FMS 2017: Micron Launches 9200 Series Enterprise Lineup with 3D TLC NAND, x8 PCIe

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | August 8, 2017 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: U.2, pcie, NVMe, micron, HHHL, FMS 2017, 9200, 3d nand

We were extremely impressed with the Micron 9100 Enterprise SSDs. They are still the fastest NAND flash SSDs we've tested to date, but they were built on planar NAND, and we know everyone is replacing their flat flash with more cost efficient 3D NAND. Same goes for the 9200:

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Highlights for the new models are IMFT 3D NAND running in TLC mode and a new controller capable of PCIe 3.0 x8 (HHHL form factor only - U.2 is only a x4 interface). Here are the detailed specs:

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Improvements for the x4 models are marginal upgrades over the 9100, but the x8 variants bump up the maximum performance to 900,000 IOPS and 5.5GB/s! These should be shipping by the end of the month, and we will review them as they come in.

Press blast after the break

Western Digital BiCS3 Flash Goes QLC - 96GB per die!

Subject: Storage | August 2, 2017 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, tlc, slc, QLC, nand, mlc, flash, 96GB, 768Gb, 3d

A month ago, WD and Toshiba each put out releases related to their BiCS 3D Flash memory. WD announced 96 layers (BiCS4) as their next capacity node, while Toshiba announced them reliably storing four bits per cell (QLC).

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WD recently did their own press release related to QLC, partially mirroring Toshiba's announcement, but this one had some additional details on capacity per die, as well as stating their associated technology name used for these shifts. TLC was referred to as "X3", and "X4" is the name for their QLC tech as applied to BiCS. The WD release stated that X4 tech, applied to BiCS3, yields 768Gbit (96GB) per die vs. 512Gbit (64GB) per die for X3 (TLC). Bear in mind that while the release (and the math) states this is a 50% increase, moving from TLC to QLC with the same number of cells does only yields a 33% increase, meaning X4 BiCS3 dies need to have additional cells (and footprint) to add that extra 17%.

The release ends by hinting at X4 being applied to BiCS4 in the future, which is definitely exciting. Merging the two recently announced technologies would yield a theoretical 96-layer BiCS4 die, using X4 QLC technology, yielding 1152 Gbit (144GB) per die. A 16 die stack of which would come to 2,304 GB (1.5x the previously stated 1.5TB figure). The 2304 figure might appear incorrect but consider that we are multiplying two 'odd' capacities together (768 Gbit (1.5x512Gbit for TLC) and 96 layers (1.5x64 for X3).

Press blast appears after the break.

A new challenger appears; Toshiba's XG5 is hot on Samsung's heels

Subject: Storage | July 24, 2017 - 05:01 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, ocz, NVMe, nand, M.2, XG5, BiCS, 64-Layer

We first saw Toshiba's XG5 M.2 SSD at Computex this year but as of yet we have not had a chance to review it.  The Tech Report on the other hand did get their mitts on the 512GB model of this drive and they put it through its paces in this review right here.  Their results show a drive that beats OCZs' RD400 across the board and is impinging on Samsung's 960 Pro and EVO, though they are not quite there yet.  The next generation will improve on performance which should spur Samsung to new heights with their next NVMe product.  At the start of the article is some history on the current state of Toshiba which is worth checking out if you are not familiar with what is going on there.

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"Toshiba's XG5 NVMe SSD is shipping to the company's OEM partners now. We run it through our test suite to see if the company's newfangled 64-layer BiCS NAND helps it compete with the best in the business."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

X points to the spot; in 3D!

Subject: Storage | July 18, 2017 - 07:31 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, srt, rst, Optane Memory, Optane, Intel, hybrid, CrossPoint, cache, 32GB, 16GB

It has been a few months since Al looked at Intel's Optane and its impressive performance and price.  This is why it seems appropriate to revist the 2280 M.2 stick with a PCIe 3.0 x2 interface.  It is not just the performance which is interesting but the technology behind Optane and the limitations.  For anyone looking to utilize Optane is is worth reminding you of the compatibility limitations Intel requires, only Kaby Lake processors with Core i7, i5 or i3 heritage.  If you do qualify already or are planning a system build, you can revisit the performance numbers over at Kitguru.

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"Optane is Intel’s brand name for their 3D XPoint memory technology. The first Optane product to break cover was the Optane PC P4800X, a very high-performance SSD aimed at the Enterprise segment. Now we have the second product using the technology, this time aimed at the consumer market segment – the Intel Optane Memory module."

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

Memory

Source: Kitguru

The ultimate in SSDs? Adata's new SU900

Subject: Storage | July 11, 2017 - 01:42 PM |
Tagged: SU900, adata, 256GB, mlc, SM2258, sata ssd

Adata have added a new series of SSDs to their Ultimate lineup, the SU900, which ranges from the 256GB model sent to The Tech Report to review straight through to a 2TB model.  This incarnation uses 3D MLC flash but retains the Silicon Motion SM2258 controller which was used on the SU800s. In testing the drive surpassed the previous Ultimate drive but did not quite reach the performance levels of the Samsung 850 EVO in some benchmarks, however it did in the actual usage testing.  If you are looking for a drive in that class and have concerns about the longevity of TLC flash, this drive is worth a look.

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"Adata has issued an update to its Ultimate line of SSDs with its SU900 family. Join us as we find out how much of an upgrade 3D MLC flash brings to the company's Ultimate drives versus its past forays with 3D TLC NAND."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Toshiba and Western Digital announce QLC and 96-Layer BiCS Flash

Subject: Storage | June 28, 2017 - 09:49 PM |
Tagged: wdc, WD, toshiba, QLC, nand, BiCS, 96-layer, 3d

A couple of announcements out of Toshiba and Western Digital today. First up is Toshiba announcing QLC (4 bit per cell) flash on their existing BiCS 3 (64-layer) technology. QLC may not be the best for endurance as the voltage tolerances become extremely tight with 16 individual voltage states per cell, but Toshiba has been working on this tech for a while now.

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In the above slide from the Toshiba keynote at last year's Flash Memory Summit, we see the use case here is for 'archival grade flash', which would still offer fast reads but is not meant to be written as frequently as MLC or TLC flash. Employing QLC in Toshiba's current BiCS 3 (64-layer) flash would enable 1.5TB of storage in a 16-die stack (within one flash memory chip package).

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Next up is BiCS 4, which was announced by Western Digital. We knew BiCS 4 was coming but did not know how many layers it would be. We now know that figure, and it is 96. The initial offerings will be the common 256Gbit (32GB) capacity per die, but stacking 96 cells high means the die will come in considerably smaller, meaning more per wafer, ultimately translating to lower cost per GB in your next SSD.

While these announcements are welcome, their timing and coordinated launch from both companies seems odd. Perhaps it has something to do with this?

Toshiba's new 64 layer NVMe drive takes the cake

Subject: Storage | June 28, 2017 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: Toshiba XG5, toshiba, ssd, NVMe, nand, M.2, BiCS, 64-Layer

We first heard about the Toshiba XG5 1TB NVMe SSD at Computex, with its 64 layer BiCS flash and stated read speeds of 3GB/s, writes just over 2 GB/s.  Today Kitguru published a review of the new drive, including ATTO results which match and even exceed the advertised read and write speeds.  Their real world test involved copying 30GB of movies off of a 512GB Samsung 950 Pro to the XG5, only Samsung's new 960 lineup and the OCZ RD400 were able to beat Toshiba's new SSD.  Read more in their full review, right here.

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"The Toshiba XG5 1TB NVMe SSD contains Toshiba's newest 3D 64-Layer BiCS memory and our report will examine Toshiba's newest memory, as well as their newest NVMe controller to go along with it."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

Today Intel is launching a new line of client SSDs - the SSD 545S Series. These are simple, 2.5" SATA parts that aim to offer good performance at an economical price point. Low-cost SSDs is not typically Intel's strong suit, mainly because they are extremely rigorous on their design and testing, but the ramping up of IMFT 3D NAND, now entering its second generation stacked to 64-layers, should finally help them get the cost/GB down to levels previously enjoyed by other manufacturers.

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Intel and Micron jointly announced 3D NAND just over two years ago, and a year ago we talked about the next IMFT capacity bump coming as a 'double' move. Well, that's only partially happening today. The 545S line will carry the new IMFT 64-layer flash, but the capacity per die remains the same 256Gbit (32GB) as the previous generation parts. The dies will be smaller, meaning more can fit on a wafer, which drives down production costs, but the larger 512Gbit dies won't be coming until later on (and in a different product line - Intel told us they do not intend to mix die types within the same lines as we've seen Samsung do in the past).

Specifications

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There are no surprises here, though I am happy to see a 'sustained sequential performance' specification stated by an SSD maker, and I'm happier to see Intel claiming such a high figure for sustained writes (implying this is the TLC writing speed as the SLC cache would be exhausted in sustained writes).

I'm also happy to see sensical endurance specs for once. We've previously seen oddly non-scaling figures in prior SSD releases from multiple companies. Clearly stating a specific TBW 'per 128GB' makes a lot of sense here, and the number itself isn't that bad, either.

Packaging

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Simplified packaging from Intel here, apparently to help further reduce shipping costs.

Read on for our full review of the Intel 545S 512GB SSD!

Kingston's DCP1000 NVMe PCIe SSD; fast and outside most people's budgets just like a race car

Subject: Storage | June 12, 2017 - 03:42 PM |
Tagged: kingston, DCP1000, enterprise ssd, NVMe, PCIe SSD

The Kingston DCP1000 NVMe PCIe SSD comes in 800GB, 1.6TB, and 3.2TB though as it is an Enterprise class drive even the smallest size will cost you over $1000.  Even with a price beyond the budget of almost all enthusiasts it is interesting to see the performance of this drive, especially as Kitguru's testing showed it to be faster than the Intel D P3608.  Kitguru cracked the 1.6TB card open to see how it worked and within found four Kingston 400GB NVMe M.2 SSDs, connected by a PLX PEX8725 24-lane, 10-port PCIe 3.0 switch which then passes the data onto the cards PCIe 3.0 x8 connector.  Each of those 400GB SSDs have their own PhisonPS5007-11 eight channel quad-core controller which leads to very impressive performance.  They did have some quibbles about the performance consistency of the drive; however it is something they have seen on most drives of this class and not something specific to Kingston's drive.

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"Move over Intel DC P3608, we have a new performance king! In today’s testing, it was able to sustain sequential read and write speeds of 7GB/s and 6GB/s, respectively! Not only that, but it is able to deliver over 1.1million IOPS with 4KB random read performance and over 180K for write."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Introduction, How PCM Works, Reading, Writing, and Tweaks

I’ve seen a bit of flawed logic floating around related to discussions about 3D XPoint technology. Some are directly comparing the cost per die to NAND flash (you can’t - 3D XPoint likely has fewer fab steps than NAND - especially when compared with 3D NAND). Others are repeating a bunch of terminology and element names without taking the time to actually explain how it works, and far too many folks out there can't even pronounce it correctly (it's spoken 'cross-point'). My plan is to address as much of the confusion as I can with this article, and I hope you walk away understanding how XPoint and its underlying technologies (most likely) work. While we do not have absolute confirmation of the precise material compositions, there is a significant amount of evidence pointing to one particular set of technologies. With Optane Memory now out in the wild and purchasable by folks wielding electron microscopes and mass spectrometers, I have seen enough additional information come across to assume XPoint is, in fact, PCM based.

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XPoint memory. Note the shape of the cell/selector structure. This will be significant later.

While we were initially told at the XPoint announcement event Q&A that the technology was not phase change based, there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and it is likely that Intel did not want to let the cat out of the bag too early. The funny thing about that is that both Intel and Micron were briefing on PCM-based memory developments five years earlier, and nearly everything about those briefings lines up perfectly with what appears to have ended up in the XPoint that we have today.

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Some die-level performance characteristics of various memory types. source

The above figures were sourced from a 2011 paper and may be a bit dated, but they do a good job putting some actual numbers with the die-level performance of the various solid state memory technologies. We can also see where the ~1000x speed and ~1000x endurance comparisons with XPoint to NAND Flash came from. Now, of course, those performance characteristics do not directly translate to the performance of a complete SSD package containing those dies. Controller overhead and management must take their respective cuts, as is shown with the performance of the first generation XPoint SSD we saw come out of Intel:

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The ‘bridging the gap’ Latency Percentile graph from our Intel SSD DC P4800X review.
(The P4800X comes in at 10us above).

There have been a few very vocal folks out there chanting 'not good enough', without the basic understanding that the first publicly available iteration of a new technology never represents its ultimate performance capabilities. It took NAND flash decades to make it into usable SSDs, and another decade before climbing to the performance levels we enjoy today. Time will tell if this holds true for XPoint, but given Micron's demos and our own observed performance of Intel's P4800X and Optane Memory SSDs, I'd argue that it is most certainly off to a good start!

XPoint Die.jpg

A 3D XPoint die, submitted for your viewing pleasure (click for larger version).

You want to know how this stuff works, right? Read on to find out!