Tag: SSD

HP releases storage for SMEs

HPThe storage division of HP said it has released a series of storage products aimed at mid sized companies who don’t want to spend much cash.

HP claimed it has released the most affordable solid state drive (SSD) read caching product which starts off at $1,599.

HP also said it is offering hybrid flash storage in the shape of a StoreVirtual Storagesystem which it claims is 12 times faster than systems using spinning hard drives.

It is also releasing a scalable StoreOne Backup appliance and StoreEasy storage file serving appliances aimed at protecting SME data in case of a catastrophe and providing cloud backup.

HP said it is wooing its channel partners to target the SME market with a range of products that cost 23 percent less than its more grown up products for big enterprises.

It said that the scalable nature of its StoreOnce 2900 Backup appliance, for example, with up to 31.5 terabytes of storage in a 2U system.

HP has also refreshed with StoreEasy storage products using ProLiant Gen9 servers that start at under $5,500.

Most of these products will be available by the end of this month, HP said.

 

Intel 730-series SSDs dogged by rumour

watchdogIntel’s 730-series SSDs, which received glowing reviews, has been dogged by a rumour that it lacks power loss data protection, a feature which was highlighted in Intel’s review guides.

The rumour was confirmed by Intel’s customer support department which made the mistake of implying that the SDD’s spec had changed.

The customer support person said that the SSD 730 was never built with the capacitor for the power loss data protection.

This means, the SSD does not have the capacitors at all, therefore the Intel’s website has the correct information of the drive.

Power data loss protection is a relatively important feature for anyone buying these drives and it puts reviewers such as Toms’ Hardware on the spot for not noticing it. The only problem is that when Toms’ reviewed the Intel 730 240GB SSD, it spotted it had two large capacitors on the PCB.

After all the fact that Intel included such technology on a mass-market drive was news.

Intel moved to kill the rumours this week. Jeff Fick, Product Marketing Engineer on the Intel SSD 730 Series insisted that the Intel SSD 730 Series incorporates power loss protection circuitry, capacitors and firmware support to help protect user data.

He said that Intel customer support got it wrong.  In fact it looks like contrary to Intel’s tech support’s statements, the capacitors do indeed exist and do provide a level of protection rarely seen on enthusiast-level SSDs.

Oracle unveils X5 with Intel Inside

Oracle-Announces-X5Oracle chairman and chief technology officer Larry Ellison unveiled X5, its fifth generation of Oracle’s engineered systems, to media and analysts at company headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.

Ellison introduced the company’s X5 as “the future of the datacentre” based on Intel Xeon® E5-2600 v3 processor family (Haswell-EP with up to 32 cores) and support for high bandwidth NVM Express (NVMe) flash drives.

The X5-2, a 1U two socket server, is designed and optimised for running Oracle Database in a clustered configuration. Optional four NVMe drives can be used to accelerate Database performace via Smart Flash Cache. This server is targeted at high-density vitualization environments.

The X5-2L, a 2U platform, is targeted for single-node databases and enterprise storage applications. The supports up to 758GB of memory, and configured for a maximum of 50.4TB of direct attached storage.

Also announced was Oracle’s NVM Express (NVMe) design providing up to 6.4TB of hot-swappable flash providing 2.5X the data rate of older SAS3 SSD interface drives using PCIe Gen3 Small Form Factor NVM SSD drives (12Gb/s vs. 32Gb/s). NVM Express flash technology is optimized to accelerate Oracle Database using a feature called Database Smart Flash Cache. This feature keeps recently accessed data warm in flash storage, reducing the chance that the database needs to fetch the data from slower magnetic media that may be direct attached or resident on a NAS/SAN fabric. In addition to the high-bandwidth interface to the NVM Express SSDs, the flash technology itself has been engineered to be high-endurance and write-optimized for Oracle Database.

Ellison’s new “vision” entails connecting datacentres efficiently and at lowest cost to the cloud – “There has to be some degree of compatibility between the public cloud and your private datacentre”, Ellison said.

Ellison emphasised Oracle’s “new strategy” using Intel processors to compete for the two-socket core business. The new “Virtual Compute Appliance X5” converged infrastructure system, consists of compute servers and software defined networking.

That integration comes in the form of th Virtual Compute Appliance X5 converged infrastructure system, consisting of compute servers, software-defined networking and Oracle designed hardware. Ellison went on to highlight the company’s abilities in software defined configuration of server and storage networks on VCA, supporting infiniband internal networking with external connectivity provided by Ethernet and Fibre Channel to link with existing networks.

Included within the X5 product portfolio are Oracle’s Big Data Appliance for Hadoop and NoSQL big data jobs and Exalogic X5-2 for private clouds.

Ellison described Oracles Zero Data Loss Recovery Appliance capable of full data recovery with real-time “redo” transport and fully automated recovery functions, log re-examination with extraction of malicious transactions followed by re-entry of those processes again allows the appliance to be restored to any point in time.

Further the appliance, which can handle thousands of databases with backup connections to on-site datacentre, remote datacenters and cloud. “The big deal is it’s fully automated, so it’s easy to operate, and you never lose data. It’s a no brainer appliance as we have, “Ellison stated.

Ellison reminded the audience that “Oracle manufactures tests and supports all of these products in-house”, naming rivals Cisco, EMC, VMware, Microsoft and Red Hat hinting at more expensive and fragmented support by rivals. Further “One appliance alone can handle thousands of databases with potential backup connections to on-site datacentres, remote datacentres, and the cloud.” he said.

“The big deal is it’s fully automated, so it’s easy to operate, and you never lose data. It’s as a no-brainer appliance as we have,” Ellison remarked.

He further stressed Oracle has manufactured, tested, and support all these pieces in-house, calling out rivals Cisco, EMC, VMware, Microsoft, and Red Hat and hinting at more fragmented (not to mention expensive) deployment options. All X5 machines are available now.

TechEye Take

The rumor of the Intel invasion of Oracle has been circulating since OracleWorld 2012. This is a major shift for Oracle. The company’s management, currently in the midst of a “reinvention period”, includes the fact that Larry Ellison is executing a gradual accession plan as he moves toward retirement.

The X5 release is seen as one aspect of the company’s new strategy – one in which the company protects their private datacentre market base while adjusting to a world increasingly enveloped by the evolution of open hardware, software and the cloud. Ellison is a sharp toothed shark and Oracle is having a problem finding a way to replace his natural instincts – how this evolves is another one of those “only in the valley” stories.

It is looking like a very good year for Intel’s E5000 series though…,

 

SSDs are now more reliable

 ssdiconsetAn investigation into the shelf life of SSDs has concluded that in a year the technology has improved dramatically.

Techreport carried out a test to see how many writes an SSD could survive before burning out. IT also tracked how each one’s performance characteristics and health statistics changed as the writes accumulated.

The Corsair Neutron Series GTX, Intel 335 Series, Kingston HyperX 3K, and Samsung 840 Series died absorbing far more damage than its official endurance specification promised—and far more than the vast majority of users are likely to inflict.

The 840 Pro and a second HyperX 3K have so far reached two petabytes of writes. Most people’s  SSDs would be pushed to have more than terabytes of writes in a couple of years.

Intel’s 335 Series is designed to go out on its own terms, after a pre-determined volume of writes. It died after 750TB but at least warned everyone it was about to croak.

The HyperX 3K only made it to 728TB. Unlike the 335 Series, which was almost entirely free of failed flash, the HyperX reallocated nearly a thousand sectors before it died.

The Samsung 840 Series started reporting reallocated sectors after just 100TB. The 840 Series went on to log thousands of reallocated sectors before going to disk heaven.

Corsair’s Neutron GTX was the picture of health up to 1.1PB, it suffered a rash of flash failures over the next 100TB.  It reached 1.2PB but refused to power up after a reboot. The 840 Pro and second HyperX 3K managed 2PB.

What this means is that SSDs are now reaching a point where they are pretty reliable over a long period of time.  For your average user, a person would have to be using any one of these drives for more than 500 years before they died.

 

Sandisk releases enterprise flash drive

Sandisk X300 SSDMemory company Sandisk said it has introduced the X300 solid state disk (SSD), suitable for corporate environments.

The drive uses its X3 flash technology and also builds in nCache 2.0.  This is next generation tiered caching technology that uses SLC and X3 flash blocks to improve life, increase efficience and give faster performance for large organisations.

Those corporate workloads include office productivity apps, media creation, or financial transactions.

The drive becomes available in October and comes in capacities of 128GB, 256GB, 5GB and 1TB.

The drive comes with a dashboard application giving management tools include measuring drive performance, checking the health of the drive, firmware update alerts and embedded applications such as the ability to create exact replicas of old hard drives onto the X300 SSD without the need to re-install operating systems.

No pricing details are available.

Micron releases super dense SSD

mircon ssdMicron announced  a new SSD that uses its densest process and has an onboard chip that can program the memory to act as high performance SLC or high-capacity MLC flash.

Dubbed the M600 SSD, the drive uses Micron’s new 16 nanometer (nm) lithography with 128Gb NAND density.

Thanks to the greater density, the company could drop the cost per gigabyte to as little as 45 cents. The fact you can program the flash also reduces power use and improves write performance as much as 2.8 times over models without the feature.

Jon Tanguy, Micron’s senior technical marketing engineer said the M600 flash drive draws less than two milliwatts of power in sleep mode and averages 150mW during active use.

It has a sequential read rate of 560 MBps and can write at 510MBps. Its random read rate is up to 100,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) and it can write at 88,000 IOPS.

The SSD is based on an eight-channel Marvell controller that comes with government-grade hardware encryption using the 256-bit AES protocol.

Micron is selling the drive to manufacturers of corporate notebooks and ultra-thin netbooks, workstations and desktop PCs.

It comes in three form factors, a 2.5-in. SSD, an mSATA card and an M.2 memory stick. The mSATA and M.2 form factors come in capacities of 128GB for $80, 256GB for $140 and 512GB for $260. The 2.5-in. SSD comes in all those capacities and an additional 1TB version which will set you back $450.

 

Seagate intros first 3.5-inch hybrid drive

seagate-longmontSeagate seems to believe in traditional desktops. The company has introduced the world’s first 3.5-inch hybrid drive in two flavours, 1TB and 2TB. Seagate has been making hybrid drives for years, but all of them were 2.5-inch models and most of them ended up in laptops.

However, the new ST1000DX001 is a big 3.5-inch desktop drive with as spindle speed of 7200rpm. Most 2.5-inch SSHDs spin at 5400rpm, so the new desktop drive should end up a bit faster. In addition, it should be cheaper than 2.5-inch drives and it’s available in 2TB, which is not the case with 2.5-inch hybrids that range from 320GB to 1TB in capacity.

The drive has an integrated 8GB NAND drive on top of 64MB of cache. Of course, it supports SATA 6Gbps and Seagate’s pitch says it delivers “SSD performance and HDD capacity”. This is pushing it to say the least. While it should end up faster than Seagate’s plain 3.5-inch drives, it won’t come close to proper SSDs in most scenarios.

However, that is beside the point. Traditional mechanical drives are on their way out and they will be replaced by hybrids. Enthusiasts and professionals will keep using SSDs are their primary drives, but for storage they’ll now be able to rely on hybrids and that sounds like a very nice mix.

The only trouble is that it’s not exactly what we’d call cheap. Early listings in Europe put it north of €110, which is quite pricey for a 3.5-inch 1TB drive, even if it is a hybrid.

Ultrabooks help SSD sales

ssdSolid-state drives are the new black and they are slowly starting to trickle down into mainstream PCs, thanks to cheaper Ultrabooks and increasing demand for non-enterprise drives. According to research firm IHS, SSD shipments for ultrathin notebooks and Ultrabooks totalled 5.9 million units this year, up from just 1.9 million a year ago.

SSDs are also making their first forays into the tablet sector, with shipments of 1.6 million units, up from 542,000 units last year. If demand for Windows 8 tablets and hybrids ever picks up, SSD deployment will follow suit.

Overall SSD shipments in the first quarter of 2013 amounted to 11.5 million units, up from 6 million in Q1 2012. However, it should be pointed out that IHS did not include shipments of NAND flash components for cache SSD drives and hybrid drives. In contrast, shipments of mechanical drives fell seven percent in Q1 to 135.7 million units, down from 145.5 million a year ago.

“The SSD market enjoyed big results in the first quarter as both the consumer and enterprise markets ramped up their use of machines that made use of the drives,” said Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS. “Most notably, SSD attach rates climbed in ultrathin/Ultrabook PCs where SSDs are the de facto storage medium, and also in PC tablets where productivity options differentiate them from media tablets.”

Things could have been even better had Ultrabook sales taken off, but demand remains relatively soft. Hybrids, or 2-in-1s are the new flavour of the day, but analysts aren’t sure they will be a big success, either.

The big winners in Q1 were Samsung, Intel, SanDisk, HGST and newcomers Seagate and LSI.

Hard drive sales slow down

hdd-hugeShipments of mechanical hard drives are steadily declining, confirming what everyone in the industry knew already – the PC market is losing steam.

Seagate saw its Q2 shipments drop 3.2 percent over Q1, to 53.9 million drives. Toshiba lost some market share and shipped 19.6 million units. Western Digital shipped 59.9 million drives, 0.4 percent less than in Q1.

Shipments of mobile drives were also down 0.4 percent and the average drive size remained at 610GB. Hybrid drives are not taking off as expected by some punters.

Desktops fared even worse, with an 8.3 percent decline from the first quarter. The slump may cause some inventory concerns in Q3 and beyond. The average capacity of desktop drives shipped last quarter was 1TB, no changes there.

There is some good news to report as well. The enterprise hard drive market is recovering. It was up 12 percent last quarter. Shipments of hard drives for consumer electronics were also up, 0.8 percent according to IT Wire

Although there’s plenty of room for improvement, the hard drive market won’t recover anytime soon.

Cheaper SSDs and hybrid drives are also starting to make a mark, but HDDs are still the cheapest option and the darling of OEMs and consumers alike.

Hard drive prices to remain high despite slow demand

hdd-hugeThe hard drive market has sailed through a lot of turbulence over the last two years, and when we say sail we are obviously referring to the 2011 floods in Thailand.

The floods wreaked  havoc on a number of component fabs catering to leading HDD producers. As a result hard drive prices skyrocketed and did not stabilize for almost two years.

In fact, hard drive prices remain stubbornly high, despite the fact that the floods hit in October 2011. According to IT Wire, prices of desktop 3.5-inch drives are still up 12 to 14 percent, which is also indicative of soft demand for desktops. Although notebook sales remain slow, prices of 2.5-inch drives are going down.

However, prices of solid state drives have tumbled over the past two years, although they seem to be stabilizing. Demand for NAND remains strong, propped up by tablets and smartphones, hence SSDs are experiencing massive price drops, which were expected by some observers a few years ago.

hard-drive-prices

Although SSDs are a lot cheaper than two years ago, they are still too expensive for many applications. Small solid state drives are starting to squeeze out small hard drives, but this is a painfully slow process. Due to their size and power efficiency, SSDs are doing particularly well in notebooks. Hybrid drives are also becoming a very interesting choice for desktops, cheap notebooks and even enterprise applications.

The consolidation of the hard drive industry, which is now practically a WD – Seagate duopoly, also has the potential to drive up prices. Luckily, SSDs should keep hard drive prices in check, as their increasingly competitive pricing will leave very little wiggle room for hard drive makers.

Sales of slim HDDs are soaring

seagate-hddEarlier this year Seagate and Western Digital introduced a range of 5-millimetre and 7-millimetre HDDs/SSHDs and it appears they will have no shortage of customers. According to IHS, sales of 5- and 7-millimetre drives will soar to 133 million units by 2017, up from just five million last year.

Ultra thin hard drives and hybrid drives are used in Ultrabooks and other thin devices, which are expected to slowly squeeze more traditional form factors out of the consumer market in coming years.

IHS reckons shipments of 9.5mm drives will drop to 79 million units by 2017, down from 245 million in 2012, reports Electronicsfeed.

However, it won’t all be smooth sailing for hard drive makers. Shipments of SSDs are still growing at a fast pace. SSD shipments are projected to climb some 90 percent this year, hitting 64.6 million units, whereas hard drives shipments are slowing down. They are expected to drop five percent to 545.8 million units. Ultra thin hard drives and hybrids will help in the short term, but SSDs will continue to find new markets as prices of NAND drop.

The big hope for hard drive makers is that they will manage to score more design wins with their new thin drives, as they are still a lot cheaper than SSDs. This is where they can expect some help from Microsoft, as Windows 8.x is a lot more bloated than iOS or Android, so there is a chance that cheap Windows hybrids and tablets will have to use mechanical drives, or hybrid drives.

“Both the thinner HDDs along with hybrid HDDs could even start finding acceptance in ultrathin PCs and tablet PCs—two products that now mostly use solid-state drives as their storage element. Hard disks have lost market share to SSDs, which offer better performance and can be more easily used to achieve a thinner and lighter form factor crucial to tablets and ultrathin PCs,” said Fang Zhang, storage systems analyst at IHS.

In the long run, however, hard drives have no place in tablets or hybrids, or 2-in-1s as Intel likes to call them these days. In any case they are a cheap and proven interim alternative, as they will enable vendors to come up with cheaper ultrathin devices before SSD prices come down to acceptable levels.

Seagate thinks SSDs and HDDs can coexist

hdd-hugeNow that it has started peddling solid-state drives of its own, Seagate seems to think there is plenty of room for SSDs and HDDs to coexist, with hybrid drives serving like a buffer of sorts.

In other words, hybrid drives will be the equivalent of Belgium or Bosnia, which means they don’t exactly have a bright future in the long run. Sooner or later SSDs will come knocking at their door.

In an interview with the Korea Herald, Seagate VP Banseng Teh said the future of storage lies not in hard drives or unit sales, but in storage capacity. Commenting on reports that Samsung might ditch its desktop PC business, Teh said such a turn of events wouldn’t have much of an impact on Seagate. It is worth noting that Samsung has denied that it is pulling out of desktops.

“The volume of what we ship to desktop makers including Samsung is admittedly retreating, but this trend does not affect us because it is not about the units we ship, but the capacity,” Teh said.
Teh believes that annual storage shipments will grow 20 fold by capacity by 2020, which sounds quite optimistic. Desktops might not be the driving force behind hard drive sales, but other form factors and new devices should take their place.

Hard drives will not only get bigger, they will get smarter, too. Teh believes that over 85 percent of hard drives will eventually incorporate hybrid technology. In addition, SSD penetration in notebooks should hit 33 percent by 2016, with a CAGR of 162.4 percent between 2011 and 2016.

However, SSD remain prohibitively expensive and they won’t replace mechanical drives anytime soon. That is why Seagate and other hard drive makers are focusing on hybrid drives in the interim.

“Besides being impractical, a sudden surge in investment would likely plunge the semiconductor industry into a massive slump,” Teh said. “Our goal and strategy is to provide the broadest range of options for our customers, be it SSDs, hybrid or hard disk drives, based on their computing needs.”

IBM to invest $1bn in flash R&D

ibm-officeIBM has announced it will invest $1 billion into flash R&D as well as launching a series of SSD based systems.

Flash will be integrated into all IBM server and storage systems as well as a new flash only storage system.

Not only is flash a “key tipping point”, according to head of IBM software and systems, but eventually data centres will be completely comprised of solid state drives, reports Solid State Technology.

IBM has also announced plans to open 12 centres worldwide which will allow its customers to test flash products in various scenarios. They will be able to test flash performance in various scenarios that require heavy workloads like in stock exchange transactions and credit card processing.

Data Memory Systems has taken the announcements to mean all enterprise Tier 1 storage should be totally flash based, reasoning that the shift toward cloud and big data makes processing data quickly a necessity. Because traditional HDDs have not increased phenomenally in speed over the last years, flash can potentially increase processing speeds by 90 percent for certain tasks, for example in banking and trading where speed is critical.

It is not the end of traditional hard disks yet, as they still offer cost benefits now, but IBM’s decision to invest so much in flash storage shows the direction the industry is headed.

Toshiba rolls out a hybrid

toshiba-sshdToshiba has introduced its first 2.5-inch hybrid drives aimed at the fledgling Ultrabook market. For a second it looked like Toshiba was about to be outdone by WD and Seagate, as they joined the SSHD club a bit earlier.

However, Tosh wasn’t taken by surprise and its 7mm hard drives should be on par with WD’s and Seagate’s similar offerings. The drives come in 320GB and 500GB capacities and both feature 8GB of NAND flash cache.

Although the spindle speed is 5400rpm, the hybrids perform better than plain 7200rpm drives, but the still fall short of SSD performance. However, they should end up four to five times cheaper than their solid state counterparts.

Toshiba did not reveal the exact pricing though, or availability date for that matter. However, both Seagate and WD are pricing their 7mm hybrids south of $100 and Toshiba’s SSHDs should probably have a similar price tag.

Seagate reshuffles sales and marketing team

seagate-longmontSeagate has announced a few changes in its sales and marketing team, most of which are centred on EMEA. The company said it reshuffled the team to address growth opportunities in cloud, SSD and branded storage markets.

Mark Whitby, Seagate’s vice president of EMEA Sales & Marketing and Global Channel Sales, said the changes will ensure that Seagate positions itself to address evolving market opportunities.

“The storage market is both growing and changing rapidly, and the changes we have made to our senior management team are intended to keep Seagate in the forefront of that market,” he said. “In particular, we want to take full advantage of the huge potential we see in areas such as cloud computing, solid state drives and in the market for branded storage solutions.”

In his expanded role as Vice President of EMEA Sales & Marketing and Global Channel Sales, Mark Whitby has now been charged responsibility for the company’s global distribution channel sales, developing and leading strategy and delivery of the business worldwide.

Joe Fagan is being appointed Senior Director of Cloud Initiatives, EMEA. In this newly created position he will be responsible for shaping Seagate’s Cloud strategy and engagement in the region.

Dimitri Galle has been appointed Senior Director of Sales and Marketing, Branded Products, EMEA. In his new position he will be responsible for sales and marketing of all Seagate-branded retail products across the region.

Bernd Breinbauer has been appointed to the newly created role of Director of EMEA SSD Sales with responsibility for developing sales of the company’s comprehensive solid state drive portfolio across the region. Seagate entered the highly competitive SSD market just a few weeks ago and Breinbauer obviously has a lot of work ahead.