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What is all this SSD, M.2, SATA, Express, RAID -stuff about?

Discussion in 'Computers and Networks' started by misterT, Dec 11, 2015.

  1. misterT

    misterT Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    Hello World!

    I bought a new computer. It has more computing power that I'll ever need. So, I have that going for me. But, what I am really looking for is efficient and reliable storage.

    The motherboard is Asus Z170-K and the specs say:
    1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode)
    1 x SATA Express port, gray, Compatible with 2 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
    6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
    Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10

    So, what are my options? I am little confused about the M.2 and SATA Express.

    - If I use the SATA Express port, do I have 6 or 4 SATA ports left?
    - Some say that SATA Express is really a compromise between M.2 and SATA. And that the Express is really becoming obsolete and nobody makes drives that support it. What is the truth about the SATA Express?
    - Should I consider using the SATA Express instead of 2x SATA in RAID0?
    - I heard that M.2 drives are the faster the bigger the drive is. 500TB is faster than 250GB etc. Also heard that they can get hot. What is the real deal with M.2?

    My plan so far is:
    1x M.2 SSD for operating system
    2x SATA SSD in RAID0 configuration for scratch disc (I use Adobe Premiere, Photoshop etc.)
    4x SATA HDD in RAID10 for reliable storage with improved speed.

    I am not in a hurry with this. I can wait 6 months easily. What is the state of all this technology?
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015
  2. jpanhalt

    jpanhalt Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    That should be a very fast computer. The one decision that struck me was use of RAID0 for your scratch disk. Do you need that additional speed with an SSD? I got my Adobe suite before I retired and it is fairly old, i.e., CS3. That version of Photoshop and AI run fine from a SSD while keeping the data on a pair of WD HDD's in RAID1. I have also had a SSD drive die in less than a year and lost everything. It just locked up one morning. Fortunately, it had mostly just the OS and other programs, but I also lost the desktop and a bunch of emails. So, based on that limited experience, I would use either a single SSD for scratch, as that would probably be fast enough, or a pair in RAID1 to give me safety.

    John
     
  3. misterT

    misterT Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    Thank you John for the input and good points.

    Currently I have the OS on a single SSD. The first upgrade I am planning is the 4xHDD in raid10. Only problem with that is the budget (4x 3TB drives).

    And the second stage of the upgrade will be the scratch disk. I am not sure why would I need (high) reliability from a scratch disk? I think I need performance from the scratch disk.
    So maybe I just buy another sata SSD for that.. or M.2 PCIe SSD and use that as a scratch disk, not for OS. I could also first buy the SATA SSD and later an M.2 SSD. Giving me two scratch disks. Sounds a little overkill though.
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. jpanhalt

    jpanhalt Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    Re: scratch disk reliability
    It all depends on how religiously you do back-ups. I am not very good at doing that. So, when I lost my system disk, I also lost a lot of stuff from the desktop. The second reason is email storage. Some people don't save any. I save ones from my children, remaining business stuff, licenses, and so forth. I have not found a really convenient way to archive that data. Now, if you don't need reliability, is having RAID0 on a pair of SSD's really going to make a noticeable difference in performance over a single SSD for your scratch disk? I would put the money saved on the pair into the robust back-up you are planning.

    As an aside, I am sure that software developers will find a way to make your new PC outdated in 3 years.

    John
     
  6. misterT

    misterT Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    My plan is to assume that I can't trust the OS drive nor the scratch disk. I like the idea that I can format and re-install my OS anytime I want. Of course it is a bit of work. And if I loose the scratch disk, maybe I lose only some editing work, not original footage and pictures.
    This is the first time I am planning for a dedicated scratch disk.. so I have to look more into that. How to configure them in Premiere and Photoshop. A learning experience.

    About e-mails: I remember saving emails and making backup-copies. But that was back in the 90's. Today all the emails are in the servers.. safe and secure. Actually my father still likes to print emails and then read them.
     
  7. Tony Stewart

    Tony Stewart Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    SATA Express allows either PCIe or SATA and addresses the NEED FOR SPEED growth, not RAID and is not a SATA spec. 12Gbps requires complex analog signaling, PCIe offers more thruput.

    n+1 RAID offers best reliability with hot swap where more n is desirable but with TB sized drives only makes sense for big array servers.

    Regarding Express

    "PCIe has been shipping for years and is a mature technology. PCIe 3.0 (8Gb/s or 1GB/s)
    provides the needed bump up in speed with a single lane. By comparison, SATA at 6Gb/s
    equates to 0.6GB/s. Also, PCIe has been increasingly used as a storage interface because
    of the ability to scale up by simply adding additional PCIe lanes.
    SATA Express standardizes the connection between the host and a HDD-type form factor,
    most typically the 2.5-inch size. Including a 2nd PCIe lane in the SATA Express
    specification provides the ability to support up to 16Gb/s (or 2GB/s), which gives us plenty
    of headroom for even faster client SSDs. Next generation PCIe 4.0 will double the
    bandwidth to 16Gb/s (or 2GB/s) per lane, so SATA Express has a growth path."

    paper? emails? not relevant. but I have local backup for offline use
    backup? yes and verify.

    As always 1st define your requirements with values; size, reliability, speed, cost, repair time.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015
  8. misterT

    misterT Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    The thing is.. It is easy to find technical information about all these interfaces etc.. But, I want to know what is the practical state of this fancy stuff.
    There are not many SATA Express drives available out there.. So that is a huge drawback for SATA Express.
    And the M.2 is apparently just a form factor. Apparently there are many kinds of M.2 SSD drives.. most of them use SATA interface, and the ones that use fast PCIe can't be used as a boot drive.

    My requirement is to understand the practical benefits and drawbacks of all these technologies. today and looking into the near future. The practical side to understand how to use this technology.. mainly to avoid pitfalls.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015
  9. misterT

    misterT Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    I've been googling. At first I found only technical specs and numbers. The most practical info I found from Adobe forums where many video editors face the same questions.

    M.2
    - This is just a form factor. The M.2 SSD drives can be either SATA or PCIe. And there is practically no point buying a M.2 SATA drives.
    - The few PCIe drives out there deliver "extreme" speeds and therefore are very good for high performance scratch disks.
    - PCIe drives can't be used as boot drives for windows (yet, maybe in the future).
    - This technology is quite new.. maybe better to wait a little. Not many options in the market yet. They are just coming out.

    SATA Express
    - Eats up two regular SATA connections
    - Kind of a secondary option to M.2
    - "The industry doesn’t think SATA Express is going to be where we plug our future SSDs".

    So far my plan is evolved to this:
    1x SATA SSD for OS.
    1x M.2 PCIe SSD for scratch disk.
    4x SATA HDD in RAID10 for reliable storage with improved speed.

    This leaves me one unused SATA connector. I will use this to temporarily plug in hard drives from my old computer etc.. and eventually buy another scratch disk. Could be that I first buy a SATA SSD as scratch disk and wait a little longer with the M.2.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015

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