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NVMe is a radically efficient and powerful protocol that reduces latency, increases performance, and reduces CPU load. The Intel DC P-Series are the first branded NVMe SSDs on the market, and as indicated in our Intel SSD DC P3700 1.6TB PCIe NVMe Enterprise Review, it delivers on the promises of NVMe. The Intel PCIe SSD family is broken down into three segments that feature different levels of endurance and performance. The DC P3700, DC P3600, and DC P3500 are designed for the datacenter, but enthusiasts have shown incredible interest in the DC P3500.
The Intel NVMe SSDs are very competitive in prices, and the 0.3 DWPD (Drive Writes Per Day) for the the DC P3500 brings its pricing within striking distance of other enthusiast PCIe SSDs, which are nowhere close in performance. The relatively low endurance is more than suitable for the desktop environment, and the DC P3500 features an amazing 450,000/35,000 4k random read/write speed, and 2.5/1.7 GB/s of sequential speed. Most importantly, it delivers amazing speed at lower queue depths, which offers the best performance for workstation/desktop workloads. The 400GB DC P3500 has begun to pop up on retailers for pre-order for around $600.00. This works out to roughly $1.50 per GB, which will have them flying off the shelves soon.
CalDigit has announced that pre-ordering is available for their new T4 Thunderbolt 2 RAID enclosures, and units begin shipping on November 14th. Thunderbolt 2 is a flexible interface that provides up to 10 Gb/s of throughput. This massive bandwidth allows for easy daisy-chaining of connected devices, such as storage devices and monitors. The small connector is a big benefit, and there are adapters for a myriad of other devices, such as USB, Ethernet, DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, or VGA. It might seem counter-intuitive to connect displays onto the same connection as a storage device, but this eliminates multiple connectors while providing up to 4K resolutions for video displays. Thunderbolt 2 has made a big splash with content creators and video/picture editors, as big bandwidth equates to faster external storage options.
CalDigit has yet another innovative product for the Thunderbolt 2 crowd with the surprisingly compact T4 external RAID enclosure. The 4-bay device supports HDDs and SSDs in striped, mirrored, or redundant configurations. The enclosure supports RAID 5, which protects against a single drive failure. For professionals who use their external storage in the field this is a big plus. Some of the most common data recovery projects involve data recovery for photographers and videographers. The T4 will satisfy even the most demanding professionals with 1,370 MB/s of throughput and dual Thunderbolt 2 ports. 4 drive bays allow for plenty of storage capacity and also allow creation of multiple storage arrays. All of this is backed up by a five-year warranty. The T4 is available for $899 MSRP with 4TB of storage. For the latest in Thunderbolt 2 performance data head over to our Thunderbolt section, where out resident Thunderbolt expert Tyler Bernath breaks down the latest products.
DriveSavers are like the MacGyver of data recovery services. If you lose data from your phone, SD card, SSD, HDD, NAS, SAN, or anything inbetween, they can recover it. One of the keys to timely and affordable data recovery are the numerous technical alliances they forge with storage companies. SanDisk has become the latest company to partner with DriveSavers by providing them with technology, techniques, and tools to assist in SSD data recovery. This partnership will help SanDisk customers recover from disasters like the fire that mutilated the poor notebook below.
DriveSavers is one of the most trusted names in data recovery for good reason, they have been at it since 1985 and have a slew of technical certifications and clean rooms for data recovery. DriveSavers actually recovered the data from the notebook above, and that might actually be considered tame by their standards. We actually had a unique opportunity to visit the DriveSavers facility earlier this year, and it was a fascinating learning experience. For a deeper understanding of data recovery jump over to our DriveSavers Data Recovery Site Tour - Your Data, Recovered article for a close look at our tour and their data recovery techniques.
OWC has built a reputation around offering a wide assortment of Apple-related products, perhaps most notably SSD upgrade kits. The latest upgrade bundle from OWC features a 1TB Aura or Aura Pro SSD (960GB user-addressable) for MacBook Air users with 2010, 2011, and 2012 models. The large capacity provides double the maximum storage offered by Apple.
OWC includes several items in the kit. All of the tools necessary for dissembling and reassembling the laptop are included, along with an Envoy USB 3.0 external enclosure. After installing the new SSD the external enclosure allows users to clone over their previous install, or copy files back and forth. The external enclosure also affords users the ability to continue to use the old SSD from their MacBook.
The Aura Pro SSD features the tried-and-true SF-2200 controller, which still manages to deliver solid performance for most consumer workloads. The SandForce controllers also offer low power consumption, which extends battery life, and AES-256 encryption for the security conscious. The entire package is covered by a five-year warranty. The bundle price for a 1TB SSD is $579.00, for 480GB it is $329.00, 240GB for $189.00, and a 120GB kit weighs in at $119.00.
HGST is now shipping its helium-filled 8TB HDDs to retailers, with both Amazon and Newegg now listing them. Newegg is listing the HGST Ultrastar He8 8TB 3.5-inch HDD for $899, while Amazon is slightly more expensive at $933.
The HGST Ultrastar He8 8TB drive is a 7200RPM HDD with 128MB of DRAM buffer, and three interfaces: SAS-6Gbps, SAS-12Gbps and SATA-6Gbps. The 8TB HDD is based off of seven 1.2TB PMR platters, which are filled with helium which shrinks the distance between the platters, without increasing the risk and sacrifice of performance. HGST promises 205MB/sec maximum sustained transfer rates, with a 4.16ms typical latency.
The drive is also available in Japan, cheaper than it is in the US, at around $695 after conversion. The drives aren't aimed at the consumer, so we should expect these prices to not drop quickly, for now.
Apple seems to have gotten themselves in a bind with TLC flash, at least if one is to believe the reports that the intermittent crashes and reboot cycles for iPhone 6 Plus users are due to the TLC controller. Apple refuses to comment on the issue, but several sources have speculated the problem lies with TLC NAND. Apple only uses TLC in a select few products, one being the iPhone 6 Plus, which also just happens to be the only model with the issue. Now sources are speculating that Apple is going to abandon the use of TLC NAND entirely.
Apple, as the world's largest flash customer, has a vested interest in using as many types of NAND as possible. This also includes TLC, which some view as a less-desirable form of flash. TLC stores 3 bits per cell, compared to MLC, which stores two. In the dinosaur ages (only a few years back), even MLC was considered unfit for use in mainstream devices. Only one bit per cell NAND (SLC) was considered fit for consumption. Time and clever engineering have radically altered that view, and common MLC NAND powers computers, datacenters, and just about every mobile device inbetween.
Enter TLC. Many of the same concerns have been voiced about TLC, mirroring the initial concerns about MLC. Cost savings for Apple are always a concern, they are in the business of making money, but there are other advantages that go beyond price. In reality, Apple only saves roughly five cents per GB using TLC, but have had to invest millions to utilize it. TLC does have lower endurance than other forms of NAND, but it also stores more data. For Apple this is a desirable attribute that has more traction than the cost savings of slightly cheaper TLC NAND. They can pack more data into the slim device, and that is part of the reason they are very unlikely to abandon TLC. HD Video and high-res images require more storage space, and recent concerns about the safety of data in the cloud are leading to increased storage capacity in mobile devices.
Other World Computing (OWC) has announced a new PlayStation 4 upgrade kit. The current crop of new game consoles are becoming more focused on becoming the hub of the home entertainment system. This leads to a need for more storage, but unfortunately the stock storage capacity of gaming consoles hasn't increased enough.
Swapping out the internal drive on the PS4 usually voids your warranty(**correction - Users can swap drives with any drive without voiding warranty**), but OWC has announced a fix for that problem.
OWC's new Hard Drive Upgrade Kit allows users to boost their capacity up to 2TB, and still retain their warranty. The kit claims to boost performance and features a 5,400 RPM drive in the 2.5" form factor. As an added bonus, OWC includes an external enclosure that allows users to convert the old internal drive into external storage. The kit includes everything you need to backup the data on the existing drive, then transfer it over to the new one. A set of fairly simple instructions is included, and is also available online.
The kit can be purchased with 1, 1.5, or 2TB HGST/Toshiba/Seagate HDD's (different capacity points feature different drives). Interestingly enough, the 1TB will provide the most performance, as it is actually an SSHD. SSHD's merge flash goodness with spinning platters to provide much faster data for commonly loaded data, such as the PS4 OS. Tyler recently took a look at Toshiba's SSHD, and you can get a good idea of the performance boost by reading his Toshiba 1TB SSHD (MQ01ABD100H) Review. The Toshiba drive will definitely boost the speed and load times of commonly accessed games, and we would like to see OWC offer SSHD's for higher capacities as well.
NAS storage is great for storing important data in one centralized location, but this requires network connectivity, which potentially opens a hole for unwanted access. There are robust security features available to protect network connections, but if someone has physical access to the NAS the drives are easy to remove. Most users forgo encryption on NAS systems because of a reduction in overall performance, but QNAP looks to change that with their new NAS accelerated-encryption technology. QNAP's QvPC technology supports the Turbo NAS TS/SS-x53 Pro and TS-x51 products in the new QTS 4.1.1.
QNAP employs the power of their dual/quad-core Celeron processors to boost encryption/decryption tasks, leading to a 50% improvement in performance. The TS/SS-x53 Pro series is powered by a quad-core Intel Celeron 2.0GHz processor with burst speed up to 2.41GHz, 8GB/4GB/2GB energy-efficient DDR3L RAM (expandable to 8GB), and supports 2 or 4 LAN ports that allow users to flexibly deploy optimal network architecture based on different needs and requirements. The class-leading NAS delivers excellent performance that maintains smooth system operations even during intensive data access or heavy multimedia streaming and transcoding.
One of the most challenging aspects of data storage is long-term archival. All forms of data storage have a finite lifespan, and complex storage mechanisms, such as HDDs, have delicate moving mechanical parts that will eventually fail. One of the benefits of optical storage, such as CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray's, is their lack of moving parts and relatively long life time of up to 100 years. The problem has always been capacity, optical storage has reached a diminishing point of returns in terms of data stored due to the limitations of light itself.
A team of engineers at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia have conquered that challenge by enabling storage up to 1,000 Terabytes of data, or 40,000 HD movies, onto a single DVD. The process they developed uses a secondary laser to refine the refraction limit of light, which is around 500 nanometers. Since light cannot shrink below that limit, the current technology cannot write information smaller than 500 nanometers. The Australian researchers employed two 500nm lasers. One actually writes data, and the other blocks the light beam, except for a sliver that is only 9 nanometers in length.
OCZ Storage Solutions has seen their fair share of changes over the last few years, but have finally landed in calm waters at Toshiba with access to a mountain of flash and a wealth of engineering talent. They also recently launched the new OCZ Shop, an online portal that provides their customers direct access to great SSD deals.
In celebration of the new site OCZ is offering free shipping to the US on any order, a free T-Shirt, and Triple VIP reward points until 11/30/2014. There are sections for SATA, PCIe and consumer SSDs. Some of the SSD deals include free power packs and backpacks as well, but there is no clear indication if this is a limited time offer or not. There is also a clearance section which will likely host some great deals in the future.
SSDs are becoming cheaper every day, and a direct outlet might provide a portal for even lower prices. It will be interesting to see if other fab-enabled SSD manufactures follow suit. In the cut-throat SSD industry every competitive advantage is quickly addressed, but usually ends up being great for us consumers in the end.