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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.
I hope you enjoyed the pun in the title, but seriously, I want a DNAS as soon as possible. Grab your lab coat, because we're about to do a quick science post. Harvard geneticist and bioengineers George Church and Sriram Kosuri with the help of John Hopkins Yuan Gao have stored 5.5 petabits (700TB) of data into one gram of DNA.
The accomplishment of these scientists, is grand, as it beats the previous DNA data storage record by more than 1000 times. DNA-based storage is attractive to scientists, as DNA itself is quite dense, requires absolutely no moving parts when stored, and is durable. Usually data is stored on magnetic media, versus DNA strands storing 96 bits, with each of the base pairs representing a binary number.
In this case, Adenosine and Thymine represent zero, and the Guanine and Cytosine represent one. Each strand of DNA is encoded with a 19-bit address block allowing vast quantities of DNA to be stored volumetrically to be decoded and sorted so that usable data can be extracted, 96 bits at a time. In comparison, the original human genome project, with 3 billion base pairs, took 13 years to complete (from 1990 to 2003).
OWC have just announced the first SSD upgrade for the Retina-powered Apple MacBook Pro, with the new drive available on a single 480GB capacity. The upgraders who purchase before September 30 will receive OWC's Envoy Pro USB 3.0 bus-powered portable enclosure that will house the removed SSD, and use it as an external drive at no extra cost.
OWC's drive is dubbed the Mercury Aura drive, and is user-installable. The Mercury Aura drive is capable of 500MB/sec, compared to the stock Apple drive of 461MB/sec. The Mercury-branded SSD is also capable of block management and wear leveling technologies, which limits the reduction in speed common in SSD drives over long-term use.
The Mercury Aura 480GB sell for $580 and is available right now.
DigiTimes is reporting that hard drive makers are working on slimming the 2.5" HDD standard down to a 5mm thick version. The move appears to be to compete with solid state drives and to provide a product that can be used inside today's fashionable ultra-portables and Intel's Ultrabooks. The slimmed models would still feature a hybrid design to provide better performance than a traditional drive.
DigiTimes reports that most hard drive manufacturers are still in the planning stages of development for the new 5mm thick drives and there has not been one manufactured as of yet. The source says the two major issues with the shrinking is stabilization of the read and write actions and increased cost due to the shrinking.
The source also believes that early 2013 will see heavy hybrid hard drive competition as the drives continue to be adopted in Ultrabook settings as well as entry- to mid-level laptops. Furthermore, this competition should accelerate the speed at which a 5mm 2.5-inch drive standard is developed and adopted.
Solid State Drives (SSDs) have been out for quite some time now, but as with any new technology, the iron needs to be bought out to get out some of the niggly issues, some big, some small. One of these has been RAID 0 on SSDs with TRIM.
RWLabs has an editorial where they talk about the subject itself, and I can't really condense it into a news post as its a four-page piece. If you're interested in SSD RAID 0 with TRIM enabled, then I suggest you check out the piece here.
RWLabs reckon it won't be long before we see motherboard makers bake the necessary goods into their BIOS', so as long as you've got the hardware, TRIM on RAID 0 SSDs shouldn't be too far away!
Intel have plans to standardize SSD specifications for their popular, and heavily marketed Ultrabook platform. The chipmaker wants to steer it toward slimmer, faster Ultrabooks. Intel plan to invite a large number of industry players such as NAND flash memory makers SanDisk, Micron and Samsung.
This would result in a bunch of the big players in the market discussing what is known as Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), a new SSD form-factor derived from mSATA. Intel wants to accelerate their NGFF SSD plans, as current mSATA has limitations, including limited PCB area, where a number of ONFI channels can be wired out.
NGFF will probably end up as mSATA with much more PCB area, which will allow the same number of ONFI channels as 2.5-inch SSDs, with the latest generation of controllers and toggle-NAND flash memory. NGFF doesn't increase the thickness of the SSD itself compared to mSATA, but just elongates it. Intel and their Ultrabook partners are discussing five length standards at the moment.
Western Digital's latest mini creation, the latest in their 2.5-inch range of HDDs, the WD Green WD20NPVT has made its way onto a Japanese retailers shelf. The drive is built from the 2.5-inch form-factor, is 15mm thick, which means it won't fit in most notebooks.
But, the 2.5-inch drive sports an insane 2TB of storage, features IntelliPower variable spindle speed, 8MB cache, SATA 3Gb/s interface, 0.2W idle (parked) and 1.7W (active) power consumption. The new 2TB 2.5-inch drive is priced at $240.
What do you think? We're eyeing 2TB 2.5-inch drives, isn't that a little crazy? Would you have thought 10 years ago this is possible, and not be that surprised? At just $240, that's quite a deal.
eSATA is one of those ports that has seemingly gone away. For those of you who still have an external enclosure that utilizes the eSATA connection, finding one on a laptop, or an open port on a desktop install one can be challenging. That's why ORICO has produced an adapter that converts USB 3.0 to an eSATA port.
Stylish? Maybe. Useful? Definitely. The CT6539U3E by ORICO plugs into a USB 3.0 port or USB 2.0 port and provides an eSATA port. The eSATA port operates at a maximum host data-rate of 3Gb/s and draws the necessary power from the USB port that it is plugged into. The converter's host controller features activity LEDs to indicate when data is being transferred.
The adapter should also support AHCI in order for hot-swap capabilities to work properly. The price of the adapter is a reasonable $15, nothing that's going to break the bank. The price is certainly cheaper than buying a new external drive, as long as the current drive still has enough space for what you need.
NVELO have opened their arms to The SSD Guy, who provided the site with some benchmark data comparing the company's Dataplex software's performance versus Intel's iSRT caching software that is getting baked into more and more Ultrabooks as they arrive.
For those, like me, who aren't fully aware of this technology, they are both caching software that "automatically maintains "Hot" data within a low-capacity SSD while leaving "Cold" data on the system HDD. The end result is that the PC performs as if it boasts a large SSD when, in truth, it uses a standard HDD and a modest-sized SSD, giving SSD-like performance at HDD-like prices, with full HDD capacity."
The above chart was provided to The SSD Guy by NVELO, shows a few standard benchmarks run on three different systems. The first is an off-the-shelf HP Envy 4-103 Ultrabook using the iSRT-based write-back cache that it ships with (represented by the grey columns), the same system but adapted to use a write-around implementation of NVELO's Dataplex (shown in pale blue), and finally, the same system sporting Dataplex running in write-back mode (shown in dark blue).
Intel's plans for their solid-state drives (SSD) for 2013 are beginning to form, where we should see the release of the mainstream SSD 335 series, and the performance SSD 525 series getting released. Intel could also unleash their latest 20nm NAND flash memory technology onto some of these bad boys.
Intel's 335 series will replace the 330 series in most aspects, and could sport a new NAND flash memory type, as mentioned above. Intel could tweak the performance of the drive, making it faster than the LSI-SandForce SF-2881-powered 330 series drive, if it had the right firmware and NAND flash combination. The 335 series looks to be receiving, at first, 80GB and 180GB sizes in Q1 2013. 2013 could mark the time when we see 180GB drives become "the new" 120GB size.
Intel's performance-minded SSD 525 series looks to arrive in 25nm NAND flash, why 25nm and not 20nm? We don't know. Intel most likely won't change from the SF-2281 controller that powers the current SSD 520 series, either. But, the herbs and spices that Intel could build into their firmware could change things up a bit. Intel's SSD 525 series will arrive in mSATA, as well as 2.5-inch form-factors, and will arrive in 30, 120, 180, and 240GB capacities.