Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Just under a year ago we published our review of the Samsung 950 PRO, their first foray into NVMe SSD territory. Today we have a 960 PRO, which strives to be more revolutionary than evolutionary. There are some neat new features like 16-die packages and a Package-on-Package controller/DRAM design, all cooled by a copper heat spreading label! This new model promises to achieve some very impressive results, so without further delay, let's get to it!
Specs have not changed since the announcement. Highlights include
- A new 5-core Polaris controller (with one die solely dedicated to coordinating IO's to/from the host)
- 4-Landing Design - It's tough fitting four flash packages onto an M.2 2280 SSD, but Samsung has done it, thanks to the below feature.
- Package-on-Package - The controller and DRAM are stacked within the same package, saving space.
- Hexadecimal Die Packages - For the 960 Pro to reach 2TB of capacity, 16 48-layer MLC V-NAND packages must be present within each package. That's a lot of dies per package!
Nice touch with the felt pad on the bottom of the installation guide. This pad keeps the 960 Pro safely in place during shipment.
Subject: Storage | October 14, 2016 - 08:05 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: XPoint, Optane, 8000p, Intel
Intel and Micron jointly launched XPoint technology over a year ago, and we've been waiting to see any additional info ever since. We saw Micron demo a prototype at FMS 2016, and we also saw the actual prototype. Intel's last demo was not so great, later demos were better), and we saw a roadmap leaked a few months ago. Thanks to another leak, we now have specs for one of Intel's first Optane products:
Now I know there is a bunch of rambling around the net already. "Why so small?!?!". What I think we are looking at is Stony Beach - Intel's 'Application Accelerator" seen here:
What further backs this theory is that you'll note the PCIe 3.0 x2 link of that product in the above roadmap, which couples nicely with the upper end limits seen in the 32GB product, which is clearly hitting a bandwidth limit at 1.6 GB/s, which is the typical max seen on a x2 PCIe 3.0 link.
Now with the capacity thing aside, there is another important thing to bring up. First gen XPoint dies are 128 Gbit, which works out to 16 GB. That means the product specs for the 16GB part are turning in those specs *WITH ONE DIE*. NAND based SSDs can only reach these sorts of figures by spreading the IO's across four, eight, or more dies operating in parallel. This is just one die, and it is nearly saturating two lanes of PCIe 3.0!
Another cool thing to note is that we don't typically get to know how well a single die of anything will perform. We always have to extrapolate backwards from the smaller capacities of SSDs, where the dies are the bottleneck instead of the interface to the host. Here we have the specs of one die of a product. Imagine what could be done with even wider interfaces and more dies!
XPoint fills the still relatively large performance gap between RAM and NAND, and does so while being non-volatile. There are good things on the horizon to be enabled by this technology, even if we first see it in smaller capacity products.
Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 01:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ssd, Blue, 1TB, marvell 1074
Al is hard at work benchmarking the new Western Digital SSDs and you should expect to see his full in depth review in the near future but for those who need immediate gratification here is Hardware Canucks review. The 1TB WD Blue uses a Marvell 1074 controller, a full gigabyte of cache provided by a pair of Micron 512MB DDR3 chips and 15nm TLC that should survive 400TB of writes and is warrantied for three years. Western Digital and SanDisk DNA meet for the first time in a consumer SSD, check out how it fares against the competition right here.
"Western Digital, once known for their hard drives alone, is now wading in the SSD market with two new series. In this review, we take the new Blue 1TB SSD out for a spin."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Toshiba OCZ VX500 SSD @ OCC
- ICY DOCK Black Vortex Quad-Bay USB 3.0 & eSATA External 3.5" SATA HDD Enclosure Review @ NikKTech
- Asustor AS6204T 4-bay NAS @ Kitguru
- Kingston Action Camera microSD @ Benchmark Reviews
- iStorage datAshur PRO 8GB Secure Flash Drive @ Kitguru
Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 11:50 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, ssd, Green, Blue
It has been over 6 years since we saw an SSD come out of Western Digital, but we suspected some new ones may be coming after their recent acquisition of SanDisk. That say has come, and today we have two new SSD models announced by WD:
These new SSDs naturally borrow SanDisk 15nm TLC flash but drive that flash with aftermarket controllers. The Blue employs a Marvell 88SS1074 controller while the Green will use a Silicon Motion SM2256S. The Blue will have the typical SATA 6Gbps saturating specs seen in modern SSDs, while the Green will be derated a bit. Detailed specifications are below:
- Form Factors: 2.5¨/7mm cased, M.2 2280
- Endurance (Blue):
- 250GB: 100 TBW
- 500GB: 200 TBW
- 1TB: 400 TBW
- Power (Blue):
- Slumber: 42mW-52mW
- DEVSLP: 4.9mW-9.7mW
- Average Active Power: 70mW
- Warranty (Blue and Green): 3 years
The WD Green will be more budget minded and is to be offered in only a 120GB and 240GB form factor, with reduced endurance ratings of 40 TBW and 80 TBW, respectively.
Pricing (for the WD Blue SSD):
- 250 GB $79.99
- 500 GB $139.99
- 1TB $299.99
The WD Green SSD will be available 'later this quarter', and we do not yet have pricing for that model, but it should come in at a lower cost than the Blue prices above. We have a Blue model in for testing and should see how it fares on our new storage suite later this week.
Subject: Storage | October 11, 2016 - 10:22 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, my passport, my book
Western Digital has refreshed their My Passport and My Book lines with a new industrial design:
The My Passport line (pictured above) features a new design and colors. Capacities now extend all the way up to 4TB. Prices:
- 1 TB $79.99
- 2 TB $109.99
- 3 TB $149.99
- 4 TB $159.99
These feature password protection and AES-256 hardware encryption. There is also a 'My Passport for Mac' model which parallels the above series but comes pre-formated for use with a Mac. Amazing that they are now fitting 4TB of capacity into a 2.5" enclosure.
Also up is a redesign of the My Book. This bookshelf style drive is now a chunkier version of the My Passport products mentioned earlier. Thanks to Helium-filled HGST HelioSeal technology recently acquired by Western Digital, capacities now extend up to 8TB on this line. Prices follow:
- 3 TB $129.99
- 4 TB $149.99
- 6 TB $229.99
- 8 TB $299.99
I like the more squared off design, especially for the My Book, as it should make them more stable and less likely to be tipped over by accidental bumps. These also support hardware encryption. All models of both the My Book and My Passport come with a 2-year limited warranty as well as backup software to help ease the process of automating your backups.
Introduction and Packaging
The Drobo 5D launched a few years ago and continues to be a pricey solution, running close to $600. This was due to added complexity with its mSATA hot data cache and other features that drove the price higher than some potential buyers were happy with. Sure the cache was nice, but many photographers and videographers edit their content on a faster internal SSD and only shift their media to their external storage in bulk sequential file copies. These users don’t necessarily need a caching tier built into their mass storage device - as they just want good straight-line speed to offload their data as fast as possible.
With new management and a renewed purpose with a focus on getting lower cost yet performant products out there, Drobo relaunched their base 4-bay product in a third-generation form. We tested that unit back in December of 2014, and its performance was outstanding for a unit that typically runs in the mid-$200 price range. The price and performance were great, but things were a bit tight when trying to use Dual Disk Redundancy while limited to only four installed drives. A fifth bay would have certainly been handy, as would USB-C connectivity, which brings me to the subject of today’s review:
I present to you the Drobo 5C. Essentially a 5-bay replacement to the 4-bay 3rd gen Drobo. This will become the new base model Drobo, meaning there will no longer be any 4-bay models in Drobo's product lineup:
Subject: Storage | October 5, 2016 - 07:57 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, mozilla, google, firefox, endurance, chrome
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a post pop up on Twitter a few times about Firefox performing excessive writes to SSDs, which total up to 32GBs in a single day. The author attributes it mostly to a fast-updating session restore feature, although cookies were also resource hogs in their findings. In an update, they also tested Google Chrome, which, itself, clocked in over 24GB of writes in a day.
This, of course, seemed weird to me. I would have thought that at least one browser vendor might notice an issue like this. Still, I passed the link to Allyn because he would be much more capable in terms of being able to replicate these results. In our internal chat at the time, he was less skeptical than I was. I've since followed up with him, and he said that his initial results “wasn't nearly as bad as their case”. He'll apparently elaborate on tonight's podcast, and I'll update this post with his findings.
Subject: Storage | October 4, 2016 - 08:30 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: usb 3.0, Type-C, Type-A, hdd, External, Drobo 5C, drobo, DAS, 5-bay
We looked at the third-gen 4-bay Drobo over a year back, and while the performance and price were great, it was held back by its limited number of drive bays. Drobo fixed that today:
The new Drobo 5C is basically an evolution of the 4-bay model. Performance is similar, which justifies the choice to stick with USB 3.0 (5 Gbit), but we now have a Type-C port on the Drobo side (a Type-C to Type-A cable is included to cover most potential users). The added bay helps users increase potential capacity or alternatively select BeyondRAID's Dual Drive Redundancy mode without as much of an ultimate capacity hit compared to its 4-bay predecessor.
The Drobo 5C supersedes the old 4-bay unit in their lineup.
The new Drobo 5C is available today for $349, with drive package deals offered direct from Drobo. Drobo is also offering a limited-time $50 discount to 2nd and 3rd gen 4-bay Drobo owners (valid until 11 Oct 2016). I have confirmed here that a disk pack from a 4-bay model can be moved directly to the new 5-bay model with no issue.
We have a full review of the Drobo 5C coming, but we have a few questions out to them that need answering before our article goes live.
Subject: Storage | October 3, 2016 - 05:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: kingston, ssdnow KC400, Phison PS3110-S10, mlc, sata ssd
Kitguru has another Phison PS3110-S10 based SSD up for review, the Kingston SSDNow KC400 512GB SATA SSD. This drive is heavily packaged compared to others, with sixteen 32GB 15nm MLC NAND packages and a 256MB DDR3L-1600 paired with the eight channel controller. The drive is marketed at businesses and with an 800TB lifetime, 450GB of writes everyday for the five year warranty as well as SmartECC and SmartRefresh it would fit that bill. Consumers and businesses alike will appreciate the sequential read/write performance of 550MB/s and 530MB/s. Overall it is another drive that fits into the existing pack of drives and is worth your consideration, especially if you have need of its error correction features. Read the full review for more information.
"Kingston’s SSDNow KC400 family is part of the company’s business-oriented SSD product line which features end-to-end data path protection, technologies to protect data in the NAND and guard against read errors, as well as good endurance."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Crucial MX300 2TB @ eTeknix
- Plextor M8PeG 256GB M.2 NVMe @ eTeknix
- QNAP TS-451A-4G 4-bay NAS @ Kitguru
- Drobo 5N 5-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive 2TB USB 3.0 Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | September 27, 2016 - 05:51 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: toshiba, tlc, TL100, ssd, sata, ocz, 2.5
Toshiba launched the OCZ TL100 series today:
These are TLC SSDs aimed at the budget sector. They are using the ever more common SLC cached TLC hybrid configuration, and come in at bargain basement pricing. Here are the specs:
- Capacity: 120 / 240 GB
- Sequential read / write: 550 / 530 MB/s
- Random read / write: 85k / 80k IOPS
- Warranty: 3 years with advance replacement
- Endurance (120/240GB): 30 / 60 TBW (27 / 54 GB/day)
- 120GB: $45 ($0.38/GB)
- 240GB: $68 ($0.28/GB)
Yes, that's $0.28/GB and a 240GB SSD at less than $70 bucks. The endurance is on the low side, but if these perform even half way decently, they will be a great low-cost way to go for most budget PC builds. We'll be testing these shortly on a new suite of tests with workloads that have been specifically optimized to more closely resemble real usage. These tests allow hybrid SSDs to use their SLC cache as opposed to flooding the drives with IO and forcing TLC writes. Don't be surprised if these perform surprisingly well for their cost. No guarantees as we haven't tested them yet, but we will soon!