nanometer without interfering with the spin of its neighbours. The spin state only lasts a few hours but shows that this could someday be a viable storage technology. You can read more at nanotechweb, who also have links to the Nature article.
"Information has been stored in a single atom for the first time. The nascent binary memory was created by Andreas Heinrich at the Institute of Basic Science in South Korea and an international team."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Synology's RT-2600ac wireless router @ The Tech Report
- Nintendo Switch Ships With Unpatched 6-Month-Old WebKit Vulnerabilities @ Slashdot
- Samsung commits to monthly security updates for unlocked US smartphones @ Ars Technica
- Windows Vista is four weeks from hasta la vista @ The Inquirer
- Three hack: 76,000 more customers hit by November breach @ The Inquirer
Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 05:59 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, Worm, storage, ssd, RocksDB, Optane, nand, flash, facebook
At their FMS 2016 Keynote, Facebook gave us some details on the various storage technologies that fuel their massive operation:
In the four corners above, they covered the full spectrum of storing bits. From NVMe to Lightning (huge racks of flash (JBOF)), to AVA (quad M.2 22110 NVMe SSDs), to the new kid on the block, WORM storage. WORM stands for Write Once Read Many, and as you might imagine, Facebook has lots of archival data that they would like to be able to read quickly, so this sort of storage fits the bill nicely. How do you pull off massive capacity in flash devices? QLC. Forget MLC or TLC, QLC stores four bits per cell, meaning there are 16 individual voltage states for each cell. This requires extremely precise writing techniques and reads must appropriately compensate for cell drift over time, and while this was a near impossibility with planar NAND, 3D NAND has more volume to store those electrons. This means one can trade the endurance gains of 3D NAND for higher bit density, ultimately enabling SSDs upwards of ~100TB in capacity. The catch is that they are rated at only ~150 write cycles. This is fine for archival storage requiring WORM workloads, and you still maintain NAND speeds when it comes to reading that data later on, meaning that decade old Facebook post will appear in your browser just as quickly as the one you posted ten minutes ago.
Next up was a look at some preliminary Intel Optane SSD results using RocksDB. Compared to a P3600, the prototype Optane part offers impressive gains in Facebook's real-world workload. Throughput jumped by 3x, and latency reduced to 1/10th of its previous value. These are impressive gains given this fairly heavy mixed workload.
More to follow from FMS 2016!
Subject: Storage | August 8, 2016 - 10:40 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, ssd, solid state drive, PCIe 3.0 x8, PCI-E 3.0, NVMe2032, NVMe2016, NVMe, Microsemi, Flashtec
Microsemi's Flashtec NVMe SSD controllers are now in production, and as Computer Base reports (Google-translated version of the page available here) these controllers use twice as many PCIe lanes than current offerings with a x8 PCI-E 3.0 connection, and can support up to 20 TB of flash capacity.
Image credit: Computer Base
"The NVMe controller destined for the professional high-performance segment and work with PCIe 3.0 x8 or two x4 PCIe 3.0. The NVMe2032 has 32 memory channels (and) NVMe2016 (has) 16. When using 256-Gbit flash SSDs can be implemented with up to 20 terabytes of storage."
The 32-channel NVMe2032 boasts up to 1 million IOPS in 4K random read performance, and the controller supports DDR4 memory for faster cache performance. The announcement of the availability of these chips comes just before the start of Flash Memory Summit, which our own Allyn Malventano will be attending. Stay tuned for more flashy SSD news to come!
Subject: Storage | August 3, 2016 - 01:19 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: UHD, Thecus, storage, NAS, N4810, N2810PRO, htpc, hdmi, DisplayPort, 4k, 4-Bay
Thecus has announced their newest NAS with the N4810, an 4-bay design based on the existing N2810PRO 2-bay model. The N4810 offers up to 40 TB of hard drive storage support, and an Intel Celeron N3160 (quad-core) processor with 4GB of RAM, which can be expanded to 8GB.
Image credit: Thecus
"With the N4810 built on the hardware of its little brother, the N2810PRO, users are equipped with the same immersive multimedia experience. Delivering superb sharpness and colour contrasts in 4K resolution playback, accessed through the HDMI output or DisplayPort output, guaranteeing that the picture quality from movies is just as the director envisioned.
Connection to your digital sound system via a SPDIF output is available, providing crystal clear audio for music and movies. A new USB 3.0 Type-C port has been added to the three already equipped USB 3.0 ports. This Type-C connector is the size of a microUSB and has a reversible plug allowing cables to be conveniently plugged in either direction."
Image credit: Thecus
The NAS is geared toward the living room, with HDMI output along with DisplayPort, and display output up to UHD/4K. We took a look at the 2-bay N2560 NAS a couple of years ago, and on paper this new model offers a substantial upgrade as an entertainment/HTPC solution. Availability is set for this month.
Subject: Storage | April 18, 2016 - 12:32 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, sony, optical disc archive, optical disc, ODA, hard drives, backup, Archival
Sony has developed a higher-capacity version of their Optical Disc Archive (ODA), which now allows up to 3.3 TB of archival storage with the promise of 100-year retention.
Sony ODS-D280U (Image credit: Sony via Computer Base)
Of course the viability of such a system in the next century is unknown, and a working cartridge (which is similar to the multi-CD systems found in cars a few years ago) would be needed to access the data. The idea is certainly interesting considering the potential for failure with traditional hard drives, though hard drives are relatively inexpensive and offer more utility, unlike the write-once Sony ODA cartridges.
Cartridge exploded view (Image credit: Sony via Computer Base)
For those seeking pure read-only archival storage, the higher capacity of the second-generation Sony ODA at least brings it closer to parity with current hard drive storage.
Subject: Storage | October 23, 2015 - 01:28 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, ssd, solid-state drive, Samsung, PM1725, enterprise
The 950 Pro SSD is here, (and Allyn has the full review right here) and while it's the fastest consumer SSD out there, the latest enterprise SSD demo from Samsung is absolutely insane.
Image credit: Kit Guru
The PM1725 has a PCI Express 3.0 x8 interface, and a 2.5" version will also be available (though limited to PCI Express 3.0 x4). And with read speeds in excess of 6.2 GB/s the PM1725 sounds like a RAM disk. And if that wasn't enough the drive managed a million IOPS from a demo performance for this new SSD at Dell World in Austin, Texas.
Image credit: Tom's Hardware
Tom's Hardware had hands-on time with the card and was able to run a few benchmarks verifying the outlandish speeds from this SSD, with their 6.2+ GB/s result coming from a 128k QD32 sequential test, with the IOPS test run as a 4k random read.
Image credit: Tom's Hardware
I'm sure the price will be similarly out of this world and this of course isn't a consumer-oriented (or likely even bootable) option. For now the Samsung 950 Pro is the object of NVMe desire for many, and for $199.99 ($0.78/GB) for the 256 GB model and $349.99 ($0.68/GB) for the 512 GB model on Amazon.com the 950 Pro is pretty reasonable - even if they "only" offer up to 2.5 GB/s reads and 1.5 GB/s writes. I'd certainly take it!
Subject: Storage | May 27, 2015 - 10:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, SAN, S3200, S2200, Lenovo, datacenter
Lenovo has announced two new high-performance storage products aimed at small and medium business, and the new S2200 and S3200 storage arrays are designed with speed in mind.
The Storage S2200 and S3200 arrays offer dual and single controllers in 2U-12 and 24 drive configurations. The S2200 supports up to 96 drives and the S3200 supports up to 192 drives to easily support storage growth. The S2200 and S3200 make connectivity simple. The S2200 and S3200 support Fibre Channel, iSCSI and SAS, with the S3200 supporting multi-protocol connectivity that can work with Fibre Channel and iSCSI at the same time. This combination of flexibility and scalability makes integration into nearly any environment easy.
Lenovo is also using a technology called "Intelligent Real-Time Tiering" to approximate the performance of flash storage by prioritizing frequently accessed data as it "automatically moves frequently accessed data to higher performing drives every five seconds, significantly increasing storage performance".
With hybrid configurations and Intelligent Real-Time Tiering, the Lenovo Storage S3200 can provide near All-Flash-Array (AFA) performance for up to 120,000 IOPS at a fraction of the cost of today’s Flash only systems.
The Lenovo S2200 and S3200 SANs will be available worldwide starting in June.
Subject: Storage | March 26, 2015 - 02:12 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, ssd, planar, nand, micron, M.2, Intel, imft, floating-gate, 3d nand
Intel and Micron are jointly announcing new 3D NAND technology that will radically increase solid-storage capacity going forward. The companies have indicated that moving to this technology will allow for the type of rapid increases in capacity that are consistent with Moore’s Law.
The way Intel and Micron are approaching 3D NAND is very different from existing 3D technologies from Samsung and now Toshiba. The implementation of floating-gate technology and “unique design choices” has produced startling densities of 256 Gb MLC, and a whopping 384 Gb with TLC. The choice to base this new 3D NAND on floating-gate technology allows development with a well-known entity, and benefits from the knowledge base that Intel and Micron have working with this technology on planar NAND over their long partnership.
What does this mean for consumers? This new 3D NAND enables greater than 10TB capacity on a standard 2.5” SSD, and 3.5TB on M.2 form-factor drives. These capacities are possible with the industry’s highest density 3D NAND, as the >3.5TB M.2 capacity can be achieved with just 5 packages of 16 stacked dies with 384 Gb TLC.
A 3D NAND cross section from Allyn's Samsung 850 Pro review
While such high density might suggest reliance on ever-shrinking process technology (and the inherent loss of durability thus associated) Intel is likely using a larger process for this NAND. Though they would not comment on this, Intel could be using something roughly equivalent to 50nm flash with this new 3D NAND. In the past die shrinks have been used to increase capacity per die (and yields) such as IMFT's move to 20nm back in 2011, but with the ability to achieve greater capacity vertically using 3D cell technology a smaller process is not necessary to achieve greater density. Additionally, working with a larger process would allow for better endurance as, for example, 50nm MLC was on the order of 10,000 program/erase cycles. Samsung similarly moved to a larger process with with their initial 3D NAND, moving from their existing 20nm technology back to 30nm with 3D production.
This announcement is also interesting considering Toshiba has just entered this space as well having announced 48-layer 128 Gb density 3D NAND, and like Samsung, they are moving away from floating-gate and using their own charge-trap implementation they are calling BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling). However with this Intel/Micron announcement the emphasis is on the ability to offer a 3x increase in capacity using the venerable floating-gate technology from planar NAND, which gives Intel / Micron an attractive position in the market - depending on price/performance of course. And while these very large capacity drives seem destined to be expensive at first, the cost structure is likely to be similar to current NAND. All of this remains to be seen, but this is indeed promising news for the future of flash storage as it will now scale up to (and beyond) spinning media capacity - unless 3D tech is implemented in hard drive production, that is.
So when will Intel and Micron’s new technology enter the consumer market? It could be later this year as Intel and Micron have already begun sampling the new NAND to manufacturers. Manufacturing has started in Singapore, plus ground has also been broken at the IMFT fab in Utah to support production here in the United States.
Subject: Storage | May 21, 2014 - 09:06 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: storage, SATA Express, rumors, chipset, amd
The new SATA Express (SATAe) and M.2 standards are hot topics in the storage world at the moment, and SATAe is one of the more interesting features of the new Intel Z97-based motherboards. Now it looks like it won't be long until AMD counters with support of its own. Well, kind of.
ASMedia is reportedly licensing their SATA Express IP to AMD for an upcoming platform. Didn't know that ASMedia already had a SATAe implementation? The ASUS Z97 Deluxe board which Morry recently reviewed uses an ASMedia controller for one of its two SATAe ports, along with one powered by the chipset.
We can only speculate on the "next gen" platform from AMD mentioned in the report, and it will be interesting to see what kind of performance numbers might be seen from this alleged product.