Intel Officially Launches Optane Memory, Shows Performance

Subject: Storage | March 27, 2017 - 12:16 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, Optane Memory, Optane, M.2, Intel, cache, 3D XPoint

We are just about to hit two years since Intel and Micron jointly launched 3D XPoint, and there have certainly been a lot of stories about it since. Intel officially launched the P4800X last week, and this week they are officially launching Optane Memory. The base level information about Optane Memory is mostly unchanged, however, we do have a slide deck we are allowed to pick from to point out some of the things we can look forward to once the new tech starts hitting devices you can own.

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Alright, so this is Optane Memory in a nutshell. Put some XPoint memory on an M.2 form factor device, leverage Intel's SRT caching tech, and you get a 16GB or 32GB cache laid over your system's primary HDD.

Optane Memory-15.png

To help explain what good Optane can do for typical desktop workloads, first we need to dig into Queue Depths a bit. Above are some examples of the typical QD various desktop applications run at. This data is from direct IO trace captures of systems in actual use. Now that we've established that the majority of desktop workloads operate at very low Queue Depths (<= 4), lets see where Optane performance falls relative to other storage technologies:

Optane Memory-22.png

There's a bit to digest in this chart, but let me walk you through it. The ranges tapering off show the percentage of IOs falling at the various Queue Depths, while the green, red, and orange lines ramping up to higher IOPS (right axis) show relative SSD performance at those same Queue Depths. The key to Optane's performance benefit here is that it can ramp up to full performance at very low QD's, while the other NAND-based parts require significantly higher parallel requests to achieve full rated performance. This is what will ultimately lead to a much snappier responsiveness for, well, just about anything hitting the storage. Fun fact - there is actually a HDD on that chart. It's the yellow line that you might have mistook as the horizontal axis :).

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As you can see, we have a few integrators on board already. Official support requires a 270 series motherboard and Kaby Lake CPU, but it is possible that motherboard makers could backport the required NVMe v1.1 and Intel RST 15.5 requirements into older systems.

Optane Memory-7.png

For those curious, if caching is the only way power users will be able to go with Optane, that's not the case. Atop that pyramid there sits an 'Intel Optane SSD', which should basically be a consumer version of the P4800X. It is sure to be an incredibly fast SSD, but that performance will most definitely come at a price!

We should be testing Optane Memory shortly and will finally have some publishable results of this new tech as soon as we can!

Source: Intel

Lexar Announces Durable JumpDrives with USB 3.1

Subject: Storage | March 25, 2017 - 02:13 AM |
Tagged: Lexar, thumb drive

A new line of USB flash drives has been announced by Lexar, which focuses on both durability and USB 3.1 support (compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0). From the technical side, the Lexar JumpDrive Tough drives can read up to 150 MB/s and write up to 60 MB/s, which is obviously nowhere near SSD speed, but reasonably fast for the typical cases that you would use a thumb drive.

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As for its robustness, Lexar claims that the JumpDrive Tough will operate normally between -13F and 300F, which is just shy of the bake cookies temperature. It is also water resistant up to 98 feet.

The Lexar JumpDrive Tough will be available in 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB models for $19.99, $34.99, and $59.99, respectively. While I don’t normally consider manufacturer returns for something like this, Lexar is backing this purchase with a 3-year limited warranty, which gives some legal teeth to their claims (if anyone takes them up on it). They are available now.

Source: Lexar

Need a huge amount of reliable storage? 10TB of enterprise storage from Seagate

Subject: Storage | March 21, 2017 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, 10TB, enterprise, hdd

The Seagate Barracuda Pro 10TB Enterprise HDD won't give you the fastest access to your data, but if you have a large amount of storage in a reliable format it is worth looking at this review.  The MSRP of $444.45USD is much lower than you would pay for 10TB of SSD storage, though you might be able to set up several smaller disks in a Drobo or similar device for a similar price.  The MTBF is 2.5 million hours, the endurance rating is 550TB per year and there is a 5 year warranty so even with heavy usage you should be able to depend on this drive for quite a long time.  You can drop by NikKTech to see how it performs.

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"The Seagate Barracuda Pro 10TB hard disk drive offers good endurance levels with great performance and an even greater capacity. The Enterprise Capacity 3.5 V6 10TB model again by Seagate boosts even higher performance and endurance numbers without asking more from your wallet."

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Source: Nikktech

Intel Officially Kicks Off Optane Launch with SSD DC P4800X

Subject: Storage | March 19, 2017 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, SSD DC P4800X, Optane Memory, Optane, Intel, client, 750GB, 3D XPoint, 375GB, 1.5TB

Intel brought us out to their Folsom campus last week for some in-depth product briefings. Much of our briefing is still under embargo, but the portion that officially lifts this morning is the SSD DC P4800X:

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MSRP for the 375GB model is estimated at $1520 ($4/GB), which is rather spendy, but given that the product has shown it can effectively displace RAM in servers, we should be comparing the cost/GB with DRAM and not NAND. It should also be noted this is also nearly half the cost/GB of the X25-M at its launch. Capacities will go all the way up to 1.5TB, and U.2 form factor versions are also on the way.

For those wanting a bit more technical info, the P4800X uses a 7-channel controller, with the 375GB model having 4 dies per channel (28 total). Overprovisioning does not do for Optane what it did for NAND flash, as XPoint can be rewritten at the byte level and does not need to be programmed in (KB) pages and erased in larger (MB) blocks. The only extra space on Optane SSDs is for ECC, firmware, and a small spare area to map out any failed cells.

Those with a keen eye (and calculator) might have noted that the early TBW values only put the P4800X at 30 DWPD for a 3-year period. At the event, Intel confirmed that they anticipate the P4800X to qualify at that same 30 DWPD for a 5-year period by the time volume shipment occurs.

Read on for more about the SSD DC P4800X (and other upcoming products!)

ioSafe Launches 5-Bay Xeon-Based 'Server 5' Fireproof NAS

Subject: Storage | March 8, 2017 - 09:58 PM |
Tagged: xeon, raid, NAS, iosafe, fireproof

ioSafe, makers of excellent fireproof external storage devices and NAS units, has introduced what they call the 'Server 5':

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The Server 5 is a completely different twist for an ioSafe NAS. While previous units have essentially been a fireproof drive cage surrounding Synology NAS hardware, the Server 5 is a full blown Xeon D-1520 or D-1521 quad core HT, 16GB of DDR4, an Areca ARC-1225-8i hardware RAID controller (though only 5 ports are connected to the fireproof drive cage). ioSafe supports the Server 5 with Windows Server 2012 R2 or you can throw your preferred flavor of Linux on there. The 8-thread CPU and 16GB of RAM mean that you can have plenty of other services running straight off of this unit. It's not a particularly speedy CPU, but keep in mind that the Areca RAID card offloads all parity calculations from the host.

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Overall the Server 5 looks nearly identical to the ioSafe 1515+, but with an extra inch or two of height added to the bottom to accommodate the upgraded hardware. The Server 5 should prove to be a good way to keep local enterprise / business data protected and available immediately after a disaster. While only the hard drives will be protected in a fire, they can be popped out of the charred housing and shifted to a backup Server 5 or just migrated to another Areca-driven NAS system. For those wondering what a typical post-fire ioSafe looks like, here ya go:

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Note how clean the cage and drives are (and yes, they all still work)!

Press blast appears after the break.

Source: ioSafe

NETGEAR Issues Non-Urgent Recall of Some Enterprise Devices

Subject: Networking, Storage | March 4, 2017 - 11:57 PM |
Tagged: netgear, Intel, Avoton, recall

While this is more useful for our readers in the IT field, NETGEAR has issued a (non-urgent) recall on sixteen models of Rackmount NAS and Wireless Controller devices. It looks like the reason for this announcement is to maintain customer relations. They are planning to reach out to customers “over the next several months” to figure out a solution for them. Note the relaxed schedule.

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The affected model numbers are:

  1. RN3130
  2. RN3138
  3. WC7500 Series:
    • WC7500-10000S, WC7500-100INS, WC7500-100PRS, WB7520-10000S, WB7520-100NAS, WB7530-10000S, WB7530-100NAS
  4. WC7600 Series:
    • WC7600-20000S, WC7600-200INS, WC7600-200PRS, WB7620-10000S, WB7620-100NAS, WB7630-10000S, WB7630-100NAS

The Register noticed that each of these devices contain Intel’s Avoton-based Atom processors. You may remember our coverage from last month, which also sourced The Register, that states these chips may fail to boot over time. NETGEAR is not blaming Intel for their recall, but gave The Register a wink and a nudge when pressed: “We’re not naming the vendor but it sounds as if you’ve done your research.”

Again, while this news applies to enterprise customers and it’s entirely possible that Intel (if it actually is the Avoton long-term failure issue) is privately supporting them, it’s good to see NETGEAR being honest and upfront. Problems will arise in the tech industry; often (albeit not always) what matters more is how they are repaired.

Source: NETGEAR

SDXC SD cards come at a big premium; too bad we can't slide an M.2 SSD into our cameras

Subject: Storage | February 27, 2017 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: sdxc, sd card, patriot, lx series

You may recall a while back Allyn put together an article detailing the new types of SD cards hitting the market which will support 4K recording in cameras.  Modders Inc just wrapped up a review of one of these cards, Patriot's 256GB LX Series SDXC card with an included adapter for those who need it.  The price certainly implies it is new technology, $200 for 256GB of storage is enough to make anyone pause, so the question becomes why one would pay such a premium. Their benchmarks offer insight into this, with 83Mb/s write and 96Mb/s read in both ATTO and CrystalDisk proving that this is a far cry from the performance of older SD cards and worthy of that brand new ultra high definition camera you just picked up.  Lets us hope the prices plummet as they did with the previous generations of cards.

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"Much like Mary Poppins bag of wonders, Patriot too has a method of fitting a substantial amount of goodness in a small space with the release of their 256GB LX Series SDXC class 10 memory card. Featuring an impressive 256GB of storage and boasting this as an “ultra high speed” card for QHD video production and high resolution photos."

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Source: Modders Inc

Intel Details Optane Memory System Requirements

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 21, 2017 - 07:14 PM |
Tagged: Optane, kaby lake, Intel, 3D XPoint

Intel has announced that its Optane memory will require an Intel Kaby Lake processor to function. While previous demonstrations of the technology used an Intel Skylake processor, it appears this configuration will not be possible on the consumer versions of the technology.

Intel Optane App Accelerator.jpg

Further, the consumer application accelerator drives will also require a 200-series chipset motherboard, and either a M.2 2280-S1-B-M or M.2 2242-S1-B-M connector with two or four PCI-E lanes. Motherboards will have to support NVMe v1.1 and Intel RST (Rapid Storage Technology) 15.5 or newer.

It is not clear why Intel is locking Optane technology to Kaby Lake and whether it is due to technical limitations that they were not able to resolve to keep Skylake compatible or if it is just a matter of not wanting to support the older platform and focus on its new Kaby Lake processors. As such, Kaby Lake is now required if you want UHD Blu Ray playback and Optane 3D XPoint SSDs.

What are your thoughts on this latest bit of Optane news? Has Intel sweetened the pot enough to encourage upgrade hold outs?

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Source: Bit-Tech

Intel Quietly Launches Official Optane Memory Site

Subject: Storage | February 15, 2017 - 08:58 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, ssd, Optane, memory, Intel, cache

We've been hearing a lot about Intel's upcoming Optane memory over the past two years, but the information had all been in the form of press announcements and leaked roadmap slides.

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We now have an actual Optane landing page on the Intel site that discusses the first iteration of 'Intel Optane Memory', which appears to be the 8000p Series that we covered last October and saw as an option on some upcoming Lenovo laptops. The site does not cover the upcoming enterprise parts like the 375GB P4800X, but instead, focuses on the far smaller 16GB and 32GB 'System Accelerator' M.2 modules.

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Despite using only two lanes of PCIe 3.0, these modules turn in some impressive performance, but the capacities when using only one or two (16GB each) XPoint dies preclude an OS install. Instead, these will be used, presumably in combination with a newer form of Intel's Rapid Storage Technology driver, as a caching layer meant as an HDD accelerator:

While the random write performance and endurance of these parts blow any NAND-based SSD out of the water, the 2-lane bottleneck holds them back compared to high-end NVMe NAND SSDs, so we will likely see this first consumer iteration of Intel Optane Memory in OEM systems equipped with hard disks as their primary storage. A very quick 32GB caching layer should help speed things up considerably for the majority of typical buyers of these types of mobile and desktop systems, while still keeping the total cost below that for a decent capacity NAND SSD as primary storage. Hey, if you can't get every vendor to switch to pure SSD, at least you can speed up that spinning rust a bit, right?

Source: Intel

Crucial expands their MX300 line of SSDs all the way up to 2TB

Subject: Storage | February 14, 2017 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: tlc, slc, MX300, micron, imft, Dynamic Write Acceleration, DWA, crucial, 3DNAND, 3d nand

Last June Al took a look at the Crucial MX300 750GB and its ability to switch its cache dynamically from TLC to SLC, helping Crucial improve how they implemented this feature along the way.  It proved to be a great value for the money; not the best performing drive but among the least expensive on the market.  Crucial has since expanded the lineup and Hardware Canucks took a look at the 2TB model.  This model has more than just a larger pool of NAND, the RAM cache has been doubled up to 1GB and the dynamic cache has more space to work in as well.  Take a look at this economy sized drive in their full review.

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"Crucial's newest MX300 series continues to roll on with a new 2TB version. This SSD may be one of the best when it comes to performance, price and capacity all combined into one package."

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