SandForce finally patches elusive 2200 series SSD controller bug. OCZ issues firmware, others soon to follow.

Subject: Storage | October 18, 2011 - 04:25 AM |
Tagged: ssd, sandforce, ocz, firmware, bug, BSOD

Over the past few months, we had noted a seemingly disproportionate surge of negative reports from users of SandForce-2200 based SSD's. These include OCZ's Vertex and Agility 3, Corsair's Force 3 and GT, Patriot's Pyro and Wildfire, along with many others. The complete list is available in our handy SSD Decoder.

The issue at hand was random BSOD's, with the possibility of an eventual complete failure of the SSD, rendering it unrecognizeable to the BIOS or Operating System. More details (and the fix) after the break:

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I witnessed this personally, as the SF-2281 pictured above suffered the same fate when we attempted to use it a few weeks ago.

Today (hopefully) marks the answer to everyone's prayers. SandForce issued base firmware 3.3.2 for SF-2000 series controllers.

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OCZ's Toolbox software V 2.40.02 can patch OCZ's line of SF-2200 SSD's with the new fix.

The release notes follow (and seem to lack mention of the aforementioned bugfix):

OCZ Toolbox version 2.40.02
---------------------------
- Modified Identity data display
- Fixed Smart data display for power fail backup attributes
- Added BIOS update for Hybrid drive

Known Issues:
- Update Firmware feature prohibited for primary drives with 1500 & 2000 controllers
- Intel RST Driver 10.1.0.1008 prohibits SSD detection

OCZ's press tidbit for the new firmware(s):

OCZ is pleased to announce that the cause of a BSOD issue experienced by some SF-2000-based drive owners has been identified by OCZ and SandForce. A new firmware update which directly addresses this BSOD occurrence related to SF-2000 based SSDs is available here. All newly manufactured OCZ SF-2000 based SSDs will feature the new 2.15 firmware revision (which is based on SandForce firmware version 3.3.2.) We highly recommend that any customers that have experienced the BSOD issue update their firmware to 2.15.
 
We sincerely appreciate the support from our customers, and if any customers have any questions or require additional support please do not hesitate to contact a customer service representative and we will be happy to address any questions or concerns.

If you own any of the affected SSD's, I highly recommend updating as soon as possible. Until then, I also recommend you back up any data present on these drives, as the above statements confirm the presence of an issue that can potentially brick your SandForce SSD at any moment.

Remember, patch only applies to the 2200 Series controller (i.e. SandForce SSD's capable of SATA 6Gb/sec).

Salt + electrons = 6x increase in HDD platter density?

Subject: Storage | October 14, 2011 - 09:21 PM |
Tagged: hdd, Hard Drive

With all of this SSD talk lately, let's not forget where storage stuff originated from - the HDD. Here's your spinning rust... ah-hem, Hard Drive lesson for the day:

Hard drives store bits by changing the magnetic alignment of magnetic 'grains' which have been 'sputtered' onto the surface of an extremely flat surface, or platter. Here are some grains created with current tech (lesson after the break):

HardDrivesGrainsSEM100nm.jpg

Due to the random arrangement, storing bits on the above requires each bit to span across several grains as to ensure it is properly written.

The Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), based in Singapore, does all sorts of experimentation with, well, materials research. They had the bright idea to mix in a pinch of table salt into the sputtering process. This, combined with the use of electron-beam lithography, allows much greater control over grain creation - namely they can actually 'draw' them.

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E-beam-etched grains formed with IMRE's new process.

Not only does this enable them to have more control over grain size, but it also allows them to create them in defined tracks. This lets the drive store one-bit per grain. Combine smaller grains with a better ratio of bits to grains and you've got potential for increasing magnetic storage by nearly an order of magnitude. IMRE has already tested the process at densities of 1.9Tb/in2, and they've created platters at up to 3.3Tb/in2. Consider current HDD's run at ~0.5Tb/in2, we're talking 6x the capacity - just when we thought HDD's were leveling off.

IMRE claims the new tech can be easily implemented with existing manufacture lines. The only potential catch I see is that with current HDD's, they make the platter and form tracks onto it once it's already fully assembled. This new tech creates the tracks in the middle of the process. This makes for potential alignment issues when going for a perfect 1-bit per grain density. Think of it as writing to a CD or DVD - the tracks are already there, so your drive's laser has extra components to help it keep the beam locked onto the track during writing (to account for any wobble, etc). HDD's using this new tech may need to employ a similar method, adding complexity to what is likely already the most complex part of these drives.

This development will not only enable higher capacity drives, it should help drop the price of current capacities. I guess SSD's will have to wait a bit longer before taking over the world.

Intel's 710 SATA III 200GB SSD ... and you though PCIe SSDs were expensive

Subject: Storage | October 13, 2011 - 10:05 PM |
Tagged: ssd, SATA3, Intel 710

The Intel 720 is a 200GB SATA 3 SSD with rated specs of 270MBs read/210MBs write or 38500 IOPS read and 2700 IOPS write, which makes it sound great until the sticker shock hits.  At an MSRP of $1300 you suddenly realize that there is more to this drive than just those specifications.  The extra money comes into the picture due to several reasons which make this an enterprise class drive.  The drive is overprovisioned by 120GB, while it does have 320GB of storage the extra memory is not available to you, only to the drive.  That overprovisioning should mean a greatly extended lifetime, just as the 64MB DRAM cache and six transistors ensure you won't suffer data corruption if the drive loses power unexpectedly.  There is more hidden inside this drive, which you can read about at The SSD Review.

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"The SSD Review has compiled a detailed analysis of the newly released Intel 710 SATA III 200GB SSD, an SSD priced at an unexpected $1299. Contrary to original predictions, the 710 is not intended as a consumer product and we believe that it will meet with a great deal of success in the enterprise sector. Follow along as we try to explain why this SSD is such a special addition to the SSD arena."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: SSD Review

A quick and easy way to duplicate your drives

Subject: Storage | October 7, 2011 - 06:32 PM |
Tagged: Startech, eSATA, usb, SATA HD Duplicator

Startech's eSATA USB to SATA drive duplicator is a portable device that lets you clone SATA, eSATA and USB disks.  It is quite handy in that you do not need a running PC to be able to clone a disk which can be handy when you are copying an OS installation and need access to all files on the drive.  It is also great in data emergencies or even better, to prevent an emergency from ever happening because you back up your drives frequently.  Plug and Play is very appropriate for this device, you could put in two drives to the duplicator and leave it copying over night as you do not need to monitor its operation at all.  Drop by R&B Mods for their full review of the duplicator

 

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"Today we will take take a look at an interesting product from Startech. Startech Portable eSATA USB to SATA Standalone HD Duplicator Dock is a hard disk duplication device that you can do easy hard disk cloning with. Let’s see how it performs in our tests and how easy it is to use."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Corsair Releases High Capacity Force GT and Force 3 SSDs

Subject: Storage | October 6, 2011 - 08:10 PM |
Tagged: storage, ssd, sata 3, corsair

Corsair today released three new solid state drives (SSDs) that deliver both speedy performance and high capacity. The new models include two new Force 3 SSDs at 180 GB and 480 GB and one new Force GT SSD at 480 GB. All of the new models are powered by the SandForce 2280 controller and utilize the SATA 3 (6GB/s) storage interface. All models will include a 2.5” to 3.5” adapter for use in desktops, and are backward compatible with older SATA specifications.

The Corsair Force GT being the faster lineup of drives now has a 480 GB Force GT SSD that is capable of 555 MB/s read speeds and write speeds of 525 MB/s. Further, the drive uses ONFI synchronous flash memory and achieves 85K random write IOPS (input/output operations per second).

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Although Corsair already has 120 GB and 240 GB models of solid state drives, the lineup now has a 180 GB SSD (to match the 180 GB capacity of the Force GT line) and a 480 GB drive. These two new SSDs use the same asynchronous flash that the other SSDs in Corsair’s Force 3 lineup utilizes as well as the same SandForce 2280 controller. In being compatible with SATA 3 (6GB/s) interface, the drives are able to pump out 85K random write IOPS, 550 MB/s read speeds, and 520 MB/s write speeds. This puts them slightly below the Force GT series, but still delivering respectable performance.

The new solid state drives are available now from authorized distributors and retailers worldwide. The Force 3 SSDs carry an MSRP of $249 USD for the 180GB version and $799 USD for the 480GB SSD. Finally, the 480GB Force GT has an MSRP of $999 USD. Remember to check out our SSD Decoder for help in picking out your solid state drives!

Source: Corsair

Sandforce keeps spreading, check out the EDGE Boost Pro

Subject: Storage | September 30, 2011 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: SF-2281 controller, sata 6Gbs, EDGE Boost Pro

While you certainly have a wide variety of choice when choosing the manufacturer of your next SSD purchase, the internals will likely be identical.  If you want the fastest SATA 6GB/s SSD you can get then it will be a Sandforce controller handling the data transfer, likely the new SF-2281.  EDGE Tech won't be the first manufacturer you think of but don't let the lack of name recognition turn you off, especially if you are going to be transferring data and software installations as they sell an upgrade kit to make the process even easier.  Benchmark Reviews takes you through the speed and security features of this SSD, especially favouring the three year warranty.

BMR_EDGE-Boost-Pro-SSD-Angle.jpg

"EDGE Tech Corporation has been a manufacturer of peripheral computer hardware for two decades, but only recently have they offered enthusiast storage solutions. New for 2011, the EDGE Boost Pro SSD offers SATA 6GB/s transfer speeds using the latest second-generation SandForce SF-2200 solid state controller technology. EDGE Tech specifies the Boost Pro SSD as capable of 550 MB/s read speeds and 85,000 IOPS write operations. In this article, Benchmark Reviews test the EDGE Boost Pro SSD against the leading competitors and we find out just how much speed and performance this new solid state drive offers."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology
Tagged: z-drive, ssd, r4, pcie, pci-e, ocz

Introduction

Introduction:

Back in June of last year, OCZ released the RevoDrive, followed up rather quickly by the RevoDrive x2. A further jump was made with the introduction of VCA 2.0 architecture with the RevoDrive 3 and 3 x2. Each iteration pushed the envelope further as better implementations of VCA were introduced, using faster and greater numbers of PCIe channels, linked to faster and greater numbers of SandForce controllers.

While the line of RevoDrives was tailored more towards power users and mild server use, OCZ has taken their VCA 2.0 solution to the next level entirely, putting their sights on full blown enterprise purposing. With that, we introduce the OCZ Z-Drive R4:

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Continue to the full review for all the details!

Look for the SSD sweet spot

Subject: Storage | September 26, 2011 - 10:44 PM |
Tagged: ssd, round up, corsair, crucial, Intel 320, Intel 510, kingston, ocz, SF-2281 controller, Marvell 88SS9174, Intel PC29AS21BA0

Making the assumption you are not as rich as Croesus, there is a sweet spot that many look for when it comes to SSDs.  If you go too small the channel limitations will impact your performance, but a 256GB+ drive is simply out of the budgets of many enthusiasts ... at least for the storage subsystem.  The Tech Report set out in search of the perfect size for an SSD, big enough for full speed performance but small enough it doesn't break the bank.  To that end they assembled nine SSDs, ranging in size from 120GB to 128GB, which gives away the ending in a way.  What you don't know is which drive came out on top, especially in the price to performance tests.  Find out in their full article.

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"The latest generation of SSDs is out in full force. We've rounded up nine of 'em to see which offers the best performance and overall value proposition"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Win a Free Drobo Storage Device at PC Perspective!!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Storage | September 22, 2011 - 08:42 PM |
Tagged: pcper, giveaway, drobo, contest

UPDATE: Just a couple more days left on this contest - we are closing entries for this Drobo at 12:01am EST on September 26th!

So you know here at PC Perspective we are big fans of backing up your data.  And one such brand of devices that helps users do that efficiently and safely is Drobo.  We are still working on our Drobo FS review here internally, but should probably check out Allyn's previous review of the 8-bay Drobo Pro to get an idea of the technology and reliability of Drobo.

But, back to the point, did we say you could win a brand new Drobo for yourself?  Yes, you can get your hands on a free Drobo FS unit by simply filling out a form and using your Twitter and Facebook accounts to spread the good word of data security!!

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What do you have to do?  It's a simple three step process:

  1. Follow @Drobo on Twitter and send a message to all your friends with the hash tags #drobo and #pcper telling them about your love of both!
    1. OR .... hit up Drobo on their Facebook page and leave a note on YOUR wall for your friends on the same topic - backing up your data and how Drobo gets it done.
  2. Finally, fill out the form at http://bit.ly/pcperdrobo to finish the job.

You will be emailed a coupon for a Drobo even if you don't win the free one, so you can still get something out this deal, right?!?

Our thanks go out to Drobo for the donations and to our loyal reader base for support PC Perspective over the years!

Source: PCPer

This newcomer to SSDs holds a new iteration of a familiar controller

Subject: Storage | September 19, 2011 - 09:42 PM |
Tagged: sf-2200 controller, sandforce, ssd, silicon power

When you think of SSDs it is very unlikely that your first mention would be Silicon Power, nor would it even make most people's Top 10.  That didn't stop them from releasing a small SSD, the Silicon Power Velox V30 60GB which features the new SandForce SF-2200 controller.  Worth noting is that at no time in the review did Bjorn3D experience the bug that many people, especially Gigabyte board users, have experienced.  What they did find was not unexpected, due to the small size of the drive SandForce has less channels to deal with which impacts performance significantly.  Still the drive will likely beat any SATA II drive out there and at 60GB it will not put you too far into debt.

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"Silicon Power Velox V30 60GB SSD is a nice budget SSD. We pit it against top performers like the OCZ Vertex 3 to see how well it does."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: Bjorn3D