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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:47 pm 
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Currently the system has a 980GB 905p Intel Optane drive, a 2TB Samsung 970 EVO NVMe drive and a Crucial MX500 1TB SATA SSD.

Every week a full backup of the data in all these drives is automatically made by Acronis True Image to an external WD 6TB drive connected via USB 3.0. Every other day except Sundays, a differential backup based on this full backup is also made. Every time a full backup is performed, the previous full backup is renamed to .old.

Likewise, every 4 weeks on a Sunday a full backup of all the drives is made to another WD 6TB external drive. On the other three Sundays a differential backup based on this full backup is made. Every time a monthly full backup is made the previous full backup is also renamed to .old.

This backup scheme, which I have described previously in other topics, ensures that I have both redundancy (in case one of the two external hard drives fails) *and* also a way to 'time travel' by up to two months into an old backup in case a file gets accidentally deleted and I don't notice it immediately.

Usually it takes about 3 and a half hours to backup the over 2TB of data (compressed) spread out among the internal drives, which is never a problem even when I am working as the backup happens in the background.

Sometime around the middle of January I noticed the full backup had taken an extraordinary amount of time to complete, something like one and a half to two hours longer than it normally does. This prompted me to investigate.

What I found out by looking at the Windows Event Log was that the 2TB Samsung 970 EVO - which is barely over 1 year old and only has about 3.38 TB data written into it so far) had thrown a disk read error. In fact, SMART data for this drive reported 3 Media Errors (the HDD equivalent of a bad block/sector).

Now, NAND flash memory, just like the magnetic sectors in a hard disk, can also go bad. Usually the drive controller will remap the bad NAND cells and replace the affected area with good NAND cells taken from the spare area that all SSD drives have.

I wasn't too thrilled with the 3 bad blocks in a basically brand new NVMe drive, but it's not alarming until bad blocks actually start pilling up. The backup also completed, which in principle meant that the 970 EVO drive had eventually managed to retrieve the correct data from the faulty NAND cell(s) after retrying for a while.

The next full backup I was watching what happened like a hawk, but it went by with no issues, so I started to relax a bit. Alas... after remaining at 3 media errors for nearly two weeks, the drive eventually threw a 4th media error while being backed up. Again the backup managed to complete, but now I had alarm bells going off in my head all the time: despite having backups, there was a chance data was actually getting corrupted.

Fast forward to last week and the drive throws 2 more media errors. This time the backup aborts with an error too. Ok, this drive can no longer be trusted and it seems to be failing fast - time to get a RMA on it from Samsung.

So I sent an email to Samsung support explaining the situation and giving them all the details I could. At the same time I was apprehensive given that Samsung Magician still reported the drive as 'Healthy' despite the ongoing media errors. Given this Samsung could simply refuse to honor the warranty and I would be stuck with a 600 Euro NVMe drive that I could no longer trust.

Their response was:

Quote:
As a first step towards initiating the RMA procedure for your drive, we will need the following information, if possible:

Please provide us with screenshots of any error messages or error codes.

1. A screenshot of the Samsung Magician Drive Details page
2. The SMART test result from Samsung magician.
3. A copy of your proof of purchase
4. What is your country of residence?
5. Photos of the front and backside of the entire SSD.
6. Are you an end-user or re-seller of this drive?

We will review the information and advise you accordingly in regards to RMA.


So, I sent them all the information they requested *except* the screenshots of the drive. I didn't really want to remove the drive until I was sure I could get an RMA based on the SMART data I sent them, etc...

Either way I overnighted a new 2TB 970 EVO Plus from Amazon.it - I would have to get a new drive anyway since I would have to have something to replace the old EVO while it was on its way to Samsung.

Attachment:
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Good thing I did too since Samsung were adamant about the screenshots of the drive BEFORE issuing a RMA (which pissed me off a bit, although I understand why they want this).

So when the new drive arrived I removed the NVMe heatsink on the motherboard, installed the new drive (this motherboard supports up to two NVMe drives), copied all the data over from the old 970 EVO to the new 970 EVO Plus, removed the old 970 EVO and took the screenshots they asked for. A few hours later I got the RMA from Samsung.

Hopefully they will send me a *new* 970 EVO back, and despite now having one more NVMe drive than I really need, at least I won't be also stuck with a failing NVMe drive (or a drive that cannot be trusted, which is the same) that cost me over 600 Euros a little over a year ago (the new 970 EVO Plus is not only a bit faster as it is also cheaper, it 'only' cost 450 Euros).

Something else that pissed me off is that there is no way for the end user to test the NAND cells on the EVO drives, like you can check the surface of hard disks for bad blocks with the CHKDSK /R command. Even the 'Diagnostic Test' option in Samsung Magician is disabled for these drives.

###

The heatsink on the motherboard, below which you install the NVMe drives:

Attachment:
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The two drives in place without the heatsink and with the Intel Optane temporarily removed for 'elbow space':

Attachment:
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The Plus version of the 970 EVO is indeed a little bit faster (as I already expected it to be given the reviews) but it also seems to run a few degrees hotter (although not enough for it to be a problem, when transferring files between both drives it didn't go above 71C for the NAND and 75C for the controller - contrast that with the older EVO's 61C for the NAND and 70C for the controller). Might also have something to do with which half of the IO shield/heatsink the drive is installed under, I will have to test that later.

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2020 4:47 pm 
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Ok, Samsung just sent me a **brand new*** 2TB 970 EVO **Plus*** to replace my (older) 2TB 970 EVO. Not bad. :)

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2020 6:47 pm 
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So, interesting thing: now that I have two EVO Plus, I can confirm that the Plus actually runs warmer than the previous EVO version.

The old EVO ran at 35ºC for the NAND and 38ºC for the controller when idle. The EVO Plus is actually the other way around, the NAND is kept at a higher temperature than the controller: 42ºC for the NAND, 39ºC for the controller.

Which makes sense since NAND actually needs to run warm to operate reliably. Perhaps that is why my previous EVO ended up developing bad blocks, as this PC case is optimized for airflow.

Anyway, with the new NVMe drive, I now have a mind boggling total of 6 TB of **flash** storage in this system (1TB Intel Optane + 4TB 2 x 970 Evo Plus + 1TB Crucial MX500)

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 12:19 pm 
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So, sometimes you come to the conclusion that newer isn't always better.

I work all through the night very often, so most of the time I am wearing headphones. In fact, normally I only switch to speakers (like the new SB Katana) when I want to share audio with others.

I also love to take the headphones with me so I can keep listening to whatever I was listening to while I go fix something in the kitchen to eat or drink, etc, so for me wireless headphones is the way to go.

Many, many, years ago (more than 8 for sure) I accidentally brought myself some wireless Sennheiser headphones. They were actually quite cheap and little did I know back then that I was buying real quality - it was only later that I learned how well known the Sennheiser brand was to audiophiles.

What I got back then were the Sennheiser RS 130, which cost less than 80 Euros or so.

Image

I was really, really happy with those headphones as they had some very handy features I'm surprised are not found in all modern wireless headphones. It used normal AAA rechargeable batteries, and to recharge them all you had to do was place the headphones on their base (which was also the transmitter), the most natural thing to do. This would make metal contacts in the headphones and the base touch each other and the headphones would automatically start recharging.

Operating time was approximately 22 hours, which was much more than adequate, unless you fell asleep and forgot to place them on their base. Even then, the headphones would automatically cut off to save power after a short while if they stopped detecting an audio signal - and would automatically resume playing again as soon as they re-detected a signal.

When placed on the base, they would obviously turn off while charging, but as soon as I picked them up they would instantly turn back on - all I had to do was put them on my ears.

The headphones were open (open circumaural wireless stereo RF headphone system) which gave them a very rich sound, and were also extremely light, which meant I could use them for hours on end without them ever becoming uncomfortable at all. So many times I fell asleep on the sofa with them still on!

These were also RF analog headphones, not digital, but this meant that their range was phenomenal: there was no place in the house where I would lose signal, regardless of how many walls there were between the headphones and the transmitter (Sennheiser claims a range of up to 150 meters, they were not exaggerating).

Now, keep in mind that these were headphones I used all the time and nearly every day. Still they lasted YEARS without problems, only the Sennheiser logo at the top started fading away and the ear foam started turning a bit brown. Alas, nothing lasts forever, so less than a couple years ago the contacts on the headphone buttons eventually started going bad, and the headphones would turn off if my head touched a pillow with them on, which quickly became really annoying.

So, I figured it was time to get some newer Sennheiser headphones, this time something a bit more modern and stylish. After some research I ended up going for the Sennheiser RS 175, which at the time cost about over 250 Euros ($280 USD or so), so 3 times more expensive than my old headphones.

Image

Now, those headphones look really good. High end audio specs too.

But oh how disappointed I was when I finally got them! I'm not an audiophile, so sound quality - something in which the RS 175 are without a doubt far superior - is not the most important thing to me.

First the range sucked. With the RS 130 I could go outside all the way to the garden while still listening to music, and I could go up two flights of stairs without losing signal. But this would turn off as soon as I crossed the door to the garden or climbed one floor.

Worst of all, unlike the RS 130, they would not automatically turn on when picking them up from the transmitter. I had to press - and keep pressing for over a second - a really small touch button at the back. This was infuriating, because sometimes you wanted to listen to something quickly and you would miss it because of how long it took for the headphones to turn on - and that not counting the times you thought you were pressing the really small button but were in fact not, which resulted in you wasting a lot of time waiting until you realized what was (not) happening.

I really have no idea what is wrong with a simple mechanical on/off switch - they really should have used that instead.

The volume button on the RS 130 was an analog rotating knob you could easily feel. The volume buttons on the RS 175 are two + - touch buttons you have to blindly press. Worse, there are two identical buttons right above them to control dynamic bass and virtual surround. Because you have no real tactile feedback on where your fingers actually are, you can already guess what happens when you try to change the volume with the headphones on your head.

The RS 175 are closed circumaural headphones. While comfortable, they are nowhere near as comfortable as the RS 130. After a few hours heat starts building up on your ears and you have to take them off.

Finally, it quickly became painfully obvious that the 175's are audiophile headphones not intended to be used all the time: a little over a year later, the thin 'skin' that covers the ear foam started breaking up and coming off on BOTH sides, which made the headphones look really cheap.

A handful of days ago I removed one of the ear pads to see what the connection looked like so I could get replacements, and the little plastic hooks simply broke when putting it back on. I could still glue the ear pad with double sided tape, but that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

The RS 130 are no longer available anywhere, but I decided to order the next best thing, the RS 127, which I could still find on Amazon. Identical in everything to the RS 130 except that they don't have virtual surround (a feature I NEVER used anyway), they are never-the-less a more stylish black, which I prefer to the black & white version of the RS 130.

Image

They arrived just a few hours ago. Oh how happy I was to be able to go out into the outer edges of the garden and NOT lose signal eheh

Wonder if the RS 130 transmitter works with the RS 127 headphones. Will have to give it a try later.

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:58 am 
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Later this year, I plan on building a bigger and better system than my mid-range 3-year old system that I bought while still married. Funny thing is, she and I had agreed years ago that alternating years we would get new budget-to-mid-range computers, gadgets, whatever (tax refunds, ya know?). One year, I get something. Next year, she gets something. And so on.

However, 3 years ago, she convinced me we should do "matching systems". Sigh

So, I had to split my budget from the tax refund to get two PCs. Grr.

Anyway, fast forward to today with a better job and no marriage and I decided I'm really going to treat myself. No bones about it, this is for gaming. I do other stuff, like work from home (even before the coronavirus) on it, but I want the speed for games. But that comes later.

Something I could take advantage of now is to buy the Samsung 970 EVO Plus 2TB and I did. I've had it since Sunday and I put off installing it because I could swear my motherboard didn't have the retention screw.

Tonight, I told myself to take a look for myself. Good thing I listened to me because the screw was there. Grabbed the m.2 drive and a screwdriver and I'm up and running.

Pictures provided for my own viewing pleasure. :-)

Image

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 7:26 am 
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Welcome to the big league!!! :)

You might want to download Gibson's Research InSpectre, a utility to disable/enable the MeltDown and Spectre patches and give that a try to see what difference it makes (should be about 20% in terms of throughoutput speeds).

https://www.grc.com/inspectre.htm

If you're planning on getting a new high end system this year and gaming is your thing, I would wait for the next gen of nVidia cards if I were you. :)

Or you can use your current graphics card in a new high end system until the next gen nVidia cards come out (3080ti hmmmm, I'm salivating already lol).

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 6:20 pm 
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Ooh, thanks for the link. It never dawned on me that Steve is still cranking away on handy hard drive apps.

I haven't worried about Spectre & Meltdown in a while. Is it safe to disable them nowadays?

Image

As for waiting for the updated Nvidia cards. I was already thinking about that. I figured if I had the budget, I could go with the new one and if I don't have the budget for it, I could get the best of the 2080s. But, a 3080 (or two) would be fantabulous.


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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 7:10 pm 
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Well, the Specter and Meltdown vulnerabilities are so convoluted that there are no known exploits in the wild. Basically they would be used to 'read' what another process you are not supposed to have access to is doing, they can't be used to change anything (unless they are used to get a system password, but then they would have to know that the data they are looking at is a system password and not just random data ehehe). It's like guessing what your PC is doing based on the frequency of the CPU fan lol

The problem is that the fixes have an extremely heavy impact on anything related to disk I/O (20-30%). So I simply turned the patches off and disk/ssd performance increased by a lot.

Give it a try, see if it's worth it, you can always enable the patches again later.

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:36 pm 
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winstep wrote:
I simply turned the patches off and disk/ssd performance increased by a lot.

Give it a try, see if it's worth it, you can always enable the patches again later.

I will. Thanks, Jorge.

Also, did you find Samsung's Magician helpful in any way? I have tried to install it and keep getting the error below. So, I'm wondering if it's worth the effort to fix whatever the problem is.

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2020 3:46 am 
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Wow. Never saw that message here. I searched Google and was only able to find one (!) instance of that happening to someone, and there was no resolution.

You don't really need Magician, but that message would drive me crazy lol

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2020 4:36 pm 
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Well, how utterly strange.

I decided to "work" this problem.

Re-ran the installer and got the same error message.

Did some more research and found out there's a chocolatey install for it. (See here for chocolatey: https://chocolatey.org/)

I decide to finally install chocolatey.

Then I run "choco install samsung-magician" in PowerShell to install Magician a different way.

Now I get an error about hashes not matching. What the heck? You *just* downloaded it and it doesn't match?

Did some reading in the comments and saw there might be issues with the download itself. I go take a peek in the chocolatey temp directory and find that the downloaded "samsung-magicianInstall.zip" file is actually a web page with a "download limit reached" kind of error. Well, no wonder the hash doesn't match!

So, I cheat and take my already-downloaded zip file and copy it to the temp folder and make its name match. Then I run the choco command with --skip-download-cache on the end and this time it installs.

Note that the chocolatey install for this program actually had some Windows prerequisites that it installed including a dotnet install and two kb installs. So, maybe one of those coincidentally fixed the vulnerability.

Anyway, Magician is doing its benchmark right now. And that finished while I wrote this. So, here are the results:

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2020 6:56 am 
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And here's an updated version of the original benchmark after I turned off the Meltdown and Spectre protections. There didn't seem to be a whole lot of difference in speed for me.

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2020 1:32 pm 
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Hmmmm... back when I did that, over a year ago, it made a huge difference (check the last two screenshots). Perhaps by now MS has changed the drivers, etc, so there isn't such a huge performance penalty? Or maybe that utility is no longer doing anything? lol

EDIT: Just tried running the benchmark again and the numbers are pretty similar (if a bit higher in fact) to the numbers I got last year AFTER disabling the Specter patch (Ah, note that I am using version 6 of Crystal DiskMark, you are using version 7, results cannot be compared).

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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2020 8:47 pm 
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Oh, I see. They changed how some of the tests are performed in 7.0. (https://crystalmark.info/en/software/cr ... k-history/)


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 Post subject: Re: New system is here: Intel Optane 905p inside!
PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2020 11:33 am 
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For comparison here are the results on v7 for the Intel Optane and my 970 EVO Plus 2TB:

This is the Samsung EVO:
Attachment:
970EVO_Plus_2TB_CDM7.jpg
970EVO_Plus_2TB_CDM7.jpg [ 55.51 KiB | Viewed 3103 times ]


And this is the Intel Optane:
Attachment:
Optane_CDM7.jpg
Optane_CDM7.jpg [ 60.69 KiB | Viewed 3103 times ]


Weird thing though, the 4K values for the Optane should be in the 245+ since that is where it excels. Ah well. :)

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