Author:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OWC

OWC USB-C Dual-Bay Drive Dock Review

Editor's Note: This review was originally published at TekRevue and is republished here with permission.

Industry trends, such as increasingly compact PCs and Macs that are incapable of being upgraded, and faster connections to network-attached storage devices, have made the traditional “bare” 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch drive far less common in typical homes and businesses. But for those who still use bare drives for backup, archiving, data transfer, or troubleshooting, the importance of a solid drive dock is crucial.

These devices, which generally accept the SATA connections of bare mechanical and solid state drives and allow access to the drives via a more handy external I/O protocol, have been around for years, with certain devices offering access via USB 2.0, FireWire, eSATA, USB 3.0, and even Thunderbolt. But the ones you find today in typical online marketplaces often suffer from reliability issues or limited functionality, such as the inability to boot from a connected drive.

One company that has long offered a range of external drive docks is OWC, and although it has been several years since I used an OWC drive dock, I recall that the company’s products suffered none of the aforementioned drawbacks. And so when my most recent USB 3.0-based drive dock from StarTech recently died, I was interested to see that OWC had continued to update its drive dock product lineup, adding a USB 3.1 Type-C option last year.

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I spent the last few weeks evaluating a review loan of this latest OWC Drive Dock, and found it to be a well-built, high-performance device that is a significant upgrade over my previous drive dock. Read on for my more detailed impressions of the device’s design and performance.

Mercury Systems Ships First Space-Qualified Commercial SSD for LEO Satellites

Subject: Storage | January 23, 2019 - 05:35 PM |
Tagged: TRRUST-Stor VPX RT, ssd, slc, radiation, amusing

Mercury Systems are well known for providing military grade secure storage, which means a little more than a truck commercial, but is still just FIPS 197 which is also know as AES.  Mercury uses AES-256 but both AES-128 and AES-192 can be classified as FIPS 197. 

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The security of the drive above is not what makes it worth mentioning however, it is the fact it is rated for use in low earth orbit which is interesting.  The drive is as Al says, "a bunch of SLC in a poly filled enclosure", with the poly offering the following (PDF link):

  • Rad-Tolerant Design (RTG4 Based): Configuration upsets immunity to LET > 103 MeV.cm2/mg
  • Single-event latch-up (SEL) immunity to LET > 103 MeV.cm2/mg
  • Registers SEU rate <10-12 errors/bit-day (GEO Solar Min)
  • Single-event transient (SET) upset rate < 10-8 errors/bit-day (GEO Solar Min)
  • Total ionizing dose (TID) > 100 Krad

The 440GB of SLC flash is capable of reading and writing at 1GB/s with a 26 PB write minimum life expectancy.  If you are serious about long term resilient storage, and can afford paying governmental rates you could drop them a line to get on the waiting list. 

Conversely, the next time you are playing a post apocalyptic RPG, you are now fully able to complain about the crappy storage media the game provides and demand something a little bit better.  It won't be quite as easy to hack into as a RobCo terminal but if you can get at the data those logs will load a whole lot faster.

 

Samsung's new 970 EVO is almost double Plus good

Subject: Storage | January 22, 2019 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: storage, ssd, Samsung, NVMe, M.2 2280, M.2, IOPS, EVO, 970 EVO, 3d nand

Jim was not the only one who completed benchmarking Samsung's new 970 EVO Plus, The Tech Report also chewed on the new gum stick for a while.  Whereas we had the 1TB model, it was the 500GB model which they reviewed and while many of the specifications are the same there are some slight differences worth investigating.  Their custom RoboBench tests real performance and shows just how impressive this drives performance is.  Not only is this drive faster than the previous generations, the price is also much more attractive as we are supposed to see this 500GB drive sell for $130 and the 1TB for $250; let's hope that is the case!

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"Samsung's 900-series EVO drives have been mainstays since NVMe went mainstream. The company has released a newly refreshed version of the 970 EVO that's so good they gave it a "Plus" suffix. We take it apart to see if it's as good as it sounds."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Author:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Samsung today is launching a new member of its consumer-targeted family of NVMe SSDs, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus. Thanks to the upgrade from 64-layer to 96-layer V-NAND, this new drive promises significantly better write performance, a slight bump to overall responsiveness, and improved efficiency all in the same single-sided package at capacities up to 2TB.

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This new drive, a mid-cycle refresh that keeps the well-regarded 970-series on the market, looks impressive on paper. But do those soaring advertised IOPS and insane write speeds hold up in reality? Check out our initial review of the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.

Author:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD Review

Western Digital today is launching the latest version of its Black-series NVMe SSDs. Like its predecessor, the WD Black SN750 is targeted at gamers, introducing a new "Gaming Mode" that tunes the drive to favor performance over power efficiency.

The drive will be available in two variants — one including a heatsink and one without — in capacities up to 2TB. Western Digital worked with cooling experts EK to design the heatsink.

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We had a brief time to review the 1TB non-heatsink model and have some initial performance results to share.

Read on for our review of the WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD.

Phison Previews PCIe Gen4 x4 NVMe with PS5016-E16 Controller

Subject: Storage | January 11, 2019 - 09:36 AM |
Tagged: ssd controller, ssd, solid state drive, PS5016-E16, phison, PCIe Gen4, PCI Express 4.0, NVMe

One of the areas that can see an immediate impact from PCI Express Gen 4 which will first arrive with AMD’s upcoming Ryzen desktop processors is storage, and to that end Phison is not waiting around to show just what we can expect from the first generation of PCIe Gen4 SSDs.

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Phison PS5016-E16 performance slide (image credit: ComputerBase)

The company’s PS5016-E16 controller was on display at CES in a prototype device, and is powered by a quad-core solution combining two ARM cores with a pair of proprietary CO-X processor cores from Phison. Basic specs from Phison include:

  • PCIe Gen4 x4 NVMe
  • 8 Channels with 32 CEs
  • NAND interface: 800 MT/s support
  • DDR4 interface: 1600 Mb/s support
  • 3D TLC and QLC support
  • Designed with Phison’s 4th Gen LDPC Engine

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Phison PS5016-E16 prototype device (image credit: Legit Reviews)

As to performance, Phison lists sequentials of 4000 MB/s reads and 4100 MB/s writes, while providing a graphic showing CrystalDiskMark results slightly exceeding these numbers. How can Phison exceed the potential of PCIe Gen3 x4 with this early demo? As reported by Legit Reviews Phison is using a Gen4HOST add-in card from PLDA, which “uses a PCIe 3.0 x16 (upstream) to PCIe 4.0 x8 (downstream) integration backplane for development and validation of PCIe 4.0 endpoints”.

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Phison PS5016-E16 demo system in action (image credit: Legit Reviews)

The Phison PCIe Gen4 x4 NVMe controller is expected to hit the consumer market by Q3 2019.

Source: ComputerBase

Mushkin's CES extravaganza

Subject: Storage | January 10, 2019 - 02:16 PM |
Tagged: Mushkin, ces 2019, carbon x100, Source 2, carbon z100, helix-l, pilot-e, M.2, thunderbolt

Mushkin launched a number of new storage products at CES and they passed on a bit of information on them for you to peruse.

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Pilot-E - M.2 2280 PCIe SSD
Featuring Silicon Motions SM2262EN Controller and Mushkin’s M.E.D.S. the Pilot-E brings high performance with low power consumption to Mushkin’s 2019 product line-up. Offering PCIe x4 NVMe 1.3, twice the capacity*, and 30%* more performance of its previous generation.

  • Built-in LDPC ECC provides the most-powerful data correction level in use today
  • End-to-end data path protection
  • Data shaping means greater endurance
  • StaticDataRefresh ensures data integrity
  • Global wear-leveling evens program/erase counts across data blocks to extend lifespan

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Helix-L - M.2 2280 PCIe SSD
Equipped with the Silicon Motion SM2263XT and cutting-edge 96-layer micron 3D TLC NAND your computer will have the power and responsiveness to help your productivity soar. Experience amazing gaming performance, seamlessly edit and share 360 video, and enjoy fantastic 4K Ultra HD entertainment– all with the lightning fast data transfers.

You will benefit from the same security and longevity as with the Pilot-E series.

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Source 2 – 2.5” SATA III SSD
Designed using Silicon Motion's SM2259 controller and 96-layer 3D TLC NAND, the Source 2 holds nothing back.

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Carbon X100 – External USB 3.1 Gen2 SSD
The Carbon X100 will transform the way you game and streamlines storage intensive workflows. Get stunning sequential read/write speeds of 1,000/1,000 MB/s, up to 500% faster writes than a standard USB 3.0 flash drive.  Compatible with PC and Mac right out-of-the-box, also XBOX and PS4 Compatible, Type-C to Type-A cable included.

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Carbon Z100 – External Thunderbolt SSD
Equipped with Thunderbolt 3 and an all-aluminum enclosure, the Carbon Z100 with Thunderbolt 3 is perfect for the vital high-performance photo and video editing applications your work requires.

New Line of AMD Ryzen compatible OC Memory Modules.
There is also a new series of Mushkin Redline DIMM kits specifically for that new Ryzen chip you are eyeing.

Source:

New and improved secure portable iStorage drives

Subject: Storage | January 2, 2019 - 06:07 PM |
Tagged: iStorage, external ssd, diskAshur Pro2

It was back in November when we linked to a review of iStorage's secure portable HDD, which offers serious data protection for those who have 14TB of data to cart around.  Recently they launched a similar product, for those who don't have the time to sit and watch rust spin.  The diskAshur Pro2 replaces the 12TB HDD with an SSD between 128GB and in 4TB in size, or a HDD between 500GB and 5TB if you need to trim your costs a bit. 

The Pro2 model offers all of the security and protective features of the DT2 HDD model; sadly the self-destruct mechanism does not include actual destructionDrop by OCC to see if it lives up to it's advertised speed.

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"Well, iStorage has something that can keep your data secure. How secure? How about Real-Time Military Grade AES-XTS 256-bit Full-Disk Hardware Encryption secure? Okay, maybe not everyone needs that level of security, but if you do, then the iStorage diskAsure Pro2 can do the job."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: DeepSpar

Introduction

DeepSpar is the big name in data recovery, making all sorts of data recovery hardware used by many of the big data recovery warehouses. They've recently ventured into getting their recovery hardware into the hands of smaller operations. A couple of years back, they launched the RapidSpar (reviewed here), which offered a nice little package that enabled smaller shops and small businesses to bring a fair chunk of their data recovery operations in-house. While these tools could also be used for data forensics, that's a 'different crowd' really. Forensic operations want to just be able to plug a drive into a write blocker and hit GO on their imaging software. Write blockers are hardware devices that prevent any write requests from ever reaching the storage device, which lets the forensic shop later prove to the court (if needed) that the evidence (source drive) has not been tampered with. Historically, write-blocking hardware has not implemented data recovery functionality, meaning that a drive that times out with read errors would do the same thing when connected via a write blocker. This equates to added headaches for the data forensics guys that are just trying to get their drives imaged and get on with their cases (digging through the image looking for evidence of system compromise, illegal activity, etc). A few hard drive errors throwing a big wrench into the drive imaging process should be a solvable problem, and DeepSpar has stepped in to take a crack at just that:

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Enter the Guardonix. This simple little box sits inline, between the capture PC and the USB device (flash drive, HDD in a USB dock, etc). It naturally performs the typical write blocking functionality expected from the device, but it throws in a round of data recovery functionality as well. Let's look at the simple software interface to help explain further:

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Connecting the device to the system the first time mounts a small volume containing software to get up and running. The app handles firmware and driver updates within its own interface, making things simple. DeepSpar recommends using the Asmedia USB3 controller on your system board for best possible compatibility, with the vendor driver installed (don't use the Microsoft InBox driver - download the USB 3 controller driver from your motherboard/laptop vendor). The same Asmedia controller recommendation applies to the use of a USB 3 dock connected to the Guardonix - Asmedia controllers best support the necessary device resets necessary for the data recovery tricks it is capable of.

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Once up and running, there is a series of configuration and data recovery options available. Logging options are extensive and necessary for inclusion in forensic reports. The 'PRO' settings (added cost) enable greater control of read timeouts, allow file system mounting, and enable some cool tricks like the ability to fake write attempts instead of replying with 'write denied' errors.

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Above is a typical setup showing the whole operation in action. I'm using a simple data recovery app instead of ($$$) dedicated forensic software, but the principles are the same.

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Here's a look at the Guardonix output while pushing through a drive containing read errors. Note that once past the errors, we see full speed of the source drive (a 2.5" SATA HDD in this case). The configurable timeouts are 1.25 (short), 4 (medium), and 10 (long) seconds. If the drive fails to come back after each reset attempt, the Guardonix is able to repower the drive a few seconds later. The error handling is definitely robust. I was able to go as far as to remove and reinsert the drive from the dock during imaging, and it just picked right back up from where it left off. Here's the Guardonix demo video:

Pricing and conclusion:

The base Guardonix goes for $320 at the time of this writing, with the PRO add-on features tacking on another $470. This may seem steep, but compared to other write-blocking hardware I've seen in the past, it's about average, with the PRO add-on tacking on some data recovery options capabilities not normally possible with simpler write blockers. So long as you are ok with only USB and docked SATA connectivity, that $470 is actually a good deal compared to the pricier RapidSpar (but not nearly as feature-packed).

*edit* Prices adjusted slightly after publishing. Article updated to reflect current prices.

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Overall this is good stuff from DeepSpar. I'm glad to see them venturing into the forensics space, as that arena could stand to benefit from less frustration during their imaging operations. I know it would have saved me a bunch of time and headaches back when I was dealing with data forensics!

STH Goes Under the Heat Spreader with Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory

Subject: Storage | December 20, 2018 - 10:34 AM |
Tagged: storage, ram, Optane DC Persistent Memory, Optane, micron, memory, Intel, Hynix, flash, ddr4, 3D XPoint

ServeTheHome got up close and personal with Optane DC Persistent Memory in an article posted yesterday, removing the heat spreaders and taking a look at (and several photos of) the components within.

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Intel Optane Persistent Memory DDR4 module, front view (via ServeTheHome)

"We are going to take a 128GB Intel Optane Persistent Memory DDR4 module, and open it up. Until now, Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory has mostly been photographed with its big black heat spreader. We ended up with a handful of modules not from Intel, nor a system provider, but a handful to use."

Among their notes we have this interesting find, as SK.Hynix is the provider of the module's DRAM, rather than Micron:

"On the other side of the module from the Optane controller is a DDR4 DRAM module, this one from SK.Hynix. Model number H5AN4G8NAFR-TFC. We are not sure why Intel would not use a Micron module here since Micron has been the manufacturing partner for 3D XPoint thus far."

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Intel Optane Persistent Memory DDR4 module, rear view (via ServeTheHome)

The full article is available here from STH and includes an embed of this video covering their de-lidding and chip exploration process:

Source: ServeTheHome