Subject: Storage | December 20, 2018 - 10:34 AM | Sebastian Peak
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.
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."
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:
Once we saw Intel launch QLC flash installed in their recent 660p M.2 part, I had a feeling that Micron would not be far behind, and that feeling has been confirmed with the launch of the Crucial P1 M.2 SSDs:
Both the 500GB and 1TB models are single sided. The 2TB (not yet released) will likely have packages installed at the rear.
No surprises with the packaging. Does the job just fine.
Specs are also reasonably standard for an NVMe SSD at this point, though we do see a bit more of a falloff at the lower capacities here. This is partially due to the use of QLC flash, even though these specs are likely assuming full use of the available SLC cache. Since QLC allows for higher capacity per die, that translates to fewer dies for a given SSD total capacity, which lowers overall performance even at SLC speeds. This is a common trait/tradeoff for the use of higher capacity dies.
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.
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.
Subject: Storage | December 12, 2018 - 09:17 AM | Allyn Malventano
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:
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.
Subject: Storage | December 7, 2018 - 03:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- ADATA SX8200 Pro 1 TB @ TechPowerUp
- Crucial BX500 480GB @ Kitguru
- Kingston HyperX Fury RGB 480 GB @ TechPowerUp
- HyperX Savage EXO Portable SSD Review @ Hardware Asylum
Subject: Storage | November 27, 2018 - 06:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
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?"
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung 860 QVO 2TB SSD @ Guru of 3D
- Samsung 860 QVO SSD Review – 1TB/2TB Drives Tested @ Legit Reviews
- MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro SSD Benchmarked With Firmware v12.1 @ Legit Reviews
- Mushkin SOURCE 250GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- HyperX Fury RGB 480GB SSD Review @ Hardware Asylum
- Corsair Force MP510 960GB @ Kitguru
- TEAMGROUP T-FORCE DELTA R Rainbow RGB 250GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
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.
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.
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.
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:
Subject: Storage | November 9, 2018 - 01:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: iStorage, external hdd, diskAshur, 12TB
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.
"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."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung X5 1TB @ Kitguru
- Seagate IronWolf Pro 14TB SATA III HDD Review @ NikKTech
- ADATA GAMMIX S10 512GB SSD Review: Affordable M.2 NVMe Performance @ Techgage
- Kingston HyperX Fury RGB 480GB @ Kitguru