Tag: SSD

Apple makes its MacBook Pro even less upgradeable

MACBOOKPROThe MacBook Pro is fast turning into the chocolate teapot of laptops. Not only is it packed with last year’s chips, Apple has designed it so that if you want to upgrade it you have to buy a new one.

The Touch Bar model, which has arguably the only bit of new technology in the range, has no cutout in the logic board for removable flash storage and a non-removable SSD.

Basically, Apple, in its wisdom, permanently soldered the SSD to the logic board, meaning that users will be unable to upgrade the Touch Bar MacBook Pro’s flash storage beyond Apple’s 512GB to 2TB.

Apple is hoping that users will back up data using Time Machine or a similar solution in case of logic board failure, but that sort of defeats the purpose of having a laptop over something more net based.

Jobs’ Mob has been doing this a lot lately. The 12 inch Macbook lacked a removable SSD. There is no advance for the user but every advantage for Apple. After all, if you want a better SSD you must buy a new computer.  However, it is yet another nail in the coffin for the laptop which had few good reasons to buy.  Of course, it has an Apple logo on the back, and that is enough for fanboys, but when it comes to spec, price and usefulness the beast is lacking.

Seagate shows off “the world’s fastest SSD”

Seagate logoSeagate has just unveiled what it is calling “the world’s fastest SSD” and claims that it is production ready.

The SSD is fully compliant with the Open Compute Project (OCP) specification employed by hyperscale data centres and employs the NVMe protocol.

Seagate says that the new SSD is capable of 10GB/sec of throughput when used in 16-lane PCIe slots. Seagate says that this is 4GB/sec faster than the next fast competing SSD solution.

Apparently the outfit is working on a second, lower-performing variant that works in 8-lane PCIe slots and has a throughput of 6.7GB/sec. Seagate wants to use the second model as a more cost-effect SSD for businesses.

Seagate thinks the SSDs will be used modelling or statistical analysis on their own or in conjunction with HDDs for a cost-effective hybrid storage array.  Of course there is no word on price or even a launch date.

Intel speeds up SSD market

Intel bus - Wikimedia CommonsA report said that chip giant Intel will release a new SSD technology in the third quarter of this year which will speed access by seven times.

According to market research company Trendforce, Intel dubs the technology Optane and is a non volatile memory technology.

Trendforce believes the introduction will rattle its competitors including Samsung. Intel will release Optane, which uses a technology called 3D Xpoint, coincidentally with its next generation CPU, Kaby Lake.

Optane SSDs are seven times faster in input and output, and eight times faster for read latency. The products will be released to both high end servers and for PPCs.

The CPU, Kaby Lake, will support the new memory technology.

But the SSDs aren’t going to cheap as chips, at least at first.

Western Digital buys SanDisk for $19 billion

Sandisk extreme SSDsHard disk drive maker Western Digital has agreed to buy SanDisk in a $19 billion deal which will see it in a strong position to make Flash drives for the known world.

The deal is pretty complex, which makes it less attractive to shareholders who think it will make them a quick buck.

Western Digital said the value of the transaction hinges on the closing of an investment in the company by Unisplendour which is a unit of Chinese government’s state-backed Tsinghua Holdings.

Unisplendour said it would buy 15 percent of Western Digital for $3.78 billion, a deal that is likely to face regulatory scrutiny amid national security concerns.

Western Digital Chief Executive Steve Milligan said in an interview that the SanDisk acquisition will ultimately dilute Unisplendor’s stake and that he was confident it would be approved by regulators.

“There’s always a risk and you’re not done until you’re done, but we were careful and consulted with US government experts,” he said.

Research firm Gartner said in October that worldwide semiconductor sales are expected to fall for the first time in three years in 2015, due partly to increasingly saturated market for smartphones.

Western Digital needs access to SanDisk’s NAND technology to better compete in the market for SSDs used in cloud computing, data centres, smartphones and laptops.

Western Digital said it had the support of SanDisk partner Toshiba which had some rights that could block a deal.

SanDisk has an intellectual property sharing joint venture with the Japanese company and uses its foundries to make chips.

Toshiba spokeswoman Midori Hara said in an email that the deal would not have a negative impact on that joint venture.

 

Analysis: the Western Digital SanDisk buy

WD-LogoThe semiconductor industry’s rapid consolidation proceeded apace as Western Digital agreed to buy SanDisk today for $19 Billion. SanDisk had been shopping itself to potential buyers which also include Micron Technology Inc. The offer values SanDisk [SNDK} at $86.50 a share, a 15% premium on Tuesday’s market close. SanDisk shares rose 5.7% to $79.50 prior to market open – the same shares were trading under $60 a share before rumors spread concerning the firms potential sale.

Western Digital shares dropped 2.5% to $73 in premarket trading having lost nearly a third of their value so far this year. Ironically, both companies reported better-than-expected results for their latest quarters this morning.

The acquisition comes just three weeks after China’s Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. agreed to pay $3.78 billion for a 15% stake in Western Digital, the latest U.S. tech company scrambling for politically connected (capital source) Chinese partners.

Under the deal Western Digital said it would pay $85.10 a share in cash and 0.0176 shares in stock for each share of SanDisk if the Tsinghua investment closes first. If that deal hasn’t closed or has been canceled, it will pay $67.50 in cash and 0.2387 shares.

SanDisk has missed their earnings estimates for the last three quarters and according to downgrades by market analysts appears to be suffering from poor execution on a number of fronts:

  • Loss of Apple’s SSD business
  • A too optimistic Enterprise strategy – missing 2TB SATA drive solution
  • Poor integration of the Fusion I/O acquisition
  • 3D NAND migration uncertainty – late entry position
  • High margin retail business is slowing
  • SanDisk must renegotiate licensing revenue with Samsung (Aug-16, now 40% EPS)
  • Poor inventory management
  • SanDisk granted 5 U.S. patents last year

Steve Milligan Western Digital CEO will become chief executive of the combined company, located at Western Digital’s base in Irvine, Calif. SanDisk’s CEO Sanjay Mehrotra is expected to join the Western Digital board after the deal closes.

Western Digital expects the deal to add to earnings within 12 months of closing, and will achieve annual synergies of $500 million within 18 months.

TechEye Take

These are tough times in the memory sector. Company’s like SanDisk have been facing increasing price pressures over the last six months that have limited their ability to establish a better than break-even proposition going forward. SanDisk expanded into areas that it was ill equipped to manage ending in their distressed selloff to WD.

Western Digital has been in the process of designing a proprietary non-volatile memory and recently picked up technical people from the failed Contour Semiconductor. SanDisk has lost new product design momentum relying on (from what we can tell) their partner Toshiba to perform the heavy lifting.

Toshiba is having their own set of issues with accounting problems; resignation of the CEO and several board members; and are building a new fab making one wonder why in the world would anyone invest in this mess? Evidently WD has seen a way through. Toshiba seems to be absent from this conversation…., ?

Samsung fixed a huge Linux bug

bugSamsung has fixed a flaw in Linux which was causing SSD to fry faster than a Scottish chippy on Friday night.

The problem was first noticed by an outfit called Algolia which noticed that some of its Samsung SSDs were going down for no reason. After trying to find the source of the fault it got Samsung on the blower and it turned out that it was not a hardware problem after all.

Samsung could not reproduce the error and it could not find anything wrong with the scripts that Algolia had written for them.

However its engineers worked out that there was a serious fault in the Linux kernel which was turning SSDs to jelly, at least under certain conditions.

The Linux kernel error can affect any SSD under the same operating conditions.

The code included something called TRIM which allows an operating system to tell a solid-state drive (SSD) which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped. TRIM was giving false information and the SSDs were being wiped.

Open Saucers called for TRIM be abandoned for a while and it has been disabled in many systems. It appears the Linux core was switching it on.

Samsung has developed a kernel patch to resolve this issue. The testing code is available on GitHub.

What is perhaps worrying is how this problem has never been spotted before.

Samsung releases 2TB SSD

Samsung-SSD-ActivatedSamsung announced what it is calling the first multi-terabyte SSD drive for people,

The 850 Pro and 850 EVO SSDs double the maximum capacity of their predecessors and offer 2TB (terabytes) of capacity in a 2.5-in. form factor (size) for laptops and desktops.

The tech involved Samsung’s 3D V-NAND technology, which stacks 32 layers of NAND atop one another to offer greater flash memory density. Additionally, the drives take advantage of multi-level cell (MLC) and triple-level cell (TLC) (2- and 3-bit per cell) technology. Believe that, if you will.

The 850 SSD Pro and EVO drives remain in the same 7mm, 2.5-in. aluminium case as their predecessors did. The capacities include 120GB, 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB models.

The 850 Pro is more for power users and client PCs that may need higher performance with up to 550MBps sequential read and 520MBps sequential write rates and up to 100,000 random I/Os per second (IOPS). The 850 EVO SSD has slightly lower performance with 540MBps and 520MBps sequential read/write rates and up to 90,000 random IOPS.

Of course the price is not cheap. The 2TB model of the 850 Pro will retail for $999.99 and the 850 EVO will sell for $799.99 so you will really need to have access to lots of data to justify that price.

However dropping down the book list the prices start sounding a little more reasonable. The 1TB EVO SSD will sell for $399; the 500GB for $179; the 250GB for $99 and the 120GB for $69. The 1TB 850 Pro will retail for $499; the 512GB model for $259; the 256GB model for $144.99 and the 128GB model for $99. We don’t know what the prices are in Greek drachmas, sorry.

Samsung guarantees the 2TB 850 Pro for 10 years or 300 terabytes written (TBW), and the 2TB 850 EVO for five years or 150 TBW. But then it would, wouldn’t it?

Samsung SSD TRIMs data

Samsung-SSD-ActivatedSamsung may have inadvertently trimmed their sales. A story on StorageServers yesterday suggests that Samsung’s SSDs “could be wiping data” due to the SSD Controller’s improper functioning of the TRIM command.

The TRIM command allows the Operating System to inform a Solid State Drive which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be erased. The Trim command was introduced soon after SSDs started to become an affordable alternative to traditional hard disks.

Because low-level operation of SSDs differs significantly from hard drives, the typical way in which operating systems handle operations like deletes and formats resulted in unanticipated progressive performance degradation of write operations on SSDs.
Trimming enables the SSD to handle garbage collection overhead, which would otherwise significantly slow down future write operations.

According to StorageServers, an engineer with Algolia claimed to have discovered the bug in the way in which the drive reallocates blocks of data. Instead of zeroing areas which contain previously deleted data as they are supposed to, the drives appear to be deleting 512 byte blocks in “random locations on the drive” resulting in corruption of large file systems and near total erasure of small files. Hope of recovering the data was reported as “a tedious task” at best.

Samsung SSD models confirmed with the problem are:

  • Samsung MZ7WD480HCGM-00003(SM843TN)
  • Samsung MZ7GE480HMHP-00003(PM853T)
  • Samsung MZ7GE240HMGR-00003(PM853T)
  • Samsung SSD 840 PRO Series
  • Samsung SSD 850 PRO 512GB

Samsung recently issued a firmware update to fix problems with the 840 EVO SSD which exhibited slow read speeds. A new team has been assigned to look into the TRIM data erasure/corruption problem and will be issuing an update shortly.

TechEye Take

Samsung does not like stains like this and will break out the reserves to not only fix the problem but also ensure that it does not re-occur.

We are trying to find out whether any of the affected drives contain any of Samsung’s 3D NAND-Flash devices.  They are not indicated as having any part in the reported problem.

It will be interesting to see whether this will have a positive effect on their competitors ‘share price on Monday’s market open…,

SSDs can lose data in seven days

SSD+320+angle+right+1to1Solid State Drives (SSD) can start to lose their data and become corrupted if they are left without power for as little as a week, according to a new Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC) report.

Seagate’s Alvin Cox, who is also chairman of the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC), wrote that the time that data will be retained on an SSD is halved for every 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperature in the area where the SSD is stored.

Consumer class SSDs can store data for up to two years before the standard drops, but when it comes to SSDs used by enterprises, the drives are only expected to retain data for a period of three months.

This could mean that all those people using SSDs in both consumer and enterprise applications could be in grave trouble if data storage is important and might be needed for longer than three months.

On the back of the report, security companies are warning that SSD users need to make sure to regularly back up their data and create drive images, or they will risk losing their data, which can have disastrous consequences.

The long term stability of SSDs has been questioned for a long time and had been the reason that ordinary hard drives have not disappeared overnight. But a three month turn around month corruption figure had not been widely known.

Toshiba’s OCZ Storage wants to kill off SATA for SSDs

Toshiba’s OCZ Storage is hatching up a cunning plan to kill off SATA for storage by making improvements to PCIe hardware.

PCIe has been around for a while and it offers more bandwidth than SATA. While there are solid-state drives that use PCIe for this purpose, it has not really taken off because of video card requirements.

Toshiba’s OCZ Storage has hatched up some bootable solid state drives which it claims can kill off SATA bottlenecks. It uses a high-speed PCI Express architecture coupled with a sophisticated workstation-grade RAID array that virtualises the SSD controllers.

Toshiba’s OCZ Storage Solutions has come up with a PCIe-based RevoDrive 350. By using PCIe the drive can push 1.8 1.8GB/s in sequential performance transfer speed and 140,000 4K random write IOPS. The drive uses Toshiba’s NAND memory built on the 19nm process node.

Daryl Lang, Senior Vice President of Product Management for OCZ Storage, said that the new RevoDrive 350 is uses Toshiba flash and OCZ’s proprietary Virtualized Controller Architecture (VCA) 2.0 and can improve performance while reducing the burden on host resources.

“This next generation PCIe SSD is the ideal solution for performance-minded users looking to maximize both bandwidth and density for the complete gamut of gaming, content creation and workstation applications,” he said.

OCZ claims its RevoDrive 350 can withstand up ot 50GB of host writes per day for 3 years, which is the length of the warranty.

The RevoDrive 350 is available 240GB ($530), 480GB ($830), and 960GB ($1,300) capacities with support for both Linux and Windows.