It doesn't matter if you own a motherboard with a legacy BIOS or one sporting a newfangled UEFI BIOS, the RAIDR Express from Asus ROG will play nice either way. It's a PCI-E based solid state drive (SSD), and supposedly the first of its kind with a DuoMode feature that allows it to work with either type of BIOS. Just flip the hardware switch to the appropriate setting and you'll be off an running with a spectacularly fast SSD.
PCIe SSDs, which combine a RAID chip with several SSD controllers and plenty of NAND flash onto one convenient and speedy package, are not a new idea. We’ve reviewed several, most recently the OCZ RevoDrive3 X2 in December 2011. They can be handy for people who want the speed of modern SSDs but don’t have free 6Gb/s SATA ports (this means you, X58). OWC’s Mercury Accelsior comes in sizes up to 960GB; we tested the 480GB version.
The Accelsior’s blades can be replaced with higher-capacity ones in the future, but will anyone actually do that?
It's not really fair to pit an enterprise grade PCIe solid state drive (SSD) against a typical consumer grade model sporting a SATA interface, like Samsung's 840 Series announced earlier today, but that doesn't mean we're any less impressed with the fact that RunCore's new Kylin III SSD manages 3 million random read IOPS and 1.4 million random write IOPS. It's safe to say it can run Crysis, and anything else you throw at it, though it's really meant to tackle workstation tasks that include database chores, web servers, analytic engines, and anything involved with high performance computing servers in general.
We had to check the date just to make sure the past two decades weren't just one very long dream, one in which we've seen the accelerated graphics port (AGP) supplant PCI as the port of choice for graphics cards, which itself ended up being replaced by PCI Express. Unless this is the most elaborate hoax in the world, the year really is 2011, a fact that Zotac blatantly ignores with the release of a GeForce GT 520 videocard in PCI and PCI-E x1 form factors.
A company called "Internet Machines" is suing several high profile technology bigwigs over alleged patent infringement violations related to PCI Express switch technology. Just some of the many names include Dell, Nvidia, AMD, Asus, and Samsung, but Internet Machines is also targeting retailers like Best Buy and TigerDirect, as well as system builders, one of which told us this feels like an extortion scheme.
Micron is making the claim that its new RealSSD P320h solid state drive series is the world's fastest enterprise SSD line built to take advantage of the PCI Express bus. These new drives come in 350GB and 700GB capacities, use 34nm single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash memory chips, and offer up to 3GB/s of sustained data throughput, more than double that of the nearest competitor, Micron says.
If you're strictly a home user, you've probably never heard of a Virident, which specializes in enterprise-class storage solutions, particularly solid state drives. The company's newest SSD, called "tachIOn," is one such product. The tackIOn takes advantage of the PCI-E interface to deliver sustained performance of up to 300,000 I/O operations per second (IOPS) with a 4KB block size on mixed read and write workloads. This, Virident says, is several times faster than competing PCI-E based SSDs.
How can you improve on OCZ Technology’s original RevoDrive (reviewed November 2010), which binds two SandForce SF-1200 SSDs to a PCI-E card? You add another two SSDs for a quad-drive SSD. That’s what OCZ did for the RevoDrive X2.
The original RevoDrive topped out at 500MB/s in very specific tests, and hovered around half that speed for most day-to-day usage, which still put it at the very top end of current-gen solid-state devices. OCZ claims the RevoDrive X2 can hit speeds up to 750MMB/s—that’s marketing megabytes per second. Oh yeah, we’re testing that.
Move over USB, because PCI Express is going 3.0, too. PCI-SIG, the special interest group responsible for PCI Express, published the PCI-E 3.0 specification on Thursday, which the consortium describes as a low-cost, higher-performance I/O technology that now includes a new 128b/130b encoding scheme and a data rate of 8 gigatransfers per second. In other words, double the bandwidth of PCI-E 2.0.
"Each new version of the PCI-E spec has doubled the bandwidth of the prior generation," said Nathan Brookwood, research fellow at Insight 64. "The latest group of PCI-E architects and designers drove the standard forward while maintaining complete backward compatibility for Gen 1 and Gen 2 devices. Rarely has a standard advanced so non-disruptively through three major evolutionary cycles. The ability to pull this off demonstrates not only the ingenuity of the Gen 3 developers, but also the insight of those who defined the earlier versions in such an extensible manner."
Want more numbers? The PCI-SIG says products designed for PCI-E 3.0 can "achieve bandwidth near 1GB/s in one direction on a single-lane (x1) configuration and scale to an aggregate approaching 32GB/s on a sixteen-lane (x16) configuration." What the new encoding scheme does is allow for near 100 percent efficiency, PCI-SIG says.
OCZ Technology is on a roll. While most consumer SSD manufacturers are content to just slap the latest controller and some NAND into a 2.5-inch enclosure and call it a day, OCZ has been pumping out innovative products, from top-of-the-heap SATA SSDs to the blistering-fast (and stylish) USB 3.0 Enyo drive. Now it has introduced the RevoDrive, a PCI-E SSD in capacities from 50GB to 480GB. Though it’s not the first PCI Express SSD (Fusion-io’s been making enterprise-level PCI-E SLC devices for years), it is the first bootable consumer PCI-E SSD. OCZ claims the RevoDrive can hit up to 540MB/s reads and 450MB/s writes, which sounds like nonsense. But is it?