Samsung Storage – HDD and Optical
San Jose, CA - Over the past few months (July-Oct 2010) Samsung has been enhancing their storage product line of hard disks (HDD) and optical drives (ODD). The HDD products are split between the consumer products and the enterprise products, while the ODD products are for the consumer side. At Diskcon in San Jose, they main offices of Samsung in San Jose and their Greenovation 2010 event in San Francisco, we had an opportunity to get a briefing on the roadmaps and what they mean as well as be able to test some of the products.
On the HDD side, the first big news on the roadmap was the ending of the 1.8" drive products. This market was limted to just one high volume customer, who has migrated thier music player from the high capacity available with the HDD product to a lower capacity, but more power efficient Flash based solution. The main portable HDDs are in the 2.5" formfact and are typically 5400 RPM drives, with 7200RPM drives going into small format desktops. The new head designs of the M7E drives have pushed the capacity of these up to 320GB/platter with a SATA interface. Nominal M5 series drives feature capacities of 160GB/platter and use a PATA interface. These drives are have been re-engineered (M7ELP) to support then new thinner “slim line” connectors in a 7mm form factor which is targeted to netbooks/laptops. Tablets are seeking a 5mm format, which is still in the future for the single platter drives.
The 3.5" HDD product are also both 7200 and 5400RPM drives. The main change in this are is the move for the full product line to be on Advanced Format (AF) by the end of 2010 which is the new 4K sector drive format. The AF structure is backward compatible to the standard 512B sector and is designed for the larger data length strings and video streams that are prevalent for storage. With the use of the new read heads, and AF, the 3.5" product has a capacity of 640GB/platter. The high capacity version has 3 platters and supports 2TB. All of the drives in the 3.5" format will support the new SATA3.0 specification in early 2011. The 2.5" drive will start their migration, but on thier interface, the key is to support and external USB interface (USB2 for 2010, and second half 2011 USB 3) for their 3 platter 1TB product.
The ODD product include new external DVD drives and Blu-Ray (BD) drives. On the external drives, we had the opportunity to test the SE-S084F Slim-Line DVD writer. This drive is a very low power external drive that runs only from USB, no additional power cords are needed. The drive also allows for ejecting of a loaded disk when the power is off for easy retrieval of media. Unlike most external drives, this product was extremely quite, and fast. Using the included Nero software, the DVD write was very smooth, no over or under run on data, for both random office data (spreadsheet, document, and graphics) files as well as with archive of video data that was captured from a camcorder. The new slim form factor is nice for travel and does not impact performance for the drive. As a useful feature, the drives are available in multiple colors for coordination with both company color schemes, and theme matching with portable computers/tables. These are all USB2.0 products, USB3 is targeted for second half of 2011.
The BD product we tested was he SH-B123L light scribe enabled, BD ROM/DVD & CD reader writer. This is a SATA2 interface internal drive. The unit comes with the SATA data cable, mounting screws, software and the drive unit. The Cyberlink software is a key portion. BD drives, unlike DVD drives do not work on all systems that have Win XP or later and a SATA socket on the motherboard. The BD advisor software that comes with the product should be run before attempted installation of the product in the system. Of 4 systems tested, some of which were2-4 years old (inside the 5yr depreciation cycle), only 1 would pass the BD advisor indicating that there was sufficient CPU, GPU and Memory available to play and process BD media. For the other systems, if the drive was installed, it would work as a DVD/CD reader/ writer only. Basically, a low power dual core system, with 1GB RAM and integrated graphics, was just on the edge of being able to pass the BD specs. A high performance dual core, more memory and AMD/Nvidia plug-in grpahics card returned satisfactory configuration for the BD function. When configured to support BD, it supports True HD mode which upscales standard DVDs to HD quality. The installation was simple and smooth, and like the external DVD drive, the product was very quite for a lightscribe drive and did not show any buffer issues for writing. BD writer products are scheduled for internal drives in second half of 2011.