Subject: Storage | April 3, 2018 - 04:56 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Optane Memory, Optane, NVMe, Intel, 8th generation core, 800p, 3D XPoint
Remember *way* back just before CES 2017, when we caught that 'Optane Memory Storage Accelerator' entry on some Lenovo laptop release docs? Well, those obviously never happened, and we figured out why a few months later when we reviewed Intel's Optane Memory products and realized that the first iteration of these products had no apparent hardware power management capabilities, meaning they would draw excessive power while idling in a mobile platform.
While the Optane Memory launch was a year ago, just last month we tested the 800P - what was meant to be the true usable standalone M.2 packaging for Optane. This part was nearly physically identical to Optane Memory, but with some tweaks to available capacities, and more importantly, support for hardware lower power idle states. While this opened the door for use in laptops, it still did not completely close the loop on an Optane-based caching solution for mobile platforms. That loop gets closed today:
Along with a round of other new 8th generation CPU announcements (covered by Ken here), Intel has also launched a 'Core Plus' series, which are essentially the same 8th gen Core i3 / i5 / i7 parts, but with the addition of Optane Memory caching. These will be a newer, more power efficient version of the Optane Memory caching parts. While these were previously available in 16GB and 32GB capacities, this new round will add a 64GB tier to the mix.
Another update being made to Optane Memory is that instead of caching the OS drive, Optane Memory will be able to cache a secondary data drive. This would be ideal for a system that was already using a fast NVMe SSD or 800P/900P as the OS drive, where the user also wanted to cache a very large secondary data HDD. The Optane Memory caching is currently limited to caching either the OS drive or a secondary drive - no current possibility to split the higher capacity Optane Memory modules across two separate drives (we asked, and will continue to press this suggestion).
Not sure what all of this 'Optane' / '3D XPoint' stuff is all about? Check out my article detailing how it all works here
Subject: Storage | March 29, 2018 - 10:43 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z-ssd, Z-NAND, workstation, Samsung, NVMe, M.2, HPC, enterprise
Samsung is expanding its Z-NAND based "Z-SSD" products with a new M.2 solid state drive for workstations and high-performance compute servers. Previously only available in half-height AIC (add-in-card) form factors, the SZ983 M.2 sports a M.2 22110 form factor and NVMe compatible PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface. The new drive was shown off at Samsung's booth during the Open Compute Project Summit in San Jose and was spotted by Anandtech who managed to snap a couple photos of it.
Image credit: Anandtech spotted Samsung's M.2 Z-SSD at OCP Summit 2018.
The new M.2 Z-SSD will come in 240GB and 480GB capacities and sports an 8 channel Phoenix controller. The drive on display at OCP Summit 2018 had a part number of MZ1JB240HMGG-000FB-001. Comparing it to the SZ985 PCI-E SSD, this new M.2 drive appears to also have a DRAM cache as well as capacitors to protect data in the event of power loss (data writes would be able to completely write from the cache to the drive before safe shutdown) though we don't know if this drive has the same 1.5GB of LPDDR4 cache or not. Note that the sticker of the M.2 drive reads SZ983 while Samsung elsewhere had the M.2 labeled as the SZ985 (M.2) so it's unclear which name will stick when this actually launches though hopefully it's the former just to avoid confusion. The Phoenix (formerly Polaris v2) controller is allegedly going to also be used on some of the higher end V-NAND drives though we'll have to wait and see if that happens or not.
Anyway, back to performance numbers, Samsung rates the M.2 Z-SSD at 3200 MB/s sequential reads and 2800 MB/s sequential writes (so a bit slower than the SZ985 at writes). Samsung did not talk random IOPS numbers. The drive is rated at the same 30 DWPD (drive writes per day) endurance rating as the SZ985 and will have the same 5-year warranty. I am curious if the M.2 NVMe drive is able to hit the same (or close to) random IOPS numbers as the PCI-E card which is rated at up to 750,000 read and 170,000 write IOPS.
Z-NAND is interesting as it represents a middle ground between V-NAND and other 3D NAND flash and 3D XPoint memory in both terms of cost and latency performance with Z-NAND being closer in latency to XPoint than V-NAND. Where it gets interesting is that Z-NAND is essentially V-NAND just run at a different mode and yet they are able to reduce write latency by 5-times (12-to-20 microseconds) and cell read latency by up to 10-times (16 microseconds). While Samsung is already working on second generation Z-NAND, these drives are using first generation Z-NAND which is the more performance (lowest latency) type but costs quite a bit more than 2nd generation which is only a bit slower (more read latency). Judging by the form 110mm form factor, this M.2 drive is aimed squarely at datacenter and workstation usage and is not likely to lead to a consumer Optane 800P (et al) competitor, but if it does well enough we may see some prosumer and consumer Z-NAND based options in the future with newer generations of Z-NAND as they get the right balance of cost and latency for the desktop gaming and enthusiast market.
- Samsung Introducing Z-NAND Based 800GB Z-SSD For Enterprise HPC
- FMS 2017: Samsung Announces QLC V-NAND, 16TB NGSFF SSD, Z-SSD V2, Key Value
- Samsung SZ985 Z-NAND SSD - Upcoming Competition for Intel's P4800X?
- Intel Optane SSD 800P 58GB, 118GB, and RAID Review - 3D XPoint Goes Mainstream
Subject: Storage | March 28, 2018 - 06:13 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: crucial, MX500, ssd, sata, 1TB, 500gb
Crucial's MX500 series of SSDs have been out for a little while now, Al reviewed them back in December and since then the price has only become more attractive. The 500GB model now sells for $130US/$168CDN, which makes it fairly attractive and the 1TB model has an even better price per gigabyte. The Tech Report tested these two drives out and the 1TB model was able to match the performance of much more expensive drives thought the rated endurance less. Check out the full review for a reminder on how these drives perform.
"It's been a while since Crucial's MX300 SSD arrived with 3D NAND. The latest drive in the series has been refined with the latest-generation 64-layer 3D TLC. Join us to see how the MX500 fares against the competition."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Hewlett-Packard SSD EX900 M.2 @ Benchmark Reviews
- Crucial MX300 M.2 525 GB @ TechPowerUp
- Seagate Barracuda Pro 12TB HDD Review @ Techgage
- microSD Card Buying Guide @ TechSpot
- 256 GB SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive @ TechARP
- Silicon Power Armor A62 4TB USB 3.1 Gen 1 Portable Hard Drive Review @ NikKTech
- Toshiba Canvio Advance 2TB External Hard Drive @ Kitguru
- QNAP TS-431P2 4-Bay NAS @ TechPowerUp
- ASUSTOR AS1002T NAS: A Perfect Balance of Value and Features @ Modders-Inc
Subject: Storage | March 27, 2018 - 01:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Seagate, helium, enterprise, datacenter, 14tb
During the Open Compute Summit Seagate showed off a new drive in its Helium-filled Exos X lineup that offers up 14TB of storage in a 3.5-inch SATA hard drive package. The aptly named Exos X14 is a low power 7200 RPM drive that utilizes PMR rather than the more exotic methods (shingled, HAMR, ect) and is a drop-in replacement that Seagate claims allows up to 40% more storage space per rack than previous drives – up to 3,360 TB per rack!
The drive is aimed at datacenter customers and cloud storage providers clamoring for fast-enough affordable storage. The Exos X14 platform is expected to use a whopping 9-platters each holding 1.55 terabytes. Beyond that, Seagate is not sharing exact specifications except to say that it has bested the sustained transfer rates of the Exos X12 and competitors and has leading and reliable random I/O performance that has been optimized for hyperscale environments (so take that for what you will) likely thanks to the increased storage density.
Seagate did note that the new drives support Seagate Secure encryption and the drive is rated for FIPS 140-2 / Level 2 and ISO/IEC 15408 certifications so at least in theory it meets a minimum level of IT security practices in the methods it uses to protect the data stored on it.
A research study performed by IDC and sponsored by Seagate found that worldwide data creation could hit up to 163 Zettabytes (163 trillion Gigabytes!) by 2025 (10-times the amount of data created last year) which is mind-boggling. Even if the reality is half of that, that’s still an absolutely staggering amount of data that needs to be stored somewhere and both spinning rust and expensive flash are going to have to make some significant advancements to get to that point – and to that point with an acceptable TCO.
The Exos X14 is expected to start shipping to datacenter customers this summer and is currently being sampled to select partners like Baidu and Facebook (Facebook was showing off a server packed with the drives at OCP 2018).
Also interesting is Seagate’s announcement of “Mach.2” multi-actuator technology and its advancements into making HAMR (heat assisted magnetic recording) more reliable both of which are going to be important for the future.
CalDigit Tuff Rugged External Drive
There are a myriad of options when it comes to portable external storage. But if you value durability just as much as portability, those options quickly dry up. Combining a cheap 2.5-inch hard drive with an AmazonBasics enclosure is often just fine for an external storage solution that sits in your climate controlled office all day, but it's probably not the best choice for field use during your national park photography trip, your scuba diving expedition, or on-site construction management.
For situations like these where the elements become a factor and the chance of an accidental drop skyrockets, it's a good idea to invest in "ruggedized" equipment. Companies like Panasonic and Dell have long offered laptops custom-designed to withstand unusually harsh environments, and accessory makers have followed suit with ruggedized hard drives.
Today we're taking a look at one such ruggedized hard drive, the CalDigit Tuff. Released in 2017, the CalDigit Tuff is a 2.5-inch bus-powered external drive available in both HDD and SSD options. CalDigit loaned us the 2TB HDD model for testing.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | March 18, 2018 - 12:20 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ssd, sata 3, pny, 3d nand
PNY has added a new solid-state drive to its CS900 lineup doubling the capacity to 960GB. The SATA-based SSD is a 2.5" 7mm affair suitable for use in laptops and SFF systems as well as a budget option for desktops.
The CS900 960GB SSD uses 3D TLC NAND flash and offers ECC, end-to-end data protection, secure erase, and power saving features to protect data and battery life in mobile devices. Unfortunately, information on the controller and NAND flash manufacturer is not readily available though I suspect it uses a Phison controller like PNY's other drives.
The 960GB capacity model is rated for sequential reads of 535 MB/s and sequential writes of 515 MB/s. PNY rates the drive at 2 million hours MTBF and they cover it with a 3-year warranty.
We may have to wait for reviews (we know how Allyn loves to tear apart drives!) for more information on this drive especially where random read/write and latency percentile performance are concerned. The good news is that if the performance is there the budget price seems right with an MSRP of $249.99 and an Amazon sale price of $229.99 (just under 24 cents/GB) at time of writing. Not bad for nearly a terabyte of solid state storage (though if you don't need that much space you can alternatively find PCI-E based M.2 SSDs in this price range).
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
When one thinks of an M.2 SSD, we typically associate that with either a SATA 6GB/s or more recently with a PCIe 3.0 x4 link. The physical interface of M.2 was meant to accommodate future methods of connectivity, but it's easy to overlook the ability to revert back to something like a PCIe 3.0 x2 link. Why take a seemingly backward step on the interface of an SSD? Several reasons actually. Halving the number of lanes makes for a simpler SSD controller design, which lowers cost. Power savings are also a factor, as driving a given twisted pair lane at PCIe 3.0 speeds draws measurable current from the host and therefore adds to the heat production of the SSD controller. We recently saw that a PCIe 3.0 x2 can still turn in respectable performance despite lower bandwidth interface, but how far can we get the price down when pairing that host link with some NAND flash?
Enter the MyDigitalSSD SBX series. Short for Super Boot eXpress, the aim of these parts is to offer a reasonably performant PCIe NVMe SSD at something closer to SATA SSD pricing.
- Physical: M.2 2280 (single sided)
- Controller: Phison E8 (PS5008-E8)
- Capacities: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
- PCIe 3.0 x2, M.2 2280
- Sequential: Up to 1.6/1.3 GB/s (R/W)
- Random: 240K+ / 180K+ IOPS (R/W)
- Weight: 8g
- Power: <5W
The MyDigitalDiscount guys keep things extremely simple with their SSD packaging, which is eaxctly how it should be. It doesn't take much to package and protect an M.2 SSD, and this does the job just fine. They also include a screwdriver and a screw just in case you run into a laptop that came without one installed.
Subject: Storage | March 9, 2018 - 05:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, PCIe 3.0 x2, Optane, NVMe, Intel, Brighton Beach, 800p, 58GB, 3D XPoint, 118GB
The price of the 480GB 900P is somewhat prohibitive but the small size of the 32GB gumstick also causes one pause; hence the 800P family with a 58GB and a 118GB model. They bear price tags of $130 and $200, as you may remember from Al's review. The Tech Report also had a chance to test these two Optane sticks out, with some tests not covered in our review, such as their own real world copying benchmark. If you are looking for a second opinion, drop by and take a look.
"Intel's duo of Optane SSD 800P drives promises the same blend of impressively-low latency and performance consistency as its larger Optane devices at a price more builders can afford. We ran these drives through our storage-testing gauntlet to see whether they can make a name for themselves as primary storage."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Intel Optane 800P @ The SSD Review
- Intel SSD 600p Series 512 GB @ TechPowerUp
- Intel 2/8TB DC P4500 NVMe SSDs gets Reviewed - Amazing Capacity and Speed! @ The SSD Review
- he 1TB WD Blue 3D SSD @ TechARP
- Crucial MX500 500GB SSD @ Kitguru
- QNAP TS-431X2-8G 10GbE NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- SilverStone MS09 m.2 SATA External SSD Enclosure @ Benchmark Reviews
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Intel has wanted a 3D XPoint to go 'mainstream' for some time now. Their last big mainstream part, the X25-M, launched 10 years ago. It was available in relatively small capacities of 80GB and 160GB, but it brought about incredible performance at a time where most other early SSDs were mediocre at best. The X25-M brought NAND flash memory to the masses, and now 10 years later we have another vehicle which hopes to bring 3D XPoint to the masses - the Intel Optane SSD 800P:
Originally dubbed 'Brighton Beach', the 800P comes in at capacities smaller than its decade-old counterpart - only 58GB and 118GB. The 'odd' capacities are due to Intel playing it extra safe with additional ECC and some space to hold metadata related to wear leveling. Even though 3D XPoint media has great endurance that runs circles around NAND flash, it can still wear out, and therefore the media must still be managed similarly to NAND. 3D XPoint can be written in place, meaning far less juggling of data while writing, allowing for far greater performance consistency across the board. Consistency and low latency are the strongest traits of Optane, to the point where Intel was bold enough to launch an NVMe part with half of the typical PCIe 3.0 x4 link available in most modern SSDs. For Intel, the 800P is more about being nimble than having straight line speed. Those after higher throughputs will have to opt for the SSD 900P, a device that draws more power and requires a desktop form factor.
- Capacities: 58GB, 118GB
- PCIe 3.0 x2, M.2 2280
- Sequential: Up to 1200/600 MB/s (R/W)
- Random: 250K+ / 140K+ IOPS (R/W) (QD4)
- Latency (average sequential): 6.75us / 18us (R/W) (TYP)
- Power: 3.75W Active, 8mW L1.2 Sleep
Specs are essentially what we would expect from an Optane Memory type device. Capacities of 58GB and 118GB are welcome additions over the prior 16GB and 32GB Optane Memory parts, but the 120GB capacity point is still extremely cramped for those who would typically desire such a high performing / low latency device. We had 120GB SSDs back in 2009, after all, and nowadays we have 20GB Windows installs and 50GB game downloads.
Before moving on, I need to call out Intel on their latency specification here. To put it bluntly, sequential transfer latency is a crap spec. Nobody cares about the latency of a sequential transfer, especially for a product which touts its responsiveness - something based on the *random* access latency, and the 6.75us figure above would translate to 150,000 QD1 IOPS (the 800P is fast, but it's not *that* fast). Most storage devices/media will internally 'read ahead' so that sequential latencies at the interface are as low as possible, increasing sequential throughput. Sequential latency is simply the inverse of throughput, meaning any SSD with a higher sequential throughput than the 800P should beat it on this particular spec. To drive the point home further, consider that a HDD's average sequential latency can beat the random read latency of a top-tier NVMe SSD like the 960 PRO. It's just a bad way to spec a storage device, and it won't do Intel any favors here if competing products start sharing this same method of rating latency in the future.
Our samples came in white/brown box packaging, but I did snag a couple of photos of what should be the retail box this past CES:
Subject: Storage | February 27, 2018 - 11:03 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: wdc, WD, ssd, SN720, SN520, sandisk, NCMe, nand, M.2, BiCS, 2280, 2242, 2230
Western Digital launched a few new NVMe SSDs at Mobile World Congress today:
To the left we have the WD PC SN720, a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD boasting speeds of up to 3.4GB/s and IOPS up to 500k. Available capacities are 1TB, 512GB, and 256GB. To the right we have the WD PC SN520, a more power efficient variant running on half of the PCIe lanes, and with specs coming in at roughly half of its faster brother. Capacities are also cut in half, with the range dropping to 512GB, 256GB, and 128GB. Interestingly, all capacities are available in three M.2 form factors (2280, 2242, and 2230).
We don't have a specific part number for the controller, but WD told us they are manufactured on a 28nm process, employ 8 NAND channels, and use DDR4 RAM (not DRAMless). The controller is optimized for interfacing with WD (/Toshiba) BiCS NAND flash, meaning these SSDs should prove to be a well integrated solution.
Press blast from WD appears after the break.