Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Since Samsung’s announcement of the 960 Series SSDs, I have been patiently waiting not for the 960 PRO (reviewed a few weeks back), but for the 960 EVO. It is the EVO, in my opinion, that is the big release here. Sure, it doesn’t have the quad Hexadecimal Die Packages, Package-on-Package DRAM and ultimate higher capacity of the PRO, but what it *does* potentially have is class leading performance / price in the M.2 form factor. Just as we all wanted lower cost SSDs in the 2.5” SATA form factor, M.2 is seeing greater adoption across laptops and desktop motherboards, and it’s high time we started seeing M.2 SSDs come down in price.

I know, don’t tell me, the Intel 600p carries a SATA-level cost/GB in an M.2 form factor. Sure that’s great, and while I do recommend that SSD for those on a budget, its caching scheme comes with some particularly nasty inconsistencies in sustained writes that may scare off some power users. Samsung 840/850 EVO SSDs have historically handled the transitions between SLC cache and TLC bulk writes far better than any competing units, and I’ve eagerly anticipated the chance to see how well their implementation carries over to an NVMe SSD. Fortunately for us, that day is today:

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Specifications:

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An important point to note in the performance specs - the lowest capacity model is the only one to see its performance significantly taper in stated specifications. That is because even with its 48-layer VNAND operating in SLC mode, there are only two packages on all 960 EVOs and the 250GB capacity comes equipped with the fewest dies to spread the work across. Less parallelism leads to lower ultimate performance. Still, it is impressive to see only 250GB of flash reaching near saturation of PCIe 3.0 x4 in reads.

I've appended the 'sustained' (TLC) performance specs at the bottom of the above chart. These 'after TurboWrite' figures are the expected performance after the SLC cache has been depleted. This is nearly impossible in actual usage scenarios, as it is extremely difficult for any typical (or even power user) desktop workloads to write fast and long enough to deplete such a cache, especially considering how much larger these caches are compared to prior models.

Packaging:

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Samsung has carried forward their simple packaging introduced with the 960 PRO. The felt pad on the bottom of the installation guide is both functional and elegant, keeping the 960 Pro safely in place during shipment.

Read on for the full review of the 250GB and 1TB Samsung 960 EVO!

Small but tough, the ADATA SE730 external SSD

Subject: Storage | November 10, 2016 - 06:36 PM |
Tagged: adata, external ssd, SE730, usb 3.1, type c

At 250GB and 72.7x44x12.2mm (2.8x1.7x0.4") this external SSD from ADATA is small in two ways which is a mixed blessing for mobile storage.  You may feel somewhat cramped, however the device is very portable and inexpensive.  The Type C to Type A USB 3.1 connection provided up to 427MB/s transfer speeds in The SSD Review's ATTO testing, Crystal Disk showing 341MB/s read and 376MB/s write.  While those speeds are not up to the theoretical maximum for USB 3.1 they are still impressive for an external device.  Check out the full review right here.

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"The ADATA SE730 differs from many other SSDs, however, as it contains the characteristics of being waterproof, dustproof and shockproof, in addition to its small size. If you want storage that will overcome the elements, the SE730 just might be what you're looking for. In addition, this external SSD has a great price and can be found at Amazon for $120."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

ADATA' Ultimate SU800 SSD, a new controller and NAND

Subject: Storage | October 28, 2016 - 05:31 PM |
Tagged: adata, Ultimate SU800, 3d nand, micron, silicon motion, SM2258G

ADATA's new entry level SSD is the second to the market which utilizes Micron's 3D NAND and also incorporates the new SM2258G controller from Silicon Motion.  ATTO shows the performance you would expect from a drive in this class, 560MB/s read 512MB/s write for sequential data at 128KB and higher, assuming you do not completely fill the SLC cache.  The SSD Review did not see write performance drop off until they had written 60GB in one shot, the drop is quite dramatic but for most users 60GB writes happen infrequently.  Check out the full review if you are in the market for a value priced SSD.

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"The Ultimate SU800, on the other hand, utilizes a newer Silicon Motion controller and is the second SSD in the market utilizing Micron's 3D TLC NAND. This combination of components has us charting into new waters when it comes to evaluating the performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

More test results of the new Samsung 960 Pro, if your brain still has the free space to store it

Subject: Storage | October 18, 2016 - 07:30 PM |
Tagged: vnand, ssd, Samsung, NVMe, 960 PRO, 48-layer, 2TB

Al has already exhaustively covered the new Samsung 960 Pro in his latest article, which also happens to be the premiere of PC Perspective's new storage testing suite.  An in depth discussion of the new testing methodology can be found on the third page and you can expect to hear about it on our podcast tomorrow and perhaps in a standalone article in the near future.  Several comments have inquired as to the effect this drive would have on a system used for gaming or multimedia and how it would compare to drives like the Intel 750 and DC P3700 or OZC's RD 400.  The best place to find those comparisons is over at The Tech Report, their RoboBench transfer test features a long list of drives you can look at.  Check it out once you have finished off our article.

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"Samsung's 960 Pro follows up on last year's 950 Pro with denser V-NAND, a brand-new controller, and space-age label technology. We put this drive to the test to see whether its performance is truly out-of-this-world."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Just under a year ago we published our review of the Samsung 950 PRO, their first foray into NVMe SSD territory. Today we have a 960 PRO, which strives to be more revolutionary than evolutionary. There are some neat new features like 16-die packages and a Package-on-Package controller/DRAM design, all cooled by a copper heat spreading label! This new model promises to achieve some very impressive results, so without further delay, let's get to it!

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Specifications:

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Specs have not changed since the announcement. Highlights include

  • A new 5-core Polaris controller (with one die solely dedicated to coordinating IO's to/from the host)
  • 4-Landing Design - It's tough fitting four flash packages onto an M.2 2280 SSD, but Samsung has done it, thanks to the below feature.
  • Package-on-Package - The controller and DRAM are stacked within the same package, saving space.
  • Hexadecimal Die Packages - For the 960 Pro to reach 2TB of capacity, 16 48-layer MLC V-NAND packages must be present within each package. That's a lot of dies per package!

Packaging:

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Nice touch with the felt pad on the bottom of the installation guide. This pad keeps the 960 Pro safely in place during shipment.

Read on for the full review of the 2TB Samsung 960 PRO!

Intel Optane (XPoint) First Gen Product Specifications Leaked

Subject: Storage | October 15, 2016 - 12:05 AM |
Tagged: XPoint, Optane, 8000p, Intel

Intel and Micron jointly launched XPoint technology over a year ago, and we've been waiting to see any additional info ever since. We saw Micron demo a prototype at FMS 2016, and we also saw the actual prototype. Intel's last demo was not so great, later demos were better), and we saw a roadmap leaked a few months ago. Thanks to another leak, we now have specs for one of Intel's first Optane products:

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Now I know there is a bunch of rambling around the net already. "Why so small?!?!". What I think we are looking at is Stony Beach - Intel's 'Application Accelerator" seen here:

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What further backs this theory is that you'll note the PCIe 3.0 x2 link of that product in the above roadmap, which couples nicely with the upper end limits seen in the 32GB product, which is clearly hitting a bandwidth limit at 1.6 GB/s, which is the typical max seen on a x2 PCIe 3.0 link.

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Now with the capacity thing aside, there is another important thing to bring up. First gen XPoint dies are 128 Gbit, which works out to 16 GB. That means the product specs for the 16GB part are turning in those specs *WITH ONE DIE*. NAND based SSDs can only reach these sorts of figures by spreading the IO's across four, eight, or more dies operating in parallel. This is just one die, and it is nearly saturating two lanes of PCIe 3.0!

Another cool thing to note is that we don't typically get to know how well a single die of anything will perform. We always have to extrapolate backwards from the smaller capacities of SSDs, where the dies are the bottleneck instead of the interface to the host. Here we have the specs of one die of a product. Imagine what could be done with even wider interfaces and more dies!

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XPoint fills the still relatively large performance gap between RAM and NAND, and does so while being non-volatile. There are good things on the horizon to be enabled by this technology, even if we first see it in smaller capacity products.

WD and SanDisk; sneaking a peek at the new 1TB Blue

Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ssd, Blue, 1TB, marvell 1074

Al is hard at work benchmarking the new Western Digital SSDs and you should expect to see his full in depth review in the near future but for those who need immediate gratification here is Hardware Canucks review.  The 1TB WD Blue uses a Marvell 1074 controller, a full gigabyte of cache provided by a pair of Micron 512MB DDR3 chips and 15nm TLC that should survive 400TB of writes and is warrantied for three years.  Western Digital and SanDisk DNA meet for the first time in a consumer SSD, check out how it fares against the competition right here.

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"Western Digital, once known for their hard drives alone, is now wading in the SSD market with two new series. In this review, we take the new Blue 1TB SSD out for a spin."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Western Digital Gets Back in the SSD Game With Blue and Green SSDs!

Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ssd, Green, Blue

It has been over 6 years since we saw an SSD come out of Western Digital, but we suspected some new ones may be coming after their recent acquisition of SanDisk. That say has come, and today we have two new SSD models announced by WD:

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These new SSDs naturally borrow SanDisk 15nm TLC flash but drive that flash with aftermarket controllers. The Blue employs a Marvell 88SS1074 controller while the Green will use a Silicon Motion SM2256S. The Blue will have the typical SATA 6Gbps saturating specs seen in modern SSDs, while the Green will be derated a bit. Detailed specifications are below:

  • Form Factors: 2.5¨/7mm cased, M.2 2280
  • Endurance (Blue):
    • 250GB: 100 TBW
    • 500GB: 200 TBW
    • 1TB: 400 TBW
  • Power (Blue):
    • Slumber: 42mW-52mW
    • DEVSLP: 4.9mW-9.7mW
    • Average Active Power: 70mW
  • Warranty (Blue and Green): 3 years

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The WD Green will be more budget minded and is to be offered in only a 120GB and 240GB form factor, with reduced endurance ratings of 40 TBW and 80 TBW, respectively.

Pricing (for the WD Blue SSD):

  • 250 GB $79.99
  • 500 GB $139.99
  • 1TB $299.99

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The WD Green SSD will be available 'later this quarter', and we do not yet have pricing for that model, but it should come in at a lower cost than the Blue prices above. We have a Blue model in for testing and should see how it fares on our new storage suite later this week.

Press blast after the break.

Western Digital Refreshes Colorful My Passport and My Book Lines

Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 02:22 PM |
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:

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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.

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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. 

Press blast after the break.

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Drobo

Introduction and Packaging

The Drobo 5D launched a few years ago and continues to be a pricey solution, running close to $600. This was due to added complexity with its mSATA hot data cache and other features that drove the price higher than some potential buyers were happy with. Sure the cache was nice, but many photographers and videographers edit their content on a faster internal SSD and only shift their media to their external storage in bulk sequential file copies. These users don’t necessarily need a caching tier built into their mass storage device - as they just want good straight-line speed to offload their data as fast as possible.

With new management and a renewed purpose with a focus on getting lower cost yet performant products out there, Drobo relaunched their base 4-bay product in a third-generation form. We tested that unit back in December of 2014, and its performance was outstanding for a unit that typically runs in the mid-$200 price range. The price and performance were great, but things were a bit tight when trying to use Dual Disk Redundancy while limited to only four installed drives. A fifth bay would have certainly been handy, as would USB-C connectivity, which brings me to the subject of today’s review:

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I present to you the Drobo 5C. Essentially a 5-bay replacement to the 4-bay 3rd gen Drobo. This will become the new base model Drobo, meaning there will no longer be any 4-bay models in Drobo's product lineup:

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Read on for our review of the new Drobo 5C!