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Testing hard disks with capacity up to 14-16 TB: not only more, but better

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The capacity of hard drives continues to increase, but the pace of growth in recent years has been steadily declining. So, in order to release the first drive with a capacity of 4 TB after the sale there was a 2-terabyte HDD, the industry has spent only two years to conquer the level of 8 TB took three, and to double the volume of 3.5-inch hard disk again was only for five years.

The last breakthrough was accomplished through a list of innovative solutions. Today, even conservatives such as Toshiba, which until recently refused from helium, forced to release the hard drives in sealed enclosures, and the number of plates on the mandrel was increased to nine pieces — though once, a long time, five plates was considered a reasonable limit. In specific niches, the technology of so-called shingled recording (SMR, Shingled Magnetic Recording), in which track sectors on the plate partly overlap. Finally, in order to shift the limit of hard drive capacity from 14 to 16 TB without the use of SMR, manufacturers had to introduce one of emerging technologies, gradually shrinking the list of which we reproduce in the annual final articles, the reading track multiple heads at the same time (TDMR, Two-Dimensional Magnetic Recording). Further movement sooner or later will require more extensive changes to the basics of HDD such as a heated plate with a laser or microwaves (HAMR/MAMR, Heat/Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording) at the time of passage of the recording head.

However, you will notice that all of the techniques are aimed primarily at the increase in density and increase in volume on one spindle, although many of them have a beneficial side effect in the form of increased speed of linear read and write data. This parameter modern HDD broke for the border 250 MB/s and is comparable to the early consumer SSDs. But the speed of access to random sectors of the magnetic disks almost never progresses, and in terms of volume, the number of operations per second becomes less. Along with this are higher requirements for fault tolerance, because the more data is stored on one spindle, the more important not to lose them and the longer to recover.

But this challenge from the creators of magnetic storage was the answer. We took three hard drive with volume from 14 up to 16 TB, to see how to adapt technology 64-year-old to the realities of 2019, and noticed several trends. Champion’s examples of modern 3.5-inch drives, produced for rackmount server and storage solutions, have something in common with solid-state drives — from the principles of addressing to direct integration of the flash chips in the local memory stack. And consumer models, in turn, become closer in its characteristics to the server-side counterparts, and even the description “desktop HDD” is not so much to say about the performance and reliability of the device. But the task of this review is not limited to the General words. We intend to figure out how the new trends in design of hard drives are expressed in hard numbers measuring performance.

#Specifications test participants

Before we start analyzing the test results, you should carefully study the characteristics of the devices with which we have to deal with. This time they do not so much as usually happens in our group test, but we have fulfilled the main conditions, without which the comparison hard drives can claim to completeness. In the survey participated the products of all three manufacturers — Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital, and they belong to different categories: consumer and server. The main characteristics that unite them, is the volume at 14 or 16 TB, the sealed housing filled with helium, and a spindle speed of 7200 rpm And for comparison with the heavyweights in testing involved three of the now familiar device of a smaller volume (10 and 12 TB), was designed for use in servers, home or office NAS.

Manufacturer Seagate Toshiba Western Digital
Series BarraCuda Pro Exos X10 IronWolf MG08 S300 Ultrastar DC HC530
Model number ST14000DM001 ST10000NM0016 ST12000VN0008 MG08ACA16TE HDWT31AUZSVA WUH721414ALE6L4
Form factor 3.5 inch 3.5 inch 3.5 inch 3.5 inch 3.5 inch 3.5 inch
Interface SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s SATA 6 GB/s
Capacity, GB 14 000 10 000 12 000 16 000 10 000 14 000
Configuration
The spindle rotation speed, rpm./min 7 200 7 200 7 200 7 200 7 200 7 200
The useful storage density, GB/plate 1 750 1 429 1 500 1 778 1 429 1 750
The number of plates/heads 8/16 7/14 8/16 9/18 7/14 8/16
Sector size, bytes 4096 (emulated 512 byte) 4096 (emulated 512 byte) 4096 (emulated 512 byte) 4096 (emulated 512 byte) 4096 (emulated 512 byte) 4096 (emulated 512 byte)
Buffer size, MB 256 256 256 512 256 512
Performance
Max. sustained sequential read, MB/s 250 249 210 ND 248 267
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 250 249 210 ND 248 267
Average seek time: read/write, MS ND ND ND ND ND 7,5/ND
Fault tolerance
The estimated burden of TB/g 300 ND 180 550 180 550
Unrecoverable read error, the number of cases on the amount of data (bits) 1/10^15 1/10^15 1/10^15 10/10^16 10/10^14 1/10^15
MTBF (mean time between failures), h ND 2 500 000 1 000 000 2 500 000 1 000 000 2 500 000
AFR (probability of failure per year), % ND 0,35 ND ND ND 0,35
The number of cycles Parking the heads 300 000 600 000 600 000 600 000 600 000 600 000
Physical characteristics
Power consumption: inaction/read-write, W 4,9/6,9 4,5/8,4 5,0/7,8 ND 7,15/of 9.48 5,5/6,0
Noise level: idle/search, B ND ND 1,8/2,8 2,0/ND 3,4/ND 2,0/3,6
Maximum temperature, °C: drive on/drive is disabled 60/70 60/ND 70/70 55/70 70/70 60/70
Shock: drive on /drive is disabled ND 40 g (2ms) / 250 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 250 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 250 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 250 g (2 MS) 70 g (2ms) / 300 g (2 MS)
Dimensions: D × H × D, mm 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 × 101,9 × 26,1 147 x 101,6 x 26,1
Weight, g 690 650 690 720 770 690
Warranty period, years 5 5 3 5 3 5
Retail price (US without tax) $ From 549 (newegg.com) From 289 (newegg.com) From 351 (newegg.com) ND From 301 (newegg.com) From 439 (amazon.com)
Retail price (Russia), RUB. From 34 348 (market.yandex.ru) 17 498 (market.yandex.ru) 26 320 (market.yandex.ru) ND 19 784 (market.yandex.ru) 27 495 (market.yandex.ru)

The first model in our modest collection of hard drives indiscreet volume — BarraCuda Pro 14 TB — is a storage for desktop and DAS, but not simple, and “professional”. On the one hand, this means that the BarraCuda Pro is subject to the typical limitations of desktop hard drives. For example, it is not intended to be combined in RAID arrays, because it is desirable to have TLER (Time-Limited Error Recovery) — configure the firmware that prevents W: a from HDD array because of the long attempts of the microcontroller is considered a problematic sector. In addition, the chassis BarraCuda Pro is ill-suited to work in the shelf or NAS with multiple baskets, because there is no compensation for rotational vibration.

But on the other hand, unlike most other desktop hard drives, HDD of this brand have increased year resource loading — up to 300 TB of overwrites, — ready to work 24/7 and are accompanied by a five year warranty. Performance probably also don’t have to complain (at least, in problems with a predominantly linear data access): with eight plates by 1.75 TB device achieves a sustained throughput of 250 MB/s. in addition, the manufacturer promises that the speed and random access to BarraCuda Pro should be higher in comparison with the ordinary disk drives for desktop computers and energy consumption, in contrast, is lower than that of most 3.5-inch models. However, all statements of Seagate, we’ll see.

In order to conquer such a high turn-density data in the standard perpendicular recording without the use of niche technology SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording), Seagate had to implement one of the promising methods, which we from year to year in writing of our final articles — the so-called two-dimensional recording (Two-Dimensional Magnetic Recording). But contrary to its name, TDMR has nothing to do with the procedure of data recording as such, and is designed to increase the ratio signal/noise in conditions of high track density on a magnetic plate due to the simultaneous reading of track two reading heads: the latter spaced so that the field captures the adjacent track, and to compensate for the interference becomes easier. In the future, hard drives with TDMR will gain even more heads, along with the reliability of read data may increase its speed, but it is the future.

Drives BarraCuda Pro differ in many ways from the related devices of the Junior series without the prefix Pro — from the fact that all manufacturers of desktop HDD standard models stuck in the amount of 6-8 TB. Disk BarraCuda Pro can rather be described as the offspring of server branches Seagate, devoid of functions, associated with arrays. But the price of the device has soared to the level of corporate models, and even higher in Russia 14-terabyte model will not find a cheaper 34 348 rubles, and retail venues in the United States — $549. Even nearline model Seagate of the same size cost less — from $375 or 28 936 RUB.

 

Seagate BarraCuda Pro 14 TB

The following experiment, a 14-terabyte disk Ultrastar DC HC530 — this drive is nearline class, which represented the best of what the engineers of Western Digital until there is a new model with capacity of 16 TB. But in practice 3DNews he became the first Winchester brand Ultrastar without the usual HGST letters in name: the company moved all server models under its own brand after the assets of HGST are completely dissolved in the combined Corporation. In their key characteristics is a device like a BarraCuda Pro of the same size: inside of a hermetic enclosure Ultrastar DC HC530 are eight useful magnetic platters with a capacity of 1750 GB, and read data from closely spaced paths provides technology TDMR. But for the rest of the parameters and the plurality of additional functions inherent in enterprise HDD, Ultrastar DC HC530 not be put on a par with the desktop models, let BarraCuda Pro and not representative of its category.

So, a useful bit density on the plates Pro and BarraCuda Ultrastar DC HC530 one and the same as the spindle speed, but WD product guarantees a higher sustainable speed of linear read and write data up to 267 MB/s (it is unclear where did the difference, but the tests will show whether it exists in reality). Delays in random access helps to reduce the two-stage actuator new, third generation and a large buffer of 512 MB, and most importantly, Media Cache — reserve areas to blocks scattered over the surface of the plates. The latter feature unites modern nearline disks with solid-state drives, which, too, there is variable correlation between physical sectors and logical blocks. And since 10-terabyte models Ultrastar DC HC330, WD uses for caching write operations have a small amount of flash memory. Note that at the same time with (potentially) extremely high by the standards of magnetic storage performanceproduct WD is characterized by moderate power — in fact, it is the device with the lowest power consumption among all test takers, judging by his passport options.

Drives of this class is constructed with the expectation of continuous operation in conditions of server rack: double-sided mounting of the spindle, the compensation of rotational vibration and other structural features of Ultrastar DC HC530 allowed to bring the design load of the disc up to 550 TB/year, and the time between failures is typical for nearline models of 2.5 million hours. In the unlikely event of a failure while updating the firmware on the controller Board is soldered a spare chip. The drive comes in versions with native access to the marking 4 KB or emulation of 512-byte sectors with the SATA or SAS. In the latter case, an option is also available through data encryption.

The retail price for the WD Ultrastar DC HC530 configuration with SATA port and emulation hereditary 512-byte marking comply with the advanced features and technology of this device: 27 495 rubles in the Russian Internet-stores and $439 on Amazon.

 

WD Ultrastar DC HC530

To assemble a collection of winchesters with a volume of 14 TB for comparative testing was difficult, and the appropriate device of the third manufacturer — Toshiba — we were never able to get. But instead we got a model of the next generation, to 16 TB. Now all three companies manufacturing hard drives, offer drives of this size, but it is the product Toshiba series MG08 was among them very first. The record of the Japanese company relies on a plate with roughly, if not exactly the same physical recording density in hard disks BarraCuda Pro and Ultrastar on 14 TB, but for the first time, Toshiba was able to pack nine “pancakes” in a standard 3.5-inch case. Not without TDMR technology, which has become essential for conquering new frontiers of capacity. Bandwidth Toshiba MG08 in the operations of the linear read/write should be at the level of the WD Ultrastar DC HC530, but, oddly enough, the manufacturer did not disclose any details about the device performance.

But we know that Toshiba also took measures in order to increase reliability and to reduce the latency of write operations: chip flash memory on Board MG08 in the case of accidental power outage to protect data sent from the host controller to record, but judging by the test results, and even performs the function of the second level cache memory after the buffer DRAM. But this technology (Persistent Write Cache) appears only in the specs of the drives emulate 512-byte markup, which is an additional source of danger during a power failure (and to some extent stealing performance) because of the need to perform the operation read-modify-write when each record logical blocks that do not coincide with the boundaries of physical sectors. But the MG08 series also includes models with native access to 4-kilobyte sectors. Does this mean that the latter does not have flash, or it just removed the backup feature, we do not know. But regardless, PWC, Toshiba MG08, and other storage devices from this company, uses algorithms Dynamic Cache, which, according to the manufacturer, the optimal sharing of buffer space between reads and writes. Any information about them we also do not have.

Other sources of increased fault tolerance in the design of the Toshiba MG08 are mounting the spindle on both sides and the rotational vibration sensors. These drives are designed to record up to 550 TB of data per year, have a standard corporate device time to failure of 2.5 million hours and a five-year warranty period. Available to order several different configurations of the drive with SATA or SAS drives and optional end-to-end encryption. However, for the price we I can not Orient: 16-terabyte disk Toshiba was introduced in January, but it is still a rare beast in retail sales.

Toshiba MG08 16 TB

Now, when we met with the three main parties to the test, look at the hard drives of smaller capacity, with whom we have to compare the new 14-to 16-terabyte model. One of them, the Exos X10 volume of 10 TB, is a nearline storage device that contains seven magnetic platters in a sealed enclosure. Although since the useful capacity of the plate is increased from 1429 to 1750 GB or more, the speed of sequential access to the hard drives must also increase, in this parameter Exos X10 is practically not inferior to the same BarraCuda Pro 14 TB according to the specifications of both drives. Something clearly does not fit the specs of the Seagate hard drives, but we have the opportunity to learn in practice.

In order to increase the speed of operations with any available in a series of Exos have developed a caching mechanism recording AWC (Advanced Write Caching), reducing the response time. In the framework of the AWC write operations are grouped into the buffer DRAM, as happens in any other hard disk, but the buffer keeps a copy of data after they dropped on the plate, and mirror the contents of the buffer can be immediately read by the host controller. In server hard disk Seagate 2.5-inch form factor AWC includes the following in tier — reserved areas on the plate surface, where the data from the DRAM are written in sequential order (Media Cache), and a small amount of nonvolatile memory for saving data from the buffer when power is lost. But Exos X10 flash memory is missing, and maybe Media Cache along with it.

From consumer hard drives for desktop computers and NAS drives Exos series are high performance time between failure (2.5 million hours) and the load (550 TB/year), the ability to operate in a server rack with no limitations on the number of baskets, as well as a five-year warranty period. Hard drive with model number ST10000NM0016 inherited to the test, in addition, refers to Hyperscale-modifications that have reduced power consumption compared to other members of the family of Exos, but are released only with SATA interface and emulate 512-byte sectors. In configurations with SAS connectors among the models Exos there are options and with native access to the 4-Kbyte sectors, as well as function through full-disk encryption.

 

Seagate Exos X10 10 TB

Hard drive Seagate IronWolf not so long ago appeared in our review of the new representatives of this brand along with solid state storage Seagate network attached storage. The 12-terabyte model IronWolf, apparently, comes with plates with the same density of the physical layout as Exos X10, only here they are one more. However, Seagate estimates the performance of their offspring in sequential read and write is much lower — only 210 Mbytes/s And no sophisticated technology designed to compensate for high latency of the response inherent in magnetic storage devices, not here either.

But all hard drives IronWolf, since the volume of 4 TB borrowed from the Exos series a number of hardware features that contribute to increased resiliency. Block of the magnetic plates of each Winchester balanced in two planes, and the rotational vibration sensors provide stable performance in rack storage or separate NAS with a number of disc bays, up to eight. IronWolf is designed for moderate mode of operation with design capacity of 180 TB/year and is characterized by the time between failures of 1 million hours. As a consequence, and the warranty period from IronWolf is not as long as at more serious models in the catalog Seagate three years.

 

IronWolf Seagate 12 TB

Badged S300 Japanese company Toshiba has released a series drives for video surveillance systems — these winchesters too devoted to their own review pages 3DNews. Due to the expansion of the data transfer Protocol for ATA Streaming Command Set older model Toshiba S300 guarantee simultaneous video recording from up to 64 cameras, but at its core are typical drives for NAS and DAS with the ability to operate 24/7 and a decent resource MTBF: like IronWolf, it is 1 million hours and a warranty period — the same three years. Thanks to the constructive advantages of the S300 chassis — mounting of the spindle on both sides and active compensation of rotational vibration allowed the installation of more than eight such devices in one rack shelf or stand-alone NAS.

Model S300 chosen for comparison with novelties volume 14-16 TB, built on the basis of hardware chassis server drives MD06ACA-V and contains seven magnetic plates and specs on the device is typical of modern large HDD speed of random read/write 248 MB/s. But from the techniques that are used in the Toshiba server hard drives to reduce latency, the S300 was only a function of Dynamic Cache.

In contrast to all other test participants, S300 even with a thick stack of seven plates without helium and carried out in a standard ventilated enclosure. It seems that for this reason, 10-terabyte model belongs to the highest value of power consumption in consolidated specification table of test participants, and this option, though in itself important only for administrators of data centers that directly detects the temperature of the HDD. Real consumption S300 we’d like to see yourself, but until we take the item note.

 

Toshiba S300 10 TB

SOURCE

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Peripherals

The results 2019: SSDS

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After a fairly turbulent market SSD 2018 lull. Last year, the development of technology flash memory slowed, and the number of noteworthy innovations have fallen to historic lows. So much of this material we have to talk about price fluctuations and what you could expect from a SSD in the near future. However, we cannot say that it will be quite interesting. On the contrary, the market analysis allows you to not only understand where the industry and formulate recommendations for those who are still waiting for the right moment to update the disk subsystem on your PC.

#Prices of flash memory began to rise again

Year before last we remember, first and foremost, a radical drop in the price of drives, which in 12 months has fallen by about half. But in the past, 2019 is as pleasing to the eye of the consumer pattern has not been observed. Prices still declined, but at a much smaller scale: the popular drives have lost value to a maximum of 30-40 %. Moreover, the decline in prices had mainly in the first half of the year, and in autumn and winter, the situation has stabilized, as if to imply that the price dynamics are now quite able to turn the tide.

There is no need once again to explain that the prices on SSDs are tied to the cost of their main components – flash memory. That is why the story about how he feels the global market for flash memory, we are in the final articles will make it an important share of attention. Today about the price we are going to talk in particular detail, because 2019 is likely to be the inflection point when the cost of the chips flash memory has ceased to decline and are ready to turn. At least if you look at the dynamics of the exchange (spot) prices for NAND crystals, the fracture of the price trend that occurred in the middle of the year, impossible not to notice.

As it happens, the global price trends have influenced private incident – which took place June 15 at the plant of companies Kioxia (Toshiba), and Western Digital, located in Yokkaichi (Japan), crash. In the 13-minute outage was a broken process, resulting in the scrap left over a dozen exabytes almost ready the flash memory and the normal operation of the pipeline had to restore a few more weeks.

Supporters of conspiracy theories will surely see in this incident an attempt to artificially manipulate the market, and the arguments in favor of this do exist. For example, about the accident, which occurred in mid-June, the company for some time silent and told about it only two weeks later, when other players have not been able to quickly increase production and compensate for the looming shortage. However, it is possible that to do anything they would not have. After all, how convenient: the accident occurred at a time when Toshiba decided to cut production volumes of NAND flash memory by about 10 %, and between Japan and Korea, as political tensions began, which was at risk of stopping of the supply of fluorinated polyimide, photoresist and hydrogen fluoride required for the production of semiconductor products in the factories of Samsung and SK Hynix.

This amazing combination of simultaneous trouble almost immediately reflected in the stock prices of NAND chips: their growth in July amounted to 15-20 %, which after months of protracted collapse was all a very big surprise. But even more interesting is that as you resolve all problems no significant correction has not occurred, despite the fact that during the third quarter of manufacturers of flash memory have increased the total supply volumes of approximately 15 %. Shocks, seasonal growth of volumes of purchases and the uncertain prospects in a trade war the US and China have convinced consumers that the era of cheap flash memory is coming to an end, and this led to the excess of demand over supply with all the consequences.

What to expect now – clearly seen in the final part of the price curves in the given graph. Looks like flash memory and storage become cheaper no longer. Prices fell for seven consecutive quarters, but in the second half of 2019 so pleasant for consumers the trend is no longer observed. Moreover, analysts say, in the beginning of 2020 should be a very noticeable surge in demand. It will create global data centers planned for the period of the next technical re-equipment, as well as manufacturers of smartphones that are going to present soon the new popular models of devices with larger built-in storage.

Meanwhile capital expenditures of manufacturers of flash memory in the expansion of its own production is now small as ever. This is directly related to the era of low prices, due to which they lost profit and reduced investment. The result is scheduled for 2020, the growth of production volumes of NAND chips in capacitive terms is less than 30 %, and it is the lowest indicator for all time of existence of the market. Incidentally, last year global production growth of flash memory has not exceeded the 35-percent value, which inevitably leads to shortages, which ultimately can be very severe.

Expectations for the scale of future rise in price of flash memory in the near future vary widely, but all analysts agree that the December 10-percent increase in the cost of NAND is clearly not limited. At the beginning of this years solid state memory will continue to go up, adding to the price by the end of the first quarter, according to the consensus forecast, at least 10 %. The more that the beginning of the year is already marked by a pair of accidents that can spur the deficit: temporary blackouts at the company Samsung in Hwaseong, South Korea, and the local fire at the plant Kioxia (Toshiba) in Yokkaichi, Japan. Both companies were involved in the production of 3D NAND and accidents one way or another could affect the offer of flash memory on the market.

If to speak about the long term, by the end of this year flash memory may be more expensive than now, at up to 40 %. And that means the time when the flash memory and SSDS became cheaper with each day passed. There is a period during which everything is the opposite.

And this situation until you can correct the newly minted Chinese manufacturers of flash memory, which, as many believe, have the ability to keep prices from skyrocketing. Unfortunately, the company Yangtze Memory Technologies (YMTC), which holds the most promise, deploys the mass production of NAND sluggish pace experiencing problems with the procurement of the equipment because of U.S. sanctions. As a result, deliveries of the Chinese national product by the standards of the industry of flash memory are extremely small and are completely consumed in the local market. Although YMTC and promises to double production capacity by the end of 2020, it is unlikely to have any impact on the overall situation. In other words, the expectation that the big six manufacturers of flash memory will add a new powerful and ambitious player again should be postponed.

#Development of 3D NAND technologies has greatly slowed

In the forthcoming growth of prices for flash memory it is possible to see positive sides. 2019 was marked by a serious stagnation in the development of new technologies, and this largely was due to the fact that investing in advanced development was simply not profitable. In the new year the situation may change: producers will have the opportunity to actively engage in R & d, and we will witness another increase in density of data storage that will eventually lay the Foundation for a new reduce the cost and improve the consumer qualities of SSDs.

In the past year, major changes have occurred, rather than technological, and organisational. First, disintegrated existed since 2006, the Union of Intel and Micron on joint development of traditional flash memory, and innovative 3D XPoint. Eventually Acer bought out the share of Intel in the joint venture IM Flash Technologies, and now these companies operate on the market of non-volatile memory completely separate.

Second, Toshiba Memory changed its name to Kioxia, symbolizing her final separation from the rest of the conglomerate after the sale of the flash business, Toshiba consortium of investors. Now it is expected that Kioxia will be converted into public joint-stock company, but a specific timeline is not yet known. However Kioxia had already purchased the SSD business Lite-On, so the company plans not only to release the flash, but move to SSD as a vertically integrated manufacturer.

As for technology, it, summing up in 2018, we are told that the mass was 64-layer flash memory, and for the whole of 2019 it completely changed. The development of a 96-layer memory were slowed and such a 3D NAND over the past year and failed to achieve mass application. Most SSD manufacturers continue to rely on the memory with 64 layers and leave in the past, it seems, not before the middle of this year.

And it seems pretty strange if we remember that the pioneer drive, which used a commercially available 96-layer memory, was officially announced in July 2018. They found the Toshiba XG6, but he ultimately failed to become a commercially successful product.

The first really massive solution with a 96-layer memory should be considered 970 Samsung EVO Plus, which came on the market in the beginning of last year. With the release of this product, the South Korean manufacturer has managed to gain a foothold in the unattainable role of the leader in the segment of NVMe SSD, in which he helped a new memory with an increased number of layers, appeared noticeably faster than previous versions. But apparently, manufacturing such a memory is not too economically. At least Samsung is in no hurry to translate the entire range of its products, continuing to complete more models available SSD memory of the previous generation. In part, this may be due to the fact that technology Samsung provides for the cultivation of monolithic 96-layer crystals, while other manufacturers rely on the Assembly of this layered memory of the two 48-layer blanks.

Микросхемы 96-слойной 3D NAND производства Samsung

Chip 96-layer 3D NAND production, Samsung

Rather conservatively to the introduction of a 96-layer memory other manufacturers. The number that appears, for the entire 2019 drives, which would have used this memory has remained low, and primarily it falls into the wrong solutions for data centers. Consumer SSD models, besides the already mentioned drives Samsung and Toshiba, we can point out only the Intel SSD 665p on our own 96-layer 3D NAND QLC, BX500 Crucial 960 GB with TLC-memory Toshiba, Kingston KC2000, where use is made of a 96-layer TLC-the memory of authorship Toshiba and PCI Express 4.0 drives with the Phison controller PS5016-E16 different companies of the third echelon, which also installs the three-dimensional flash memory Toshiba.

Although the first bet on the three-dimensional arrangement of flash memory and the first transition to the 64-layer and a 96-layer memory Samsung, with a further increase in the number of layers, it seems now not in a hurry. Leadership at the speed of growth of the crystals NAND in the vertical direction may soon move on to other manufacturers. For example, trial supply storage with 128-layer 3D NAND has already managed SK Hynix, we expect that in the near future, such storage will be available. There is only one but: normally SK Hynix is not actively involved in consumer SSD and mainly orients its products to manufacturers of mobile devices. However, so far this was due to the peculiarities of its memory, and now the company appears ready to offer a more versatile product.

128-слойная 3D NAND производства SK Hynix

128-layer 3D NAND production SK Hynix

However, to completely dismiss the possibility that in the near future, Samsung will introduce the next generation of 3D NAND, we would still not have. About the development of the sixth generation 3D NAND with 136 layers, the company said in the middle of last year. However, its integration into real products may be seriously delayed, since this memory requires new controllers, design and pre-production testing which requires considerable time.

Опытный накопитель Samsung на базе 136-слойной 3D NAND

Experienced drive Samsung 136 on the base-layer 3D NAND

As a result, to outdo both South Korean manufacturers with even denser memory has a chance of Intel. The new version of the plans which she announced after breaking the partnership with Micron, is 144-QLC-layer 3D NAND, which should be released sometime within the year 2020.

However, these plans clear yet, as questions about the prospects QLC four-bit memory in General still remain. In theory, this memory can be interesting for low-cost large capacity SSD, but users treat it with great suspicion. And although the range of ADATA, Crucial, Intel and Samsung have long been present models of cheap solid-state drives on the basis of four-bit memory, their sales dramatically inferior to the sales of SSD with 3D TLC NAND, which has become a universal choice in almost all situations. Plus, as practice shows, the cost of QLC 3D NAND in reality, only marginally lower than the usual TLC memory.

For this reason, manufacturers are working on more radical steps to further increase the density of data storage in the cells and already have the PLC talk about 3D NAND – flash memory that is capable of storing five bits of data per cell. Experiments in this area carried out at least Intel and Kioxia. And especially interesting is the experience of the company offering the process to make adjustments to the usual design of 3D NAND cells and physically separate each ring cell in half. However, while there is no certainty that the matter will move further experiments and production PLC, 3D NAND with such a structure will be economically viable.

Interestingly, as the developers of flash-memory move forward, gradually changing their priorities in terms of selecting the type of cells. The floating gate has been a core technology in the era of the planar flash memory, but with the transition to a multi-layered design most of the producers started to lean toward the use of traps of the charge. For old-school design held only Intel and Micron, but after the separation of the development process from Intel company Acer also switched to a trap of the charge. However, the floating gate, suddenly found a new supporter – Kioxia. Speaking about his ideas in terms of division of three-dimensional cells, the company clearly mentions that in this case it makes more sense to use floating gate as a technology that provides the best stability of stored charge, which is critical when storing in one cell maximum number of data bits.

#3D XPoint is stagnating

Reduced prices for SSDS have created great problems for the advancement of drives, built on the innovation of memory 3D XPoint. On the one hand, the gap in cost of products and Optane regular SSD for the last couple of years has become even more fundamental, which led to a noticeable reduction in audience of buyers ready to spend money on the solutions of a class Optane SSD 900P/905P. On the other hand, the idea of caching of references to mechanical hard disks have become obsolete due to a systematic displacement of the HDD from the PC, and this undermined the sales of small-capacity Memory Optane. It so happened that Optane was simply not needed in the mass market.

In the result, Intel had to cancel the release of a number of products Optane family of the second generation. From the company’s plans disappeared is scheduled for 2019 Optane Memory M15 and Optane 810P SSD – caching drive and full memory-based 3D XPoint in the form factor M. 2 2280 supports PCI Express 3.0 x4. This means that no more or less affordable Optane in a convenient format and with support for fast tires in stock from Intel appeared in the past year. Lucky to Intel at the end of 2018 at least managed to start selling M. 2 version of Intel Optane 905P capacity of 380 GB, although the popularity of this product is definitely not in danger if you consider its price of over $500.

The only novelty of 2019, which uses a XPoint 3D, was a strange hybrid Optane H10 Memory in which a caching drive Optane Memory capacity of 16 or 32 GB combined with QLC 3D NAND storage capacity of 256, 512 or 1024 GB. However, Optane Memory H10 is even more specialized solution than all the previous Optane. It wasn’t even supposed to sell on the open market – this drive is only implemented in mobile platforms, and meet Optane H10 Memory can be exclusively composed of laptops.

However, do not think that technology Optane is dying. The development takes place, but it takes place on another front. In particular, last year the server market with processors Cascade Lake-SP promised two years ago, the modules non-volatile memory Persistent Memory Optane DC. As it turned out, these modules can be used in workstations, since they are pin-compatible with the regular register DDR4 SDRAM. However, to offer Optane DIMM for consumer platforms, even top-level, Intel has no plans. Apparently, that is an option only for servers that are assumed in this environment will be actively evolve over the next few years.

Speaking of server platforms, it is necessary to mention that in the coming year, Intel promises to release the second generation drives Optane for data centers. At the moment about him only known to code name Alder Stream, but there is no doubt that this product will get more support for the new PCI Express 4.0.

Also this year the market should see and drive on the basis of the Xpoint 3D, was developed by company MITAC, which has already been formally launched under the name X100. Judging by the performance, which promises more than 2.5 million IOPS and 9 GB/s, this server will drive a very high level, and it will find the use of the latest memory 3D XPoint of the second generation. This memory Intel and Micron have managed to develop together, despite the gap, and, apparently, that the X100 will be the first production product based on it.

#NVMe SSD continue to strengthen the position

The closer the unit price of gigabytes to $0,1 SSDs became more and more affordable for most technology. And today, many computer manufacturers and private collectors of refuse from the HDD in favor of SSD. Moreover, given the fact that the price of SATA, and NVMe drives are almost equal, preference is given to a high-speed interface. It seems that in 2020, NVMe drives will finally become a standard choice for PC and, incidentally, to game consoles.

Wide distribution of the new interface was the reason for the appearance on the market of a large number of reduced models NVMe SSDS that use controllers with the reduced functionality with a reduced number of channels or deprived of the DRAM buffer. The bulk of NVMe-new products that came in for 2019 the market was such. However, their performance was not that sad: developers of the controllers have learned to avoid bottlenecks through the use of technology HMB (Host Memory Bufffer). As an example, can result in multiple solutions based on the SMI chip SM2263XT – they all offer very decent combination of price and performance.

But the next generation of low-cost NVMe solutions is sure to be even easier and switch to the use of only a couple of lines PCI Express. To push manufacturers in this direction should be the widespread adoption of PCI Express 4.0, which provides twice more bandwidth. Thus, SSD, two PCI Express 4.0 will give the same performance at 3.5 GB/s, which is offered by today’s models with four lines. However, while the proliferation of such proposals is constrained by the lack of support for the new interface to the Intel platform. Therefore, the dominance of cheap drives with interface PCI Express x2 until at least the end of 2020 will not occur.

If to speak about more interesting NVMe SSD top-level, then the best option in 2019 unopposed were 970 Samsung EVO Plus. He came back in January, but still worthy candidates for its substitution in place of leader on the horizon is not observed. The South Korean manufacturer had a very successful optimization of the model 970 EVOby updating the firmware and replacing the 64-layer memory more new 96-layer TLC 3D NAND, resulting in consumer characteristics at 970 EVO Plus has reached a new level. And surprisingly, none of the competitors of Samsung in the past year and failed to create NVMe SSD capable of performance close to the 970 EVO Plus, although it continues to use the old controller Phoenix, developed in 2018.

However, it looks like developers are already very tried. Most NVMe-new products last year, is a creative reinterpretation of past models in which changes were made mainly in the firmware and the external environment, but not in the hardware capabilities. Most NVMe SSD, which attracted attention during the past year, for example WD Black SN750 or a variety of NVMe SSD based on controller SMI SM2262EN like ADATA XPG SX8200 Prois just software updates models 2018. And sometimes, as in the case of novelty ADATA, changes was to optimize the algorithms of the drive under synthetic tests and not real scenarios.

#PCI Express 4.0 – main event of the year, but this is only in theory

Against the background of fairly sluggish developments in the industry deserving a special mention is the appearance on the market of PC configurations with support for PCI Express 4.0 drives that can take advantage of this bus with doubled throughput. Here the role of the main characters belongs, on the one hand, the company AMD, which has implemented support for PCI Express 4.0 the new version of the platform Socket AM4, and the other is a Taiwanese developer Phison, which managed to offer a controller NVMe SSD support fast interface.

On paper it looked good, because in theory the new interface opens the way to substantial increases in the speed characteristics of the media. However, in practice, no furor this innovation is not made. Having at least two problems. First, PCI Express 4.0 is supported only in the single, and not too common platform. The mass system in which the most frequently used Intel processors, while support for PCI Express 4.0 does not have, and to change this situation can not earlier than in a year when the microprocessor giant to offer processors with the design of Tiger Lake.

Second, the only existing at the moment the SSD controller with support for PCI Express 4.0, Phison PS5016-E16, is a weak solution to create on the basis of which advanced drive is able to compete with good-quality SSD for PCI Express 3.0, it is impossible.

While AMD has gone to adding processors Ryzen 3000 all advanced technologies with full responsibility, Phison used purely a marketing approach and decided to push his controller PS5016-E16 on the market, “trailer”, playing on the fact that this is the first solution with support for PCI Express 4.0. In fact this controller is a cosmetically odrestaurowany version of the budget controller PS5012-E12 accelerated external interface. Therefore, all of the many NVMe SSD supposedly “new generation”, which filled the shelves of stores in the second half of last year, in fact the solution of low class, who, despite the formal support of PCI Express 4.0, inferior in real world performance recognized and good drives to PCI Express 3.0.

Model of NVMe SSD, refer to the new generation will be not only on formal, but also actual evidence, obviously, will appear later. All developers controllers, in addition to Phison, reacted to the transition to the new interface quite responsibly and started a large-scale alteration of its products, which also affects the architecture and manufacturing technology. Thus, for 2020, we still have to get their hands on drives with support for PCI Express 4.0, which will be able to develop linear speed up to 7 GB/s and at least not lose to the predecessors in melkoplodnyj operations.

There is no doubt that these SSD will be available more to the point, as support for PCI Express 4.0 will appear in the Intel platform. For example, the same Samsung design of controller and drive, based on new high-speed interface, already ready, though, we are talking about the model server class PM1733. However, this probably means that in the depths of the South Korean company is working on options for long-term consumer NVMe SSD. For example, a demonstration (but so far non-working) samples 980 Samsung PRO even show up at CES 2020.

Also controllers with support for PCI Express 4.0 create and independent developers. For example, we already know about the existence of the SMI chips SM2264, SM2267 and Marvell 88SS1322, through which a range of new products next year promises to be quite broad.

#The realities of the Russian market

It is impossible to deny that all the global tendencies in the market of solid-state drives, are reflected in the Russian market. However, our situation is specific: for domestic consumers, the price factor is of primary importance, while performance and all the technological aspects often fade into the background.

As the cost of SSD in the first half of the year was falling behind the cost of flash memory, the domestic market for consumer drives quite significantly increased: this year it sold approximately 44% more devices than last year, although the growth of market capacity in monetary terms amounted to only 11 %, as follows from the data collected by the analytical company GfK Russia. As a result, the price of an average drive, bought by a Russian user in 2019, fluctuated around 3 300-3 500 rubles, while in 2018, the buyers were willing to spend on a new SSD sum, considerably exceeding four and even five thousand.

All this means that the falling prices of SSD was insufficient incentive to make Russian consumers actively go to a more capacious model of drives belonging to a higher class. Average capacity purchased SSD by the end of last year could increase up to 288 GB with 47% of customers left the store with a storage capacity of 240-256 GB. The share of NVMe drives in the structure of sales by year-end could reach only a modest 9.5% in quantitative terms.

In this light, it is not surprising that the top 10 SSD models that are used in Russia the most popular among buyers. It almost entirely consists of products that not only have the SATA interface and relatively low capacity, but which can be safely attributed to the lower budget class:

  1. A400 Kingston 120 GB.
  2. WD Green 240 GB.
  3. A400 Kingston 240 GB.
  4. 860 Samsung EVO 250 GB.
  5. WD Green 120GB.
  6. BX500 Crucial 120 GB.
  7. 860 Samsung EVO 500 GB.
  8. BX500 Crucial 240 GB.
  9. WD Blue 500 GB 3D.
  10. WD Blue 250 GB 3D.

First place in this list for the second year maximum is reduced unbuffered Kingston-based controller Phison S11, and behind him is a similar performance model Western Digital. Clearly struggling from all this sadness and depression is only the representatives of the Samsung 860 series EVO, so justly attributed to the small SSD with SATA-interface.

But this is precisely the paradox of the position of Samsung in the Russian market of SSDs. While the vast majority of SSD manufacturers is trying to reduce the price of their products and to achieve popularity at the expense of lower prices, Samsung has another strategy: the company does not pursue cheap and trying to attract supporters high quality and best performance.

And the fact that it really works, should at least from the fact that despite the absence in the range of cheap consumer goods, Samsung is on the Russian market of SSD is very high popularity. So, in terms of sales in 2019 South Korean manufacturer continues to hold the lead in terms of money, with 27 percent market share. The nearest competitors of the company in the face of Western Digital and Kingston can boast of only 16,6 – and 14-percent market share, respectively, despite the fact that the top 10 drives of their products are available more widely.

The fact that the Samsung is among Russian buyers in a special position, can be illustrated by another observation: the average purchase price of SSD, if we are talking about Samsung products, about 60-70% greater than the value of the average drive. On this background it is not surprising that the hit parade of the most popular among Russian consumers drives with the NVMe interface is more than half consists of solutions to Samsung:

  1. 970 Samsung EVO 250 GB
  2. 970 Samsung EVO Plus 250 GB
  3. Kingston 240 GB A1000
  4. 970 Samsung EVO Plus 500 GB
  5. 970 Samsung EVO 500 GB
  6. Intel SSD 256 GB 760p
  7. ADATA XPG SX6000 Pro 256 GB
  8. Samsung 970 PRO 512 GB
  9. ADATA XPG Gammix S11 Pro 256 GB
  10. 660p Intel SSD 512 GB

Moreover, this list reflects the popularity of the NVMe drives Samsung is not fully. Need to add that the number of sold during the year copies of EVO and Samsung 970 970 Samsung EVO Plus exceeds sales of any other model of NVMe SSD is more than two times. In other words, the preferences of the Russian buyers of flash storage with a progressive interface differ markedly from the preferences of those who come into the shop for a SATA SSD. It is definitely a more refined audience that is very selective in relation to performance and reliability, and the price for it is not the determining factor.

#Conclusion

At the end of the article I would like to reiterate that we will face a difficult period. It seems that in the near future the prices of solid state drives will inevitably go up, so if you were planning on buying a SSD, but still its not done, it’s time to hurry. Yes, now on the market have not seen any bright news, since 2019, this plan was quite lethargic and did not bring significant changes, but to wait for some outstanding breakthroughs, and for this to delay the purchase we would not recommend. First, existing proposals are not really that bad, and given the upcoming rise in price makes no sense to neglect the well-established models. Second, wait for something better you can still. Some revolutionary change can only happen with full implementation of the storage interface, PCI Express 4.0, but that such models can be on sale in the near future, we strongly doubt.

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The results 2019: hard drives

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If you examine the historical statistics volume hard disk drives in terms of the spindle, it is easy to notice that in the last decade, the growth rate decreased markedly. Without the help of innovative techniques of reading and writing that could radically change and complicate the principles of operation of HDD (and therefore require serious scientific research), the data density on the plates increases quite slowly. In fact, it is already close to the next physical limit. After put into operation the technology of perpendicular recording, manufacturers of magnetic storage used primarily extensive methods of maintaining progress. Opened the opportunity to install on the spindle more than five plates (what used to be considered as a practical maximum) — first by pumping helium, and then without it. At the moment the number of “pancakes” in sealed enclosures reached nine, and the vented — up to seven. Even these numbers — not the limit, but still seal plates plays the role of situational decisions and devoid of any long-term potential.

Another call, to be answered by the developers of hard disks is associated with the ratio of the speed of data transfer to the device capacity. With the capacity of the line read/write in modern HDD full order. Due to the high density recording, it is beyond the limit of 250 MB/s, and a large 3.5-inch drives in this parameter reached the level of 2.5-inch drives with a spindle speed of 10-15 thousand rpm and is not inferior to some cheap SSD. On the other hand, performance in transactions per second when dealing with arbitrary addresses for hard drives is a more or less fixed amount, which is determined, on the one hand, the rotational speed of the plates and their diameter, and the speed of movement of the actuator. As a result, as is increased capacity, increased IOPS in terms of terabytes of data has been steadily falling.

Finally, in the actual catalogues Seagate, Toshiba and Western Digital are well marked strict specialization of hard disks on a specific scenario of operation, which in the future will only increase. On the other hand, long ago delineated a lower priority than the scope of that magnetic drives while not leaving completely, but technological progress is temporarily frozen. So, for the entire year manufacturers HDD presented at only one of three retail model for installation in desktop computers (and that is focused more on workstations than on home PC) and not a single device in the form factor 2.5 inch for laptops. Server SFF drives with a SAS interface and not been updated for a few years, although this circumstance may change if we take into account the latest news from manufacturers of glass substrates for plates (more about that in the conclusion of the article), which has used in 2.5-inch enclosures.

The main direction of development for modern hard disks have become the backend store categories nearline for “cold” and, if I may say so, “cool” data. It is in this area focus the efforts of the manufacturers, and after the server HDD new achievements flow into the discs for standalone and rack-mount NAS. Over the past year, such devices have conquered the volume of 16 TB, which is close to the limit of the conventional recording methods, and scored nine plates on the spindle surrounded by a helium atmosphere. It is time to talk about that evolution HDD came across another technological barrier but, fortunately, before the introduction of commercial models finally realized innovative technologies that will retain the opportunity to continue to increase the volume of winchesters for years, if not decades. All three manufacturers are working on these or other types of entry with additional sources of energy (thermal or microwave), and Western Digital is already shipping the first batch of 18-terabyte drives heads MAMR (Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording). If we take advanced WD drives for cold data volume of 20 TB, these devices have collected just the same bingo technology, which we have said from year to year — and EAMR (Energy Assited Magnetic Recording), and TDMR (Two-Dimensional Magnetic Recording), and SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording).

On the other hand, manufacturers are making serious efforts to change the deplorable situation with the ratio of IOPS to volume data. Widespread algorithms for caching with Flash memory, which grew from a not too successful experiments in the consumer models, but there is another, radical solution, which came not only firm Seagate, but WD. If the plans of producers carried out, in 2020 we will celebrate the server HDD with two actuators, which can almost double the performance with random and sequential access. From Seagate to commercial supply, and WD may have time to produce a test batch of doactually devices.

#Server HDD form factor 3.5 inch

An important event for hard drives in 2019 has become the Premier drives Toshiba series MG08, which is the first among the commercial models have mastered the capacity of 16 TB on a single spindle. The leaders opened the Japanese firm thanks to the thin magnetic plates Showa Denko with a useful capacity of 1.78 TB and the new chassis, capable of holding nine such drives. And in order to ensure reliable data extraction from plates of high density, the HDD manufacturers had after mark 14 TB and above to use a technology called two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR), which in fact is a method of reading adjacent tracks at the same time multi-head located on one petal of the actuator. Note that TDMR does not allow to simultaneously read data from several tracks and need only to increase the ratio of “signal to noise”.

Drives such an impressive capacity, as Toshiba MG08, the problem of low throughput in IOPS per terabyte volume is more than ever. As a conservative decision, Toshiba will use the chip of Flash memory, which acts as a second level cache memory after the buffer and DRAM, however, contributes to increased resiliency: in the event of an emergency power-off solid state cache allows to save data sent from the host controller to the recording. However, this option (Persistent Write Cache) appears only in the specs of the drives emulate 512-byte markup, which carries a particular risk during a power failure because of the need to perform the operation read-modify-write when each record logical blocks that do not coincide with the boundaries of physical sectors. Does this mean that options MG08 with access to native 4K sector does not have a Flash chip (which is unlikely when you consider the bonus to speed), or that they just removed the backup feature is not known to us. But, anyway, a solid state memory and other server hard drives caches, only write operations and does not help to increase IOPS when reading data. This should help algorithms algorithms Dynamic Cache, which, according to Toshiba, the optimal sharing of the space of DRAM buffer between the operations of reading and writing (no matter how blurry sounds that wording).

16-terabyte a hard drive Toshiba MG08 (note the stack of nine ultra-slim plates — probably glass)

Seagate to reach the level of 16 TB server drive Exos X16, actually repeated the recipe Toshiba: same usable capacity of the magnetic plates, also nine “pancakes” on one spindle and reading with the help of the TDMR. Curiously, earlier Seagate was planning to begin volume shipments of a different version of Winchester with fewer plates, but the increased data density, which was made possible by thermomagnetic recording. A test batch of discs Exos with HAMR went to selected partners of the company at the end of 2018, but before the broad market did not come. The introduction of HAMR in commercial devices Seagate will begin with more high capacity. As for the present Exos X16, in addition to the configuration of plates in the chassis, as well as the standard passport data performance and fault tolerance, used in it supporting technology, very little is known. So, in nearline disks and high-performance Seagate hard drives form factor 2.5-inch Advanced algorithm Write Caching, greatly reducing the response time of the HDD when the write operations of small units and partly of reading. In full configuration the AWC relies on reserve areas scattered on the surface of the plates where grouped in a DRAM buffer data random queries are reset in sequential order (Media Cache) and a small volume of non-volatile memory to save data when power is lost. In addition, the hard drive always keeps a mirror copy of the contents of the DRAM buffer that allows the host controller to instantly read the hot data. Documentation Seagate has not said whether AWC in Exos X16, but according to independent performance tests, in some extent, this technology is still in use.

16-X16 Seagate Exos

Unlike Seagate, which, apparently, is experiencing unforeseen difficulties with the transition from the current method of recording data by thermomagnetic method, Western Digital is already implemented in commercial devices is an alternative design based on the microwave emitter (MAMR — Microwave Assisted MagneticRecording). Read more about what are different from other technologies HAMR and MAMR and what advantages and disadvantages each of them is characterized, we will talk later, but for now restrict ourselves to the figures of the achievements of Western Digital. Two models of the Ultrastar DC HC550 volume 16 and 18 TB built on the basis of nine plates a useful capacity of 2 TB each (note to double the recording density after Hitachi released the first terabyte HDD on the plates, the industry took eight long years) and in need of TDMR for read operations. It seems that the younger of them novelties is a Winchester short-stroke, that is part of the area of the magnetic plates in it just not used. 16-terabyte Ultrastar DC HC550 need WD mainly for validation of new technologies, as the new series is being distributed among the elected partners of the firm, and mass sales will start only in 2020.

Drives Ultrastar DC HC550, as previous large-Ultrastar drives, certainly not without technology Media Cache — backup zones of the magnetic surface for quick processing random write requests. And starting with a 10-terabyte server HDD, WD uses for caching write operations are still small amount of solid state memory (Media Cache Plus). However, the full specifications of new products, including evaluation of performance, the manufacturer still does not reveal until the end of the test trial batches. The same applies to the related devyatiyacheechnoy model Ultrastar DC HC650 who have reached the volume of 20 TB due to tile recording (SMR) in combination with and MAMR TDMR. Thanks to this impressive list of acronyms Ultrastar DC HC650 became the most technologically advanced ever released hard drives, but the specifics of SMR gives him the role of the storage of archived data or, at best, this kind of information that rarely need to overwrite, but often read. Like other tile winchesters WD Ultrastar DC HC650 belongs to the category of host-managed, that is in need of direct control by the write requests to efficiently use the capacity of the plates and to minimize the number of long operations read-modify-write.

WD Ultrastar HC550 DC and DC HC650

#HDD for desktops and NAS

Total range of three hard drive manufacturers in the consumer space, as usual, filled with larger-capacity drives in the server chassis in a sealed housing. Western Digital had based nearline model Ultrastar DC HC530 with eight plates a useful capacity of 1.75 TB and removed unclaimed in home and mellowing network storage options — support SAS interface, end-to-end encryption, and, unfortunately, the Media Cache. The result is a 14-terabyte version of the Red Pro and the same drive for video surveillance systems WD Purple. In addition to this standard version of Red, the spindle speed is reduced to 5400 rpm. the Only notable features of the new drives for the NAS — reading technology tracks TDMR and increased the values of the linear speed of access to data compared to hard drives smaller volume.

Almost all the same can be said about the newest representatives of the brands Seagate and IronWolf the IronWolf Goonyella 16 TB, which are based on the achievement of Exos X16, however, we must agree that Seagate is still a step ahead of Western Digital in the amount of hard drives with interface SATA network attached storage.

Toshiba, which in recent years has made great efforts to make your brand more attractive in the consumer market drives are too quick to release two hard drive capacity 16 TB — X300 for workstations and N300 NAS. No prizes for guessing that the prototype for them was the Winchester record Toshiba MG08 on the basis of nine plates at 1.78 TB, but again was eliminated as unnecessary sophisticated server functions. The caching of write operations by using solid state memory will likely also lost, and the members of the series X300 in addition not prepared to work 24/7.

In parallel with large-volume retail models X300 and N300 Japanese without much publicity started to ship to OEM partners desktop drives MD07ACA volume 12 and 14 TB, which are the analogue of the X300, while previously submitted a year ago MN07ACA duplicate N300. Senior representatives of both families represent deleteplane HDD with a usable capacity of the “pancake” of 1.56 TB and, consequently, the impressive speed of linear read/write.

Finally, for completeness, it is worth noting the winchesters Toshiba DT02-V is a surveillance system baseline. New models 2, 4 and 6 TB will replace the outdated drives MD04ABA-V, introduced in 2014. Increased since the recording density allowed engineers to Toshiba to increase the peak performance with a modest 157 to 185 MB/s, quite respectable by the standards of the HDD with a spindle speed of 5400 rpm.

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Peripherals

NIMBUSTOR AS5202T – NAS from ASUSTOR for gamers and techno geeks

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In the beginning of this year in our lab visited chetyrehmetrovy NAS ASUSTOR AS4004T, which, like its two-disc counterpart ASUSTOR AS4002T, was equipped with a network interface 10 GB/s. this device is not intended for business, and for a wide range of home users. Despite their capabilities, these models are available to the user for the price at which other manufacturers sell drives entry-level. It happened with the new NAS from ASUSTOR – chetyrehmetrovoy model AS5304T and double disc AS5202T, received the prefix NIMBUSTOR. The latter says supplies of new products to a new range of devices intended for technical enthusiasts. For testing we got the double disc model.

#Supplied

 

Supplied ASUSTOR AS5202T

The device comes in a cardboard white box with plastic carrying handle. Inside, except the drive was found to have the following accessories:

  • power adapter with detachable power cable;
  • two Ethernet cable;
  • set of screws for mounting drives form factor 2.5 inch;
  • brief printed manual: getting started.

The manufacturer finally abandoned the CD-ROM supplied with the network drives. Current software version anyway downloaded automatically via the Internet when you install and configure the NAS. The rest of the package is no different from other models.

#Specifications

Feature/Model ASUSTOR AS5202T
HDD 2 × 3,5”/2,5” SATA3 6 GB/s HDD or SSD
File system internal hard drives: EXT4, Btrfs
external storage: FAT32, NTFS, EXT3, EXT4, HFS+, exFAT, Btrfs
RAID level Single disk, JBOD, RAID 0, 1
Processor Intel Celeron 2.0 GHz J4005
Operational memory 2 GB SO-DIMM DDR4 (expandable up to 8 GB)
Network interfaces 2 × 2,5 Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45
Additional interfaces 3 × USB-A 3.2
1 × HDMI 2.0 a
Protocols CIFS / SMB, SMB 2.0 / 3.0, AFP, NFS, FTP, TFTP, WebDAV, Rsync, SSH, SFTP, iSCSI/IP-SAN, HTTP, HTTPS, Proxy, SNMP, Syslog
Customers Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, Server 2003, Server 2008, Server 2012
Mac OS X 10.6 and later
UNIX, Linux
iOS, Android
Cooling system one fan 70×70 mm
Power Consumption, W work: 17
sleep mode: 10,5
sleep: 1,3
Dimensions, mm 170 × 114 × 230
Weight, kg 1,6 (without HDD)
Estimated price*, RUB 22 345

* Average price in “Yandex.Market” at the moment of writing of article

 

Motherboard ASUSTOR AS5202T

 

Compared to models from ASUSTOR ASUSTOR AS4002T and AS4004T, new NAS with a fast network interface has received the updated hardware database. The novelty is running a dual-core processor Intel Celeron J4005. The base clock speed is 2.0 GHz and can increase to 2.7 GHz. The calculated heat capacity is relatively small – 10 watts, so active cooling of the processor is not needed. Manufacturer cost quite a large aluminum heatsink that covered the CPU.

Модуль оперативной памяти DSL DDR4-2400 2 Гбайт

RAM module DSL DDR4-2400 2 GB

The processor works with RAM DDR4/LPDDR4 maximum capacity up to 8 GB. It is noteworthy that this NAS uses SO-DIMMs, and slots not one, but two. A regular complete NAS comes with only one RAM module with a capacity of 2 GB, but the processor works with dual channel memory. Thus, the user has the possibility, if necessary, to increase the amount of RAM from 2 GB to 4 or 8 GB. In the second case, you will have to purchase two new modules, 4 GB. This is a huge plus for all who wish to expand on the basis of the ASUSTOR AS5202T a full server.

2,5-гигабитные сетевые контроллеры Realtek RTL8125

The 2.5-Gigabit network controllers Realtek RTL8125

To work for 2.5-Gigabit ports manufacturer chose a new Ethernet controllers Realtek RTL8125, which can be found on some motherboards the upper price range.

Three USB ports 3.2 are implemented using built-in tools SoC. He also provides video output and HDMI 2.0, which the NAS can be turned into a full-fledged multimedia player.

 

Module eMMC storage firmware and controller I / o ITE IT8625E

Storage firmware the system Board has a module Kingston EMMC04G. Also on Board is easy to see a fairly large controller I / o ITE IT8625E. In General, the presence of a more powerful processor and expandable RAM allows us to conclude that in ASUSTOR did a good job on the bugs. In this configuration, the presence of a pair of modern a 2.5-Gigabit network interfaces looks quite organically. Well, the HDMI video output 2.0 a this is a great addition that extends the capabilities of classical NAS.

#Appearance

 

Appearance ASUSTOR AS5202T

Appearance is one of the special features. Colors plastic case that combines a matte black with bright red design elements, clearly suggests that this is not the easiest NAS. Faceted surfaces give the drive a little hard, and a patent front panel makes it look complete.

Вид снизу

Bottom view

For two-disk model of this NAS is not the easiest. All the matter in a rather thick plastic casing and the metal chassis inside. The plastic part of the housing is divided into two halves. Bottom glued to them four large rubber feet to install the device on any smooth surface. Much space on a Desk or shelf, this NAS is.

 

The front panel

Removable front panel has a magnetic fastening. It performs only a decorative function. Behind the panel hides the disc compartment with the vertical placement of slides. To the left of the disk compartment is the led panel that informs the user of activity of disks, network interfaces, and USB ports power state. There is also a single of the two USB ports 3.2 and the round button at power management.

Задняя панель

Rear panel

The back panel is made of metal and also painted black. Traditionally located in the back grille with the assigned 70-mm fan, and there are a couple of 3.2 USB ports, HDMI video output 2.0 a, two bright red, the 2.5-Gigabit RJ-45 port and a power socket for the power adapter. In the lower left corner you can find a connector for attaching a security lock such as the Kensington.

Scheme of ventilation and cooling from ASUSTOR AS5202T traditional. Located on the rear panel of the housing of the fan through louvers in the front part of the lower surface sucks the air and stretch it across the motherboard and hard drives. But despite a classic performance trends in many designers from ASUSTOR managed to make it attractive, colorful and unique.

#Installation of hard drives and internal structure

 

Slide hard drives

 

With plastic rails used in the construction ASUSTOR AS5202T, we are already familiar on other NAS models ASUSTOR. Their main feature is that for mounting and Dismounting hard drives do not require a screwdriver. To set the disc to be removed from one or from two sides plastic strips with pins that replace the bolts, but after installing the ROM to get them back in place. The plastic construction of the slide together with the rubber bushings reduces vibration when the drives work. Plate is easily removed and installed, and the whole process of installation hard disk drives is just a couple of minutes.

Дисковый отсек

Disc compartment

In the disk-chamber slides are fixed with locks that open when you turn the plastic knob on the front panel. An additional lock with a key is not provided. The slides have a frame construction with a plurality of holes, allowing to cool all the external surface of the discs.

Внутреннее строение корпуса

The internal structure of the body

To open the device ASUSTOR AS5202T the user may need only to increase the amount of RAM. To make it easy. As mentioned above, the plastic of the housing is divided into two halves. For opening you will need to Unscrew the two screws on the rear surface and slide one half relative to the other. The eyes of the user will open the sturdy metal chassis with bottom mounted motherboard, and the top are placed the sled with hard drives. To replace the memory modules, nothing to Unscrew there is no need access to a specially opened.

Work with device

   

Search and configure the NAS with AiMaster mobile app

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Opportunities AiMaster

   

Configure disk space using AiMaster

 

Install and configure ASUSTOR AS5202T as possible with a branded app for PC ASUSTOR Control Center, and from any mobile device running the OS Androind or iOS which provides app AiMaster. This service provides not only initial startup of the NAS, but also follow up with them, although to gain access to all the functions still better to use a full web interface.

New running operating system ADM (ASUSTOR Data Master). Last time we met with ADM version 3.2, at the time of testing for ASUSTOR AS5202T was available ADM version 3.4. Some fundamental differences in it, but for a new NAS models in the NIMBUS has been specifically designed special game theme for multi-window interface, designed in black and red colors. Possible OS ADM is described in detail us at the link above in earlier materials on the ASUSTOR NAS, so in detail about them again, we will not. But for those who first acquainted with the network drives from this manufacturer, we will mention the main features.

 
 

The ADM interface 3.4

With a third version, OS ADM in its content and capabilities not much different from similar software product other market leaders NAS. Multiwindow customizable homescreen with widgets, easy file Manager, app store and, of course, quick access to the stored data from the local network and via the Internet – all this in full have ADM 3.4.

 
 

Configuring EZ-Connect

 

For remote connection to the disk drive space provided by the Internet service EZ-Connect. No settings, except authorization is not required. After that, the owner of the device on the link can open the web interface of the NAS via the Internet, entering your ID ASUSTOR Cloud ID, and the name and password. To any folder, you can arrange guest access to the link or QR-code, further restricting his time interval. Drives the NAS can be connected to a local PC via iSCSI.

Well, a huge number of network protocols to work with ASUSTOR AS5202T, allows no doubt that it will be able connect to your PC or mobile device on any software platform. By the way, for exchanging data with smartphones, the manufacturer offers to use the app AiData for video, photo and music content there is a mobile program AiVideos, AiFoto and AiMusic.

 

Settings backup

A lot of attention in the ADM is paid to the functions of data backup. By default, the backup can be run in both directions with internal and external drives, remote storage, and file servers with rsync. But cloud services represented only Amazon S3.

 

Third-party backup application

But in the built-in the ADM app store are free to download and to install additional services for data backup, which include services of Google Disk, Dropbox, Onedrive and others.

Вариант использования функции MyArchive

The use of the function MyArchive

Another interesting feature associated with backup data storage – MyArchive. The gist of it is that one or more disk devices are used as separate storage of certain data. MyArchive disks can be formatted with file systems exFAT, EXT4, NTFS and HFS+. They are not combined into a RAID and can be simply taken from the NAS or expansion module and a stowaway, and later connected not only to the ASUSTOR NAS, but to any Windows PC or Mac. Such disks can be as many as you need. Just like any other folder, the data on the disks MyArchive can be encrypted using AES with a 256-bit key.

   

Center snapshot Snapshot Center

CDs from ASUSTOR AS5202T can be formatted as in the file system EXT4 and Btrfs that have advanced features for creating backup copies of data. Based on the data of this file system center snapshot Snapshot Center allows you to create fingerprint data, which, in the case of file corruption you can restore. Such prints can be created every five minutes. Simultaneous storage of up to 256 snapshots, while the space on disk they take almost will.

 

Library apps ASUSTOR

 

Applications to work with multimedia data

 

Stored data is protected by the integrated firewall and Avast Antivirus. Additional applications for protection can be downloaded from the app center. The latter is divided into easy to search categories, and especially pleasing in its diversity. A special place among them is occupied by the application for multimedia data.

   

Service ASUSTOR Portal, and the Plex video player

AS5202T from ASUSTOR has HDMI 2.0, which allows you to directly connect your video wall. Along with connected to USB ports input devices NAS this turns into a full-fledged media player. Software shell, for it is a ASUSTOR Portal install from the app center. For movies you can use the Plex player or any other. But the function of hardware decoding 4K video allows not to overload the CPU when working, using its resources for other parallel running tasks.

For ASUSTOR Portal integration, among other applications proposed streaming service StreamsGood. It works with YouTube, Gaming, Facebook Gaming, Twich, Douyu and King Kong, allowing for streaming data to the Internet. The entire gameplay can also be saved on disk space on the NAS with a resolution of up to 4K.

   

Setting up aggregation of ports and VPN settings

In the latter case, the 2.5-Gigabit interface will be a very useful addition as the aggregation function ports. The latter has a number of settings and the ability to select the type of aggregation, depending on what you want to be: high reliability of data transfer or speed. In General, OS ADM 3.4 allows you to organize and be supported by ASUSTOR NAS a full-fledged home server provides storage and access to data. For a relatively cheap NAS is a very big plus in the Treasury of the merits.

#Testing

Testing was conducted with two 3.5-inch HDD Seagate Constellation CS ST3000NC002 with a capacity of 3 TB each with the cache memory capacity of 64 MB, running with a spindle speed of 7200 Rev/min. the Test stand for testing the performance had the following configuration:

  • Intel Core i5-2320 3.0 GHz;
  • GIGABYTE GA-P67A-D3-B3 Rev. 2.0;
  • RAM 16 GB DDR3-1333;
  • the video card ASUS GeForce 6600 GT 128 MB;
  • SSD Intel 520 SSD capacity 240 GB;
  • ten Gigabit network adapter Intel 10-Gigabit Ethternet;
  • Windows 7 Ultimate.
 

Information about the installed HDD and the performance evaluation benchmark SSD

Own speed read and write test of the drive was about 200 MB/s For the NAS, connected via a 2.5-Gigabit network interface, the performance of the test stand can become a weakness. When testing drives the device were assembled into RAID arrays of levels 0 and 1. As a file system at all stages of testing used Btrfs. On the disk was created open to public access folder, which was connected to the test stand the OS as a network drive. Performance evaluation was obtained by means of specialized tests the ATTO Disk Benchmark and Intel’s NAS Performance Toolkit, as well as through a direct file copy in Windows Explorer.

When you connect a Gigabit network interface at any level of the RAID array limit the data transfer speed becomes the network interface. Speed reading and writing is limited at the same value of about 118 MB/s. to obtain large values, it is required either to connect the NAS interface 2.5 GB/s, or use the function aggregation ports. Unfortunately, a suitable client device with an Ethernet interface 2.5 Gbit/s have not appeared, and 10-Gigabit network card Intel X540-T1 refused to connect to the NAS at speeds above 1 GB/s. So we have used the second option to operate the Link Aggregation.

This network was connected to the second client PC (test stand with a similar configuration) and switch ZYXEL GS1900-9 working with the Protocol IEEE 802.3 ad LACP. The switch and NAS were combined for the two Gigabit channels in a Link Aggregation. Appropriate settings of the network was held in the ADM OS. The test was to parallel the communication between the NAS and two clients at the same time. As test data for the program has been used three video volume from 2.5 to 3.5 GB.

Regardless of the type of RAID array, the performance in this test was again restricted network bandwidth: 225-228 MB/s both when reading and when writing. The data indicates that the presence of the 2.5-Gigabit network interface this NAS – not a marketing ploy. CPU performance is sufficient for multi-user collaboration, and expanding the amount of RAM will allow you to use tools such as virtualization, for which center applications have the appropriate services.

As for the noise, then this indicator new NAS really can be called homemade. It works almost silently and only in peak periods, the fan becomes audible from afar. The disk temperature during the test was kept at 45-55 °C.

#Insights

Testing the market on the model of the ASUSTOR AS4004T with dezetilirovanny network interface from the CPU in favor of low cost devices still left much to be desired, the company made absolutely the right decision: a little “pull” hardware and let the user instead of a redundant 10 GB/s more home interface 2.5 Gbit/s which today have already started to equip motherboards and desktop PCs, and routers. That was the groundwork for the true techno geeks such interfaces put two. Sostavlyayushey software has hardly changed – she was nearly perfect in all respects. But improved appearance and thus practically did not change the price (if you compare previous and current models within the same number of disk slots). The result is terrible for a NAS of this price category from other manufacturers who have similar configuration is available for absolutely other money.

In short, the advantage of the model ASUSTOR AS5202T need to include:

  • spectacular bright appearance;
  • simple and user-friendly design;
  • very high for a home user level of performance;
  • the presence of two 2.5-Gigabit network interface aggregation capability of ports;
  • the possibility of expanding the RAM;
  • low noise and heating;
  • almost limitless possibilities of the control software of the ADM complex.

At the same time novelties have not discovered any serious faults. At a price of just above twenty thousand roubles model ASUSTOR AS5202T can be safely recommended for purchase as one of the best solutions in its class.

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