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.
Delivering on the Promise of Thunderbolt 3
Despite the greatly increased adoption of Thunderbolt 3 over the previous 2 Thunderbolt standards, the market is still lacking actual devices that take advantage of the full 40Gbps bandwidth that Thunderbolt 3 offers.
External storage seems like a natural use of this PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface available with the Thunderbolt 3 standard, but storage devices that take advantage of this are few and far between. Most of the devices in the market currently are merely bridges for SATA M.2 drives to Thunderbolt 3, which would be limited by the SATA 6Gb/s interface.
However, this market gap seems poised to change. Today, we are taking a look at the TEKQ Rapide Thunderbolt 3 Portable SSD, which advertises sequential transfer speeds up to 2.3 GB/s Read and 1.3 GB/s Write.
Subject: Storage | February 21, 2018 - 05:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
The SSD Review has posted a general guide on SSDs and how to ensure you pick the right one. There are a huge variety of SSDs on the market now, from the original 2.5" SATA drives straight through to M.2 NVMe gum sticks. Their guide will ensure you know the importance of matching your motherboard to an SSD, to ensure compatibility and performance as well as covering software and firmware updates. For the more experience, they also delve into the various UEFI/BIOS settings you should look at to balance performance, stability and possibly battery life. It is a bit of a long read but worth it if you are feeling confused.
"This report will be chronological, explaining what needs to be considered in your build including motherboard, SSD selection and installation, UEFI/BIOS settings, OS installation, and finally, SSD optimizations that should be considered."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung SSD 860 PRO @ Benchmark Reviews
- Samsung 860 EVO M.2 @ SSD Review
- Samsung SSD 860 EVO @ Benchmark Reviews
- ADATA SX950 @ Modders-Inc
- ADATA Gammix S10 m.2 @ Benchmark Reviews
- ADATA Gammix S10 512 GB @ TechPowerUp
- ADATA XPG Gammix S10 M.2 NVMe @ The SSD Review
- Crucial MX500 500GB SSD @ NikKTech
- MyDigitalSSD SBX M.2 NVMe @ The SSD Review
- A Look At Samsung’s Ultra Small, Ultra Fast & Ultra Portable SSD T5 500GB @ Techgage
- SilverStone ECM22 M.2 to PCIe Expansion Card Review @ Hardware Asylum
- Western Digital My Passport Wireless @ The SSD Review
- ICY DOCK ICYRaid Dual Bay 3.5" USB 3.0 External RAID Enclosure Review @ NikKTech
- SilverStone TS12C Dual Drive Docking Station @ Benchmark Reviews
- Synology DiskStation DS218j 2-bay NAS @ Kitguru
Subject: Storage | February 8, 2018 - 08:04 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: UFS, Samsung, eUFS, embedded, automotive, adas, 256GB
Samsung announced yesterday that it has begun mass production of 256 GB eUFS (Embedded Universal Flash Storage) flash storage for embedded automotive applications. Doubling the capacity of the 128GB eUFS flash it announced last fall, the new embedded flash conforms to the newer JEDEC eUFS 3.0 standard including the new temperature monitoring and thermal throttling safety features which Samsung reportedly had a hand in developing. The new embedded storage is aimed at smart vehicles for use in driver assistance features (ADAS), infotainment systems, and next-generation dashboards.
The new eUFS 3.0 compliant flash is notable for featuring increased temperature ranges of between -40°C and 105°C for both operational and idle/power saving modes which makes it much better suited for use in vehicles where temperature extremes can be reach both from extreme weather and engine heat. Samsung compares its eUFS flash with traditional eMMC 5.1 storage which has a temperature range of only -25°C to 85°C when in use and -40°C to 85°C when in power saving mode.
Samsung’s eUFS can hit sequential read speeds of up to 850 MB/s and random read performance of up to 45,000 IOPS. Samsung did not specify write performance numbers but based on its other eUFS flash sequential and random writes should be in the neighborhood of 250 MB/s and 40,000 IOPS respectively. According to Samsung in its press material for 512GB eUFS for smartphones, the 256GB eUFS for the automotive market is composed of 8 stacks of 48-layer 256Gb V-NAND and a controller all packaged together to hit the 256GB storage capacity. Samsung has included a temperature sensor in the flash along with the ability for the controller to notify the host AP (application processor) at any pre-set temperature thresholds to enable the AP to downclock to lower power and heat to acceptable levels. The temperature monitoring hardware is intended to help protect the heat sensitive NAND flash from extreme temperatures to improve data reliability and longevity. The eUFS flash also features a “data refresh” feature that improves long term performance by relocating older data to less-often used cells. Embedded Universal Flash Storage (eUFS) is interesting compared to eMMC for more than temperatures though as it uses a dual channel LVDS serial interface that allows it to operate in full duplex mode rather than the half duplex mode of eMMC with its x8 parallel interface. This means that eUFS can be read and written to simultaneously and with the addition of command queueing, the controller is able to efficiently execute and prioritize read/write operations and perform error correction without involving the host processor and software.
I am looking forward to the advancements in eUFS storage and its use in more performant mobile devices and vehicles, especially on the low end in tablets and notebooks where eMMC is currently popular.
Subject: Storage | February 7, 2018 - 10:03 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tlc, SK Hynix, enterprise ssd, 72-layer tlc, 3d-v4, 3d nand
SK Hynix has revealed its new enterprise solid state drives based on 72-layer 512 Gb 3D TLC NAND flash dies paired with the company's own in-house controller and firmware. The SK Hynix eSSDs are available in a traditional SAS/SATA interfacing product with capacities up to 4TB and a PCI-E variant that comes in 'above 1TB." Both drive types are reportedly being sampled to datacenter customers in the US.
SK Hynix has managed to double the capacity and improve the read latency of its new 512 Gb 72-layer NAND flash over its previous 256 Gb 72-layer flash which debuted last year. The eSSD product reportedly hits sequential read and write speeds of 560 MB/s and 515 MB/s respectively. Interestingly, while random read IOPS hit 98,000, random write performance is significantly lower at 32,000 IOPS. SK Hynix did not go into details, but I suspect this has to do with the tuning they did to improve read latency and the nature of the 72-layer stacked TLC flash.
Moving up to the PCI-E interfacing eSSD, customers can expect greater than 1TB capacities (SK Hynix did not specify the maximum capacity they will offer) with sequential reads hitting up to 2,700 MB/s and sequential writes hitting 1,100 MB/s. The random performance is similar to the above eSSD with write performance being much lower than read performance at 230K read IOPS and 35K write IOPS maximum. The greatly limited write performance may be the result of the drive not having enough flash channels or the flash itself not being fast enough at writes which was a tradeoff SK Hynix had to make to hit the capacity targets with larger capacity 512 Gb (64 GB) dies.
Unfortunately, SK Hynix has not yet provided further details on its new eSSDs or the 3D-V4 TLC NAND it is using in the new drives. SK Hynix continuing to push into the enterprise storage market with its own SSDs is an interesting play that should encourage them push for advancements and production efficiencies to advance NAND flash technology.
- SK Hynix Launches Its 8Gb GDDR6 Memory Running at 14 Gbps
- SK Hynix has huge stacks of NAND
- Samsung and SK Hynix Discuss The Future of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) At Hot Chips 28
Subject: Storage | February 5, 2018 - 11:54 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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|
|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?
Subject: Storage | February 2, 2018 - 03:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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:
- Team Group Cardea Zero 240 GB @ TechPowerUp
- ASRock Ultra Quad M.2 Card @ The SSD Review
- ADATA XPG SX8000 512 GB @ TechPowerUp
- Tekq Rapide TB3 Portable SSD @ The SSD Review
- Seagate Skyhawk 10TB SATA III HDD Review @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 1, 2018 - 03:07 AM | Tim Verry
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'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.
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.
- Seagate BarraCuda Pro 10TB Review - Massive Helium Client HDD
- FMS 2016: Seagate Demos Facebook Lightning, 60TB 3.5" SSD!
- Seagate Duet Hard Drive Keeps Your Cloud Close, Syncs Files With Amazon Drive
- CERN Data Centre passes the 200-petabyte milestone
Subject: Storage | January 31, 2018 - 08:39 PM | Tim Verry
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.
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.