Business, Hardware, Software Programs

Kingston – New RAM, SSDs and Mobile Components for 2014

We had am opportunity to meet with Kingston at CES and get an idea of what products they would be launching in the coming year. Some of them were updates to existing product lines, new product lines and others were changes in direction.

The first new product was Kingston’s USB drive that connects to MicroUSB and USB on opposite ends. This is Kingston’s solution to the fact that most smartphones nowadays are MicroUSB and many of them no longer have microSD card slots but still need quick ways to transfer data physically.

The drive will start in lower capacities like 8 GB and 16 GB but the hope is to eventually reach 64 GB. An exact date and availability and pricing are still TBA.

Following that, we took a look at Kingston’s SSD offerings primarily targeted towards the new compact form factors that Intel has been promoting. These should also fit in many of the Steam Boxes as well. There were some new SSD offerings shown off as well.

The first prototype was to show off the 1TB 2.5" SSD as well as Kingston’s 480GB mSATA drive running a video demo to show the fact that the drive is actually operation.

Following that, we got to take a look at Kingston’s upcoming PCIe SSD featuring SandForce/LSI/Avago’s SF-3700 series SSD controller which is capable of driving both the NAND and a PCIe controller for connectivity. Because of this SSD controller’s capabilities we are going to see a lot of affordable PCIe SSDs without RAID. A good example of this is Kingston’s upcoming HyperX Predator PCIe SSD.

As you can tell from the pictures above, this is a very thin drive and it is capable of speeds nearing 2 GB/s even though it isn’t a RAIDed drive. This shows a lot of promise for the future of SSDs in PCs and should be a huge boon to the PCIe SSD industry. And if you look closely, you can see that on the far right, Kingston also has an SF-3700 based 2.5" SATA drive, which will likely fully saturate the SATA 6G throughput (below).

Next, we took a look at Kingston’s latest RAM offerings. Since we probably won’t see any DDR4 stuff until the last quarter of the year, and none of it will be performance RAM Kingston decided to show us their new entry-level performance RAM dubbed HyperX Fury, which will replace the HyperX Blu brand of entry-level high-performance RAM. Basically, this is affordable ‘gamer’ RAM but it isn’t the lowest bin either.

Kingston also showed off a 4K demo with two Radeon R9-290X GPUs in order to drive the 4K graphics and resolution. They just wanted to show a very RAM-heavy application and how smoothly it ran on their RAM.

Next to the 4K demo was also something different, Kingston’s first entry into the gaming headset market. I’m not quite sure why Kingston is getting into the gaming headset market, but I know that a lot of companies are getting into the peripherals market that haven’t traditionally been. I think that’s because of the margins that these companies enjoy in the peripherals market, but I’m just not too sure how badly we need Kingston branded gaming headsets. Sure, HyperX is clearly Kingston’s gaming brand, but do they need to make headsets? I don’t know.

In addition to the HyperX headset and Fury RAM, we got to take a look at some of Kingston’s HyperX SO-DIMM upograde kits for NUC-like computer formfactors. Intel without doubt has pushed this harder as the new PC formfactor than anyone else has and now it seems to be picking up momentum with Steamboxes and the like. Kingston does recognize that not all of these systems will necessarily utilize more than 1600 MHz or 1866 MHz, but Kingston is still going to offer 2133 MHz and 2400 MHz kits as well. And to be frank, the better the memory bandwidth, the better the integrated GPU should theoretically perform. But if the BIOS or memory controller can’t handle it, then it simply won’t be possible.

After that, we got to take a look at Kingston’s DDR4 demo, once again. This time, however, we were able to see a bit more than a small window with the RAM. Since IDF we’ve seen more of the RAM and motherboard and the CPU/RAM layouts. Kingston had to run two CPUs, but with two CPUs they were able to run 384 GB of RAM in a single system, which is absolutely crazy when you think about the sheer amount of memory density. This RAM also was running at 2133 MT/s, which is the JEDEC specified speed for DDR4 from the get go, and we have yet to see how high DDR4 can be overclocked. We probably won’t find that out until 2015, though.

In addition to all of that, we got shown something which was actually officially launched today. This was Kingston’s special 64GB SDXC memory card which is rated at UHS Class 3, which means that it is capable of a maximum of 90 MB/s read and 80 MB/s write. This will work out great for anyone recording 4K video as they state, but it will also work great for anyone that shoots very high framerate photography or very large images at a high frame rate (like I do) with a D800. The card is actually already for sale on Kingston’s website and other retailers for $115 for the 64GB version, which is a bit pricey but well worth the write speed boost that we’ll hopefully evaluate soon.

That pretty much wraps up what we saw from Kingston at CES in 2014 and we’ll probably see more in the second half of 2014 as DDR4 begins to ramp more.