Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction

For years we have been repeatedly teased by Samsung. Launch after successful launch in the consumer SSD space, topping performance charts nearly every time, but what about enterprise? Oh sure, there were plenty of launches on that side, with the company showing off higher and higher capacity 2.5" enterprise SSDs year after year, but nobody could ever get their hands on one, and even the higher tier reviewers could not confirm Samsung's performance claims. While other SSD makers would privately show me performance comparison data showing some Samsung enterprise part walking all over their own enterprise parts, there was not much concern in their voices since only a small group of companies had the luxury of being on Samsung's short list of clients that could purchase these products. Announcements of potentially groundbreaking products like the Z-SSD were soured by press folk growing jaded by unobtanium products that would likely never be seen by the public.

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Samsung has recently taken some rather significant steps to change that tune. They held a small press event in September, where we were assured that enterprise SSD models were coming to 'the channel' (marketing speak for being available on the retail market). I was thrilled, as were some of the Samsung execs who had apparently been pushing for such a move for some time.

As a next step towards demonstrating that Samsung is dedicated to their plan, I was recently approached to test a round of their upcoming products. I accepted without hesitation, have been testing for the past week, and am happy to now bring you detailed results obtained from testing eight different SSDs across four enterprise SSD models. Testing initially began with three of the models, but then I was made aware that the Z-SSD was also available for testing, and given the potential significance of that product and its placement as a competitor to 3D XPoint products like Intel's Optane, I thought it important to include that testing as well, making this into one heck of a Samsung Enterprise SSD roundup!

One large note before we continue - this is an enterprise SSD review. Don't expect to see game launches, SYSmark runs, or boot times here. The density of the data produced by my enterprise suite precludes most easy side-by-side comparisons, so I will instead be presenting the standard full-span random and sequential results for fully conditioned drives, marking the rated specs on the charts as we go along. High-Resolution QoS will also be used throughout, as Quality of Service is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing SSDs for enterprise usage. In short, the SSDs will be tested against their own specifications, with the exception of some necessary comparisons between the Samsung Z-SSD and the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X which I will squeeze in towards the end of this very lengthy and data-dense review.

Read on for our full review of Samsung's new enterprise products!

Intel's Optane DC Persistent Memory DIMMs Push Latency Closer to DRAM

Subject: Storage | December 12, 2018 - 09:17 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Optane, Intel, DIMM, 3D XPoint

Intel's architecture day press release contains the following storage goodness mixed within all of the talk about 3D chip packaging:

Memory and Storage: Intel discussed updates on Intel® Optane™ technology and the products based upon that technology. Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory is a new product that converges memory-like performance with the data persistence and large capacity of storage. The revolutionary technology brings more data closer to the CPU for faster processing of bigger data sets like those used in AI and large databases. Its large capacity and data persistence reduces the need to make time-consuming trips to storage, which can improve workload performance. Intel Optane DC persistent memory delivers cache line (64B) reads to the CPU. On average, the average idle read latency with Optane persistent memory is expected to be about 350 nanoseconds when applications direct the read operation to Optane persistent memory, or when the requested data is not cached in DRAM. For scale, an Optane DC SSD has an average idle read latency of about 10,000 nanoseconds (10 microseconds), a remarkable improvement.2  In cases where requested data is in DRAM, either cached by the CPU’s memory controller or directed by the application, memory sub-system responsiveness is expected to be identical to DRAM (<100 nanoseconds).
 
The company also showed how SSDs based on Intel’s 1 Terabit QLC NAND die move more bulk data from HDDs to SSDs, allowing faster access to that data.

Did you catch that? 3D XPoint memory in DIMM form factor is expected to have an access latency of 350 nanoseconds! That's down from 10 microseconds of the PCIe-based Optane products like Optane Memory and the P4800X. I realize those are just numbers, and showing a nearly 30x latency improvement may be easier visually, so here:

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Above is an edit to my Bridging the Gap chart from the P4800X review, showing where this new tech would fall in purple. That's all we have to go on for now, but these are certainly exciting times. Consider that non-volatile storage latencies have improved by nearly 100,000x over the last decade, and are now within striking distance (less than 10x) of DRAM! Before you get too excited, realize that Optane DIMMs will be showing up in enterprise servers first, as they require specialized configurations to treat DIMM slots as persistent storage instead of DRAM. That said, I'm sure the tech will eventually trickle down to desktops in some form or fashion. If you're hungry for more details on what makes 3D XPoint tick, check out how 3D XPoint works in my prior article.

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It's Crucial not to try two new things at once

Subject: Storage | December 7, 2018 - 03:24 PM |
Tagged: crucial, QLC, P1, 500gb, PCIe SSD, NVMe

The Crucial P1 SSD marks two firsts for the company, their first NVMe drive as well as their first SSD using QLC flash. The drive differs from Samsung's QVO in that it uses Micron's 64-layer 3D QLC flash and an SM2263 controller but still uses QLC flash, much to the dismay of The Tech Report, amongst others.  The 500GB drive currently sells for $110, which is attractive but when you look at the performance, it seems perhaps a bit expensive; which is not good.

Check it out here, or read some of our old TLC reviews if you can't stand the QLC.

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"Powered by Micron's 3D quad-level-cell NAND, the Crucial P1 might be a herald of QLC-dominated days to come. We put Crucial's first NVMe drive through its paces to see how increasing the number of bits per cell affects performance."

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Storage

We are SSDs ... I got all my QVO with me

Subject: Storage | November 27, 2018 - 06:54 PM |
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, Samsung, QLC, 860 QVO, 2.5

Samsung have jumped up the alphabet, going from EVO to QVO with their new lower cost QLC based SSD family.  The 4TB model Allyn reviewed sells for $600, not bad for a drive of that size but still a little pricey for some.  A more affordable option can be seen at The Tech Report, the 1TB drive they reviewed sells for $150.  If you are on a somewhat limited budget and don't mind a small hit in performance nor a three year warranty or 360TB written endurance then this drive is worth a look.

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Samsung's EVO drives have ruled the SATA roost for the last several years. Today, Samsung is introducing high-capacity, lower-cost 860 QVO drives with four-bit-per-cell QLC NAND inside. Can they live up to the high expectations Samsung has set with its past products?"

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Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung
Tagged: ssd, slc, sata, Samsung, QLC, 860 QVO, 2.5

Introduction

With recent QLC SSD launches like the Intel 660P and Crucial P1, folks may have been wondering when Samsung would jump on the QLC bandwagon. I'm happy to report that your wait is now over:

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Samsung has opted to name this new product 'QVO'. The Q presumably stems from the use QLC flash, which can store four bits per cell.

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While QLC writes are far slower than what we are used to seeing from a modern SSD, SLC caching is the answer to bridging that performance gap. The 860 QVO employs Samsung's Intelligent TurboWrite, which has a minimum 6GB static cache plus a dynamic cache of up to 72GB. This dynamic cache varies based on available QLC area which can be reconfigured to operate in SLC mode. Do note the 'After TubroWrite' speeds of 80 and 160 MB/s - that's the raw QLC speeds that you will see if the cache has been exhausted during an extended write period.

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The rest of the specs are about what we expect from a SATA SSD, but I do have a concern with those QD1 4KB random read ratings of only 7,500 IOPS. This is on the low side especially for Samsung, who typically dominate in low QD random read performance.

Read on for the full review!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Drobo

Introduction

It has been 9 years since I reviewed the DroboPro. For its time, that product was a beast of a device, with the closest to a 'set it and forget it' RAID implementation I had ever seen. It was also robust enough to shrug off any combination of power loss and pulling (failing) disks that I could throw at it. The ease of use/durability combination was a good formula for Drobo that has now lasted over a decade. The main hurdles over the years have been more on the performance side of things. The original DroboPro was indeed quicker than previous Drobos and other competing models, but competition quickly surpassed them in performance. Later Drobo models brought decent performance and capabilities for competitive prices (like the Drobo 5C), but we haven't had a worthy successor to the original DroboPro. They came close in the form of the B810 series, but those were still limited by Gigabit links. We needed the 8-bay form factor to have a larger pipe - and now we do:

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Read on for our review of the Drobo 8D

14TB of secure portable spinning rust from iStorage

Subject: Storage | November 9, 2018 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: iStorage, diskAshur, 12TB, external hdd

Not everyone needs the speed a portable SSD offers, however at $870 US the diskAshur DT2  is still a fairly large investment.  The cost is split between the Seagate IronWolf HDD and the case itself, which is fairly impressive.  The drive can be encrypted with AES-XTS 256 requiring a PIN be entered onto the numpad on the front, and supports multiple PINs so the drive can be shared with multiple users.  Inside the enclosure is a Common Criteria EAL4+ processor which offers protection against a wide variety of attacks if you happen to lose the drive and some unscrupulous person gets their hands on it.  Not only is it secure, it is the fastest external HDD Nikktech have tested.  

Drop by to take a look at a handy way to securely store a large amount of data.

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"Combining state of the art security measures with the highest available storage capacities the diskAshur DT2 Desktop Hard Drive by iStorage is the one stop to safeguarding all your sensitive data."

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Source: Nikktech

Western Digital Launches 15 TB Ultrastar DC HC620 SMR Hard Drive

Subject: Storage | November 7, 2018 - 06:44 PM |
Tagged: western digital, SMR, hgst, HelioSeal, datacenter

Western Digital is expanding its data center hard drive offerings with the reveal of a 15TB model based on fourth generation HelioSeal and second generation Host Managed SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) technology. The new 15 TB Ultrastar DC HC620 is aimed at data center customers doing surveillance, object storage for cloud services, streaming media storage, online backup and archival storage, and other sequential write focused tasks. The 7200 RPM hard drive comes in SATA (6Gbps) or SAS (12Gbps) flavors, but is not a direct drop-in replacement for just any drive as it works with host managed SMR to optimize how data is written to the drive which needs to be sequentially to get any amount of decent performance out of it. Random performance (writes in particular) isn’t great in other words, but it does offer up to 31% lower idle watts/TB than prior generation drives while delivering respectable (for mechanical drives) sequential performance and areal density with 900TB of storage being able to fit in a 40U (60-unit) rack or 40TB more compared to using 14TB drives
 
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Western Digital’s 15 TB DC HC620 (PDF)is a 7200 RPM hard drive with a 512 MB buffer. It is rated at 255 MB/s sustained transfer rates, 4.16 ms average latency, and 7.7ms read and 12ms write seek times. Further, the datacenter focused drives are rated for 550TB per year with a 2.5 million hour MTBF and a five year warranty.
 
While enthusiasts will not be using these new SMR drives, they may well be being used by the various cloud service providers and their services that end users take advantage of. It is interesting to see that shingled magnetic recording is still being developed and the increasing amount of data that is able to be crammed into the same 3.5-inch hard drive form factor. I am looking forward to future technologies like MAMR and HAMR as well to see just how far spinning rust can be pushed. While end users are enjoying the speed of solid state storage, hard drives are still alive and well in the data center thanks to TCO (total cost of ownership) and TB/watt/area metrics and the drive to optimize them being paramount. According to Western Digital, global data storage demands are going to approach 100 zetabytes within the next five years so I am curious how we will end up storing all of that and the kinds of technologies involved!
 
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: MyDigitalDiscount

MyDigitalDiscount doesn't seem to have been satisfied with their performance BPX line or their value SBX line, and have now launched a BPX Pro, which looks to carry the budget pricing of the SBX while offering performance *higher* than the original BPX. How much faster is the BPX Pro than the BPX? That's what this review sets to find out, so let's get to it.

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Specs:

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Internals:

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With the label peeled back, we find the Phison E12, coupled to Toshiba BiCS3 TLC NAND. PCBs are single sided up to 480GB. 960GB (and 2TB - not in this review) employ a different PCB with additional DRAM and two more flash packages on the flip side.

Read on for the results and conclusion!

Hyper Savage Exo USB SSD X! Kingston is a wee bit excited about their new external SSD

Subject: Storage | October 22, 2018 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: kingston, hyperx, HyperX Savage, Savage Exo, external ssd, M.2

The new USB 3.1 Gen2 external SSD from Kingston sports quite a name, which might help it sell with the console crowd as the drive will work on PlayStation 4s and Xbox Ones as well as PCs.  Those devices are limited to USB 3.0 but this drive will still be miles faster than the internal HDD.  Inside is Marvell's 88SS1074 controller and Kingston branded 64-layer Toshiba BiCS flash, however the implementation does not seem up to snuff when compared to other portable SSDs.  Check out the performance as well as The Tech Reports recommendations right here.

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"The latest gaming peripheral from HyperX is... a portable SSD? Parent company Kingston wants to woo the console crowd with a fast USB external drive. Read our review of the HyperX Savage Evo to see whether it delivers."

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