Plextor M6S Plus SSD Arrives On Market

With SSDs seemingly advancing by leap and bounds everyday, it’s crucial for companies to be able to get their products out to market quickly. By being on the bleeding edge, companies can exploit process and controller advantages to increase their margin or lower prices. First unveiled and announced a little over 2 months ago, Plextor’s M6S Plus series of SSDs will finally reach market and become available for purchase.

As a 2016 update of the M6S, the M6S Plus uses the newer 15nm MLC Toggle NAND from Toshiba instead of the A19nm found in the M6S. This will help Plextor bring prices down and become more competitive. The drive continues Plextor’s relationship with the 4-channel Marvell 88SS9188 with custom firmware support for TrueSpeed, TrueProtect, PlexTurbo and PlexCompressor. The drives it boasts random access speeds of up to 90,000 IOPS reads and 80,000 IOPS writes, with sequential speeds of up to 520 MB/s read and 300 MB/s, 420 MB/s, and 440 MB/s writes depending on capacity.

Given the time it took to bring the M6S Plus to market, we can expect the M7V, announced a week ago, to drop sometime in May/June. That drive features the newer 4-channel Marvell 88SS1074B1 controller paired with 15nm TLC Toggle NAND from Toshiba. Interestingly, the M7V actually features higher write speeds despite being TLC. Perhaps this is due to an improved SLC caching mechanism. Lastly, the budget M6V with the SMI 2246EN controller and 15nm MLC has also popped up alongside the M6S Plus as well.

Synology Releases DS416slim 2.5-Inch 4-Bay NAS

Synology released a new NAS that is a little different that what we’re used to seeing. First off it is very tiny and it is also a bit in reverse, but with good reason. The new Synology Diskstation DS416slim is a NAS for 2.5-inch hard disk drives and drives are plugged through the rear. With its measurements, 18.4 cm x 16.8 cm x 23.0 cm, and its low weight, 700 grams, the DS416slim is a ultra-small NAS that still packs quite a punch.

The Synology DiskStation DS416slim is built around an Armada 385 Dual Core 1.0GHz CPU and comes with 512 MB DDR3 memory. That is enough to allow this tiny unit to perform with up to 170MB/s read and 77MB/s write performance through a link aggregated windows connection. The CPU also features a dedicated hardware encryption engine.

As mentioned above, the DS416slim is capable of link aggregation and that is because it comes with two RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports on the rear panel. Whether you want to configure them for load balancing or failover protection is naturally your choice. The NAS also comes with two USB 3.0 ports for external storage and other devices, one on the front for easy access and one on the rear for more permanent connected devices.

The rear is also where you find the four drive bays that each can hold a 2.5-inch hard disk drive or solid state drive with a height up to 12.5mm. Without any real height limitation, the choice of drives to use is yours. The power consumption is rated at about 17 watts during access and just 11 watts during HDD hibernation, which also makes it a very power efficient NAS. The noise output is rated to 20.3 dBA.

As this is a Synology NAS, it naturally comes with their own impressive DSM operation system. The DSM system also just got a major overhaul and version 6.0 was just released as well. You get tons of streaming and backup options as well as mobile apps and security when you pick a DSM 6.0 powered NAS.

The new Synology DS416slim comes with a recommended retail price of £222.00 including VAT or €248.64 excluding VAT, and it is backed by a 2-year warranty.

Chenbro Debuts RM23624 2U 24-Bay Server Chassis

Do you need a lot of storage? Do you need to achieve superior IOPS performance? Then you should look at Chenbro’s newest system which is called the RM23624 and is a 24-bay 2U rack server. The RM23624 features 24 hot-swappable 2.5-inch drive bays for HDDs or SSDs and a 12Gb/s SAS expander with LSI DataBolt that provides the higher performance and reliability that data centers demand.

Cooling challenges encountered by placing this many hard drives in a 2U chassis are countered through a strong thermal design by experts from Chenbro and their years of experience in the field. The chassis is perfect for enterprise storage, online transaction processing, database servers, and other I/O constrained applications.

Besides the 24 drive bays in the front, the case also features an additional HDD cage that supports two internal 2.5-inch drive bays for your operating system and system software deployment. The server chassis doesn’t just feature a lot of hot-swappable drive bays, the four anti-vibration fans are also easy swappable and so are the redundant power supplies.

You can optionally mount three full height or seven low-profile expansion cards through the PCIe expansion slots on the rear, which gives you even more flexibility for your build.

 

As mentioned earlier, the chassis is designed with optimal airflow and heat ventilation in mind and to be able to provide a reliable thermal structure with its four patented anti-vibration fans with smart speed control configuration. You can mount two more optional 40mm rear fans to achieve the maximum thermal performance in this setup.

Power supply options include a choice of a single power supply or 1+1 redundant power supply for that extra backup and safety.

Chenbro didn’t reveal any pricing or availability time yet, but both are sure to follow soon. Until then you can also check out all the juicy details on the official product page.

SilverStone Releases TS11-C USB 3.1 Docking Station

SilverStone has quite a few external docking solutions for both SSDs and HDDs, but they newest of them that’s just been released is the fastest of them all. This is at least the case when we exclude the external RAID solutions. The new external docking station from SilverStone is called the TS11-C (SST-TS11G-C) and it comes with a USB 3.1 Type-C Gen2 connector with up to 10Gb/s super speed transfer rates.

Besides the connection options, the TS11-C is a pretty ordinary desktop styled docking station for hard disk drives and solid state drives. It can take SATA drives with a 2.5-inch form factor of any height as well as 3.5-inch drives. Just plug them in from the top and turn the docking station on. The docking station supports plug-and-play as well as hot-swapping of the drives for even easier usage.

The body of the TS11-C itself is made of aluminium while the top cover is made of plastic-ABS. The top is black while the rest of the unit has been gold coloured. A fitting colour for a premium docking station like the TS11-C is. While it comes with the newest standards in both USB and SATA, it is backwards compatible on both to previous generations. The operating system support is specified to Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1, Windows 10, and future releases of Mac OS 10.5 or above.

SilverStone made sure to use a controller chip, the ASM1351, that supports UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) for the fastest possible transfer speeds and prevent bottlenecks on the USB connection.

A 2.5-inch SSD will easily get enough power through a USB connection, but a 3.5-inch hard disk drive will draw too much power. For this, the TS11-C comes with a 12V DC adapter and it also has a very convenient power button that allows you to have it connected all the time without actually using it.

SilverStone’s new TS11-C will be available on January the 28th for a recommended end user price of $53.35 USD (excl. VAT). We will also have a review ready for you on just this docking station very soon, so stay tuned for more.

Transcend Introduces Full SLC SSD Lineup

Transcend revealed their SSD570 almost three months ago and now they’re ready with the full lineup surrounding the SSD570 SLC SSD and with most current form factors. SLC NAND has quite a few advantages over MLC and TLC NAND, but it also comes at a higher price and with less capacity. MLC NAND is used in mainstream and enthusiast drives while TLC NAND is used in the newer budget oriented drives for three times the capacity per chip used over SLC.

But Transcend’s new lineup is full of SLC drives that have the superior performance and reliability. There are normal 2.5-inch slim SSD drives and half sized case-less drives as well as mSATA and M.2 of various sizes. The 2.5-inch, half-slim, and mSATA versions come as both SATA3 and SATA2 drives while the M.2 come in two different lengths, 42 and 80 mm, but both SATA3 models and the default 22mm wide.

SLC NAND has a higher durability than MLC that is found in most consumer products and SLC can withstand up to 50,000 program and erase cycles at the same time as it can perform with up to three times the speed of MLC flash. On top of that comes a lower power consumption and error rates, making these perfect for mission critical applications.

The drives feature all the normal features such as S.M.A.R.T. function to monitor the drives health status, but they also feature more advanced features such as DevSleep. DevSleep is the newest power saving feature that sets the drive into the lowest possible power state. Transcend also added error correction code (ECC) and wear-leveling algorithms to these SLC SSDs. The final feature is necessary when we’re talking mission critical data, and that is the Power Shield function that ensures data integrity in the event of a sudden power loss.

The new line contains the SATA3 SSD570K and SATA2 SSD520 2.5-inch drives, the HSD570 SATA3 and SSD25H-S SATA2 half-slim SSDs. The SATA 2 and SATA3 mSATA SSDs are called MSA520 and MSA570 respectively while the M.2 drives are called MTS870 and MTS470.

SilverStone Releases DS222 External Dual-Bay RAID Enclosure

RAID setups are great for speed and redundancy and why should that be limited to your internal drives. SilverStone released a new external USB 3.0 chassis with built-in hardware RAID functionality and space for two 2.5-inch drives. The price and capacity gap between 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives have more or less been closed, making 2.5-inch drives a viable option at a highly reduced footprint as well as power consumption.

The new SilverStone DS222 external enclosure supports the use of the two drives as individual drives, BIG mode, RAID 0, and RAID 1 modes. It also comes with some useful features such as an alarm buzzer that can be turned off should you not want it and it also comes with a dedicated power button for the enclosure itself.

SilverStone’s DS222 should be able to get plenty of power for most drives with just the USB 3.0 connection, but SilverStone also added another micro USB port for 5V power supply, making it easily connectable to a system with plenty of power and without the use of an extra power adapter. That makes the setup a lot easier. The DS222 supports plug and play hot swapping and the entire chassis uses a tool-free design for extra convenience.

The new SilverStone DS222 will be available starting December the 18th for a suggested retail price of $62.48.

SilverStone Releases New FS-Series Drive Cages

It can be a troublesome job to find a chassis with enough room for all the drives you might want to add to the build you are making, and this is especially the case when you build server and storage oriented systems. SilverStone is aware of this issue and released a whole list of new drive cages to solve this problem. The new SilverStone drive cages either support plenty of 2.5-inch drives in the FS2xx series or plenty of 3.5-inch drives with the FS3xx series.

Let us start out with the 2.5-inch models where there will be three new drive cages. The first is the FS202 with room for two drives in one 3.5-inch bay, then there is the FS208 with room for eight 2.5-inch drives in two 5.25-inch device bays and finally the impressive FS212 with room for twelve 2.5-inch drives in just three 5.25-inch device bays. The SilverStone FS3xx series can fit either three, four, or five 3.5-inch drives in respectively two, three, and three device bays with the FS303, FS304, and FS305.

All the new FS drive cages are made with an all aluminium body with a beautiful hairline brushed finish. The loading is trayless and screwless and all of them support hot swapping too. They come with adjustable drive status LED and the 5.25-inch device bay models also feature fan control system and built-in cooling fan. For safety, you can lock each drive tray individually to prevent sticky fingers from running away with your drives as well as preventing accidental ejection.

Another added bonus with drive cages as these, besides the easy setup and better cooling, you also require a lot fewer power cables which reduce the overall clutter in your case, improves the airflow, and brings you past the limitations based on available PSU connections.

 

SilverStone’s new FS drive cages will be available on December the 18th for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $25 for the FS202, $94.80 for the FS208, $115.80 for the DS212. The DS303 will cost you $62.40, the FS304 $80.60, and the FS305 will cost you $98.00.

ZOTAC Announces ZBOX MI551 Skylake-Powered Mini PC

Zotac is pretty much the inventor of mini PCs as we know them and the ZBOX style is probably their most known series. The newest member of the ZBOX family is Skylake based and called the ZBOX  MI551.

The MI551 is equipped with an Intel Core i5-6400T quad-core processor that runs at a core speed of 2.2GHz and has a boost speed of up to 2.8GHz. The system allows for up to 16GB RAM to be installed in the two DDR3L-1600 SODIMM slots, so no DDR4 in this system.

The ZOTAC ZBOX MI551 uses the CPU built-in GPU in the form of an Intel HD Graphics 530 that supports the two DisplayPort connections for up to 4K UHD at 60Hz and the HDMI port with UHD resolutions at up to 24Hz in multi-screen mode and 60Hz with just one panel. So this tiny system is fully 4K ready.

Internally it has room for one 2.5-inch SATA SSD or HDD as well as one M.2 SATA SSD (42, 60, or 80mm length) and externally it features a combined card reader and USB 3.1 combo port for easy readout of memory cards.

Other than the previously mentioned connections you get stereo jacks for microphone and headphones, one USB 3.1 Type-C, two USB 3.0, one USB B2.0 and two Gigabit Ethernet connections. The MI551 also features a built-in 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless card with external antenna.

There is an optional Plus model available as there usually is with the ZBOX systems where you, in this case, get 4GB memory and a 120GB M.2 SATA SSD pre-installed for out-of-the-box usage.

Icy Dock Announces ToughArmor MB992SKR-B Enclosure

We are living in a world where storage capacities grow while the physical size of the drives shrinks more and more, which makes space optimization a vital scenario for a lot of people and companies. Solid state drives mostly come in the 2.5-inch form factor and the mechanical hard disk drives in this category keep growing in available capacity too. With that in mind, it is great to see ICY DOCK announcing a new mobile rack that allows you to do that and more.

The new ToughArmor MB992SKR-B Enclosure can take two 2.5-inch drives and connect them to a single SATA3 connector while it only takes up a single 3.5-inch drive slot. It comes with built-in hardware RAID support for RAID 0 and RAID 1 as well as BIG where the capacity of the two installed drives is simply added to each other. While this isn’t the first enclosure to feature such a thing, it is one of the few that also allows you to present the drives individually to the system in the JBOD mode (Just a Bunch Of Disks).

Another really nice touch on the ToughArmor MB992SKR-B and one that’s often forgotten in this category is the front positioned rebuild LED that will let you know once the hardware has set up and initialized your RAID configuration.

The entire mobile rack is made of metal which helps with both the heat dissipation as well as the overall durability of the enclosure. Multi-Flow Technology (MFT) will effectively route air flow correctly for excellent passive cooling via ventilation slots on the front, rear, top, and bottom, providing an even better protection for your installed drives. Lastly, Anti-Vibration Technology and EMI Grounding are used to provide a stable environment, allowing the hard drives or SSD’s used to perform at their best.


ICY DOCK didn’t just name their series of enclosures ToughArmor for fun or because it sounds great, they named them that way because the really are tough. A clear demonstration of this is shown in the video below where they put them up against the full weight of a Lexus SUV.

ICY DOCK didn’t reveal any pricing or availability of the ToughArmor MB992SKR-B at this time, but you can check out the full specification chart below.

Key Features

  • Built-in hardware RAID controller allows four different configurations: RAID 0 (FAST), RAID 1 (SAFE), JBOD, & BIG.
  • Supports SATA 6Gbps and hot swap.
  • Removable tray system for easy maintenance.
  • Front LED indicator lights for drive power, access, fail and RAID 1 rebuilds status.
  • Full metal construction, perfect for rugged applications and complies with flammability requirements.
  • Fits 2 x 7mm to 9.5mm 2.5” SATA HDD or SSD in a 3.5” front device bay.
  • Multi-Flow Technology (MFT) – provides excellent passive cooling.
  • Anti-Vibration Technology (AVT) – creates a safe environment for hard drives or SSDs.
  • Active Power Technology (APT) – individual led only powers up if there is drive installed in each bay.
  • EMI Grounding – protects hard drives from electrical damage.
  • Eagle-hook lock system & 2-segment safeguard key lock keeps drives secure within the enclosure.
  • Single SATA 15 Pin to power entire device & single SATA connector to operate.
  • Suggested applications in medical & military systems, government agencies, Industrial PC, SMB workstation, VM workstation, mobile DVR system, aerospace computer, automation system and embedded system.
  • Limited 3-year warranty to complement the typical warranty of a hard drive.
  • Supports SATA and SATA power cables with locking latch design

SilverStone MS08 Mobile Rack 3.5-inch RAID Enclosure Review

Introduction


Today I am taking a look at something a little different from my usual drive and NAS reviews, today I’m taking a closer look at the SilverStone MS08 mobile rack that converts a single 3.5-inch drive bay into a two-bay 2.5-inch RAID unit with hot-swap abilities.

The SilverStone MS08 mobile rack can be a very useful tool to have at your disposal in several different scenarios. First of all, it allows you to connect two drives as a single one to your motherboard or host controller. You have three modes that you can connect the drives as, whether you want performance, redundancy, or capacity. All the basics are covered RAID 0, 1, and JBOD at your disposal.

The RAID feature is set by the hardware itself. You got two small switches on the rear of the unit that lets you select the mode and a little button that needs to be pressed in order to change the configuration. SilverStone included an SATA cable and a power adapter from MOLEX to SATA, allowing you to connect it to your setup without the need for anything that isn’t in the box. Even the four screws to mount it into the chassis are included.

The SilverStone MS08 connects to a single SATA connector and it supports up to SATA3 6Gbps. Mechanical hard drives, and especially 2.5-inch, aren’t fast enough to saturate such a connection, but with an enclosure like the MS08, you can get very close. The added bonus of being able to hot-swap the drives by simply ejecting them to the front make the enclosure even more useful.

Even people who want to take their drives on the go can benefit from the SilverStone MS08. Thanks to the standard 3.5-inch form factor, the MS08 fits into any docking station and enclosure that is built for 3.5-inch drives. Where you’d normally take a single 3.5-inch drive with your data, you can now take a RAID setup of 2.5-inch drives instead and you don’t need to worry about the order of them. You also don’t need to worry about drivers or complicated setups when you’re on the go, the unit is fully plug-and-play the same way a normal drive is.

The tool-less tray design is a great feature and it allows for true hot-swapping of drives. The enclosure itself is both durable and beautiful thanks to being constructed from premium aluminum that also aids in cooling the drives as well as their protection. There are a few plastic parts, but the majority of the enclosure is made of aluminum. You can load the MS08 with 2.5-inch drives that have a height of up to 9.5mm, making it compatible with most 2-5inch hard drives and solid state drives.

The front of the MS08 enclosure has two blue LEDs, one for each drive, allowing you to keep an eye on what drive is active and not. The drive tray isn’t lockable, but the ledge is secure and there is little risk that you could end up opening it by accident. Even if you should end up opening it when you didn’t want to, you don’t need to worry. The door has to be opened fully and then pressed in to eject the drives. Both drives will be ejected at the same time.

Pulling the rear of the enclosure off and having a look inside, we see that SilverStone added the SATA connectors on an independent PCB. It doesn’t feature much besides the two SATA connectors and a little power stabilization.

The main PCBB has the external connections and buttons. To the right we see the two LEDs mounted that then are passed on to the front of the enclosure. We can also see the connector for the sub PCB here.

Turning the main PCB over and we find the brain in this enclosure, a JMicron JMS562 bridge chip. The JMicron JMS562 is a Super Speed & eSATA GEN III to Dual SATA Gen III Ports bridge chip with four independent SATA channels and a microprocessor integrated.

Features

  • Premium aluminum construction for durability and protection
  • Supports for two 9.5mm 2.5” drives
  • Supports RAID 0, 1, and JBOD
  • Offer great performance of up to SATA 6Gb/s
  • Tool-less tray design for quick hot-swaps
  • Fits into any 3.5” drive bay

Packaging and Accessories

SilverStone wrapped the MS08 Mobile Rack in a colorful orange themed box that makes it stand out. The front of the box shows the enclosure itself as well as its features. There’s also a handy QR-Code to scan in order to check the official product page online.

The rear and the sides once again feature the features of the MS08 enclosures and you’ll find it in multiple languages on the rear of it.

Inside the box is everything that you need to connect the MS08 and get started. You get an SATA data cable, an MOLEX to SATA power adapter, four screws to mount the enclosure, and a manual that explains how to install and use it.

QNAP Launches Intel Xeon Quad-Core Powered TVS-ECx80U-SAS-RP Series NAS

QNAP announced a new series of NAS devices for businesses that need nothing but the best, the new TVS-ECx80-SAS-RP series. The new NAS units are built around an Intel Xeon E3-1246 v3 quad core 3.5 GHz processor and come with either 16GB DDR3 RAM or 8GB DDR3 ECC RAM.

A great CPU and plenty of memory is just a small part of what makes this new series so great. QNAP releases four units in this series: The TVS-EC2480U-SAS-RP 24 x 3.5-inch 4U, TVS-EC1680U-SAS-RP 16 x 3.5-inch 3U, TVS-EC1280U-SAS-RP: 12 x 3.5-inch 2U, and the TVS-EC1580MU-SAS-RP with 9 x 3.5-inch and 6 x 2.5-inch bays in a 2U rackmount unit. All four units come with 4 x Gigabit LAN port and are 10GbE ready with optional add-in cards via two PCIe expansion slots. They supports 3.5-inch SAS 12Gbps, SAS/SATA 6Gbps hard drives and SSD, or 2.5-inch SAS/SATA SSD. The hard drives are, of course, hot-swappable and the untis also come with built-in 256GB mSATA modules for SSD caching. USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and HDMI ports are also part of each of these units.

All that hardware I’ve just mentioned is able to deliver an impressive performance with up to 3,800+ MB/s throughput and 268,100+ IOPS. If you should run out of space at some point, QNAP has you covered with their REXP-1620U-RP and REXP-1220U-RP RAID expansion enclosures of which you can attach up to eight of. That in return allows you over 1 Petabyte of raw capcity which is managed from a single unit.

Having a lot of data is one thing, you also need to be able to access it in a proper fashion. The TVS-ECx80U-SAS-RP series is an industry-leading unified NAS that supports Auto Tiering to deliver constant optimization of data across high-performance SSD, 12Gbps SAS drives and high-capacity SATA disks.

“QNAP’s Qtier Technology triggers storage auto-tiering for the TVS-ECx80U-SAS-RP series, allowing the right data to be placed in the right disks at the right time according to the access frequency of stored data,” said Alan Lin, product manager of QNAP. “The new NAS series realizes the optimal storage efficiency and boosts performance, making it the best storage solution especially for environments like virtualization that contain dynamically-changing workloads.”

There isn’t much that you can’t achieve with this new series, may it be your own cloud system or something completely different. You get all the usual features of a NAS unit of this caliber including QNAP’s great Qsirch for efficient searching of data in that giant storage pool.

The new TVS-ECx80U-SAS-RP QNAP NAS models and REXP-x20U-RP RAID expansion enclosures are now available and come with up to 5-years warranty where the first three years are default and included.

 

Seagate Creates Highest Capacity 2.5″ 7mm HDD

The mechanical hard drive is far from dead despite the face solid state and hybrids drives march forward and intend to conquer the market. There are still a lot of improvements that can be done on the mechanical siblings and Seagate proved that again by creating the highest density 2.5-inch HDD in a slim 7mm package.

As an SSD user, you might be used to the 7mm drives, but most HDDs come in the larger form factors with a height of 9.5mm to 15mm. Seagate has achieved an impressive 1TB per 2.5-inch platter which in return allows them to release a new 2.5-inch 7mm HDD with 2TB capacity. That is quite impressive and will surely lead to higher versions with more capacity as well.

“In an industry first, our engineers have been able to boost areal density to 1 TB per platter in a 2.5-inch form factor, which will give OEMs the flexibility to design and build virtually any kind of mobile device they can envision, with plenty of storage to boot,” said Mark Re, Seagate’s chief technology officer. “Combining new mechanical firmware architectures, with state of the art heads, media and electronic design, this technology is a real game changer- providing four times more capacity than a 0.25 TB SSD at a substantially lower cost.”

The new drive technology is the first to incorporate recording-subsystem components-head, media, preamp, channel-to achieve even greater areal densities, well ahead of competitive offerings. Its advanced high-spatial efficiency mechanics delivers a lightweight drive, low acoustics, and strong mechanical robustness capable of new levels of drive stability even when subject to intense shock and vibrations.

The drive is also 25 percent lighter than the previous generation Seagate mobile hard drive products, smaller, and more efficient. Seagate is already working on an SSHD version of the drive as well. Both the HDD and the SSHD drives are surely something to look forward too.

Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive 2TB USB 3.0 Review

Introduction


Seagate released their Backup Plus Slim Portable Drive a while ago, but it is still a very valid product and one that shouldn’t be missed. Today I’m taking a closer look at the blue colored version of the Backup Plus Slim Portable Drive with a capacity of 2TB and a USB 3.0 connection.

The thin and light drive is easy to carry everywhere and is perfect to keep all those files that wouldn’t fit on a normal thumbs drive. The thumbs drives might get bigger, but they haven’t reached the 2TB capacity yet and certainly not at a price point that this USB 3.0 hard disk can be had for. It certainly is a lot of storage in a small size and for a good price, and that is something that we like.

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim Portable Drive isn’t just small and light, it’s also sleek and tough thanks to the metal design. The drive measurements are tiny, it is just 113.5mm long, 76mm wide, and typically weighs 159 grams.

The use of a micro connector is obvious here as we couldn’t have this small a drive without. The USB 3.0 connection provides a lot more bandwidth than USB 2.0 as well as major access improvements when dealing with UASP enabled ports.

Seagate’s Dashboard software also works with this drive and it is a great piece of software. All your photos, movies and videos can be backed up using the Seagate Dashboard, including the ones you’ve shared on Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. Use the Seagate Mobile Backup app to create backups directly from your mobile devices and easily share your content between PCs and Macs. The Seagate Backup Plus Slim Portable Drive is also compatible with Lyve, so all of your photos and videos can be easily shared.

Not only do you get a 2-year warranty with this drive, Seagate also threw in a bonus in the form of a 2-year access to OneDrive with 200GB online storage valued at $95. That makes the drive kind of free if you had planned to purchase that service anyway.

Packaging and Accessories

The drive packaging is simple but provides all the necessary details right off. Brand, drive series, capacity, and the bonus is all mentioned on the front of the box.

The rear side features a little more information about OneDrive and the activation details as well as a little information on Lyve.

Inside the box, you’ll find a USB 3.0 cable as well as the quick start guide to get going in case you shouldn’t know how. The drive is pre-formatted, so all you need to do is plug it in and start using it.

SilverStone Introduces the MS08 Mobile RAID Rack

SilverStone has no shortage of add-ons for our systems and they’ve added one more to the list, the MS08 mobile RAID rack. The MS08 allows you to take your RAID setup with you on the go as it is hardware based and packed into a convenient little unit.

The MS08 will fit into any 3.5-inch drive bay while it holds up to two 2.5-inch SSDs or HDDs with a height of up to 9.5mm. The mobile RAID rack supports both JBOD (Just a Bunch Of Disks) as well as RAID 1 and RAID zero, depending on if you want maximum capacity, speed, or redundancy.

The connection is handled through a single SATA3 6Gbps port and as such the array won’t be able to perform better than that, but that doesn’t take much away from the usefulness of the device. Adding a second port would create incompatibilities with a lot of bays and prevent the easy and convenient hot-swap abilities that the SilverStone MS08 comes with.

The mobile rack is made from a plastic and aluminium construction that should provide both durability and protection for your drives. It offers easy swap of drives too as it has a tool-less design and supports hot swapping. It also comes with dual-LEDS so you know what drive is accessed when.

SilverStone did not reveal any pricing or availability at this time, but I’d expect it to come in around the £35-40 area and be available very soon.

Seagate Increases The External Seven Drive’s Capacity by 50%

Seagate celebrated their 35th Birthday with the beautiful Seven drive back in January at CES in Las Vegas and they’ve now released a new version that adds 50% more capacity to the drive. The first version came with 500GB capacity, but now the gorgeous 7mm thick portable USB 3.0 Seven drive can be had with 750GB capacity too.

Seagate has made some progress in their 2.5-inch drives which has allowed them to increase the size of normal 2.5-inch drives up to 3TB by using 750GB platters inside the drive. Using the same technology has allowed them to increase the capacity of the Seven.

The Seven is the world’s slimmest portable hard drive and only measures 7mm in thickness. This was achieved by using the actual drive housing as hard disk housing as well instead of just putting a normal 2.5-inch drive into an enclosure with a USB adapter board. The deep draw process used allows for the all-steel enclosure to be shaped in a method that the material could not be any thinner and still hold the structural integrity. The steel encasing also provides a rigidity, which allows for the incredibly thin design to be functional, while the low profile motor technologies used are designed to include extreme Gyro handling capabilities.

Seagate did not disclose any price on the new version. The 500Gb model holds its $99.99 MSRP till this day, so we can expect the 750GB version to cost around $130. A premium price for the capacity, but you also get a unique drive that looks amazing.

Toshiba Unveils M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drives

Toshiba announced three new families of solid state drives that are fitted with high.speed PCIe interfaces that provide high.bandwidth point-to-point links with the processor and reduce system bottlenecks. That is thanks to the use of the NVMe protocol and they come for various systems. All versions are built with Toshiba’s own MLC NAND flash memory.

We’ve previously seen the PX4P family that is designed for server applications in its 2.5-inch form factor, but the M.2 drives are new. Most newer motherboards feature an M.2 connector and the drives are also used in netbooks and ultrabooks thanks to the small form factor.

The XG3 family is the one aimed at the broader audience and it is an impressive drive. It is an M.2 Type 2280 drive and comes with the industries highest capacity of up to 1TB. It supports up to four PCIe 3.1 lanes and a maximum bandwidth that is six times that of the SATA3 interface. There will also be a 2.5-inch SATA-Express version of this drive. The XG3 series is equipped with Toshiba’s QSBC (Quadruple Swing-By Code) error-correction technology and also features lower power state modes. It is also the first Toshiba product to support the Trusted Computing Group security specification, Pyrite (TCG Pyrite).

The second M.2 type drive that Toshiba Announced, is the BG1 SSD family, the world’s smallest NVMe SSD. It measures just 16 by 20 mm thanks to the M.2 Type 1620 form factor and will also be available as a Type 2230 removable module with up to 256GB capacity. This drive is designed for thin notebooks and 2-in1 systems that are naturally limited in physical space. The BG1 series also supports the TCG Pyrite and features the low power state modes that the larger XG3 family has.

Along with these information, we also learned that the PX04P series, with its incredible low 18 watts max power draw, also will be available as HHHL (half-height half-length) add-in card next to the SFF-8639 12Gbps connector. Samples of the new drives are expected in Q4 2015, so expect the actual drives sometime during the start of 2016.

ADATA Launches the Premier SP550 SATA SSD

ADATA launched their newest drive, the ADATA SP550 SATA3 SSD, that is said to bring a great performance vs cost ratio. The drive is built with SMI’s SM2256 controller that comes with plenty of features as well as triple-level cell NAND, SLC Caching, and DDR3 cache, which when coupled should create an amazing drive.

The ADATA SP550 is available in four different capacities, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB, a choice for everyone. The drive comes in a standard 2.5-inch 7mm form factor and is bundled with a 9.5mm adapter to make it compatible with laptops that have the bigger slots. The SMI2256 controller also supports DevSleep, which is another bonus for laptop and netbook users as it will draw a lot less power when idling. Besides DevSleep, you also get LDPC ECC (low-density parity check error correction) and RAID engine for enhanced data protection, stability, and reliability.

One of the things that ADATA highlight on this drive, besides the performance vs cost ratio, is the overall lifetime thanks to the TBW rating that it comes with. The two smallest drives have a 90TB TBW rating while the 480GB can write 180TB and the 960GB version has a total bytes written rating of 360TB. The read performance is rated up to 560MB/s on all models and 510MB/s write performance, except the 120GB version that only can 410MB/s when writing. The 4K random performance is rated to 75K reading and writing for the 3 largest models while the small one only does 60K reading and 70K writing.

The three small drives are already listed for purchase while the 960GB still has to be dispatched. The 120GB can be found starting at €54, the 240GB from €90 and the 480GB starting from €180. So a fair guess would be 360 Euros for the 960GB version, when available. The drives are backed by a 3-year warranty.

Plextor Releases All New V-Series Solid State Drive Series

Plextor already has some really great solid state drives in their line-up, they’ve proven that in every review we’ve done with their drives so far. The newest member has just been officially introduced and it is called the V series.

The Plextor V-series SSDs comes in three different form factors, the M6V standard 2.5-inch, the M6GV M.2 2280 NGFF SSD, and the M6MV mSATA SSD. The drives are built around SMI’s newest generation 2246 controllers and are packed with Toshiba’s 15nm Toggle NAND flash memory. This allows these value based drives to come with a very good performance and they’re capable of reaching up to 535MB/s at sequential reads and 455MB/s at sequential writes. Random performance is equally great with 83K IOPS reading and 80K IOPS writing.

The M6V is also compatible with the latest version of PlexTurbo, they intelligent caching software that can increase your performance with up to seven times while it also saves on your SSDs wear and tear and thereby lifetime. The dynamic RAM buffer will automatic detect hot and cold data and only keep the needed in your memory.

The V series SSDs also passed rigorous tests executed with Plextor’s strenuous SSD testing equipment. Professional simulations on actual read/write statuses were performed with several “Plextor endurance testing mechanisms” to ensure that the V series SSDs have a Mean Time Between Failures of 1.5 million hours and they come backed by a three-year warranty.

The Plextor V series is estimated to hit the market at the end of July, so that is any day now. The 2.5-inch 7mm M6V and the M6GV M.2 drive will be available as 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB versions while the mSATA M6MV only comes as 128GB and 256GB versions. We should also have reviews of the Plextor V-series SSDs ready for you very soon.

WD Turns Their Blue Series Into SSHD Drives

Western Digital has a colourful range of hard drives which is kinda fitting right now with everyone turning their Facebook profile into a rainbow. We know the RED NAS drives very well from our review section and WD also has their Purple series for NVR, Black series for performance, Green series for the environment, and the Blue series that is kinda of the normal desktop series.

It has been a while since we’ve seen any new drives in the Blue series, but that has just changed as WD released the newest evolution of this drive series. The WD Blue series has turned into a SSHD series and gotten a NAND boost.

The new WD Blue series initially comes in two version, a 3.5-inch 4TB version (WD40E31X) and a 2.5-inch 1TB version (WD10J31X). Both of them have 64MB cache and 8GB MLC NAND.

The 4TB drive has a speed rating of 150MB/s while the 2.5-inch 1TB drive only performs up to 100MB/s. The NAND should however boost up the hot file access a lot and improve boot times as well as overall load times of frequently accessed data.

The two new WD Blue drives are expected to launch on July 2nd and come backed by a three-year limited warranty. As for the prices, the new WD Blue 4TB is currently listed starting from €189.90 and the 1TB is listed from €94.90.

Plextor Presents New Entry Level SSD at Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – It has been a while since we’ve had any new drives come from Plextor and that might be because they’ve been busy, not just by getting them ready but also to make the best product possible.

The first new drive presented is the Plextor M6V, a new entry-level value-oriented solid state drive based around the SMI 2246 controller and in capacities up to 512GB.

The Plextor M6V 2.5-inch SATA drive sports transfer speeds up to 535 MB/s read and 455 MB/s write as well as great random performance up to 83K IOPS read and 80K write.

InWin Presents NUC and SFF Cases at Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – InWin is well known for their unique PC chassis designs, but this time they took their design ideas and shrunk it down to be used with Intel’s NUC systems and mITX form factors.

On display were a lot of small cases, perfect for the space-conscious user, living room, or small office as they still offer plenty of features.

The outside of a case is just one part, the insides have to match. InWin has a list of modules available that include dual and quad LAN adapters with Power over Ethernet PoE support, Serial and Parallel ports.

Some systems come pre-equipped with Intel NUC board such as the K3-3Gen Broadwell system. A common feature for all the small cases on display is that they’re all standing vertically for the smallest footprint possible.

InWin’s Ultratop cases aren’t just available pre-equipped with NUCs, they also come as bare systems, allowing you the choice on what board to put inside.

Just because something is small, doesn’t mean that you can’t connect plenty of devices to them.

Despite the small size, you can still fit 2.5-inch drives into the cases and they come with plenty of USB ports, WiFi, and Bluetooth as well.

Power over Ethernet is an amazing feature. You do not need to have a dedicated power supply as these low power units can get enough electricity to run on just the power that’s provided through your ethernet cable, that is if you have a PoE infrastructure. It is one of those things that has to be experienced in real life before you realise just how great this is.

Stay tuned for more news and product reveals directly from Computex in Taipei.

SanDisk Announces Z400s SATA SSD

SanDisk latest SSD, the new Z400s, is aimed more at the replacement of mechanical hard drives in embedded systems than home systems, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it.

The new SanDisk Z400s is available in multiple form factors and capacities. Whether you need a 7mm high 2.5-inch drive, an M.2 2242 and 2280, or an mSATA form factor, SanDisk has it covered. Capacity wise it starts at 32GB and tops out at 256GB.

The sequential performance is rated at 549MB/s reading and 330MB/s writing while the random performance is rated to 33K read and 62K write.

The Z400s strength lies in power consumption where it only draws 50 mW during active power, 20mW in slumber mode and less than 5mW with DEVSLP.

The endurance is rated to 20TB total bytes written for the 32GB, 40TB for the 64GB, and 72TB for the 128GB and 256GB models and all models are backed by a three-year warranty.

There are many areas where this drive could come in handy, from Digital Signage over POS to Security-Surveillance. Effectively anywhere you need fast storage that doesn’t draw a lot of power nor generates much heat. An SSD beats a traditional HDD on every of those aspects and also in reliability.

The new SanDisk Z400s is sampling with customers immediately in all form factors and all capacities.

OCZ Introduces Z-Drive 6000-Series NVMe SSDs

OCZ presented their newest storage drive, and it is one that isn’t without. The newly announced Z-Drive 6000 SSD Series combines the power of the third-generation PCI Express and Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) technologies to create a blazing fast drive in multiple form factors and capacities.

 

“The NVMe SSD market is poised to take off, now that it provides an efficient storage interface between flash and the processor,” said Jim Handy, of Objective Analysis. “By joining the NVMe SSD market early with a compelling product, OCZ has won itself an opportunity to become a leader.”

The Z-Drive Series will initially be available with a capacity between 800GB and 3.2TB, but a 6.4TB version is planned for a release later this year. When it comes to speed, the Z-Drive doesn’t need to hide from anyone and has some impressive figures attached. Sustained transfer speeds are rated up to 2.9GB/s and the series can perform up to 700K IOPS on random read operations.

 

The Z-Drive 6000 Series also comes with dual port capabilities that enable two host systems to concurrently access the same device or allows for redundancy inside the host. In the event of a system failure, if one of the data paths becomes compromised, the available data path continues operation as if no failure had occurred through the second port. The Z-Drive 6000 Series also supports hot swapping of 2.5-inch drives, pre-set power thresholds and temperature throttling to support many types of enterprise ecosystems.

The Z-Drive 6000 and 6300 SFF series are expected to be available in Q2 2015 in 800GB, 1600GB and 3200GB capacities. The 6300 PCIe card will be available at the same time in the same capacities, but a 6.4TB model is also planned for a release later this year.

While the SATA standard isn’t dead and still has its merits, NVMe is definitely the new King in the market.

WD RED 2.5-Inch 1TB in Four-Disk RAID Review

Introduction


Western Digital launched their WD RED line quite a while ago, and it’s been a successful one. We’ve previously had a look at how the 2.5-inch version with 1TB capacity performs as a single disk, but we’ve yet to look at how four of these will do in a RAID environment. The WD RED drives are primarily built for NAS usage, but they’re also well suited for SOHO users who want more performance and reliability in a small size.

Network attached storage is getting more traction every day and more and more people take the plunge into the world of NAS, but not everyone wants a large system. A tiny NAS with 2.5-inch drives is the solution, and the WD RED drives are perfect for this. They come as both 750GB and 1TB versions, but it’s the 1TB version that’s on the bench today.

The 2.5-inch WD drives run with an Intellipower spindle speed of 5400RPM and come with 16MB of cache, and an SATA 6Gbps interface. They’re rated to handle a workload of 120-150TB of data per year, which should be more data throughput than most small businesses will put their drives through.

The NAS optimized firmware, called NASware 2.0, is an exclusive technology to WD that gives their drives far more enhanced reliability with a 35% improvement in MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) over their standard desktop drives, better compatibility with NAS systems, and a more energy-efficient operation which in turn leads to lower operating temperatures, a longer warranty for piece of mind and a system known as 3D Active Balance Plus. This dual-plane balance control, has helped to drastically increase the reliability of the drives – with a better balance, there are far fewer vibrations and this means the platters will degrade at a much lower rate thus increasing the longevity of the drive and its performance.

The 2.5-inhc drives themselves are 9.5mm thick, which really isn’t a lot considering the capacity. The drives are powered by the Marvell 88i9446-NDB2 high-performance storage controller and it is paired with the Samsung K4H2816380-LCC 16MB cache chip. The motor controller is WD’s own Nautilus that handles the Intellispeed capabilities.

HGST Ships NVMe Ultrastar SN100 Series SSDs

HGST, that is a part of Western Digital, announced that they’re now shipping their newest and the industry’s highest-performing NVMe compliant SSDs, the Ultrastar SN100 Series. The PCIe SSD drives come as both HH-HL standard PCIe cards, but also packed in the SFF 2.5-inch form factor for easy deployment from the front of a system rather than having to open it up for maintenance, just to replace or add a drive.

The new SN100 series comes with some serious figures and will be available with up to 3.2TB capacity and a performance of over 700K IOPS. Wow. The 700K IOPS are for random read (4KB), but the rest of the figures are equally impressive. The random mixed read/write IOPS (70/30, 4KB) come in at 310K and the random 4K write IOPS are specified to 160K. The SN100 series sequential throughput is rated at 3000MB/s read and 1600MB/s write.

There is also an 800GB and a 1.6TB version of the drive beside the 3.2TB version. Features include flash-aware RAID, end-to-end data-path protection, advanced ECC, secure erase and power fail protection. The drives are rated for three complete drive writes per day, have an 2 million hour MTBF and come backed by a 5-year warranty.

The Ultrastar SN150 HH-HL add-in card is shipping now, but the 2.5-inch SFF Ultrastar SN100 SSDs won’t be available until May. The drives can also be experienced live at the Percona Live MySQL Conference and Expo at booth #202.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPFR4CNCxO4

Enermax 2.5 and 3.5-Inch Mobile Drive Rack Roundup Review

Introduction


Being able to quickly eject drives can not only be an extra convenience but also a great bonus in many situations. Enermax has created a very long list of amazing docking bays and mobile racks for just this and today I’m taking a closer look at three of them in different form factors and with different capabilities – one for every usage scenario.

We will need to go up a drive size when we have a docking station around the drive, that’s a given. The three mobile racks that I’m taking a closer look at today are the EMK3101 for a 2.5-inch drive in 3.5-inch bay, EMK5102 for a 3.5-inch drive in a 5.25-inch bay, and the EMK5201U3 that combines the two previous into one smart unit. It has both a 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch bay as well as two front USB 3.0 ports in the spare area.

The EMK3101 allows you to easy swap, plug-in, and swap out 2.5-inch drives in this 3.5-inch sized mobile rack. A simple mechanic lever will eject the drive when you need it and it comes with a lock when you want to make sure that it stays in there. The connection is a direct pass-through and one that won’t affect performance. A simple solution that works every time.

SSD or 2.5-inch HDDs might not be all you would like to hot-swap with easy front access, 3.5-inch drives are still king of the storage area and that is where the EMK5102 comes into play. The 5.25-inch sized mobile rack allows you to hot-swap a 3.5-inch drive, in the same way the EMK3101 does with a 2.5-inch drive.

Combining the two enclosures above and adding two USB 3.0 ports and we get the Enermax EMK5201U3 mobile rack. It can hold both a 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drive as well as having two USB 3.0 ports with direct header connection.

All three enclosures come with the patented Non-Scratch SATA connectors that guarantee a maximum life span with up to 50,000 drive insertion and ejections. The SATA connectors are gold-plated for better grip and protection from corrosion and the steel clip on the included SATA cable to avoid accidental cable removable.

The mobile racks support the latest SATA III and SAS drives as well as USB 3.0 5Gb/s connectivity for the EMK5201U3 model. The enclosures are built from with sturdy stainless steel frames to keep everything living for as long as possible and have LED indicators to show when the drives are being accessed.

Enermax EMK3203 3.5″ Mobile RAID Rack with 2x 2.5″ Drive Bays Review

Introduction


Taking a RAID setup on the road can be a tricky thing and one that is destined to fail most of the time, unless you have a dedicated enclosure. When it has to be portable, it also has to be small, light, and universally usable and Enermax has created such a solution with the 3.5-inch to dual 2.5-inch SATA HDD converter with built-in hardware RAID.

The mobile rack has a default 3.5-inch HDD format with default connector placement and that makes it universally usable. You can just plug it directly into any SATA bay and your RAID setup is seen as a single virtual drive. It further has a hardware switch on the back to select either of the drive modes depending on what you need.

The rack has a solid build all the way around. The aluminium plate on the top helps the drives to dissipate heat faster while the bottom plate has ventilation cutouts to let the drives breath. Whether you use SATA or SAS drives, the EMK3203 supports it all.

Gold plated SATA connectors ensure a perfect connection and prevent corrosion. The EMK3203 utilizes the patented non-scratch SATA connectors that ensure 50.000 drive inserts and ejects for even the most demanding drive swappers.

Just plug your drives right into the enclosure and close the door, chose your mode and your set to go. That is really all there is to this great piece of engineering. The Enermax EMK3203 supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD and Nor (No-Raid) modes.

Enermax has included everything you need in the box, which isn’t much. You get screws to mount it in non-swap positions as well as a SATA cable to connect it. Thanks to the hot-swap system you don’t anything else.

The EMK3203 is using a JMicron JMS562 Super Speed & eSATA GEN III to Dual SATA Gen III Ports bridge chip in the heart of the enclosure. It combines four independent SATA channels and a microprocessor into a tiny chip. The chip can be configured as 1 to 2- ports Serial ATA III Port Multiplier or hardware striping & mirror, where the last one is the one used in this mobile rack.

The chip also supports USB 3.0 and it looks like Enermax also thought about including this. It is mentioned on the label, but the port isn’t there. This could either just be to keep the costs low, the enclosure stable, or simply because there wasn’t room to cram more hardware into the enclosure. My guess is the last one, as it is pretty tight in there with the two PCB boards