Where the SSD Market is Headed in 2015 @ [H]

FrgMstr

Just Plain Mean
Staff member
Joined
May 18, 1997
Messages
51,029
Where the SSD Market is Headed in 2015 - Chris Lonardo is HardOCP's new Storage Engineer and Editor. HardOCP has been out of the SSD reviewing game for a couple of years looking for the right person to take the reins and Chris is our man. Today in his inaugural editorial, he shares with us what his thoughts are about in the SSD arena.
 

magoo

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Oct 21, 2004
Messages
14,435
Very nice editorial.
Easy to read and understand.....even for a knucklehead like me.

I just read about the latest NVMe drives yesterday.

Look forward to your expertise and recommendations.:D
 

drescherjm

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 19, 2008
Messages
14,860
I am more interested in Intel / Micron 3D nand that should come later this year specifically what it does to prices.
 

Old_Way

Gawd
Joined
Jan 8, 2003
Messages
665
I am hoping to snap up a M.2 MVMe drive this summer. Hopefully they're available in quantity by then.
 

Trepidati0n

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Oct 26, 2004
Messages
9,087
I think your analogy is pretty fair..but I look it at like this...every car is now a formula one....it takes true enthusiast and mechanic to take it to the next level.

As for the SSD price...yeah, I can't make anyone in my family bite. Telling them I'm going to pump up their $400 PC to $500 and give them less space is a BIG pill to swallow (+25% increase for less space).
 

Modred189

Can't Read the OP
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
14,869
Thanks for the article. I'd love to see more of this kind of thing (and I think I am, based on the recent "effects of a PSu on OCing" piece. Keep it up!

But there's a question that I don't think I read answered: can NVMe be done over SATA 3 cables? Or does NVMe require the faster PCIe interface?
The reason I ask is that if an enthusiast board has NVMe support, and is using an NVMe drive, does its usage of PCIe lanes impact the use of the same by multi-GPU systems? I know that few if any multi-gpu stups currently saturate what is usually two 8x lanes, but if you're also throwing in an nVME PCIe drive, you may run into problems...
 

jkerr2

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 31, 2005
Messages
235
I am hoping to snap up a M.2 MVMe drive this summer. Hopefully they're available in quantity by then.

I am assuming that you have to have both MVMe drive and motherboard to see any benefit.?
The motherboard I was looking at has a bios update for the MVMe but it looks like the drives are not available yet. At least the short time I looked for them.
 

Kaos_Drem

Gawd
Joined
Oct 16, 2004
Messages
966
Thanks for the article. I'd love to see more of this kind of thing (and I think I am, based on the recent "effects of a PSu on OCing" piece. Keep it up!

But there's a question that I don't think I read answered: can NVMe be done over SATA 3 cables? Or does NVMe require the faster PCIe interface?
The reason I ask is that if an enthusiast board has NVMe support, and is using an NVMe drive, does its usage of PCIe lanes impact the use of the same by multi-GPU systems? I know that few if any multi-gpu stups currently saturate what is usually two 8x lanes, but if you're also throwing in an nVME PCIe drive, you may run into problems...

Most of the consumer NVMe drives that are about to hit around pcie3.0 x4 as it has the same throughput as pcie2.0x8. Your point stands though on limited number of pcie lanes. Given that on Z97 only 16 lanes are direct from the cpu and the other 4 are from the chipset, its important to note that the 4 from the chipset are limited by DMI-2.0 (1.6GB/s). X99 doesn't really have this problem but it is a much higher barrier of entry.

Lots of fun stuff coming in the next quarter, even the big players should be jumping in the ring soon, at least assuming that the coverage at PAX East is any indication.

Also...

http://www.intelgamingpromo.com/intel15b/ssd/notice

Countdown imminent!


Here is a question for Kyle Bennett or Chris Lonardo.

You mention at the end of the article that if you have a workload that is IO Bound that NVMe will be game changing. What kinds of workloads do you envision a consumer/client using that need the bandwidth and most importantly the latency of NVMe?
 

Modred189

Can't Read the OP
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
14,869
Here is a question for Kyle Bennett or Chris Lonardo.

You mention at the end of the article that if you have a workload that is IO Bound that NVMe will be game changing. What kinds of workloads do you envision a consumer/client using that need the bandwidth and most importantly the latency of NVMe?

High amounts of HD/4k video manipulation? I mean, the CPU is the most limiting factor in a lot of that, but take those Red cameras, and the ones like them, that record onto Express cards and other high speed flash cards. Imagine having the i/o and drive speeds capable of seeing that data real time as it is being recorded, as opposed to having to take hundreds of memory cards on a shoot and later upload them. Instead, you could have a direct connection to a computer with high speed NVMe storage capable of eliminating the cards...
 

Chris_Lonardo

[H]ard|OCP Storage Engineer & Editor
Joined
Feb 10, 2002
Messages
1,726
Hey all, Chris Lonardo here. Thanks for the feedback so far. As for what's coming in 2015- certainly some interesting developments on the horizon, and we'll keep you posted as soon as there's something to talk about :D

As for real-world I/O-bound workloads, video is the classic example, but for me personally, it has been time series data for financial and scientific analysis. Ultimately I ended up putting 128gb of RAM as well as a Z-Drive R4 in my dual Xeon E5 workstation (basically caching everything I could in memory-mapped files), but with consumer NVMe coming, you'll be able to get that sort of performance (perhaps better) for a lot less money.

If your concerns are more related to things like game load times, the benefits of NVMe are probably not going to be as big a deal to you. If you have lots of parallel I/O like the workloads I describe above, or even use any data-heavy applications with embedded databases like SQLite, then NVME is potentially a huge deal for you.
 

Chris_Lonardo

[H]ard|OCP Storage Engineer & Editor
Joined
Feb 10, 2002
Messages
1,726
Thanks for the article. I'd love to see more of this kind of thing (and I think I am, based on the recent "effects of a PSu on OCing" piece. Keep it up!

But there's a question that I don't think I read answered: can NVMe be done over SATA 3 cables? Or does NVMe require the faster PCIe interface?
The reason I ask is that if an enthusiast board has NVMe support, and is using an NVMe drive, does its usage of PCIe lanes impact the use of the same by multi-GPU systems? I know that few if any multi-gpu stups currently saturate what is usually two 8x lanes, but if you're also throwing in an nVME PCIe drive, you may run into problems...

NVMe will be possible over SATA Express, which has PCIe as part of the standard (though there still aren't really any compatible drives out, motherboard support is there at the high end). NVMe is for PCIe only.

You're right to be concerned about running out of PCIe lanes. Multiplexers address part of that, but it's another finite resource that can be solved by the liberal application of cash- 40 lane CPUs on the X99 are probably the best answer here.
 

Modred189

Can't Read the OP
Joined
May 24, 2006
Messages
14,869
Chris, thanks for the great piece! The metaphors are spot on, and I always go to the car example when explaining computers to friends and family. I've been trying to get my family to upgrade to an SSD for the last year or so: they are complaining about their "slow" system (Q6600 and 6gb ram with a 750gb/5200rpm hdd), and it seems like an SSD would solve their issues. Alas, that windmill just doesn't react much when faced with that suggestion...
Oh, and Congrats on the promotion to official [H] contributor!
 

Kaos_Drem

Gawd
Joined
Oct 16, 2004
Messages
966
NVMe will be possible over SATA Express, which has PCIe as part of the standard (though there still aren't really any compatible drives out, motherboard support is there at the high end). NVMe is for PCIe only.

You're right to be concerned about running out of PCIe lanes. Multiplexers address part of that, but it's another finite resource that can be solved by the liberal application of cash- 40 lane CPUs on the X99 are probably the best answer here.

To be fair, sata-express itself is not necessarily NVMe compliant as it is not necessarily pcie. However, the connector when backplaned with SFF-8639 which is designed with pcie/NVMe in mind is.
 

stormy1

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 3, 2008
Messages
1,053
Good read. Chris welcome to H.
Chris if you don't mind what is your background and is there a bio somewhere we can read?
 

Mike89

Gawd
Joined
Jan 27, 2003
Messages
702
I think the biggest issue of acceptance to SSD is still price and size. I'm still running mostly standard hdds because of it. I have a 120 gb SSD for my OS but still the rest of my system is standard HDDs because there is nothing yet in the sizes I need, and I can't afford nor am I willing to spend the money on what SSDs currently cost. Increase the sizes, bring the costs down to standard HDDs and they will have my interest. Until then I'm quite content with what I have.
 

SixFootDuo

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 5, 2004
Messages
5,766
There was some guy on eBay selling used Samsung PCI controller based 120gb M.2's for $50 shipped. God, they are fast.
 

Uvaman

Gawd
Joined
Jan 6, 2008
Messages
849
Its hard to write stuff like this, short sweet and complete; if this came easy to the author, hats off.
 

AgentQ

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jun 16, 2000
Messages
1,568
Excellent article. I'm looking forward to more articles from Chris in the future.
 

Tsumi

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Mar 18, 2010
Messages
13,385
Hey all, Chris Lonardo here. Thanks for the feedback so far. As for what's coming in 2015- certainly some interesting developments on the horizon, and we'll keep you posted as soon as there's something to talk about :D

As for real-world I/O-bound workloads, video is the classic example, but for me personally, it has been time series data for financial and scientific analysis. Ultimately I ended up putting 128gb of RAM as well as a Z-Drive R4 in my dual Xeon E5 workstation (basically caching everything I could in memory-mapped files), but with consumer NVMe coming, you'll be able to get that sort of performance (perhaps better) for a lot less money.

If your concerns are more related to things like game load times, the benefits of NVMe are probably not going to be as big a deal to you. If you have lots of parallel I/O like the workloads I describe above, or even use any data-heavy applications with embedded databases like SQLite, then NVME is potentially a huge deal for you.

That is about what I expect to be the case. Most users will be fine with a regular SATA SSD, and won't be able to tell the difference between a SATA and a NVMe SSD.
 

AthlonXP

Fully [H]
Joined
Oct 14, 2001
Messages
20,417
Great article and insight on what's changed in the past decade and whats on the horizon. I have an SM951 and its a screamer but sadly Samsung dropped the ball as it does not have NVMe Support, guess this is just one of the stop-gap drives until a refreshed version of this comes out.
 

runffs

n00b
Joined
Jan 27, 2009
Messages
53
Is it too much to ask for an NVMe triple or quad interface for raided m.2 ssd's that are bootable.
I really want to saturate that 32GBsec pci3x4 bus on load.:D
 

DarkStar_WNY

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 27, 2006
Messages
2,355
Chris,

Great article, welcome to the family (be advised, we're a bit disfunuctional but we can be a lot of fun also!)
 

MarkVI

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 30, 2014
Messages
209
I thought is was a very succinct, clear, summary of where we are. I think most of us knew these things already, but it's nice to see all of this information consolidated in one easily digestible article.

Does anyone know if older boards (like for those of us still on Sandy Bridge) can theoretically support NVMe via a BIOS update? Is it just software, or is there a hardware component that may be missing from older systems?

By the way, thanks for not calling them "SSD drives." It's like "ATM machine" (totally redundant).
 

NickJames

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Apr 28, 2009
Messages
6,678
I think the biggest issue of acceptance to SSD is still price and size. I'm still running mostly standard hdds because of it. I have a 120 gb SSD for my OS but still the rest of my system is standard HDDs because there is nothing yet in the sizes I need, and I can't afford nor am I willing to spend the money on what SSDs currently cost. Increase the sizes, bring the costs down to standard HDDs and they will have my interest. Until then I'm quite content with what I have.

That's not really fair. Remember what a 100GB HDD would cost in 2001? Manufacturers need time to produce sizeable inventory, saturate the market and make margins and pay towards the machine cost. Then once all that is done they can begin undercutting and competiting with others. A 64GB SSD was $100 in 2009, you can now pick up 4x the amount of nearly the same price. Eventually SSDs will close to the gap but that takes time.
 

P4B

Limp Gawd
Joined
Apr 28, 2012
Messages
336
Last story i read said ssd's routinely failed before the life expectancy. So it is cheaper to gamble on a hard drive that is good for 5-10 years
 

James21

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
148
I pretty much just state, if I'm building a PC for friends or family, that it's going to have a SSD in it & that is the end of it. Most of the time in desktops I put a SSD and then a larger hard drive. (Usually like 240gb and 2TB) Then in laptops usually I just put a SSD (Usually either 240, 300 or 480). Considering the 240gb ones are usually close to $100 in price and the 480gb ones are usually close to $200 in cost, If I'm going to spend my time and effort putting a system together, it's going to have a SSD in it, or they can go by junk off eBay and figure it out themselves.

I mainly use Intel branded SSD and pretty much haven't had any failures on them in many years of use.
 

sadsteve

Gawd
Joined
Oct 1, 2010
Messages
572
Last story i read said ssd's routinely failed before the life expectancy. So it is cheaper to gamble on a hard drive that is good for 5-10 years

Hm, just the opposite for me. The last article I read (techreport.com) had all the SSDs they tested exceeding their endurance specifications.
 

drescherjm

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 19, 2008
Messages
14,860
Last story i read said ssd's routinely failed before the life expectancy. So it is cheaper to gamble on a hard drive that is good for 5-10 years

You are reading from the wrong places. SSDs have at mimimum 2 times the life expectancy of hard disks.
 

Chris_Lonardo

[H]ard|OCP Storage Engineer & Editor
Joined
Feb 10, 2002
Messages
1,726
Thanks for all of the positive words and support. I've been an [H] reader for.. wow, I feel old, but 15+ years. I'm honored that Kyle is giving me this shot, and hope that I'll live up to the expectations of this great community. To reply to a few of these individual posts:

Good read. Chris welcome to H.
Chris if you don't mind what is your background and is there a bio somewhere we can read?

Here's me: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=38668496

Other geek cred stuff: I started building computers when I was 12, became an MCP at 15, entered college at 16, and started working in finance at 19. I did that for 6 or 7 years at major investment banks (risk, strategy, and prime brokerage roles), then left to run an algorithmic equity hedge fund that grew out of a company I founded earlier. I did that until our backers pulled out (I think it's fair to say that they didn't have a sense of the scale of what they were getting into).

It was while running the fund that I got pulled back into tech stuff more than I ever had planned, and found myself I/O constrained while doing backtesting and strategy implementation. That's why I care about storage. I'm now 27, running an early-stage tech startup I founded (beta launches next week, ahhh) focusing on researchers in healthcare and biological sciences, and enjoy writing, cars, good wine/beer/scotch/food, building things, and my fiancée. Mostly, though, these days I just code and talk to investors/prospects.

Hm, just the opposite for me. The last article I read (techreport.com) had all the SSDs they tested exceeding their endurance specifications.
Agreed. In my experience, if an SSD is going to die, it's going to die quickly. I've had cheap drives that have lasted through years of abuse, and datacenter-class drives (not naming names based on a few samples, but.. the good stuff) that died a few weeks after purchase, before even making it into production.

Its hard to write stuff like this, short sweet and complete; if this came easy to the author, hats off.
Thanks, this was like 1.5-2 caffeinated hours. I needed a break from coding anyway :D

I thought is was a very succinct, clear, summary of where we are. I think most of us knew these things already, but it's nice to see all of this information consolidated in one easily digestible article.

Does anyone know if older boards (like for those of us still on Sandy Bridge) can theoretically support NVMe via a BIOS update? Is it just software, or is there a hardware component that may be missing from older systems?

By the way, thanks for not calling them "SSD drives." It's like "ATM machine" (totally redundant).
Appreciate your attention to redundancy in the vernacular. Hearing "ATM machine" makes me want to flip a table. And, you hit the nail on the head when discussing the point of this editorial. While commenters/forum members tend to be a little more engaged than an average reader (whether we're talking about a regular reader or someone who just found the article/site through Google), the SSD world has a fair bit of info to digest when making an educated purchasing decision, and I wanted to create a handy reference.
 
Last edited:

aaronspink

2[H]4U
Joined
Jun 7, 2004
Messages
2,122
High amounts of HD/4k video manipulation? I mean, the CPU is the most limiting factor in a lot of that, but take those Red cameras, and the ones like them, that record onto Express cards and other high speed flash cards. Imagine having the i/o and drive speeds capable of seeing that data real time as it is being recorded, as opposed to having to take hundreds of memory cards on a shoot and later upload them. Instead, you could have a direct connection to a computer with high speed NVMe storage capable of eliminating the cards...

Video is mostly dependent are sequential large block transfers. For things like Red Cameras that store in basically raw format, the main issue is capacity. The practice of using smaller capacity is mainly a hold over from film work where you would have to use multiple reals of film and so all the tool flows work with that. And to put it into perspective, the actual Media used by the Red Cameras is only good for 180 MB/s of bandwidth. We're already well beyond that.

Most of the consumer NVMe drives that are about to hit around pcie3.0 x4 as it has the same throughput as pcie2.0x8. Your point stands though on limited number of pcie lanes. Given that on Z97 only 16 lanes are direct from the cpu and the other 4 are from the chipset, its important to note that the 4 from the chipset are limited by DMI-2.0 (1.6GB/s). X99 doesn't really have this problem but it is a much higher barrier of entry.

Apparently skylake will have more PCIe lanes than existing haswell/broadwell designs. In addition, there are also PCIe switch chips and I would expect to start to see them put into card format for NVMe 2.5".


You mention at the end of the article that if you have a workload that is IO Bound that NVMe will be game changing. What kinds of workloads do you envision a consumer/client using that need the bandwidth and most importantly the latency of NVMe?

It is mostly an issue for workloads that are I/O bound and have low queue depths. AKA, think random 4k read and write workloads with low concurrency.

NVMe will be possible over SATA Express, which has PCIe as part of the standard (though there still aren't really any compatible drives out, motherboard support is there at the high end). NVMe is for PCIe only..

Do you really think SATA Express will still be a thing? Its a standard without much support anywhere in the industry. OTOH, 2.5" NVMe uses the same number of actual wires and has support from all the major manufacturers. And short of that, there is always M.2 riser cards along with direct attach M.2.

Is it too much to ask for an NVMe triple or quad interface for raided m.2 ssd's that are bootable.
I really want to saturate that 32GBsec pci3x4 bus on load.:D

Well first of all, its 4GB/sec not 32GB/sec for PCIe 3.0x4. Second, there are plenty of m.2 rider cards and even double sided riser cards for x8 slots. Many of the NVMe designs coming on the market of fully capable of saturating PCIe 3.0x4 connections in sequential performance. If there is enough demand, it wouldn't be hard for someone to develop a x8 PCI card with a PLX8724/8725 chip connecting to 4 4x M.2 Slots.


But there's a question that I don't think I read answered: can NVMe be done over SATA 3 cables? Or does NVMe require the faster PCIe interface?
The reason I ask is that if an enthusiast board has NVMe support, and is using an NVMe drive, does its usage of PCIe lanes impact the use of the same by multi-GPU systems? I know that few if any multi-gpu stups currently saturate what is usually two 8x lanes, but if you're also throwing in an nVME PCIe drive, you may run into problems...

NVMe is a PCIe only solution. And yes, it will require PCIe lanes that could be used for other functionality. For most users, this shouldn't be much of an issue because multi-GPU systems are seldom used and it is unlikely that most users will have more than 1 NVMe device in their system.
 

Chris_Lonardo

[H]ard|OCP Storage Engineer & Editor
Joined
Feb 10, 2002
Messages
1,726
Do you really think SATA Express will still be a thing? Its a standard without much support anywhere in the industry. OTOH, 2.5" NVMe uses the same number of actual wires and has support from all the major manufacturers. And short of that, there is always M.2 riser cards along with direct attach M.2.

It's coming. Whether anyone cares is another question.
 

FrgMstr

Just Plain Mean
Staff member
Joined
May 18, 1997
Messages
51,029
Zarathustra[H];1041506030 said:
I feel like I've seen this article before. Republished?

No, this is original content written in-house at HardOCP. If you are going to make statements like this, it would be great to have some reference as to why you think this. Thanks.
 

Trimlock

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Sep 23, 2005
Messages
15,220
It's coming. Whether anyone cares is another question.

I can see it eventually evolving into a cable+connector system like SATA vs. a fixed connector like m.2 will inevitably stay at. One thing that has me worried is the advancement of all these storage drives and we are forcing ourselves to be limited by only a few connectors on a board.

I am currently looking at future prospects for my storage and how I will expand versus replacing drives with (possibly) larger drives in the future or just rebuilding all together. This is why we still need some type of system where we can store the drives in a mass array like we currently do with spinners and SSD's on SATA3 connectors.

You're right to be concerned about running out of PCIe lanes. Multiplexers address part of that, but it's another finite resource that can be solved by the liberal application of cash- 40 lane CPUs on the X99 are probably the best answer here.

I was in the middle of a new build and actually sitting down and doing some hard numbers and found out I was going to run out of PCIe lanes on a system that didn't have 40 lanes! :( Needless to say this is forcing me to put it off till I can hopefully get more lanes for not having to shell out for something that will be the price of a used car.
 

Trimlock

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Sep 23, 2005
Messages
15,220
I love these articles that paint the Big Picture btw, they really help people who are even into the tech, understand other aspects that they themselves maybe even forgot or didn't even know about.
 
Top