Alex Torex Blog

SciTech oriented blog

Seagate to Ship 5TB HDD in 2014 using Shingled Magnetic Recording

It’s not just planar NAND that’s running into physical limits lately. According to Seagate, its latest 1TB platter 3.5″ drives have shrunk read/write heads as small as they can physically go. Similarly, tracks on those platters are placed as close together as physically possible. Pushing areal density is important to increase overall capacities (no one wants to see more platters per drive), but if we’re at physical limits today then it’s time for some architectural changes to push capacities going forward.

Seagate’s solution is something it calls Shingled Magneting Recording (SMR). The process is pretty simple. Track size is traditionally defined by the size of the write heads, as they are larger than the read heads. The track width is larger than necessary from the perspective of reading data back in order to decrease the chances of reading data from adjacent tracks. Seagate’s SMR exploits this reality.

SMR shrinks the guard space between tracks and allows tracks to overlap one another, like roofing shingles. Although data is written to the entire width of the track, a smaller/trimmed portion of the track (the width of the read head) is all that the drive cares about. By allowing tracks to overlap, areal density can continue to scale without further shrinking the size of the heads. 

The obvious downside of SMR is actually very NAND flash-like. When writing data sequentially to an empty platter, SMR is full of advantages. When you’re writing to a series of tracks that already contains data, the SMR writing process is actually destructive. Since the writer remains full width and tracks now overlap, overwriting one track will actually harm the next track; those subsequent tracks will need to be overwritten as a result. 

Seagate’s SMR groups tracks into bands, with the end of each band breaking the shingled track layout. Breaking the shingled layout regularly reduces max attainable density, but it makes it so that overwriting a portion of one track doesn’t force a re-write of the complete disk. At worst, overwriting some sectors will force a re-write of an entire band, not an entire platter.

Seagate claims it has already shipped 1 million SMR enabled drives (I didn’t actually know any SMR drives had been shipping), but plans on using the technology to increase areal densities beginning next year. In 2014 Seagate will move from a 1TB per platter design to 1.25TB per platter thanks to SMR. The increase in platter density will allow Seagate to ship a 4 platter/5TB drive next year. Seagate is hoping to hit higher densities without any performance degradation compared to existing SMR designs. The real question is whether or not Seagate can maintain similar full drive performance compared to a non-SMR drive.

Read more: AnandTech | Seagate to Ship 5TB HDD in 2014 using Shingled Magnetic Recording

January 29, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

HGST’s helium-filled He6 6TB hard drive selling for $800

HGST introduced the Ultrastar He6 6TB in November. The drive is not only the first to offer 6TB of storage in a single 3.5″ chassis, but also the first to be filled with helium. Although the He6 was initially available only to a “select group of customers,” it’s now popped up at a couple of online outlets. DiscountTechnology is selling the SAS version for $895, while Amazon partner Memory Expo USA has the SATA incarnation for $798. Both vendors have drives in stock.

Read more: HGST’s helium-filled He6 6TB hard drive selling for $800 – The Tech Report

January 29, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

SanDisk’s ULLtraDIMM is an SSD on a memory stick

Traditional DIMMs are based on volatile DRAM memory that doesn’t hold data when the power is cut, but ULLtraDIMMs retain their, ahem, memory when unpowered. They’re also available in much larger capacities. SanDisk is rolling out individual modules with 200GB and 400GB of 19-nm MLC flash storage.

Putting the flash right next to the CPU gives the ULLtraDIMMs especially low latency. SanDisk claims a read latency of 150 µs and a write latency of under 5 µs. The modules are said to deliver 150k random read IOps and 65k random writes. Sequential I/O is pegged at 1GB/s for reads and 760MB/s for writes, so these puppies are pretty fast all around. Impressively, SanDisk claims that performance scales linearly with additional modules—and that write latencies remain consistently low. The modules will plug into existing servers, too.

Read more: SanDisk’s ULLtraDIMM is an SSD on a memory stick – The Tech Report

January 23, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Hard drive reliability study names names

Overall, Backblaze’s data suggests that Seagate drives are less reliable than their peers.

Read more: Hard drive reliability study names names – The Tech Report

January 21, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

TSMC 16nm to hit volume production this year

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has said that its 16nm FinFET manufacturing process will be at volume levels of production towards the end of this year.

This puts the company ahead of its peers, with much of the industry still ramping up on 20nm production. TSMC itself is still at relatively low volumes for 20nm FinFET, with volume production only starting this month and total production for 2014 expected to be just 10% of the company’s output, but be leveraging knowledge gained through creating that process TSMC thinks it can transition to 16nm more rapidly.

“Our 16FinFET yield improvement has been ahead of our plan. This is because we have been leveraging the yield, learning from 20SoC. Currently, the 16FinFET SRAM yield is already close to that of the 20SoC process.” said TSMC CEO Mark Liu.

The announcement was made at the company’s investor conference where it was discussing its latest financial results. Partially thanks to this speedy transition to 16nm TSMC expects full year sales and profits to improve by 10%.

As well as financial positives for TSMC, the move to 16nm FinFET will have performance advantages too with the company estimating improvements of around 15%. “It will be the highest performance technology amongst all available 16 and 14nm technologies in 2014. This progress is well ahead of Samsung,” Liu boasted.

Liu also revealed that 20 products based on the 16nm process were scheduled for production in 2014.

TSMC is the largest contract semiconductor manufacturer in the world with it producing the likes of Nvidia’s graphics card chips as well as working with AMD, Apple, Qualcomm, VIA and many others.

TSMC 16nm to hit volume production this year | bit-tech.net

January 18, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Intel may shift introduction of Broadwell to Q3

“We continue to make progress with the industry’s first 14nm manufacturing process and our second generation 3D transistors. Broadwell, the first product on 14nm is up and running as we demonstrated at Intel Developer Forum, last month. While we are comfortable with where we are at with yields, from a timing standpoint, we are about a quarter behind our projections. As a result, we are now planning to begin production in the first quarter of next year,” said Brian Krzanich, chief executive officer of Intel, during quarterly conference call with financial analysts.

Read more: Intel may shift introduction of Broadwell to Q3 | KitGuru

January 13, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Intel may shift introduction of Broadwell to Q3

“We continue to make progress with the industry’s first 14nm manufacturing process and our second generation 3D transistors. Broadwell, the first product on 14nm is up and running as we demonstrated at Intel Developer Forum, last month. While we are comfortable with where we are at with yields, from a timing standpoint, we are about a quarter behind our projections. As a result, we are now planning to begin production in the first quarter of next year,” said Brian Krzanich, chief executive officer of Intel, during quarterly conference call with financial analysts.

Read more: Intel may shift introduction of Broadwell to Q3 | KitGuru

January 13, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Slick Asus hybrid runs Windows & Android



Asus has debuted a “quad-mode” hybrid PC designed to run both Windows and Android. The 13.3-inch Transformer Book Duet TD300 allows users to easily switch between operating systems by simply pressing a button.

The $600 (base) system – which can be used as either a tablet or PC – is fitted with an Intel core i7 processor, a 13.3 inch IPS touchscreen display, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB solid state drive (SSD), 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetoth 4.0. and a microSD card slot for extra storage.

Read more: Slick Asus hybrid runs Windows & Android

 | TG Daily

January 8, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

A Look at NVIDIA’s Most Ambitious SoC Yet: Tegra K1

In 2010, NVIDIA’s dual-core Tegra 2 was introduced, while in 2011, the quad-core Tegra 3 was. At last year’s CES, the company showed off an impressive evolution, Tegra 4, which featured a then-staggering 72 CUDA cores. Given the naming scheme we’ve seen up to this point, it was assumed “Tegra 5″ would be the chip getting announced at this CES – but not so. As Jen-Hsun stated, Tegra K1 is a major advancement; to call it “Tegra 5″ would be inappropriate. “It’s simply not linear.

A Look at NVIDIA’s Most Ambitious SoC Yet: Tegra K1 – Techgage

January 7, 2014 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Dell UltraSharp UP2414Q review: 24-inch UHD

Dell has managed to create an exquisite monitor with the UltraSharp UP2414Q. It’s expensive, yes, but very reasonable considering what you get back for your money. This is not just any 6-bit TN panel, but an 8-bit + AFRC IPS panel with outstanding characteristics and well-calibrated for the most part. Only the brightness needs some attention. It should be a little lower which will have a positive impact on the contrast and possibly the uniformity. The built-in calibration options (or perhaps a calibration profile in the software) are enough to make the monitor perfect.

A nice bonus are the response times that are fast enough for all but the most fast-paced games, so you can even play games on this screen. The high energy consumption, especially in standby, is the only blemish on this otherwise amazing product. It could also just be our test sample that uses more power than it should. It would have been great had Dell built in a scaler that enabled lower resolutions to be displayed correctly, but those aren’t available yet as far as we know. 

Nevertheless, this is a unique and outstanding product that raises the bar and sets a new standard. Only one award is appropriate here.

Dell UltraSharp UP2414Q review: 24-inch UHD / 4K monitor – Conclusion | Hardware.Info United States

December 19, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB Review

It’s fair to say the original SSD 840 EVO launch was very successful. Thanks to its competitive performance, good value and tasty feature set, we awarded the entire range our Premium Grade award. Now Samsung is back with another set of SSD 840 EVO drives, having shrunk the entire range into the tiny mSATA form factor. And yes, this includes the 1TB model, and it’s this one we’re looking at today – a world’s first for drives this size.

Designed as an upgrade for ultra-thin laptops as well as desktops with mSATA capabilities, the fact that something so small can store up to 1TB of data is amazing in and of itself. For anyone unfamiliar with mSATA, the comparison shot below shows its size relative to the 2.5-inch version of the SSD 840 EVO.

Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA 1TB Review | bit-tech.net

December 12, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Eurocom Panther 5D – Notebook Review

There’s a good chance that Eurocom’s Panther 5D notebook is faster than your desktop. The sample we’re reviewing sports a six-core Core i7-3970X, two GeForce GTX 680M modules in SLI, 32 GB of DDR3-1600, and three 256 GB SSDs. Talk about a beast!

Eurocom Panther 5D – Notebook Review – Tom’s Hardware

December 5, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Intel admits to Moore’s Law hiccough

As the size of the transistors themselves decreases, so does the size of everything else. There’s a lower limit to how many times the process node can shrink: silicon, the material typically used for modern semiconductors, suffers from current leakage when the sizes involved are small enough – meaning components begin to interfere with their neighbours, turning what should be neatly-ordered data into gibberish. The lithographic machines themselves also struggle, needing ever-smaller wavelengths of light to etch their patterns onto the substrate.

Traditionally, Intel has met these challenges head-on and in doing so continued with its adherence to Moore’s Law. At its most recent investor’s day, however, the company revealed a slide that showed its struggles with getting the 14nm process right. These struggles, which caused higher than expected defect rates in the chips, are no surprise given that they are direction responsible for the 14nm Broadwell being delayed to 2014, but to hear Intel talk candidly on the subject is rare indeed.

It’s the first time [we've had these troubles] in quite a number of generations,‘ Intel’s William Holt told the Wall Street Journal at the invitation-only investor’s day. ‘It’s just getting really hard. [The problem is] just getting the size down. As hard as it is, it’s going to be just as hard for everybody else,‘ Holt added, reassuring investors that the problems aren’t exclusive to the company.

An end to Moore’s Law could spell trouble for the company. Traditionally, it’s been that doubling in performance that has kept its customers upgrading year after year – and each process node shrink comes with a corresponding decrease in base manufacturing costs which helps offset the research and development needed in order to reach a given node. ‘I’m not about to start predicting the end [to Moore's Law],‘ Holt told the paper, ‘since anybody who has tried has been wrong.

Intel admits to Moore’s Law hiccough | bit-tech.net

November 23, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Micron unveils new parallel computing architecture

Micron has announced what it claims is a fundamentally new computing architecture designed with heavy parallelism in mind, using the paradigm of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) to speed the search and analysis of complex and unstructured data streams.

Micron unveils new parallel computing architecture | bit-tech.net

November 20, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Organization waves goodbye to desktop PCs

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has moved to a mobile model and in the process reduced its PC energy costs by as much as 90 percent.
 
That’s according to Citrix, which said it is using its  technology to reduce its energy footprint.
 
SEPA is using desktop virtualisation technology to centralise data and applications, which people  can now use as a service. It moved into a new building earlier this year designed with mobile usage in mind – and includes seven hot desks for 10 staff. SEPA employees over 1,000 people.
 
Staff get to the SEPA desktop wherever they are and using whatever device is being used – whether it’s a tablet, a home PC or a desktop PC.
 
The scheme will also reduce business travel costs. Citrix gives as one example that lets scientists who work at the agency start a model in the morning from home and access the results later in the day.

Organization waves goodbye to desktop PCs | TG Daily

November 19, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

AMD reveals 2014 APU roadmap for tablets, convertibles

We already know that AMD’s next-gen Kaveri APU is coming to mobile systems. However, the chip will only fit into power envelopes ranging from 15W to 35W. For the tighter TDPs suited to tablets and convertibles, AMD has a couple of other, lower-power chips planned—and it announced them today at its APU13 event in San Jose.

These low-power APUs are called Beema and Mullins, and they’re successors to today’s Kabini and Temash offerings. AMD says they deliver twice the performance per watt of their predecessors and are scheduled for release in the first half of 2014.

 

AMD reveals 2014 APU roadmap for tablets, convertibles – The Tech Report

November 14, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

Fujitsu lights up servers with Intel’s silicon photonics

Intel and Fujitsu have been showing off a new server which uses Intel silicon photonics technology with an Optical PCI Express (OPCIe) design.
 
The gear will allows the storage and networking to be split up and moved away from the CPU motherboard which will mean that components are easier to cool.
 
Fujitsu has now built something which includes all the cables and connectors optimised for photonics, with the first Intel Silicon Photonics link carrying PCI Express protocol.

Fujitsu lights up servers with Intel’s silicon photonics | TG Daily

November 9, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

GeForce 331.65 WHQL Drivers Released, With GeForce Experience 1.7 & ShadowPlay Beta

The new GeForce 331.65 WHQL driver is now available to download. An essential update for all GeForce GTX users, 331.65 WHQL is the Game Ready driver for Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts, and includes the Batman: Arkham Origins optimizations introduced alongside 331.58 WHQL last week. With 331.65 WHQL, you’ll receive a great gaming experience from day one with the latest driver tweaks and performance optimizations, including up to 12% extra performance in Battlefield 4.

Other titles benefit, too: Sniper Elite V2 performance increases by up to 19%, DiRT Showdown performance by up to 13%, Metro: Last Light performance by up to 9%, Sleeping Dogs performance by up to 9%, Max Payne 3 performance by up to 9%, and F1 2012 performance by up to 6%.

GeForce 331.65 WHQL also sees the introduction of GeForce Experience 1.7, which includes the long-awaited ShadowPlay Beta, an innovative gameplay recording tool that can constantly record the action with a minimal performance impact thanks to the H.264 encoder built into GeForce GTX 600 and 700 Series GPUs. For full details about ShadowPlay, and other new features of GeForce Experience 1.7, please check out our GeForce Experience 1.7 launch story.

If you didn’t catch word of our recent driver releases, we’ve made a major update to our NVIDIA Control Panel (NVCPL) Ambient Occlusion (AO) override feature. This easy-to-use tool enables you to apply fidelity-enhancing, realistic shading and shadowing to games that do not natively support the feature. With the recent upgrade, the quality of NVCPL AO has been drastically improved with the introduction of HBAO+.

Debuted in Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist, HBAO+ is a new, NVIDIA-developed Ambient Occlusion technique that utilizes the latest technologies to significantly increase the precision, fidelity, and rendering speed of high-quality AO. HBAO+ is currently making waves in Batman: Arkham Origins, and will be seen next month in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. For further details on HBAO+, please visit our HBAO+ technology page, and for more info on Ambient Occlusion itself, please head here.

GeForce 331.65 WHQL Drivers Released, With GeForce Experience 1.7 & ShadowPlay Beta | GeForce

October 30, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

HGST’s helium-filled hard drive to ship this year

Helium has a much lower density than air, which translates to less resistance for the rotating platters. The noble gas also reduces the fluid-flow forces between the platters and drive arms, allowing those internal components to be squished even closer together. Right now, 3.5″ hard drives are limited to five platters. The first helium-filled model will pack seven spinning discs.

HGST’s high-capacity hard drives currently have 800GB per platter, so the HeHDD should offer at least 5.5TB of total capacity. If the drive uses terabyte platters, we could be looking at a 7TB offering.

In addition to facilitating higher capacities, pumping drives full of helium reduces power consumption and operating temperatures. HGST has demonstrated a 23% reduction in power draw and a 4°C drop in drive temperature compared to a standard HDD. Those declines should appeal to folks running high-density servers, which is why helium-filled drives will target enterprise customers first.

Read more: HGST’s helium-filled hard drive to ship this year – The Tech Report

October 28, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

NVIDIA G-Sync explained

NVIDIA G-Sync – Is synchronizing monitor and graphics card a game changer ?

On Friday NVIDIA announced G-Sync, and considering the little details available out there I wanted to write a quick follow-up on this new technology, as it really is a big announcement -  a really big thing actually. In recent years we all have been driven by the knowledge that on a 60 Hz monitor you want 60 FPS rendered, this was for a reason, you want the two as close as possible to each other as that offers you not only the best gaming experience, but also the best visual experience. This is why framerate limiters are so popular, you sync each rendered frame in line with your monitor refresh rate. Obviously 9 out of 10 times that is not happening. This results into tow anomalies that everybody knows and experiences, stutter and tearing.

NVIDIA G-Sync explained – Synchronizing Monitor and Graphics card

October 22, 2013 Posted by | IT Hardware | Leave a comment

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