All | Editorial | General Tech | Graphics Cards | Networking | Motherboards | Cases and Cooling | Processors | Chipsets | Memory | Displays | Systems | Storage | Mobile | Shows and Expos
Subject: Storage | August 10, 2016 - 01:59 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: FMS 2016, ssd, Seagate, Lightning, facebook, 60TB
Seagate showed off some impressive Solid State Storage at Flash Memory Summit 2016.
First up is the Nytro XM1440. This is a 2TB M.2 22110 SSD complete with enterprise firmware and power loss protection. Nice little package, but what's it for?
..well if you have 60 of them, you can put them into this impressive 1U chassis. This is Facebook's Lightning chassis (discussed yesterday). With Seagate's 2TB parts, this makes for 120TB of flash in a 1U footprint. Great for hyperscale datacenters.
Now onto what you came to see:
This is the 'Seagate 60TB SAS SSD'. It really doesn't need a unique name because that capacity takes care of that for us! This is a 3.5" form factor SAS 12Gbit beast of a drive.
They pulled this density off with a few tricks which I'll walk through. First was the stacking of three PCBs with flash packages on both sides. 80 packages in total.
Next up is Seagate's ONFi fan-out ASIC. This is required because you can only have so many devices connected to a single channel / bus of a given SSD controller. The ASIC acts as a switch for data between the controller and flash dies.
With so much flash present, we could use a bit of fault tolerance. You may recall RAISE from SandForce (who Seagate now owns). This is effectively RAID for flash dies, enabling greater resistance to individual errors across the array.
Finally we have the specs. With a dual 12 Gbit SAS inteface, the 60TB SAS SSD can handle 1.5 GB/s reads, 1.0 GB/s writes, and offers 150,000 IOPS at 4KB QD32 random (SAS tops out at QD32). The idea behind drives like these is to cram as much storage into the smallest space possible, and this is certainly a step in the right direction.
We also saw the XP7200 add-in card. I found this one interesting as it is a PCIe 3.0 x16 card with four M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs installed, but *without* a PLX switch to link them to the host system. This is possible only in server systems supporting PCIe Bifurcation, where the host can recognize that certain sets of lanes are linked to individual components.
More to follow from FMS 2016! Press blast after the break.
Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 06:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd t3, Samsung, portable storage
Just because you are on the road there is no reason to subject yourself to HDD speeds when transferring files. Not only will an SSD be quieter and more resilient but the USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C port theoretically offers up to 450MB/s transfer speeds. This particular 2TB portable SSD uses the same MGX controller as the 850 EVO, the NAND is Samsung's 48-layer TLC V-NAND. The Tech Report previously tried out the T1 model so their expectations were that this drive would improve performance in addition to offering larger sizes of drive. Does it live up to expectations? Find out in their full review.
"Not all new SSDs go inside your computer. We take a quick look at Samsung's latest V-NAND-powered external drive, the Portable SSD T3, to see what it's like to put 2TB of fast storage in one's pocket."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Corsair Neutron XTi SSD Review (480GB) @ The SSD Review
- Kingston SSDNow UV400 SSD Review (480GB) @ The SSD Review
- Crucial MX300 750GB Limited Edition SSD Review @ NikKTech
- Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 3.0 Review – Data Protection For Every Security Need @ The SSD Review
- Kingston 512GB SDXC Card @ The SSD Review
- QNAP TurboNAS TS-531P-8G NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Synology DiskStation DS916+ 4-Bay SMB NAS @ eTeknix
- QNAP TS-453A QTS-Ubuntu Combo NAS @ eTeknix
- Synology DS916+ 4-bay NAS @ techPowerUp
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 9, 2016 - 03:33 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, QuantX, nand, micron
Micron just completed their keynote address at Flash Memory Summit, and as part of the presentation, we saw our first look at some raw scaled Queue Depth IOPS performance figures from devices utilizing XPoint memory:
These are the performance figures from an U.2 device with a PCIe 3.0 x4 link. Note the outstanding ramp up to full saturation of the bus at a QD of only 4. Slower flash devices require much more parallelism and a deeper queue to achieve sufficient IOPS throughput to saturate that same bus. That 'slow' device on the bottom there, I'm pretty certain, is Micron's own 9100 MAX, which was the fastest thing we had tested to date, and it's being just walked all over by this new XPoint prototype!
Ok, so that's damn fast, but what if you had an add in card with PCIe 3.0 x8?
Ok, now that's just insane! While the queue had to climb to ~8 to reach these figures, that's 1.8 MILLION IOPS from a single HHHL add in card. That's greater than 7 GB/s worth of 4KB random performance!
In addition to the crazy throughput and IOPS figures, we also see latencies running at 1/10th that of flash-based NVMe devices.
..so it appears that while the cell-level performance of XPoint boasts 1000x improvements over flash, once you implement it into an actual solution that must operate within the bounds of current systems (NVMe and PCIe 3.0), we currently get only a 10x improvement over NAND flash. Given how fast NAND already is, 10x is no small improvement, and XPoint still opens the door for further improvement as the technology and implementations mature over time.
More to follow as FMS continues!
Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 01:09 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, UFS, QuantX, micron, FMS 2016, FMS
As you can see, UFS is not just for SD cards. These are going to be able to replace embedded memory in mobile devices, displacing the horror that is eMMC with something way faster. These devices are smaller than a penny, with a die size of just over 60 mm squared and boast a 32GB capacity.
One version of the UFS 2.1 devices also contains Micron's first packaged offering of LPDDR4X. This low power RAM offers an additional 20% power savings over existing LPDDR4.
Also up is an overdue branding of Micron's XPoint (spoken 'cross-point') products:
More to follow from FMS 2016. A few little birdies told me there will be some good stuff presented this morning (PST), so keep an eye out, folks!
Press blast for Micron's UFS goodness appears after the break.
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 | August 1, 2016 - 11:03 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, enterprise ssd
Allyn first mentioned this device last year, but they're apparently now shipping for a whopping $10,000 USD. To refresh, the PM1633a is an SSD from Samsung that packs 15.36TB into a 2.5-inch form factor. According to Samsung, it does this by stacking 16 dies, each containing 48 layers of flash cells, into a 512GB package.
It's unclear how many packages are installed in the device, because we don't know how much over-provisioning Samsung provides, but the advertised capacity equates to exactly 30 packages. Update @ 11:30pm: Turns out I was staring right at it in the old press release. The drive has 32 packages, so 16384 GB, once you account for over-provisioning.
Image Credit: Samsung
Down at CDW, they are selling them for $10,311.99 USD with the option to lease for $321.73 / month. That's only 2.1c/GB... per month... for probably three whole years. No Ryan, that doesn't count. The warranty period doesn't seem to be listed, but Samsung will cover up to 15.36TB per day in writes. I mean, we knew it would be expensive, given its size and performance. At least it's only ~65c/GB.
Subject: Storage | August 1, 2016 - 03:14 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: M8PeG, ssd, solid state drive, preview, plextor, nand, M8Pe, M.2, CES 2016, M8PeY
Plextor announced their first M.2 SSD at CES 2016, and now the M8Pe series is officially set for a release this month. Computer Base (German language) had a chance to preview the new drive, and supplied a detailed look at the M.2 version (this is model M8PeG, and the version with a riser card is M8PeY).
The Plextor M8PeG SSD (Image credit: Computer Base)
Even the M.2 form-factor version of the SSD includes a heatsink, which Plextor warns creates incompatibility with notebooks as the M8PeG is 4.79 mm in height with the heatsink in place.
Specifications for the drives are as follows:
|Plextor M8PeG||Plextor M8PeY|
|Controller||Marvell 88SS1093 (8-Channel)|
|DRAM||512MB LPDDR3 (1024MB variant)|
|Capacity||128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB|
|NAND||Toshiba 15nm Toggle 2.0 MLC|
|Form Factor||M.2 (80 mm)||PCIe card (HH, HL)|
|Interface||PCIe 3.0 x4|
So what did Computer Base have to report with their hands-on preview of the new drive? Here's their CrystalDiskMark result:
(Image credit: Computer Base)
Naturally we'll have to wait for a full-scale AllynReview™ to get a better idea of performance in all situations, but until then it's good to know we'll soon have another option to consider in the M.2 SSD market. As to pricing, we don't have anything just yet.
The M8Pe SSD lineup (Image credit: Computer Base)
Subject: Storage | July 26, 2016 - 02:34 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: MX300, micron, M.2, crucial, 525GB, 275GB, 1TB
We reviewed the Crucial MX300 750GB SSD a few months back. It was a good drive that tested well, and thanks to its IMFT 3D NAND, it came in at a very competitive price point. Today Crucial has rearranged that lineup a bit:
The following capacities are being added to the MX300 lineup:
- 1TB $260 ($0.26/GB)
- 525GB $130 ($0.25/GB)
- 275GB $70 ($0.25/GB)
- 275GB * M.2 2280
The new capacities will be what is sold moving forward (starting 'late August'), with the 750GB model shifting to 'Limited Edition' status. That $0.25/GB carrying all the way down to the lowest capacity is significant, as typically we see higher cost/GB due to controller/PCB/packaging have more impact. Without that coming into play, we get a nearly 300GB SSD coming in at $70!
Specs and expected performance remain the same across all capacities, save a dip in random read performance on the 275GB models, mainly due to the reduced die count / parallelism. We'll take a look at these new capacities just as soon as samples arrive.
Subject: Storage | July 19, 2016 - 01:49 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: floppy drive, apple, commodore, IBM
This video, about floppy disks, is a little bit longer and in-depth than their previous one about cassette tapes. The 8-Bit Guy and friends (I'm pretty sure they don't call themselves that...) goes through how many tracks each floppy have, how many sectors they have, and how that varies per-manufacturer (including the technical reasons of how and why they are formatted incompatibly).
The 8-Bit Guy likes to go through a bunch of hardware, spanning the gamut of Atari, Commodore, Apple, IBM PC, and others, and explain their history. The most interesting part of this video, to me, was his explanation of why the Commodore floppy drive was so much larger than its competitors, and what it meant for performance.
Subject: Storage | July 15, 2016 - 02:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb type-c, usb 3.1, Porsche Design Desktop Drive, LaCie, external hdd
LaCie's newest external drive is called the Porsche Design Desktop Drive and comes in 4, 5 and 8TB models, giving you plenty of room to back up important files and to take your stories with you when travelling. It connects via Type-C USB 3.1, finally giving you a peripheral to plug into that port on your motherboard although it requires an AC power adapter to be plugged in when in use. Benchmark Reviews tested the drive and saw reads and writes hitting just under 180MB/s which is not bad, although far short of the theoretical maximum performance of the new USB protocol. You can check out the full review here.
"Utilizing the latest USB-C connector and providing up to 8GB of storage as well as simultaneously charging your laptop computer, the LaCie Porsche Design Desktop Drive is powerful, stylish, and usable with any computer with a USB 3.0/3.1 port. There are other features as well, which Benchmark Reviews will test in this review of this interesting external drive system."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB @ Kitguru
- Toshiba TransMemory-EX II 128 GB USB 3.0 @ techPowerUp
- Seagate Enterprise Capacity v5 8TB Review @ Hardware Canucks
Yes, you read that correctly the 480GB Sonix NVMe PCIe SSD is indeed a Zotac product, the internals will be a bit less surprising to you however. Inside is a Phison PS5007-11 controller, paired with Toshiba MLC NAND and a 512MB DDR3 cache. Along with benchmarking the drive, eTeknix exposed its innards for your viewing pleasure in their full review. The price is a hair under $1/GB, perhaps a little less expensive than other PCIe SSD cards but still far above SATA based SSDs.
"We have finally entered the new storage era and it is no longer just a few selected manufacturers that have NVMe drives on the market. More competition and more options are great for us consumers and it is a pleasure for me to take Zotac’s Sonix PCIe-based NVMe SSD with 480GBcapacity for a test drive here at the office today."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung 850 EVO @ The SSD Review
- Micron 9100 MAX Enterprise NVMe @ The SSD Review
- Toshiba OCZ RD400 512GB PCIe NVMe @ Custom PC Review
- OCZ RD400 (512GB) PCIe MVM2 M.2 SSD @ Bjorn3d
- Synology DiskStation DS916+ @ Legion Hardware
- Asustor AS3202T 2-Bay NAS @ techPowerUp
- Samsung EVO Plus microSDXC UHS-I Card @ The SSD Review
If you are looking for large sized storage and can accept the SATA 6Gbps bottleneck, the 1920GB Toshiba HK4R SATA SSD certainly has some room for files. It uses Toshiba's own TC58 controller with 15nm MLC NAND and sports an endurance rating of 1 Drive Write Per Day for the duration of the 5 year warranty or up to 3520TB written. The testing done at The SSD Review showed sequential read and write speeds of 524MB/s and 503MB/s respectively making the drive a great choice for consumers or enterprise as the drive has many features required in the data centre. There is a distinct lack of pricing information, we shall see what these drives sell at some time in the near future.
"SATA SSDs are all the rage in data centers. Unlike their PCIe bothers, these SATA SSDs don’t often need to have high endurance figures and lightning fast IOPS performance. Instead, they typically just need to be cheap, reliable, and what is becoming more important lately, high capacity."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba Q300 Pro 256GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- Transcend SSD220S 480GB SSD @ Kitguru
- Drobo 5N review: Protection with BeyondRAID @ Modders-Inc
- Synology Diskstation DS416j NAS Review @ OCC
Subject: General Tech, Storage | July 5, 2016 - 02:52 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: cassette, tape
Some old PCs didn't have storage, so users needed to add programs manually by typing in the source code. As The 8-Bit Guy explains, one of the first consumer solutions was to attach a cassette tape to the computer through analog audio cables. They would actually be programmed by pulsing electrical intensities, which would be interpreted as binary data, within the audio range. Near the end, he even plays a clip of normal data, and “fast loader” data.
He, and his co-hosts, talk about their experiences with the medium, such as using a two-deck cassette player to copy programs and share them with friends. It doesn't go too deep into the technology or the time period, unlike some of his previous videos, but it's still entertaining none-the-less.
Subject: Storage | June 24, 2016 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Mushkin, Triactor, SM2256, tlc
At about $0.23/GB for the 480GB model it would be hard to find a less expensive SSD without waiting for a sale. There are those who will refuse the drive because of the use of 256Gbit TLC SanDisk flash and the Silicon Motion SM2256K controller but those on the lookout for bargains should pop by The SSD Review for a look at the full performance review. Apart from the expected poor performance with large constant write transfers this drive runs at a respectable pace when performing the common tasks you would require.
"We've tested quite a few TLC based SSDs as of late, will the Mushkin Triactor show up the competition? Or will it lag behind in all its TLC "glory?" So far all we can say is that it sure does look cool. Read on as we analyze the new Mushkin Triactor 480GB in today's review!"
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- OCZ RD400 PCIe NVMe SSD @ Benchmark Reviews
- Intel 535 Series 240GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- WD My Cloud Expert Series EX2100 8TB NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Samsung Portable SSD T3 500GB USB 3.1 Gen 1 Drive Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | June 21, 2016 - 04:02 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: V-NAND, SM961, Samsung, PM961, 960 PRO, 960 EVO, 48-layer
We've known Samsung was working on OEM-series SSDs using their new 48-layer V-NAND, and it appears they are getting closer to shipping in volume, so here's a peek at what is to come:
First up are the SM961 and PM961. The SM and PM appear to be converging into OEM equivalents of the Samsung 'PRO' and 'EVO' retail product lines, with MLC flash present in the SM and TLC (possibly with SLC TurboWrite cache) in the PM. The SM961 has already been spotted for pre-order over at Ram City. Note that they currently list the 1TB, 512GB, and 256GB models, but at the time of this writing, all three product titles (incorrectly) state 1TB. That said, pricing appears to be well below the current 950 PRO retail for equivalent capacities.
These new parts certainly have impressive specs on paper, with the SM961 claiming a 25-50% gain over the 950 PRO in nearly all metrics thanks to 48-layer V-NAND and an updated 'Polaris' controller. We've looked at plenty of Samsung OEM units in the past, and sometimes specs differ between OEM and retail parts, but it is starting to make sense for Samsung to simply relabel a given OEM / retail part at this point (minus any vendor-requested firmware detuning, like reduced write speeds in favor of increased battery life, etc).
With that are the other two upcoming parts that do not appear on the above chart. Those will be the 960 PRO and EVO, barring any last second renaming by Samsung. Originally we were expecting Samsung to add a 1TB SKU to their 950 PRO line, but it appears they have changed gears and will now shift their 48-layer parts to the 960 series. The other big bonus here is that we should also be getting an EVO, which would mark Samsung's first retail M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 part sporting TLC flash. That product should come in a lot closer to 850 EVO pricing, but offer significantly greater performance over the faster interface. While we don't have specs on these upcoming products, the safe bet is that they will come in very close (if not identical) to that of the aforementioned SM961 and PM961.
All of these upcoming products are based on Samsung's 48-layer V-NAND. Announced late last year, this flash has measurably reduced latency (thanks to our exclusive Latency Percentile testing) as compared to the older 32-layer parts. Given the performance improvements noted above, it seems that even more can be extracted from this new flash when connected to a sufficiently performant controller. Previous controllers may have been channel bandwidth limited on the newest flash, where Polaris can likely open up the interface to higher speed grades.
We await these upcoming launches with baited breath. It's nice to see these parts inching closer to the saturation point of quad lane PCIe 3.0. Naturally there will be more to follow here, so stay tuned!
Subject: Storage | June 21, 2016 - 02:43 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: usb 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, raid, hdd, drobo, DAS, BeyondRAID, 5Dt, 5D
Today Drobo updated their 5D, shifting to Thunderbolt 2, an included mSATA caching SSD, and faster internals:
The new 5Dt (t for Turbo Edition) builds on the strengths of the 5D, which launched three years ago. The distinguishing features remain the same, as this is still a 5-bay model with USB 3.0, but the processor has been upgraded, as well as the USB 3.0 chipset, which was a bit finicky with some earlier implementations of the technology.
The changes present themselves at the rear, as we now have a pair of Thunderbolt 2 (20 Gb/s) ports which support display pass-through (up to 4k). Rates speeds climb to 540 MB/s read and 250 MB/s write when using HDDs. SSDs bump those figures up to 545 / 285 MB/s, respectively.
Another feature that has remained was their Hot Data Cache technology, but while the mSATA part was optional on the 5D, a 128GB unit comes standard and pre-installed on the 5Dt.
The Drobo 5Dt is available today starting at $899. That price is a premium over the 5D, but the increased performance specs, included SSD, and Thunderbolt connectivity come at a price.
The current (updated) Drobo product lineup.
Full press blast after the break.
Subject: Storage | June 16, 2016 - 02:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SK Hynix, enterprise ssd, SE3010
SK Hynix's SE3010 uses their own controller, the eight channel SH87910AA Pearl and in the case of the 960GB model, eight 16nm 128Gb MLC NAND chips with a mysterious H27Q18YEB9a label and four capacitors to prevent data loss in the case of unexpected power loss. The drive is optimized for read speeds and Kitguru's testing certainly shows that they were effective in their implementation. Check out the write speed and overall conclusions in the full review.
"When we last looked at an SSD from SK hynix it was from their consumer portfolio. This time around we are looking at a drive from the other part of their storage business in the shape of the SE3010, a read intensive drive for the Enterprise market space."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Crucial's MX300 SSD @ The Tech Report
- Crucial MX300 750GB Limited Edition @ Kitguru
- Crucial MX300 @ The SSD Review
- Samsung 750 EVO 500GB SSD @ Guru of 3D
- Samsung Portable SSD T3 (1TB) @ Bjorn3d
Subject: Storage | June 13, 2016 - 03:46 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, tlc, Stony Beach, ssd, pcie, Optane, NVMe, mlc, Mansion Beach, M.2, kaby lake, Intel, imft, Brighton Beach, 3DNAND, 3d nand
For those unaware, XPoint (spoken 'cross-point') is a new type of storage technology that is persistent like NAND Flash but with speeds closer to that of RAM. Intel's brand name for devices implementing XPoint are called Optane.
Starting at the bottom of the slide, we see a new 'System Acceleration' segment with a 'Stony Beach PCIe/NVMe m.2 System Accelerator'. This is likely a new take on Larson Creek, which was a 20GB SLC SSD launched in 2011. This small yet very fast SLC flash was tied into the storage subsystem via Intel's Rapid Storage Technology and acted as a caching tier for HDDs, which comprised most of the storage market at that time. Since Optane excels at random access, even a PCIe 3.0 x2 part could outmaneuver the fastest available NAND, meaning these new System Accelerators could act as a caching tier for Flash-based SSDs or even HDDs. These accelerators can also be good for boosting the performance of mobile products, potentially enabling the use of cheaper / lower performing Flash / HDD for bulk storage.
Skipping past the mainstream parts for now, enthusiasts can expect to see Brighton Beach and Mansion Beach, which are Optane SSDs linked via PCIe 3x2 or x4, respectively. Not just accelerators, these products should have considerably more storage capacity, which may bring costs fairly high unless either XPoint production is very efficient or if there is also NAND Flash present on those parts for bulk storage (think XPoint cache for NAND Flash all in one product).
We're not sure if or how the recent delays to Kaby Lake will impact the other blocks on the above slide, but we do know that many of the other blocks present are on-track. The SSD 540s and 5400s were in fact announced in Q2, and are Intel's first shipping products using IMFT 3D NAND. Parts not yet seen announced are the Pro 6000p and 600p, which are long overdue m.2 SSDs that may compete against Samsung's 950 Pro. Do note that those are marked as TLC products (purple), though I suspect they may actually be a hybrid TLC+SLC cache solution.
Going further out on the timeline we naturally see refreshes to all of the Optane parts, but we also see the first mention of second-generation IMFT 3DNAND. As I hinted at in an article back in February, second-gen 3D NAND will very likely *double* the per-die capacity to 512Gbit (64GB) for MLC and 768Gbit (96GB) for TLC. While die counts will be cut in half for a given total SSD capacity, speed reductions will be partially mitigated by this flash having at least four planes per die (most previous flash was double-plane). A plane is an effective partitioning of flash within the die, with each section having its own buffer. Each plane can perform erase/program/read operations independently, and for operations where the Flash is more limiting than the interface (writes), doubling the number of planes also doubles the throughput. In short, doubling planes roughly negates the speed drop caused by halving the die count on an SSD (until you reach the point where controller-to-NAND channels become the bottleneck, of course).
IMFT XPoint Die shot I caught at the Intel / Micron launch event.
Well, that's all I have for now. I'm excited to see that XPoint is making its way into consumer products (and Storage Accelerators) within the next year's time. I certainly look forward to testing these products, and I hope to show them running faster than they did back at that IDF demo...