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Computex Taipei 2013 - The storage market is growing rapidly and for good reason. Cloud storage is booming, but not just for consumers looking to keep family photos in two or more secure locations. QNAP had two demos and more than one product in the racks are unannounced as of this time.
The first rack we looked at was titled Scale-up. In this picture we can see a 20-bay 2.5-inch form-factor model that has us quite excited. Several products in this rack connect to a central NAS via expanders. It's a good way to increase density while working with a smaller budget.
With the Scale-out option, you're increasing density through full NAS products. This increases both drive count and increases compute power at the same time.
We have a few QNAP rackmount systems in our lab and appreciate their versatility. A NAS is no longer a NAS when the feature set is stacked as deep as it is in these products.
Computex Taipei 2013 - We have a few stories from QNAP in the works, but this one will affect the largest number of new buyers. Until now, the 10GbE Ethernet option was available only on larger NAS systems, platforms with eight or more drives.
In a bold and exciting move, QNAP has brought 10GbE to six-bay and four-bay models. The TS-670 Pro uses six drive bays and has the processing power to go with it.
We're starting to see 10GbE ship on workstation and server boards, mainly from on-board Intel X540 parts. Intel X540 add-in cards are available for less than $300 if you look around for good deals. The add-in cards allow you to add 10GbE capability to any system, including desktop computers.
We're using 10GbE in the office now and love the performance. Transferring files to and from the NAS with roughly a 10x increase over gigabit Ethernet not only reduces the wait time, but also increases the number of users who can comfortably connect to the NAS at the same time.
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.