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Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 10:22 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, my passport, my book
Western Digital has refreshed their My Passport and My Book lines with a new industrial design:
The My Passport line (pictured above) features a new design and colors. Capacities now extend all the way up to 4TB. Prices:
- 1 TB $79.99
- 2 TB $109.99
- 3 TB $149.99
- 4 TB $159.99
These feature password protection and AES-256 hardware encryption. There is also a 'My Passport for Mac' model which parallels the above series but comes pre-formated for use with a Mac. Amazing that they are now fitting 4TB of capacity into a 2.5" enclosure.
Also up is a redesign of the My Book. This bookshelf style drive is now a chunkier version of the My Passport products mentioned earlier. Thanks to Helium-filled HGST HelioSeal technology recently acquired by Western Digital, capacities now extend up to 8TB on this line. Prices follow:
- 3 TB $129.99
- 4 TB $149.99
- 6 TB $229.99
- 8 TB $299.99
I like the more squared off design, especially for the My Book, as it should make them more stable and less likely to be tipped over by accidental bumps. These also support hardware encryption. All models of both the My Book and My Passport come with a 2-year limited warranty as well as backup software to help ease the process of automating your backups.
Subject: Storage | October 5, 2016 - 07:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, mozilla, google, firefox, endurance, chrome
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post pop up on Twitter a few times about Firefox performing excessive writes to SSDs, which total up to 32GBs in a single day. The author attributes it mostly to a fast-updating session restore feature, although cookies were also resource hogs in their findings. In an update, they also tested Google Chrome, which, itself, clocked in over 24GB of writes in a day.
This, of course, seemed weird to me. I would have thought that at least one browser vendor might notice an issue like this. Still, I passed the link to Allyn because he would be much more capable in terms of being able to replicate these results. In our internal chat at the time, he was less skeptical than I was. I've since followed up with him, and he said that his initial results “wasn't nearly as bad as their case”. He'll apparently elaborate on tonight's podcast, and I'll update this post with his findings.
Subject: Storage | October 4, 2016 - 08:30 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: usb 3.0, Type-C, Type-A, hdd, External, Drobo 5C, drobo, DAS, 5-bay
We looked at the third-gen 4-bay Drobo over a year back, and while the performance and price were great, it was held back by its limited number of drive bays. Drobo fixed that today:
The new Drobo 5C is basically an evolution of the 4-bay model. Performance is similar, which justifies the choice to stick with USB 3.0 (5 Gbit), but we now have a Type-C port on the Drobo side (a Type-C to Type-A cable is included to cover most potential users). The added bay helps users increase potential capacity or alternatively select BeyondRAID's Dual Drive Redundancy mode without as much of an ultimate capacity hit compared to its 4-bay predecessor.
The Drobo 5C supersedes the old 4-bay unit in their lineup.
The new Drobo 5C is available today for $349, with drive package deals offered direct from Drobo. Drobo is also offering a limited-time $50 discount to 2nd and 3rd gen 4-bay Drobo owners (valid until 11 Oct 2016). I have confirmed here that a disk pack from a 4-bay model can be moved directly to the new 5-bay model with no issue.
We have a full review of the Drobo 5C coming, but we have a few questions out to them that need answering before our article goes live.
Subject: Storage | October 3, 2016 - 05:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: kingston, ssdnow KC400, Phison PS3110-S10, mlc, sata ssd
Kitguru has another Phison PS3110-S10 based SSD up for review, the Kingston SSDNow KC400 512GB SATA SSD. This drive is heavily packaged compared to others, with sixteen 32GB 15nm MLC NAND packages and a 256MB DDR3L-1600 paired with the eight channel controller. The drive is marketed at businesses and with an 800TB lifetime, 450GB of writes everyday for the five year warranty as well as SmartECC and SmartRefresh it would fit that bill. Consumers and businesses alike will appreciate the sequential read/write performance of 550MB/s and 530MB/s. Overall it is another drive that fits into the existing pack of drives and is worth your consideration, especially if you have need of its error correction features. Read the full review for more information.
"Kingston’s SSDNow KC400 family is part of the company’s business-oriented SSD product line which features end-to-end data path protection, technologies to protect data in the NAND and guard against read errors, as well as good endurance."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Crucial MX300 2TB @ eTeknix
- Plextor M8PeG 256GB M.2 NVMe @ eTeknix
- QNAP TS-451A-4G 4-bay NAS @ Kitguru
- Drobo 5N 5-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 2TB USB 3.0 Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | September 27, 2016 - 05:51 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: toshiba, tlc, TL100, ssd, sata, ocz, 2.5
Toshiba launched the OCZ TL100 series today:
These are TLC SSDs aimed at the budget sector. They are using the ever more common SLC cached TLC hybrid configuration, and come in at bargain basement pricing. Here are the specs:
- Capacity: 120 / 240 GB
- Sequential read / write: 550 / 530 MB/s
- Random read / write: 85k / 80k IOPS
- Warranty: 3 years with advance replacement
- Endurance (120/240GB): 30 / 60 TBW (27 / 54 GB/day)
- 120GB: $45 ($0.38/GB)
- 240GB: $68 ($0.28/GB)
Yes, that's $0.28/GB and a 240GB SSD at less than $70 bucks. The endurance is on the low side, but if these perform even half way decently, they will be a great low-cost way to go for most budget PC builds. We'll be testing these shortly on a new suite of tests with workloads that have been specifically optimized to more closely resemble real usage. These tests allow hybrid SSDs to use their SLC cache as opposed to flooding the drives with IO and forcing TLC writes. Don't be surprised if these perform surprisingly well for their cost. No guarantees as we haven't tested them yet, but we will soon!
Subject: Storage | September 26, 2016 - 01:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tlc, Phison PS3110-S10, AS330 Panther, apacer, 960GB SSD
Almost everyone seems to be making SATA SSDs these days, the market is much more crowded that at this time last year which can make your purchasing decisions more complicated. If you cannot afford the new M.2 and PCIe SSDs but are instead looking for a SATA SSD then your choices are varied and you cannot necessarily depend on price when you make your decision.
The internals are what really determines the value you are getting from an SSD, in this case the AS330 uses the four channel Phison PS3110-S10 controller, 15nm Toshiba TLC NAND and has a 512MB DDR3L-1600 cache. This puts it in the same class as many other value priced SSDs from companies like PNY and Kingston. Hardware Canucks' testing proves this to be true, the drive is a bit slower than the OCZ Trion 150 but is solidly in the middle of the pack of comparable SSDs. The price you can find the drive will be the deciding factor, the 960GB model should sell around $200, the 480GB model is currently $120 on Newegg.
"Apacer's AS330 Panther SSD is inexpensive, offers good performance and has capacity to burn. But can this drive roar or will a lack of brand recognition cause it to purr out to obscurity? "
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung 850 EVO 4TB SSD @ Custom PC Review
- Kingston SSDnow UV400 480GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- SK hynix Canvas SL308 500GB @ Kitguru
- Asustor AS3104T 4-bay NAS @ Kitguru
- TerraMaster D5-300 USB 3.0 External Hard Drive RAID Enclosure Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | September 21, 2016 - 12:00 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, pcie, NVMe, M.2, 960 PRO, 960 EVO
I'm currently running around at the various briefings and events here at Samsung's Global SSD Summit, but we did get some details on the 960 PRO and EVO that I've set to go live at the NDA time of 1 PM Seoul time.
Here is a distilled version of the specs, capacities, and prices of the 960 PRO and EVO:
- 512GB, 1TB, 2TB capacities
- Sequential: 3.5 GB/s reads / 2.1 GB/s writes
- 4K random (IOPS): 440,000 read / 360,000 write
- Dynamic Thermal Guard (new version of their overtemperature protection - details below)
- 5 year warranty, endurace peaks at 1.2PBW for the 2TB model
- 512GB model = $329.99 ($0.64/GB)
- 250GB, 500GB, 1TB capacities
- Sequential: 3.2 GB/s reads / 1.9 GB/s writes (write speed is for TurboWrite SLC cache)
- 4K random (IOPS): 380,000 read / 360,000 write
- Dynamic Thermal Guard
- 3 year warranty, endurance up to 400TBW for the 1TB model
- 250GB = $129.99 ($0.52/GB)
I would certainly like to see Samsung push the 960 EVO capacities upwards of 4TB, and with competing M.2 NVMe products shipping at a lower cost, those prices use some tweaking as well.
More information and pics to follow later today (tonight for you USA folks)!
**UPDATE** - since everyone is in bed and hasn't read any of this yet, I'm just going to add the information from the presentation here.
First, some of you may be wondering about the inverted capacity difference between the PRO and EVO. Historically, Samsung has shipped their EVO line in higher capacities than the PRO line. The 850 EVO currently ships in capacities up to 4TB, while the 850 PRO remains limited to 2TB. If you look closely at the photos above, you'll note that there are four flash packages on the PRO, while there are only two on the EVO. The cause for this difference is that the DRAM package (visible on the EVO) is integrated within the controller package on the PRO model. This is similar to what Samsung has done with their PM971-NVMe SSD, which has not only the controller and DRAM, but the flash itself all stacked within a *single* package. Samsung calls this package-on-package (PoP):
During the Q&A, Samsung's Unsoo Kim indicated that future 960 EVO's may also shift to the PoP design in order to shift to 4 packages, and therefore double (or quadruple) the capacity on that line in the future.
Samsung also tackled thermal throttling head-on with what they call Dynamic Thermal Guard. This is a combination of a few things. First is the reduced power consumption - the new controller draws ~10% less power despite moving to a 5-core design (up from a 3-core on the 950 PRO). Second, and perhaps more interesting, is a new heat spreading label:
This new label contains a copper layer that helps spread heat across more of the surface area of the M.2 part. Samsung gets bonus points for outside the box thinking there. The combination of the reduced power draw and the heat spreader help to make thermal throttling even more impossible under typical use:
While the above chart was for reads (writes produce more heat), that's still a very good improvement, and being able to move potentially the full drive capacity before throttling is pretty good, especially considering the new models are moving data at a much faster speed. About those faster speeds, here are some increased details on the per-capacity specs:
Take the 960 EVO write specs with a grain of salt - those are assuming writes are going into the SLC cache area but never fear because TurboWrite is getting a boost as well:
This new 'Intelligent TurboWrite' increases the SLC cache area significantly over that of the 850 EVO we are all used to, with up to a 42GB area on the 1TB model! This should make it easier to swallow those boastful write performance claims, as there's a really good chance that all writes any typical user applies to the new EVO will go straight into that new larger cache.
Apologies for the odd cutoffs on these pictures. They were corrected for parallax prior to posting. I also couldn't do anything about the presenter being in the way of the data :). I've requested slides from Samsung and will replace these here if/when they are provided.
Last but not least was a newly announced '2.0' version of the Samsung proprietary NVMe driver, which should help enable these increased speeds, as the Windows InBox driver is certainly not optimized to handle them. With the driver comes a new ground-up redesign of Samsung's Magician software, which added support for file-specific secure erasure and a special 'Magic Vault' secure encrypted area of the SSD that can be invisible to the host OS when locked.
This appears to be the bulk of what is to be announced at the Summit, so for now, I leave you with the endurance ratings and (MSRP) pricing for all capacities / models:
Subject: Storage | September 20, 2016 - 06:01 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Samsung, 960 PRO, 960 EVO, NVMe, pcie, ssd, Summit, Global
Your humble Storage Editor is once again in Seoul, Korea. With these trips comes unique skylines:
...the Seoul Tower:
...and of course, SSD announcements! Samsung has a habit of slipping product pics into the yearly theme. This year they were a bit more blunt about it:
Yup, looks like tomorrow we will see Samsung officially announce their successor to the 950 PRO. We'll be hearing all about the 960 PRO and the new 960 EVO tomorrow, exactly three months after we broke the early news of these new models.
There will, of course, be more details tomorrow once we attend the relevant product briefings. This will be late at night for those of you back in the states. No further details for now. I'm off to get some dinner and recover from that 14-hour flight!
Subject: Storage | September 14, 2016 - 05:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VX500, ocz, toshiba, TC35, mlc, sata 6Gbs
We've seen a lot of high end SSDs lately so it is nice to be able to link to the new VX500 series from OCZ, or Toshiba to be more technically correct. Running with MSRPs of ~$150 for the 512GB model and ~$340 for the 1TB model these drives will fit more comfortably into many budgets. The 1TB model does come with a bit of a price increase thanks to the use of larger MLC NAND chips and the presence of a RAM cache, the 512GB model forgoes the cache altogether. Hardware Canucks put the 512GB and 1TB models to the test and their speeds hit the top of the SATA charts; if you can't afford the newest SSD tech this is a drive worthy of your consideration. They did not have the time to fully test the durability but the five year hassle free warranty and rated total disk writes show that the NAND is unlikely to die any time soon.
"OCZ is diving back into the mainstream SSD market in a big way. Their new VX500 series combines an affordable price with excellent performance and some incredible NAND durability."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba's OCZ VX500 512GB SSD @ The Tech Report
- Toshiba OCZ VX500 512GB @ Kitguru
- OCZ VX500 512 GB @ techPowerUp
- Toshiba OCZ VX500 SSD @ The SSD Review
- Adata's Premier SP550 480GB SSD @ The Tech Report
- Crucial MX300 750GB SSD, Now Packing Micron 3D TLC NAND @ Custom PC Review
- Kingston Industrial Temperature MicroSD @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: Storage | September 6, 2016 - 02:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: crucial, MX300, 1050GB, sata ssd, M.2, 88SS1074, tlc
The MX300 series utilizes Micron 384G-bit, 32 tier floating gate, 3D TLC NAND which means that the capacities are a little different than we are used to. 1050GB is an odd number, the 978GB available after formatting even more so, but in the end the actual number matters less than the performance. The SSD Review tested this drive which uses a four channel Micron 88SS1074 controller and sports eight NAND packages with Micron LPDDR3 1333MHz DRAM for a cache. They tested a single drive as well as setting up two in RAID 0, the single drive could hit 535MB/s read and 516MB/s write and RAID 0 did indeed come close to doubling that. Drop by to see their full results.
"Due to the new 384G-bit TLC 3D NAND, the MX300 line up is now offered in 275GB, 525GB, 750GB, 1050GB, and 2TB options. From this announcement, the 2TB option intrigued us the most, however, they are still unavailable, so we opted to get two 1050GB models for today's review."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba HK4E Enterprise @ The SSD Review
- Transcend ESD400 Portable USB3 SSD @ Benchmark Reviews
- Seagate IronWolf 10TB HDD @ Kitguru
- ASUSTOR AS6208T NAS Server @ NikKTech
- QNAP TVS-682T 6-Bay Thunderbolt NAS @ techPowerUp
Subject: Storage | August 29, 2016 - 04:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microSD, Samsung, evo plus, U3, UHS-I
A while back Al broke down the specifications of SD cards and what each class meant and the proper usage for them. The top class is U3 and it offers transfer speeds high enough to support recording 4K video on your devices and that happens to be the rating on the new 256GB Samsung EVO Plus MicroSD. Legion Hardware just tested this MicroSD card and it now holds the title of best performing SD card they have tested. The performance does come at a premium, the MSRP of the card is $250 and even with a 10 year warranty this is still an expensive purchase. If you need the ability to record 4K video immediately this is the fast solution available but if you are still in the planning stages, remember that there is a new standard, UFS, which is due to hit the market soon and impact pricing of older products.
"Running out of storage on your smartphone, tablet or 4K video camera? Well the good news is SD cards have never been more affordable and crucially offered such huge storage capacities. In fact, Samsung recently announced the availability of a 256GB version of their popular EVO Plus MicroSD card series"
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Seagate Innov8 8TB USB 3.1 Type-C Desktop HDD @ Nikktech
- Drobo 5n NAS @ Kitguru
- Asustor AS3102T @ Kitguru
Subject: Storage | August 25, 2016 - 06:26 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, Pro 6000p, Intel, imft, E 6000p, E 5420s, DC S3520, DC P3520, 600p, 3d nand
Intel announced the production of 3D NAND a little over a year ago, and we've now seen production ramp up to the point where they are infusing it into nearly every nook and cranny of their SSD product lines.
The most relevant part for our readers will be a long overdue M.2 2280 SSD. These will kick off with the 600p:
An overseas forum member over at chiphell got their hands on a 600p and ran some quick tests. From their photo (above), we can confirm the controller is not from Intel, but rather from Silicon Motion. The NAND is naturally from Intel, as is likely their controller firmware implementation, as these parts go through the same lengthy validation process as their other products.
Intel is going for the budget consumer play here. The flash will be running in TLC mode, likely with an SLC cache. Specs are respectable - 1.8GB/s reads, 560MB/s writes, random read 155k, random write 128k (4KB QD=32). By respectable specs I mean in light of the pricing:
Wow! These prices are ranging from $0.55/GB at 128GB all the way down to $0.35/GB for the 1TB part.
Intel also refreshed their DataCenter (DC) lineup. The SSD DC S3520 (SATA) and P3520 (PCIe/NVMe) were also introduced as a refresh, also using Intel's 3D NAND. We published our exclusive review of the Intel SSD DC P3520 earlier today, so check there for full details on that enterprise front. Before we move on, a brief moment of silence for the P3320 - soft-launched in April, but discontinued before it shipped. We hardly knew ye.
Lastly, Intel introduced a few additional products meant for the embedded / IoT sector. The SSD E 6000p is an M.2 PCIe part similar to the first pair of products mentioned in this article, while the SSD E 5420s comes in 2.5" and M.2 SATA flavors. The differentiator on these 'E' parts is enhanced AES 256 crypto.
Most of these products will be available 'next week', but the 600p 360GB (to be added) and 1TB capacities will ship in Q4.
Abbreviated press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | August 18, 2016 - 02:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: skyhawk, Seagate, rear window, hitchcock, 10TB
Seagate designed the 10TB SkyHawk HDD for recording video surveillance by adding in firmware they refer to as ImagePerfect. This is designed for handling 24/7 surveillance and extends the endurance life of the drive to 180TB a year, for the length of the three year warranty. Constantly recording video means this drive will write far more often than most other usages scenarios and reads will be far less important. eTeknix tried the drive out in their usual suite of benchmarks; being somewhat difficult to set up a test to verify the claimed support for up to 64HD recordings simultaneously. If you are looking for durable storage at a reasonable price and might even consider needing more than eight drives of storage you should check the SkyHawk out.
"I’ve recently had a look at the 10TB IronWolf NAS HDD from Seagate and today it is time to take a closer look at its brother, the brand new SkyHawk DVR and NVR hard disk drive with a massive 10TB capacity. Sure, you could use NAS optimized drives for simple video setups, but having a video and camera optimized surveillance disk does bring advantages. Especially when your recorded video is critical."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Seagate IronWolf 10TB SATA III HDD Review @ NikKTech
- WD Blue SSHD (WD10J31X) 1TB @ TechARP
- The WD Gold 8TB Datacenter Drive @ TechARP
- QNAP TVS-682-I3-8G NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Low-cost 120 GiB SSD duel: SanDisk SSD PLUS vs. Kingston SSDNow V300 @ Hardware Secrets
IDF 2016: ScaleMP Merges Software-Defined Memory With Storage-Class Memory, Makes Optane Work Like RAM
Subject: Storage | August 16, 2016 - 04:05 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Virtual SMP, SMP, SDM-S, SDM-F, ScaleMP, IDF 2016, idf
ScaleMP has an exciting announcement at IDF today, but before we get into it, I need to do some explaining. Most IT specialists know how to employ virtualization to run multiple virtual environments within the same server, but what happens when you want to go the other way around?
You might not have known it, but virtualization can go both ways. ScaleMP make such a solution, and it enables some amazing combinations of hardware all thrown at a single virtualized machine. Imagine what could be done with a system containing 32,768 CPUs and 2048TB (2PB) of RAM. Such a demand is actually more common than you might think:
List of companies / applications of ScaleMP.
ScaleMP's tech can fit into a bunch of different usage scenarios. You can choose to share memory, CPU cores, IO, or all three across multiple physical machines, all combined into a single beast of a virtualized OS, but with the launch of 3D XPoint there's one more thing that might come in handy as a sharable resource, as there is a fairly wide latency gap between NAND and RAM:
Alright, now that we've explained the cool technology and the gap to be filled, onto the news of the day, which is that ScaleMP has announced that their Software Defined Memory tech has been optimized for Intel Optane SSDs. This means that ScaleMP / Optane customers will be able to combine banks of XPoint installed across multiple systems all into a single VM. Another key to this announcement is that due to the way ScaleMP virtualizes the hardware, the currently developing storage-class (NVMe) XPoint/Optane solutions can be mounted as if they were system memory, which should prove to be a nice stopgap until we see second generation 3D XPoint in DIMM form.
More to follow from IDF 2016. ScaleMP's press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | August 16, 2016 - 02:00 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, Testbed, Optane, Intel, IDF 2016, idf
IDF 2016 is up and running, and Intel will no doubt be announcing and presenting on a few items of interest. Of note for this Storage Editor are multiple announcements pertaining to upcoming Intel Optane technology products.
Optane is Intel’s branding of their joint XPoint venture with Micron. Intel launched this branding at last year's IDF, and while the base technology is as high as 1000x faster than NAND flash memory, full solutions wrapped around an NVMe capable controller have shown to sit at roughly a 10x improvement over NAND. That’s still nothing to sneeze at, and XPoint settles nicely into the performance gap seen between NAND and DRAM.
Since modern M.2 NVMe SSDs are encroaching on the point of diminishing returns for consumer products, Intel’s initial Optane push will be into the enterprise sector. There are plenty of use cases for a persistent storage tier faster than NAND, but most enterprise software is not currently equipped to take full advantage of the gains seen from such a disruptive technology.
XPoint die. 128Gbit of storage at a ~20nm process.
In an effort to accelerate the development and adoption of 3D XPoint optimized software, Intel will be offering enterprise customers access to an Optane Testbed. This will allow for performance testing and tuning of customers’ software and applications ahead of the shipment of Optane hardware.
I did note something interesting in Micron's FMS 2016 presentation. QD=1 random performance appears to start at ~320,000 IOPS, while the Intel demo from a year ago (first photo in this post) showed a prototype running at only 76,600 IOPS. Using that QD=1 example, it appears that as controller technology improves to handle the large performance gains of raw XPoint, so does performance. Given a NAND-based SSD only turns in 10-20k IOPS at that same queue depth, we're seeing something more along the lines of 16-32x performance gains with the Micron prototype. Those with a realistic understanding of how queues work will realize that the type of gains seen at such low queue depths will have a significant impact in real-world performance of these products.
The speed of 3D XPoint immediately shifts the bottleneck back to the controller, PCIe bus, and OS/software. True 1000x performance gains will not be realized until second generation XPoint DIMMs are directly linked to the CPU.
The raw die 1000x performance gains simply can't be fully realized when there is a storage stack in place (even an NVMe one). That's not to say XPoint will be slow, and based on what I've seen so far, I suspect XPoint haters will still end up burying their heads in the sand once we get a look at the performance results of production parts.
Leaked roadmap including upcoming Optane products
Intel is expected to show a demo of their own more recent Optane prototype, and we suspect similar performance gains there as their controller tech has likely matured. We'll keep an eye out and fill you in once we've seen Intel's newer Optane goodness it in action!
Subject: Storage | August 11, 2016 - 12:27 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, PS5008-E8/E8T, PS5008-E8, PS5007-E7, phison, PCIe 3.0 x2, NVMe, FMS 2016, FMS, E8
I visited Phison to check out their new E8 controller:
Phsion opted to take a step back from the higher performance PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe controllers out there, offering a solution with half the lanes. PCIe 3.0 x2 can still handle 1.5 GB/s, and this controller can exceed 200,000 random IOPS. Those specs are actually in-line with what most shipping x4 solutions offer today, meaning the E8 is more effectively saturating its more limited connectivity. Reducing the number of lanes helps Phison reduce the component cost of this controller to match the cost of typical SATA controllers while tripling the performance, greatly reducing the cost to produce NVMe SSDs.
In addition to 3D Flash support, the E8 is also a DRAM-less controller, meaning it has a small internal SRAM cache and has been architected to not need external DRAM installed on the PCB. DRAM-less means even lower costs. This can only be a good thing, since high performing NVMe parts at SATA costs is going to drive down the costs of even faster NVMe solutions, which is great for future buyers.
Subject: Storage | August 11, 2016 - 12:06 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: FMS, FMS 2016, XPoint, micron, QuantX, nand, ram
Earlier this week, Micron launched their QuantX branding for XPoint devices, as well as giving us some good detail on expected IOPS performance of solutions containing these new parts:
Thanks to the very low latency of XPoint, the QuantX solution sees very high IOPS performance at a very low queue depth, and the random performance very quickly scales to fully saturate PCIe 3.0 x4 with only four queued commands. Micron's own 9100 MAX SSD (reviewed here), requires QD=256 (64x increase) just to come close to this level of performance! At that same presentation, a PCIe 3.0 x8 QuantX device was able to double that throughput at QD=8, but what are these things going to look like?
The real answer is just like modern day SSDs, but for the time being, we have the prototype unit pictured above. This is essentially an FPGA development board that Micron is using to prototype potential controller designs. Dedicated ASICs based on the final designs may be faster, but those take a while to ramp up volume production.
So there it is, in the flesh, nicely packaged and installed on a complete SSD. Sure it's a prototype, but Intel has promised we will see XPoint before the end of the year, and I'm excited to see this NAND-to-DRAM performance-gap-filling tech come to the masses!
Subject: Storage | August 11, 2016 - 11:18 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: FMS, FMS 2016, Liqid, kingston, toshiba, phison, U.2, HHHL, NVMe, ssd
A relative newcomer this year at Flash Memory Summit was Liqid. These guys are essentially creating an ecosystem from a subset of parts. Let's start with Toshiba:
At Toshiba's booth, we spotted their XG3 being promoted as being part of the Liqid solution. We also saw a similar demo at the Phison booth, meaning any M.2 parts can be included as part of their design. Now let us get a closer look at the full package options and what they do:
This demo, at the Kingston booth, showed a single U.2 device cranking out 835,000 4k IOPS. This is essentially saturating its PCIe 3.0 x4 link with random IO's, and it actually beats the Micron 9100 that we just reviewed!
How can it pull this off? The trick is that there are actually four M.2 SSDs in that package, along with a PLX switch. The RAID must be handled on the host side, but so long as you have software that can talk to multiple drives, you'll get full speed from this part.
More throughput can be had by switching to a PCIe 3.0 x8 link on a HHHL form factor card:
That's 1.3 million IOPS from a single HHHL device! Technically this is four SSDs, but still, that's impressively fast and is again saturating the bus, but this time it's PCIe 3.0 x8 being pegged!
We'll be tracking Liqid's progress over the coming months, and we will definitely test these solutions as they come to market (we're not there just yet). More to follow from FMS 2016!
Subject: Storage | August 11, 2016 - 10:59 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: FMS, SYS-2028U-TN24R4T+, SYS-1028U-TN10RT+, supermicro, SSG-2028R-NR48N, server, NVMe, FMS 2016
Supermicro was at FMS 2016, showing off some of their NVMe chassis:
The first model is the SYS-1028U-TN10RT+. This 1U chassis lets you hot swap 10 2.5" U.2 SSDs, connecting all lanes directly to the host CPUs.
Supermicro's custom PCB and interposer links all 40 PCIe lanes to the motherboard / CPUs.
Need more drives installed? Next up is the SYS-2028U-TN24R4T+, which uses a pair of PCIe switches to connect 24 U.2 SSDs to the same pair of CPUs.
Need EVEN MORE drives installed? The SSG-2028R-NR48N uses multiple switches to connect 48 U.2 SSDs in a single 2U chassis! While the switches will limit the ultimate sequential throughput of the whole package to PCIe 3.0 x40, we know that when it comes to spreading workloads across multiple SSDs, bandwidth bottlenecks are not the whole story, as latency is greatly reduced for a given workload. With a fast set of U.2 parts installed in this chassis, the raw IOPS performance would likely saturate all threads / cores of the installed Xeons before it saturated the PCIe bus!
More to follow as we wrap up FMS 2016!
Subject: Storage | August 10, 2016 - 02:00 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: 2.5, V-NAND, ssd, Samsung, nand, FMS 2016, FMS, flash, 64-Layer, 32TB, SAS, datacenter
..now this picture has been corrected for extreme parallax and was taken in far from ideal conditions, but you get the point. Samsung's keynote is coming up later today, and I have a hunch this will be a big part of what they present. We did know 64-Layer was coming, as it was mentioned in Samsung's last earnings announcement, but confirmation is nice.
*edit* now that the press conference has taken place, here are a few relevant slides:
With 48-Layer V-NAND announced last year (and still rolling out), it's good to see Samsung pushing hard into higher capacity dies. 64-Layer enables 512Gbits (64GB) per die, and 100MB/s per die maximum throughput means even lower capacity SSDs should offer impressive sequentials.
Samsung 48-Layer V-NAND. Pic courtesy of TechInsights.
We will know more shortly, but for now, dream of even higher capacity SSDs :)
*edit* and this just happened:
*additional edit* - here's a better picture taken after the keynote:
The 32TB model in their 2.5" form factor displaces last years 16TB model. The drive itself is essentially identical, but the flash packages now contain 64-layer dies, doubling the available capacity of the device.