Tuesday, November 6, 2012

AnandTech Article Channel

AnandTech Article Channel

The Intel SSD DC S3700: Intel's 3rd Generation Controller Analyzed

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 08:01 AM PST

Today Intel is announcing its first SSD based on its own custom 6Gbps SATA controller. This new controller completely abandons the architecture of the old X25-M/320/710 SSDs and adopts an all new design with one major goal: delivering consistent IO latency. 

All SSDs tend to fluctuate in performance as they alternate between writing to clean blocks and triggering defrag/garbage collection routines with each write. Under sequential workloads the penalty isn't all that significant, however under heavy random IO it can be a real problem. The occasional high latency blip can be annoying on a client machine (OS X doesn't respond particularly well to random high IO latency), but it's typically nothing more than a rare hiccup. Users who operate their drives closer to full capacity will find these hiccups to be more frequent. In a many-drive RAID array however, blips of high latency from each drive can destructively work together to reduce the overall performance of the array. In very large RAID arrays (think dozens of drives) this can be an even bigger problem. 

In the past, we've recommended simply increasing the amount of spare area on your drive to combat these issues - a sort of bandaid that would allow the SSD controller to better do its job. With its latest controller, Intel tried to solve the root cause of the problem.

The launch vehicle for Intel's first 6Gbps SATA controller is unsurprisingly a high-end enterprise drive. Since the 2008 introduction of the X25-M, Intel has shifted towards prioritizing the enterprise market. All divisions of Intel have to be profitable and with high margins. The NAND Solutions Group (NSG) is no exception to the rule. With consumer SSDs in a race to the bottom in terms of pricing, Intel's NSG was forced to focus on an area that wouldn't cause mother Intel to pull the plug on its little experiment. The enterprise SSD market is willing to pay a premium for quality, and thus it became Intel's primary focus.

The first drive to use the new controller also carries a new naming system: the Intel SSD DC S3700. The DC stands for data center, which bluntly states the target market for this drive. Read on for our analysis of Intel's first 6Gbps SATA controller.

AMD Launches Opteron 6300 series with "Piledriver" cores

Posted: 05 Nov 2012 08:00 AM PST

Today AMD unveiled its new Opteron 6300 series server processors, code name "Abu Dhabi". The Opteron 6300 contains the new Piledriver cores, an evolutionary improvement of the Bulldozer cores.

We talked about the long list of small improvements that were made in the "Piledriver" core. Just to recap, it has higher clockspeeds at the same TDP, a "smarter" L2 with more effective bandwidth, smarter prefetching, a perceptron branch predictor that supplements the primary BPU, a larger L1 TLB, schedulers that free up tokens more quickly, faster FP and integer dividers and SYSCALL/RET (kernel/System call instructions), and faster Store-to-Load forwarding. Finally, the new Opteron 6300 can now support one DDR3 DIMM per channel at 1866MHz. With 2 DIMMs per channel, you get a 1600MHz at 1.5V. We are still working with AMD to get you our independent real-world benchmarks, but until then we discuss the SKUs and AMD's own benchmarks.


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