Micron Prepping MX300 With 3D TLC NAND For April

In addition to launching a new series of enterprise SSDs, Micron has also updated us on their plans for their consumer and OEM client business. While it’s interesting and all to read about enterprise drives, most of you probably won’t need the performance or be able to shell out the big bucks for them. To that end, Micron is planning on a number of releases for their Crucial consumer brand, the big one being the MX300.

With a pedigree that stretches back years from the M4, M500, M550, MX100 and MX200, the MX300 will be the first to utilize TLC. Prior to that, all drives had used the faster and more durable MLC. This won’t be any plain old TLC though as the MX300 will be using Micron’s first 3D TLC NAND. This TLC will come in 384Gbit dies and feature better performance and endurance compared to the planar TLC found in the BX200. No word has been revealed about the controller, but I would expect the Marvell 88SS1074 since that controller is optimized for TLC and the M series have always used Marvell controllers. I would expect the MX300 feature some kind of SLC NAND cache as well.

In addition to the MX300, Micron will also be releasing 2 OEM client SSDs as well. While not targeted to consumers, they still might be available in retail channels. These are the 1100 and 2100 series, both with unknown NAND. We can make some guesses about controllers as one is Marvell M.2 SATA and likely the 88SS1074 and the other is Silicon Motion Industries M.2 PCIe, likely the 2260.

Micron also expected 3D NAND to hit the data center lineups later in the year. There is no timeline yet on when we might see Intel and Micron’s vaunted 3D XPoint. Hopefully, we will be able to bring you some performance numbers for the MX300 once it launches later this month.

Micron Announces Enterprise 9100 and 7100 NVMe PCIe SSDs

NVMe has been hailed as the next big storage protocol supplanting the aging ACHI that many SSDs still use. While NVMe is still slowly making its way into the consumer market, the enterprise segment has been readily moving forwards. In light of this Micron is updating their P420m and P320h lineup of SSDs with the new 9100 and 7100 series of drives with NVMe support.

With the larger model number, the 9100 is the higher performing and more costly model. It comes with a PMC-Sierra controller and boasts a high 27W TDP. The drive comes in both PCIe 3.0 x4 or U.2 formats with peak reads and writes at 3.0 GB/s and 2.0 GB/s respectively. Capacities range from 800GB to 3.2TB. Random read/writes are even more impressive at 750k/160k IOPS.

The Micron 7100 is a more mainstream product, utilizing a  Marvell 88SS1093 controller. This is Marvell’s first NVMe PCIe 3.0 controller and uses Micron’s custom firmware. The form factors and capacities are different too, with M.2 and U.2  peaking at 960GB and 1.92TB respectively. Speeds are respectable as well, peaking at 2.5GB/s and 900MB/s for read and write respectively. Random read/writes are pretty good at 235K/40K for the fastest variant though the large capacities suffer due having to use higher capacity NAND dies, reducing parallelism.

Lastly, Micron has chosen to use their latest 16nm MLC. I suppose their 3D NAND isn’t quite ready for prime time and TLC wouldn’t do for enterprise drives. Micron expected their 3D NAND enterprise SSDs to drop in the second half of 2016. You can find more information at Micron’s press release here.

Synology Releases DS216j Entry-Level 2-Bay NAS

If you haven’t invested in a NAS for your home yet, then it might be time to do so as it can make your digital life so much easier by being a centralized storage and media centre. Synology officially released the newest model of theirs and it might be the perfect unit as your first one. The new DS216j is built around Marvell’s Armada 385 dual-core 1 GHz CPU and it comes with 512MB DDR3 memory onboard.

The DiskStation DS216j is able to deliver a great performance despite the low-sounding specifications and can deliver an outstanding read/write performance of 112.75 MB/s in reading and over 97.6 MB/s in writing when connecting from a Windows environment. The system is equipped with a single RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port and two USB 3.0 ports for high-speed storage and other USB devices .

The DS216j is focused on home and personal use where it allows you to build your own personal cloud or served as their centralised multimedia server effortlessly. Backup and sync files across NAS’, PCs, and mobile devices as easy as a few clicks to initialize a job after which everything runs on its own. You can also stream files to DLNA media players and devices, Chromecast, or Airplay with ease as well as attach USB speakers for direct playback from the NAS itself.

The DS216j is a budget and entry-level unit which shows in a few places. These aren’t bad things, just things that can cut production costs and provide you with a cheaper product such as fewer connection ports and the not having ejectable drive bays. Users can also adjust the LED indicators brightness based on four different settings as well as schedule it on demand.

Synology’s DiskStation DS216j is now available worldwide and comes with an RRP of just £126.00 including VAT or €145.00 excluding VAT. The DS216j NAS is backed with a 2-year limited warranty.

Semiconductor Marvell Could be up for Sale

The semiconductor industry is a tough area to operate in and it is a dog-eat-dog world, and now it looks like Marvell Technology Group could be the next to be swallowed by a bigger dog on the market. According to an article in the New York Post, the chip maker could be up for sale and Broadcom/Avago could be the possible buyer.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve heard of Avago’s interest in Marvell. Last July several news outlets reported that Avago was interested in the purchase, but was holding their bid until the Broadcom and Avago merger was completed.

It hasn’t gone all that good for Marvell lately despite them making some great chips that we see all the time here in the office when we review products. For example, last month they reached a settlement with Carnegie Mellon University for $750 million and they have also just been through an audit for alleged fraud. They were however cleared in the audit and there wasn’t found any evidence of wrongdoing or accounting fraud as the allegations said.

Still, the stock has been on a steady decline as the semiconductor business generally has been going down and stockholders demand that the company cuts costs. After the stock dove about 40 percent of the past year, it doesn’t come as a big surprise that the stockholders demand some action.

Whether Broadcom (AVGO) will make an official bid or not is something time will tell and I’m sure that there will be a lot of details to iron out between the two before they’ll reach an agreement, if they do at all. There is however also some doubt on whether such a merger could result in an antitrust scrutiny as some of the areas of the two overlap, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet switching chips, among others.

Synology DS216se 2-Bay Entry-Level and Cloud NAS Review

Introduction


I’ve reviewed quite a few high-end NAS lately and that isn’t the right match for everyone, maybe because you just have a limited budget or you just don’t need more. Today I’m taking a closer look at the Synology DS216se, a budget friendly 2-bay NAS that allows you to set up your own personal cloud for your files and backups as well as serving as traditional NAS for file storage and media streaming.

The Synology DS216se isn’t just a budget-friendly NAS when you purchase it, it keeps being a cost-effective NAS thanks to the low power consumption of just 14 watts while accessing and 5 watts when the hard drives go into sleep mode. You can further lower the running costs with the new scheduled power on and off feature. After all, there is no need to have the NAS running when you don’t need it.

Synology built the DS216se with a 32-bit Marvell Armada 370 (88F6707) ARM v7-based SoC that comes with built-in floating point engine, 256K L2 cache, and running at 800MHz. Along with the CPU, the DS216se features 256MB DDR3 memory soldered onto the PCB.

The built-in floating-point unit enhances the overall performance of the CPU, but it is particularly advantageous in speeding up thumbnail creation when uploading large amounts of photos or videos. The DS216se can deliver an average speed of 102 MB/s while reading and over 59 MB/s while writing in a RAID 1 configuration from a Windows environment. The NAS also features two USB 2.0 ports for printers or storage and one Gigabit Ethernet port for connectivity.

Synology’s QuickConnect allows a DDNS setup with much less hassle than the traditional DDNS providers offer. You can skip your network configuration and eliminate the manual port forwarding, make it work for all your NAS users, and even use it without a public IP address. That makes it easy to access your data from anywhere, may you be away or at home and whether you use a stationary or a mobile device.

This makes it extremely easy to create your personal cloud setup, freeing you up from costly monthly plans as well as the risk of large level data breaches. Store everything safely at home and access it securely via encrypted connections. The link expiry dates also ensure file sharing over the Internet is highly secure.

You can easily connect from Windows, Mac, and Linux systems with the use of FTP, SMB2, AFP, NFS and WebDAV with network recycle bin where supported. The Cloud Station is a simple way to back up everything to your NAS and it also supports Apple Time Machine for the Mac OS users. You can create backup jobs to and from the NAS, to other NAS, and to public cloud services such as Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Microsoft Azure, SFR, and Hicloud. You can also sync your NAS with Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, hubiC, and Baidu Cloud. So no matter what type of backup and in what direction, this NAS can do it.

Backup and syncing are just one thing, but the main feature of a NAS is still to store files and serve these in various scenarios. Next to the normal file sharing for app common operating systems, the DS216se also supports streaming to Samsung TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku. The Photo Station, Video Station, and Audio Station apps allow you to build easy to navigate libraries and watch the content on pretty much any system, essentially turning your NAS into an entertainment hub.

The File Station app is a fast and secure feature for sharing and managing your files stored on DS216se. Just drag-n-drop data from a Mac or a PC to upload your files. Advanced filters make it easy to search for documents, photos, and videos and it also comes with a built-in FTP and email client. The DS216se also lets you organize and share files through an advanced web application where you can even share files and folders with others by simply sending a link. Files can be reached on mobile devices via the companion mobile app DS file while HTTPS and SSL/TLS encryption, as well as link expiry dates ensure file sharing over the Internet is as secure as it can be.

Synology got a long list of other mobile apps available for both your Android and iOS devices, such as the DS note, DS audio, DS video, DS photo+, DS cloud, DS file, DS download and DS cam apps. They allow you to access and manage the contents of your DS216se with smartphones and tablets. Thanks to the previously mentioned QuickConnect, it makes this just as easy while you’re on the road as when you’re at home and connected to the same local network.

The Synology DS216se is built-in a classic 2-piece design with a large fan at the rear that needs to be taken apart to install or switch hard disk drives. By default, the DS216se only supports 3.5-inch drives, but optional 2.5-inch adapters can be purchased should you want to use smaller HDD or SSDs.

Feature Highlights

  • Floating point unit enabled for multimedia processing
  • Affordable 2-Bay personal cloud for file sharing & backup
  • Consumes only 5.12W in hibernation
  • Scheduled power on/off further reduces energy consumption
  • DLNA®-Certified media server
  • Running on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM)

Packaging and Accessories

The Synology DS216se package follows the simple and eco-friendly design and it comes without any fancy and unnecessary colourful print. Both the front and the back showcase a big Synology NAS logo, so there is no doubt what’s inside.

The side has a sticker showing you what is inside with a picture of the device itself, what hardware it has, and what content the box has inside.

Unpacking the box we find a Quick Installation guide to get you going, an RJ45 LAN cable for network connectivity as well as a power supply brick with connector cable for the region you purchased it in and screws for the drives and enclosure.

Synology Introduces the DiskStation DS216 2-Bay NAS

We’ve recently seen Synology release both the DS216se and DS216play, and now it is time for the DS216 to enter the market. Synology introduced the new 2-bay NAS and announced the immediate availability of the same. Synology’s DiskStation DS216 is the direct successor to the DS214 and it is quite an upgrade.

The DS216 is powered by a dual-core Marvell Armada 385 CPU that runs are 1.3GHz and is backed by 512MB DDR3 memory. The Marvel Armada 385 CPU comes with built-in hardware encryption engine that can increase the performance with encrypted files up to 49% while reading and 110% while writing compared to the DS214. Encryption becomes a thing more and more people want to utilize which makes this a great selling point. The CPU also features a floating point unit that especially speeds up the creation of thumbnails, but overall helps with the performance of the system.

With that hardware at its disposal, the DS216 can provide a read/write performance of 111.18 MB/s in writing and over 112.79 MB/s in reading.

Synology’s DS216 features one USB 2.0 port on the front where it also has a one-touch copy button and it has another two USB 3.0 ports on the rear next to the RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet port. Other than that, the DS216 doesn’t have any more connectivity, but what would you want more?

The two-bay NAS supports up to 16TB volumes with its two bays and 8TB drives, a storage amount that should be plenty for most people. The front panel is removable and behind it are two drive trays that support hot-swapping and easy tool-free installation.

A nice touch is that you can adjust the LED brightness on the front of the NAS, allowing you to tune it down where it otherwise would be too bright and just annoying. Perfect for living room placements where you don’t want a lot of blinking lights all the time. Other than that, the DS216 features all the other great functions that we know and love from the DSM operating system.

The DS216 is backed by a 2-year limited warranty and is available now worldwide for an MSRP of £204.00 and €240.00.

Linksys’ AC1900 Wireless Router Just Got Better With New CPU and More Memory


Linksys already had a pretty impressive router in their WRT1900AC router and now they are ready with an upgrade to that model called the WRT1900ACS. The router keeps the same design and shape, but Linksys gave the hardware inside an impressive update.

The CPU is now a 1.6GHz Marvell dual-core chip where the old model only had a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. The RAM was doubled from the previous model and the new WRT1900ACS features 512MB DDR3 RAM as well as 120MBB flash memory for the firmware.

The WRT1900ACS is fully OpenWRT compatible, allowing you to customize the firmware to your liking, that is if you don’t like the one that it’s already shipping with. With more CPU power, more RAM, and more storage space, you got even more possibilities to create the perfect router setup for yourself.

The rest of the features stay the same. You get four external high-performance antennas with beamforming technology, a USB 3.0 port for storage and a combined USB 2.0 and eSATA port for printers, storage, and other legacy devices. There are four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port for the wired connections while the wireless part can perform with up to 1300Gbps on the 5GHz and 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band.

“We just made the best performing Linksys AC1900 router even better,” said Mike Chen, vice president product management and engineering for Linksys. “We are committed to making the Linksys WRT lineup the most advanced and best-in-class router line for the prosumer so they can get more out of the network they use in their home and office environment. We improved on the original WRT1900AC because we were able to incorporate better components such as a faster processor to make the router perform at higher clock speeds and providing more RAM for advanced users. Adding more memory enables our customers to build more off the open source platform as well as enabling us to provide more enhancements in firmware as we innovate and create more features.”

Features:

  • 1.6GHz Dual-Core ARM-based Processor, 128MB Flash, 512MB DDR3 RAM.
  • Full Open Source Ready, OpenWrt Chaos Calmer Support.
  • Open VPN Server, PPTP VPN Support, IPSec Pass-thru.
  • 4x Gigabit LAN Ports, 1x Gigabit WAN Port.
  • 1x USB 3.0 Port, 1x eSATA/USB 2.0 Port. (FAT, NTFS, and HFS+ file system support)
  • 2.4GHz and 5GHz Simultaneous Dual-Band.
  • 64/128-bit WEP, WPA/WPA2-Personal and Enterprise.
  • 3 spatial streams, 4 external adjustable and removable antennas. Implicit and Explicit Beamforming.
  • UPnP, DLNA

Despite the improvement in hardware, the new Linksys WRT1900ACS comes at a better MSRP. It will be available directly from Linksys’ store on October the 15ths for £179.99.

ASUSTOR Announces Stylish and Budget Friendly 10 Series

ASUSTOR has launched a new line of entry-level NAS devices called the 10-series and it is the first ARM powered series from ASUSTOR. The new NAS units AS1002T and AS1004T are powered by a Marvell ARMADA-385 1.0GHz dual-core processor and come with 512MB onboard RAM. That should be plenty of performance for normal file-serving and streaming alike.

Intel’s x86 based CPUs aren’t the cheapest on the block and opting for an ARM based solution can cut the costs quite a bit. The ARMADA-385 shouldn’t be discarded due to that as it comes with hardware encryption engine and floating-point unit while it only consumes a small amount of power; a truly efficient little NAS.

The AS1002T is a 2-bay NAS and the AS1004T is a 4-bay NAS, but other than that they are the same. You get two USB 3.0 ports where one of them is placed on the front as well as a single Gigabit Ethernet connection. Plenty to hook everything up and get a good performance. The NAS units are capable of providing read and write performance of 95 MB/s and 110 MB/s.

The diamond plate finish gives the units a nice touch and the installation is completely tool-less thanks to the hand-screw design. There is one more minor difference in the two units: The AS1004T comes with a 120mm fan where the AS1002T only has a 70mm fan.

“ASUSTOR’s 10 series was designed with both hardware performance and modern aesthetics in mind,” said Johnny Chen, Product Manager at ASUSTOR. “The devices also feature the convenient use of hand screws, which allows users to easily remove the outer cover and complete hard disk installation without the use of any extra tools.”

Both NAS units feature ASUSTOR’s ADM (ASUSTOR Data Master) 2.5 firmware that provides users with the latest enhanced core functions such as internal backup, shared folder based network recycle bins, and iSCSI LUN snapshots. Optionally, users can download more apps such as Syslog Server and DataSync for Microsoft OneDrive along with newly upgraded versions of existing Apps such as Photo Gallery and LooksGood. The NAS units will of course also work with ASUSTOR’s mobile apps for tasks such as system management, file management, backup, downloading, media sharing, home surveillance and more, allowing users to have effortless and continuous access to their NAS while on the go.

Key Features for the AS1002T and AS1004T

  • Marvell 1.0 GHz Dual-Core Processor
  • Pre-installed 512 MB Memory
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet Port
  • Front of Device: 1 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 GB/s) Port, LED Indicators
  • Back of Device: 1 x SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (5 GB/s) Port, Power Button, Reset Button
  • Hand Screws, Easily Remove Cover and Install Hard Disks Without Additional Tools
  • Supports Hardware Encryption Engine
  • Supports RAID Volume Management RAID 0/1, Single, JBOD (AS1002T)
  • Supports RAID Volume Management RAID 0/1 /5 /6 /10, Single, JBOD (AS1004T)
  • Maximum Supported Capacity of Hard Disks: 12TB (AS1002T)/ 24TB (AS1004T).
  • Supports Seamless System Migration

Plextor Sadly Cancels the Altaplus M7e SSD

It hasn’t been going that well for Plextor’s solid state series even though the M6e Black Edition was an amazing drive. Although it wasn’t a top-performer, the looks and software made up for it in my opinion. At Computex 2015 we saw Plextor announce the follow-up to that drive, the M7e, a drive built on Marvell’s Altaplus controller. It looked great in itself and I for one was really looking forward to this new PCIe solid state drive.

Now the sad news is that it looks like we won’t get this drive at all. Plextor was supposed to bring the M7e products to the Flash Memory Summit, but the product was a no-show. It looks like the drive just couldn’t compete with what the competition put on the market, mainly Samsung’s SM951 SSD, and there simply isn’t any point in bringing a product to the market that can’t compete. Instead, Plextor chose to go back to the drawing board and work on the Eldora based M8e drive. I for one wish Plextor the best of luck with this new drive and hope that they can land another success with it.

While one SSD less on the market probably won’t create the big ripples in users, it will be missed for a while because it was scalable up to 1TB capacity on the M.2 22110 form factor (22mm wide, 110mm length).

Thank You Tom’s Hardware for providing us with this information

Plextor M7e HHHL PCIe Solid State Drive at Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – Plextor had more than just value drives in the bags for Computex and also presented a new PCIe-based SSD. On the first view it might look like the M6e Black Edition, but it is in fact the brand new M7e drive.

The new Plextor M7e also surpasses the M6e on transfer speeds as it utilizes the full PCIe x4 bandwidth for transfer speeds up to 1400 MB/s reading and 1000MB/s writing. Random 4K performance is equally impressive with ratings up to 140K writing and 125K reading.

Available in capacities ranging from 256GB to 1TB, capacity isn’t an issue either and you can store all your favourite files on this fast storage drive.

The card is built around the Marvell 88SS9293 controller, a superb choice in my opinion.

Stay tuned for more news directly from Computex in Taipei.

Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe 480GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


HyperX is Kingston’s high-performance product division and it is logical that they released their new M.2 based SSD under this label. Today I’m taking the Kingston HyperX Predator PCIe 480GB Solid State Drive for a test ride on my test bench to find out just how great this new M.2 SATA-based drive can perform.

The Predator SSD offers a large capacity up to 480GB, but it is also available as a 240GB model for those that need less storage or just don’t want to spend as much on a storage drive as others. The drive is rated for speeds up to 1400MB/s reading and 1000MB/s writing and it is a perfect drive for ultra-responsive multitasking as well as just an overall faster system.

The drive is built around the PCIe Gen 2.0 x4 interface and comes as either just the M.2 drive or coupled with a half-height, half-length (HHHL) PCIe adapter like the one I’m having a look at today. The drive is a lot faster than the traditional SATA SSDs thanks to the increased bandwidth that the PCIe connection offers over the relative old SATA standard.

The drive is powered by a Marvell 88SS9293 controller and coupled with Toshiba A19 Toggle NAND to achieve this great performance. The drive further has 1GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory in two 512MB packages for caching purposes and general operation. All in all, that is a lot of hardware packed onto this small 2280 gum stick shaped solid state drive.

Kingston’s HyperX Predator PCIe SSD has a mean time before failure of 1 million hours and this 480GB version is rated for 882TB total bytes written (TBW) which equals to 1.7 full drive writes per day (DWPD). The smaller 240GB model has an almost identical rating with 1.6 DWPD which equals to 415TB TBW over the drive’s lifetime.

Kingston opted for a fully black device and I like this. The black PCB is a nice touch and one that is followed through from M.2 SSD to PCIe adapter board. There is also an extra foam pad mounted next to the connector to stabilize the inserted M.2 drive and prevent accidental damage.

Kingston backs this drive with their great customer service and a three-year warranty. The package with the PCIe adapter also included a low-profile replacement bracket for mounting abilities in SSF chassis, a key for Acronis True Image disk cloning software, and a cool HyperX sticker for your case.

Time to dive into the tests and see how this drive performs, it sure sounds like an awesome one.

Thecus N5810 Pro Zero-Crash 5-Bay High-Performance NAS Review

Introduction


Thecus have created a new NAS that is something just a little bit special, if not a lot of special. It looks pretty normal on the surface, but it comes packed full of great features, plenty of storage abilities, and with connectivity options as they’re rarely seen.

The new Thecus Zero-Crash N5810 Pro isn’t your everyday NAS, it is one that comes with superior performance, unmatched security, and with built-in mini-UPS. The N5810 Pro is a 5-bay unit and this is an NAS form-factor that is increasing in popularity due to the option for an extra hot-spare, or just the extra capacity.

Let us dive right into the hardware specification, because they are worth highlighting. At the core of the unit we find an Intel Celeron J1900 quad-core SoC processor with 2GHz and the N5810 Pro comes equipped with 4GB DDR3 RAM right out the box. You don’t need to worry about having to upgrade your NAS right away with that kind of RAM, it is easily enough to run all the apps and service you want at the same time.

Where other NAS devices come with two and sometimes four LAN ports, Thecus added one extra and equipped this unit with a total of five Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is full support for all types of Link Aggregation and Fail-over, leaving the setup completely up to you. Maximum performance, redundancy, or you could even use it as an access point if you wanted to.

It has three USB 3.0 ports where one of them is located on the front for quick and easy backups. The last two are on the rear side with the rest of the connections such as two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, and a Line-Out 3.5mm audio jack.

Thecus equipped the N5810 Pro with an internal 130W power supply. I really like the use of internal power supplies over the external power bricks, although the bricks are easier to replace if they should fail. Thecus also thought about that and made the PSU removable from the rear of the unit. It isn’t as easy as getting a new universal AC/DC adapter, but it’s close.

Another really awesome feature in this high-end NAS is the built-in mini-UPS with a removable battery. Again you save yourself having to get another piece of hardware and find room to place it near the NAS. You also save yourself the connecting and setting it up as everything is built-in. If the NAS should lose power, it will safely shut down without loss or corruption of your data. You can define the settings whether it should stay off or resume where it left off once the power is back.

The N5810 Pro NAS is placed on four large rubber feet that prevent any vibration from the mechanical hard drives to move onto whatever piece of furniture the NAS is placed on. They lift the unit far enough off the ground that it also has some extra air vents on the bottom that help to draw in more fresh and cold air for the system. The stickers with serial and product numbers are hidden away on the bottom if you should need those.

Security is an ever-growing issue and Thecus has this side of things handled with both their choice hardware, software and the physical build. Thecus has partnered with McAfee and bundled their Antivirus with the unit to keep the NAS save from itself. Those who prefer the private connections don’t need to worry either as the NAS fully supports VPN connections with the built-in server module.

Keeping the files safe means more than just to protect them from viruses and malware, and Thecus also has all the other sides of the story covered. The N5810 Pro supports scheduled Rsync backups and also comes bundled with Acronis True Image software for advanced one-click protection. Snapshot backup is equally supported with BTRFS support for subvolumes and easy rollback or restoration.

Those who wish to store their backup in the cloud are covered with support for DropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive. If that still isn’t enough, Thecus also supports data burn directly to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray disks with Data Burn. You can also choose to just ‘burn’ ISO files as another way of backing up your files. You can even clone entire disks with the NAS.

The five drive caddies can all be locked individually and Thecus included a total of four keys with this unit. Enough for even the most clumsy people that forget or lose them. The caddie’s base is built from steel and covered with a plastic encasing that holds the locking system and two LEDs. Thecus places padding inside the caddies to prevent damage to your drives and possible short-outs from the PCB touching the caddy. They support both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives, so you’re covered no matter what drive you want to use, whether it’s small or big hard disks or even solid state drivers.

Thecus also built in a LCM display with four buttons on the front: enter, escape, up, and down. This not only allows you to view the current configuration, but also change settings. Not to worry, you’ll have to enter a password via the buttons in order to access that part.

Mobile connectivity is also supported with the T-OnTheGo and T-Dashboard apps. When I read those names I always think of Telecom first, but the T stands for Thecus in this case. You can connect from your iOS or Android device for up and downloading files, streaming media, or just to keep an eye on the device itself.

You can even turn the N5810 Pro into a direct multimedia hub for your living toom with the built-in HDMI. Connect it directly to your TV for device management, web browsing with Flash support, and also the most important function, HD video playback. No need to watch your movies on the PC monitor or have an extra HTPC running, just use your NAS. It also features a line-out connection to get the sound out to other devices if your monitor doesn’t have built-in speakers.

Latest Gigabyte microATX Motherboard Arrives with Octo-Core ARMv8 SoC

Gigabyte apparently has developed a new microATX motherboard that comes with a 64-bit ARM onboard processor, a motherboard that is dedicated to datacenters.

The MP30-AR0 board is said to be built around Applied Micro’s X-Gene SoC, which is an octo-core chip clocked at 2.4 GHz that comes with a 45W TDP. Applied Micro’s cores are said to be their own design and are compatible with the 64-bit ARMv8 ISA.

The SoC appears to be paired to a quad-channel memory controller with eight UDIMM slots, each of them supporting modules of up to 16GB at 1600 MHz speeds and is also ECC compliant. The board is not designed with a great graphical solution in mind, having the board be more networking oriented.

The motherboard is said to come with dual 10-Gigabit Ethernet controllers embedded in the SoC and two auxiliary Marvell Gigabit Ethernets on the board itself. In terms of storage solution, the MP30-AR0 comes with only four SATA 6 Gbps ports and one SD slot. Two PCIe x16 slots are also present on the board, but each slot provides eight lanes of Gen3 bandwidth, most likely from the SoC.

Gigabyte states that the motherboard supports Ubuntu 14.04, having the motherboard also available in the company’s R120-P30 1U server.

Thank you TechReport for providing us with this information

Marvell Reveal Their Next-Gen SSD Controllers

Marvell has created the World’s First DRAM-less NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) SSD controller for mobile computing solutions. The new controller only measures 8x8mm and by that allows for SSDs as small as M.2 2230 (22 x 30 mm). On top of that they come with industry-leading NANDEdge low-density parity-check (LDPC) technology and support for triple-level cell (TLC) and 3D NAND. Marvell’s 88NV1140 and 88NV1120 enable small form factor SSD solutions with unparalleled performance for integration into low-z-height tablets, Chrome devices and the upcoming wave of new 2-in-1 hybrid and detachable mobile PC platforms.

The controller works with both SATA and PCIe SSDs with the same firmware, allowing for easier integration and maintenance. It’s also best-in-class on active power consumption and supports the newest PCIe L1.2 and DevSleep functions. In addition, Marvell’s NANDEdge LDPC technology can support 15/16nm TLC and 3D NAND, resulting in low enabling cost of TLC and 3D NAND. The NVMe design has passed in-house SSD validation and third-party operating system and platform compatibility testing.

Key features of Marvell’s new 88NV1140 and 88NV1120 include:

88NV1140 and 88NV1120 both share:

  • Powerful Dual core Cortex R5 CPU’s
  • Embedded SRAM with hardware accelerators to optimize IOPS performance
  • ONFI3 and Toggle2 NAND support
  • NANDEdge error-correction: 15nm TLC and 3D NAND support using LDPC technology to boost endurance and reliability
  • BGA SSD and M.2/2.5 slim form factor support with thermal optimization and small package size
  • 28nm low power CMOS process

88NV1140:

  • AHCI and NVMe support over PCIe Gen3x1
  • Fully hardware automated NVMe 1.1b support
  • Low power management (L1.2) design

88NV1120:

  • SATA 6Gb/s support
  • SATA DevSlp support

Thanks to Marvell for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of BusinessCheatSheet

Plextor M6S 256GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Our look over Plextor’s M6- SSD product line has seen us look at their M6e PCIe based M.2 drive, where the limitations of the SATA interface are no match for top end performance and more recently the M6M, a mSATA drive that packs the same components but in a tiny frame, with speeds that set it apart from many other drives in its class. Today we’re looking at the final piece of the SSD puzzle with a drive that looks much more standard if it were, with a 2.5″ chassis and the same ingredient list that we saw with the M6M and M6e.

Available in capacities ranging from 128GB up to 512GB, the M6S offers IOPs speeds of up to 94K read, 80K write with sequential speeds of 520MB/s read and 440MB/s write. Sat at the heart of the drive is a dual-core Marvell 88SS9188 controller giving the drive around 30-50% drop in power consumption compared to the last generation M5S.

Plextor keep their drive bundles very much to the point – you get the drive and a multi-language guide, no more, no less. The box itself is rather bright, with a bold image of the drive on the front of the box with the capacity stuck on below.

Plextor M6M 128GB mSATA Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


A few months ago I took a look at a drive that has managed to slingshot Plextor right back into the enthusiast market with a drive that took the limitations of the SATA III interface and threw it out of the window, using the supreme bandwidth of a PCIe interface to allow it to stretch its legs out and give us some proper next generation performance. Now if you’ve not guessed which drive I’m on about here, I’m referring their M6e PCIe SSD – which uses the latest M.2 NGFF interface to deliver levels of performance that may have dreamed of for quite some time.

Whilst the M6e is a great product to behold, it is not for everybody. Firstly we have to look at the cost and with a 512GB drive fetching over £500 / $800, it is a heavy investment to made and secondly its compatibility list is somewhat limited, knocking many mATX builds and portable systems out of the question. Fortunately though Plextor were not naive enough to force users on to the M.2 platform to enjoy the performance that is on offer from the components of the M6e. Alongside the next generation drive, Plextor have brought two more drive to market that follow are more traditional approach to storage, using the most commonly used interface, SATA, and its compact alternative mSATA. Whilst both the mSATA and SATA drives are not able to offer the break neck speeds that can be achieved through a native M.2 or PCIe interface, they still play home to the same controller and NAND packages, just with a lower headlining above them.

The drive we’ve got to play around with today come in the mSATA form factor and with the M6M product name (the second M representing mSATA) we can easily point out its association with the highly popular M6e. Built around the same Marvell 88SS9188 controller and custom firmware, the M6M comes in capacities ranging from 64GB right up to 512GB, all within the same 50.8 x 29.8 container, allowing them to fit into virtually any device that houses a mSATA port. Offering sequential read and write speeds of up to 520MB/s and 440MB/s with IOPs ratings of up to 94K read and 80K write, the M6M is by no means a basic solution for mSATA devices – it is a workhorse that delivers just as much of a punch as its bigger brothers which are part of the SATA and M.2 groups.

Where most drives come in a sleek box with a colourful presentation on the front, the M6M uses packaging the like it’s from a value RAM production line. The only indication of which drive is enclosed is found on a single sticker attached to the front of the pack. At the bottom of the sticker we do get a short list of performance ratings so we at least know what type of performance we should be expecting once plugged in.

Plextor Releases M6e M.2 SSD Drive – Perfect For Z97

One of the flagship selling points of Intel’s new 9 Series chipsets has been the ability to utilise faster storage mediums, notably the 10 Gbps M.2 ports most Z97 motherboards come equipped with. Up until recently these have been fairly hard to come by but now Plextor have released their first “standalone” M.2 drive. I say standalone because the Plextor M6e has been out for a while but initially it came attached to a PCI Express riser card whereas now it is available to buy as an M.2 drive only.

Plextor’s M6e M.2 drive uses the 2280 (80 x 22 mm) form factor and offers speeds of up to 770MB/s read and 625MB/s writes. Random 4K reads offer up to 105K IOPS and random 4K writes up to 100K IOPS. The M6e makes use of a Marvell PCIe 9183 controller, DDR3 RAM cache and Toshiba Toggle NAND. The drive runs custom Plextor in-house firmware.

Plextor will be offerring three additional M.2 drives with the M6G 2280 (22mm x 80mm), M6G 2260 (22mm x 60mm) and M6G 2242 (22mm x 42mm). All Plextor M6e series drives come with a 5 year warranty and a MTBF of 2.4 million hours. Pricing is as follows:

Source: Plextor PR

Images courtesy of Plextor

Plextor Launches M6S 2.5″ Solid State Drive In Europe

Following the release of Plextors M6e PCIe solid state drive a few weeks ago, fans and enthusiasts have been eager to get their hands on the 2.5″ SATA version of the new drive due to its high levels of speed and IOPs performance.

Like the M6e, the M6S features the same Marvell ss9188 dual-core controller and Toshiba’s 19nm Toggle-Mode MLC NAND and with its SATA 6GB/s connectivity it is able to offer sequential read and write speeds of up to 520MB/s and 440 MB/s respectively. Available in three capacities, the M6S is fully backed by a three-year warranty and prices will start at €82 for a 128GB drive, €145 for 25GB and €306 for the top performing 512GB drive.

There’s no final word on UK pricing at this moment, but if the pricing of the M6e is anything to go by, it is going to be a competitively priced product within the market. If you missed our review on the M6e PCIe SSD, you can find more information on the drive here: Plextor M6e 512GB PCI Express Solid State Drive Review

Source: Techpowerup

 

Plextor M6e 512GB PCI Express Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Over the last few years, virtually all of the solid state drives that I’ve looked at and put through their paces have been part of the SATA III family of drives and whilst I have seen the performance levels come forward in leaps and bounds, there has always been a certain plateau of performance that was going to be reached eventually. Today’s SATA III SSDs have, for quite some time now, been able to max out and saturate the bandwidth that the interface has had to offer and this has left manufacturers with a strong challenge of how to improve the solid state drive as we know it and squeeze out better IOPs performance and improve the NAND itself to give a better life span as far as read/write cycles are concerned. To say the least we are literally at the limits of what can be done on the SATA III interface – so the real question that one would ask is where do we go from here? One path would be to bring out a new SATA standard – lets call it SATA IV; but to do this would require a lot of work and the cost of the products at the end of it could be potentially jaw dropping, so for now lets wait for a new standard to brew at a lower rate and let it slowly trickle into the market.

So with upgrading the SATA standard out of the question for new, we start to look at how else we can let the SSD run free and this brings us to PCI Express. Having a PCIe mounted drive is not a new concept by any means, after all OCZ got their footsteps into this market years ago with the RevoDrive and even when we look at the latest model, the RevoDrive 3 X2 – the performance that is on offer is way past the levels that we can get from a SATA interface. Whilst PCIe SSDs are not common place on the consumer market at this moment in time, over the last couple of years they have become a popular product in the enterprise market, partly due to the increased bandwidth, but more importantly due to their greater capacities that a single drive can offer and also superior IOPs performance, which in the enterprise market is far more important than sequential speeds.

Coming back down to the consumer level, advances in SSD technology have seen the mSATA interface mature and with the unveiling of the NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) drive late last year, we are now watching drives push past the lucrative caps of SATA III. Once again the gates have been flung wide open as manufacturers start to hop onto the PCIe bandwagon to take storage to the next level.

Coming over to Plextor’s addition to the new trend, the drive that I’m taking a look at today is part of the M6 family of drives, which is home to three different types of drive. The first drive in this family is a traditional 2.5″ SATA drive, whilst a smaller mSATA spin-off provides compatibility with compact devices such as notebooks and ultra-compact desktop systems. The third drive to make up the group is the M6e – a NGFF drive that is mounted on to a PCIe backplane, giving it the freedom to open up the throttle and take speed and performance well over that of SATA.

The M6e comes in a well padded box in an anti-static bag and aside from the drive, Plextor include a quick installation guide and a VIP booklet.

ADATA Premier Pro SP920 256GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


In the world of solid state drives, there are a vast number of advantages to be seen and had over the older mechanical counterparts and aside from raw capacity and the consequent price per GB of storage, the SSD is bar far the superior option to opt for when upgrading or building your new system. On the face of it, solid state drive are all about pure speed and whilst they are able to hit the limits of what the SATA III interface can handle, there is a whole lot more to the humble SSD to what lies on the surface and the crib sheets that are laid beside them.

The behind the scenes operations that hard drives rely on are pretty set in concrete and whilst there are some minor differences in performance to be seen, the way in which data is read and written to the drive stays the same with the iconic spinning platters and a read / write head which flickers back and forth hundreds of times a second. Solid state drives as we know by now are much more different and the lack of moving parts as indicated in their name means that everything is electronically altered within the silicon chips that are laid out on the PCB. How this data is read and accessed though does vary and overall we find three types of NAND available; synchronous, asynchronous and toggle. Typically we see most drives on the market offering up asynchronous or toggle mode NAND and this on the basic level comes down to the price. As we know, if you want better and more consistent performance, then you’ll be expecting to pay that bit more and this is exactly the case with synchronous NAND. The performance levels that are on offer on paper may look vastly greater, but in the real world the differences in speed are a lot closer than expected – the real advantage comes in sustained performance. I will go into this all a little later on to explain how it all works.

In the latter part of last week, ADATA gave us all a bit of a tease with an image on their Facebook page that teased us all with a portion of the drive on show with today’s date (2nd April 2014 for those not reading this on the launch date) down the left hand side. Buy why are ADATA keen to do this? Surely the launch of a new drive can’t be that special?

Well in some respects this is just another SSD; it doesn’t offer up a 2TB capacity as I’ve seen some speculate and ADATA haven’t found a way to rip through the limitations of the SATA III interface – nor is it a RAID0 drive within a single 2.5″ frame – damn I love it when people try to spread rumours! What the SP920 is, is in fact a drive that has been designed and built to meet the demands of our home entertainment driven lives and this where the aforementioned synchronous NAND comes into play.

Built around one of Marvell’s latest controllers, ADATA have chosen to use the more expensive NAND in favour of faster and more efficient file transfers from the drive – something which async and toggle mode drives struggle with as the volume becomes more congested with stored data. Multimedia files such as high-definition films and audio files or uncompressed data as we techs refer to them can put a lot of strain on the drive and in some cases we see the performance slowly drop down when being read – especially as the volume fills as mentioned above. This is what the SP920 is made to combat and thus why ADATA are proud to get the enthusiast community wanting more information.

Inside the SP920 packaging we get what is becoming a somewhat new industry standard bundle with a 2.5″ to 3.5″ drive bay adaptor, 7mm z-height to 9mm drive converter, screws for installation, quick start guide and a copy of Acronis’ drive migration software to make the upgrading process much quicker and less painful.

Plextor M6S Availability In Q2 Announced

Following the announcement of the new M6 series of solid state drives during IFA last year, Plextor have been busy working away behind the scenes to get the range ready for launch. On top of this they have been continuously tweaking and tuning the three M6 lines in order to optimise their performance and increase reliability. Earlier in the year the M6e was announce – a PCI Express mounted M.2 drive that takes performance to levels that a traditional SATA connection is simply not able to offer. Keep an eye out on eTeknix as I have a full review on the 512GB model this drive coming up very shortly.

The next step for Plextor is the mainstream consumer SATA based M6S and today Plextor have announced that the drives will be available to buy during the second quarter of this year in capacities ranging from 128GB right up to 512GB. Like the rest of the M6 range, the 7mm thin drive packs a Marvell 88SS9182-BNP2 controller along with an array of Toshiba 19nm NAND. Performance wise users can expect to see speeds of up to 520MB/s read and 440MB/s write on offer along with random IOPS figures of 94k read and 80k write to suit.

What’s more the M6 series drives are focussed on the cost of owner ship with reduced power consumption being just one of the key elements that Plextor thought about when they designed the drives. Following in the footsteps of my review on the M5 Pro Xtreme in the early part of the year, along with my experience of the M6e as you’ll soon see, I’ve got a good set of hopes and aspirations for this drive and what it has to offer to the SATA based group of users.

Source & image courtesy of Plextor

Crucial M550 512GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


During the middle stages of last year I took a look at a SSD that, in my eyes, set the ball rolling when it came to high capacity drives and with options of up to 1TB on offer, Crucial’s M500 made its statement loud and clear – you don’t need to sacrifice performance for space. To follow in the footsteps of the M500 and to keep Crucial at the forefront of the SSD market, a drive that is able to offer the performance whilst costing less is what is needed. Bring forth the leaner and more refined M550.

Based loosely around the M500, the M550 strives to take the performance and value one step further, with a more powerful single core Marvell controller, paired with 256MB 1066MHz DRAM and up to 1024GB of raw storage. As well as controller improvements, the NAND has seen a rise up to 256Gb dies and as a result of all these improvements, we are now looking at sequential read speeds of up to 550MB/s and 500MB/s write; with read and write IOPs levels of 95k and 85k respectively also available. The key factor though is price and the purchase price is not the only monetary figure that has been put under the microscope. With the market slowly moving over towards the mobile era, system and component manufacturers are looking at ways in which they can reduce the power needs of their products – the end goal being longer battery life but with the same strong performance on tap.

This price per performance factor is where Crucial have focused the M550 at, so in addition to the power usage and to stay one step ahead of the competition, the drives will be available in SATA, mSATA and M.2 formats.  The result from these focal points is a wallet that is not only happy at the point of purchase, but also further down the line as the cost of ownership is taken into account.

Like any other Crucial product that I’ve seen, the contents of the box are to the point with little more than a 9.5mm drive spacer included alongside the 7mm slim drive.

Sandisk Extreme II 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


The SSD market as many people know it is inundated with drives that have one of LSI’s SandForce SF-2281 controllers at their heart and whilst this is not a bad thing – given that they have proven reliability and some of the best performance to be had, they are not without their faults.

SSD owners today, use their drives for a multitude of tasks and breaking these tasks down to the way the drives see the data, we have two data types; compressible and incompressible. SandForce based drives typically use lossless data compression to minimise the write cycles to the flash in order to prolong its life span, however not all data sets can be compressed in this way and consequently when these controllers meet this type of data, the write speeds consequently slow down as the data takes more time to process.

SanDisk’s Extreme series of drives as we have here today, are now on to their second generation and following the success of the original Extreme that was based around the SF-2281 controller, SanDisk want to take the performance up a notch to give this drive a huge selling point against every other drive out there. To do this, the SandForce controller had to be laid to rest as the way it handles incompressible data was not going to be right for an ‘extreme’ drive. As a result, Marvell has been brought in with its top end controller and this teamed with SanDisk’s own 19nm Toggle NAND MLC flash and a 256MB cache is what is set to give this drive the grunt it needs to push it to the top of the SSD performance charts.

Plextor Reveal M6 SSD And M.2 Form Factor Drives At IFA 2013

At IFA 2013 Plextor just unveiled some new storage options. Up first was the M6 SSD. This prototype drive uses a 5mm thin 2.5 inch form factor and a Marvell 88SS9187 controller. It uses Plextor’s propietary TrueSpeed technology and has Toshiba A19 Toggle NAND which is the smallest and fastest MLC currently available. Full specifications are not provided as the drive is being finalised but any one should be able to guess performance of 5XXMB/s read and write as the device will be limited by the SATA III interface.

Next up is a variety of M.2 form factor drives available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities. These M.2 drives, otherwise known as NGFF, use a PCIe interface to overcome SATA limitations. The devices measure in at 60mm for the smaller capacity one and 80mm for the larger capacity one. All of the capacities sport read speeds of 740MB/s but the write speeds and IOPS vary between capacities as shown below. These drives also use the same Marvell 88SS9183 controller and Toshiba 19nm MLC toggle NAND.Images courtesy of Plextor

 

ASUS P9X79-E WS LGA 2011 Motherboard Gets Launched

The ASUS WorkStation (WS) series of motherboards have taken off in popularity recently as they offer consumer platforms (such as LGA 1155/2011 with Z77/X79) but with workstation features and reliability. ASUS’ latest motherboard is no exception and they have just recently announced the P9X79-E WS motherboard for the LGA 2011 socket and X79 Intel chipset.

This new motherboard from ASUS is ready to tackle Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E processors that are coming in Q3-Q4 of this year. There will probably be a BIOS update required, although the boards may just come with “unadvertised” support for Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E CPUs. This motherboard uses the X79 chipset and an SSI-CEB form factor which measures in at 305 by 267mm. The LGA 2011 socket is powered by a healthy 10 phase VRM and has a 2+2 phase memory VRM (thats 2 phase for each memory allocation either side of the CPU socket).  These eight memory sockets support up to 64GB of memory in quad channel running up to DDR3 2133MHz.

Furthermore the motherboard has seven PCI Express X16 slots and supports 4 Way Nvidia SLI or AMD CrossFireX. Storage connectivity is relatively abundant with ten SATA ports of which six are SATA III 6Gbps and four are SATA II 3Gbps. Of the SATAs everything is provided by the PCH with the exception of four SATA III ports which are provided by a Marvell AHCI/RAID controller. There are also an additional two eSATA 6Gbps ports from an ASMedia controller. There are four USB 3.0 ports on offer from ASMedia controllers and there is dual Intel Gigabit LAN too. 8 Channel HD audio, a PS/2 port, an RS232 COM header and some overclocking BIOS features top off the rest of the connectivity. Apparently pricing for this unit is USD $499.99.

Image courtesy of TechPowerUp

Computex: ADATA Demonstrate Their XPG S920 Consumer SSDs

ADATA have been exhibiting a lot of SSDs at Computex 2013, we’ve already seen the SX1000 and SX2000 series but now its time to have a quick look at their XPG S920 series SSDs that they also showed us. These will be based off a Marvell made controller and hence there is no over-provisioning of capacity like on many Sandforce controllers. This means there are capacities of 128GB, 256GB and 512GB.  The drives uses a SATA III 6Gbps interface giving speeds of 530MB/s read and 480MB/s write with up to 80,000K IOPS on 4K random writes.

The XPG S920 series of SSDs pack 19nm MLC NAND flash and use a very slim profile 7mm design in the usual 2.5 inch SSD form factor. ADATA is backing these consumer SSDs with a 3 year warranty and they feature SMART, TRIM and NCQ support.

Stay tuned to eTeknix for more Computex coverage in our Computex section.

Image(s) courtesy of eTeknix at Computex

SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD Review

Looking at the vast number of drives on the market, there are so many different combinations of controller and flash memory to choose from, for some it is a daunting prospect and thus they stick to the big names that have a proven following and typically this means that they will end up with a drive that houses a SandForce controller and a traditional array of 16GB 22nm NAND IC’s from another partner.

SandDisk, like many other companies, are looking for a way to push their products to the forefront of the SSD market and in the case of SanDisk, this has resulted in a new architecture on the drive with the inclusion of a highly efficient Marvell controller with independent channels leading towards some of SanDisk’s home-brewed 19nm MLC NAND memory with a separate SLC layer for improved performance for small file writes which has been dubbed as nCache.

This in-house production of memory is an obvious advantage for SanDisk and it leads to more controlled production costs, however using this particular Marvell controller – the SS889175 – is new to me and it will be interesting to see how well it can keep up with the SF-2281 from SandForce – typically the chip of choice.

SanDisk as I’ve seen before keep the package to a minimum and alongside a product guide and warranty leaflet a drive spacer is put in for installation in larger drive cages.