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Computex Taipei 2013 - Intel has hacked together some Thunderbolt-powered thumb drives. These 128GB drives interface using Intel's still relatively unused Thunderbolt connection to boost theoretical transfer speeds above those that are possible using a traditional USB 3.0 or SATA 3 interface.
We doubt that the thumb drive will hit Thunderbolt's theoretical 10GB/s limit, but it should outperform SATA 3 6Gpbs. Interestingly, the hacked device makes use of a SanDisk SSD rather than an Intel SSD. It's not clear why they didn't make use of their own technology in the device.
While a Thunderbolt drive would be awesome, it's still quite expensive. It's cost-prohibitive to produce these devices until the cost for Thunderbolt comes down. The cost for Thunderbolt will likely only come down as adoption picks up. We're stuck in situation where one thing has to move first, but which will?
Computex 2013 Taipei - I wanted to bring you this story yesterday, but one of the images didn't turn out too well so I swallowed by pride and returned to the ADATA booth at Computex Nangang to do it right today.
Less than 24 hours ago we published a short news story about ADATA's new enterprise products, among them included another 1800MB/s part. This gumstick sized piece of engineering marvel (but not from Marvell) uses four PCIe 2.0 lanes just like the enterprise SX2000, but it uses the consumer m.2, known around these parts as NFGG interface.
Just like the enterprise part, this unit has the same bandwidth as the higher cost server model. In years past we've seen enterprise products come to market first but that isn't the case this time around. Several new Ultrabooks and at least one motherboard is ready for NGFF in some form or another today.
Computex Taipei 2013 - Just a few days ago we set a PCMark Vantage world record with an Areca ARC-1882-ix-16 and 16 Mushkin Chronos Deluxe drives in a BitFenix Prodigy system, you can read about that over here.
We can't help to imagine what might have been possible with a new 12Gb/s Areca controller. With a 12Gb/s expander, we could have the same performance for less cost.
The two top ports you see are part of the new SAS cable standard that shrinks the connector size. From these two ports, each with four 12Gb/s channels, we could go to what's called an expander. The expander would take a 12Gb/s channel and divide it by two, thus giving us performance equal to 16 6Gb/s channels.
Computex Taipei 2013 - The enterprise SSD market is a tough nut to crack, just ask OCZ. That doesn't mean others aren't seeing the same projections that show enterprise storage revenue on the rise. With the consumer PC market shrinking as mobile increases, some are looking at other areas of growth and enterprise is where the action is for the next few years.
Contrary to what was reported yesterday by The Preview Site, the new ADATA SX2000 is not a SAS 12Gb part; it uses a PCIe connector that looks similar to SAS. The interface isn't exactly new; Micron's P320h uses it and Dell has already shipped several 12 generation PowerEdge servers with the technology.
Computex Taipei 2013 - We didn't get a lot of time to talk with ADATA today, so more details will follow shortly. At the booth we found several interesting products though. First up are two personal cloud products that use NAS technology to give users access to their data anywhere in the world through other devices. You can use the Internet--err 'the cloud'--to access your files. I use this technology everyday on my notebook, smartphone, and other people's hardware to get to my files. Since I'm literally on the other side of the globe right now, it's an important detail to toss in.
We're not going to try to BS you, this is obviously a rebranded unit from ASUSTOR. ADATA's global network of distribution should help products like this gain traction. I've said for years the most important tech in my home and office is my NAS server and that digital home needs one as the foundation for ever device to connect to. With the new cloud features, your data is no longer tied to a physical device on your person as you can access it from anywhere.
Computex Taipei 2013 - ADATA's SX series branding has always been associated with LSI SandForce controllers. Even before SX, the S Series products like S510 and S511 were LSI SandForce. It's been quite some time since we've seen ADATA using a Marvell controller. The last time I can think of is at Computex three years ago when ADATA closed a section of their booth so we could test a then new SATA III product based on the same controller used in the Crucial C300, the world's first SATA III controller.
Looking to increase diversity to the brand, the SATA SX920 uses a Marvell controller and appears to be ready for entry into the channel. We suspect this is the same controller used in the SanDisk Extreme II and Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme. Talking to the product manager at the show, we learned that SX920 uses Type C Toggle NAND, the good stuff that everyone wants but few are getting access to.
With 20nm yields down and next-gen LSI SandForce stuck somewhere in 3Q or 4Q, ADATA needed a product to compete with M500 and Extreme II. Personally I would have liked to have seen ADATA not follow the SX product naming scheme and release this under a different name since SX920 is quite a bit different than SX900 and SX910. The five-year warranty from the SX910 didn't carry over either.
Computex Taipei 2013 - With our meetings at Hyatt finished, Cameron and I finally had a chance to get to the show floor for a few minutes today. There we saw the future of SSDs at just about every booth we stopped by: NGFF or Next Generation Form Factor, commercially known as m.2. Over the next few days, we'll have a lot of NGFF product images and slide in some details about the interface that most are not familiar with yet. We should be able to take a few products back to the test lab as well.
The largest crowd at Plextor's booth was around the two NGFF products seen above. This form factor has several versions, roughly 14 or 15 the last I looked into it. That number will come down to just a few common sizes once system builders roll out motherboards, notebooks and Ultrabooks with the new form factor.
Electrically, NGFF can connect to a SATA bus or PCIe. The PCIe connection moves us past the limits of SATA III, making SSDs exciting once again from a performance standpoint. Companies will once again race to maximize the performance of products and more distinction in the market place will occur.
Right out of the gate, NGFF will bring sequential read performance close to 800MB/s. Sequential write performance will increase as well. Plextor's offering shows up to 780MB/s read and 550MB/s write at this point in time in the marketing documents.
Computex Taipei 2013 - Off to the side at the Plextor booth and getting little attention was an early look at what may become the M6 Series. We were told it's a working product name but considering the M1 through M5 product naming scheme M6 seems appropriate since it's next in line.
The specifications shown are very close to those found on the existing M5 Pro model that's selling today.
That means the baseline M6, or M6S depending on your market, should have nearly identical performance to the existing M5 Pro product but at a lower cost. With that said, where are the M6 Pro specs? That's the model we want to see since the Pro versions in the Plextor product series are the bleeding edge performance drives. We'll get out the shovel tomorrow and look for treasure.
Computex Taipei 2013 - We learned today that Plextor has dropped any immediate plans to release the 2.5" TLC model shown at CES 2013 and CeBIT 2013. Citing endurance concerns, a Plextor rep stated to TweakTown that the TLC model shown at previous shows has been shelved. "With Toshiba's new 1y NAND flash we can meet the same or better price point and not [have] issues with endurance."
The product in question used a Marvell 88SS9189 controller with Toshiba TLC NAND, lithography unknown. In 512GB capacity size, the rated performance was 540MB/s sequential read and 465MB/s sequential write speeds. The quoted IOPS performance was 80K read and 72K write, 4K aligned. These numbers are significantly higher than Samsung's 840, especially the write performance. Allowing TLC NAND to write at those speeds would have been an issue since TLC has lower PE cycles than MLC NAND.
The buzz around the show is that 1y will change the SSD market from a price perspective. Also, new controllers are emerging that can scale beyond 512GB and new interfaces that work over PCIe will mean moving beyond the limits of SATA III. These new products should start hitting e-tail stores in 3Q.
Computex Taipei 2013 - In a move that surprised no one, Seagate today announced a new ultrathin 5mm HDD for use in slim laptops, ultrabooks and tablet devices.
The 5mm standard will start off strong this year with large OEMs and ODMs taking advantage of the 25% reduces height compared to 7mm HDDs that were all the rage just one year ago. Shown above, at the top of the pile is the new 5mm, single platter wonder. The drive sits atop 7mm and 9.5mm products.
With design wins in hand from ASUS and GIGABYTE (shown here), Seagate has this model in production already. The new product supports Seagate Secure Self-Encrypting Drive Features with on-the-fly data encryption that meets TCG Opal protocol.