ADATA's HD830 External HDD would be a lot of fun to test

Subject: Storage | September 17, 2018 - 04:51 PM |
Tagged: ruggedized, adata, HD830, 5TB

Able to withstand 3000kg of downwards pressure?

Check!

Able to survive being submerged completely in sand or water?

Check!

Able to live through a drop of 1.22m?

Check!

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Testing out ADATA's ruggedized 5TB HD830 sounds like a lot of fun.  Stick it under a hydraulic press and as long as it isn't set to over 3000kg spread over the body of the drive, though it would be educational to up the pressure a bit.

With an IP68 rating, or as the PR implies better than IP68, you can store your data under up to 2m of water for two hours or bury it in the dirt for even longer.  As long as that USB cover is closed your data will survive.  What if you wanted to bury it in the bottom of a 3m lake?  We will never know until we can test it.

As for drop-kicking the enclosure, as long as you keep it under 1.22m of height you should be good.  ADATA claims a MIL-STD-810G 516.6 rating, which means it went through a specific series of tests but they do not specify the results.  That shouldn't worry though, most devices now claim MIL-SPEC without considering how the militaries of the world judge contracts nor specifying the actual results.

Still, with this in our hands we could certainly find out ... eventually, or pick it up to use yourself.

Check out the full PR below the glamour shot.

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Taipei, Taiwan – September 13, 2018– ADATA today announces the launch of the HD830, its most rugged external hard disk drive (HDD) to date. It features an ultra-sturdy aluminum exterior, triple-layer construction, and IP68 rating for the ultimate protection of data. What’s more, the HD830 is MIL-STD-810G 516.6 compliant and can withstand up to 3000kg of downward pressure. The HDD is also equipped with shock sensors that prevent errors and bad sectors due to accidental impact and shaking.

Virtually Indestructible
The HD830’s tough aluminum exterior is not just capable of surviving nasty drops and blunt force, but can also handle 3000kg of downward pressure, roughly equivalent to the combined weight of fifty average-sized people. The HD830 also meets the U.S. Military’s MIL-STD-810G 516.6 standard and can survive falls from up to 1.22 meters. A three-layer construction provides complete protection inside and outside, including a tough outer silicone casing that comes in red or blue, shock-absorbing buffer, and cushioned mounting that firmly holds the drive in place.

Shock Sensor Protection
Lesser external drives continue to operate when dropped, potentially resulting in errors and bad sectors. The HD830 features shock sensors that stop drive activity when an impact is detected, such as when accidentally dropped. Users will know the sensors are activated when the LED indicator blinks in red. When the threat has passed the LED indicator will light up in blue and resume normal operation.

Stylishly Armored, Plenty of Storage Capacity The HD830’s robust aluminum exterior is crafted with a boldly grooved surface texture with a sandblasted finish and two sturdy side columns that give the HD830 the look of a true warrior. In an era of 4K Ultra HD videos and other high-resolution content, users can never have too much storage capacity. The HD830 has them covered with 2TB, 4TB and 5TB of storage capacity.
As with all ADATA external hard drives, the HD830 is backed by a 3-year warranty.

MSRP
ADATA HD830 External HDD

  • 2TB/$109.99
  • 4TB/$149.99
  • 5TB/$209.99

 

Source: ADATA

How does that 14TB BarraCuda Pro perform?

Subject: Storage | September 14, 2018 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, hdd, BarraCuda Pro, 14tb

Inside the Barracuda Pro are eight platters each 1.75 TB in size and comes with a nice addition to the warranty, if the drive dies before two years have expired you can ship the drive to Seagate and they will attempt to recover your data for free.  The Guru of 3D's testing showed the accuracy of the 250MB/sec rating, as expected from a modern SATA HDD. The total warranty is five years and the drive is rated for 24/7 use with a 300TB/yr rating so there are certainly plenty of usages for the drive.

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"It's here! We review the Megalodon among the HDDs, the Barracuda Pro 14TB from Seagate is unleashed today, that's a 14.000GB HDD folks! This, by far, is the biggest single consumer unit storage device to date. It might not offer SSD performance, but it certainly isn't slow. It's the year 2018, it's big but with these massive HDD platters, will it be fast enough?"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: Guru of 3D

14TB for anyone! Seagate's new HDD lines

Subject: Storage | September 10, 2018 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: skyhawk, Seagate, ironwolf, exos x14, BarraCuda Pro, 14tb

No matter what you need it for, Seagate can provide supersized storage for your needs.  To lead with the most important information, the IronWolf and IronWolf Pro 14TB will run you $529.99 and $599.99 respectively, a 14TB BarraCuda Pro sits at $579.99, a SkyHawk14TB a mere $509.99 and the Exos X14 at $614.99.   These prices might sound expensive until you think how much 14TB of NVMe storage will cost you.

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The IronWolf and IronWolf Pro as designed to be used in a NAS, with firmware designed to provide reliability in a variety of arrays along with health management and recovery tools baked right in.  The drives are rated at 300TB/year, with a 5 year warranty on the Pro and 3 years on the other.

The Barracuda Pro is one you are more likely to grab, the 7200 RPM HDD has 256MB Of cache which allows up to 250mb/s data transfer rates depending on the task you require of it.  You will get a 5 year warranty to ensure you get your moneys worth out of the drive.

The Skyhawk is great for surveillance systems, the 14TB allows you to capture over 9000 hours of H.264 video with 1M pixels, medium quality, at 15FPS; with support for up to 64 attached cameras.  It would also make a great drive for a DVR if you intended to record every single moment of TV you missed while on vacation.  The 3 year warranty in part reflects the expectation you will be writing to this drive 24/7/

Last is the Exos X14, which you can order already installed into the chassis you see above, with up to a 1.4PB of storage.  The helium-based design is not only for longevity, Seagate claims a 10% reduction in weight versus other drives.

Full PR below the fold.

Source: Seagate

Samsung Unveils Plans for Data Center SSDs You Can Actually Buy!

Subject: Storage | September 5, 2018 - 10:54 PM |
Tagged: Z-NAND, V-NAND, ssd, sata, Samsung, NVMe, 983 ZET, 983 DCT, 883 DCT, 860 DCT

Samsung was strangely absent from FMS this year, but they had us out to NYC yesterday for a briefing we've been waiting a looong time for:

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Above is a spec layout for Data Center SSDs that are to be in the retail channel, meaning they will be available for purchase on the open market, not locked behind exclusivity contracts with a select few corporations, as was the case previously. Here's the abbreviated rundown:

  • 860 DCT
    • SATA
    • Low write workloads
    • 960GB, 2TB, 4TB
    • Low cost (~0.25/GB)
  • 883 DCT
    • SATA
    • Mixed workloads
    • Power Loss Protection
    • 240/480/960GB, 2TB, 4TB
    • $0.30/GB
  • 983 DCT
    • NVMe (M.2 / U.2)
    • Mixed workloads / higher performance
    • Power Loss Protection
    • 960GB, 2TB
    • $0.34/GB

The prices above are MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) as MSRP doesn't carry over to enterprise products quite the same. Performance details are above and below in the full press release, but the gist of them is that they are comparable to current Samsung SATA and NVMe products with the exception of random writes being rated at steady state sustained values (client SSDs are typically rated for reduced span random writes of shorter durations).

There was another thing to check out as well:

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That's Samsung's elusive Z-SSD, now with the model name 983 ZET. It contains slightly modified V-NAND operating in straight SLC mode and with some additional tweaks to help reduce latencies - referred to by Samsung as Z-NAND. Here are the specs:

180904-153120.jpg

We did note that some of what drives those super-fast latencies is the use of a DRAM cache. We won't know how this impacts larger span random performance until we can test this product first-hand. Samsung also showed where they expect these new products to fall relative to other competing offerings:

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I'm thrilled to see Samsung finally opening up their Data Center parts to the rest of the masses. We'll be testing and reviewing these as samples arrive. I personally can't wait, because Samsung's data center parts are known for having amazing QoS performance, and I can't wait to throw our enterprise test suite at them!

Read on for Samsung's full press release, with specs!

Source: Samsung

Mushkin's new Source SATA SSDs come with an attractive price tag

Subject: Storage | September 4, 2018 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: Mushkin, source, SM2285, sata 6Gps, Ryan's Law, ssd

The release of a new line of 2.5" SATA SSDs isn't breaking news anymore, unless they offer something new, which the Mushkin Source line does.  The MSRP of these new drives are 120 GB for $36, 250 GB for $49, 500 GB for $81 and 1 TB for $158; which puts an SSD within reach of just about any budget; though it falls short of complying with Ryan's Law.  Part of the reason for this pricing is the lack of a DRAM cache which slows random writes and creates read latency but overall you can't argue with the value of these drives. 

You can see them in action over at TechPowerUp.

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"With just 16 cents per GB, or $81 for the tested 500 GB version, the Mushkin Source is among the most affordable SSDs on the market. It is a DRAM-less design, which means some compromises have to be expected in terms of performance. Our review of the Mushkin Source 500 GB looks exactly into that."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: TechPowerUp

SanDisk goes to the Extreme with their new portable SSD

Subject: Storage | August 24, 2018 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: sandisk, extreme portable, 1TB, USB 3.1 gen 2

The SanDisk Extreme Portable 1 TB USB drive has a IP55 rating, which means it can resist large dirt and a bit of sprayed liquid but don't submerse it or use it in an area with fine particulates floating around, such as the entirety of Western Canada at the moment.  Thanks to the transfer speed of the Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection, 1TB is a reasonable size for a portable SSD, The Tech Report saw transfer speeds in line with what you would expect from this connection.  The casing and design does cost you however, expect to pay upwards of $0.30/GB when picking up this portable SSD.

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"SanDisk's Extreme Portable SSD pairs USB 3.1 Gen 2 transfer rates with a durable, stylish exterior shell. We put the 1-TB Extreme Portable through our testing gauntlet to see whether it's as speedy as it is strong."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

64 layers of EVOlutionary growth from Samsung

Subject: Storage | August 2, 2018 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: 860 evo, Samsung, sata, ssd, 64-layer TLC

Samsung have updated their popular SATA SSD series with 64-layer TLC and The Tech Report takes a look at it here.   As you may remember from Al's review back in January, the drive did not show real improvements over the 850 EVO and was occasionally slower at certain tasks.  It has been a while, so has the performance changed over time?  Find out in the full review.

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"Samsung has replaced the longtime reigning champion of the mainstream SSD market. We test out the 860 EVO to see whether doubling V-NAND layers doubles the fun."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Bring your own cache to Toshiba's RC100 Host Memory Buffet

Subject: Storage | July 13, 2018 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, RC100, NVMe, M.2, M.2 2242

The wee M.2 2242 form factor of the RC100 means there is no space for a DRAM buffer, which led Toshiba to utilize the Host Memory Buffer feature included in NVMe revision 1.2.  In order to use this feature you must be running Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (or 1709) or the at least the 4.14 Linux kernel.  It commandeers a portion of your system RAM to act as the cache, somewhat less effective than having it on board as The Tech Report's testing shows.  As well it is hampered its PCIe 2x interface, which ensures it falls behind 4x NVMe drives. 

The testing reveal the weaknesses of this design, but it is an interesting implementation of an NVMe featuer not often seen, which is in itself worth taking a look at.

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"Toshiba's RC100 NVMe SSD takes a bold stab at life without DRAM or a full four lanes of PCIe connectivity. Unlike many DRAM-less SSDs, however, the RC100 has a trick up its sleeve with the NVMe protocol's Host Memory Buffer caching feature. Join us to find out whether NVMe and HMB can bolster this entry-level SSD's performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

That didn't take long, RGB SSDs from Team Group

Subject: Storage | July 5, 2018 - 02:18 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, RGB, team group, delta rgb

Team Group have hit peak RGB with their new Delta SSDs which does not only have a full blown case of RGBs but is compatible with ASUS Aura Sync, MSI Mystic Light, Gigabyte RGB Fusion and other fancy software to control your blinken lighten.  In theory it should also offer performance that saturates SATA 6Gbps bandwidth, but who cares about that when you can get even more lumens shoved into your PC!  For about $80 you can pick one up, but with this drive you should be going with at least a RAID 5 setup.

Join TechPowerUp and bask in the glow.

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"Team Group's Delta RGB SSD is a unique solid-state drive, due to its amazing RGB support. It connects to your motherboard's RGB header, which then gives you full control over the LEDs, for mixed colors, patterns and custom lighting effects. Performance is good too, so is pricing, with just $80 for the 250 GB version."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: TechPowerUp

Biostar Announces Budget M500 NVMe SSDs

Subject: Storage | June 29, 2018 - 06:14 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, NVMe, biostar, 3d nand

Motherboard manufacturer Biostar is expanding its solid state drive lineup with the launch of the M500 M.2 2280 SSD which appears to be the company’s first PCI-E NVMe SSD (it is not the first M.2 but those drives used SATA). The new Biostar M500 SSD uses 3D TLC NAND flash and supports NVMe 1.2 protocol and the PCI-E x2 interface. The exact controller and flash chips used have not yet been revealed, however.

Biostar M500 PCI-E NVMe SSD.jpg

Biostar continues its gamer / racing aesthetics with the new drive featuring a black heatsink with two LEDs that serve a utilitarian purpose. One LED shows the temperature of thebdrive at a glance (red/yellow/green) while the other LED shows data transmit activity and also shows which PCi-E mode (2.0 / 3.0) the drive is in.

The M500 SSD uses up to 1.7W while reading. it comes in four SKUs including 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and 1TB capacities with either 256 MB. 512 MB, or 1 GB of DDR3L cache respectively.

As far as performance is concerned, Biostar claims up to 1,700 MB/s sequential reads and 1,100 MB/s sequential writes. Further, the drives offer up to 200K random read IOPS and 180K random write IOPS. Of course, these numbers are for the top end 512 GB and 1 TB drives and the lower capacity models will have less performance as they have less cache and flash channels to spread reads and writes from/to.

SSD Capacity Max Sequential Read Max Sequential Write Read IOPS Write IOPS Price
128 GB 1,500 MB/s 550 MB/s 200K 180K $59
256 GB 1,600 MB/s 900 MB/s 200K 180K $99
512 GB 1,700 MB/s 1,100 MB/s 200K 180K $149
1 TB 1,700 MB/s 1,100 MB/s 200K 180K $269

According to Guru3D, Biostar’s M500 M.2 drives will be available soon with MSRP prices of $59 for the 128 GB model, $99 for the 256 GB model, $149 for the 512 GB drive, and $269 for the 1 TB SKU. The pricing does not seem terrible though the x2 interface does limit its potential / usefulness. They are squarely budget SSDs aimed at computing with SATA SSDs and enticing upgrades from mechanical drives. They may be useful for upgrading older laptops where a x4 M.2 slot would not be wasted like on a desktop machine.

What do you think about Biostar’s foray into NVMe solid state drives?

Source: Guru3D

Deathwish RAID racing; hit single channel DDR4 transfer rates with WD Black NVMe drives

Subject: Storage | June 19, 2018 - 04:13 PM |
Tagged: wd black nvme, RAID-0, raid, kingston, Hyper M.2 X16 Card, deathwish, ddr4-2400, asus

This will cost you a bit to set up but will provide you with almost unbelievable transfer rates.  Simply combine eight 1 TB WD Black NVMe SSDs at roughly $400 a pop with a pair of ASUS' Hyper M.2 expansion cards at $60 each and build up a deathwish RAID of doom!  TechARP just posted a look at how Andrew Vo managed to pull this off. 

As pointed out by several readers who ... well, actually watched the video instead of just reading the article ... this was done on Threadripper, which makes far more sense than a PCIe lane starved Intel system.   Ignore me and make your Threadripper roar.

Unfortunately this trick will not work the same on AMD platforms, it is limited to Intel Skylake or Coffee Lake with VROC support.  It will be interesting to see how a properly configured Threadripper system would compare.

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"To hit 19 GB/s, you need to create a RAID 0 array of those eight 1 TB WD Black NVMe SSDs, but you can’t use the motherboard’s RAID feature because you would be limited by the 32 Gbps/4GB/s DMI bottleneck."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: TechARP

T'was a dark and StorMI knight

Subject: Storage | June 11, 2018 - 06:10 PM |
Tagged: amd, StorMI, tiered storage

AMD's Store Machine Intelligence Technology seeks to create a hybrid better than the sum of its parts, combining the low cost of cold spinning rust with the speed of hot flash based drives.  The implementation is not the same as Intel's SRT which treats your SSD as a cache to move frequently used files to the SSD but instead works like a tiered storage system.  That indicates entire files are moving from hot storage to cold storage as their usage patterns change and are not constantly being rebuilt. 

From the testing which [H]ard|OCP did, the machine intelligence part of StorMI lives up to its name, and the installation and configuration are very well done, to the point where they declare Intel's Rapid Storage Technology to be outclassed and should not even be considered as competition to AMD's storage stacking skills.

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"AMD’s StoreMI or (Store Machine Intelligence Technology) is storage performance enhancement technology, which can accelerate the responsiveness and the perceived speed of mechanical storage devices to SSD levels. This isn’t exactly a new concept, but AMD’s approach to this implementation is different than what we’ve seen in the past."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Marvell Updates NVMe SSD Controllers - 8-Channel 88SS1100 and 4-Channel 88SS1084

Subject: Storage | June 7, 2018 - 06:08 AM |
Tagged: toggle NAND, ssd, PCIe 3.0 x4, ONFI, NVMe, Marvell, controller, 88SS1100, 88SS1084

We've seen faster and faster SSDs over the past decade, and while the current common interface is PCIe 3.0 x4, SSD controllers still have a hard time saturating the available bandwidth. This is due to other factors like power consumption constraints of the M.2 form factor as well as the controllers not being sufficiently optimized to handle IO requests at a consistently low latency. This means there is plenty of room for improvement, and with that, we have two new NVme SSD controllers out of Marvell:

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Above is the block diagram for the 88SS1100, an 8-Channel controller that promises higher performance over Marvell's previous parts. There is also a nearly identical 88SS1084, which drops to four physical channels but retains the same eight CE (chip enable) lines, meaning it can still talk to eight separate banks of flash, which should keep performance reasonable despite the halving of the physical channels available. Reducing channels to the flash helps save power and reduces the cost of the controller.

Marvell claims the new controller can reach 3.6GB/s throughput and 700,000 IOPS. Granted it would need to be mated to solid performing flash in order to reach those levels, that shouldn't be an issue as the new controllers increase compatibility with modern flash communication protocols (ONFi 4.0, Toggle 3.0, etc). Marvell's NANDEdge tech (their name for their NAND side interface) enters its fourth generation, promising compatibility with 96-layer and TLC / QLC flash.

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Specs for the 8-Channel 88SS1100. 88SS1084 is identical except the BGA package drops in size to 12mm x 13.5mm and only requires 418 balls.

Rounding out the specs are the staples expected in modern SSD controllers, like OTP / Secure Drive / AES hardware crypto support, and NVMe 1.3 compliance for the host end of the interface.

While the two new parts are 'available or purchase now', it will take a few months before we see them appear in purchasable products. We'll be keeping an eye out for appearances in future SSD launches!

Marvell's full press release appears after the break.

Source: Marvell

Computex 2018: Intel Announces 380GB Optane 905P in M.2 22110 Form Factor

Subject: Storage | June 6, 2018 - 03:55 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Optane Memory, Optane, M.2 22110, M.2, Intel, 905P, 3D XPoint

At Computex 2018, Intel announced a new Optane 905P SSD:

905P Rear.PNG

...the Optane 905P 380GB, now in an M.2 form factor!

905P Front.jpg

This looks to be a miniaturization of the 7-channel controller previously only available on the desktop add-in cards (note there are 7 packages). There is a catch though, as fitting 7 packages plus a relatively large controller means this is not M.2 2280, but M.2 22110. The M.2 22110 (110mm long) form factor may limit where you can install this product, as mobile platforms and some desktop motherboards only support up to an M.2 2280 (80mm) length. Power consumption may also be a concern for mobile applications, as this looks to be the full blown 7-channel controller present on the desktop AIC variants of the 905P and 900P.

We have no performance numbers just yet, but based on the above we should see figures in-line with the desktop Optane parts (and higher than the previous 'Optane Memory'/800P M.2 parts, which used a controller with fewer channels). Things may be slightly slower since this part would be limited to a ~7W power envelope - that is the maximum you can get out of an M.2 port without damaging the motherboard or overheating the smaller surface area of an M.2 form factor.

An interesting point to bring up is that while 3D XPoint does not need to be overprovisioned like NAND flash does, there is a need to have some spare area as well as space for the translation layer (used for wear leveling - still a requirement for 3D XPoint as it must be managed to some degree). In the past, we've noted that smaller capacities of a given line will see slightly less of a proportion of available space when comparing the raw media present to the available capacity. Let's see how this (theoretically) works out for the new 905P:

I'm making an educated guess that the new 380GB part contains 4 die stacks within its packages. We've never seen 8 die stacks come out of Intel, and there is little reason to believe any would be used in this product based on the available capacity. Note that higher capacities run at ~17% excess media, but as the capacity reduces, the percentage excess increases. The 280GB 900P increases to 20% by that capacity, but the new 905P M.2 comes in at 18%. Not much of a loss there, meaning the cost/GB *should* come in-line with the pricing of the 480GB 900P, which should put the 905P 380GB right at a $450-$500 price point.

The new 905P M.2 22110 is due out later this year.

Source: Intel

Intel Launches Optane DC Persistent Memory (DIMMs), Talks 20TB QLC SSDs

Subject: Storage | May 30, 2018 - 07:28 PM |
Tagged: ssd, QLC, Optane DC, Optane, Intel, DIMM, 3D XPoint, 20TB

Lots of good stuff coming out of Intel's press event earlier today. First up is Optane, now (finally and officially) in a DIMM form factor!:

Intel-Optane-Persistent-memory-1-.jpg

We have seen and tested Optane in several forms, but all so far have been bottlenecked by the interface and controller architectures. The only real way to fully realize the performance gains of 3D XPoint (how it works here) is to move away from the slower interfaces that are holding it back. A DIMM form factor is just the next logical step here.

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Intel shows the new 'Optane DC Persistent Memory' as yet another tier up the storage/memory stack. The new parts will be available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities. We don't have confirmation on the raw capacity, but based on Intel's typical max stack height of 4 dies per package, 3D XPoint's raw die capacity of 16GB, and a suspected 10 packages per DIMM, that should come to 640GB raw capacity. Combined with a 60 DWPD rating (up from 30DWPD for P4800X), this shows Intel is loosening up their design margins considerably. This makes sense as 3D XPoint was a radically new and unproven media when first launched, and it has now built up a decent track record in the field.

gap-3.png

Bridging The Gap chart - part of a sequence from our first P4800X review.

Recall that even with Intel's Optane DC SSD parts like the P4800X, there remained a ~100x latency gap between the DRAM and the storage. The move to DIMMs should help Intel push closer to the '1000x faster than NAND' claims made way back when 3D XPoint was launched. Even if DIMMs were able to extract all possible physical latency gains from XPoint, there will still be limitations imposed by today's software architectures, which still hold many legacy throwbacks from the times of HDDs. Intel generally tries to help this along by providing various caching solutions that allow Optane to directly augment the OS's memory. These new DIMMs, when coupled with supporting enterprise platforms capable of logically segmenting RAM and NV DIMM slots, should be able to be accessed either directly or as a memory expansion tier.

Circling back to raw performance, we'll have to let software evolve a bit further to see even better gains out of XPoint platforms. That's likely the reason Intel did not discuss any latency figures for the new products today. My guess is that latencies should push down into the 1-3us range, splitting the difference between current generation DRAM (~80-100ns) and PCIe-based Optane parts (~10us). While the DIMM form factor is certainly faster, there is still a management layer at play here, meaning some form of controller or a software layer to handle wear leveling. No raw XPoint sitting on the memory bus just yet.

Also out of the event came talks about QLC NAND flash. Recently announced by Intel / Micron, along with 96-layer 3D NAND development, QLC helps squeeze higher capacities out of given NAND flash dies. Endurance does take a hit, but so long as the higher density media is coupled to appropriate client/enterprise workloads, there should be no issue with premature media wear-out or data retention. Micron has already launched an enterprise QLC part, and while Intel been hush-hush on actual product launches, they did talk about both client and enterprise QLC parts (with the latter pushing into 20TB in a 2.5" form factor).

Press blast for Optane DC Persistent Memory appears after the break (a nicer layout is available by clicking the source link).

Some Dell Systems Shipping with 24GB of memory: 8GB DDR4 and 16GB Optane Memory

Subject: Memory, Storage | May 29, 2018 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: Optane, Intel, g3, dell

Recently I came across an interesting product listing on Dell’s website for its new G3 15” gaming notebook. These are budget-friendly gaming systems with mainstream discrete GeForce graphics cards in them like the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti. Starting at just $699 they offer a compelling balance of performance and value, though we haven’t yet gotten hands on one for testing.

One tidbit that seemed off to me was this:

dell1.png

Several of these systems list 24GB of memory through a combination of 8GB of DDR4 and 16GB of Optane Memory for caching. A similar wording exists in the configuration page for these machines:

dell2.png

Clicking on the More Info link takes you to the “Help Me Choose” portion of the page that details what system memory does, how it helps the performance of your machine, and how Optane comes into the mix. There is important wording to point out that Dell provides (emphasis mine):

Some systems allow you to add Intel® Optane™ memory, which is a system acceleration solution for the 7th Gen and 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processor platforms. This solution comes in a module format and by placing this new memory media between the processor and a slower SATA-based storage devices ( HDD, SSHD or SATA SSD), you are able to store commonly used data and programs closer to the processor, allowing the systems to access this information more quickly and improve overall system performance.

Mixing DRAM with Intel® Optane™ delivers better performance and cost. For example, 4 GB DRAM + 16GB Intel® Optane™ memory delivers better performance and cost than just 8GB DRAM.

What is the difference between Intel® Optane™ memory and DRAM? Does it replace DRAM?
The Intel® Optane™ memory module does not replace DRAM. It can be, however, added to DRAM to increase systems performance.

If I use Intel® Optane™ memory with an HDD to accelerate my games, game launches and level loads become faster and close to that of an SSD experience, but what about the game play? Is the game play impacted?
Game play will not be that different between an SSD and an HDD based systems since the games in loaded into DRAM during play.

While my initial reaction of this as a clever way to trick consumers into thinking they are getting 24GB of memory in their PC when in reality it is only 8GB holds true, there are a lot of interesting angles to take.

First, yes, I believe it is a poor decision to incorporate Optane Memory into the specification of “memory” in these PCs. Optane Memory is an accelerant for system storage, and cannot replace DRAM (as the FAQ on Dell’s website states). If you have 8GB of memory, and your application workload fills that, having 16GB of memory would be a tremendous improvement in performance. Having 16GB of Optane caching on your system will only aid in moving and swapping data from main storage INTO that 8GB pool of physical memory.

Where Dell’s statements hold true though is in instances where memory capacity is not the bottleneck of performance, and your system has a standard spinning hard drive rather than an SSD installed. Optane Memory and its caching capabilities will indeed improve performance more than doubling the main system memory in instances where memory is not the limiter.

I do hope that Dell isn’t choosing to remove SSD options or defaults from these notebooks in order to maintain that performance claim; but based on my quick check, any notebook configuration that has the “24GB of memory” claim to it does NOT offer an SSD upgrade path.

Though it isn't called out one way or the other in the Dell specifications, my expectation is that they are NOT configuring these systems to use the Optane Memory as a part of the Windows page file, which MIGHT show some interesting benefits in regards to lower system memory capacity. Instead, these are likely configured with Optane Memory as a cache for the 1TB hard drive that is also a required piece of the configuration. If I'm incorrect, this config will definitely warrant some more testing and research.

Where the argument might shift is in the idea of performance per dollar improvements to overall system responsiveness. As the cost of DDR4 memory has risen, 16GB of Optane Memory (at around $25) is well below the cost of a single 8GB SO-DIMM for these notebooks (in the $80-90 range), giving OEMs a significant pricing advantage towards their bottom line. And yes, we have proven that Optane Memory works well and accelerates application load times and even level loads in some games.

But will it allow you to run more applications or games that might need or want more than 8GB of system memory? No.

Ideally, these configurations would include both 16GB of DDR4 system memory AND the 16GB of Optane Memory to get the best possible performance. But as system vendors and Intel itself look for ways to differentiate a product stack, while keeping prices lower and margins higher, this is one of the more aggressive tactics we have seen.

I’m curious what Dell’s input on this will be, if this is a direction they plan on continuing or one that they are simply trialing. Will other OEMs follow suit? Hopefully I’ll be able to get some interesting answers this week and during Computex early next month.

For now, it is something that potential buyers of these systems should pay attention to and make sure they are properly informed as to the hardware configuration capabilities and limits.

Source: Dell

ADATA's XPG SX8200, beating Intel on a level playing field?

Subject: Storage | May 25, 2018 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: XPG SX8200, SM2262, NVMe, M.2, adta, 480GB

ADATA's XPG SX8200 uses the Silicon Motion SM2262 controller found in recent Intel and Mushkin M.2 SSDs, so we have an idea of its capabilities in conjunction with Micron's 64-layer 3D TLC NAND.  In The Tech Reports real world testing this drive beat out Intel's 760p by a small margin in both reads and writes and it is slightly cheaper to pick up.  It didn't come out as the fastest drive they've tested but it does show up near the top. 

If you aren't quite sure if this drive is for you, just wait a wee bit as Al has it strapped down on his test bench right now *Allyn EDIT* our review is now live!.

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"Adata's got a half-dozen NVMe M.2 drives available across its entire lineup, but its latest—the XPG SX8200—promises to dazzle with Micron's newest-gen 3D TLC and a Silicon Motion SM2262 controller. We break down the XPG SX8200 to find out if it's as good as the top dogs in the market."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Toshiba Constructing New 3D NAND BiCS Flash Memory Fabrication Facility In Japan

Subject: Storage | May 24, 2018 - 01:15 AM |
Tagged: toshiba, flash memory, fab, BiCS, 3d nand

Toshiba Memory Corporation (a subsidiary of Toshiba) is expanding its 3D flash memory production capabilities by beginning construction of a new state-of-the-art fab in Kitakami city which is in the Iwate prefecture in Japan. Toshiba Memory Corporation’s a new Toshiba Memory Iwate Corporation subsidiary began preparing for the new fab last September and construction will begin in July.

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The new fab will be built with an earthquake absorbing structure and AI powered production lines with an emphasis on energy efficiency. TMIC plans to complete construction in 2019 and will hire 370 new graduates. Toshiba plans to use the new fab to boost its production capacity for its proprietary BiCS 3D flash memory to capture the massive growth market for enterprise and datacenter solid state drives. Further, Toshiba will extend its joint venture with Western Digital to include working together at the new fab.

Toshiba is quoted in the press release in stating:

“Going forward, TMC will expand its memory and SSD business and boost competitiveness by timely investments responding to market needs, and by development of BiCS FLASH™ and new generation memories.”

It is promising to see new fabs being opened and production capacities expanded by Toshiba and others (such as Micron) as it means that flash memory prices should stabilize (hopefully!), and the increased and newer production equipment will help enable the progress of new increasingly complex memory technologies.

Source: Toshiba

Intel, Micron Jointly Announce QLC NAND FLASH, 96-Layer 3D Development

Subject: Storage | May 21, 2018 - 04:31 PM |
Tagged: ssd, QLC, NVMe, nand, Intel, Floating Gate, flash, die, 1Tbit

In tandem with Micron's launch of their new enterprise QLC SSDs, there is a broader technology announcement coming out of Intel today. This release covers the fact that Intel and Micron have jointly developed shippable 64-Layer 3D QLC NAND.

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IMFT's 3D NAND announcement came back in early 2015, and Intel/Micron Flash Technologies have been pushing their floating gate technology further and further. Not only do we have the QLC announcement today, but with it came talks of progress on 96-layer development as well. Combining QLC with 96-Layer would yield a single die capacity of 1.5 Tbit (192GB), up from the 1 Tbit (128GB) capacity of the 64-Layer QLC die that is now in production.

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This new flash won't be meant for power users, but should be completely usable in a general use client SSD, provided there is a bit of SLC (or 3D XPoint???) cache on the front end. QLC does store 33% more data per the same die space, which should eventually translate to a lower $/GB once development costs have been recouped. Here's hoping for lower cost SSDs in the future!

Press blast after the break!

Micron Launches 5210 ION - First QLC NAND Enterprise SATA SSD

Subject: Storage | May 21, 2018 - 04:30 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, QLC, nand, micron, enterprise

For those that study how flash memory stores bits, Quad Level Cell technology is a tricky thing to pull off in production. You are taking a single NAND Flash cell and change its stored electron count in such a way that you can later discriminate between SIXTEEN different states.

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...we're talking a countable number (dozens to hundreds) of electrons making the difference between a stored 0101 or 0110 in a given cell. Pulling that off in production-capable parts is no small feat, and doing so for enterprise usage first is definitely a bold move. Enter Micron:

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The 5210 ION line is a SATA product meant for enterprise usages where the workload is primarily reading. This comes in handy for things like real-time data analytics and content delivery systems, where data is infrequently written but needs to be readable at latencies faster than what HDD's can provide.

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These are 2.5" 7mm SSDs that will be available from 1.92TB to 7.68TB (yes, 2TB is the *smallest* available capacity for these!). The idea is to enable an easy upgrade path for larger data systems that already employ SATA or SAS (SAS systems are typically cross-compatible with SATA). For backplanes that are designed for slimmer 7mm drives, this can make for some extreme densities.

These are currently being sampled to some big data companies and should see more general availability in a few months time. Press blast from Micron appears after the break.

Source: Micron