Subject: Storage | May 21, 2018 - 04:30 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: ssd, sata, QLC, nand, micron, enterprise
For those that study how flash memory stores bits, Quad Level Cell technology is a tricky thing to pull off in production. You are taking a single NAND Flash cell and change its stored electron count in such a way that you can later discriminate between SIXTEEN different states.
...we're talking a countable number (dozens to hundreds) of electrons making the difference between a stored 0101 or 0110 in a given cell. Pulling that off in production-capable parts is no small feat, and doing so for enterprise usage first is definitely a bold move. Enter Micron:
The 5210 ION line is a SATA product meant for enterprise usages where the workload is primarily reading. This comes in handy for things like real-time data analytics and content delivery systems, where data is infrequently written but needs to be readable at latencies faster than what HDD's can provide.
These are 2.5" 7mm SSDs that will be available from 1.92TB to 7.68TB (yes, 2TB is the *smallest* available capacity for these!). The idea is to enable an easy upgrade path for larger data systems that already employ SATA or SAS (SAS systems are typically cross-compatible with SATA). For backplanes that are designed for slimmer 7mm drives, this can make for some extreme densities.
These are currently being sampled to some big data companies and should see more general availability in a few months time. Press blast from Micron appears after the break.
Subject: Storage | May 7, 2018 - 02:40 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Samsung, 970, pro, EVO, price cut, msrp
A couple of weeks ago, the Samsung 970 EVO and PRO launched, but they were not available for purchase until today.
It appears Samsung were paying attention to the many reviews pointing out that the price premium was getting harder to justify in the face of competing drives closing in on performance because along with purchase availability came some nice price cuts:
- 970 PRO
- 512GB - $330 ($0.64/GB)
- 1TB - $630 ($0.62/GB)
- 970 EVO
- 250GB - $120 ($0.48/GB)
- 500GB - $230 ($0.46/GB)
- 1TB - $450 ($0.45/GB)
- 2TB - $850 ($0.43/GB)
New pricing (MSRP):
- 970 PRO
- 512GB - $250 ($0.49/GB)
- 1TB - $500 ($0.49/GB)
- 970 EVO
These are not sale prices - these are the revised suggested retail prices (MSRP) from Samsung! It looks like Newegg and Amazon are now populating their listings with 970 SSDs at the revised pricing.
Subject: Storage | May 3, 2018 - 07:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Samsung, 970 EVO, 970 PRO
We have 970 EVO and PRO reviews for you to peruse, as you patiently await them being in stock or perhaps you have one on the way. Start out with The Tech Report's look at the 970 EVO as their RoboBench test is a bit different that the tests Allyn presented and they've included more drives for comparison. Their test notes page also includes a long list of SSD models with controllers and NAND flavours listed out, which may help you make sense of the current SSD market and why some drives shine at certain benchmarks while falling behind on others. Assuming you've already seen Al's review, start with The Tech Report and then head below the fold.
"Samsung has taken the wraps off the successor to its trailblazing 960 EVO SSD. Join us as we put the 970 EVO through our test suite to find out whether it carries the EVO legacy forward."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung 970 PRO M.2 NVMe @ Guru of 3D
- Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVMe @ The SSD Review
- Samsung 970 Pro M.2 NVMe @ The SSD Review
- Samsung 970 EVO M.2 @ Guru of 3D
- WD Black NVMe 1TB @ The SSD Review
- Kingston A1000 480GB NVMe @ Kitguru
- QNAP TS-877 (TS-877-1700-16G) 8-bay NAS @ Kitguru
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Over the past couple of days, we saw some rumors and e-tailer appearances of the Intel SSD 905P. Essentially an incremental upgrade to the 900P, with a few notable differences. Specs see a slight bump across the board, as do capacities, but the most striking difference is Intel’s apparent choice to move forward with the blue-LED enabled design seen in a press deck slide that began circulating last year:
That upper right design seemed pretty cool at the time, and I never thought we would see it materialize, but less than 24 hours ago this arrived at the office:
Note: The color is user adjustable -
we just don't have the software for it yet.
*edit* colors are configurable via command line, using the most recent SSD toolbox app. The possible colors are limited (literally red/green/blue/off - that's it), but I've confirmed that the setting does persist after reboot / power cycling / changing systems. This is a welcome change over other RGB-enabled components that require software to always be installed to control (or even turn off) lighting. Here's a look at the other two colors:
Well now that it’s here, let’s see what it can do!
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
We have been overdue for a Samsung NVMe SSD refresh, and with the launch of their 860 PRO and EVO back in January, folks have been itching for the 970's to come out. The 950 and 960 (PRO) lines were separated by about a year, but we are going on 18 months since the most recent 960 EVO launch. Samsung could afford to wait a bit longer since the 960 line already offered outstanding performance that remained unmatched at the top of our performance charts for a very long time. Recently, drives like the WD Black have started catching up, so it is naturally time for Samsung to keep the competition on their toes:
Today we will look at most of the Samsung 970 PRO and EVO lineup. We have a bit of a capacity spread for the EVO, and a single PRO. Samples are hard to come by so far since Samsung opted to launch both lines at the same time, but we tried to get the more common capacities represented. EVO 2TB and PRO 1TB data will have to come at a later date.
Specs come in at just slightly higher than the 960 lines, with some welcome additions like OPAL and encrypted drive (IEEE1667) support, the latter being suggested but never making it into the 960 products. Another welcome addition is that the 970 EVO now carries a 5-year warranty (up from 3).
The 970 EVO includes 'Intelligent TurboWrite', which was introduced with the 960 line. This setup maintains a static SLC area and an additional 'Intelligent' cache that exists if sufficient free space is available in the TLC area.
Packaging is in line with the previous 960 series parts. Nice packaging. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Subject: Storage | April 20, 2018 - 02:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: round up, ssd, hdd, external drive, NAS
The SSD market is somewhat daunting to a newcomer, not just the various interfaces and technology but also the huge selection of models from the various suppliers. HDDs and NAS devices are a little less so, but there is still a large variety to choose from. TechSpot offer their advice, with a round up of what they consider the best of the best in six categories of storage devices. Quickly take a look to see if you agree, as it is all likely to change again very soon.
"With solid state drives now fully mainstream and hard drives being more affordable than ever, there is a broad a mix of high-performance and high-capacity options to choose from in a range of form factors. Fortunately for you, we have spent dozens of hours testing storage devices, so we have a pretty clear idea about what devices are worth buying."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- HP EX900 500GB M.2. SSD @ Guru of 3D
- Crucial MX500 500 GB @ TechPowerUp
- The Kingston A1000 NVMe SSD @ BabelTechReviews
- Toshiba X300 5TB SATA III HDD Review @ NikKTech
- TerraMaster F4-220 NAS @ PC Review News
- Promise Technology Apollo Cloud 2 Duo 8TB NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- NORCO RPC-3216 3U rackmount 16 bay hot swap server chassis @ MissingRemote
NVMe RAID and StoreMI
With Ken testing all of the new AMD X470 goodness that we had floating around the office here at PCPer, I snuck in some quick storage testing to get a look at just how the new platform handled a typical power user NVMe RAID configuration. We will be testing a few different platform configurations:
- ASUS Z270 w/ 7700K
- 1x SSD behind chipset (PCH)
- 2x SSD (RAID-0) behind chipset (PCH)
- 1x SSD directly connected to CPU
- AMD X470 w/ 2600X
- 1x SSD via RAIDXpert bottom driver
- 2x SSD (RAID-0) via RAIDXpert
- 1x SSD via MS InBox NVMe driver
For the AMD system we tested, all M.2 ports were direct connected to the CPU. This should be the case for most systems since the AMD chipset has only a PCIe 2.0 x4 link which would cut most NVMe SSD bandwidth in half if passed through it. The difference on AMD is that installing the RAIDXpert software also installs a 'bottom driver' which replaces the Windows NVMe driver, while Intel's RST platform handles this process more in the chipset hardware (but is limited to PCIe 3.0 x4 DMI bandwidth). Now onto the results:
Random Read IOPS
For random IO, we see expected scaling from AMD, but do note that IOPS comes in ~40% lower than the same configuration on Intel's platform. This is critical as much of the IO seen in general use is random reads at lower queue depths. We'd like to see AMD doing better here, especially in the case where a single SSD was operating without the interference of the RAIDXpert driver, which was better, but still not able to match Intel.
Random Read Latency
This latency chart should better explain the IOPS performance seen above. Note that the across the board latency increases by ~10us on the X470 platform, followed by another ~20us when switching to the RAIDXpert driver. That combined ~30us is 50% of the 60us QD1 latency seen the Z270 platform (regardless of configuration).
Ok, now we see the AMD platform stretch its legs a bit. Since Intel NVMe RAID is bottlenecked by its DMI link while AMD has all NVMe SSDs directly connected to the CPU, AMD is able to trounce Intel on sequentials, but there is a catch. Note the solid red line, which means no RAIDXpert software. That line tracks as it should, leveling off horizontally at a maximum for that SSD. Now look at the two dashed red lines and note how they fall off at ~QD8/16. It appears the RAIDXpert driver is interfering and limiting the ultimate throughput possible. This was even the case for a single SSD passing through the RAIDXpert bottom driver (configured as a JBOD volume).
AMD has also launched their answer to Intel RST caching. StoreMI is actually a more flexible solution that offers some unique advantages over Intel. Instead of copying a section of HDD data to the SSD cache, StoreMI combines the total available storage space of both the HDD and SSD, and is able to seamlessly shuffle the more active data blocks to the SSD. StoreMI also offers more cache capacity than Intel - up to
512 256GB SSD caches are possible (60GB limit on Intel). Lastly, the user can opt to donate 2GB of RAM as an additional caching layer.
AMD claims the typical speedups that one would expect with an SSD caching a much slower HDD. We have done some testing with StoreMI and can confirm the above slide's claims. Actively used applications and games end up running at close to SSD speeds (after the first execution, which comes from the HDD). StoreMI is not yet in a final state, but that is expected within the next week or two. We will revisit that topic with hard data once we have the final shipping product on-hand.
Subject: Storage | April 18, 2018 - 05:39 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: wdc, WD, ultrastar, sata, SAS, HelioSeal, hdd, DC HC530, 14tb
Following up on the prior release of a 14TB SMR (shingled magnetic recording) HDD, WD has launched a PMR (parallel magnetic recording)version of the same - the Ultrastar DC HC530:
While the new model does not yet incorporate MAMR, it does couple PMR with TDMR (two-dimensional magnetic recording), which gives a slight boost to platter density, reaching over 900 Gbit/sq. inch. The DC HC530 naming is a departure from the previous HGST Ultrastar line products, which were labeled as 'He8', 'He10', etc. High-level specs are as follows:
- Rotational speed: 7200 RPM
- Data buffer: 512MB
- Seek time (typ): 7.5 ms
- Sequential transfer rate: 267 MB/s (start of disk)
- Available sector sizes: 512e (advanced format emulation), 4Kn (4KB sectors)
- Warranty: 5 years
The SAS models offer double the interface throughput (12Gbps) and some additional custom sector sizes but require higher operating power to drive that faster interface. While track linear density is high enough (at least at the start of the disk) to saturate a SATA 3Gbit link, SATA 6Gbit and SAS 12Gbit links will still see a cache-hit benefit from the drives' relatively large 512MB data buffer.
Subject: Storage | April 16, 2018 - 10:11 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: x300, V300, toshiba, s300, P300, N300, L200, hdd
Today (well, tonight) Toshiba changed up their HDD branding to make things a bit easier to grasp for the consumer, as well as adding surveillance and video streaming models to their lineup:
Toshiba chose to go with a round of colors, but these are notably different than what you have previously seen from WD. Typical desktop and mobile drives now carry a red label, with their performance desktop model going grey. NAS HDDs are yellow, and the two new items are blue and green. Let's take a closer look at these new additions:
The blue 'Video Stream V300' model comes in up to a 3TB capacity and is firmware optimized for handling multiple (4) simultaneous video streams without thrashing the heads constantly seeking between tracks. This is a low RPM drive and is meant more for use in DVRs. Max capacity comes in only 3TB, but this is a very low cost and low power drive. Note the 'annual workload rating' of 72TB per year. More on that later.
The green 'Surveillance S300' model is meant for significantly more demanding workloads upwards of 64 simultaneous HD video camera streams. These are meant for incorporation into large arrays and come with the necessary RV (accelerometer) sensors to help keep the heads on track while the drive is subjected to harsher vibrations seen in large server chassis. These come in up to 10TB with a workload rating of 150TB per year.
Above are the general specs across the entire lineup, and below are the prices for the two new models:
- V300 Video Streaming
- 1TB - V300 Video Streaming - $49.99
- 2TB - V300 Video Streaming - $69.99
- 3TB - V300 Video Streaming - $89.99
- S300 Surveillance
- 4TB - S300 Surveillance - $119.99
- 5TB – S300 Surveillance - $149.99
- 6TB - S300 Surveillance - $189.99
- 8TB - S300 Surveillance - $249.99
- 10TB - S300 Surveillance - $349.99
Those prices look very competitive, but that 'annual workload rating' troubles me a bit, especially for the S300. That model is meant for use in an array, which must be initialized (eating one full drive write), possibly migrated (eating another full drive capacity worth of access), and with some RAID controllers, periodically scrubbing the data to verify integrity. A large array of 10TB HDDs with periodic array scrubbing/integrity checking scheduled every 2-3 weeks will technically run these parts past their rated workload. Backing off to monthly checks will get you just under the limit, provided your actual video workload does not push you over. Just something to consider when specing out a surveillance unit build.
Press blast for these new models appears after the break.
Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging
A while back, we reviewed the ICY DOCK ToughArmor MB998SP-B and MB993SK-B hot-swap SATA docks. These were well built, high-density docks meant for 7mm height SSDs and HDDs. The former part was unique in that it let you squeeze eight drives in a single 5.25” drive bay, all while enabling you to hot swap all of them at the front panel. The ToughArmor line has been pushing into higher and higher bay counts, so it only made sense that we eventually saw something higher than an 8-bay unit:
Enter the ToughArmor MB516SP-B. While it looks like two MB998SP-B’s stacked on top of each other, there is more than meets the eye in order to pull this trick off properly. We'll focus on that further into the review, but for now, let us get through the specs.