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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

Toshiba BICS Flash.png

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.

IMFT_Micron 3D NAND.png

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.

progression-3-.png

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.

SLC MLC TLC QLC.png

...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.

ION ECO PRO.png

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

Samsung 970 PRO and 970 EVO Get Purchase Day Price Cuts!

Subject: Storage | May 7, 2018 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, 970, pro, EVO, price cut, msrp

A couple of weeks ago, the Samsung 970 EVO and PRO launched, but they were not available for purchase until today.

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It appears Samsung were paying attention to the many reviews pointing out that the price premium was getting harder to justify in the face of competing drives closing in on performance because along with purchase availability came some nice price cuts:

Old pricing:

  • 970 PRO
    • 512GB - $330 ($0.64/GB)
    • 1TB      - $630 ($0.62/GB)
  • 970 EVO
    • 250GB - $120 ($0.48/GB)
    • 500GB - $230 ($0.46/GB)
    • 1TB      - $450 ($0.45/GB)
    • 2TB      - $850 ($0.43/GB)

New pricing (MSRP):

  • 970 PRO
    • 512GB - $250 ($0.49/GB)
    • 1TB      - $500 ($0.49/GB)
  • 970 EVO
    • 250GB - $110 ($0.44/GB)
    • 500GB - $200 ($0.40/GB) (Amazon)
    • 1TB      - $400 ($0.40/GB) (Amazon)
    • 2TB      - $800 ($0.40/GB)

These are not sale prices - these are the revised suggested retail prices (MSRP) from Samsung! It looks like Newegg and Amazon are now populating their listings with 970 SSDs at the revised pricing.

Someone order a round of Samsung NVMe?

Subject: Storage | May 3, 2018 - 07:00 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, 970 EVO, 970 PRO

We have 970 EVO and PRO reviews for you to peruse, as you patiently await them being in stock or perhaps you have one on the way.  Start out with The Tech Report's look at the 970 EVO as their RoboBench test is a bit different that the tests Allyn presented and they've included more drives for comparison.  Their test notes page also includes a long list of SSD models with controllers and NAND flavours listed out, which may help you make sense of the current SSD market and why some drives shine at certain benchmarks while falling behind on others.  Assuming you've already seen Al's review, start with The Tech Report and then head below the fold.

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"Samsung has taken the wraps off the successor to its trailblazing 960 EVO SSD. Join us as we put the 970 EVO through our test suite to find out whether it carries the EVO legacy forward."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Friday storage roundup

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

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

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

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: TechSpot

Western Digital Launches Ultrastar DC HC530 - TDMR 14TB HDD

Subject: Storage | April 18, 2018 - 05:39 PM |
Tagged: wdc, WD, ultrastar, sata, SAS, HelioSeal, hdd, DC HC530, 14tb

Following up on the prior release of a 14TB SMR (shingled magnetic recording) HDD, WD has launched a PMR (parallel magnetic recording)version of the same - the Ultrastar DC HC530:

UltrastarDC-HC530.jpg

While the new model does not yet incorporate MAMR, it does couple PMR with TDMR (two-dimensional magnetic recording), which gives a slight boost to platter density, reaching over 900 Gbit/sq. inch. The DC HC530 naming is a departure from the previous HGST Ultrastar line products, which were labeled as 'He8', 'He10', etc. High-level specs are as follows:

  • Rotational speed: 7200 RPM
  • Data buffer: 512MB
  • Seek time (typ): 7.5 ms
  • Sequential transfer rate: 267 MB/s (start of disk)
  • Available sector sizes: 512e (advanced format emulation), 4Kn (4KB sectors)
  • Warranty: 5 years

The SAS models offer double the interface throughput (12Gbps) and some additional custom sector sizes but require higher operating power to drive that faster interface. While track linear density is high enough (at least at the start of the disk) to saturate a SATA 3Gbit link, SATA 6Gbit and SAS 12Gbit links will still see a cache-hit benefit from the drives' relatively large 512MB data buffer.

WD's press release appears after the break, and more information is available on the Ultrastar DC HC530 product page.

Toshiba Refreshes HDD Branding, Intros Surveillance and Video Streaming Models

Subject: Storage | April 16, 2018 - 10:11 PM |
Tagged: x300, V300, toshiba, s300, P300, N300, L200, hdd

Today (well, tonight) Toshiba changed up their HDD branding to make things a bit easier to grasp for the consumer, as well as adding surveillance and video streaming models to their lineup:

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Toshiba chose to go with a round of colors, but these are notably different than what you have previously seen from WD. Typical desktop and mobile drives now carry a red label, with their performance desktop model going grey. NAS HDDs are yellow, and the two new items are blue and green. Let's take a closer look at these new additions:

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The blue 'Video Stream V300' model comes in up to a 3TB capacity and is firmware optimized for handling multiple (4) simultaneous video streams without thrashing the heads constantly seeking between tracks. This is a low RPM drive and is meant more for use in DVRs. Max capacity comes in only 3TB, but this is a very low cost and low power drive. Note the 'annual workload rating' of 72TB per year. More on that later.

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The green 'Surveillance S300' model is meant for significantly more demanding workloads upwards of 64 simultaneous HD video camera streams. These are meant for incorporation into large arrays and come with the necessary RV (accelerometer) sensors to help keep the heads on track while the drive is subjected to harsher vibrations seen in large server chassis. These come in up to 10TB with a workload rating of 150TB per year.

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Above are the general specs across the entire lineup, and below are the prices for the two new models:

  • V300 Video Streaming
    • 1TB - V300 Video Streaming - $49.99
    • 2TB - V300 Video Streaming - $69.99
    • 3TB - V300 Video Streaming - $89.99
  • S300 Surveillance
    • 4TB - S300 Surveillance - $119.99
    • 5TB – S300 Surveillance - $149.99
    • 6TB - S300 Surveillance - $189.99
    • 8TB - S300 Surveillance - $249.99
    • 10TB - S300 Surveillance - $349.99

Those prices look very competitive, but that 'annual workload rating' troubles me a bit, especially for the S300. That model is meant for use in an array, which must be initialized (eating one full drive write), possibly migrated (eating another full drive capacity worth of access), and with some RAID controllers, periodically scrubbing the data to verify integrity. A large array of 10TB HDDs with periodic array scrubbing/integrity checking scheduled every 2-3 weeks will technically run these parts past their rated workload. Backing off to monthly checks will get you just under the limit, provided your actual video workload does not push you over. Just something to consider when specing out a surveillance unit build.

Press blast for these new models appears after the break.

Source: Toshiba

The EX920, an HP NVMe SSD for thee

Subject: Storage | April 6, 2018 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: SSD EX920, NVMe, hp, tlc, SM2622, M.2

HP have released a new NVMe M.2 SSD, the EX920 which uses Silcon Motion's SM2622 controller and a DDR3-1600 cache which scales directly with the size of the drive, the 256GB drive has a 256MB cache while the 2TB has 2GB.  The drive uses four PCIe Gen 3 lanes, which offers some very impressive performance, Benchmark Reviews measured 3183/1776 MBps read/write in CrystalDiskMark.   The only real drawback to this drive is the warranty; while most companies offer at least five years, this HP drive is only covered for three.

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"HP suggests sustained sequential read speeds up to 3200 MB/s, and sustained sequential writes up to 1800 MB/s from their 1TB EX920 SSD, which utilizes 64-layer 3D NAND to deliver impressive storage density and reliability. Relative to solid state storage, one terabyte is an enormous amount of near-instant drive capacity. We’ll see if HP’s EX920 M.2 SSD is worth the money."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Kingston Launches Budget PCI-E x2 A1000 NVMe SSDs

Subject: Storage | April 5, 2018 - 03:38 AM |
Tagged: toshiba, tlc, phison, NVMe, kingston, BiCS3, 3d nand

Kingston is continuing its push into NVMe SSDs with its new A1000 series. The budget parts are positioned as mechanical drive alternatives. These drives use a lower cost PCI-E x2 interface and are single sided with the M.2 2280 (80mm) form factor. Kingston is using the four channel Phison E8 PS5008-E8 controller with DRAM cache along with Kingston branded TLC 3D NAND flash (SSD Review's sample reportedly used Toshiba's BICS3 256Gb flash).

Kingston A1000.png

The A1000 series (PDF) comes in 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB capacities. They offer up to 1500 MB/s sequential reads across all capacities and the other performance characteristics varying according to the capacity and number of flash dies used. The 960 GB drive is the fastest with up to 1,000 MB/s sequential writes, 120,000 random read IOPS, and 100,000 random write IOPS. The 480GB drive is a bit slower at 900 MB/s sequential writes, 100,000 random read IOPS, and 90,000 random write IOPS. Finally, the lowest capacity 240 GB SSD hits up to 800 MB/s sequential writes, 100,000 random read IOPS, and 80,000 random write IOPS. As far as endurance, Kingston rates all three capacities at the same 1 million hours MTBF and 150 TBW for the 240 GB, 300 TBW for the 480 GB, and 600 TBW for the 960 GB solid state drive. Kingston warranties the drives for five years which is nice to see on a budget drive.

  240 GB 480 GB 960 GB
Sequential Read 1,500 MB/s 1,500 MB/s 1,500 MB/s
Sequential Write 800 MB/s 900 MB/s 1,000 MB/s
Random Read 100K 100K 120K
Random Write 80K 90K 100K
Endurance Rating 150 TBW 300 TBW 600 TBW
MSRP $119.99 $219.99 $402.99

Kingston's A1000 SSDs use the NVMe 1.3 protocol but they are limited by the x2 PCI-E interface, especially where reads are concerned. Kingston is pricing the drives at MSRPs of $119.99 for the 240 GB, $219.99 for the 480 GB, and $402.99 for the 960 GB drive which does seem a bit on the pricier side of things but we'll have to wait a bit to see how retail pricing shakes out to say for sure. For example, looking on Amazon, the MSRPs of the A1000 drives are close to the retail pricing of Kingston's faster KC1000 SSDs which makes me think the street prices may come in lower than shown above (hopefully). In any case, the A1000 drives should be available soon as reviews have already begun popping up online.

Source: Kingston

Intel Launches 8th Gen i3+, i5+, i7+ with Optane Memory Mobile Caching up to 64GB

Subject: Storage | April 3, 2018 - 04:56 AM |
Tagged: Optane Memory, Optane, NVMe, Intel, 8th generation core, 800p, 3D XPoint

Remember *way* back just before CES 2017, when we caught that 'Optane Memory Storage Accelerator' entry on some Lenovo laptop release docs? Well, those obviously never happened, and we figured out why a few months later when we reviewed Intel's Optane Memory products and realized that the first iteration of these products had no apparent hardware power management capabilities, meaning they would draw excessive power while idling in a mobile platform.

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While the Optane Memory launch was a year ago, just last month we tested the 800P - what was meant to be the true usable standalone M.2 packaging for Optane. This part was nearly physically identical to Optane Memory, but with some tweaks to available capacities, and more importantly, support for hardware lower power idle states. While this opened the door for use in laptops, it still did not completely close the loop on an Optane-based caching solution for mobile platforms. That loop gets closed today:

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Along with a round of other new 8th generation CPU announcements (covered by Ken here), Intel has also launched a 'Core Plus' series, which are essentially the same 8th gen Core i3 / i5 / i7 parts, but with the addition of Optane Memory caching. These will be a newer, more power efficient version of the Optane Memory caching parts. While these were previously available in 16GB and 32GB capacities, this new round will add a 64GB tier to the mix.

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Another update being made to Optane Memory is that instead of caching the OS drive, Optane Memory will be able to cache a secondary data drive. This would be ideal for a system that was already using a fast NVMe SSD or 800P/900P as the OS drive, where the user also wanted to cache a very large secondary data HDD. The Optane Memory caching is currently limited to caching either the OS drive or a secondary drive - no current possibility to split the higher capacity Optane Memory modules across two separate drives (we asked, and will continue to press this suggestion).

Not sure what all of this 'Optane' / '3D XPoint' stuff is all about? Check out my article detailing how it all works here

Samsung Shows Off M.2 Form Factor Z-NAND Z-SSD at OCP Summit

Subject: Storage | March 29, 2018 - 10:43 PM |
Tagged: z-ssd, Z-NAND, workstation, Samsung, NVMe, M.2, HPC, enterprise

Samsung is expanding its Z-NAND based "Z-SSD" products with a new M.2 solid state drive for workstations and high-performance compute servers. Previously only available in half-height AIC (add-in-card) form factors, the SZ983 M.2 sports a M.2 22110 form factor and NVMe compatible PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface. The new drive was shown off at Samsung's booth during the Open Compute Project Summit in San Jose and was spotted by Anandtech who managed to snap a couple photos of it.

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Image credit: Anandtech spotted Samsung's M.2 Z-SSD at OCP Summit 2018.

The new M.2 Z-SSD will come in 240GB and 480GB capacities and sports an 8 channel Phoenix controller. The drive on display at OCP Summit 2018 had a part number of MZ1JB240HMGG-000FB-001. Comparing it to the SZ985 PCI-E SSD, this new M.2 drive appears to also have a DRAM cache as well as capacitors to protect data in the event of power loss (data writes would be able to completely write from the cache to the drive before safe shutdown) though we don't know if this drive has the same 1.5GB of LPDDR4 cache or not. Note that the sticker of the M.2 drive reads SZ983 while Samsung elsewhere had the M.2 labeled as the SZ985 (M.2) so it's unclear which name will stick when this actually launches though hopefully it's the former just to avoid confusion. The Phoenix (formerly Polaris v2) controller is allegedly going to also be used on some of the higher end V-NAND drives though we'll have to wait and see if that happens or not.

Anyway, back to performance numbers, Samsung rates the M.2 Z-SSD at 3200 MB/s sequential reads and 2800 MB/s sequential writes (so a bit slower than the SZ985 at writes). Samsung did not talk random IOPS numbers. The drive is rated at the same 30 DWPD (drive writes per day) endurance rating as the SZ985 and will have the same 5-year warranty. I am curious if the M.2 NVMe drive is able to hit the same (or close to) random IOPS numbers as the PCI-E card which is rated at up to 750,000 read and 170,000 write IOPS.

Z-NAND is interesting as it represents a middle ground between V-NAND and other 3D NAND flash and 3D XPoint memory in both terms of cost and latency performance with Z-NAND being closer in latency to XPoint than V-NAND. Where it gets interesting is that Z-NAND is essentially V-NAND just run at a different mode and yet they are able to reduce write latency by 5-times (12-to-20 microseconds) and cell read latency by up to 10-times (16 microseconds). While Samsung is already working on second generation Z-NAND, these drives are using first generation Z-NAND which is the more performance (lowest latency) type but costs quite a bit more than 2nd generation which is only a bit slower (more read latency). Judging by the form 110mm form factor, this M.2 drive is aimed squarely at datacenter and workstation usage and is not likely to lead to a consumer Optane 800P (et al) competitor, but if it does well enough we may see some prosumer and consumer Z-NAND based options in the future with newer generations of Z-NAND as they get the right balance of cost and latency for the desktop gaming and enthusiast market.

Also read:

Source: Anandtech

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

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

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

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

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Seagate Announces Exos X14 14TB Enterprise Hard Drive

Subject: Storage | March 27, 2018 - 01:33 AM |
Tagged: Seagate, helium, enterprise, datacenter, 14tb

During the Open Compute Summit Seagate showed off a new drive in its Helium-filled Exos X lineup that offers up 14TB of storage in a 3.5-inch SATA hard drive package. The aptly named Exos X14 is a low power 7200 RPM drive that utilizes PMR rather than the more exotic methods (shingled, HAMR, ect) and is a drop-in replacement that Seagate claims allows up to 40% more storage space per rack than previous drives – up to 3,360 TB per rack!

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The drive is aimed at datacenter customers and cloud storage providers clamoring for fast-enough affordable storage. The Exos X14 platform is expected to use a whopping 9-platters each holding 1.55 terabytes. Beyond that, Seagate is not sharing exact specifications except to say that it has bested the sustained transfer rates of the Exos X12 and competitors and has leading and reliable random I/O performance that has been optimized for hyperscale environments (so take that for what you will) likely thanks to the increased storage density.

Seagate did note that the new drives support Seagate Secure encryption and the drive is rated for FIPS 140-2 / Level 2 and ISO/IEC 15408 certifications so at least in theory it meets a minimum level of IT security practices in the methods it uses to protect the data stored on it.

A research study performed by IDC and sponsored by Seagate found that worldwide data creation could hit up to 163 Zettabytes (163 trillion Gigabytes!) by 2025 (10-times the amount of data created last year) which is mind-boggling. Even if the reality is half of that, that’s still an absolutely staggering amount of data that needs to be stored somewhere and both spinning rust and expensive flash are going to have to make some significant advancements to get to that point – and to that point with an acceptable TCO.

The Exos X14 is expected to start shipping to datacenter customers this summer and is currently being sampled to select partners like Baidu and Facebook (Facebook was showing off a server packed with the drives at OCP 2018).

Also interesting is Seagate’s announcement of “Mach.2” multi-actuator technology and its advancements into making HAMR (heat assisted magnetic recording) more reliable both of which are going to be important for the future.

Source: Seagate