CES 2018: Mushkin Adds New SATA SSDs To Triactor Family

Subject: Storage | January 10, 2018 - 08:17 PM |
Tagged: sm2258xt, SM2258, sata 6Gbs, sata 3, Mushkin, M.2 SATA, CES 2018, CES, 3d nand

In addition to the PCI-E based solid state drives it showed off at CES, Mushkin is adding two new SATA-based SSDs to its Triactor series. The new Triactor 3DL and Triactor 3DX are M.2 and 2.5" form factor SSDs respectively that are available in 120 GB, 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB capacities and utilize 3D TLC NAND flash memory and SMI controllers. Both drives come with M.E.D.S. wear leveling and data protection algorithms and three-year warranties.

Triactor3DLM2_1.JPG

The Triactor 3DL is a M.2 2280 form factor SSD that uses a SMI SM2258XT controller with a SATA 3.1 6 Gbps interface. The SM2258XT is a four-channel controller that lacks a DRAM cache. The Triactor 3DL is rated at up to 550 MB/s sequential reads, 505 MB/s sequential writes, 73,000 random 4k read IOPS and 80,000 random 4k write IOPS. Its data protection features include LDPC ECC and algorithms for data shaping, StaticDataRefresh, and wear leveling. While not as impressive as its NVMe M.2 counterparts, it should be a good bit cheaper and compatible with more PCs especially as an upgrade path for older notebooks.

IMG_4532.JPG

On the other hand, the Triactor 3DX is a more traditional SATA drive that comes in a 2.5" form factor (7mm thick). In this case the 3D TLC NAND flash is paired with a SMI SM2258 controller which is similar to the one above except that it can utilize a DRAM cache and supports AES encryption. The Triactor 3DX is rated at 565 MB/s sequential reads, 530 MB/s sequential writes, 100,000 random 4k read IOPs, and 91,000 random 4k write IOPS. It seems that the cache is helping performance a bit, and the drive is starting to bump up against the real-world limits of the SATA 6 Gbps interface. Since it is of the thinner 7mm type, it will be compatible with most notebooks and desktops.

The new Triactor drives are cheaper options that come in M.2 as well as traditional SATA drives. Mushkin is not talking pricing or availability just yet.

Source: Mushkin

CES 2018: Crucial Expands MX500 Lineup - 2.5" SATA up to 2TB, M.2 2280 SATA up to 1TB

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2018 - 07:38 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, slc, sata, nand, MX500, DWA, crucial, CES 2018, CES, 3d nand

Crucial showed off the upcoming M.2 variant of its MX500 product, available in capacities up to 1TB. They also announced (press release after the break) that the MX500 will be available from 250GB up to 2TB capacities.

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Here is Crucial's product tour video for the MX500:

We previously tested the 1TB MX500, and Crucial passed along a 500GB model that I was able to spot check to ensure there was no performance fall-off at the smaller capacities of this line:

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Looks good so far, and nearly identical to the 1TB capacity across our entire test suite. We did also speak with Crucial reps (Jon and Jon) about the TRIM speed issues noted in our previous review. They are looking into replicating our testing and may be pushing out a firmware to help improve this metric moving forward.

180109-153627a.jpg

We also saw some sweet looking new RGB Ballistix memory, due out shortly. More to follow there! Crucial's MX500 CES announcement appears after the break.

Source: Crucial

CES 2018: Mushkin Launches New M.2 NVMe SSDs

Subject: Storage | January 10, 2018 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: Mushkin, silicon motion, SM2262, SM2263XT, 3d nand, tlc, M.2, NVMe, CES, CES 2018

Mushkin is on site at CES where it is launching a slew of new products. On the storage front, Mushkin is showing off three new M.2 2280 form factor NVMe solid state drives aimed at various price points. The Pilot, Pilot-E, and Helix-L M.2 drives all use Silicon Motion controllers and 3D TLC NAND flash memory. Mushkin further advertises them with a three-year warranty and the company's MEDS Reliability Suite which includes technology to enable end-to-end data path protection, LDPC ECC, and global wear leveling algorithms to ensure data integrity and longevity.

IMG_4524.JPG

At the top end of performance is the Pilot-E M.2 SSD based on SM2262EN controller which offers up eight channels for connecting all the 3D NAND. This 250 GB to 2 TB drive is able to achieve extremely speedy 3.5 GB/s sequential reads and 3.0 GB/s sequential writes along with 370K read IOPS and 300K write IOPS. Essentially, the Pilot-E M.2 should be able to easily max out the PCI-E x4 connection with the right workloads.

Stepping down a bit, the Pilot drive uses an eight channel SM2262 controller. This drive gets close to the Pilot-E in reads, but has much lower sequential write performance. Capacities for this SSD range from 120 GB to 2 TB. Specifically, the Pilot SSD is rated at 3.2 GB/s sequential reads, 1.9 GB/s sequential writes, 370K random read IOPS, and 300K random write IOPS. This drive should be cheaper than the Pilot-E and will be aimed at the consumer space where reads are more important than writes.

IMG_4557.JPG

Finally, Mushkin's Helix-L is a lower cost SSD that uses a DRAM-less design to reduce cost as well as a cheaper four channel SM2263XT controller. Capacities range from 120 GB to 1TB. This SSD supports Host Memory Buffer architecture which allows it to use system memory as a cache to improve performance. The Helix-L is rated at 2.4 GB/s sequential reads, 1.7 GB/s sequential writes, 280K random read IOPS (140K without HMB) and 250K random write IOPS.

Mushkin has not yet revealed pricing or availability on its new NVMe 1.3 drives. You can read more about the Silicon Motion controllers used here.

Source: Mushkin

CES 2018: Intel Launches Optane 800P M.2 2280 SSDs, 60/120GB Capacities

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 9, 2018 - 07:32 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, Optane, Intel, CES 2018, CES, 800p, 60GB, 3D XPoint, 120gb

Intel broke news just now that they will be launching a larger version of their 16/32GB Optane Memory modules. The new 800P looks very much the same as its little brother but is designed to operate as a sole boot SSD. Mobile applications are also possible now as the 800P includes power management features that the Optane Memory modules lacked (as they were not intended for mobile).

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We are under embargo as far as performance goes, but from what we know about how Optane parts scale, it's a safe bet that performance will be very close to what we've seen out of the Optane Memory parts. Warranty will be 5 years with an endurance of ~200GB per day. No word on cost at this time. Overall these though fit nicely between Optane Memory (16/32GB) and the 900P (280/480+GB) capacity points.

The elephant in the room is the capacity. While these can store more than the 16/32GB variants, 60/120GB may not be enough for most users out there. Fortunately, devices like these are great in Zx70 RAID or even VROC configurations!

CES 2018: Dell SDI T0500 & SDI T1000 Thunderbolt 3 SSDs

Subject: Storage | January 9, 2018 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt 3, ssd, external ssd

Dell has just announced a pair of external SSDs. The Dell SDI T0500 will have a 500 GB capacity. The Dell SDI T1000 will, as the name suggests, doubles that to 1 TB. Both external SSDs connect via Thunderbolt 3. Because it’s using this connector, we can expect it to be fast but not mass-market. I am guessing that Dell intends this product to be purchased with one of their Thunderbolt 3 laptops, and probably with a specific type of user in mind. That is just my speculation, though.

sdi_t0500_t1000_Thunderbolt_3.png

Unfortunately, we don’t have much else to go on. No price, availability, read or write speeds, IO throughput, or anything else has been published.

Source: Dell

CES 2018: The Patriot EVLVR is a Tiny and Fast Portable Thunderbolt 3 SSD

Subject: Storage | January 8, 2018 - 09:15 PM |
Tagged: thunderbolt 3, ssd, patriot, external ssd, CES 2018, CES

Memory firm Patriot announced a new Thunderbolt 3 portable SSD at CES this week. The Patriot EVLVR ("evolver") is based on Phison E8 PCIe controller and advertises speeds of up to 1500MB/s in sequential reads and 1000MB/s in sequential writes.

patriot-evlvr-thunderbolt-3-ssd.jpg

The drive connects to PCs and Macs via a single detachable Thunderbolt 3 cable and is bus-powered, although there is no second Thunderbolt port for passthrough capability.

The Patriot EVLVR launches in March and will be available in 256GB ($199.99), 512GB ($289.99), and 1TB ($489.99) capacities.

Source: Patriot

CES 2018: Elgato Shows Off Portable Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Storage, Mobile | January 8, 2018 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: CES, CES 2018, Elgato, dock, thunderbolt 3, adapter

Elgato is launching a smaller Thunderbolt 3 dock aptly named the Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock to its family of docks (how many times can I use dock in one sentence?). The portable dock comes with a tail Thunderbolt 3 cable that is permanently attached and stows away into a groove on the bottom of the dock when not in use.

Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock.jpg

Using the single 40 Gbps connection provided by Thunderbolt 3, the Mini Dock offers up display outputs, USB 3.1, and network ports including:

  • DisplayPort 1.2 (4k60)
  • HDMI 2.0 (4k60 and HDCP 2.2)
  • RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps UASP and 0.9A of power).

Users will need a newer laptop or desktop with Thunderbolt running Mac OS Sierra 10.12 or Window 10 operating systems or newer. The compact dock will be available in the sping with as yet unanounced pricing. It should be cheaper than Elgatos larger docks (currently their Thunderbolt 3 Dock is $291) though since it is not powered and offers fewer ports.

As notebooks continue to get thinner, these docks (along with ones based on USB Type-C) are going to become more useful in getting the most out of our faster mobile hardware.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES news as it develops!

Also read:

Source: Elgato

CES 2018: Toshiba Announces RC100 NVMe and XS700 Portable SSDs

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2018 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: XS700, toshiba, ssd, RC100, portable, ocz, NVMe, CES 2018, CES

Toshiba announced a couple of new additions to their SSD lineup. First up is the RC100:

Toshiba_RC100-pr (002).jpg

This is a DRAMless design intended to target budget builds - something much needed in the current (pricey) SSD landscape. Just because there is no DRAM present in the design does not mean that the RC100 can't perform well. Toshiba has implemented the Host memory Buffer (HMB) feature, which allows the NVMe driver to share a small (38MB) portion of host memory via the same PCIe 3.0 x2 link used to transfer user data. This memory portion effectively caches a portion of the FTL, which should bring the random performance of smaller sections of the SSD up to what you would expect to see from a higher performance product. Specs are as follows:

  • Capacities: 120/240/480GB
  • PCIe 3.0 x2
  • Random read/write: 160/120k IOPS
  • Sequential read/write: 1620/1130 MB/s
  • Warranty: 3 years

Up next is the XS700, Toshiba's first portable SSD:

XS700_front_high_angle_wlight.jpg

Specs:

  • 240GB only
  • USB 3.1 Gen2 (type-c connector on device)
  • Ships with type-c to type-a cable

The XS700 is the first portable SSD I've seen out of Toshiba. It was just a matter of time here as just about every other major SSD maker has offered a similar product.

We don't have pricing yet, but these should shape up to be highly price-competitive products offering decent performance. Both models will be coming later this year.

Press blast after the break.

Meltdown's Impact on Storage Performance - Really an Issue?

Subject: Storage | January 5, 2018 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: RS4, RS3, patch, meltdown, KB4056892, cpu, 960 EVO, 900P, 850 EVO

While the Meltdown announcements and patches were in full swing, I was busily testing a round of storage devices to evaluate the potential negative impact of the Meltdown patch. Much of the testing we've seen has come in the form of Linux benchmarks, and today we saw a few come out on the Windows side of things. Most of the published data to date shows a ~20% performance hit to small random accesses, but I've noted that the majority of reviewers seem to be focusing on the Samsung 950/960 series SSDs. Sure these are popular devices, but when evaluating changes to a storage subsystem, it's unwise to just stick with a single type of product.

Test conditions were as follows:

  • ASUS Prime Z270-A + 7700K
    • C-States disabled,  no overclock.
    • ASUS MCE disabled, all other clock settings = AUTO.
  • SSDs:
    • Intel Optane 900P 480GB (Intel NVMe driver)
    • Samsung 960 EVO 500GB (Samsung NVMe driver)
    • Samsung 850 EVO 500GB (Intel RST driver)
  • Conditioning:
    • NTFS partition.
    • 16GB test file. Sequential conditioning.
    • Remainder of SSD sequentially filled to capacity.

The first results come from a clean Windows Redstone 3 install compared to a clean Windows 10 Redstone 4 (build 17063), which is a fast ring build including the Meltdown patch:

KASLR-IRQ2.png

The 960 EVO comes in at that same 20% drop seen elsewhere, but check out the 850 EVO's nearly 10% *increase* in performance. The 900P pushes this further, showing an over 15% *increase*. You would figure that a patch that adds latency to API calls would have a noticeable impact on a storage device offering extremely low latencies, but that did not end up being the case in practice.

Since the 960 EVO looked like an outlier here, I also re-tested it using the Microsoft Inbox NVMe driver, as well as by connecting it via the chipset (which uses the Intel RST driver). A similar drop in performance was seen in all configurations.

The second set of results was obtained later, taking our clean RS3 install and updating it to current, which at the time included the Microsoft roll-up 01-2018 package (KB4056892):

KASLR-IRQ2-.png

Note that the results are similar, though Optane did not see as much of a boost here. It is likely that some specific optimizations have been included in RS4 that are more beneficial to lower latency storage devices.

As a final data point, here's what our tests look like with software polling implemented:

KASLR-POLL2.png

The above test results are using an application method that effectively bypasses the typical interrupt requests associated with file transfers. Note that the differences are significantly reduced once IRQs are removed from the picture. Also note that kernel API calls are still taking place here.

Well there you have it. Some gain and some lose. Given that a far lower latency device (900P) sees zero performance hit (actually gaining speed), I suspect that whatever penalty associated with Meltdown could be easily optimized out via updates to the Windows Inbox and Samsung NVMe drivers.

Crucial's inexpensive terabyte, meet the MX500

Subject: Storage | January 2, 2018 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sata, MX500, micron, crucial, 1TB

Just before the holidays Al wrapped up his review of Crucial's 1TB MX500 SATA drive, which is worth revisiting.  The most attractive feature of this SSD is its price, currently for $260 you can grab 1TB of fast storage; not quite in line with Ryan's law but getting close.  The performance of the TLC SSD does not suffer because of the low price, while it can't match a current generation M.2 NVMe drive it competes with more expensive SATA based SSDs.  If you are concerned about endurance, remember that TLC has matured and Crucial rates this drive as 360TB written over five year.  Drop by the Guru of 3D to contrast their benchmarks with our own.

img_9503.jpg

"Crucial announced their new MX500 series SSD, we put the 1TB model to the test. At 25 cents per GB, these units are all about value for money. But they do not compromise on performance, no Sir. The MX500 remains very fast and very effective for the money you put down on that counter."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: Guru of 3D

Data packrats strike Gold with WD

Subject: Storage | December 14, 2017 - 04:43 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wd gold, hdd, 12TB

The 12TB WD Gold is not quite as impressive as Toshiba's 14TB drive but it should be more affordable for consumers with specific needs or for SMBs.  Like the Toshiba drive it uses PMR as opposed to a shingled design, which again helps keep the drive's price under $600 and in the price range Ryan would like to see SSDs reach.  The drive is rated at 2.5 million hours MTBF and as far as performance, Kitguru saw 245.58MB/s for writes and 237.01MB/s reads.  This is not a drive for most, but for those with huge amounts of data who need to be able to move it frequently and at decent speeds, this review is worth looking at.

WD-Gold-12TB-Hard-Drive-Review-on-KitGuru-INTRODUCTION-650.jpg

"Western Digital’s Gold range of hard drives have been designed to service nearline enterprise environments and as such they have a range of sensors and technologies onboard to help them maintain peak performance in such environments."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Kitguru

Toshiba Launches 14TB Helium Sealed PMR Hard Drives For Enterprise Customers

Subject: Storage | December 9, 2017 - 11:46 PM |
Tagged: PMR, toshiba, helium, Hard Drive, enterprise, cmr, cloud storage, 14tb

Toshiba recently took the wraps off of a new hard drive series aimed at the enterprise market. What makes the MG07ACA series interesting is that Toshiba is offering a 14 TB 3.5” drive without resorting to using Shingled Magnetic Recording. Instead, the new MG07ACA series uses standard recording methods (CMR) and nine ~1.556 TB PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) platters in an helium filled hermetically sealed enclosure to hit 40% more capacity and up to 50% better power efficiency than the previous MG06ACA (10 TB) series. The new drives are also important because they represent the first foray into helium filled hard drives for Toshiba following the company pushing air breathing drives to the limit with its seven platter models.

Toshiba MG07ACA 14TB CMR hard drive.jpg

The new drives are standard 7200 RPM models with 256 MB of cache and a SATA 6 Gbps interface. The 14 TB model is able to hit 260 MB/s sustained transfer while the slightly lower areal density of the 12 TB model puts it at a 250 MB/s transfer speed maximum. They are able to hit 167 random 4K read IOPS and 70 random 4k write IOPS (which is fun to compare to even the slowest SSDs today, but these drives aren't for random workloads). Toshiba rates the drives at a fairly industry standard 550 TB per year workload and 2.5 million hours MTBF with a five year warranty. Toshiba is reportedly using its own laser welding technology to seal the drives and keep the helium contained. The MG07ACA drives are offered in emulated 512 (512e) and 4k native sectors with the 512e models featuring Toshiba Persistent Write Cache technology to prevent data loss in the event of power failure while the drives are executing read-modify-write operations. The power loss protection (PLP) is important for enterprise customers using these drives to upgrade the storage in their legacy software and hardware setups.

The MG07ACA series includes 14 TB 9-disk and 12 TB 8-disk drives. That’s a lot of platters in a single drive, but Toshiba claims that going this route with CMR / PMR reduces the total cost of ownership (TCO) for enterprise customers that are buying up high capacity drives for their cloud storage and big data storage needs. The drives are allegedly more power efficient and trusted in the enterprise market as opposed to the newer shingled drives. I suppose these drives are also useful as they can be drop in upgrades of lower capacity models.

John Rydning, Research Vice President for hard disk drives at IDC was quoted in the press release in saying:

"While enterprise server and storage customers realize that shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology can improve HDD capacity, the adoption of SMR HDD products into server and storage systems is a transition that will take several years,"

Interestingly the drives offer 1.5 TB / platter in the 12 TB model and a bit more than 1.55 TB / platter in the 14 TB drive. With SMR technology hitting up to 1.75 TB / platter so far, using that could get a 14 TB drive with just 8 platters, but that is still fairly close that I suppose going with the longer track record of non shingled PMR and its reliability is more important to the enterprise customers.

In order to cram 9 platters into a standard 3.5" drive, Toshiba had to make the platters thinner and move to helium instead of air. Specifically, Toshiba is using 0.635mm Showa Denko (SDK) PMR platters that are a mere 1.58mm apart! The drives have Nidec motors on the top and bottom as well as environmental sensors and RVFF (Rotation Vibration Feed Forward) vibration compensation technology which is important when you have nine platters spinning at 7200 RPM in each drive and then hundreds of drives are placed in close proximity to each other in server racks and SANs. The move to helium and thinner platters is a big part of the power savings in this drive with the platters being easier to spin up and exhibiting less flutter moving through the much less dense helium versus air. Toshiba claims that the MG07ACA series uses up to 7.6 watts in normal operation and 4.6 watts at idle (0.32W/GB).

According to AnandTech, Toshiba will begin sampling the new hard drives later this month and will sell the drives to its large enterprise customers within the first half of next year. Once demand from the big data crowd has been met, Toshiba will being selling the drives through distributors which means enthusiasts will be able to get their hands on the drives through normal channels by the end of 2018. Exact pricing and availability have not been announced at this time.

Also read:

Source: Toshiba

Intel Optane on Linux

Subject: Storage | November 24, 2017 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: Optane, Intel, linux, 900P, Ubuntu 17.10

Phoronix installed an Optane 900P SSD into their AMD EPYC system to test the performance the new drive provides running under Ubuntu.  Their results were very similar to Al's, showing that this fairly expensive 280GB SSD can justify its premium price by leaving the competition in the dust.  The testing suite they used is quite different from the one here at PCPer but the proof that Optane gets along well with Linux is indisputable.

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"At the end of October Intel released the Optane 900P solid-state drive as their new ultra high-end performance SSD. Windows reviews have been positive, but what about using the Optane 900P on Linux? It's working well and delivers stunning NVMe SSD performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: Phoronix

Samsung SZ985 Z-NAND SSD - Upcoming Competition for Intel's P4800X?

Subject: Storage | November 20, 2017 - 10:56 PM |
Tagged: Z-NAND, SZ985, slc, Samsung, P4800X, nand, Intel, flash

We haven't heard much about Samsung's 'XPoint Killer' Z-NAND since Flash Memory Summit 2017, but now we have a bit more to go on:

z-nand specs.png

Yes, actual specs. In print. Not bad either, considering the Samsung SZ985 appears to offer a bus-saturating 3.2GB/s for reads and writes. The 30 DWPD figure matches Intel's P4800X, which is impressive given Samsung's part operates on flash derived from their V-NAND line (but operating in a different mode). The most important figures here are latency, so let's focus there for a bit:

bridging the gap samsung z-nand.png

While the SZ985 runs at ~1/3rd the latency of Samsung's own NAND SSDs, it has roughly double the latency of the P4800X. For the moment that is actually not as bad as it seems as it takes a fair amount of platform optimization to see the full performance benefits of optane, and operating slightly higher on the latency spectrum helps negate the negative impacts of incorrectly optimized platforms:

02 - IRQ service time penalty.png

Source: Shrout Research

As you can see above, operating at slightly higher latencies, while netting lower overall performance, does lessen the sting of platform induced IRQ latency penalties.

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Now to discuss costs. While we don't have any hard figures, we do have the above slide from FMS 2017, where Samsung stressed that they are trying to get the costs of Z-NAND down while keeping latencies as low as possible.

z-nand.jpg

Image Source: ExtremeTech

Samsung backed up their performance claims with a Technology Brief (available here), which showed decent performance gains and cited use cases paralleling those we've seen used by Intel. The takeaway here is that Samsung *may* be able to compete with the Intel P4800X in a similar performance bracket - not matching the performance but perhaps beating it on cost. The big gotcha is that we have yet to see a single Samsung NVMe Enterprise SSD come through our labs for testing, or anywhere on the market for that matter, so take these sorts of announcements with a grain of salt until we see these products gain broader adoption/distribution.

Source: Samsung

Micron Launches 32GB NVDIMM-N - Intel Announces 3D XPoint NVDIMM

Subject: Storage | November 15, 2017 - 09:59 PM |
Tagged: NVDIMM, XPoint, 3D XPoint, 32GB, NVDIMM-N, NVDIMM-F, NVDIMM-P, DIMM

We're finally starting to see NVDIMM materialize beyond the unobtanium. Micron recently announced 32GB NVDIMM-N:

micron-nvdimm.png

These come with 32GB of DRAM plus 64GB of SLC NAND flash.

micron-nvdimm-modes.png

These are in the NVDIMM-N form factor and can offer some very impressive latency improvements over other non-volatile storage methods.

Next up is Intel, who recently presented at the UBS Global Technology Conference:

XPoint_DIMM.png

We've seen Intel's Optane in many different forms, and now it looks like we finally have a date for 3D XPoint DIMMs - 2nd half of 2018! There are lots of hurdles to overcome as the JEDEC spec is not yet finalized (and might not be by the time this launches). Motherboard and BIOS support also needs to be more widely adopted for this to take off as well.

Don't expect this to be in your desktop machine anytime soon, but one can hope!

Press blast for the Micron 32GB NVDIMM-N appears after the break.

Flash cache compatibility is Crucial to the Momentum of adoption

Subject: Storage | November 6, 2017 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: crucial, Momentum Cache, NVMe, Crucial Storage Executive

The SSD Review noticed something very interesting in the latest update to Crucial's Storage Executive software, the Momentum Cache feature now works with a variety of non-Crucial NVMe SSDs.  The software allows your system to turn part of your RAM into a cache so that reads and writes can initially be sent to that cache which results in improved performance thanks to RAM's significantly quicker response time.  If you have a Crucial SSD installed as well as another NVMe SSD and are using the default Windows NVMe driver, you can set up caching on the non-Crucial SSD if you so desire.  Stop by for a look at the performance impact as well as a list of the drives which have been successfully tested.

WD-Black-Intel-600P-Crucial-Storage-Executive-Momentum-Cache.png

"Crucial’s Momentum Cache feature, part of Crucial Storage Executive, is unlocked for all NVMe SSDs, or at least the ones we have tested in our Z170 test system; the key here, of course, is that a compatible Crucial SSD must initially be on the system to enable this feature at all."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Toshiba flicks their BiCS

Subject: Storage | October 12, 2017 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: tr200, toshiba, BiCS, Toshiba TC58

The Tech Report tested out the 460GB version of the Toshiba TR200 SSD which uses 64-layer BiCS 3D flash.  It is not quite compliant with Ryan's Law, but an MSRP of $150 for this drive is quite affordable.  The drive uses Toshiba's own TC58 controller and like many current budget drives it lacks a RAM cache, making do with a psuedo-SLC cache.  Performance wise it came out about the same as the Trion 100, which is to say at the bottom of the SSD pack, but the Trion drive has a RAM cache which offers some hope for higher end models based on the same flash.  Pop by for the full review and think about this as a stocking stuffer for anyone you like, who is still spinning rust.

guts1.jpg

"Toshiba's first client drive with BiCS flash inside is the entry-level TR200. Join us as we find out just how much storage performance you can get on a budget these days."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Western Digital MAMR Tech Pushes Future HDDs Beyond 40TB

Subject: Storage | October 11, 2017 - 11:16 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, STO, Spin Torque Oscillator, SMR, PMR, Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording, microwave, MAMR, HAMR, FMR

Today Western Digital made a rather significant announcement in the field of HDD technology. We’ve previously talked about upcoming ways to increase the density of HDD storage, with the seeming vaporware Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) forever looming on the horizon, just out of reach.

heat-assisted-magnetic-recording-vs.-perpendicular.jpg

WD, like others, have been researching HAMR as a possible way of increasing platter densities moving forward. They were even showing off prototypes of the technology back in 2013, but a prototype is a far cry from a production ready, fully reliable product. Seagate had been making stronger promises of HAMR, but since we are already 5 years into their 10-year prediction of 60TB HAMR HDDs (followed by further delays), it's not looking like we will see a production ready HAMR HDD model any time soon.

density-1.png

Ok, so HAMR is not viable for now, but what can we do? Seems WD has figured it out, and it's a technology they have been kicking around their labs for nearly a decade. Above we see the PMR limit of ~1.1 Terabits/square inch. SMR pushes that figure to 1.4, but we are running up against the so-called 'writeability limit', which is the point at which the write head / magnetic field is too small to overcome the paramagnetic threshold of the smaller magnetic domains of higher density media. We are used to hearing that the only way to raise that limit was to heat the media with a laser while writing (HAMR), but there is a different / better way - Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording, or MAMR for short.

1.png

Don't let the 'microwave' part of the term fool you - we are not microwaving the media with sufficient energy to actually heat it. Instead, we are doing something *way* cooler. The slide above shows how smaller grain size (higher density) requires a stronger write field to reach sufficient energy levels to reliably store a bit of data. Now check out the next slide:

2.png

This is a lot to grasp but allow me to paraphrase greatly. Imagine a magnet with a north and south pole. If you came along with a stronger magnet and attempted to reverse its polarity by directly opposing the currently stored state, it's generally difficult to do so. Current HDD tech relies on the field being strong enough to overcome the stored polarity, but MAMR employs a Spin Torque Oscillator, which operates at a high enough frequency (20-40 GHz) to match the ferromagnetic resonance of the media. This causes a precession of the stored field (like a gyroscope) and tilts it about its vertical axis. This resonance adds the extra energy (in addition to the write field) needed to flip the field to the desired direction. What's amazing about this whole process is that thanks to the resonance effects, the STO can increase the effectiveness of the write field 3-4x while only consuming ~1/100th of the power compared to that needed to generate the write field. This reduction in the damping constant of the media is what will enable smaller magnetic domains, therefore higher platter densities in future MAMR-equipped HDDs.

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One of the best things about this new tech is that it is just a simple addition to all of other technologies already in place today. Western Digital was already making their drive heads with an advanced 'damascene' process, silently introduced about three years ago. To oversimplify the description, damascene is a process that enables greater physical precision in the shape of the head, which helps increase density. What makes this process a bigger deal now is that it more easily enables integration of the Spin Torque Oscillator into the head assembly. Aside from this head-level change and another pair of leads to provide a very small drive current (~1-2mA), every other aspect of the drive is identical to what we have today. When it comes to a relatively radical change to how the writing can be accomplished at these upcoming higher densities, doing so without needing to change any of the other fundamental technologies of the drive is a good thing. By no change, I really mean no change - MAMR can be employed on current helium-filled drives. Even SMR.

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Western Digital also slipped in another announcement, which is the shift from the older style 'nested actuator' (introduced with 2TB HDDs back in 2009), to a newer 'micro-actuator'. The newer actuator moves the articulation point much closer to the head compared to the previous technology, enabling even finer head tracking, ultimately resulting in increased track pitch. WD currently sits somewhere around 400 tracks per inch (TPI), but they hope to reach 1 million (!) thanks to this new tracking combined with MAMR and improved media chemistry.

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Now this doesn't mean we will see a sudden influx of 40TB HDDs hitting the market next week. WD still has to scale up production of STO-enabled heads, and even after that is complete, the media technology still needs to catch up to the maximum capabilities of what MAMR can achieve (creating smaller magnetic domains on the disk surface, etc). Still, it's nice to know that there is a far simpler way to flip those stored bits around without having to resort to HAMR, which seems to be perpetually years away from production. Speaking of which, I'll leave you with WD's reliability comparison between their own HAMR and MAMR technologies. Which would you choose?

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Oh yeah, and about that supposed SSD vs. HDD cost/GB crossover point. It may not be as soon as we previously thought:

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Full press blast appears after the break.

Western Digital Launches 14TB Enterprise Hard Drive for Big Data

Subject: Storage | October 5, 2017 - 01:37 AM |
Tagged: western digital, SMR, hgst, HelioSeal, big data, 14tb

Western Digital is raising the enterprise hard drive stakes once again with the announcement of a 14 TB 3.5” hard drive. The HGST branded Ultrastar Hs14 uses fourth generation HelioSeal and second generation host-managed SMR (shingled magnetic recording) to enable a 14 TB drive that is just as fast as its smaller capacity enterprise predecessors despite the impressive 1034 Gb/sq in areal density. Western Digital claims the new hard drive offers up 40% more capacity and twice the sequential write performance of its previous SMR drives.

HGST Ultrastar Hs14 SMR Hard Drive.jpg

The 3.5” SMR hard drive comes in SATA 6Gbps and SAS 12 Gbps flavors with both equipped with 512 MB cache, operating at 7200 RPM, and supporting maximum sustained transfer speeds of 233 MB/s. The enterprise drive is geared towards sequential writes and is intended to be the storage target for big data applications like Facebook, video streaming services, and research and financial workloads that generate absolutely massive amounts of raw data that needs to sit in archival storage but remain easily accessible (where tape is not as desirable). According to the data sheet (PDF), it is also aimed at bulk cloud storage and online backup as well as businesses storing compliance, audit, and regulatory records.

For those curious about Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), Allyn shared some thoughts on the technology here.

Western Digital rates the drive at 550 TB/year and supports the Hs14 with a five year warranty. The drive is currently being sampled to a small number of OEMs with wider availability to follow.

Also read:

Source: HGST

Intel Quad RAID-0 Optane Memory 32GB Bootable Without VROC Key!

Subject: Storage | October 4, 2017 - 09:24 PM |
Tagged: x299, VROC, skylake-x, RAID-0, Optane, Intel, bootable, boot

We've been playing around a bit with Intel VROC lately. This new tech lets you create a RAID of NVMe SSDs connected directly to newer Intel Skylake-X CPUs, without the assistance of any additional chipset or other RAID controlling hardware on the X299 platform. While the technology is not fully rolled out, we did manage to get it working and test a few different array types as a secondary volume. One of the pieces of conflicting info we had been trying to clear up was can you boot from a VROC array without the currently unobtanium VROC key...

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Well, it seems that question has been answered with our own tinkering. While there was absolutely no indication in the BIOS that our Optane Memory quad RAID-0 was bootable (the array is configurable but does not appear in the bootable devices list), I'm sitting here looking at Windows installed directly to a VROC array!

Important relevant screenshots below:

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For the moment this will only work with Intel SSDs, but Intel's VROC FAQ states that 'selected third-party SSDs' will be supported, but is unclear if that includes bootability (future support changes would come as BIOS updates since they must be applied at the CPU level). We're still digging into VROC as well as AMD's RAID implementation. Much more to follow, so stay tuned!