Plextor Launches Budget M8V SATA SSDs

Subject: Storage | February 5, 2018 - 11:54 PM |
Tagged: toshiba, ssd, SM2258, silicon motion, plextor, BiCS, 3d nand

Plextor is introducing a new SATA SSD option with its 2.5” M8VC and M.2 M8VG solid state drives. The M8V series pairs a Silicon Motion SM2258 controller with Toshiba’s 64-layer 3D TLC NAND (BICS flash) to deliver budget SSDs in 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB capacities. Plextor is using its own Plex Nitro firmware and includes SLC cache, system RAM cache support, Plex Compressor compression, 128-bit ECC and LDPC error correction, and hardware AES encryption. Plextor warranties its M8V series SSDs for three years.

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Plextor’s new drives are limited by the SATA 6 Gbps interface and max out at 560 MB/s sequential reads. Sequential writes top out at 400 MB/s for the 128 GB model, 510 MB/s for the 256 GB model, and 520 MB/s for the 512 GB drive. Similarly, 4K random reads and 4K random writes scale up as you add more flash which is shown in the table below. The top-end 512 GB drive hits 82K 4K random read IOPS and 81K 4K random write IOPS. The 256 GB solid state drives are only slightly slower at 81K and 80K respectively. The 128 GB M8V SSDs do not appear to have enough flash channels to keep up with the larger capacity drives though as their performance maxes out at 60K random reads and 70K random writes.

Plextor M8V Series 128 GB 256 GB 512 GB
Sequential Reads 560 MB/s 560 MB/s 560 MB/s
Sequential Writes 400 MB/s 510 MB/s 520 MB/s
4K Random Read IOPS 60K 81K 82K
4K Random Write IOPS 70K 80K 81K
Endurance 70 TBW 140 TBW 280 TBW
DWPD 0.5 0.5 0.5
MTBF (hours) 1.5 Million 1.5 Million 1.5 Million

Plextor rates the M8V series at 0.5 DWPD (drive writes per day) and write endurance of 70 TB for the 128 GB, 140 TB for the 256 GB, and 280 TB for the 512 GB model. Plextor rates them at 1.5 million hours MTBF. These numbers aren’t too bad considering this is TLC flash and they are likely to get more life than the ratings (it’s just not guaranteed).

The SM2258 controller appears to be fairly well established and has also been used by Adata, Mushkin, and others for their budget solid state drives. Plextor did not announced pricing or availability and in searching around online I was not able to find them for sale yet. Its previous S2C series (M7V replacement) SATA drives came in at just under 26 cents/gigabyte using the same SMI 2258 controller but with SK Hynix 16nm planar TLC flash though so I would expect the M8V to come in close to that if not better.

I just wish we could get a SATA 4 standard already to at least get consumer systems up to the 12 Gbps enterprise-oriented SAS can hit. While RAM and GPU shopping may make your wallet cry more than a Steam sale, at least it is a good time to be shopping for storage. What do you think about the influx of budget SSDs? Have you upgraded your family’s PCs to the magical performance of solid state storage yet?

Source: Plextor

External storage for the terminally impatient, OWC's Mercury Helios

Subject: Storage | February 2, 2018 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: owc, Mercury Helios, thunderbolt 3, PCIe SSD, external ssd

External storage does not have to be slow, as the OWC Mercury Helios 3 PCIe Thunderbolt 3 external drive demonstrates.  The TB3 connection is capable of up to 40Gbps, assuming you have the proper connection, which will keep a drive such as the the Kingston DC1000 NVMe SSD very busy.  In The SSD Reviews testing, they saw the data transfer cap out at 2.8GB/s read and between 2.5-2.7GB/s write, which makes this perfect for HD video or for manipulating large media files. The enclosure will set you back about $200, the cost of the PCIe SSD you put inside it is a choice for you to make.

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"The trick…is Thunderbolt 3 and the external devices companies envision to solve this speed and data storage problem. This is where the OWC Mercury helios 3 PCIe Thunderbolt 3 Expansion Chassis comes in."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Seagate Announces Quarterly Earnings for Q2 FY2018

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 1, 2018 - 03:07 AM |
Tagged: Seagate, quarterly earnings, Hard Drive, financial results, enterprise

Seagate Technology has announced its quarterly earnings for the second quarter of fiscal year 2018 (the quarter ending 12/29/2017). The Cupertino-based company has reported quarterly revenue of $2.9 billion, net income of $159 million, and diluted EPS of 55 cents. On a Non-GAAP reporting basis, Seagate saw Q2 FY2018 net income of $431 million and earnings per share of $1.48.

Seagate Barracuda Pro 10TB.jpg

Seagate's revenue remained flat year-over-year, but increased 11.5% versus the previous quarter. Net income decreased 12% QOQ and 46% YoY using GAAP accounting methods, but on a non-GAAP basis Seagate reports a 54% increase versus the previous quarter and 4.6% increase versus the same quarter last year so it's not all bad news. The company is also managed to amass quite a bit of cash including $850 million from operations and $773 of free cash flow.

  Q2 FY2018 Q1 FY2018 Q2 FY2017 QOQ YoY
Revenue $2.9 billion $2.6 billion $2.9 billion +11.5% =
Net Income (GAAP) $159 million $181 million $297 million -12% -46%
Diluted Earnings Per Share (GAAP) 0.55 0.62 1.00 -11.5% -45%
Net Income (Non-GAAP) $431 million $279 million $412 million +54% +4.6%
Diluted EPS (Non-GAAP) 1.48 0.96 1.38 +54% +7.2%

Seagate manufactures both mechanical hard drives and solid state drives, and while the company cranks out many internal and external drives for consumers, the company is very much focused on the enterprise market, especially where its solid state storage is concerned. Seagate states in its press release that it is heavily focused on cloud storage with its 60TB 3.5" SAS drive and NVMe add-in-card (which it demonstrated at FMS 2016). The company has partnered with Facebook to build its 1U Lightning storage solution (up to 120TB of flash storage using 60 2TB M.2 NVMe drives) and continues to target the enterprise and exascale/HPC markets with their absolutely massive and ever-growing data demands for big data analytics of financial and user data, uploaded and user-generated media, cloud backup, and research/simulation data for supercomputers. Further, the company continues to push mechanical enterprise storage to ever higher capacities with Barracuda Pro and also has its Ironwolf NAS and sequential-optimized Skyhawk drives for surveillance systems. On the flash storage front, Seagate has its Nytro M.2 NVMe and Nytro SAS SSDs.

Seagate Facebook Lightning JBOF System.jpg

Facebook's 1U Lightning JBOF System using 60 Seagate XM1440 M.2 SSDs.

I am interested to see where Seagate (STX) will go with its flash storage (Will they ever bring it to the consumer market in a big way? They do have a few products, but their focus seems to be mostly on enterprise.) and if they will manage to match or surpass Western Digital and Toshiba this year in the enterprise HDD capacity war. Currently, the company's Barracuda, IronWolf, and Exos drives top out at 12TB including the second generation Helium-sealed versions.

Also read:

Source: Seagate

Samsung Introducing Z-NAND Based 800GB Z-SSD For Enterprise HPC

Subject: Storage | January 31, 2018 - 08:39 PM |
Tagged: z-ssd, Z-NAND, Samsung, HPC, enterprise, ai

Samsung will be introducing a new high performance solid state drive using new Z-NAND flash at ISSCC next month. The new Samsung SZ985 Z-SSD is aimed squarely at the high-performance computing (HPC) market for big data number crunching, supercomputing, AI research, and IoT application development. The new drive will come in two capacities at 800GB and 240GB and combines low latency Z-NAND flash with 1.5GB LPDDR4 DRAM cache and an unspecified "high performance" Samsung controller.

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The Z-NAND drive is interesting because it represents an extremely fast storage solution that offers up to 10-times cell read performance and 5-times less write latency than 3-bit V-NAND based drives such as Samsung's own PM963 NVMe SSD. The Z-NAND technology represents a middle ground (though closer to Optane than not) between NAND and X Point flash memory without the expense and complexity of 3D XPoint (at least, in theory). The single port 4-lane drive (PCI-E x4) reportedly is able to hit random read performance of 750,000 IOPS and random write performance of 170,000 IOPS. The drive is able to do this with very little latency at around 16µs (microseconds). To put that in perspective, a traditional NVMe SSD can exhibit write latencies of around 90+ microseconds while Optane sits at around half the latency of Z-NAND (~8-10µs). You can find a comparison chart of latency percentiles of various storage technologies here. While the press release did not go into transfer speeds or read latencies, Samsung talked about that late last year when it revealed the drive's existence. The SZ985 Z-SSD maxes out its x4 interface at 3.2 GB/s for both sequential reads and sequential writes. Further, read latencies are rated at between 12µs and 20µs. At the time Allyn noted that the 30 drive writes per day (DWPD) matched that of Intel's P4800X and stated that it was an impressive feat considering Samsung is essentially running its V-NAND flash in a different mode with Z-NAND. Looking at the specs, the Samsung SZ985 Z-SSD has the same 2 million hours MTBF but is actually rated higher for endurance at 42 Petabytes over five years (versus 41 PB). Both drives appear to offer the same 5-year warranty though we may have to wait for the ISSCC announcement for confirmation on that.

It appears that the SZ-985 offers a bit more capacity, higher random read IOPS, and better sequential performance but with slightly more latency and lower random write IOPS than the 3D XPoint based Intel Optane P4800X drive.

In all Samsung has an interesting drive and if they can price it right I can see them selling a ton of these drives to the enterprise market for big data analytics tasks as well as a high-speed drive for researchers. I am looking forward to more information being released about the Z-SSD and its Z-NAND flash technology at the ISSCC (International Solid-State Circuits Conference) in mid-February.

Also read:

Source: Samsung
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Intel has been doing great with their Optane / 3D XPoint products lately, but what about NAND? Samsung had been leading the pack with their VNAND for a few years now, forcing competitors to struggle to keep up on the capacity, performance, and endurance fronts. Intel's 3D NAND production (announced in 2015) is finally starting to come into its full stride, with 64-layer TLC NAND shipping in their 545S in mid 2017. With SATA essentially covered, PCIe NAND solutions have been a bit rough for Intel. The SSD 600p was their first M.2 PCIe product, launching over a year ago. While it was cost-effective, it was not a stellar performer. This left the now extremely dated SSD 750 as their flagship NAND product. It was great for its time, but was only available in HHHL and U.2 form factors, precluding any possibility of mobile use. With their 3D NAND finally in a good position, what Intel really needed was a truly solid M.2 product, and I'm happy to report that such a thing has finally happened:

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Behold the Intel SSD 760p Series, currently available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities, with 1TB and 2TB coming later in Q1 2018. Today we will be reviewing all currently available capacities.

Specifications

specs.png

This chart makes me happy. Finally, an Intel M.2 SSD with competitive specs! Note that the performance specs all come in at 2x the 600p, all while consuming half of the power of the older model. Endurance remains the same, but the 600p's problems were with performance, not endurance.

Packaging:

180123-155639.jpg

Packaging was very similar to that of the 600p and other Intel products. Simple and no frills. Gets the job done.

You know you want to see how these perform, right? Read on to find out!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Samsung launched their 850 line of SSDs in mid-2014 (over three years ago now). The line evolved significantly over time, with the additions of PRO and EVO models, capacity expansions reaching up to 4TB, and a later silent migration to 64-layer V-NAND. Samsung certainly got their money's worth out of the 850 name, but it is now time to move onto something newer:

180123-114944.jpg

Specifications:

specs.png

Of note above is a significantly higher endurance rating as compared to the 850 Series products, along with an update to a new 'MJX' controller, which accounts for a slight performance bump across the board. Not mentioned here is the addition of queued TRIM, which is more of a carryover from the enterprise / Linux systems (Windows 10 does not queue its TRIM commands).

Packaging:

180123-112150.jpg

Aside from some updated specs and the new name, packaging remains very much the same.

Read on for our review of the Samsung 860 PRO and EVO SSDs (in multiple capacities!)

(Those of you interested in Samsung's press release for this launch will find it after the break)

Affordable NVMe? Intel's new 760p series

Subject: Storage | January 23, 2018 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: Intel, 760p, NVMe, ssd, 512GB, SM2262, 64-layer TLC

Intel have released a new M.2 SSD line which will come in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB with prices of  $74, $109 and $199 respectively.  This is a far cry from falling under Ryan's Law but are lower than other NVMe drives.  The Tech Report believes it is using the Silicon Motion SM2262 controller though Intel is being cagey about confirmation, with 64-layer TLC flash for storage. The overall performance was mixed, for reads this drive is one of the best TR have tested however the write speeds are barely faster than a SATA drive; at this price point that should not scare you off unless you plan on doing a lot of writes.

drive-top.jpg

"Intel is shaking up the mainstream SSD market by releasing a new NVMe drive at what it calls near-SATA prices. We run the drive through our storage-testing gauntlet to see whether the SSD 760p 512 GB and its 64-layer NAND turn out to be a game-changer."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

CES 2018: Mushkin Adds New SATA SSDs To Triactor Family

Subject: Storage | January 10, 2018 - 08:17 PM |
Tagged: sm2258xt, SM2258, sata 6Gbs, sata 3, Mushkin, M.2 SATA, CES 2018, CES, 3d nand

In addition to the PCI-E based solid state drives it showed off at CES, Mushkin is adding two new SATA-based SSDs to its Triactor series. The new Triactor 3DL and Triactor 3DX are M.2 and 2.5" form factor SSDs respectively that are available in 120 GB, 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB capacities and utilize 3D TLC NAND flash memory and SMI controllers. Both drives come with M.E.D.S. wear leveling and data protection algorithms and three-year warranties.

Triactor3DLM2_1.JPG

The Triactor 3DL is a M.2 2280 form factor SSD that uses a SMI SM2258XT controller with a SATA 3.1 6 Gbps interface. The SM2258XT is a four-channel controller that lacks a DRAM cache. The Triactor 3DL is rated at up to 550 MB/s sequential reads, 505 MB/s sequential writes, 73,000 random 4k read IOPS and 80,000 random 4k write IOPS. Its data protection features include LDPC ECC and algorithms for data shaping, StaticDataRefresh, and wear leveling. While not as impressive as its NVMe M.2 counterparts, it should be a good bit cheaper and compatible with more PCs especially as an upgrade path for older notebooks.

IMG_4532.JPG

On the other hand, the Triactor 3DX is a more traditional SATA drive that comes in a 2.5" form factor (7mm thick). In this case the 3D TLC NAND flash is paired with a SMI SM2258 controller which is similar to the one above except that it can utilize a DRAM cache and supports AES encryption. The Triactor 3DX is rated at 565 MB/s sequential reads, 530 MB/s sequential writes, 100,000 random 4k read IOPs, and 91,000 random 4k write IOPS. It seems that the cache is helping performance a bit, and the drive is starting to bump up against the real-world limits of the SATA 6 Gbps interface. Since it is of the thinner 7mm type, it will be compatible with most notebooks and desktops.

The new Triactor drives are cheaper options that come in M.2 as well as traditional SATA drives. Mushkin is not talking pricing or availability just yet.

Source: Mushkin

CES 2018: Crucial Expands MX500 Lineup - 2.5" SATA up to 2TB, M.2 2280 SATA up to 1TB

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2018 - 07:38 PM |
Tagged: tlc, ssd, slc, sata, nand, MX500, DWA, crucial, CES 2018, CES, 3d nand

Crucial showed off the upcoming M.2 variant of its MX500 product, available in capacities up to 1TB. They also announced (press release after the break) that the MX500 will be available from 250GB up to 2TB capacities.

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Here is Crucial's product tour video for the MX500:

We previously tested the 1TB MX500, and Crucial passed along a 500GB model that I was able to spot check to ensure there was no performance fall-off at the smaller capacities of this line:

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Looks good so far, and nearly identical to the 1TB capacity across our entire test suite. We did also speak with Crucial reps (Jon and Jon) about the TRIM speed issues noted in our previous review. They are looking into replicating our testing and may be pushing out a firmware to help improve this metric moving forward.

180109-153627a.jpg

We also saw some sweet looking new RGB Ballistix memory, due out shortly. More to follow there! Crucial's MX500 CES announcement appears after the break.

Source: Crucial

CES 2018: Mushkin Launches New M.2 NVMe SSDs

Subject: Storage | January 10, 2018 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: Mushkin, silicon motion, SM2262, SM2263XT, 3d nand, tlc, M.2, NVMe, CES, CES 2018

Mushkin is on site at CES where it is launching a slew of new products. On the storage front, Mushkin is showing off three new M.2 2280 form factor NVMe solid state drives aimed at various price points. The Pilot, Pilot-E, and Helix-L M.2 drives all use Silicon Motion controllers and 3D TLC NAND flash memory. Mushkin further advertises them with a three-year warranty and the company's MEDS Reliability Suite which includes technology to enable end-to-end data path protection, LDPC ECC, and global wear leveling algorithms to ensure data integrity and longevity.

IMG_4524.JPG

At the top end of performance is the Pilot-E M.2 SSD based on SM2262EN controller which offers up eight channels for connecting all the 3D NAND. This 250 GB to 2 TB drive is able to achieve extremely speedy 3.5 GB/s sequential reads and 3.0 GB/s sequential writes along with 370K read IOPS and 300K write IOPS. Essentially, the Pilot-E M.2 should be able to easily max out the PCI-E x4 connection with the right workloads.

Stepping down a bit, the Pilot drive uses an eight channel SM2262 controller. This drive gets close to the Pilot-E in reads, but has much lower sequential write performance. Capacities for this SSD range from 120 GB to 2 TB. Specifically, the Pilot SSD is rated at 3.2 GB/s sequential reads, 1.9 GB/s sequential writes, 370K random read IOPS, and 300K random write IOPS. This drive should be cheaper than the Pilot-E and will be aimed at the consumer space where reads are more important than writes.

IMG_4557.JPG

Finally, Mushkin's Helix-L is a lower cost SSD that uses a DRAM-less design to reduce cost as well as a cheaper four channel SM2263XT controller. Capacities range from 120 GB to 1TB. This SSD supports Host Memory Buffer architecture which allows it to use system memory as a cache to improve performance. The Helix-L is rated at 2.4 GB/s sequential reads, 1.7 GB/s sequential writes, 280K random read IOPS (140K without HMB) and 250K random write IOPS.

Mushkin has not yet revealed pricing or availability on its new NVMe 1.3 drives. You can read more about the Silicon Motion controllers used here.

Source: Mushkin