Like Wile E. Coyote after failing to catch the Road Runner for the umpteenth time, it's back to the drawing board for Intel, who must figure out what the heck is going on with its 34nm solid state drives (SSDs). Allow us to elaborate.
Earlier this summer, the chip maker halted shipments of its X25-M G2 drives when it was discovered that a BIOS bug could lead to data corruption. More recently, Intel released its new TRIM firmware, which was supposed to inject a 40 percent boost to sequential write speeds, but just one day after its release, Intel has pulled the update due to corruption issues in Windows 7. Apparently, the firmware has been doing more harm than good and managed to brick a few drives.
"Yes, we have been contacted by users with issues with the firmware upgrade for our 34nm SSDs and we are investigating. We take all sightings and issues seriously and are working toward resolution. We have temporarily taken down the firmware link while we investigate," Intel said in a statement to Engadget.
When Intel will have a new update is anyone's guess. In the meantime, there's a 6 page (and growing) discussion taking place on Intel's support form where you can keep up with the latest developments.
Solid state drive technology still has a few hurdles to overcome before it supplants traditional hard drives as the mainstream storage medium of choice -- and according to a recent study, HDDs still have at least a decade left -- but as prices come down, more users are finding that it makes sense to boot off of an SSD for a little extra pep. Targeting those consumers, Kingston today released its SSDNow V Series 40GB Boot Drive.
The 'V' as you might have guessed stands for 'Value' and the 'Boot Drive' nomenclature is pretty self-explanatory. The low capacity is a dead giveaway on that latter part, too.
"The SSDNow V Series 40GB Boot Drive offers instant performance enhancement coupled with reliability and lower power consumption at a fraction of the cost of a new system," said Areil Perez, SSD business manager, Kingston. "The 40GB Boot Drive is the latest offering in our V Series SSD line. It provides a low-cost upgrade solution that complements the installed hard disk drive to extend the life cycle of existing desktop computers and workstations in homes and offices."
From a performance standpoint, the 40GB Boot Drive comes rated at up 170MB/s sequential read, but only 40MB/s sequential write. Even still, Kingston claims its new drive muscled a 13,883 score in PCMark Vantage Advanced HDD Suite, compared to just 3,708 for an un-named 7200RPM hard drive during internal testing.
Kingston's 40GB Boot Drive will carry an MSRP of $115 and will begin shipping on November 9, 2009. The company adds you'll be able to find one for as low as $85 after mail-in-rebate when it launches.
Toshiba’s $328 million acquisition of hard drive maker Fujitsu is bearing some early fruit. The deal, made earlier this year, was an effort by Toshiba to increase it’s presence in the enterprise storage market. Toshiba acquired all of Fujitsu’s hard drive related business including design, development, manufacturing, and sales.
After a flurry of activity in the solid state drive market, it's been comparatively quiet the past few weeks, but we finally have some new developments to report. As you may recall, the controllers used in SSDs can have a significant impact on performance, and Micron thinks it has a winner on its hands with its just-developed JFM612 NAND flash controller chip.
Micron's first controller ran into some pesky performance problems, some of which they fixed with the JMF602B controller. But the initial hiccups left the door open for competitors to step in, like Indilinx did with its Barefoot controller. Like Barefoot, Micron's new chip is able to use 32nm flash chips, which helps lower the cost of SSDs.
After a few initial issues with the new controller, DailyTech reports that Micron has finally begun mass producing JFM612 chips. The first SSDs to utilize them will be Active Media with the launch of their Predator-X7 series. Along with Micron's new controller, the Predator-X7 will come with 128MB of DRAM cache to eliminate any chance of stuttering, and boast sequential read and write speeds of up to 230MB/s and 180MB/s, respectively.
Six months ago, the the Predator-X7 would have been a real barn burner, but it's tough to get too excited over 180MB/s writes anymore. However, more SSDs built around Micron's new controller are on the way, and you can probably expect these to give today's offerings a run for their money.
OCZ on Monday announced its latest Z-Drive PCI-Express SSD, the m84. Unlike previous Z-Drives, the m84 doesn't target enterprise users and instead is intended for the 'mainstream' power user crowd.
"The OCZ m84 Z-Drive is the newest addition to our line of PCI-E solid state drives and is designed to offer consumers a high performance yet aggressively priced solid state solution," said Eugene Chang, Vice President of Product Management at the OCZ Technology Group. "While the previously released p84 and e84 Z-Drives were intended specifically for enterprise applications, the m84 delivers much of the same performance but at a price point that is competitive with standard SSD drives. This is the first time that such a high performance PCI-E based SSD that is optimized for media editing, gaming, and workstation productivity, has been so within the reach of power users."
The m84 comes built with multi-level cell (MLC) NAND and a bootable internal RAID 0 configuration. OCZ says users can expect read speeds up to 750MB/s and write speeds up to 650MB/s, at least in the 256GB model. Other capacities include 512GB and 1TB, with both of the higher capacity models improving read and write speeds to 870MB/s and 780MB/s, respectively. All three boast sustained write speeds in the neighborhood of 600MB/s.
While Super Talent is busy readying its RAIDDrive, OCZ today announced it has begun shipping its PCI-Express based Z-Drive. This is the same drive that was being discussed at CeBIT earlier this year, and like Super Talent's version, OCZ's model looks to leave behind the confines of the SATA bus for wider pastures on the PCI-E interface more suitable for the ultra fast flash memory.
"Traditional enterprise storage technology typically requires overly complex infrastructures as well as costly maintenance, and is often unable to deliver the level of performance required by OEM applications," said Ryan Peterson, CEO of the OCZ Technology Group. "The new OCZ Z-Drive is an all-in-one high performance plug-and-play bootable PCI-E solid state drive that addresses these challenges head on, and meets the demands of the complete range of enterprise storage and data access requirements."
Sporting an internal RAID 0 configuration, OCZ says its SLC-based Z-Drive can top out at 800MB/s reads and 750MB/s writes, whereas the MLC-based version trails just lightly behind at 750MB/s reads and 650MB/s writes. Both versions also look to consume less power than traditional hard drives.
While OCZ did say the drives have started shipping, it did not announce a price or expected availabilty date.
TGDaily has found out that Super Talent plans to start shipping its first PCI Express RAIDDrive SSDs in early October, so you may want to hang on for a few more weeks if you're currently planning a dream machine build. Why is that? Because these purportedly stupid-fast drives are being designed to thrash the throughput bottleneck in your PC's storage subsystem and leave the SATA bus bandwidth limitation in the dust.
"The PCIe Gen. 2.0 x8 interface used by RAIDDrive SSDs supports 4GB/s bandwidth, more than ten times that of the SATA-II 3Gbps bus, and five times greater than the not yet available SATA-III bus," a Super Talent spokesperson told TGDaily. "Currently, there is no other way to achieve the same performance, except via Fusio-IO - but that costs approximately $10,000 for equivalent speeds."
Super Talent, meanwhile, is targeting a price point below $1,000 in hopes of appealing to both gamers and enterprise users, the spokesperson added. Three versions will be made available, including:
RAIDDrive GS: Aimed at power users and gamers, supports RAID 0 or 5, uses MLC flash, and available in capacities up to 2TB
RAIDDrive ES: For enterprise servers, supports RAID 0 or 5, fits in a 3U rack mount chassis, uses SLC flash, and available in capacities up to 1TB
RAIDDrive WS: Geared towards workstation users, supports RAID 0 or 5, uses SLC flash, available in capacities up to 1TB
Assuming it lives up to the hype, would you drop upwards of $1,000 for a super-speedy SSD configuration?
Despite the deluge of solid state drives (SSDs) that have inundated the market place this past year, desktop consumers still remain hesitant to adopt the pricey technology when mechanical hard drives offer more storage space for less scratch. But what about on the enterprise side?
Silicon Valley startup Pliant Technology says it can save businesses big bucks with its Enterprise Flash Drives (EFDs) when combined with traditional HDDs. To prove its point, Pliant points to a typical enterprise application performing 640,000 transactions a minute on an 18-terabyte database. According to Pliant, that would normally require about 1,000 small-capacity disk drives to achieve faster access and higher performance, which would take up 40 rack-mount shelves. All told, the final bill would come to $450,000, plus 16,000 watts to run and cool the setup.
But by combing Pliant's EFDs for "hot" current data with regular hard drives for less frequently accessed data, the company says such a hybrid setup would require just six rack-mount shelves and cut costs in half. In addition, such a setup would only require roughly 2,000 watts.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss, so if you just blew this month's rent by investing in a high performance, low capacity SSD instead, you may want to stop reading.
For those of you still with us, your decision to put off buying an SSD could pay off big time. In a massive report called "Intel's Braidwood: Death to SSDs?," research firm Objective Analysis points out that Intel's upcoming Braidwood NAND flash memory, which will reside directly on the motherboard, costs less to install and offers the same benefits of a discrete SSD.
"The move to NAND in PCs will boost the NAND market, soften the SSD and DRAM markets, and pose problems for thsoe NAND makers who are not poised to produce ONFi (open NAND flash interface) NAND flash," said Jim Handy, an Objective Analysis analyst who authored the report.
But while Objective Analysis has all but written the SSD market's obituary, Intel maintains it sees a "long life ahead for SSDs," saying the focus with Braidwood is not sheer performance, but added reliability.
We've seen a plethora of new SSDs come to market this past year, some of which have been geared towards upping the performance ante while others have attempted to make the price-per-GB ratio a bit more appealing. Corsair's new Extreme Series X256 focuses solely on the former and turns a blind eye towards the latter.
"The new 256GB Extreme Series X256 is a response to the growing popularity of high-capacity SSDs, and it joins our Performance Series P256 at the top of its range, for enthusiasts who want the fastest speeds and plenty of space available for their pictures, music, and videos."
The new drive combines the Indilinx Barefoot controller with Samsung MLC NAND flash memory and is aimed at "enthusiasts who don't want to compromise on speed or capacity." To that end, the 256GB drive boasts read speeds of up to 240MB/s and write speeds of up to 170MBs, 64MB of cache to help prevent stuttering, and user-upgradeable firmware.