Intel's 330 series of SSDs are looking to be a bit old now that the Santa Clara-based company has begun shipping out their 335 Series drives, in Japan at least.
The very first Intel 335 Series drive has been codenamed SSDSC2CT240A4K5 and has hit a Japanese retailer shelf. The drive looks to come in a 240GB size, the usual 2.5-inch form factor at 9.5mm thickness, SATA 6.0 Gbps interface, rocks a SandForce SF-2281 controller, and uses 20nm MLC NAND Flash memory.
The Intel 335 Series SSD sports read/write speeds of up to 500/450MB/sec, holds 3-year warranty and costs around $214. We should also expect smaller variants like 80 and 180GB in Q1 2013.
SanDisk hasn't released the details or even mentioned the new firmware on their website yet but if you run the SanDisk SSD Toolkit your Extreme SSD can be updated to firmware version R211, a TRIM fixing release.
We're in the middle of testing the Extreme SSD 480GB now and plan to finally test our 120GB soon. After that we have some RAID testing with RAID 0 working on a pair of Extreme SSD 240GB drives.
You can download SanDisk's SSD Toolkit at this link. Have an empty thumb drive handy so it can flash your drive without looking for an empty optical disk.
Ask the Experts: I have $450 to spend on my PC, should I spend it all on a GPU or split it with a GPU and SSD?
Our Ask the Experts section has a question, this time from Nate in the US who wants to know which if he should just upgrade his GPU to something like the GeForce GTX 670, or buy a mid-range GTX 660 Ti and an SSD.
Q: I am an avid PC gamer. I have approximately $450 to do an immediate upgrade. I currently have an old 8600gts and a standard 512GB 7200RPM HDD. I try, as much as my current card will let me, to game at 1920x1080. Should I go all out on the video card and get a nice GTX 670? Or should I split the cash up and get a GTX 660 Ti and a 240GB SSD (since there are outrageous deals just about every day on SSDs)?
A: You can view the answer to Nate's question right here.
A new start-up has produced viable optical disks that can hold 1TB or 2TB of data, an incredible feat considering Blu-ray disks usually hold 25GB, or 50GB in a dual layer version. Magnetic spinning disc drives have just recently topped the 2TB barrier with 3TB and even 4TB drives finally being available on the market.
However, an optical disk will be much cheaper to purchase for data back-up, though it can only be written to once. But for back-up, this really doesn't pose any sort of problems. And, since it is a disc, data can be located upon the surface in mere seconds instead of the minutes it can take to wind through magnetic tape, the current standard for backing up data.
"A disc will be on the capacity scale of magnetic tapes used for archival data storage," said Kenneth D. Singer, the Ambrose Swasey professor of physics, and co-founder of Folio Photonics. "But, they'll be substantially cheaper and have one advantage: you can access data faster. You just pop the disc in your computer and you can find the data in seconds. Tapes can take minutes to wind through to locate particular data."
The technology uses something I had previously read about. The new start-up has layered 64 data layers of optical film onto a standard DVD plastic base. Slight modifications to a standard disc drive allow the laser to read the different layers without any interference from the layers above or below the current layer being read.
Apple announced late last week that they'll be expanding their iMac 1TB Seagate Hard Drive Replacement Program, which would increase the number of machines eligible under the program to include iMacs sold between October of 2009, and July of 2011 with 1TB Seagate HDDs:
Apple has determined that certain Seagate 1TB hard drives used in 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac systems may fail. These systems were sold between October 2009 and July 2011.
Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (AASP) will replace affected hard drives free of charge.
The Cupertino-based company launched the program back in July 2011, but at the time it only covered certain machines covered between May 2011 and July 2011. Apple have demanded that the program be extended, and pushed further back to previous-dated iMacs, including machines as old as those sold back in October 2009.
I still remember the days of owning a 500MB HDD and thinking this was amazing, then the days of 8GB - 20GB HDDs were out when I was into the LAN scene and now we're looking at 3-4TB HDDs in a single drive, the storage industry really is just insane.
Well, WD are now offering their My Book Thunderbolt Duo 8TB drive, with 8TB in a single external storage option. On top of 8TB in a single package, you're also going to get the amazing Thunderbolt technology for some truly mind-blowing transfer speeds. WD even includes a Thunderbolt cable in the box, which is on one hand great to see, but I would expect a Thunderbolt cable to be in the box when selling me a product with Thunderbolt in the name.
The storage giant also offers the My Book 4TB storage drive which sports USB 3.0. WD's entry into 8TB is the first time the company has crossed the 8TB mark with a My Book device. WD's My Book Thunderbolt Duo 8TB is available in select US retailers, or on their online store for $849.99 MSRP. The My Book 4TB drive is available for $249.99.
Data centers and archivers, TDK has your back. They have been working on increasing the storage density of traditional hard drives and managed to squish 1.5TB onto a single square inch of platter. This means a 3.5-inch disk's platter can hold 2TB of data. Multiply that by 5 platters and we will soon have 10TB drives.
The new technology relies on H/TAMR (Heat/ Thermal assisted magnetic recording) technology. This allows the bits to be flipped on the ultra dense platters. The technology has not yet been squished into a working hard drive, but rather the 2TB per platter was tested on a spin plate.
Drives based upon the new technology is due out commercially by the end of 2013, or early 2014. A working 10TB drive based upon this technology is set to be exhibited at the CEATEC show in Japan. This is the single largest jump forward for hard disk technology in a long time and will have large effects on notebook drives and data centers.
Large data is becoming more and more prevalent, especially with the rise of the cloud. People are collecting larger collections of music, videos, and files. As Internet speeds continue to increase, the web will become even more media intensive and require larger hard drives to store all of this data.
This is where TDK's new work shines. They have managed to squish 1.5TB into a single square inch, which is really impressive. At this density, a single platter inside the drive will be able to hold 2TB. Just remember how 2TB was hard to achieve just a few years ago. Now, imagine squishing 3 platters into a drive.
That would equate to a 6TB drive, seemingly more than enough for most desktop users, and an increase for servers that are running multiple 2TB drives. The new technology also has implications on mobile 2.5-inch drives. Mobile users will be able to carry more on their internal drive and shouldn't need to rely on an external solution.
The increase in density came from improvements in the read head as well as improvements in the hard disk medium. Mass production isn't expected to begin until 2014, though, so who knows where SSD technology will be by that point.
Western Digital have taken to Facebook to announce that they've sold over 90 million WD Green drives. As you probably already know, WD Green drives use less power, create less pollution, and saves water, too.
Western Digital have also explained just how much WD Green customers help save the planet with some interesting stats: 466,128,000 kWh saved, which is equal to one coal power plant, 279,676,800,800 grams less carbon dioxide emissions, 466,128,000 liters of water saved, and less water consumed with 9,322,560 liters.
They're some seriously powerful numbers, and this is just with the one particular series of hard disk drives!
The disk unit of Hitachi, HGST, have announced the development of something quite special, helium-filled hard drives. Helium-filled HDDs are set to me more energy-efficient, paving the way for higher storage capacity than normal HDDs of today.
At the moment, HDDs are not sealed air-tight, they are affixed with dedicated channels so that the drive can balance its internal pressure with changes in external pressure. Because of this, the drives have a typical mixture of air inside them, which causes turbulence to the platters, which are usually spinning at over 7,200RPM.
HGST has a way around this, by sealing the drive off and filling the insides with helium. HGST have said that this achievement caused a 23% increase in power efficiency, as well as the ability to add two extra platters to a 3.5-inch hard drive. When helium is used, we could see HDDs pumped up to around 6TB in size.
Not at IDF 2012 - While looking for a local watering hole to get our morning Dirty Martini we passed a familiar face from OCZ Technology. As we went to exchange business cards, a PCB fell out of his pocket. We could tell it was something new, that 'new PCB' smell filled the air. It was so strong we could smell it through the antistatic bag.
What you are looking at is the OCZ Vector, OCZ Technology's upcoming flagship SSD. This product will sit atop the OCZ SSD hill and move the Vertex 4 down a step.
OCZ tells us the new Vector will be a better-rounded drive than Vertex 4. In our testing, we saw OCZ push the IOPS to new levels but low queue depth sequential performance suffered because of it on the Vertex 4. Vector is OCZ answer to that achieving the best of both worlds.
If the marketing and the manufacturing line up right we should get our first glimpse of Vector branded SSDs from OCZ in the middle of Q4 this year.
Corsair has released firmware version 5.03 for the 22** series of SandForce-based solid state drives. This firmware is the version that fixes TRIM, so it is an important update. Corsair has said that the update is designed to be non-destructive. That said, they still recommend backing up important data, and so do we.
The update has only been validated for Windows 7 and has not been tested on Windows Vista or XP. Corsair has written a post describing the update and providing instructions and the firmware files.
It's good to see manufacturers are starting to push out updates based upon the 5.03 firmware, because without TRIM, the performance of the SSD degrades and you lose that speed that you are used to.
Western Digital are ready to shake up the external storage industry with their latest Thunderbolt-powered storage product, the My Book VelociRaptor Duo. The My Book VelociRaptor Duo comes with two 1TB 10,000RPM drives in RAID.
This means that the VelociRaptor Duo is capable of an astounding 760MB/sec write and 800MB/sec read. One of the better features that the new My Book VelociRaptor Duo sports is that it's user-serviceable. If you want to replace a drive, simply open the case, pull the existing drive out, and replace it with a new one.
The VelociRaptor Duo is also capable of daisy chaining with Thunderbolt, as the Thunderbolt technology has much more room to move within its architecture. USB 3.0 limits at around 350MB/sec of real-world performance, but Thunderbolt scales right up to 1GB/sec, meaning that you'd need to have some seriously fast internal storage to get close to that 1GB/sec mark.
MSRP on the 2TB WD My Book VelociRaptor Duo is $899.
WD have today unveiled some USB 3.0-powered HDDs for Mac. The drives arrive in the form of WD's My Passport for Mac range, and range up to 2TB in size. The added addition of USB 3.0 gives the My Passport for Mac drives a serious injection of speed, if you have an appropriate USB 3.0-powered Mac.
There aren't many on the market at the moment, but if you do have one, you'll enjoy much higher speeds than the USB 2.0 on most Apple systems, and with its small footprint, you can take it anywhere without having to worry about it being a nuisance.
My Passport for Mac drives also include password protection and hardware encryption features, which will protect your precious data in the case that someone steals it, or you were to accidentally lose it. WD's My Passport for Mac drives also slide nicely into the company's Nomad rugged case which protects your drive from dirt, dust, moisture, and sudden impacts.
Pricing on the My Passport for Mac is not bad at all, with MSRP pricing on the 500GB, 1TB and 2TB at $99.99, $129.99 and $199.99, respectively.
Flash Memory Summit 2012 - It really didn't matter where you were standing at Flash Memory Summit, within ten feet was a product with either LSI or LSI SandForce silicon.
For years, LSI has played a significant role in several markets, video processing, encoding and so forth, but their largest presence has been enterprise storage. SandForce, before joining LSI was known for their consumer SF-1200 and SF-2200 controllers, but these products were created from their enterprise counterparts, SF-1500 and SF-2500. The enterprise SandForce parts were successful on their own, but by adding three letters to the SandForce name, LSI SandForce flash processor units are now displacing the competition from the enterprise sector.
These are not DDR3 DIMMs, they are Viking SATADIMMs using LSI SandForce SF-2500 Series FPUs. These products draw power from the DRAM bus, but are enterprise SSDs in an innovative form factor that allows for unprecedented scalability...
Flash Memory Summit 2012 - At Computex, Biwin distinguished themselves from the herd by showing the first Novachip Bugatti controlled SSD, NuvoDrive NX. We spent a few days with the upcoming NuvoDrive NX but that is old news now because Biwin just displayed an even more exciting product at Flash Memory Summit 2012.
We didn't get a chance to ask Biwin about the new drive but you know we are on top of it this morning. Under the heatsink is an undisclosed RAID controller, most likely either LSI or Marvell. Four mSATA SSDs using LSI SandForce FPUs are on each side for a total of eight.
On the connector side we found an 8x PCIe 2.0 connector, the industry standard at this time but PCIe 3.0 is just around the corner so this product may be shadowed by the start of 2013. Still, we'll take 8x LSI SandForce 2281 performance with PCIe 2.0 as a starting point.
We're excited about this one for sure!
American Airlines Flight 1318 - High in the skies, somewhere between Dallas and Indianapolis we would like to interrupt your morning with this special announcement.
Just moments ago we received confirmation that Kingston has released firmware version 5.0.3, AKA The TRIM FIXING FIRMWARE, for the HyperX and HyperX 3K!!!!!!!!!
Using Kingston's Toolbox, a free SSD utility located on the Kingston's support website, HyperX and HyperX 3K owners will be the first to gain access to the new firmware that fixes TRIM in Windows.
Obviously since we are in the air we have yet to update our sample HyperX 3K but we have installed the FW in beta form. This is a non-destructive update but I would suggest treating this update as destructive.
OCZ's AEON Series drive is probably one of the coolest things I saw at Flash Memory Summit 2012. This drive ditches the typical NAND memory in favor of using DRAM chips which have no durability issues. These chips are clocked at around 40MHz as opposed to a typical DDR3 stick which could be clocked as high as 800MHz.
Essentially this drive is like your DDR RAM in your PC. It's faster than a typical SSD due to the use of volatile memory, however, if the power goes out, the data is lost. It's almost like a RAM disk, though the bandwidth is limited by the interface. In the event of a power loss, the data is flushed to typical NAND memory.
The drive's capacity is up to 64GB as of right now, and has super low latency (20 microseconds or less) and typically is about 1 microsecond. The chip is built to be used in servers and features a 6GB/s SAS connection. Note that these are preliminary specifications which are subject to change. Even still, this is a sweet drive!
I've never really been a believer in hybrid hard drives as they've never been competitive to SSDs when it comes to speed. Today at the Flash Memory Summit 2012, Toshiba had a demo showing just how wrong I could be. They had three identical laptops set up, one with a 19nm NAND SSD, one with a 5,400RPM drive, and one with an undisclosed hybrid drive.
The demo was booting from a completely powered down state into Windows and then starting a movie playing. Some of the results were shocking, to say the least. The traditional 5,400 RPM hard disk of course came in last as you would expect. However, the hybrid drive and the SSD were locked in a dead heat to the finish.
While the SSD finished before the hybrid drive, it couldn't have taken the hybrid drive more than 2 seconds longer. This result is quite a bit different from what I have seen in the past with regards to hybrid drives. When pressed, Toshiba wouldn't say when we would see this hybrid drive on the market or really give us any info. The best I could get from them is that it is a demo showing what is possible. All of a sudden hybrid drives are looking a whole lot more attractive.
Here's a mouthful for a business name: The Storage Products Business Unit of Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. Anyway, these folks have announced an expansion to their enterprise SSD offerings in the form of three new lines of varying capacity and specifications. They bill the three lines as "High Performance," "Value," and "Read-Intensive/Boot Server."
- High-Performance: Targeted at applications requiring the highest levels of eSSD performance, the PX02SM series is Toshiba's first eSSD to utilize 24nm eMLC (enterprise multi-level cell) NAND technology, with capacities of 200/400/800GB1 and 1.6TB2, and is Toshiba's first offering with a dual-port 12Gb/sec SAS interface with a form-factor equivalent to industry-standard 2.5inch HDDs.
- Value Line: Optimized for entry-to-mid-level server and storage applications requiring balance, reliability, capacity and endurance, the PX02AM series also features 24nm eMLC NAND flash in capacities of 100, 200 and 400GB, all with a 6Gb/s SATA (Serial ATA) interface. Featuring a slim 7mm 2.5inch industry-standard form-factor, all capacities offer power-loss protection.
Marvell have unveiled some things over at the Flash Memory Summit (where some of our guys are schmoozing with the crowd), with the first of these being the general availability of their PCIe-based DragonFly platform. If you haven't heard of DragonFly, it's a platform that combines Marvell's SoC technology with newly-designed circuit boards, and uses PCIe as its connectivity.
The results of this are storage solutions that can provide 10-100x lower latency and improved server I/O performance, all while using less power, space and storage capital costs in a datacenter. Marvell's DragonFly platform will be commercially available from September 15, 2012. Marvell's specs on DragonFly are pretty insane, as they've shown:
DragonFly is sold as a PCIe Gen2 x8 adapter with up to 8GB SODIMM ECC DRAM and up to 1.5 TB of external SSD storage; read, write-back and write-thru caching; synchronous low-latency peer-to-peer write-back mirroring; 3.2GB/s of throughput; less than 22us latency; 220K IOPS read; 220K IOPS write; integrated ultracapacitors to protect data in the event of power loss; and a wide variety of host operating system support, including RHEL, KVM, Xen, VMWare and Windows.