Samsung has faced a lot of adversity when it comes to getting their fancy new SSDs to consumers. While they’re responsible for producing nearly half of the NAND flash in SSDs sold, they can’t seem to sell their own boxes.
That’s why they’re aiming their sights on the gamer crowd. According to Jim Elliott, Vice President of Memory Marketing for Samsung, “In addition to processing power, advanced graphic cards and high-resolution monitors, gamers want a fast storage drive for reduced loading times and faster game performance. Our 256GB SSD provides much better overall performance than conventional HDDs, as well as longer battery life for the notebook gamer. Clearly, all PC gamers will benefit from the blistering speeds and dazzling photorealism enabled by the Samsung 256GB SSD.”
Sure, the SSDs do cost a pretty penny, but if there’s any crowd that will pay a premium for the latest piece of hardware that will give them a competitive edge, it’s gamers. No official word yet as to when we can expect the adverts.
All of a sudden we feel woefully inadequate waving around our 16GB and 32GB thumb drives. That's because Corsair on Thursday launched what it claims is the the world's fastest high capacity USB flash drive, the 128GB Flash Voyager GT.
"High performance is a key requirement for super-high capacity flash drives, such as the 128GB Voyager GT, simply because it is able to store such a large volume of data," said John Beekley, the VP of Applications at Corsair. "The 128GB Voyager GT is nearly twice as fast as other high-capacity flash drives, which means less time waiting for your music, video, or office files to copy to and from the drive."
According to Corsair, the MLC-based drive can hit read speeds of up to 32MB/s and write speeds of up to 25.6MB/s thanks to the Voyager's dual-controller architecture. The company also says you're more likely to run into bottlenecks with your USB 2.0 bus or OS system overhead before the drive loses its pep.
All that speed and capacity doesn't come cheap, however. The 128GB Voyager GT is available now with a street price of around $400.
A password bug forced Intel to halt shipments of its new 34nm X25-M G2 SSDs after some customers -- including OEM builder Puget Systems -- complained of data corruption if a password is set on the drive in the system BIOS and then is changed or disabled later. Intel was able to hammer out a firmware update that squashes the bug and resume shipments of the new drives.
For those who purchased one of the potentially faulty drives before they were pulled, Intel has posted the firmware update to its website. The firmware applies to both the X25-M and X18-M SSDs on 50nm (black case, G1) and 34nm (silver case, G2), however there are some issues with the latest firmware.
According to Intel, some Nvidia chipset-based systems, including Macs, will not recognize an Intel SSD. The solution? Install the SSD in a different system to update the firmware and then reinstall in the Nvidia rig. Other potential roadblocks include a "known website compatibility" issue with Apple Safari (Intel recommends running Firefox to download the update), and the Firmware update Tool does not support updating SSDs in systems running RAID.
Intel and Micron have developed a new 34nm NAND flash memory technology that is capable of 3 bits per cell, which allows for greater density than the standard 2 bits per cell technology currently in use, the two companies announced this week.. According to Micron, this will pave the way for high-capacity USB flash drives.
Micron also said the technology isn't yet as reliable as flash memory based on 2 bits per cell technology. Because of this, the 3 bits per cell chips will only be used in the manufacturer of flash drives that don't require the data storage reliability of an SSD.
"The chip is not for all markets," claims Jim Handy of semiconductor market researcher Objective Analysis. "The companies explained that they need more experience in production volumes before they will be confident to position it as a chip suitable for the high-write environment of the SSD."
Micron said the chips will be in mass production in the fourth quarter.
Active Media Products, makers of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Penguin and Panda USB drives, has added to its Penguin line with a bootable Linux USB (BLU) drive that the company says is compatible with Windows 7.
"These bootable Linux USB drives are handy for users who need flexibility in an OS, and will be an invaluable tool for disaster recovery and system maintenance," Active Media stated in a press release.
Designed in the likeness of an emperor penguin with "exacting detail," the new drives come in 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB capacities, each one pre-loaded with the full installation of Ubuntu Linux 9.0.4., which occupies about 700MB of space.
The drives are available now ranging in price from $13 (1GB) to $44 (16GB), with 5 percent of the retail price donated to World Wildlife Fund.
Solid state drives continue to go through growing pains, and not even Intel can avoid having to beat back bugs in this relatively new market. After some customers reported slowdowns following extended use with the first generation of X25-M SSDs, Intel pushed out a firmware update to fix the problem. Now it appears the company's new 34nm X25-M G2 SSDs are also in need of a firmware update, but for a different problem.
According to OEM system builder Puget Systems, a defect exists in the new drives which causes data corruption if a password is set on the drive in the system BIOS and then is changed or disabled later.
"There was a lot of confusion, but it was clear that something was wrong with these first units - enough so that Newegg and other online vendors had also pulled them entirely from their sites," Puget wrote in a blog. "We too stopped listing them, and began contacting our customers who were expecting us to ship them out this afternoon."
Puget says Intel was able to work out a firmware fix for the problem rather than rework the drives, however the updated firmware won't be available for another two weeks. In the meantime, Intel has stopped shipping the new drives until the fix is fully implemented.
Much to the delight of power users who avoided the temptation of spending too much for too little capacity in Intel's first-generation X25-M solid state drives, the chip maker earlier this week announced a second generation of SSDs with a die shrink (34nm down from 50nm) and reduced pricing. Even better, Intel's latest pricing has at least one competitor reevaluating its own price points.
That competitor is OCZ, who said it plans to reduce prices on its Vertex, Agility, and Colossus SSD lines. Pricing for Intel's 80GB and 160GB X25-M (34nm) check in at $2.81 and $2.75 per GB respectively, while all but one of OCZ's nine drives receiving a price cut will undercut Intel by at least a few cents per GB, with the 128GB Agility expected to cost $2.11 per GB.
While OCZ is so far the only manufacturer to announce price drops, don't be surprised to see other third-party SSD makers forced to do the same as a result of Intel's comparatively aggressively pricing strategy.
Look for OCZ's price cuts to go into effect in the coming weeks.
Adobe this week anounced two open-source initiatives designed to help media companies and publishers build better Flash applications.
The first is the Open Source Media Framework (OSMF), which paves the way for more sophisticated media players to run Adobe Flash content. Formerly known as Strobe, the OSMF offers advanced playback and navigation controls, as well as plug-ins for advertising and tracking. It can also work with any kind of Flash content.
The other open-source project is the Text Layout Framework (TLF), which will help developers add advanced typography and font layouts to their Flash applications. When combined with the new text engine in Flash Player 10, TLF makes possible vertical and bidirectional text, flowing text around images, and multiple language support.
As Microsoft's Silverlight continues to gain traction and HTML 5 adding another dimension to the Web 2.0 war, don't be surprised to see an even bigger push from Adobe in expanding upon Flash's capabilities.
For those of you that are looking to carry around every piece of information that you might ever need (and most of your family photos) around with you in your pocket, Kingston has got the thumb drive for you.
With the recent introduction of their 256GB thumb drive, you’ll be able to take a plethora of files around with you everywhere you go. The drive itself packs a transfer speed of up to 20MB/sec and a read speed of 10MB/sec. And, if you’re using Vista, it also supports Windows ReadyBoost.
Though, this beast is only available in Europe and the UK for a whopping £565.67 ($931.60) upon custom order.
Crucial this week announced what it describes as a "revved-up line" of SSD products, while also noting that the M225 series is the fastest, highest capacity Crucial SSDs to date.
"By upgrading their system with a solid-state drive, mobile computer users will enjoy a faster, more rugged system with storage built for mobility. The fact that SSDs don't have any moving parts makes Crucial solid-state drives quieter, cooler, and more durable than traditional hard drives," said Robert Wheadon, Lexar Media's senior worldwide product marketing manager.
The M225 series is available in 64GB (CT64M225), 128GB (CT128M225), and 256GB (CT256M225) capacities with the following speed grades:
256GB: 250MB/s read, 200MB/s write
128GB: 250MB/s read, 190MB/s write
64GB: 200MB/s read, 150MB/s write
The MLC-based drives also sport 64MB of DRAM cache and come with a 5-year warranty. The drives are available now for $160 (64GB), $330 ($128GB), and $600 (256GB).