Chris Ramseyer's Blog
Like passing a car crash, I have to slow down to look at the weekend deals from etailers. The weekend deals are generally a little better than the weekday deals. Every time you check out at Amazon, Newegg, Tiger Direct or for that matter just about any etailers the box is already checked to subscribe to the newsletter. If you are not a shopping junkie then you could be very quickly. The internet is a gateway drug.
I pulled this image off of the internet this morning and wanted to work it in. Let me save you an hour of your time. Buy an SSD, put the OS on it, you are done. For years we've read about optimizing Windows with little tricks that, for the most part, all reduce the load on the storage system. Windows optimization guides are pretty much dead now because one simple solution takes care of a majority of issues. Replace the slow HDD with a fast SSD and walk away.
While not in the .50c per GB category, the Samsung 840 Pro is a helluva SSD. It's not the cheapest SSD on the market but it's really fast, has excellent reliability and we rarely see them on sale. Today is your lucky day.
Two components often overlooked when building a new PC, the monitor and your chair. If your monitor doesn't show color correctly, the edges are gray when they should be black or you just want more of them, it's hard to pass up a Dell IPS panel for less than $140. At this price you can give Eyefinity or whatever NVIDIA calls its multimonitor configuration. This model has a very thin bezel so it should work well. It also has a very thin top bezel so you could have a lot of fun with six, just flip the top three upside down and configure the arrangement in the software. There's no replacement for displacement....or pixels.
Sure it has an operating system designed by and for clowns, the reason why my code name for Windows 8 is Bozo, but Lenovo is really good about offering drivers for older operating systems. Notebooks are always nice to have around especially when sitting the wrong way on the toilet. Thanks Daniel Tosh for the idea. I haven't tried it yet but the day is still young. Oh come on and try it, there is a natural shelf for a notebook built in.
If your computer speakers are beige or you only have two connected to your computer then the Pioneer system offered this weekend at Newegg should be your guilty pleasure. It's not an audiophile system by any means but it's better than 2.0 or anything you still have around from 1992.
I don't recommend keeping movies or media on your SSD unless you plan on using the data in a few days time. If not, then transfer it to a mechanical drive. Mechanical drives really don't need to be fast anymore since your movies and music play back at a set speed. 4TB is the magic number, this one is on sale and works well.
If you run across a hot deal this weekend feel free to post it in the comments section.
This morning an item at the top of the Newegg weekend email blast caught my eye. Several months ago I talked about larger capacity drives showing up at 50c per GB and how this would quickly become normal for SSD pricing. At the time I didn't think about what impact this would have on sale prices. If SSDs make it to 50 cents per gigabyte then what will happen when they go on sale?
Today we found out! Stuffed with 256GB of NAND flash, the Seagate 600 240GB hit a record low price today of $119.99. While not significantly lower than 50 cents per GB, it still crosses over that line.
We learned several years ago that the only way to run apples to apples comparisons between SSDs was to use a fix amount of time between each test. SSDs go through changes over time. When a TRIM command is issued the drive is free to run the actual clean up, called garbage collection, when it wants. In the real-world we don't write massive amounts of data to our drives and keep doing it for several hours straight so why test SSDs in this manner? For my testing I leave an exact 4 minute window between one test and the next. If the drive chooses to clean itself then it happens but some drives are more aggressive than others.
We've talked about several Samsung SSDs having high write latency in past reviews. With early firmware, Samsung SSDs would aggressively work to cleanse the NAND of data we told the drive was unneeded. This would trigger a GC event and during our next test the latency would be much higher than most other products we tested the same way.
Many of the early tests we run read and write to the full span of the drive, all of the user available NAND flash. This works out great when trying to bring a drive down to a consumer steady state, performance at levels most of us find our SSD at. The early tests are best case scenario since the flash is fresh but it's not very realistic for telling you what to expect at home. The tests performed later in the review get us closer to the performance you can expect.
A couple of years ago Jon, Paul and myself sat down with Futuremark in California to discuss PCMark 7 and give our ideas on next generation storage testing. Notes were taken and we all walked away with new ideas. Weeks later a change was made to PCMark 7's storage test but the largest impact from that meeting came in Futuremark's new PCMark 8.
A little over a week ago we were given the keys to what we think is the best storage benchmark for consumer SSD products to date. The test isn't perfect yet but it's very close to what we want to show you in our reviews, true consumer SSD performance.
The new tests write a lot of data to the drives and take close to 24 hours to complete. The first test is a performance consistency test and it represents a consumer worst case scenario. The methods used a much more appropriate for determining consumer performance than writing a drive 5 times with 4K random data. Here is a breakdown of the actions performed.
1. Precondition phase
1. Write the drive sequentially through up to the reported capacity with random data, write size of 256*512=131072 bytes.
2. Write it through a second time (to take care of overprovisioning).
2. Degradation phase
1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 10 minutes.
2. Run performance test (one pass only). The result is stored in secondary results with name prefix degrade_result_X where X is a counter.
3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 8 times, and on each pass increase the duration of random writes by 5 minutes
3. Steady state phase
1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for final duration achieved in degradation phase.
2. Run performance test (one pass only). The result is stored in secondary results with name prefix steady_result_X where X is a counter.
3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 5 times.
As you can see the drive is hit very hard but as I stated, this is a worst case scenario.
The next test in the cycle, the recovery phase is what we are more interested in because none of us write to our drive over and over. This is where time comes into play and what I wanted to show you today. The second chart above shows the same drives but after 5 minutes of idle time to recover.
1. Recovery phase
1. Idle for 5 minutes.
2. Run performance test (one pass only). The result is stored in secondary result with name recovery_result_X where X is a counter.
3. Repeat 1 and 2 for 5 times.
As you can see in the two charts, all of the drives increased performance after the 5 minute idle time. If you are measuring SSD performance and not putting a fix time between each test then your results are invalid, at least the way I see it. With most drives performance increases with each pass but we're still not sure how much data we should show in the reviews until we have more data collected.
I want to add a few notes about the results above. At this time all of the results displayed use incompressible data so LSI SandForce (Mushkin Chronos DX / Intel 530) and the new Phison (MyDigitalSSD BP4) are penalized for having advanced technology. At this time we're not sure when we'll migrate the new tests into our SSD reviews. There are still some small issues we are addressing.
Right around Black Friday we posted a review of the Intel 530 Series SSD and stated that going forward, 50 cents per GB would be the new normal. We've seen this price since the holidays on larger 512GB and 1TB class drives but small 128GB and 256GB drives were still a little over that price point.
It looks like the magic .50 per GB is starting to hit the 256GB class drives now. Crucial / Micron have the M500 240GB priced at that level now and we suspect more will fall. This morning I had a call from an industry insider and was told that Micron NAND flash is dirt cheap right now.
Since flash is the largest cost on the build of materials list, this is good news for SSD shoppers. Low cost flash means low cost SSDs. This is an interesting time for enthusiasts and power users because we're at the limits of SATA III on most SSDs already. The new prices open the door for lower priced RAID arrays especially for those using Intel chipsets that allow for RAID 0 with working TRIM.
We've wondered for some time how warranties would work on OCZ products after the bankruptcy and take over by Toshiba. We've finally been given the details and for SSD customers, it looks pretty good.
For the most part I would say that all of the modern drives are still covered. Some of the cache drives are not though but I don't think they were large sellers to start with. Agility owners have a smaller window but the flagship and previous flagship drives are covered by 3 and 5-year warranties just as before.
Sadly, your OCZ DDR and DDR2 with hand picked super chips are no longer covered. OCZ was just replacing those products with SSDs anyhow. At this time power supplies are not covered by OCZ Storage Solutions. OCZ did state in a clarification email that the PSU business may have a buyer. This is good news, personally we want to see the PC Power and Cooling name live on. Losing the brand would be like losing Ford or any iconic brand from another market. We'll report back when we get more details.
For the fine print please read OCZ's Warranty Page.
So much for OCZ and Newegg sticking to the MSRP. As a reviewer it sometimes drives me batshit crazy not knowing what the actual price is going to be. MSRPs are nice for previews but when it comes to reviews the actual price makes all of the difference on recommending a product.
Case in point, the new OCZ Vertex 460. At the MSRP of $189.99 the drive already undercut Samsung's 840 EVO 250GB in both price and accessories. At $139.99 it pretty much kicks everything else in the teeth.
At this performance level, with the same NAND flash used on the flagship Vector 150, you would be crazy to buy any other 256GB class drive for a desktop or notebook. Hell, at this price even enterprise customers using the rip and replace model should get a few in to test. Even in cache situations, since the Vertex 460 uses the same Toshiba 19nm Toggle flash as Vector 150 that is rated for 50GB writes per day for 5 years, it's really difficult to take the 460's spec sheet seriously and run a few until they burn out just to see how much long they last. Taking a Vertex 460 down to 50% OP would increase the life of the drive and keep performance in a cache high.
With QNAP and other NAS manufactures releasing SMB NAS with cache features, this might be a good drive to validate for your office cache drive. I should also state that the drive isn't specifically made for it but with the right OP it could work out well and be a very low cost option.
If you have yet to read the review you can find it here.
UPDATE: Two hours after posting this notice Newegg raised the price to $199.99.
After months of waiting I finally received my invitation to join the Google Glass Explorer program. An email arrived today with the special link and code to dive into one of the most exciting tech projects of my generation.
Monday Night Football might be over but my picture of the week continues on. This week we have the Comay Bladedrive G24, a product you can read a full review of in a few days.
With four LSI SandForce SF-2281 controllers and 512GB of Toshiba 19nm flash, the Bladedrive takes 'All in One' RAID to a new level. Unlike other products in category, Corerise didn't use a Marvell or LSI controller. What RAID controller did they use, well you'll just have to wait and see in the full review.
We will give you a taste of the performance though before signing off.
Monday seems like a good day to start a Picture of the Week tradition. Several package always arrive on Mondays and I have some time over the weekend to think about what to show.
Our first Picture of the Week arrived just moments ago. This is the new ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Killer, an AMD platform that just so happens to have the world's first m.2 PCIe 2x lane port on a desktop motherboard.
Last June at Computex we posted about the ASUS ROG Series products with M.2 onboard and later followed up the news with some tests with the board in a few reviews. The ROG M.2 implementation uses a single PCIe lane so M.2 PCIe drives are limited to 500 MB/s.
The ASRock Fatality 990FX Killer uses two lanes so the throughput increases to roughly 10Gbps. This is enough bandwidth to fully utilize a SanDisk A110 and Plextor M6 m.2, both with native PCIe 2.0 2x lanes. One thing that we really like about this board is the form factors we can use. m.2 has several form factors and the length of the cards are can reach up to 110mm. The ASUS Maximus VI EXTREME that we have can only scale to form factor 2260, or 60mm length cards. The ASRock Fatal1ty doesn't have this limitation. Some of the other ASUS ROG boards don't have this limit but the Extreme has a heatsink that gets in the way, limiting us to just 60mm length cards.
With the holidays quickly approaching, most don't realize this is one of the busiest times of the year for the tech industry. CES is right around the corner and everyone is scrambling to get make a big splash. That can come in several different forms.
TweakTown has a booth at this year's Storage Visions show prior to CES. The plan is to publish video interviews like we did at Flash Memory Summit. Paul, Charles and I will have the cameras rolling while talking with industry insiders and we'll even show you a few new products. The show will be great, as always. If you're in Las Vegas a day or two before CES, come by and say hello.
What kind of preview would this be without pictures? Here are some shots from the Secret Bunker of item's I'm working on at this very moment.
Click the title above for more.
Please Note: This blog is not edited by TweakTown staff, and may not represent the thoughts or opinions of TweakTown or its editors.