Intel is taking a hard-nosed approach to USB 3.0, and as a result, widespread adoption isn't expected until the very end of 2011. In Intel's absence, companies are stepping to the plate with SuperSpeed solutions of their own. One of those companies is Patriot Memory, which on Wednesday announced a family of USB 3.0 products.
SuperSpeed USB 3.0 PCI-E Adapter (PCUSB3PCIE)
SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Express Card Adapter (PCUSB3EXP)
Gauntlet 2.5-Inch SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Enclosure (PCGT25S)
Patriot's trying to cover all the bases here, and that's just fine by us. Both the desktop and notebook adapters come equipped with two USB 3.0 ports and can already be found online for around $40 shipped (Newegg). Both also include supplemental power input jacks. The Gauntlet enclosure isn't yet available, but will be soon, Patriot says.
Patriot on Wednesday launched a new line of SSDs built on top of the JMicron JMF612 controller. According to Patriot, you can expect "aggressive pricing and performance" from their Zephyr series.
"As solid-state drive technology advances, it is becoming more affordable, allowing SSD solutions to reach an increasing segment of end users. Patriot's objective is to offer the latest technology in our solutions which provide the best performance and price options", states Les Henry, Vice President of Engineering at Patriot. "Our Zephyr family of SSDs offer great performance, aggressive pricing and the inherent benefit of SSD technology over antiquated hard disk drives: quicker boot times and shorter application loading times. Including a Zephyr SSD in your desktop or notebook upgrade plans provides one of the best bang-for-the buck improvements you can make to your system."
That's all well and fine, but while Patriot was busy tooting its own horn, the company failed to mention exactly how much these new drives will cost. However they did release capacity and performance numbers, which breaks down as follows:
Zephyr 256GB: 240MB/s read, 180MB/s write
Zephyr 128GB, 240MB/s read, 145MB/s write
Zephyr 64GB, 240MB/s read, 85MB/s write
All three drives also ship with native support for the TRIM command in Windows 7. No word yet on when these will be available.
Sometimes a company just does something unnecessarily extravagant to get attention. This time the company is Patriot, and the extravagance is building a PC with 40 SSDs in one huge array. This feat was accomplished using 5 LSI Mega RAID SAS/SATA 9260-8i raid cards to connect up the 40 TorqX SSDs. The System also packs two 1000w Thermaltake power supplies, and a server board with dual Xeons and 48GB of DDR3 RAM.
We would like very much to play with this system, but it’s unlikely that Patriot will be letting it out of their sight. According to a questionable claim apparently made by a Patriot rep, the system would be able to rip a Blu-Ray in 0.9 seconds. Technically, we’ve never seen an optical drive capable of that sort of read speed. It’s possible this was just a ham-handed attempt to show the speed of the drives. If so, the array is able to write about 8GB per second. Yeah, we’d take that.
Media streamers—devices that put your PC’s video files on a big-screen TV—are emerging as the next hot product category, as more people look to move downloaded and transcoded movies from the desktop into the living room. Patriot’s Box Office is a low-cost media streamer that’s configured much the same as its similarly priced competitors, but includes a few unique hardware features to help differentiate it from the crowd.
Powered by a 400MHz Realtek chip, the Box Office plays video and audio files from USB-connected portable hard drives and flash keys (PC-formatted only), funneling high-definition media to your TV with either an HDMI or composite interface. An Ethernet port lets you stream files from a NAS box, but network connectivity feels a bit wasted without the ability to tap into web services like YouTube or Pandora. The native BitTorrent client, however, is a welcome feature.
Video format compatibility is generous; the device played all of our high-bitrate 1080p test files and even worked with FLV Flash and RealVideo (though a firmware update is recommended out-of-box for improved MKV file playback). We recommend sticking to connected USB drives for videos, as network-streamed HD videos showed minor visual artifacts. Audio format compatibility is sufficiently robust, but while DTS decoding is supported, the Box Office can’t pass through DTS HDMA or TrueHD audio to receivers, which will leave some audiophiles disappointed.
At what capacity point are enthusiasts ready to make the crossover from magnetic storage to solid state? For some, that mark is a quarter-terabyte. If that sounds like you, Patriot’s new 256GB Torqx, featuring the hot Indilinx controller, could be the SSD you’re after. We pitted the 256GB Torqx against the 128GB Torqx and Intel’s second-gen 160GB X25-M SSD to find out which would be the new SSD king.
On our new Core i5 test bed, the 256GB Patriot Torqx significantly outperformed both its smaller sibling and Intel’s X25-M—at least in sustained reads and writes. (To restore performance on the latter two drives to like-new levels, we used Patriot’s and Intel’s SSD-optimizing utilities on their respective drives before testing.) For the first time, we found a drive with average sustained reads and writes above 200MB/s—on the same platform, the 128GB Torqx averaged 178MB/s reads and 168MB/s writes, while the X25-M achieved 185MB/s and 94MB/s, respectively. These aren’t quite the numbers we saw when we originally tested the 128GB Torqx or the X25-M, a difference we chalked up to the new test bed. Regardless, the 256GB Torqx surpassed both other drives in average sustained reads and writes, though Intel’s drive is still the champion in random-write access times, as well as in our Premiere Pro and PCMark Vantage tests, where the 256GB Torqx lagged far behind. Strangely, the smaller-capacity Torqx also outperformed the 256GB in the latter two tests.
Compared to the Thecus N2200 or QNAP's TS-109 Pro, Patriot's new Valkyrie NAS device wins on name alone. But even though we're willing to award geek points for a name that doesn't suck, it's the hardware that ultimately matters.
Patriot's Valkyrie is a two-bay NAS box targeted for SOHO and prosumer users. It supports up to 4TB and comes configured with a 500MHz embedded processor and 128MB of RAM. Some of the features include RAID 0, 1, and JPBD support; FTP; UPnP and DLNA; iTunes server, user, and group management; One Touch Backup (OTB); PC-less download via BitTorrent; Active Director Services (ADS); and Dynamic DNS.
"The addition of Valkyrie to our NAS solutions, with its enhanced functionality and ease of use gives consumers a power solution at an affordable price," says Jack Chen, Patriots' Peripheral Product Manager. "Our goal is to bring products to the market that provide versatility, scalability, and functionality at a price that consumers feel offer comparable product features to the high end devices, yet are affordable to the everyday user."
We’re finally out of the woods. After nearly a year in which the Intel X-25M was virtually the only solid state drive on the market not to suffer from severe latency during sustained random writes, the past few months have brought us sweet relief in the form of new SSDs with stutter-less memory controllers from such manufacturers as Samsung and Indilinx. This month, we tested the 128GB Patriot Torqx, which uses an Indilinx “Barefoot” memory controller and 64MB DRAM write cache to end the stuttering problem once and for all.
Right out of the box, Patriot impresses with the thoughtful inclusion of a 3.5-inch tray adapter for its 2.5-inch drive. It’s just a simple sheet of pot metal with screw holes and rail mounts, but it’s appreciated. The drive enclosure itself is all brushed-metal—black on top, silver on the bottom—and screws into the adapter easily.
Several SSD owners have reported intermittent stuttering, a problem that usually creeps up on drives built around a JMicron controller. But according to Patriot, insufficient cache can also be the culprit, and the company's new Torqx M28 series seeks to solve the problem by doubling the amount of DRAM cache from 64MB to 128MB.
"The Torqx series SSDs takes the technology of SSD to the next level," says Meng J. Choo, Patriot's Flash Product Manager. "Competitor non-cache drives suffered from what consumers described as 'stuttering effect' which inhibited the drive performance. Torqx series addresses this issue with a DRAM cache that acts as a buffer for data transfer bottlenecks and increases the random and sequential read and write transfer speeds."
So far available in both 128GB and 256GB capacities, the Torqx M28 come rated at up to 220MB/s sequential read and up to 200MB/s sequential write speeds - respectable, but not earth moving. Somewhat more impressive, the drives come backed by a 10 year warranty, or at least double that of most hard drives.
Patriot Memory has buddied up with AMD to release its first co-branded Gamer Series memory kit, the AMD Black Edition Ready DDR3 G Series.
"Platforms featuring the latest socket AM3 for AMD processors, including the AMD Phenom II processor family, takes full advantage of the new Patriot Gamer Series memory," said Leslie Sobon, VP of Product Marketing, AMD. "Combined with AMD OverDrive software version 3.0.2, users can experience a state-of-the-art, real time over-clocking utility that allows unprecedented control over their AMD processor / chipset and memory to help push the performance threshold to it peak limits."
Marketing jargon aside, the kits come in both DDR3-1600 and DDR3-1333 frequencies in Low Latency (9-9-9-24) and Enhanced Latency (7-7-7-20) form. Voltage requirements vary by kit, ranging from 1.5V (DDR3-1333 Low Latency) to 1.9V (DDR3-1600 Enhanced Low Latency).
It makes us sick to our stomach to think we used to pay $300 and up for premium 2GB memory kits just a few short years ago, when now you can get twice the capacity for roughly the cost of a Happy Meal, sans toy. If you're new to computing, trust us when we say that most of today's memory kits are a steal at their current price points.
Whether the same will be said about Patriot's newest SODIMM memory kits remains to be seen, but hey, we're stoked to see the higher capacity parts being offered in mobile form. The memory maker just announced two new additions to its Signature series, 4GB and 8GB DDR2-800 dual-channel SODIMMs.
"The performance gap between mobile and desktop computing has reduced significantly over the recent introduction of more powerful mobile platforms," commented Les Henry, Director of Engineering at Patriot. "By adding Patriot's DDR2 4GB module or 8GB in dual-channel mode, mobile systems can eliminate that gap and perform like a true desktop replacement."
No official word yet on pricing or availability (Newegg lists the not-yet-stocked 8GB kit for $299), but 8GB? Suck it, netbooks.