Author:
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD Review

Western Digital today is launching the latest version of its Black-series NVMe SSDs. Like its predecessor, the WD Black SN750 is targeted at gamers, introducing a new "Gaming Mode" that tunes the drive to favor performance over power efficiency.

The drive will be available in two variants — one including a heatsink and one without — in capacities up to 2TB. Western Digital worked with cooling experts EK to design the heatsink.

wd-black-sn750-heatsink-compare.jpg

We had a brief time to review the 1TB non-heatsink model and have some initial performance results to share.

Read on for our review of the WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD.

Phison Previews PCIe Gen4 x4 NVMe with PS5016-E16 Controller

Subject: Storage | January 11, 2019 - 09:36 AM |
Tagged: ssd controller, ssd, solid state drive, PS5016-E16, phison, PCIe Gen4, PCI Express 4.0, NVMe

One of the areas that can see an immediate impact from PCI Express Gen 4 which will first arrive with AMD’s upcoming Ryzen desktop processors is storage, and to that end Phison is not waiting around to show just what we can expect from the first generation of PCIe Gen4 SSDs.

Phison_PS5016_E16_CB.jpg

Phison PS5016-E16 performance slide (image credit: ComputerBase)

The company’s PS5016-E16 controller was on display at CES in a prototype device, and is powered by a quad-core solution combining two ARM cores with a pair of proprietary CO-X processor cores from Phison. Basic specs from Phison include:

  • PCIe Gen4 x4 NVMe
  • 8 Channels with 32 CEs
  • NAND interface: 800 MT/s support
  • DDR4 interface: 1600 Mb/s support
  • 3D TLC and QLC support
  • Designed with Phison’s 4th Gen LDPC Engine

phison_ps5016_e16_prototype_LR.jpg

Phison PS5016-E16 prototype device (image credit: Legit Reviews)

As to performance, Phison lists sequentials of 4000 MB/s reads and 4100 MB/s writes, while providing a graphic showing CrystalDiskMark results slightly exceeding these numbers. How can Phison exceed the potential of PCIe Gen3 x4 with this early demo? As reported by Legit Reviews Phison is using a Gen4HOST add-in card from PLDA, which “uses a PCIe 3.0 x16 (upstream) to PCIe 4.0 x8 (downstream) integration backplane for development and validation of PCIe 4.0 endpoints”.

phison_ps5016_e16_system_LR.jpg

Phison PS5016-E16 demo system in action (image credit: Legit Reviews)

The Phison PCIe Gen4 x4 NVMe controller is expected to hit the consumer market by Q3 2019.

Source: ComputerBase

Mushkin's CES extravaganza

Subject: Storage | January 10, 2019 - 02:16 PM |
Tagged: Mushkin, ces 2019, carbon x100, Source 2, carbon z100, helix-l, pilot-e, M.2, thunderbolt

Mushkin launched a number of new storage products at CES and they passed on a bit of information on them for you to peruse.

pilot2.PNG

Pilot-E - M.2 2280 PCIe SSD
Featuring Silicon Motions SM2262EN Controller and Mushkin’s M.E.D.S. the Pilot-E brings high performance with low power consumption to Mushkin’s 2019 product line-up. Offering PCIe x4 NVMe 1.3, twice the capacity*, and 30%* more performance of its previous generation.

  • Built-in LDPC ECC provides the most-powerful data correction level in use today
  • End-to-end data path protection
  • Data shaping means greater endurance
  • StaticDataRefresh ensures data integrity
  • Global wear-leveling evens program/erase counts across data blocks to extend lifespan

HELIX-L_4.jpg

Helix-L - M.2 2280 PCIe SSD
Equipped with the Silicon Motion SM2263XT and cutting-edge 96-layer micron 3D TLC NAND your computer will have the power and responsiveness to help your productivity soar. Experience amazing gaming performance, seamlessly edit and share 360 video, and enjoy fantastic 4K Ultra HD entertainment– all with the lightning fast data transfers.

You will benefit from the same security and longevity as with the Pilot-E series.

SOURCE_2_2.PNG

Source 2 – 2.5” SATA III SSD
Designed using Silicon Motion's SM2259 controller and 96-layer 3D TLC NAND, the Source 2 holds nothing back.

Carbon_X100_3.jpg

Carbon X100 – External USB 3.1 Gen2 SSD
The Carbon X100 will transform the way you game and streamlines storage intensive workflows. Get stunning sequential read/write speeds of 1,000/1,000 MB/s, up to 500% faster writes than a standard USB 3.0 flash drive.  Compatible with PC and Mac right out-of-the-box, also XBOX and PS4 Compatible, Type-C to Type-A cable included.

Carbon_Z100_3.jpg

Carbon Z100 – External Thunderbolt SSD
Equipped with Thunderbolt 3 and an all-aluminum enclosure, the Carbon Z100 with Thunderbolt 3 is perfect for the vital high-performance photo and video editing applications your work requires.

New Line of AMD Ryzen compatible OC Memory Modules.
There is also a new series of Mushkin Redline DIMM kits specifically for that new Ryzen chip you are eyeing.

Source:

New and improved secure portable iStorage drives

Subject: Storage | January 2, 2019 - 06:07 PM |
Tagged: iStorage, external ssd, diskAshur Pro2

It was back in November when we linked to a review of iStorage's secure portable HDD, which offers serious data protection for those who have 14TB of data to cart around.  Recently they launched a similar product, for those who don't have the time to sit and watch rust spin.  The diskAshur Pro2 replaces the 12TB HDD with an SSD between 128GB and in 4TB in size, or a HDD between 500GB and 5TB if you need to trim your costs a bit. 

The Pro2 model offers all of the security and protective features of the DT2 HDD model; sadly the self-destruct mechanism does not include actual destructionDrop by OCC to see if it lives up to it's advertised speed.

2.jpg

"Well, iStorage has something that can keep your data secure. How secure? How about Real-Time Military Grade AES-XTS 256-bit Full-Disk Hardware Encryption secure? Okay, maybe not everyone needs that level of security, but if you do, then the iStorage diskAsure Pro2 can do the job."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: DeepSpar

Introduction

DeepSpar is the big name in data recovery, making all sorts of data recovery hardware used by many of the big data recovery warehouses. They've recently ventured into getting their recovery hardware into the hands of smaller operations. A couple of years back, they launched the RapidSpar (reviewed here), which offered a nice little package that enabled smaller shops and small businesses to bring a fair chunk of their data recovery operations in-house. While these tools could also be used for data forensics, that's a 'different crowd' really. Forensic operations want to just be able to plug a drive into a write blocker and hit GO on their imaging software. Write blockers are hardware devices that prevent any write requests from ever reaching the storage device, which lets the forensic shop later prove to the court (if needed) that the evidence (source drive) has not been tampered with. Historically, write-blocking hardware has not implemented data recovery functionality, meaning that a drive that times out with read errors would do the same thing when connected via a write blocker. This equates to added headaches for the data forensics guys that are just trying to get their drives imaged and get on with their cases (digging through the image looking for evidence of system compromise, illegal activity, etc). A few hard drive errors throwing a big wrench into the drive imaging process should be a solvable problem, and DeepSpar has stepped in to take a crack at just that:

181217-171214.jpg

Enter the Guardonix. This simple little box sits inline, between the capture PC and the USB device (flash drive, HDD in a USB dock, etc). It naturally performs the typical write blocking functionality expected from the device, but it throws in a round of data recovery functionality as well. Let's look at the simple software interface to help explain further:

2018-12-04-09-42-08.png

Connecting the device to the system the first time mounts a small volume containing software to get up and running. The app handles firmware and driver updates within its own interface, making things simple. DeepSpar recommends using the Asmedia USB3 controller on your system board for best possible compatibility, with the vendor driver installed (don't use the Microsoft InBox driver - download the USB 3 controller driver from your motherboard/laptop vendor). The same Asmedia controller recommendation applies to the use of a USB 3 dock connected to the Guardonix - Asmedia controllers best support the necessary device resets necessary for the data recovery tricks it is capable of.

2018-12-04-16-05-12.png

Once up and running, there is a series of configuration and data recovery options available. Logging options are extensive and necessary for inclusion in forensic reports. The 'PRO' settings (added cost) enable greater control of read timeouts, allow file system mounting, and enable some cool tricks like the ability to fake write attempts instead of replying with 'write denied' errors.

2018-12-04-16-15-50.png

Above is a typical setup showing the whole operation in action. I'm using a simple data recovery app instead of ($$$) dedicated forensic software, but the principles are the same.

2018-12-04-16-09-22.png

Here's a look at the Guardonix output while pushing through a drive containing read errors. Note that once past the errors, we see full speed of the source drive (a 2.5" SATA HDD in this case). The configurable timeouts are 1.25 (short), 4 (medium), and 10 (long) seconds. If the drive fails to come back after each reset attempt, the Guardonix is able to repower the drive a few seconds later. The error handling is definitely robust. I was able to go as far as to remove and reinsert the drive from the dock during imaging, and it just picked right back up from where it left off. Here's the Guardonix demo video:

Pricing and conclusion:

The base Guardonix goes for $320 at the time of this writing, with the PRO add-on features tacking on another $470. This may seem steep, but compared to other write-blocking hardware I've seen in the past, it's about average, with the PRO add-on tacking on some data recovery options capabilities not normally possible with simpler write blockers. So long as you are ok with only USB and docked SATA connectivity, that $470 is actually a good deal compared to the pricier RapidSpar (but not nearly as feature-packed).

*edit* Prices adjusted slightly after publishing. Article updated to reflect current prices.

PCPerEditorsChoicePNG-300.png

Overall this is good stuff from DeepSpar. I'm glad to see them venturing into the forensics space, as that arena could stand to benefit from less frustration during their imaging operations. I know it would have saved me a bunch of time and headaches back when I was dealing with data forensics!

STH Goes Under the Heat Spreader with Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory

Subject: Storage | December 20, 2018 - 10:34 AM |
Tagged: storage, ram, Optane DC Persistent Memory, Optane, micron, memory, Intel, Hynix, flash, ddr4, 3D XPoint

ServeTheHome got up close and personal with Optane DC Persistent Memory in an article posted yesterday, removing the heat spreaders and taking a look at (and several photos of) the components within.

Intel-Optane-v-DDR4-DIMM-Underneath-Controller-Side.jpg

Intel Optane Persistent Memory DDR4 module, front view (via ServeTheHome)

"We are going to take a 128GB Intel Optane Persistent Memory DDR4 module, and open it up. Until now, Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory has mostly been photographed with its big black heat spreader. We ended up with a handful of modules not from Intel, nor a system provider, but a handful to use."

Among their notes we have this interesting find, as SK.Hynix is the provider of the module's DRAM, rather than Micron:

"On the other side of the module from the Optane controller is a DDR4 DRAM module, this one from SK.Hynix. Model number H5AN4G8NAFR-TFC. We are not sure why Intel would not use a Micron module here since Micron has been the manufacturing partner for 3D XPoint thus far."

Intel-Optane-v-DDR4-DIMM-Underneath-Controller-Side-2.jpg

Intel Optane Persistent Memory DDR4 module, rear view (via ServeTheHome)

The full article is available here from STH and includes an embed of this video covering their de-lidding and chip exploration process:

Source: ServeTheHome
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Crucial

Introduction

Once we saw Intel launch QLC flash installed in their recent 660p M.2 part, I had a feeling that Micron would not be far behind, and that feeling has been confirmed with the launch of the Crucial P1 M.2 SSDs:

181129-144634.jpg

Both the 500GB and 1TB models are single sided. The 2TB (not yet released) will likely have packages installed at the rear.

181129-144503.jpg

No surprises with the packaging. Does the job just fine.

specs.png

Specs are also reasonably standard for an NVMe SSD at this point, though we do see a bit more of a falloff at the lower capacities here. This is partially due to the use of QLC flash, even though these specs are likely assuming full use of the available SLC cache. Since QLC allows for higher capacity per die, that translates to fewer dies for a given SSD total capacity, which lowers overall performance even at SLC speeds. This is a common trait/tradeoff for the use of higher capacity dies.

Read on for our review of the Crucial P1!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction

For years we have been repeatedly teased by Samsung. Launch after successful launch in the consumer SSD space, topping performance charts nearly every time, but what about enterprise? Oh sure, there were plenty of launches on that side, with the company showing off higher and higher capacity 2.5" enterprise SSDs year after year, but nobody could ever get their hands on one, and even the higher tier reviewers could not confirm Samsung's performance claims. While other SSD makers would privately show me performance comparison data showing some Samsung enterprise part walking all over their own enterprise parts, there was not much concern in their voices since only a small group of companies had the luxury of being on Samsung's short list of clients that could purchase these products. Announcements of potentially groundbreaking products like the Z-SSD were soured by press folk growing jaded by unobtanium products that would likely never be seen by the public.

181207-183150.jpg

Samsung has recently taken some rather significant steps to change that tune. They held a small press event in September, where we were assured that enterprise SSD models were coming to 'the channel' (marketing speak for being available on the retail market). I was thrilled, as were some of the Samsung execs who had apparently been pushing for such a move for some time.

As a next step towards demonstrating that Samsung is dedicated to their plan, I was recently approached to test a round of their upcoming products. I accepted without hesitation, have been testing for the past week, and am happy to now bring you detailed results obtained from testing eight different SSDs across four enterprise SSD models. Testing initially began with three of the models, but then I was made aware that the Z-SSD was also available for testing, and given the potential significance of that product and its placement as a competitor to 3D XPoint products like Intel's Optane, I thought it important to include that testing as well, making this into one heck of a Samsung Enterprise SSD roundup!

One large note before we continue - this is an enterprise SSD review. Don't expect to see game launches, SYSmark runs, or boot times here. The density of the data produced by my enterprise suite precludes most easy side-by-side comparisons, so I will instead be presenting the standard full-span random and sequential results for fully conditioned drives, marking the rated specs on the charts as we go along. High-Resolution QoS will also be used throughout, as Quality of Service is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing SSDs for enterprise usage. In short, the SSDs will be tested against their own specifications, with the exception of some necessary comparisons between the Samsung Z-SSD and the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X which I will squeeze in towards the end of this very lengthy and data-dense review.

Read on for our full review of Samsung's new enterprise products!

Intel's Optane DC Persistent Memory DIMMs Push Latency Closer to DRAM

Subject: Storage | December 12, 2018 - 09:17 AM |
Tagged: ssd, Optane, Intel, DIMM, 3D XPoint

Intel's architecture day press release contains the following storage goodness mixed within all of the talk about 3D chip packaging:

Memory and Storage: Intel discussed updates on Intel® Optane™ technology and the products based upon that technology. Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory is a new product that converges memory-like performance with the data persistence and large capacity of storage. The revolutionary technology brings more data closer to the CPU for faster processing of bigger data sets like those used in AI and large databases. Its large capacity and data persistence reduces the need to make time-consuming trips to storage, which can improve workload performance. Intel Optane DC persistent memory delivers cache line (64B) reads to the CPU. On average, the average idle read latency with Optane persistent memory is expected to be about 350 nanoseconds when applications direct the read operation to Optane persistent memory, or when the requested data is not cached in DRAM. For scale, an Optane DC SSD has an average idle read latency of about 10,000 nanoseconds (10 microseconds), a remarkable improvement.2  In cases where requested data is in DRAM, either cached by the CPU’s memory controller or directed by the application, memory sub-system responsiveness is expected to be identical to DRAM (<100 nanoseconds).
 
The company also showed how SSDs based on Intel’s 1 Terabit QLC NAND die move more bulk data from HDDs to SSDs, allowing faster access to that data.

Did you catch that? 3D XPoint memory in DIMM form factor is expected to have an access latency of 350 nanoseconds! That's down from 10 microseconds of the PCIe-based Optane products like Optane Memory and the P4800X. I realize those are just numbers, and showing a nearly 30x latency improvement may be easier visually, so here:

gap-5.png

Above is an edit to my Bridging the Gap chart from the P4800X review, showing where this new tech would fall in purple. That's all we have to go on for now, but these are certainly exciting times. Consider that non-volatile storage latencies have improved by nearly 100,000x over the last decade, and are now within striking distance (less than 10x) of DRAM! Before you get too excited, realize that Optane DIMMs will be showing up in enterprise servers first, as they require specialized configurations to treat DIMM slots as persistent storage instead of DRAM. That said, I'm sure the tech will eventually trickle down to desktops in some form or fashion. If you're hungry for more details on what makes 3D XPoint tick, check out how 3D XPoint works in my prior article.

180808-191612.jpg

It's Crucial not to try two new things at once

Subject: Storage | December 7, 2018 - 03:24 PM |
Tagged: crucial, QLC, P1, 500gb, PCIe SSD, NVMe

The Crucial P1 SSD marks two firsts for the company, their first NVMe drive as well as their first SSD using QLC flash. The drive differs from Samsung's QVO in that it uses Micron's 64-layer 3D QLC flash and an SM2263 controller but still uses QLC flash, much to the dismay of The Tech Report, amongst others.  The 500GB drive currently sells for $110, which is attractive but when you look at the performance, it seems perhaps a bit expensive; which is not good.

Check it out here, or read some of our old TLC reviews if you can't stand the QLC.

drive-bare.jpg

"Powered by Micron's 3D quad-level-cell NAND, the Crucial P1 might be a herald of QLC-dominated days to come. We put Crucial's first NVMe drive through its paces to see how increasing the number of bits per cell affects performance."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage