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.

Samsung Z-SSD M_2 NVMe.jpg

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.

mx500s.jpg

"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!

Seagate Exos X14 14TB Enterprise Hard Drive.jpg

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

PNY Adds CS900 960GB SATA SSD To Budget SSD Series

Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 18, 2018 - 12:20 AM |
Tagged: ssd, sata 3, pny, 3d nand

PNY has added a new solid-state drive to its CS900 lineup doubling the capacity to 960GB. The SATA-based SSD is a 2.5" 7mm affair suitable for use in laptops and SFF systems as well as a budget option for desktops.

PNY CS900 960GB SATA SSD.png

The CS900 960GB SSD uses 3D TLC NAND flash and offers ECC, end-to-end data protection, secure erase, and power saving features to protect data and battery life in mobile devices. Unfortunately, information on the controller and NAND flash manufacturer is not readily available though I suspect it uses a Phison controller like PNY's other drives.

The 960GB capacity model is rated for sequential reads of 535 MB/s and sequential writes of 515 MB/s. PNY rates the drive at 2 million hours MTBF and they cover it with a 3-year warranty.

We may have to wait for reviews (we know how Allyn loves to tear apart drives!) for more information on this drive especially where random read/write and latency percentile performance are concerned. The good news is that if the performance is there the budget price seems right with an MSRP of $249.99 and an Amazon sale price of $229.99 (just under 24 cents/GB) at time of writing. Not bad for nearly a terabyte of solid state storage (though if you don't need that much space you can alternatively find PCI-E based M.2 SSDs in this price range).

Source: PNY

Mid-octane Optane, Intel's 800P series

Subject: Storage | March 9, 2018 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: ssd, PCIe 3.0 x2, Optane, NVMe, Intel, Brighton Beach, 800p, 58GB, 3D XPoint, 118GB

The price of the 480GB 900P is somewhat prohibitive but the small size of the 32GB gumstick also causes one pause; hence the 800P family with a 58GB and a 118GB model.  They bear price tags of $130 and $200, as you may remember from Al's review.  The Tech Report also had a chance to test these two Optane sticks out, with some tests not covered in our review, such as their own real world copying benchmark.  If you are looking for a second opinion, drop by and take a look.

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"Intel's duo of Optane SSD 800P drives promises the same blend of impressively-low latency and performance consistency as its larger Optane devices at a price more builders can afford. We ran these drives through our storage-testing gauntlet to see whether they can make a name for themselves as primary storage."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

MWC 2018: Western Digital Launches SN720 and SN520 M.2 NVMe SSDs

Subject: Storage | February 27, 2018 - 11:03 AM |
Tagged: wdc, WD, ssd, SN720, SN520, sandisk, NCMe, nand, M.2, BiCS, 2280, 2242, 2230

Western Digital launched a few new NVMe SSDs at Mobile World Congress today:

SN720-SN520.jpg

To the left we have the WD PC SN720, a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD boasting speeds of up to 3.4GB/s and IOPS up to 500k. Available capacities are 1TB, 512GB, and 256GB. To the right we have the WD PC SN520, a more power efficient variant running on half of the PCIe lanes, and with specs coming in at roughly half of its faster brother. Capacities are also cut in half, with the range dropping to 512GB, 256GB, and 128GB. Interestingly, all capacities are available in three M.2 form factors (2280, 2242, and 2230).

We don't have a specific part number for the controller, but WD told us they are manufactured on a 28nm process, employ 8 NAND channels, and use DDR4 RAM (not DRAMless). The controller is optimized for interfacing with WD (/Toshiba) BiCS NAND flash, meaning these SSDs should prove to be a well integrated solution.

Press blast from WD appears after the break.

Ryan's Law is not the only suggestion when it comes to SSDs

Subject: Storage | February 21, 2018 - 05:59 PM |
Tagged:

The SSD Review has posted a general guide on SSDs and how to ensure you pick the right one.  There are a huge variety of SSDs on the market now, from the original 2.5" SATA drives straight through to M.2 NVMe gum sticks.  Their guide will ensure you know the importance of matching your motherboard to an SSD, to ensure compatibility and performance as well as covering software and firmware updates.  For the more experience, they also delve into the various UEFI/BIOS settings you should look at to balance performance, stability and possibly battery life.  It is a bit of a long read but worth it if you are feeling confused

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"This report will be chronological, explaining what needs to be considered in your build including motherboard, SSD selection and installation, UEFI/BIOS settings, OS installation, and finally, SSD optimizations that should be considered."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Samsung Mass Producing 256 GB eUFS For Automotive Industry

Subject: Storage | February 8, 2018 - 08:04 AM |
Tagged: UFS, Samsung, eUFS, embedded, automotive, adas, 256GB

Samsung announced yesterday that it has begun mass production of 256 GB eUFS (Embedded Universal Flash Storage) flash storage for embedded automotive applications. Doubling the capacity of the 128GB eUFS flash it announced last fall, the new embedded flash conforms to the newer JEDEC eUFS 3.0 standard including the new temperature monitoring and thermal throttling safety features which Samsung reportedly had a hand in developing. The new embedded storage is aimed at smart vehicles for use in driver assistance features (ADAS), infotainment systems, and next-generation dashboards.

Samsung_256GB_automotive_eUFS_M.jpg

The new eUFS 3.0 compliant flash is notable for featuring increased temperature ranges of between -40°C and 105°C for both operational and idle/power saving modes which makes it much better suited for use in vehicles where temperature extremes can be reach both from extreme weather and engine heat. Samsung compares its eUFS flash with traditional eMMC 5.1 storage which has a temperature range of only -25°C to 85°C when in use and -40°C to 85°C when in power saving mode.

Samsung’s eUFS can hit sequential read speeds of up to 850 MB/s and random read performance of up to 45,000 IOPS. Samsung did not specify write performance numbers but based on its other eUFS flash sequential and random writes should be in the neighborhood of 250 MB/s and 40,000 IOPS respectively. According to Samsung in its press material for 512GB eUFS for smartphones, the 256GB eUFS for the automotive market is composed of 8 stacks of 48-layer 256Gb V-NAND and a controller all packaged together to hit the 256GB storage capacity. Samsung has included a temperature sensor in the flash along with the ability for the controller to notify the host AP (application processor) at any pre-set temperature thresholds to enable the AP to downclock to lower power and heat to acceptable levels. The temperature monitoring hardware is intended to help protect the heat sensitive NAND flash from extreme temperatures to improve data reliability and longevity. The eUFS flash also features a “data refresh” feature that improves long term performance by relocating older data to less-often used cells. Embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) is interesting compared to eMMC for more than temperatures though as it uses a dual channel LVDS serial interface that allows it to operate in full duplex mode rather than the half duplex mode of eMMC with its x8 parallel interface. This means that eUFS can be read and written to simultaneously and with the addition of command queueing, the controller is able to efficiently execute and prioritize read/write operations and perform error correction without involving the host processor and software.

I am looking forward to the advancements in eUFS storage and its use in more performant mobile devices and vehicles, especially on the low end in tablets and notebooks where eMMC is currently popular.

Source: Samsung

SK Hynix Sampling Enterprise SSDs With 72-Layer 512Gb 3D TLC Flash

Subject: Storage | February 7, 2018 - 10:03 PM |
Tagged: tlc, SK Hynix, enterprise ssd, 72-layer tlc, 3d-v4, 3d nand

SK Hynix has revealed its new enterprise solid state drives based on 72-layer 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND flash dies paired with the company's own in-house controller and firmware. The SK Hynix eSSDs are available in a traditional SAS/SATA interfacing product with capacities up to 4TB and a PCI-E variant that comes in 'above 1TB." Both drive types are reportedly being sampled to datacenter customers in the US.

SK Hynix Enterprise SSDs eSSD.jpg

SK Hynix has managed to double the capacity and improve the read latency of its new 512 Gb 72-layer NAND flash over its previous 256 Gb 72-layer flash which debuted last year. The eSSD product reportedly hits sequential read and write speeds of 560 MB/s and 515 MB/s respectively. Interestingly, while random read IOPS hit 98,000, random write performance is significantly lower at 32,000 IOPS. SK Hynix did not go into details, but I suspect this has to do with the tuning they did to improve read latency and the nature of the 72-layer stacked TLC flash.

Moving up to the PCI-E interfacing eSSD, customers can expect greater than 1TB capacities (SK Hynix did not specify the maximum capacity they will offer) with sequential reads hitting up to 2,700 MB/s and sequential writes hitting 1,100 MB/s. The random performance is similar to the above eSSD with write performance being much lower than read performance at 230K read IOPS and 35K write IOPS maximum. The greatly limited write performance may be the result of the drive not having enough flash channels or the flash itself not being fast enough at writes which was a tradeoff SK Hynix had to make to hit the capacity targets with larger capacity 512 Gb (64 GB) dies.

Unfortunately, SK Hynix has not yet provided further details on its new eSSDs or the 3D-V4 TLC NAND it is using in the new drives. SK Hynix continuing to push into the enterprise storage market with its own SSDs is an interesting play that should encourage them push for advancements and production efficiencies to advance NAND flash technology.

Also read:

Plextor Launches Budget M8V SATA SSDs

Subject: Storage | February 5, 2018 - 11:54 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, SM2258, silicon motion, plextor, BiCS, 3d nand

Plextor is introducing a new SATA SSD option with its 2.5” M8VC and M.2 M8VG solid state drives. The M8V series pairs a Silicon Motion SM2258 controller with Toshiba’s 64-layer 3D TLC NAND (BICS flash) to deliver budget SSDs in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities. Plextor is using its own Plex Nitro firmware and includes SLC cache, system RAM cache support, Plex Compressor compression, 128-bit ECC and LDPC error correction, and hardware AES encryption. Plextor warranties its M8V series SSDs for three years.

M8VC_01.png

Plextor’s new drives are limited by the SATA 6 Gbps interface and max out at 560 MB/s sequential reads. Sequential writes top out at 400 MB/s for the 128 GB model, 510 MB/s for the 256 GB model, and 520 MB/s for the 512 GB drive. Similarly, 4K random reads and 4K random writes scale up as you add more flash which is shown in the table below. The top-end 512 GB drive hits 82K 4K random read IOPS and 81K 4K random write IOPS. The 256 GB solid state drives are only slightly slower at 81K and 80K respectively. The 128 GB M8V SSDs do not appear to have enough flash channels to keep up with the larger capacity drives though as their performance maxes out at 60K random reads and 70K random writes.

Plextor M8V Series 128 GB 256 GB 512 GB
Sequential Reads 560 MB/s 560 MB/s 560 MB/s
Sequential Writes 400 MB/s 510 MB/s 520 MB/s
4K Random Read IOPS 60K 81K 82K
4K Random Write IOPS 70K 80K 81K
Endurance 70 TBW 140 TBW 280 TBW
DWPD 0.5 0.5 0.5
MTBF (hours) 1.5 Million 1.5 Million 1.5 Million

Plextor rates the M8V series at 0.5 DWPD (drive writes per day) and write endurance of 70 TB for the 128 GB, 140 TB for the 256 GB, and 280 TB for the 512 GB model. Plextor rates them at 1.5 million hours MTBF. These numbers aren’t too bad considering this is TLC flash and they are likely to get more life than the ratings (it’s just not guaranteed).

The SM2258 controller appears to be fairly well established and has also been used by Adata, Mushkin, and others for their budget solid state drives. Plextor did not announced pricing or availability and in searching around online I was not able to find them for sale yet. Its previous S2C series (M7V replacement) SATA drives came in at just under 26 cents/gigabyte using the same SMI 2258 controller but with SK Hynix 16nm planar TLC flash though so I would expect the M8V to come in close to that if not better.

I just wish we could get a SATA 4 standard already to at least get consumer systems up to the 12 Gbps enterprise-oriented SAS can hit. While RAM and GPU shopping may make your wallet cry more than a Steam sale, at least it is a good time to be shopping for storage. What do you think about the influx of budget SSDs? Have you upgraded your family’s PCs to the magical performance of solid state storage yet?

Source: Plextor

External storage for the terminally impatient, OWC's Mercury Helios

Subject: Storage | February 2, 2018 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: owc, Mercury Helios, thunderbolt 3, PCIe SSD, external ssd

External storage does not have to be slow, as the OWC Mercury Helios 3 PCIe Thunderbolt 3 external drive demonstrates.  The TB3 connection is capable of up to 40Gbps, assuming you have the proper connection, which will keep a drive such as the the Kingston DC1000 NVMe SSD very busy.  In The SSD Reviews testing, they saw the data transfer cap out at 2.8GB/s read and between 2.5-2.7GB/s write, which makes this perfect for HD video or for manipulating large media files. The enclosure will set you back about $200, the cost of the PCIe SSD you put inside it is a choice for you to make.

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"The trick…is Thunderbolt 3 and the external devices companies envision to solve this speed and data storage problem. This is where the OWC Mercury helios 3 PCIe Thunderbolt 3 Expansion Chassis comes in."

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Seagate Announces Quarterly Earnings for Q2 FY2018

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 1, 2018 - 03:07 AM |
Tagged: Seagate, quarterly earnings, Hard Drive, financial results, enterprise

Seagate Technology has announced its quarterly earnings for the second quarter of fiscal year 2018 (the quarter ending 12/29/2017). The Cupertino-based company has reported quarterly revenue of $2.9 billion, net income of $159 million, and diluted EPS of 55 cents. On a Non-GAAP reporting basis, Seagate saw Q2 FY2018 net income of $431 million and earnings per share of $1.48.

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Seagate's revenue remained flat year-over-year, but increased 11.5% versus the previous quarter. Net income decreased 12% QOQ and 46% YoY using GAAP accounting methods, but on a non-GAAP basis Seagate reports a 54% increase versus the previous quarter and 4.6% increase versus the same quarter last year so it's not all bad news. The company is also managed to amass quite a bit of cash including $850 million from operations and $773 of free cash flow.

  Q2 FY2018 Q1 FY2018 Q2 FY2017 QOQ YoY
Revenue $2.9 billion $2.6 billion $2.9 billion +11.5% =
Net Income (GAAP) $159 million $181 million $297 million -12% -46%
Diluted Earnings Per Share (GAAP) 0.55 0.62 1.00 -11.5% -45%
Net Income (Non-GAAP) $431 million $279 million $412 million +54% +4.6%
Diluted EPS (Non-GAAP) 1.48 0.96 1.38 +54% +7.2%

Seagate manufactures both mechanical hard drives and solid state drives, and while the company cranks out many internal and external drives for consumers, the company is very much focused on the enterprise market, especially where its solid state storage is concerned. Seagate states in its press release that it is heavily focused on cloud storage with its 60TB 3.5" SAS drive and NVMe add-in-card (which it demonstrated at FMS 2016). The company has partnered with Facebook to build its 1U Lightning storage solution (up to 120TB of flash storage using 60 2TB M.2 NVMe drives) and continues to target the enterprise and exascale/HPC markets with their absolutely massive and ever-growing data demands for big data analytics of financial and user data, uploaded and user-generated media, cloud backup, and research/simulation data for supercomputers. Further, the company continues to push mechanical enterprise storage to ever higher capacities with Barracuda Pro and also has its Ironwolf NAS and sequential-optimized Skyhawk drives for surveillance systems. On the flash storage front, Seagate has its Nytro M.2 NVMe and Nytro SAS SSDs.

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Facebook's 1U Lightning JBOF System using 60 Seagate XM1440 M.2 SSDs.

I am interested to see where Seagate (STX) will go with its flash storage (Will they ever bring it to the consumer market in a big way? They do have a few products, but their focus seems to be mostly on enterprise.) and if they will manage to match or surpass Western Digital and Toshiba this year in the enterprise HDD capacity war. Currently, the company's Barracuda, IronWolf, and Exos drives top out at 12TB including the second generation Helium-sealed versions.

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Source: Seagate

Samsung Introducing Z-NAND Based 800GB Z-SSD For Enterprise HPC

Subject: Storage | January 31, 2018 - 08:39 PM |
Tagged: z-ssd, Z-NAND, Samsung, HPC, enterprise, ai

Samsung will be introducing a new high performance solid state drive using new Z-NAND flash at ISSCC next month. The new Samsung SZ985 Z-SSD is aimed squarely at the high-performance computing (HPC) market for big data number crunching, supercomputing, AI research, and IoT application development. The new drive will come in two capacities at 800GB and 240GB and combines low latency Z-NAND flash with 1.5GB LPDDR4 DRAM cache and an unspecified "high performance" Samsung controller.

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The Z-NAND drive is interesting because it represents an extremely fast storage solution that offers up to 10-times cell read performance and 5-times less write latency than 3-bit V-NAND based drives such as Samsung's own PM963 NVMe SSD. The Z-NAND technology represents a middle ground (though closer to Optane than not) between NAND and X Point flash memory without the expense and complexity of 3D XPoint (at least, in theory). The single port 4-lane drive (PCI-E x4) reportedly is able to hit random read performance of 750,000 IOPS and random write performance of 170,000 IOPS. The drive is able to do this with very little latency at around 16µs (microseconds). To put that in perspective, a traditional NVMe SSD can exhibit write latencies of around 90+ microseconds while Optane sits at around half the latency of Z-NAND (~8-10µs). You can find a comparison chart of latency percentiles of various storage technologies here. While the press release did not go into transfer speeds or read latencies, Samsung talked about that late last year when it revealed the drive's existence. The SZ985 Z-SSD maxes out its x4 interface at 3.2 GB/s for both sequential reads and sequential writes. Further, read latencies are rated at between 12µs and 20µs. At the time Allyn noted that the 30 drive writes per day (DWPD) matched that of Intel's P4800X and stated that it was an impressive feat considering Samsung is essentially running its V-NAND flash in a different mode with Z-NAND. Looking at the specs, the Samsung SZ985 Z-SSD has the same 2 million hours MTBF but is actually rated higher for endurance at 42 Petabytes over five years (versus 41 PB). Both drives appear to offer the same 5-year warranty though we may have to wait for the ISSCC announcement for confirmation on that.

It appears that the SZ-985 offers a bit more capacity, higher random read IOPS, and better sequential performance but with slightly more latency and lower random write IOPS than the 3D XPoint based Intel Optane P4800X drive.

In all Samsung has an interesting drive and if they can price it right I can see them selling a ton of these drives to the enterprise market for big data analytics tasks as well as a high-speed drive for researchers. I am looking forward to more information being released about the Z-SSD and its Z-NAND flash technology at the ISSCC (International Solid-State Circuits Conference) in mid-February.

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Source: Samsung

Affordable NVMe? Intel's new 760p series

Subject: Storage | January 23, 2018 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: Intel, 760p, NVMe, ssd, 512GB, SM2262, 64-layer TLC

Intel have released a new M.2 SSD line which will come in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB with prices of  $74, $109 and $199 respectively.  This is a far cry from falling under Ryan's Law but are lower than other NVMe drives.  The Tech Report believes it is using the Silicon Motion SM2262 controller though Intel is being cagey about confirmation, with 64-layer TLC flash for storage. The overall performance was mixed, for reads this drive is one of the best TR have tested however the write speeds are barely faster than a SATA drive; at this price point that should not scare you off unless you plan on doing a lot of writes.

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"Intel is shaking up the mainstream SSD market by releasing a new NVMe drive at what it calls near-SATA prices. We run the drive through our storage-testing gauntlet to see whether the SSD 760p 512 GB and its 64-layer NAND turn out to be a game-changer."

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