Introduction and Packaging
Data Robotics shipped their first product 10 years ago. Dubbed the Drobo (short for Data Robot), it was a 4-bay hot-swappable USB 2.0 connected external storage device. At a time where RAID was still a term mostly unknown to typical PC users, the Drobo was already pushing the concept of data redundancy past what those familiar with RAID were used to. BeyondRAID offered a form of redundant data storage that decoupled rigid RAID structures from fixed capacity disk packs. While most RAID volumes were 'dumb', BeyondRAID was aware of what was stored within its partitions, distributing that data in block format across the available disks. This not only significantly speed up rebuilding (only used portions of the disks need be recopied), it allowed for other cool tricks like the ability to mix drive capacities within the same array. Switching between parity levels could also be done on-the-fly and with significantly less effort than traditional RAID migrations.
While all of the above was great, the original Drobo saw performance hits from its block level management, which was limited by the processing overhead combined with the available processing power for such a device at the time. The first Drobo model was lucky to break 15 MB/s, which could not even fully saturate a USB 2.0 link. After the launch, requests for network attached capability led to the launch of the DroboShare, which could act as a USB to ethernet bridge. It worked but was still limited by the link speed of the connected Drobo. A Drobo FS launched a few years later, but it was not much quicker. Three years after that we got the 5N, which was finally a worthy contender in the space.
10 years and nearly a dozen models later, we now have the Drobo 5N2, which will replace the aging 5N. The newer model retains the same 5-bay form factor and mSATA bay for optional SSD cache but adds a second bondable Gigabit Ethernet port and upgrades most of the internals. Faster hardware specs and newer more capable firmware enables increased throughput and volume sizes up to 64TB. Since BeyondRAID is thin provisioned, you always make the volume as large as it can be and simply add disk capacity as the amount of stored content grows over time.
Today Samsung released an update to their EVO+ microSD card line. The new model is the 'EVO Plus'. Yes, I know, it's confusing to me as well, especially when trying to research the new vs. old iterations for this mini-review. Here's a few quick visual comparisons between both models:
On the left, we have the 'older' version of the Plus (I mean the '+'), while on the right we have the new plus, designated as a '2017 model' on the Samsung site. Note the rating differences between the two. The '+' on the left is rated at UHS-I U1 (10 MB/s minimum write speed), while the newer 'Plus' version is rated at UHS-I U3 (30 MB/s minimum write speed). I also ran across what looked like the older version packaging.
The packaging on the right is what we had in hand for this review. The image on the left was found at the Samsung website, and confuses things even further, as the 'Plus' on the package does not match the markings on the card itself ('+'). It looks as if Samsung may have silently updated the specs of the 256GB '+' model at some point in the recent past, as that model claims significantly faster write speeds (90 MB/s) than the older/other '+' models previously claimed (~20 MB/s). With that confusion out of the way, let's dig into the specs of this newest EVO Plus:
For clarification on the Speed Class and Grade, I direct you to our previous article covering those aspects in detail. For here I'll briefly state that the interface can handle 104 MB/s while the media itself is required to sustain a minimum of 30 MB/s of typical streaming recorded content. The specs go on to claim 100MB/s reads and 90 MB/s writes (60 MB/s for the 64GB model). Doing some quick checks, here's what I saw with some simple file copies to and from a 128GB EVO Plus:
Our figures didn't exceed the specified performance, but they came close, which more than satisfies their 'up to' claim, with over 80 MB/s writes and 93 MB/s reads. I was able to separately confirm 85-89 MB/s writes and 99 MB/s reads with Iometer accessing with 128KB sequential transfers.
- 32GB: $29.99
- 64GB: $49.99
- 128GB: $99.99
- 256GB: coming soon (but there is already a 256GB EVO+ of similar specs???)
Pricing seems to be running a bit high on these, with pricing running close to double of the previous version of this very same part (the EVO+ 128GB can be found for $50 at the time of this writing). Sure you are getting a U3 rated card with over four times the achievable write speed, but the reads are very similar, and if your camera only requires U1 speeds, the price premium does not seem to be worthwhile. It is also worth noting that even faster UHS-II spec cards that transfer at 150 MB/s can be had and even come with a reader at a lower cost.
In summary, the Samsung EVO Plus microSD cards look to be decent performers, but the pricing needs to come down some to be truly competitive in this space. I'd also like to see the product labeling and marketing a bit more clear between the '+' and the 'Plus' models, as they can easily confuse those not so familiar with SD card classes and grades. It also makes searching for them rather difficult, as most search engines parse 'Plus' interchangeably with '+', adding to the potential confusion.
The Need for Speed
Around here storage is Allyn’s territory, but I decided to share my experience with a new $20 flash drive I picked up that promised some impressive speeds via USB 3.0. The drive is the Lexar JumpDrive P20, and I bought the 32GB version, which is the lowest capacity of the three drives in the series. 64GB and 128GB versions of the JumpDrive P20 are available, with advertised speeds of up to 400 MB/s from all three, and reads and up to 270 MB/s writes - if you buy the largest capacity.
My humble 32GB model still boasts up to 140 MB/s writes, which would be faster than any USB drive I’ve ever owned (my SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 16GB drive is limited to 60 MB/s writes, and can hit about 190 MB/s reads), and the speeds of the P20 even approach that of some lower capacity SATA 3 SSDs - if it lives up to the claims. The price was right, so I took the plunge. (My hard-earned $20 at stake!)
Size comparison with other USB flash drives on hand (P20 on far right)
First we'll look at the features from Lexar:
- Among the fastest USB flash drives available, with speeds up to 400MB/s read and 270MB/s write
- Sleek design with metal alloy base and high-gloss mirror finish top
- Securely protects files using EncryptStick Lite software, an advanced security solution with 256-bit AES encryption
- Reliably stores and transfers files, photos, videos, and more
- High-capacity options to store more files on the go
- Compatible with PC and Mac systems
- Backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices
- Limited lifetime warranty
Subject: Storage | March 27, 2017 - 12:16 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, Optane Memory, Optane, M.2, Intel, cache, 3D XPoint
We are just about to hit two years since Intel and Micron jointly launched 3D XPoint, and there have certainly been a lot of stories about it since. Intel officially launched the P4800X last week, and this week they are officially launching Optane Memory. The base level information about Optane Memory is mostly unchanged, however, we do have a slide deck we are allowed to pick from to point out some of the things we can look forward to once the new tech starts hitting devices you can own.
Alright, so this is Optane Memory in a nutshell. Put some XPoint memory on an M.2 form factor device, leverage Intel's SRT caching tech, and you get a 16GB or 32GB cache laid over your system's primary HDD.
To help explain what good Optane can do for typical desktop workloads, first we need to dig into Queue Depths a bit. Above are some examples of the typical QD various desktop applications run at. This data is from direct IO trace captures of systems in actual use. Now that we've established that the majority of desktop workloads operate at very low Queue Depths (<= 4), lets see where Optane performance falls relative to other storage technologies:
There's a bit to digest in this chart, but let me walk you through it. The ranges tapering off show the percentage of IOs falling at the various Queue Depths, while the green, red, and orange lines ramping up to higher IOPS (right axis) show relative SSD performance at those same Queue Depths. The key to Optane's performance benefit here is that it can ramp up to full performance at very low QD's, while the other NAND-based parts require significantly higher parallel requests to achieve full rated performance. This is what will ultimately lead to a much snappier responsiveness for, well, just about anything hitting the storage. Fun fact - there is actually a HDD on that chart. It's the yellow line that you might have mistook as the horizontal axis :).
As you can see, we have a few integrators on board already. Official support requires a 270 series motherboard and Kaby Lake CPU, but it is possible that motherboard makers could backport the required NVMe v1.1 and Intel RST 15.5 requirements into older systems.
For those curious, if caching is the only way power users will be able to go with Optane, that's not the case. Atop that pyramid there sits an 'Intel Optane SSD', which should basically be a consumer version of the P4800X. It is sure to be an incredibly fast SSD, but that performance will most definitely come at a price!
We should be testing Optane Memory shortly and will finally have some publishable results of this new tech as soon as we can!
Subject: Storage | March 25, 2017 - 02:13 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Lexar, thumb drive
A new line of USB flash drives has been announced by Lexar, which focuses on both durability and USB 3.1 support (compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0). From the technical side, the Lexar JumpDrive Tough drives can read up to 150 MB/s and write up to 60 MB/s, which is obviously nowhere near SSD speed, but reasonably fast for the typical cases that you would use a thumb drive.
As for its robustness, Lexar claims that the JumpDrive Tough will operate normally between -13F and 300F, which is just shy of the bake cookies temperature. It is also water resistant up to 98 feet.
The Lexar JumpDrive Tough will be available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB models for $19.99, $34.99, and $59.99, respectively. While I don’t normally consider manufacturer returns for something like this, Lexar is backing this purchase with a 3-year limited warranty, which gives some legal teeth to their claims (if anyone takes them up on it). They are available now.
Subject: Storage | March 21, 2017 - 03:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Seagate, 10TB, enterprise, hdd
The Seagate Barracuda Pro 10TB Enterprise HDD won't give you the fastest access to your data, but if you have a large amount of storage in a reliable format it is worth looking at this review. The MSRP of $444.45USD is much lower than you would pay for 10TB of SSD storage, though you might be able to set up several smaller disks in a Drobo or similar device for a similar price. The MTBF is 2.5 million hours, the endurance rating is 550TB per year and there is a 5 year warranty so even with heavy usage you should be able to depend on this drive for quite a long time. You can drop by NikKTech to see how it performs.
"The Seagate Barracuda Pro 10TB hard disk drive offers good endurance levels with great performance and an even greater capacity. The Enterprise Capacity 3.5 V6 10TB model again by Seagate boosts even higher performance and endurance numbers without asking more from your wallet."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X @ The Tech Report
- PNY CS2030 240GB PCIe NVMe M.2 @ Kitguru
- ADATA SU800 SSD Ultimate @ Benchmark Reviews
- QNAP TVS-873 @ PC Review
Subject: Storage | March 19, 2017 - 12:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, SSD DC P4800X, Optane Memory, Optane, Intel, client, 750GB, 3D XPoint, 375GB, 1.5TB
Intel brought us out to their Folsom campus last week for some in-depth product briefings. Much of our briefing is still under embargo, but the portion that officially lifts this morning is the SSD DC P4800X:
MSRP for the 375GB model is estimated at $1520 ($4/GB), which is rather spendy, but given that the product has shown it can effectively displace RAM in servers, we should be comparing the cost/GB with DRAM and not NAND. It should also be noted this is also nearly half the cost/GB of the X25-M at its launch. Capacities will go all the way up to 1.5TB, and U.2 form factor versions are also on the way.
For those wanting a bit more technical info, the P4800X uses a 7-channel controller, with the 375GB model having 4 dies per channel (28 total). Overprovisioning does not do for Optane what it did for NAND flash, as XPoint can be rewritten at the byte level and does not need to be programmed in (KB) pages and erased in larger (MB) blocks. The only extra space on Optane SSDs is for ECC, firmware, and a small spare area to map out any failed cells.
Those with a keen eye (and calculator) might have noted that the early TBW values only put the P4800X at 30 DWPD for a 3-year period. At the event, Intel confirmed that they anticipate the P4800X to qualify at that same 30 DWPD for a 5-year period by the time volume shipment occurs.
Subject: Storage | March 8, 2017 - 09:58 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: xeon, raid, NAS, iosafe, fireproof
The Server 5 is a completely different twist for an ioSafe NAS. While previous units have essentially been a fireproof drive cage surrounding Synology NAS hardware, the Server 5 is a full blown Xeon D-1520 or D-1521 quad core HT, 16GB of DDR4, an Areca ARC-1225-8i hardware RAID controller (though only 5 ports are connected to the fireproof drive cage). ioSafe supports the Server 5 with Windows Server 2012 R2 or you can throw your preferred flavor of Linux on there. The 8-thread CPU and 16GB of RAM mean that you can have plenty of other services running straight off of this unit. It's not a particularly speedy CPU, but keep in mind that the Areca RAID card offloads all parity calculations from the host.
Overall the Server 5 looks nearly identical to the ioSafe 1515+, but with an extra inch or two of height added to the bottom to accommodate the upgraded hardware. The Server 5 should prove to be a good way to keep local enterprise / business data protected and available immediately after a disaster. While only the hard drives will be protected in a fire, they can be popped out of the charred housing and shifted to a backup Server 5 or just migrated to another Areca-driven NAS system. For those wondering what a typical post-fire ioSafe looks like, here ya go:
Note how clean the cage and drives are (and yes, they all still work)!
Press blast appears after the break.
Subject: Networking, Storage | March 4, 2017 - 11:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: netgear, Intel, Avoton, recall
While this is more useful for our readers in the IT field, NETGEAR has issued a (non-urgent) recall on sixteen models of Rackmount NAS and Wireless Controller devices. It looks like the reason for this announcement is to maintain customer relations. They are planning to reach out to customers “over the next several months” to figure out a solution for them. Note the relaxed schedule.
The affected model numbers are:
- WC7500 Series:
- WC7500-10000S, WC7500-100INS, WC7500-100PRS, WB7520-10000S, WB7520-100NAS, WB7530-10000S, WB7530-100NAS
- WC7600 Series:
- WC7600-20000S, WC7600-200INS, WC7600-200PRS, WB7620-10000S, WB7620-100NAS, WB7630-10000S, WB7630-100NAS
The Register noticed that each of these devices contain Intel’s Avoton-based Atom processors. You may remember our coverage from last month, which also sourced The Register, that states these chips may fail to boot over time. NETGEAR is not blaming Intel for their recall, but gave The Register a wink and a nudge when pressed: “We’re not naming the vendor but it sounds as if you’ve done your research.”
Again, while this news applies to enterprise customers and it’s entirely possible that Intel (if it actually is the Avoton long-term failure issue) is privately supporting them, it’s good to see NETGEAR being honest and upfront. Problems will arise in the tech industry; often (albeit not always) what matters more is how they are repaired.
Subject: Storage | February 27, 2017 - 05:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: sdxc, sd card, patriot, lx series
You may recall a while back Allyn put together an article detailing the new types of SD cards hitting the market which will support 4K recording in cameras. Modders Inc just wrapped up a review of one of these cards, Patriot's 256GB LX Series SDXC card with an included adapter for those who need it. The price certainly implies it is new technology, $200 for 256GB of storage is enough to make anyone pause, so the question becomes why one would pay such a premium. Their benchmarks offer insight into this, with 83Mb/s write and 96Mb/s read in both ATTO and CrystalDisk proving that this is a far cry from the performance of older SD cards and worthy of that brand new ultra high definition camera you just picked up. Lets us hope the prices plummet as they did with the previous generations of cards.
"Much like Mary Poppins bag of wonders, Patriot too has a method of fitting a substantial amount of goodness in a small space with the release of their 256GB LX Series SDXC class 10 memory card. Featuring an impressive 256GB of storage and boasting this as an “ultra high speed” card for QHD video production and high resolution photos."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM) 6.1 @ eTeknix
- Asustor AS3202T Multifunctional 4K Quad-Core NAS Review @ Bjorn3D
- TerraMaster F2-220 2-Bay NAS @ techPowerUp
- QNAP TBS-453A 4-Bay M.2 SSD NAS @ Modders-Inc
- Seagate IronWolf Pro 10TB NAS HDD @ eTeknix
- Western Digital WD Red Pro 5 TB Hard Drive @ Hardware Secrets