Does Intel's SRT need an Intel SSD to work properly?

Subject: Storage | June 20, 2011 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: ssd, srt, Intel, kingston, cache

It is a common question with the release of the Z68 series of boards, as people wonder if they really need to shell out the money for an Intel SSD in order to take advantage of Intel Smart Response Technology, which lets you use an SSD of 60GB or less as a cache drive.  Techgage took it upon themselves to investigate and compared the performance improvements to a HDD when using an Intel 20GB 311 SATA II SSD and a Kingston 64GB SDnow 100V+ SATA II SSD.  As happens all to often lately the answer is not clear cut; the best cache drive depends heavily on the file sizes you commonly deal with.

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"When we tested out Intel's 'Smart Response Technology' last month, we liked what we saw. But at $110 for a 20GB SLC SSD, we wondered if a larger, more cost-effective option could still make the best use of the technology. With that, we're pitting Kingston's SSDNow V+100 64GB drive, at $150, against Intel's, to see if we retain SRT's effectiveness."

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Storage

Source: Techgage

Intel Enterprise SSDs Specifications

Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 16, 2011 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: ssd, Intel, enterprise

Intel is currently in the process of releasing their 2011 lineup of solid state hard drives. A lot of news and products came out regarding their consumer 300-series and enthusiast 500-series line however it has been pretty silent regarding their enterprise 700-series products. That has changed recently with the release of specifications as a result of Anandtech’s coverage of the German hardware website ComputerBase.de.

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And how does it compare to OCZ?

Intel will be releasing two enterprise SSDs: the SATA 3 Gbps based 710 SSD codename Lyndonville and the PCI express 2.0 based 720 SSD codename Ramsdale. The SATA based 710 will feature 25nm MLC-HET flash at capacities of 100, 200, and 300 GB. The 710 will have read and write speeds of 270/210 MB/s with 35,000/3300 read and write IOPS at 4KB and a 64MB cache. The PCIe based 720 will feature 34nm SLC flash at capacities of 200 and 400 GB. The 720 will be substantially faster than the 710 with read and write speeds of 2200/1800 MB/s with 180,000/56,000 read and write IOPS at 4KB and a 512MB cache. On the security front the 710 will be encrypted with 128 bit AES encryption where the 720 will be encrypted with 256 bit AES.

While there has been no hint toward pricing of these drives Intel is still expected to make a second quarter release date for their SATA based 710 SSD. If you are looking for a PCI express SSD you will need to be a bit more patient as they are still expected to be released in the fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see how the Intel vs OCZ fight will play out in 2012 for dominance in the PCIe-based SSD space.

Source: Anandtech

Revisiting the OCZ Agility 3 and its asynchronous flash

Subject: Storage | June 15, 2011 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: ocz, agility 3, ssd, sandforce, sata 6Gps

It has been a few weeks since Al took a look at OCZ's 240GB Agility 3 drive, so it seems worth revisiting.  As you can see at OCIA, the drive is fast even with slightly cheaper memory inside and can compete with the theoretically more expensive Vertex drive.  Unfortunately just like Al saw, the street price does not reflect the internal parts, saving $10 over the Vertex model is not a great deal.

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"The SSD technology of today is worlds better than what we had in 2009. Better understanding of the technology, mature controllers, Windows 7, SATA 6Gb/sec and even the PCI-e bus have all advanced things to a point where SSDs are coming close to mainstream adoption. Pricing is also much more attractive as evident by the drive we are looking at today, OCZ's Agility 3 240GB unit. The Agility 3 is one of three new SATA 6Gb/sec SSDs and is classified as a high-performance drive alongside the higher-end Vertex 3."

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Storage

Western Digital's take on the Green Monster, a 3TB Caviar Green HDD

Subject: Storage | June 10, 2011 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: hdd, western digital, caviar green, 3tb

Before you go running out and buying the Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB HDD, there are a few caveats to remember.  You will not be able to just pop this into a WinXP machine and expect to use it at full capacity, you need to have a motherboard with UEFI in order to boot from it and finally the implementation of Advanced Format Technology is still stuck in 512-byte emulation mode. 

On the plus side, the drive spins at about 6600 RPM and is SATAS 6Gbs which makes it faster that it's smaller predecessor.  Only the non-AFT version of the 2TB Green drive can beat it for throughput.  Check out the full review at TechARP.

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"Western Digital divides their internal hard drives into three distinct families - the WD Caviar Blue for their basic hard drives, the WD Caviar Green for their quieter, cooler hard drives and the WD Caviar Black for their performance-grade hard drives.

According to Western Digital, Caviar Green hard disk drives offer an average power saving of 4-5 watts over their competitors, a feat that they claim is equivalent to reducing CO2 emissions by 13.8 kg per year. Of course, that’s a mere drop in the ocean but if you can help save the environment while you work or play on your computer, why not?

Today, we will look at the improved Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB hard disk drive - the new Western Digital WD30EZRX with Advanced Format Technology and 6 Gbps interface. Let’s find out how well this drive performs!"

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Storage

Source: TechARP

Samsung Releases 1 TB Laptop Hard Drive

Subject: Storage, Mobile | June 9, 2011 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, laptop, Hard Drive, 1TB

Samsung today announced a new update to their Spinpoint laptop hard drive line, the Spinpoint M8 1 TB. Joining the storage ranks of the Seagate Constellation and Western Digital Scorpio 1 TB drives, the new Samsung hard disk features two 500 GB platters in a 2.5” 9.5mm form factor along with an 8 MB buffer, and utilizes a SATA II (3Gb/s) interface. The 500 GB per platter density was achieved by using their Advanced Format Technology (AFT), which raises the data storage density per unit area, which results in a reduced number of requisite platters and read/write heads. Samsung claims that the reduction in necessary components results in a seven percent performance increase as well as an eight percent decrease in the amount of power drawn.

The new 2.5” drive carries an MSRP of $129.00 USD. Mobile gamers and road warriors in particular are likely happy to see competition in the 1 TB+ laptop arena, which should hep to bring the 1 TB mobile drives’ prices a bit closer to their 1 TB desktop brethren.  You can read more about the new drive here.

Source: Samsung

Tweak your SSD: Notice the difference, and frown

Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 9, 2011 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: tweak, ssd

The people who stick an SSD in their PC are typically the type of people who would want to optimize their performance as best as possible. Particularly with the larger investment of the earlier SSDs tweak guides were quite common to squeeze every IO/s and MB/s out of their device. Tom’s Hardware has just posted a list of common tweaks and a series of benchmarks performed on the tweaked system. According to their findings, you may wish to undo your tweaks.

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Don’t do it!

Some tweaks saw the occasional increase in performance though on the whole performance suffered by some extent. Tweaks that were designed to reclaim capacity gave you back quite a bit of space however, though you should expect that if your drive is not storing system restore points, file system indexes, or your swap file that you would have more usable space on your drive. The hit on performance from the performance tweaks typically were not too great with the exception of write caching on Intel drives bringing their write speeds to single digit MB/s. Check out Tom’s Hardware’s full guide for more information.

Corsair recalls entire Force Series 3 SSD line, cites hardware defects.

Subject: Storage | June 7, 2011 - 05:47 PM |
Tagged: ssd, sandforce, corsair

 

Today Corsair announced a full recall of the CSSD-F120GB3-BK line.

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For further details, I yield to the statement from Corsair:

Over the past several days, we have analyzed issues associated with the stability of our recently released 120GB Force Series 3 SSD (Corsair part number CSSD-F120GB3-BK). Our review has identified that a significant percentage of these drive do not operate to specification. The solution will require changes to both the SSD firmware and the hardware components of the SSD itself.
 
We’ve worked closely with our partners to determine a root cause but there is no single issue at fault.  I’m sure you’ll have qu
estions about how this could happen but we can only say that our production test did not catch this combination of issues and we have implemented multiple corrective actions, involving both firmware and hardware, and are confident we have resolved all currently known issues.
 
This is our fault, our production tests didn’t catch the issue before the drives were shipped to the consumer and we take full responsibility for our products, which is why we’re asking for them to be returned and will be picking up return shipping.
 
Consumers should be directed to the following link in our forums for instructions on returning their drives.
 
http://forum.corsair.com/v3/showthread.php?t=95825

For those curious, since the cause is hardware stemming from the reference design of the PCB, it affects only those SandForce drives relying on it. OCZ uses their own design for the Vertex 3 and Agility 3 series SSD's, so those are safe from known hardware issues and remain subject to only the typical firmware bugs addressed by routine updates.

Back to the issue at hand. If you own a model CSSD-F120GB3-BK SSD, back up immediately and hit the link above to have Corsair sort you out.

Can Plextor compete with Drobo?

Subject: Storage | June 6, 2011 - 12:06 PM |
Tagged: plextor, network attached storage, NAS, external drive

There once was a time, when dinosaurs like Compaq ruled the earth, when there was only one choice for the true enthusiast when buying a CD burner.  Plextor was by far the most reliable choice in a time when CDs were more sensitive to external vibrations than a fine souffle. Things have changed a great deal since then and the looks you get when you ask how many sheep your burner has can be quite amusing.   This has left Plextor looking for alternative revenue sources and the area they have chosen is NAS devices.  The new Plextor PX-NAS4 has impressive stats but it is competing against heavy hitters like Drobo.  Think Computer tries out this ~$400 NAS device and contrasts its features and controls with similarly priced competitors offerings in their latest storage review.

 

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"Plextor introduced the PX-NAS4 quad-bay network attached storage device late last year to augment its PX-NAS2 dual-bay device and break into a market with larger storage needs. The dual gigabit Ethernet PX-NAS4 can house up to 8 TB of storage in several RAID configurations and sports volume encryption and low power consumption among other standard enterprise and business features. ThinkComputers takes a look, and finds that while the PX-NAS4 provides the basic features, it leaves something to be desired for users with more. Read on for the review."

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Storage

OCZ's 240GB Agility 3 SATA 6G drive; can asynchronous flash bring down the price only?

Subject: Storage | June 1, 2011 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: ssd, ocz, agility 3, asynchronous flash

In case you missed it in the rotation at the top, Al has wrapped up his review of the Agility 3 SSD, which utilizes less expensive asynchronous flash memory to bring the MSRP down and hopefully leaves the performance at the same level.  Slow is a relative term when you describe SSDs, even one ranked at the bottom of the performance charts will give you better performance than a platter based hard drive.  Al does answer the performance question in the review, unfortunately no one can answer the pricing question yet.  If these sell like previous models have, retailers will be able to charge whatever they feel like if the supply cannot keep up.

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"While the switch to asynchronous flash memory makes the Agility 3 cheaper to produce and therefore sell, the performance dynamic can shift in either direction, varying with what you plan to do with the drive. Many users saw the same type of thing back with the Agility 2 / Vertex 2, and some users actually preferred the cheaper drive performance wise. We may see the same thing here once users (and us) get some actual seat-of-the-pants time logged with it."

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Storage

RevoDrive 3 and Hybrid Highlight OCZ Showcase at Computex

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | June 1, 2011 - 08:37 AM |
Tagged: ssd, revodrive, ocz, hybrid, computex

OCZ is definitely pushing its SSD products to the consumer and it was no different when we stopped by the OCZ suite at Computex 2011.  The most interesting devices came in the form of PCI Express based SSDs including the pending RevoDrive 3 model that upgrades the SSD controllers to SandForce 2200 models and gets some pretty hefty performance boosts because of it.

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The RevoDrive 3 includes a pair of SF-2200 controllers and was rated at 900 MB/s read and 700 MB/s write using the PCIe x4 interface.  The 240GB model is apparently only going to have a $599 price tag and it should be available in a matter of a short few weeks.  The X2 model adds another module to the mix and doubles the controller count to four and improves performance to as high as 1500 MB/s read and 1200 MB/s write.  Obviously these types of devices are only for those that REALLY need to push the envelope in storage performance.

Also, more good news: OCZ has implemented a newer firmware feature on the RevoDrive 3 (and other newer PCIe based models) that will enable support for features like TRIM natively.  This is done by hiding the multiple controllers from the operating system and passing on / delegating the TRIM commands as needed.  Allyn will have more on this when we get a sample later this month.  

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Another new PCIe-based SSD was the new Z-Drive R4 that fits more into the enterprise market with insanely high IOPS and performance. 

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OCZ actually showed a server running a pair of the R4 88 models that were able to achieve a 1 million IOPS rating on random 4K. 

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Another option for consumers was the new RevoDrive Hybrid that is exactly what it sounds like it is - a combination of a PCI Express SSD and a standard 2.5-in spindle based drive on a single unit.  This will bring the performance benefits of not only an SSD but a PCIE SSD to consumers that want to have the appearance of a single large hard drive inside their system.  It will use SandForce SF-2200 controllers and is rated at 575 MB/s read and 500 MB/s writes with several models planned for production.  The SSD portion that acts as the cache will be available in either 60GB of 120GB capacities while the HDD will start at 500GB and go up from there.  Pricing will apparently start at $400 for the 60GB/500GB version and will definitely be appealing for enthusiasts.  Now everyone can get the advantages of hybrid storage without being locked into the Z68 chipset or even an Intel platform at all. 

This implementation does not use any kind of Intel technology at all and instead is based on a firmware option from NVELO called Dataplex.  Based on the marketing numbers we saw the implementation that OCZ has created with the PCIe-based SSD will outperform Intel's SATA-based SRT technology by a noticeable margin, at least in benchmarks.  We can't wait to get our hands on one to see for ourselves. 

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Finally, OCZ is going to throw their hat into the ring with the mSATA offering called the Devena 2 that runs on a SandForce SF-2181/2141 controller.  Expect to see this marketed as an option even for Intel SRT.  It looks like the rest of 2011 will be very busy for Allyn and our storage test bed.

Computex 2011 Coverage brought to you by MSI Computer and Antec

Source: OCZ