Next generation SSDs soon?

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Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:05 pm

Newegg has been pushing hard on their Samsung 840 Pro inventory with some great deals over the last few weeks (thanks Ronald!). It's one of the best SSDs out there and it pretty much sells itself (average 5 eggs from over 1000 users), so I'm wondering if we can infer that they're drawing down inventory in preparation for the Next Big Thing. Or is this just plain old overstock reduction?

Thoughts?
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:29 pm

I'd expect Samsung to have a new 850 series sometime this year.
Plextor just announced a couple new drives: http://www.plextoramericas.com/index.ph ... cebit-2014

I doubt the price drops mean much in terms of incoming products, though.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:14 am

I'm still waiting for more manufacturers to adopt TLC.

In theory, 128GiB of MLC costs the same to produce as 256GiB of TLC. Until there's some real competition, Samsung will continue to charge MLC prices for their TLC drives, which is a lame deal for us consumers.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:02 am

I agree. With the limitations of SATA III, I'm not sure the new controllers will be anything groundbreaking. Heck, even PCIe SSDs don't offer that much additional performance that will give the average consumer a night-and-day change like going from a HDD to SSD.
The biggest (and most important IMO) improvement to look forward to is for SSD prices to drop again. It's been...what?...over a year since SSD prices have changed significantly? Sounds to me like TLC is one of the only options available today to drive that price down.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:08 am

DPete27 wrote:I agree. With the limitations of SATA III, I'm not sure the new controllers will be anything groundbreaking. Heck, even PCIe SSDs don't offer that much additional performance that will give the average consumer a night-and-day change like going from a HDD to SSD.
The biggest (and most important IMO) improvement to look forward to is for SSD prices to drop again. It's been...what?...over a year since SSD prices have changed significantly? Sounds to me like TLC is one of the only options available today to drive that price down.



I think you hit the nail on the head. Storage tech leaps are very infrequent. We are now in for years of technological refinement and price reduction. I think we will see $200 Terabyte SSD's before we see our next massive performance jump.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:56 am

kamikaziechameleon wrote:I think we will see $200 Terabyte SSD's before we see our next massive performance jump.


We're practically there. 512GB MLC is the same amount of NAND as 1TB of TLC, $320; Just waiting for some TLC competition to shave the prices by 40% over the next year or two.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:27 pm

I feel like we've been pushing the limits for SATA III for a while now. I don't know if we need SATA IV or the commoditization of PCI SSDs or some other format, but I feel like we need an interface upgrade before we can have much appreciable improvements realized.

Then again, Intel created a fantastic product with S3700. In its review of this product, Anand broke down SSDs into three generations: the first focused on sequential performance, the second on crazy high IOPS, and that the S3700 was the first of a new generation focused on consistently high IOPS. But I don't believe anyone has followed the S3700 along that path, or that many have realized how special the S3700 is. Maybe if more websites publish TechReport-style thorough reviews over SSD speed consistency, the enthusiast world would wake up to the inconsistency of current-gen SSDs, and more manufacturers will focus on making consistent products. Similar to how Inside The Second woke up the enthusiasts to the real state of gaming consistency, and AMD and Nvidia have improved dramatically since.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:46 pm

Milo Burke wrote:Then again, Intel created a fantastic product with S3700. ... the S3700 was the first of a new generation focused on consistently high IOPS. But I don't believe anyone has followed the S3700 along that path, or that many have realized how special the S3700 is. Maybe if more websites publish TechReport-style thorough reviews over SSD speed consistency, the enthusiast world would wake up to the inconsistency of current-gen SSDs, and more manufacturers will focus on making consistent products.


Interesting. What kinds of workloads do you think would benefit from this consistency, and which ones suffer from inconsistency? Many enthusiasts focus on gaming performance, which doesn't seem oriented at consistency as a high-value thing. For myself, I'm way more interested in virtualization, e.g. running development SQL databases and full-blown IDEs inside VMs, which may well benefit from consistency and other things not routinely measured.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:27 pm

bandannaman wrote:Interesting. What kinds of workloads do you think would benefit from this consistency, and which ones suffer from inconsistency? Many enthusiasts focus on gaming performance, which doesn't seem oriented at consistency as a high-value thing. For myself, I'm way more interested in virtualization, e.g. running development SQL databases and full-blown IDEs inside VMs, which may well benefit from consistency and other things not routinely measured.


I would think anything with sustained writes/reads would benefit from the consistency. Databases come to mind. Maybe any project that does rendering? I'm really not sure.

Here is the Anand chart for the Samsung 840 Pro, which is decent:

Image

Here is the Anand chart for the Micron P400e, which is terrible:

Image

And here is the Anand chart for the Intel DC S3700:

Image

As you can see, the S3700 accomplishes something none of the other drives can: consistent performance. If the gravity of this difference escapes you, consider that the charts are logarithmic.

In the words of Anand Lal Shimp (from his conclusion at http://www.anandtech.com/show/6433/inte ... -review/10):

I view the evolution of "affordable" SSDs as falling across three distinct eras. In the first era we saw most companies focusing on sequential IO performance. These drives gave us better-than-HDD read/write speeds but were often plagued by insane costs or horrible pausing/stuttering due to a lack of focus on random IO. In the second era, most controller vendors woke up to the fact that random IO mattered and built drives to deliver the highest possible IOPS. I believe Intel's SSD DC S3700 marks the beginning of the third era in SSD evolution, with a focus on consistent, predictable performance.


It'd be great if TechReport begins to cover SSD consistency.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:23 pm

Consistency is important, and that's a combination of overprovisioning and firmware optimisation.

I don't think SATA3 is holding back consumer SSD's that much. Very few things actually run at 540MB/s on an SSD - and they're processed so fast that it's irrelevant; What matters is that QD1 small write rate of 30-50MB/s - It may be 20x faster than a good mechanical drive, but it's a long way from 540MB/s that SATA3 can deliver.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:39 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:I don't think SATA3 is holding back consumer SSD's that much.


We could always use more speed. :) Disk IO is still expensive, so anything that can be done to cut that down even more is worth it.

The DC S3700 is an business product and super expensive. I would have loved to use those in two recent server builds, but the price was outrageous. I ended up with four S3500 drives.

Desktops/Laptops are peaky, and they spend a lot of time idle with short bursts of heavy IO, which masks the drive's schizophrenic nature. The drives are meant to take that into account. They can absorb a peak and get a rest without exhausting their resources. The DC S3700 is meant to be hammered on.

The S3700 graph is really what people want in the datacenter. It's a nice smooth curve which means it's easy to baseline. Predictability and consistency is what workstation/server grade stuff is really about.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:30 pm

The 200GB S3700 is massively overprovisioned. There are 250GB/256GB consumer drives that perform almost as consistently as the S3700 when overprovisioned that much.

Anand has tested all drives for consistency since the S3700 review and off the top of my head the 840 pro, the Neutron GTX and the Vector do very well with 20% spare area from overprovisioning.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:56 pm

Consistency is nice, but it's not as big a deal for single user systems as Anand makes it out to be. How often are you writing to your drive non-stop for 7 minutes? (And keep in mind that means actual non-stop writes to the drive that aren't limited by something else like CPU for encoding for example.) All modern SSDs have good enough garbage collection and of course TRIM support for normal use. Consistency matters when a drive is really being hammered over longer periods. PCIe SSDs or SATA-express will be the next noticeable leap, until then we can look forward to decreasing $/GB on new flash nodes, although I suspect the next flash node step will come pretty close to SATA-express and affordable PCIe SSDs.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:06 am

When is the next process shrink? I get the impression they are really starting to get their #$% together in regards to the control logic circuitry at this point, with only minimal improvements going forward.

The only way we'll see a price drop of any major significance is a move to a small process for flash creation. I don't know if the flash manufacturers use 450mm wafers either, I know that will one day reduce cost - but I did a nice big googling on those this past weekend and it seems 450mm wafers are STILL a long way off due to the immense cost.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:02 am

I get mixed feelings regarding process shrinks for SSDs. On the one hand a smaller process means more GBs per $, but OTOH it also means less reliability. :-?
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:30 am

jihadjoe wrote:I get mixed feelings regarding process shrinks for SSDs. On the one hand a smaller process means more GBs per $, but OTOH it also means less reliability. :-?


Yeah, I used to myself but after seeing how durable even 20nm flash can be with TR's experiment, I'm not worried anymore. If 256GB of TLC flash can sustain 600TB and still not have lost an appreciable amount of cells, then MLC should be fine for quite a few more shrinks to come. Although since NAND has about caught up with current fab capabilities the rate of new shrinks has already begun to slow down too.

There's also the consideration that as NAND gets shrunk/cheaper to produce, it's easier for SSDs to allocate an entire spare NAND chip for data assurance. So if anything from a page to an entire NAND chip fails the drive can supposedly rebuild the lost data. Supposed to be a big feature of the upcoming third-gen SandForce chips, if SSD makers decide to spring for it as it's an optional feature. Forgot who else offered it as well.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:32 am

Milo Burke wrote:I feel like we've been pushing the limits for SATA III for a while now. I don't know if we need SATA IV or the commoditization of PCI SSDs or some other format, but I feel like we need an interface upgrade before we can have much appreciable improvements realized.



I can see that. Though thru put is flat, if you look at most benchmarks out there for PCI E SSD's vs SATA 3 the difference is just not there yet even if the theoretical gains are just over the crest. From what I understand controllers are the limitation??? I think we are all excited for any and all storage revolutions because its annoying to have streaming media catching up to local media. SSD size is still a major limiter for consumers though. I keep all my stuff on HDD because SSD prices are not were they need to be. I have 3 TB of media on my machine between music, games, and video.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:36 am

Milo Burke wrote:
bandannaman wrote:I believe Intel's SSD DC S3700 marks the beginning of the third era in SSD evolution, with a focus on consistent, predictable performance.


I think that is very telling. Might explain the issues we see with higher bandwidth PCI-E SSD's not bench-marking appropriately to the specs they have. PC's need these products to evolve else streaming services will wipe them out.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:43 am

jihadjoe wrote:I get mixed feelings regarding process shrinks for SSDs. On the one hand a smaller process means more GBs per $, but OTOH it also means less reliability. :-?


If they wanted to have consumer High capacity drives on the market already they would have done it. They could have made a 5.25" drive by now with 4 or more Gb for a reasonable price. Guessing at their margins I expect they are actually controlling the slow decline of prices. Costs on the fabrication are rather fixed but adoption won't speed up any more if they drop prices. Rule of thumb in economics is supply and demand. The price and availability reflects market forces. At that decreasing price in tech typically doesn't produce more profitability. Just ask AMD or Nvidia. When they tried to spur market growth with high value cards like the 8800 GT and 7970 it actually didn't produce better profits than if they had maintained higher margins and lower volume. Rapid expansion of a technology also incurs a higher level or risk and exposure too.

I personally think what we see on store shelves is so far behind what the potential is. Annoying as it is to ride this train again its part of the game.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:20 pm

Your theory of the 2.5" form factor being the limitation for SSD sizes is laughable. If someone could make a 4TB SSD for an affordable price simply by going to 3.5" or 5.25, they would have SURELY done it by now. Doing so would allow them to completely dominate a huge emerging market. I suppose it's possible that they have all been in collusion thus far (like we saw with DRAM pricing some years back), but I think in this case the payout would be far too lucrative for everyone to play nice with each other.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:34 pm

The Egg wrote:Your theory of the 2.5" form factor being the limitation for SSD sizes is laughable. If someone could make a 4TB SSD for an affordable price simply by going to 3.5" or 5.25, they would have SURELY done it by now.

He has a point - I thought about this some time back and got into a mini-debate over it with another guy at the office. Why isn't there larger capacity SSD's in 3.5" cases, as we never reached any firm conclusions...
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:36 pm

geekl33tgamer wrote:
The Egg wrote:Your theory of the 2.5" form factor being the limitation for SSD sizes is laughable. If someone could make a 4TB SSD for an affordable price simply by going to 3.5" or 5.25, they would have SURELY done it by now.

He has a point - I thought about this some time back and got into a mini-debate over it with another guy at the office. Why isn't there larger capacity SSD's in 3.5" cases, as we never reached any firm conclusions...


Could have done it without fundamentally changing anything about the 2.5" drives, hell could have jammed 3 2.5 inch drives into one and sold it as just that 3 times the price and people would have bought it.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:39 pm

The Egg wrote:Your theory of the 2.5" form factor being the limitation for SSD sizes is laughable. If someone could make a 4TB SSD for an affordable price simply by going to 3.5" or 5.25, they would have SURELY done it by now. Doing so would allow them to completely dominate a huge emerging market. I suppose it's possible that they have all been in collusion thus far (like we saw with DRAM pricing some years back), but I think in this case the payout would be far too lucrative for everyone to play nice with each other.


Affordable, well I mean more affordable to do that I think that to say put years of R&D into shrinking 4 plus terabytes into a 2.5 inch drive. I mean that just my thought. Given the insane margins they sell SSD's for you know that fab price is fixed, cost of research is generally astronomical compared to producing proven tech. I think that they could have given us consumer 4Tb drives if they cared to.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:34 pm

kamikaziechameleon wrote:
The Egg wrote:Your theory of the 2.5" form factor being the limitation for SSD sizes is laughable. If someone could make a 4TB SSD for an affordable price simply by going to 3.5" or 5.25, they would have SURELY done it by now. Doing so would allow them to completely dominate a huge emerging market. I suppose it's possible that they have all been in collusion thus far (like we saw with DRAM pricing some years back), but I think in this case the payout would be far too lucrative for everyone to play nice with each other.


Affordable, well I mean more affordable to do that I think that to say put years of R&D into shrinking 4 plus terabytes into a 2.5 inch drive. I mean that just my thought. Given the insane margins they sell SSD's for you know that fab price is fixed, cost of research is generally astronomical compared to producing proven tech. I think that they could have given us consumer 4Tb drives if they cared to.

My point is, I don't think form factor has anything to do with anything. We've had PCIe card SSDs all along with plenty of physical PCB space, and you still don't see anything over 1TB. Manufacturers aren't stopping at 1TB and throwing up their hands because it won't fit in a 2.5" drive.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:22 pm

The Egg wrote:
kamikaziechameleon wrote:
The Egg wrote:Your theory of the 2.5" form factor being the limitation for SSD sizes is laughable. If someone could make a 4TB SSD for an affordable price simply by going to 3.5" or 5.25, they would have SURELY done it by now. Doing so would allow them to completely dominate a huge emerging market. I suppose it's possible that they have all been in collusion thus far (like we saw with DRAM pricing some years back), but I think in this case the payout would be far too lucrative for everyone to play nice with each other.


Affordable, well I mean more affordable to do that I think that to say put years of R&D into shrinking 4 plus terabytes into a 2.5 inch drive. I mean that just my thought. Given the insane margins they sell SSD's for you know that fab price is fixed, cost of research is generally astronomical compared to producing proven tech. I think that they could have given us consumer 4Tb drives if they cared to.

My point is, I don't think form factor has anything to do with anything. We've had PCIe card SSDs all along with plenty of physical PCB space, and you still don't see anything over 1TB. Manufacturers aren't stopping at 1TB and throwing up their hands because it won't fit in a 2.5" drive.


I think we agree then, lol. Maybe I didn't articulate it right. I guess I just meant that the volume limitations on the products have been arbitrary, much like the pricing. I don't think that they necessarily need full size drive enclosure to increase volume only that they don't have any real limitations because they could be using them if physical space was their excuse. I guess my whole point with what I said was to convey that the products we get are not limited by tech but by design. As such it becomes hard to understand how these things will progress because there are not an abundance of market forces driving rapid evolution.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:17 pm

It's all in the controllers, period.

If we had controllers that supported more packages and more individual die (as lanes or channels, just like DRAM), we would have higher capacity SSDs at only marginally greater than incremental costs. Just note that the returns for this technology is going to be relatively small, because as mentioned above, the gains for most users are effectively negligible.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:31 pm

Airmantharp wrote:It's all in the controllers, period.

If we had controllers that supported more packages and more individual die (as lanes or channels, just like DRAM), we would have higher capacity SSDs at only marginally greater than incremental costs. Just note that the returns for this technology is going to be relatively small, because as mentioned above, the gains for most users are effectively negligible.


There is means to scale this: put the flash on DIMM modules. Just like DRAM, users would be able to both increase performance by enabling more channels on the controller and continue to increase storage capacity when number of channels is maxed out on the controller. This could also improve reliability if a flash stick goes bad, it could be replaced without affecting the others. Similarly, if just the SSD controller goes bad, the DIMMs could be moved to another system with their data intact.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:35 pm

See Intel's latest efforts. More than the average 8 or 10 channels in use there, and bandwidth scales accordingly.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Thu Jun 19, 2014 9:20 pm

the wrote:There is means to scale this: put the flash on DIMM modules. Just like DRAM, users would be able to both increase performance by enabling more channels on the controller and continue to increase storage capacity when number of channels is maxed out on the controller. This could also improve reliability if a flash stick goes bad, it could be replaced without affecting the others.

If you're interleaving accesses to increase performance the data on the other DIMMs is going to be worthless after the failed one is replaced, since you'll be missing every nth word (for an n-channel system). You could implement what amounts to a RAID-5 or RAID-6 setup to achieve redundancy, but that comes at a cost in both performance and capacity.
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Re: Next generation SSDs soon?

Postposted on Fri Jun 20, 2014 11:05 am

The Egg wrote:Your theory of the 2.5" form factor being the limitation for SSD sizes is laughable.

The Egg wrote:My point is, I don't think form factor has anything to do with anything. We've had PCIe card SSDs all along with plenty of physical PCB space, and you still don't see anything over 1TB.

Here are some references related to these claims:
1) 2TB 2.5" and M.2 consumer SSDs (M.2 is roughly less than half the volume of a 2.5" SSD)
2) The inside of the SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB SSD.
Size isn't the issue, its the prohibitive cost of 2TB+ SSDs. That's a price almost no consumer is going to pay. Heck, I wouldn't even look twice at anything over 500GB. If you've got more installed programs/games than that, you probably should uninstall them cause you're likely not using/playing them anyway. If your system only has support for one storage device (NUC/bookshelf systems/ultrathins/ultrabooks/laptops with no optical drive), get a USB3 external hard drive. I'd say the cost savings is worth the minor hassle.
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