FMS 2016: Facebook Talks WORM QLC NAND Flash, Benchmarks XPoint

Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 05:59 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, Worm, storage, ssd, RocksDB, Optane, nand, flash, facebook

At their FMS 2016 Keynote, Facebook gave us some details on the various storage technologies that fuel their massive operation:


In the four corners above, they covered the full spectrum of storing bits. From NVMe to Lightning (huge racks of flash (JBOF)), to AVA (quad M.2 22110 NVMe SSDs), to the new kid on the block, WORM storage. WORM stands for Write Once Read Many, and as you might imagine, Facebook has lots of archival data that they would like to be able to read quickly, so this sort of storage fits the bill nicely. How do you pull off massive capacity in flash devices? QLC. Forget MLC or TLC, QLC stores four bits per cell, meaning there are 16 individual voltage states for each cell. This requires extremely precise writing techniques and reads must appropriately compensate for cell drift over time, and while this was a near impossibility with planar NAND, 3D NAND has more volume to store those electrons. This means one can trade the endurance gains of 3D NAND for higher bit density, ultimately enabling SSDs upwards of ~100TB in capacity. The catch is that they are rated at only ~150 write cycles. This is fine for archival storage requiring WORM workloads, and you still maintain NAND speeds when it comes to reading that data later on, meaning that decade old Facebook post will appear in your browser just as quickly as the one you posted ten minutes ago.


Next up was a look at some preliminary Intel Optane SSD results using RocksDB. Compared to a P3600, the prototype Optane part offers impressive gains in Facebook's real-world workload. Throughput jumped by 3x, and latency reduced to 1/10th of its previous value. These are impressive gains given this fairly heavy mixed workload.

More to follow from FMS 2016!

FMS 2016: Micron Keynote Teases XPoint (QuantX) Real-World Performance

Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, QuantX, nand, micron

Micron just completed their keynote address at Flash Memory Summit, and as part of the presentation, we saw our first look at some raw scaled Queue Depth IOPS performance figures from devices utilizing XPoint memory:


These are the performance figures from an U.2 device with a PCIe 3.0 x4 link. Note the outstanding ramp up to full saturation of the bus at a QD of only 4. Slower flash devices require much more parallelism and a deeper queue to achieve sufficient IOPS throughput to saturate that same bus. That 'slow' device on the bottom there, I'm pretty certain, is Micron's own 9100 MAX, which was the fastest thing we had tested to date, and it's being just walked all over by this new XPoint prototype!

Ok, so that's damn fast, but what if you had an add in card with PCIe 3.0 x8?


Ok, now that's just insane! While the queue had to climb to ~8 to reach these figures, that's 1.8 MILLION IOPS from a single HHHL add in card. That's greater than 7 GB/s worth of 4KB random performance!


In addition to the crazy throughput and IOPS figures, we also see latencies running at 1/10th that of flash-based NVMe devices.

x10.jpg it appears that while the cell-level performance of XPoint boasts 1000x improvements over flash, once you implement it into an actual solution that must operate within the bounds of current systems (NVMe and PCIe 3.0), we currently get only a 10x improvement over NAND flash. Given how fast NAND already is, 10x is no small improvement, and XPoint still opens the door for further improvement as the technology and implementations mature over time.

More to follow as FMS continues!

FMS 2016: Micron Launches 3D UFS SSDs, Brands 3D XPoint as QuantX

Subject: Storage | August 9, 2016 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, UFS, QuantX, micron, FMS 2016, FMS

The UFS standard aims to bring us lightning fast microSD cards that perform on-par with SATA SSDs. Samsung introduced theirs earlier this month, and now Micron has announced their solution:

Mobile 3D NAND UFS with specs and logo.jpg

As you can see, UFS is not just for SD cards. These are going to be able to replace embedded memory in mobile devices, displacing the horror that is eMMC with something way faster. These devices are smaller than a penny, with a die size of just over 60 mm squared and boast a 32GB capacity.


One version of the UFS 2.1 devices also contains Micron's first packaged offering of LPDDR4X. This low power RAM offers an additional 20% power savings over existing LPDDR4.

Also up is an overdue branding of Micron's XPoint (spoken 'cross-point') products:


QuantX will be the official branding of Micron products using XPoint technology. This move is similar to the one Intel made at IDF 2015, where they dubbed their solutions with the Optane moniker.

More to follow from FMS 2016. A few little birdies told me there will be some good stuff presented this morning (PST), so keep an eye out, folks!

Press blast for Micron's UFS goodness appears after the break.

Microsemi Flashtec Controllers Offer PCIe 3.0 x8 NVMe SSDs up to 20TB

Subject: Storage | August 8, 2016 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: storage, ssd, solid state drive, PCIe 3.0 x8, PCI-E 3.0, NVMe2032, NVMe2016, NVMe, Microsemi, Flashtec

Microsemi's Flashtec NVMe SSD controllers are now in production, and as Computer Base reports (Google-translated version of the page available here) these controllers use twice as many PCIe lanes than current offerings with a x8 PCI-E 3.0 connection, and can support up to 20 TB of flash capacity.


Image credit: Computer Base

"The NVMe controller destined for the professional high-performance segment and work with PCIe 3.0 x8 or two x4 PCIe 3.0. The NVMe2032 has 32 memory channels (and) NVMe2016 (has) 16. When using 256-Gbit flash SSDs can be implemented with up to 20 terabytes of storage."

The 32-channel NVMe2032 boasts up to 1 million IOPS in 4K random read performance, and the controller supports DDR4 memory for faster cache performance. The announcement of the availability of these chips comes just before the start of Flash Memory Summit, which our own Allyn Malventano will be attending. Stay tuned for more flashy SSD news to come!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Seagate

Introduction and Specifications


Barracuda is a name we have not heard in a good while from Seagate. Last seen on their 3TB desktop drive, it appears they thought it was time for a comeback. The company is revamping their product lines, along with launching a full round of 10TB Helium-filled offerings that cover just about anything you might need:

seagate HDD line.png

Starting from the center, IronWolf is their NAS drive, optimized for arrays as large as 8 disks. To the right is their surveillance drive offering, the SkyHawk. These are essentially NAS units with custom firmware optimized for multiple stream recording. Not mentioned above is the FireCuda, which is a rebrand of their Desktop SSHD. Those are not He-filled (yet) as their max capacity is not high enough to warrant it. We will be looking at those first two models in future pieces, but the subject of today’s review is the BarraCuda line. The base 3.5” BarraCuda line only goes to 4TB, but the BarraCuda Pro expands upon those capacities, including 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB models. The subject of today’s review is the 10TB BarraCuda Pro.


Read on for our review of the 10TB BarraCuda Pro!

Thecus Announces N4810 4-Bay NAS with 4K Video Output

Subject: Storage | August 3, 2016 - 01:19 PM |
Tagged: UHD, Thecus, storage, NAS, N4810, N2810PRO, htpc, hdmi, DisplayPort, 4k, 4-Bay

Thecus has announced their newest NAS with the N4810, an 4-bay design based on the existing N2810PRO 2-bay model. The N4810 offers up to 40 TB of hard drive storage support, and an Intel Celeron N3160 (quad-core) processor with 4GB of RAM, which can be expanded to 8GB.


Image credit: Thecus

"With the N4810 built on the hardware of its little brother, the N2810PRO, users are equipped with the same immersive multimedia experience. Delivering superb sharpness and colour contrasts in 4K resolution playback, accessed through the HDMI output or DisplayPort output, guaranteeing that the picture quality from movies is just as the director envisioned.

Connection to your digital sound system via a SPDIF output is available, providing crystal clear audio for music and movies. A new USB 3.0 Type-C port has been added to the three already equipped USB 3.0 ports. This Type-C connector is the size of a microUSB and has a reversible plug allowing cables to be conveniently plugged in either direction."


Image credit: Thecus

The NAS is geared toward the living room, with HDMI output along with DisplayPort, and display output up to UHD/4K. We took a look at the 2-bay N2560 NAS a couple of years ago, and on paper this new model offers a substantial upgrade as an entertainment/HTPC solution. Availability is set for this month.

Source: Thecus

Samsung PM1633a: 15.36TB SSD for $10,000 USD

Subject: Storage | August 1, 2016 - 11:03 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Samsung, enterprise ssd

Allyn first mentioned this device last year, but they're apparently now shipping for a whopping $10,000 USD. To refresh, the PM1633a is an SSD from Samsung that packs 15.36TB into a 2.5-inch form factor. According to Samsung, it does this by stacking 16 dies, each containing 48 layers of flash cells, into a 512GB package. It's unclear how many packages are installed in the device, because we don't know how much over-provisioning Samsung provides, but the advertised capacity equates to exactly 30 packages. Update @ 11:30pm: Turns out I was staring right at it in the old press release. The drive has 32 packages, so 16384 GB, once you account for over-provisioning.


Image Credit: Samsung

Down at CDW, they are selling them for $10,311.99 USD with the option to lease for $321.73 / month. That's only 2.1c/GB... per month... for probably three whole years. No Ryan, that doesn't count. The warranty period doesn't seem to be listed, but Samsung will cover up to 15.36TB per day in writes. I mean, we knew it would be expensive, given its size and performance. At least it's only ~65c/GB.

Source: CDW

Plextor's Upcoming M8Pe M.2 SSD Previewed at Computer Base

Subject: Storage | August 1, 2016 - 03:14 PM |
Tagged: M8PeG, ssd, solid state drive, preview, plextor, nand, M8Pe, M.2, CES 2016, M8PeY

Plextor announced their first M.2 SSD at CES 2016, and now the M8Pe series is officially set for a release this month. Computer Base (German language) had a chance to preview the new drive, and supplied a detailed look at the M.2 version (this is model M8PeG, and the version with a riser card is M8PeY).


The Plextor M8PeG SSD (Image credit: Computer Base)

Even the M.2 form-factor version of the SSD includes a heatsink, which Plextor warns creates incompatibility with notebooks as the M8PeG is 4.79 mm in height with the heatsink in place.

Specifications for the drives are as follows:

  Plextor M8PeG Plextor M8PeY
Controller Marvell 88SS1093 (8-Channel)
DRAM 512MB LPDDR3 (1024MB variant)
Capacity 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB
NAND Toshiba 15nm Toggle 2.0 MLC
Form Factor M.2 (80 mm) PCIe card (HH, HL)
Interface PCIe 3.0 x4
Warranty 5 years

So what did Computer Base have to report with their hands-on preview of the new drive? Here's their CrystalDiskMark result:


(Image credit: Computer Base)

Naturally we'll have to wait for a full-scale AllynReview™ to get a better idea of performance in all situations, but until then it's good to know we'll soon have another option to consider in the M.2 SSD market. As to pricing, we don't have anything just yet.


The M8Pe SSD lineup (Image credit: Computer Base)

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: DeepSpar

Introduction, Packaging, and Internals


Being a bit of a storage nut, I have run into my share of failed and/or corrupted hard drives over the years. I have therefore used many different data recovery tools to try to get that data back when needed. Thankfully, I now employ a backup strategy that should minimize the need for such a tool, but there will always be instances of fresh data on a drive that went down before a recent backup took place or a neighbor or friend that did not have a backup.

I’ve got a few data recovery pieces in the cooker, but this one will be focusing on ‘physical data recovery’ from drives with physically damaged or degraded sectors and/or heads. I’m not talking about so-called ‘logical data recovery’, where the drive is physically fine but has suffered some corruption that makes the data inaccessible by normal means (undelete programs also fall into this category). There are plenty of ‘hard drive recovery’ apps out there, and most if not all of them claim seemingly miraculous results on your physically failing hard drive. While there are absolutely success stories out there (most plastered all over testimonial pages at those respective sites), one must take those with an appropriate grain of salt. Someone who just got their data back with a <$100 program is going to be very vocal about it, while those who had their drive permanently fail during the process are likely to go cry quietly in a corner while saving up for a clean-room capable service to repair their drive and attempt to get their stuff back. I'll focus more on the exact issues with using software tools for hardware problems later in this article, but for now, surely there has to be some way to attempt these first few steps of data recovery without resorting to software tools that can potentially cause more damage?


Well now there is. Enter the RapidSpar, made by DeepSpar, who hope this little box can bridge the gap between dedicated data recovery operations and home users risking software-based hardware recoveries. DeepSpar is best known for making advanced tools used by big data recovery operations, so they know a thing or two about this stuff. I could go on and on here, but I’m going to save that for after the intro page. For now let’s get into what comes in the box.

Note: In this video, I read the MFT prior to performing RapidNebula Analysis. It's optimal to reverse those steps. More on that later in this article.

Read on for our full review of the RapidSpar!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Angelbird

Cool your jets

Cool Your Jets: Can the Angelbird Wings PX1 Heatsink-Equipped PCIe Adapter Tame M.2 SSD Temps?

Introduction to the Angelbird Wings PX1

PCIe-based M.2 storage has been one of the more exciting topics in the PC hardware market during the past year. With tremendous performance packed into a small design no larger than a stick of chewing gum, PCIe M.2 SSDs open up new levels of storage performance and flexibility for both mobile and desktop computing. But these tiny, powerful drives can heat up significantly under load, to the point where thermal performance throttling was a critical concern when the drives first began to hit the market.

While thermal throttling is less of a concern for the latest generation of NVMe M.2 SSDs, Austrian SSD and accessories firm Angelbird wants to squash any possibility of performance-killing heat with its Wings line of PCIe SSD adapters. The company's first Wings-branded product is the PX1, a x4 PCIe adapter that can house an M.2 SSD in a custom-designed heatsink.


Angelbird claims that its aluminum-coated copper-core heatsink design can lower the operating temperature of hot M.2 SSDs like the Samsung 950 Pro, thereby preventing thermal throttling. But at a list price of $75, this potential protection doesn't come cheap. We set out to test the PX1's design to see if Angelbird's claims about reduced temperatures and increased performance hold true.

PX1 Design & Installation

PC Perspective's Allyn Malventano was impressed with the build quality of Angelbird's products when he reviewed its "wrk" series of SSDs in late 2014. Our initial impression of the PX1 revealed that Angelbird hasn't lost a step in that regard during the intervening years.


The PX1 features an attractive black design and removable heatsink, which is affixed to the PCB via six hex screws. A single M-key M.2 port resides in the center of the adapter, with mounting holes to accommodate 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280, and 22110-length drives.

Continue reading our review of the Angelbird Wings PX1 Heatsink PCIe Adapter!