CES 2015 - Over the last year we've often discussed Silicon Motion's rise in the SSD controller space. The fabless semiconductor's SM2246EN controller was well received, first by smaller SSD manufacturers, and now by NAND flash fabs.
This week, SanDisk announced the new SSD Plus that is priced less than $70 in 128GB. The SSD Plus won't break any performance records but is clearly designed to break price barriers. SanDisk didn't brief media before introducing the SSD Plus at Storage Visions 2015, but since that time we've learned that Silicon Motion is inside with a custom variant of the SM2246EN controller.
Getting one NAND fab company to use your controller is a big step for a controller maker that was virtually unheard of one year ago. Getting two is big news for investors. Just days after the SanDisk announcement, Crucial, a division of Lexar and also a NAND flash manufacturer, announced the new BX100. Again, this new low cost consumer SSD with 16nm MLC flash is managed by a Silicon Motion SM2246EN controller.
They say when it comes it comes in threes. Analysts have recently come forward to state that Intel, a partner with Micron/Crucial/Lexar, has chosen a Silicon Motion controller for an unannounced consumer SSD that should break cover in the coming months. Most likely Intel will brand the new product in the 300 Series family, a low cost series that again is designed to increase the adoption rate of solid state storage technology, replacing mechanical hard drives.
None of this is all that radical when you know the history of the SSD market. SandForce quickly came to power but acquisitions and long product delays have left the door open for Silicon Motion to get a foot in the door. Now that Silicon Motion is sitting at the table, we think the real objective is for the company to use SM2246EN as a stepping stone for SM2256, a flash controller that takes advantage of new 3bit per cell technology that will further reduce the cost of solid state storage technology to consumers.
At this time, the NAND flash fab companies are also focusing engineering resources on high margin enterprise products. SMI provides reference designs, controller hardware, and firmware. This provides a low 4-month turn around, speeding time to market, which is opening more doors for the company.
CES 2015 - We had a chance to take a sneak peak at Intel's widely anticipated computing stick here at CES 2015. The tiny dongle-like computer will feature a quad-core Atom-based CPU, and come in two versions; one supporting Windows and the other supporting Linux. The Windows-based stick will feature 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage while the Linux version will have only 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. Storage can be expanded through the microSD slot.
The stick features HDMI as its video output and features both micro USB and full-size USB connectors, however one will have to be used for powering the device as it will not be powered through HDMI like some other dongles. Intel said as more and more TVs start supporting the new power-over-HDMI standard, future versions of the NUC will feature this technology. While the stick is very small, it is a full-blown PC with its own mini fan. The stick will cost $149 and $89 for the Windows and Linux versions respectively.
Intel is also launching a new series of Broadwell-U based NUCs. These NUCs will feature M.2 for storage as well as a special USB connector able to provide 1.8A of current for fast charging. They will also have replaceable lids, which can be used for customization. You could have a lid featuring a picture of your significant other and give the NUC as a gift. The replaceable lid also hints at the possibility of customized versions featuring add-ons like a TV tuner, which I saw in its infant stages.
CES 2015 - We went on down to the GIGABYTE CES event here in Vegas, where we looked at all of the latest stuff that the company has on offer. So without further delay, let's dive right into the juicy goodness.
X99 SOC Champion
GIGABYTE just launched their greatly anticipated X99 SOC Champion. The board had been in the works for months, during that time top overclockers from around the world gathered to see how far GIGABYTE's champion could go. They ended up with 9 world records, 14 global firsts, 2 hardware firsts, and even the top X99 reference clock. This motherboard's name is well deserved.
I was invited to overclock at GIGABYTE's CES ballroom event, and the champion does live up to all the hype. Much of its success comes from the hardware on the board. Since the board has 4 SMT DIMMs instead of the typical 8 through-hole DIMMs found on most X99 motherboards, memory signaling is much cleaner and memory overclocks are higher as a result.
CES 2015 - SAPPHIRE didn't have anything new to show off at CES 2015, so instead it was just showing off a handful of their most popular products.
We went in and talked to a few of the executives at the company, teeing up some new projects going into the New Year that you will have to check back with TweakTown in the near future to check out. All we can say is: it'll kick ass. Until then, here are some images of video cards that you can check out, starting with the Radeon R9 290X 4GB and R9 280X 4GB.
Here's the SAPPHIRE Vapor-X Radeon R9 4GB.
To celebrate next week's release of 'Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Fifth Season' on Blu-ray HD and DVD, we have five copies of the final season of the show on Blu-ray to give away to readers, thanks to our friends at Warner Home Entertainment.
No one goes quietly. Concluding a powerful and groundbreaking five-season run, 'Boardwalk Empire' is an Emmy-winning HBO drama series from Academy Award nominee/Emmy Award winner Terence Winter. Season 5 begins in 1931, a full six years after the end of Season 4. In stark contrast with the Roaring '20s, the country is in the throes of the Great Depression and with the end of Prohibition in sight, Nucky (Steve Buscemi) is looking to legitimize himself by forging alliances with liquor producers.
CES 2015 - Oculus VR had a gigantic setup at CES 2015 this year, but they were hosting private meetings for people to go in and check things out, so we set one up quite sometime ago to ensure we could get our hands, and eyes on the latest Rift prototype.
We stopped in and had a chat with Oculus VR's VP of Product, Nate Mitchell, who is one of the best guys in the industry. He walked us over the new Rift prototype known as "Crescent Bay", something that was shown off at Oculus Connect a few months ago. This is the first time the new Rift headset has been open to the public to test out, which is why we wanted to get down there and check things out.
The current DK2 unit has a 1920x1080 resolution, thanks to the Galaxy Note 3 panel it features inside of it. Oculus isn't stating what resolution the new Crescent Bay prototype is running at, but from my short time with it, I suspect we're seeing a 1440p panel, with some form of resolution scaling. Similar to NVIDIA's Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR) technology, where it renders a larger picture, and then scales it down to the resolution of the monitor, or in this case, the VR headset.
Australian born actor Rod Taylor, who rose to fame in the 1960 adaptation of H.G. Wells 'The Time Machine' before starring in the lead role in the Hitchcock horror film 'The Birds', had died aged 84 according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Taylor, who first made his mark in the TV show 'Hong Kong' for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Taylor was quickly recognised in Hollywood, where he appeared in over 50 films during his career. The actor also voiced the role of the Dalmatian Pongo in Disney's 1961 animated classic '101 Dalmatians' and was more recently seen in Quentin Tarantino's 'Inglorious Basterds', where he played the role of legendary British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
Taylor died of a heart attack at his home in Los Angeles.
If you're really looking to confuse the console lover in your family, you really need to wrap up this device and present it to them on their birthday.
A modder by the name of Draelren has reached out to us, explaining the process behind his crazy Xbox 360/PC build set to confuse console lovers and haters alike.
Featuring an AMD A10-7850K CPU and a 128GB SSD, Draelren uses this system as one of his dedicated LAN rigs, however it's not quite finished - yet. "There are some things that still need to be done to it - but it's mostly there," he explains. "I'm needing to do some custom wiring to get the Xbox's power button to turn the computer on, and then the eject button for the optical drive to reset the computer."
CES 2015 - Fully optioned with dual NVIDIA GTX 980m video cards and up to 32GB of RAM supporting a 1080p 18" display, MSI's newest addition to the gaming world is the GT80 Titan laptop and it even comes with a full Cherry MX Brown keyboard - by SteelSeries.
Weighing in at 10 pounds, this beast has upgradeability in mind. With the ability to swap out your dual video cards for NVIDIA MXM mobile graphics, the laptop has a panel on top allowing you access to M.2 SSD slots, RAM bays and a 2.5-inch drive bay. According to MSI, their 350-watt power brick and dual-GTX 980 combo can provide almost the same performance as a single desktop GTX 980 card - further mentioning that the GT80 can support three screens, providing users with one HDMI and two DisplayPort connections.
The system MSI has on display at CES will set back users a whopping $3,700 due to its Intel Extreme 4980HQ CPU, 24GB of RAM, 1TB HDD and two 128GB M.2 SSDs running in RAID. However if the base model is more your flavor, you can expect to pony up $3,300 for your very own model.
CES 2015 -OCZ Storage Solutions displayed the Z-Drive 6000 NVMe SSD in their suite at CES 2015. The Z-Drive 6000 sports speeds of 3,000 MB/s for sequential read and 2,000 MB/s for sequential write workloads. Random reads weigh in at an outstanding 700,000 IOPS, and random writes are equally impressive at 175,000 IOPS. The Z-Drive 6000 will provide 1-3 DWPD, which is becoming the standard for most datacenter SSDs, largely due to increased density. The Z-Drive 6000 utilizes the NVMe interface, covered in detail in our Defining NVMe article.
The Z-Drive 6000 comes in capacities of 800GB, 1.6TB and 3.2TB in the small 2.5" 15mm form factor. The Z-Drive leverages the proven PMC-Sierra Princeton controller running OCZ-proprietary firmware. The Z-Drive 6000 is certified for NVMe specification 1.1b on the UNH-IOL integrator list. The drive also features all the normal enterprise trimmings, such as encryption and internal data redundancy.