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Thinkpad X300 With SSD Performance Evaluation

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the solid-gone-man dept.

Portables 133

Ninjakicks writes "Hard drives are typically one of the more significant performance bottlenecks in any system today. An evaluation of Lenovo's new ultra portable Thinkpad X300 notebook shows a fast solid state hard drive can substantially improve the performance of a system. This is especially true of a low-end, low power processor and integrated graphics, in addition to reducing overall power consumption. Despite its 1.2GHz CPU the Thinkpad X300 is actually able to outperform some desktop replacement notebooks equipped with dual 7200RPM hard drives in RAID 0 in productivity benchmarks, and in data transfers. Interesting results, especially considering the X300's ultra portable form factor."

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Ummm... (5, Interesting)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23110942)

Despite its 1.2GHz CPU the Thinkpad X300 is actually able to outperform some desktop replacement notebooks equipped with dual 7200RPM hard drives in RAID 0 in productivity benchmarks, and in data transfers.
Sure it's data transfer performance was impressive but in all but 1 of the performance benchmarks it was last place.

Re:Ummm... (5, Interesting)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111004)

Though I guess I should add that even when it was in last place, the number it's pushing are rather impressive.

Re:Ummm... (5, Funny)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112008)

"the number it's pushing are rather impressive"

Not nearly as impressive as being modded +5 Interesting and then being modded +4 Interesting for a reply to your own post that basically negates it.

Re:Ummm... (4, Insightful)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111208)

Battery life. It absolutely smokes the other three systems, and while it is in last place, it's almost tied for 3rd. It's an impressive machine. In my opinion, though, not worth the $3258.00 price tag.

Re:Ummm... (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111262)

Battery life. It absolutely smokes the other three systems,
Well, it's also running lower end hardware so that's a given.

and while it is in last place, it's almost tied for 3rd. It's an impressive machine.
Which is why I did that addendum to my post.

In my opinion, though, not worth the $3258.00 price tag.
Well with the prices of SSD being as high as it is, you're going to keep seeing that hefty price tag for a while still.

Re:Ummm... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111674)

If they really wanted to show the performance improvement of SSD vs HDD, the least they could have done was run the tests using the X300 with its SSD drive replaced with a 5400 and 7200 RPM HDD even though neither is an available option.

Re:For $3k (1)

uassholes (1179143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113304)

They can suck my hard drive.

-1 Troll (2, Insightful)

fred fleenblat (463628) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111014)

microsoft introduced readyboost just in time!

Interesting idea for older notebooks (3, Interesting)

mcsqueak (1043736) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111020)

The article summary gave me an interesting idea. I have an old 1.5 GHz Pentium M notebook I was going to clean up and give to my folks. I'm wondering if replacing the existing HDD with a SSD would improve performance for it. It's a little old and clunky now, obviously.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111250)

A few people are doing this (with some straining) to the old Versa Litepad tablets. At 1 kg, these things are remarkably light for a device with a 1024x768 touch screen (gotta use those Wacom pens though), and can be found for $400 used now. The 1.8" HD in them is a total dog, but swapping them for a 1.8" SDD apparently makes a huge difference.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (4, Informative)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111298)

I did it with my Media Centre PC. Old Compaq Presario 900. I bought dirt cheap CompactFlash to IDE 44 converter and put it instead of HDD. Mythbuntu start in half of the time, even that throughput of CF is almost the same as HDD. Best of all that SSD cost me £15 for 4GB. Straight from eBay.

Do it, it works brilliant.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (3, Informative)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111814)

I did the same with my MythTV front end. I bought an adapter and a cheap 8GB CF from newegg. Mine boots reasonably fast (about the same as my other front end with an old 120GB drive), but it took about 20 hours to install Fedora Core 8 and run a software update. Every once in a while it freezes on live TV playback, and I think it is some sort of delay writing to the flash drive. My other front end has no such problems. The one with the CF has better specs than the one with the hard drive - much faster processor, more memory, better video card.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (3, Informative)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111954)

Interesting. I had no such problems. My Mythbuntu install went nice and smooth. I haven't tested it really well as I'm doing some contract away from home. But my wife hasn't mentioned any problems.

Oh, my one is Frontend and Backend on one machine + Samba shares on server mapped to folders through fstab. Also added noatime to fstab and got rid of swap whatsoever, just to save space on CF.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112268)

Go diskless and boot over the network. That is what I did for my myth frontend and it works great.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111726)

Well, if you can get the SSD for less than you would pay for a brand new laptop, it might make sense.

Do let us know if you find a large SSD that costs less than $600.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (2, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112618)

Not a problem. Buy the addionics dual CF to laptop hdd adapter for a few bucks, add in a pair of 32GB CF cards and you should be able to get it all delivered for just a few dollars over the $300 mark. Either take them as is and have a pair of volumes or do a LVM or RAID0 and make one 64GB volume.

Now if you want a shiny SATA drive, those are in major demand and carry a premium. So be smart and think outside the box and you can win.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113254)

Now if you want a shiny SATA drive...

My laptop does indeed use SATA... I wonder when there'll be dual CF adapter for that.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (1)

rubeng (1263328) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113684)

Eh, right now the biggest you can get for under $600, at least from Newegg, is 32GB [diskcompare.com] , which I wouldn't rally call "large". One of the 32GB Transcend units though is just $175, which might be tempting for some uses.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (2, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112668)

For less than the cost of a SSD, you can give your parents a new Asus Eee PC which has a SSD. The advantage of the Eee PC, is that you will have ZERO support issues. It just works and just keeps right on working.

Re:Interesting idea for older notebooks (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113046)

If you don't have any need for specific windows applications, you might want to just install Linux on it. I have a 1.6 Pentium M, with 512 MB of RAM, and it has no problems with speed. I mostly use it for browsing the web, with a little web development, and some light photo editing. As a comparison, it came with Vista, which is unusably slow.

SLASHDOT SUX0RZ (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111044)

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have you seen this new site goatse [goatse.ch]

Exceptional Battery Life (5, Informative)

zedlander (1271502) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111090)

Check out the comparison on the next page [hothardware.com] . The Thinkpad got almost 3 times the battery life of the Dell, coming in at close to 4 hours.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (2, Insightful)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111136)

Well that's kind of unfair considering the XPS line are the high end gaming laptops. The Lenova is clearly going to win considering it's not built with a bunch of high-end, and obviously more power hungry, hardware.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (0)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111240)

Why do high-end laptops necessarily get less battery life? Why can't things be "turned down"? I thought things like Intel's Speedstep technology existed for a reason.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (4, Insightful)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111300)

Why do high-end laptops necessarily get less battery life?
Because the higher end hardware consumes more power. The newer XPS laptops have things like dual graphics cards in them via SLI. Do you honestly think that's going to use less power than something using a lower end integrated graphics card?

Why can't things be "turned down"?
Why would you turn things down when you're buying the laptop purely for performance?

Speedstep technology existed for a reason.
Yeah, but when you're caring about performance you wouldn't be using it.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111432)

I've seen some pretty spiffy laptops which came with both integrated graphics and higher-end 3d cards. There was a switch to select between them, and apparently you gained about an hour's worth of battery life (performing the same tasks) if you switched off the 3d card.

I wish more laptop makers would follow suit, but I'd imagine that support concerns would prevent that, if not the relatively low market share for such hybrid devices.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111482)

Yes, but the XPS line of Dell laptops are meant to be the high, high end gaming laptops. They aren't built to maximize battery life, but to maximize performance. If you're worried about how much power the thing is going to be using, you wouldn't be buying one as it's not built to be a power saving laptop.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111564)

That's why I mentioned the small market share.

I'd like one laptop that I can use while out and about, but which I can also use for gaming if the mood strikes me. For gaming, I'd almost certainly plug it in, as I can't imagine that it's got a good enough battery life to sustain itself for very long.

Anyway, they've really revamped the XPS line. They have a 13" XPS notebook that doesn't look suited for gaming at all, and a 15" that looks like it might passably play games from 2 years ago. They've moved their gaming laptops to a new section of the site (still labeled XPS though)--they all have 17" screens! Hardly portable at all.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111882)

Hardly portable at all.
Well considering the performance of the higher end XPS laptops it's much more portable than the comparable desktop. The issue is that with them sucking up so much power they aren't very mobile...

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112100)

AMD (Hybrid Graphics) and NVIDIA (HybridPower) have been working on this, and AMD has already released chipsets that can do it. It's taken a long time for this to happen because few people would want to reboot their computer to switch graphics cards, and switching graphics cards on the fly can be relatively difficult.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (0)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111588)

Why can't things be "turned down"?

Why would you turn things down when you're buying the laptop purely for performance?
Um, maybe because you don't need all that performance and you want to extend your battery life? My point is this: if you have higher end hardware, why can't it be turned down, so you only need one tool?

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111702)

Um, maybe because you don't need all that performance and you want to extend your battery life?
Then why would you be buying a high performance laptop if you weren't going to use it all? That sounds like a rather daft thing to do, don't you think?

My point is this: if you have higher end hardware, why can't it be turned down, so you only need one tool?
Because that defeats the point of buying high end hardware? If you're going to buy high end hardware and then turn it down so it runs no better than something lower end, you might as well have just bought something with lower end and less power consuming hardware instead.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111920)

Then why would you be buying a high performance laptop if you weren't going to use it all? That sounds like a rather daft thing to do, don't you think?

No, I don't think so. Most "desktop replacements" are laptops with high end hardware. They are used 90% of the time plugged into the wall. However, when on a plane ride, you either have to carry batteries greater than the weight of the already heavy laptop, or deal with the fact that a desktop replacement will probably not be able to finish a single movie on the upgraded battery. I know, I have a desktop replacement, the standard battery and the extended battery. I can't watch an entire DVD on a full charge of the highest capacity battery made for the laptop. If I could turn off features not necessary (and playing a DVD isn't that hard), I might be able to use my laptop to watch a DVD on a flight. No, I'm not going to buy all the speed features and turn them all off. They should be at 100% when plugged into the wall. But sometimes, I'd rather have a little slower speed than have to carry around a crapload of batteries (and have to shut down for each battery swap) or have the laptop go dead on me.

Because that defeats the point of buying high end hardware?

How? You buy a laptop that does 1920x1200 and run that on your desktop, but you have a game that won't support that resolution. What are you going to do, not ever play that game because it would be a waste of hardware if you can't play it at full resolution? No, you use the full resolution when it makes sense, and you use a lower resolution when that makes sense. You turn it down. And it isn't a waste. Just like if you are in a situation where you needed more battery life (a long business meeting you didn't bring your adaptor to, a plane flight or such) you should be able to turn your speeds down to improve batter life, if that's your need at that moment. Then, once you are back on wall current, turn all features back to full.

If you're going to buy high end hardware and then turn it down so it runs no better than something lower end, you might as well have just bought something with lower end and less power consuming hardware instead.

If it's truely better, then it should be able to run faster (at a power cost) and slower (with power savings) over the "low end" computers. Instead, the high end lap tops aren't "better", they just burn your lap and last for an hour under use. A Macbook Air will last longer playing a DVD, weigh less and cost less than a desktop replacement. The "high end" desktop replacements are worse when not plugged in. For all that extra cost, you'd think they'd add some features to let you extend battery life if you needed to. I guess they aren't that "high end" after all.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111958)

For all that extra cost, you'd think they'd add some features to let you extend battery life if you needed to. I guess they aren't that "high end" after all.
Or if you're so worried about their battery life just save yourself the few thousand dollars premium and buy yourself a midrange laptop instead. Again, this is like bitching that your Ferrari doesn't get the same gas mileage as a Toyota Camry. Just as the Ferrari isn't built to be a gas saving car, the high end XPS laptops aren't built to have super long battery life. If you're going to constantly bitch about it's battery life, don't fucking buy it.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (0)

Koiu Lpoi (632570) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112686)

You're getting very worked up about laptops. Not only that, you're refusing to acknowledge that high-end laptops can even run in a power save mode. While a Ferrari isn't a gas-saving car, there are now vehicles that can switch off cylinders when they're not needed to improve mileage. Which is a much, much better analogy to a laptop.

I recommend you stop posting here before people start thinking you know what you're talking about.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114210)

You're getting very worked up about laptops.

I'm explaining why you are wrong. I guess that's getting you worked up to where you think I'm worked up.

Not only that, you're refusing to acknowledge that high-end laptops can even run in a power save mode.


A high end laptop in power saver mode uses more power than an economy laptop at full power.

While a Ferrari isn't a gas-saving car, there are now vehicles that can switch off cylinders when they're not needed to improve mileage.

My grandparents owned the first mass market vehicle to do that. It sucked. The dealerships were ordered to do everything possible to disable that feature. And, with all the problems it caused, it didn't gain much mileage. The same is true with the current models that do it.

While a Ferrari isn't a gas-saving car, there are now vehicles that can switch off cylinders when they're not needed to improve mileage. Which is a much, much better analogy to a laptop.


You are right. The feature makes the car accelerate like crap and still use more fuel than cars that are now faster than it. Power savings on high end laptops sucks and doesn't do anything. It wouldn't be that hard to add real power savings. I've used a Kill-a-Watt to measure and my laptop uses more power when off and plugged in the wall than my desktop does in standby. Oh, and in its most power saving mode and under load, it uses more power than my desktop with no power savings. And did I mention that my desktop is much faster than my laptop as well?

I recommend you stop posting here before people start thinking you know what you're talking about.

High end laptops have crappy battery life. High end laptops with full power saving features on are slower and still have crappy batter life. For something so "high end" you'd think that it would be more flexible and configurable. That's my point. It's correct. It's applicable to the conversation at hand. I'm still not sure what your point is, other than telling everyone else they are wrong and trying your hand at bad car analogies.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111790)

Just to further add, your comments would be like going up to the owner of a Ferrari and saying: "Why don't you drive your car at only 55 miles an hour to maximize your fuel efficiency". People don't buy Ferraris because they save on gas and people don't buy high performance laptops because they have super long battery lives.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112146)

Perhaps, but wouldn't it be great if laptops could have both high performance and long battery life, even if it couldn't have both at the same time? Sometimes I want to play games, and sometimes I want to use my computer for a long time a long distance from a power jack. It would be great if I could have one computer that does both well. It's obviously not possible to do that perfectly, but your belief (that one should care only about either performance or battery life, and not both) is not helpful.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

penguinstorm (575341) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111826)

Processor speed, at a very basic, can usually be ramped back. This is part of what happens when you choose "longer battery life" on a PowerBook...

Yes, I still call them PowerBooks.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111856)

Sure, or you can just save some money and not buy a super expensive laptop and then run it at less than it's full potential. You'd be better off by saving a good load of money and just buying something that uses less power to begin with.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

burroughsj1 (1273158) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113274)

You'd be better off by saving a good load of money and just buying something that uses less power to begin with.
Seriously? Can you reply to that many clearly worded posts without actually comprehending them? No, you would absolutely not be better off buying a lower-end laptop because it would lack desired functionality! The point isn't to buy a fast laptop and then turn it down and leave it; only a complete idiot would suggest that. Choice and versatility should come with the premium paid for a high-end laptop. Can you not imagine wanting a computer that can either be a fast gaming platform or a truly mobile device depending on the situation at hand?

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (4, Interesting)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111338)

This is true to an extent, but there are trade-offs that can't be made when using the computer. You may be able to turn off sections of a chip, but not nearly with the level of detail that you can by not adding transistors at the beginning. Trying to convert a fast, out-of-order CPU with many pipeline stages into a slower, in-order CPU with fewer pipeline stages at runtime would be effectively impossible. Additionally, the way that the chips are manufactured affects their speed: for example, fast transistors generally have higher leakage currents, so you have to compromise between high clock speeds and low static power.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (2, Insightful)

Hemogoblin (982564) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111444)

That's a silly comparison:

(1) The Thinkpad is a ultraportable notepad with a 13" display
(2) The Dell XPS 1730 has a 17" display, dual videocards, dual harddrives, and 2.5x the cpu clock speed.

No-wonder the XPS gaming laptop had a shorter battery life.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

dookiesan (600840) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111542)

Is four hours supposed to be good? I thought the old Centrino's were doing that well.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (2, Interesting)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111898)

I just wanna point out that if you're looking for battery life, modern laptops are not where it's at. I've got an old dell latitude c610, 1.2ghz pentium 3, 1gb of pc133, ATI Radeon mobility m6. Using both bays with 66whr batteries, I get about 13 hours of battery life. I've never actually managed to run it down with the LCD closed.

Yes, it'll run linux, it actually dual boots.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111930)

I just wanna point out that if you're looking for battery life, modern laptops are not where it's at.
Especially not the ones running top of the line CPUs, dual video cards, dual hard drives and a 17" screen. The fact that people are surprised that such a laptop gets less battery life than one that's built using much lower end hardware and a smaller LCD is somewhat hilarious.

Re:Exceptional Battery Life (1)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112002)

Yeah, the LCD's smaller, but it's also got a res of 1400x1050 so it's not too painful to use. You can even play CS if you'd like. No source, though.

How long..? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111126)

How long before MacBois raid this X300 party jumping up and down with their 'shiny' 'cool' Airbook?

3...2...1..

I'm curious... (1, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111128)

I can't believe hard drive manufacturers aren't aware that the devices they built their businesses on are headed for the museum right next to buggy whips and engine cranks. So when are we going to see that big move to solid state storage? Less weight, less heat, less power, no moving parts...what's not to like?

Re:I'm curious... (2, Insightful)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111178)

As soon as everyone who buys a computer is willing to put and extra 1000 dollars to get an SSD instead of an HDD.
That or the price of flash starts dropping (right now it has been dropping linearly with density, vs. HDD's which have tended to drop price/GB exponentially).

Re:I'm curious... (2, Informative)

matt21811 (830841) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113336)

"(right now it has been dropping linearly with density, vs. HDD's which have tended to drop price/GB exponentially)."

Well thats not right.
Flash prices/GB have been dropping dropping dramatically faster than disk for the last five years.
I've sudied it.

http://www.mattscomputertrends.com/flashdiskcomparo.html [mattscomputertrends.com]

Re:I'm curious... (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111188)

Less weight, less heat, less power, no moving parts...what's not to like?
The death of their previous patent portfolio.

Re:I'm curious... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111192)

I can't believe hard drive manufacturers aren't aware that the devices they built their businesses on are headed for the museum right next to buggy whips and engine cranks. So when are we going to see that big move to solid state storage? Less weight, less heat, less power, no moving parts...what's not to like?
Less space. Higher cost. Shorter life (though that one may have been solved and I just don't know about it.)

Re:I'm curious... (2, Interesting)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111230)

The issue with the lifetime related to the maximum number of writes has been one of the issues constantly addressed. With the newer SSDs, I've heard ratings of around 20 year lifetime with average usage.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111458)

I wouldn't believe hard-drive maker's specs. "Average usage" is probably booting the machine and checking your e-mail in their minds.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

What Would NPH Do (1274934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112760)

Oh you would definitely want to take it with a grain of salt. The point is that things have been improving all the time and that people who are still thinking they will are going to die in less than a year are many years behind the times.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

penguinstorm (575341) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111848)

This is longer than hard drives last, so I'd say that issue is "solved" at least in the current context of solving it. It can still, of course, be improved.

I'm sure someone's going to claim to have had a hard drive running for 20+ years...blurg.

Re:I'm curious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111560)

Yes, lifetime is no longer an issue. The only problems with SSD are cost per GB and sequential read/write performance on the cheaper drives.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

bondjamesbond (99019) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111234)

Difficult or non-existent data recovery from the SSD? I don't like that.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

Atti K. (1169503) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111454)

That could actually be good, if you think about the privacy side.

I mean: it failed, it is in warranty, you return it, you get a new one. And you don't have to worry about who and where recovers what of you private stuff from your failed HDD.

Oh, and of course I suppose that you have a backup.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

GrievousMistake (880829) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113218)

I don't know about that... Thinking about the various things that could happen to my data storage media, I'd rather it be a flash chip than a disk drive in the vast majority of cases.
The two events I can think of where the data could be unrecoverable from SSD is death of the on-chip controller, and a physically broken flash chip. Anything that would physically break a flash chip would totally waste a disk drive, though.
Flash chips tends to handle wear down far more gracefully than hard drives, with all functioning blocks fully readable, and you can anticipate the failure as the damaged block map fills up. And while smashed chips probably can't be partially recovered in the way damaged disk drives can, by removing and examining platters, etc., they are more resistant to shock and humidity and have less surface area.

That's in theory, of course. In practice, I guess few data recovery services have training and equipment relevant to SSD's yet.

Re:I'm curious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111258)

what's not to like?
Err.. higher failure rate, for one?

Re:I'm curious... (1)

insllvn (994053) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111322)

They are currently much more expensive, and cannot compete for data density with standard HDDs. I would guess that most of the major hard drive manufacturers working to develop products of their own, in hopes of having something competitively priced and comparable in storage size to market ASAP. Right now, SSDs simply cost more for less space, and while you or I may see the advantages, the average computer buyer will be a tough sell on the idea of paying more for what he/she will perceive as less. Also, I seem to recall a more limited write life being a concern for SSDs. Hard drives will fail, but SSDs can become unusable after several thousand rewrites. Has this problem been dealt with?

Re:I'm curious... (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111862)

I don't have doc to back it up, but as far as Ive read, with the write balancing features of SSDs, they can last a sick amount of time before the amount of rewrites finish them off. Also, they have one big big big advantage over HDDs: you know in advance that they are going to fail, quite reliably. So sure, it MAY (not all that true depending on usage anymore) fail faster than an HDD, but it won't fail by surprise on a saturday morning.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111908)

I can't believe hard drive manufacturers aren't aware that the devices they built their businesses on are headed for the museum right next to buggy whips and engine cranks. So when are we going to see that big move to solid state storage? Less weight, less heat, less power, no moving parts...what's not to like?
Wear-leveling makes it difficult to securely erase files.

Re:I'm curious... (2, Insightful)

hakr89 (719001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112472)

You shouldn't be trusting your hard drive to secure erase drives either. It has its own sector swapping when it sees a sector that's hard to read, it will copy the data to a spare sector. The old sector never gets erased, and the fragment of whatever file was in that space is now where you can't delete it. If your data is that important, it should be encrypted on whatever media it's on. You can't trust a delete to truly delete every last bit. The best you can do is write random data to all sectors a few times and hope that gets through most of the wear leveling.

this just in (1)

nih (411096) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111132)

ram is faster than hard drive, news at 11

VGA...make it DVI/HDMI and I would get one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111158)

VGA needs to be there, but why haven't laptop makers embraced DVI/HDMI? I'm not upgrading my laptop until I can get an HDMI port at 1920x1080 for my 37" computer monitor at home.

Re:VGA...make it DVI/HDMI and I would get one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111440)

We use the vga for hooking up to projectors and stuff. Newer projectors with DVI/HDMI are vastly more expensive. Also, a lot of laptops have their DVI/firewire/audio ports on a docking station. That way you don't have to continually plug and unplug those things from the laptop itself.

Re:VGA...make it DVI/HDMI and I would get one. (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111854)

Some have. Apple notably.

My Sony Vaio SZ670 has DVI on the docking station and can push 1920x1080.

SSD Write times suck, wear issue still there (2, Insightful)

linuxkrn (635044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111256)

Before everyone gets all worked up about the great access time (~0.1-0.3ms) and great read times, consider this...

Two issues plague SSD are write times and write wear. Just like thumbnail drives, they will "wear out" with use. Most of the newer models have wear-leveling and that reduces it greatly. But it's still an issue. Don't take the MFG's MTBF specs for face value. Then you have the huge issue with write times. Many reviews show real-world speeds of 3-4 times SLOWER then a typical 2.5" 5400 RPM HDD.

You may think that isn't much, but it can be. Things like moving files around, compiling software (Gentoo :), or just using swap space, will show huge hits in performance.

That said, if your reasons are for battery life and/or durability, then the cost may be justified. However, at the current cost per GB ~$10-15/GB, it's just not worth it in my opinion.

Re:SSD Write times suck, wear issue still there (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111380)

Most of the newer models have wear-leveling and that reduces it greatly. But it's still an issue.
Do you have anything at all to back this up?

Then you have the huge issue with write times. Many reviews show real-world speeds of 3-4 times SLOWER then a typical 2.5" 5400 RPM HDD.

You may think that isn't much, but it can be. Things like moving files around, compiling software (Gentoo :), or just using swap space, will show huge hits in performance.
Well first of all moving a file (on the same device) is irrelevant, I assume you mean copying it. Yes SSDs have slower write speeds and that is an issue, 3-4 times slower is an exaggeration though (and the rotational speed of the drive has very little relevance to its write speed unless the drive is nearly full and heavily fragmented - which of course it isn't in any common benchmarks). Swap space is the only thing this may become an issue, but then again you're springing the extra $1k for an SSD in your laptop you've probably also paid the extra $50 for 2GB of memory, making swapping a rare event.

Re:SSD Write times suck, wear issue still there (4, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111474)

But for write few, read many data warehousing tasks, SSDs are an enourmous benefit. Think about Google, where the filesystem is optimized for reading due to large files being created and read from all the time for search results (yet the files aren't constantly rewritten). Or think about Netflix needing a huge video library to serve movies over the web. The movie content isn't changing, so it would make sense to have huge libraries of SSDs that save power by not spinning, get written to once with a block of movies at a time, and get read from all the time from customer devices.

SSDs have their place now. And they're only going to get more popular as the price comes down.

Re:SSD Write times suck, wear issue still there (3, Informative)

penguinstorm (575341) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111896)

Just like thumbnail drives, they will "wear out" with use.
My understanding is that the technology being used in "SSD-Hard Drives" is quite a bit different than the tech being used in the average cheap thumb drive such as my 4GB one.

By the same token, the tech being used in the iPod Touch is quite a bit different, which is how it can offer 32GB of flash storage for ~CDN$500 while a 64GB SSD upgrade for a MacBook Air is CDN$1,400.

So if you can back your statements up with some evidence, knock yourself out. Otherwise...I think the issue isn't nearly as real as you seem to suggest it is.

Re:SSD Write times suck, wear issue still there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23112284)

The current cost per GB is about $3 buddy. Go check your prices again. In the last few months the prices have taken a huge cut.

With that said, people who actually use their machines for real work (developers, etc) are finding that flash memory wears out too fast. The wear leveling helps but that just means it will wear out in a few months instead of days/weeks. The old moving-parts hard-drives are still the best for now. I can't wait to get rid of them though, hard-drives have pissed me off for more years than I can count.

Re:SSD Write times suck, wear issue still there (2, Interesting)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112346)

Not true, write speed isn't all that important. The reason why hard disk drives are such huge bottle necks is because reading data is a synchronous operation. When you read a file, you do so because you need to do something with its data. Right now, not some time in the future. So your program has to wait (block) until the hard disk has finished reading all data. Depending on how far the disk head has to seek, the wait may take a huge amount of time.

To put it in perspective: when the CPU accesses a register, it is like one neuron talking to another in your bran, to fetch something from cache memory is like asking someone on the other side of the room, memory access would be asking your neighbour. Disk seek would be walking from London to ask someone in Istanbul.

Writes on the other hand, are much less expensive because they can be performed asynchronously. There is no reason for your program to block and wait until the hard disk has written all data, there is no urgency at all involved. The data is written to a cache in memory which the kernel periodically unloads to the disk controllers cache which in turn writes it. Writes are kind of like asking your next door neighbour to book a freight plane because you have some important goods that needs to be shipped to Turkey soon.

Re:SSD Write times suck, wear issue still there (1)

NotZed (19455) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113822)

Not true, write speed isn't all that important. The reason why hard disk drives are such huge bottle necks is because reading data is a synchronous operation. When you read a file, you do so because you need to do something with its data. Right now, not some time in the future. So your program has to wait (block) until the hard disk has finished reading all data. Depending on how far the disk head has to seek, the wait may take a huge amount of time.

Writes cannot usually be performed asynchronously though - because they need to conform to the api presented. e.g. close() or sync() guarantee the data is written to non-volatile storage, whatever that may be. Being able to cache bits of the write in memory may help but at the end of the day it's all gotta be stored once close() returns, so it makes no real difference to many applications apart from being able to better store the data on disk. e.g. a compile writes files which are read by another programme later.

Also, your programme doesn't always have to block until the disk is finished - it just chooses to do so. There's nothing to stop your application using asynchronous i/o to load ahead of time what it needs. The kernel will already do some look ahead for sequential access, but you can certainly help it along by doing it manually. Many many algorithms can be modified this way - even many random access ones. Then there's things like b-trees (to minimise external accesses) and threads (to take advantage of any cycles otherwise being wasted). There's a reason Java throws so much at threads - its one way to get around the cpu/memory/disk impedance mismatch that is relatively easy to understand.

APIs are there to abstract away things like this on purpose (infact the whole system is geared for it - l1, l2 cache, main memory and virtual memory are all hidden to the application coder by default), so most programmers don't delve further, nor have the time to. They just assume a write or read will happen in fast-enough time and be done with it (or force the user to upgrade to faster equipment).

Even if disks get >> faster, they're sill << slower than main memory/cache, so the problem still remains - you're still only getting a limited amount of performance out of the system if you're software isn't smart enough (and the kernel can't do everything).

Re:SSD Write times suck, wear issue still there (2, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112470)

Just like thumbnail drives, they will "wear out" with use. Most of the newer models have wear-leveling and that reduces it greatly. But it's still an issue.

No, it isn't. Partly because of increases in the number of write cycles they can support, but mostly because of size increases and wear leveling.

Consider a 64GB device with a write cycle limit of 100,000. Assuming constant rewriting of all of the data, you'd have to write 6.4 petabytes of data to wear it out. Assuming you could deliver sustained writes at 22 MB/s (150x), it would take 6,400,000,000 / 22 = 290,909,090 seconds, which is over nine years of continuous, max data rate writing.

In practice, you don't rewrite all of the data on the card, much of it (OS and apps) is relatively static. Still under normal use a card with, say, 4 GB of free space will last for years -- easily as long as a hard drive would have.

Then you have the huge issue with write times. Many reviews show real-world speeds of 3-4 times SLOWER then a typical 2.5" 5400 RPM HDD.

Reviews of what cards? They come in different speeds, you know. The 150x 8GB card that I have for my DSLR absolutely lives up to the billed speed. At three 8MB images per second, keeping up with the camera requires a write throughput of 24 MB per second. The rated max speed of the card is 22.5 MB per second, and the results are exactly what you'd expect -- it very nearly keeps up with the camera. I'm going to get a 200x card and I expect to be able to shoot RAW continuous at 3 fps until the card is full. Until I get a new camera that has a couple more megapixels and shoots at 5 fps.

Re:SSD Write times suck, wear issue still there (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113124)

I guess it really depends on how much free space you have on the device. If you have an 64 GB device (just for example), and 32 GB is filled with apps, those will never be overwritten, and will always stay in the same place. Now you only have 32 other GB in which your other data that is constantly changing to be written. Look at it this way. If you have 10 MB free, and want to write 1 MB, then there's only 10 choices for each byte it writes of where to put it. That could wear out your drive quite quickly.

Nope. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114002)

Wear is not an issue. The available space will get smaller as some of the cells wear out, but with a drive of any serious size, this is neglegible If a 64G drive shrinks to 63Gigs after 2 years, would I care? No. And it isn't that bad.

It is true that writing speeds are a weakness for SSDs, but this is only when compared to how well they can read. Aso it is random writes, not sequential writes that are most difficult. However, the second generation drives already have faster write speeds than HDDs [mtron.net] , so this is in no way a downside of SSD technology, but just a downside of the first generation of SSDs that don't write that fast.

In case anyone was wondering - (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111264)

ASUS C90S ran with
160GB Hard Drive @ 7,200 RPM SATA
Dell XPS M1730 ran with
2x200GB in RAID0 @ 7,200 RPM SATA - The article doesn't seem to state it but does anyone know if this is Sata 3 or 1.5?
Lenovo ThinkPad X300 ran with
64GB Hard Drive Solid-State
ASUS U6S ran with
160GB Hard Drive 5,400 RPM SATA

interestingly, the test the SSD performed best (and whuped the HDD's) was the HDD test.

Re:In case anyone was wondering - (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111460)

Problem is most of the time a standard laptop you already own get's a kick in the pants by upgrading the HDD.

My old and incredibly outdated 1.8ghz iBook G4 feels snappy cince I upgraded the stock drive to a 7200rpm 120 gig drive. It gave it a new lease on life (along with upgrading to 2 gigs of ram) to the point that Tiger is very useable and I dont have to buy a new laptop for another 2-3 years again.

Honestly, a 64gig hard drive is kind of useless today for a "desktop replacement" laptop.

Re:In case anyone was wondering - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111648)

Honestly, a 64gig hard drive is kind of useless today for a "desktop replacement" laptop.
Kind of depends what you use your desktop for really doesn't it. I've got about 600GB of HDD space in use in my desktop at the moment. But about 90% of that is either games or videos - and when I say "videos", I mean porn.

So, if you don't play games or watch porn then it should be fine. ...

OK, fine, I guess 64GB really isn't enough for anyone then.

Re:In case anyone was wondering - (1)

cbart387 (1192883) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112120)

I don't know, I have a 40 gig laptop that is split 20 gigs windows (which is stupid because I hardly ever boot into it) and 20 gigs linux. That is my computer, I have no other one. I have never had a space issue. It really depends on what you use your commputer for. I only use it for work, my 'games' are stuff other than the computer so the space that I need is minimal.

Lenovo Hardware is Unreliable Junk (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23111390)

I wouldn't spend a nickel on a device of any kind if it comes from Lenovo. Where I work we almost exclusively used Thinkpads as the laptop of choice for years. They weren't the most aggressive units in terms of modern features but they were sturdy, lasted a long time and ran various OSes reasonably well.
Then Lenovo took over. The units that were assembled by Lenovo saw increased failure rates. Once the desktop/laptop business fully migrated to Lenovo we saw a significant increase in DOA units. Over the course of a 3 month period we saw a 50% DOA rate. Worse than that, in many cases these DOA units would take 6-8 weeks to turn around from a repair depot.
Needless to say, we no longer purchase Thinkpads. It's truly a shame to see a quality product go down the tubes.
Don't get me started about their tech support.

Re:Lenovo Hardware is Unreliable Junk (5, Informative)

StarHeart (27290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111758)

My office uses Thinkpads exclusively. I would say maybe the failure has gone up some since Lenovo took over, but depot times have always been fast. I just turned in a hard drive RMA today, and I will probably have it with advanced replacement by Monday.

They also seem to be having sales all the time these days. Which means prices have come down.

Re:Lenovo Hardware is Unreliable Junk (2, Funny)

treeves (963993) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112014)

I have a Thinkpad T43 that had to have its main board replaced. I sent it out, they got it the next day, replaced the board and sent it back the same day, so I was without it for only about 48hours. I kinda wished it hadn't had that three year warranty, though. Then I could've gotten a new one instead of just fixing it.

Re:Lenovo Hardware is Unreliable Junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23112492)

Before Lenovo took over, IBM was churning out T4xs and R5xs prone to motherboard flexing issues, especially the ones with BGA-mounted GPUs.

Re:Lenovo Hardware is Unreliable Junk (5, Informative)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112518)

This is FUD. I can see why you posted as AC.

AFAIK Lenovo bought IBM PC Division in its entirety. In other words the ThinkPads are still being made by the same entity.

In our experience, maybe things have changed in terms of design choices on the newer models, but the service level and DOA rate has not changed all that much at all. In some territories support is still being outsourced by Lenovo to IBM.

Re:Lenovo Hardware is Unreliable Junk (1)

cyclocommuter (762131) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113158)

Yep, I agree this is FUD. The client where I work issued all of its developers T60s (loaded with Vista Enterprise) which we have been using heavily for development. No problems I have heard of hardware wise from any of my colleagues in almost 1 year since we got these. The only thing that bothers me is the high pitch whine of the cooling fan.

Re:Lenovo Hardware is Unreliable Junk (1)

FluffyWithTeeth (890188) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113002)

Considering this, what company would /. folk suggest as the modern best choice for the Thinkpad's old market? I'm planning to buy a new laptop in a while; I've got a CoreDuo Dell at the moment, which has actually served me very well, but I'd like something more durable and reliable this time.

Re:Lenovo Hardware is Unreliable Junk (0)

Moderator (189749) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113014)

Needless to say, we no longer purchase Thinkpads. It's truly a shame to see a quality product go down the tubes.

The whole T4x line is infamous for the GPU coming loose, with symptoms ranging from sporadic reboots to catastrophic failure. Normal use as a "lap" top will cause case flex so bad that the solder connections break loose. This has been known about for YEARS without a recall. Quality went down the tubes long before Lenovo took over.

Re:Lenovo Hardware is Unreliable Junk (1)

amirulbahr (1216502) | more than 6 years ago | (#23114150)

More FUD. Can you substantiate this?

We support large numbers of T-series ThinkPads and I can state categorically that the GPU issue is constrained only to the T40 insofar as it can be considered a common fault on that model. The T41, T42, and T43 all do not suffer from this problem except in very rare cases and thus cannot be called a common fault.

As far as the T40 goes, IBM admitted to the fault and continued to repair even well after the warranty had expired, just as they did with the early T30 series with the memory slot problem. Name another PC company that would do such a thing.

SSD hasn't Performed in 23 years (-1, Offtopic)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23111610)

not sure what they [wikipedia.org] have to do with laptops though

Inside Scoop (1)

grotgrot (451123) | more than 6 years ago | (#23112196)

At http://lenovoblogs.com/insidethebox/?p=141 [lenovoblogs.com] the Lenovo folks detail what goes in behind the scenes with the SSDs. They even detail why the (more recent) drives they use are better than the same brand (but older technology) used in the Macbook Air.

Bottleneck schmottleneck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23112502)

"Hard drives are typically one of the more significant performance bottlenecks in any system today."

Uh... what?

Even a "slow" 4200 rpm 2.5" drive of today has no problem reaching read speeds of over 50 mb/s. Anyone who claims a transfer speed of this order is a bottleneck for anything else than hardcore video editing is a true computer illiterate.

Not a hardware issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23112884)

Its not the hardware that makes the system faster, its the OS.

Memory is cheap now right? Instead of putting 2 gig, put in 4 gig of ram and use an OS that doesn't require swap or try use all available RAM because unused RAM is a waste.

RAM is cheap, but the fuckers keep bloating shit so that swap is still necessary. CUT that SHIT out; a 15 year old Amiga has better user response than a brand new fucking system!

Why? Its not application bloat; its the fucking operating system! Windows, OS-X, Linux, they all cache the fucking universe; then they have to swap when the user, you know the asshole who actually paid for the system, decides to do something that's not cached. This is actually very frequent because not matter what algorithm you geniuses who write the OS use, its not telepathic!

Get over it and start designing system to NOT swap!

OMG better than MB-Air? (1)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23113040)

Eat that, apple fanboys. All that ... AND an ethernet port :P

x300 vs. Z61t vs. T43 comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23113768)

I did a comparison of the Thinkpad T43, Z61t, and X300 here: http://lewk.org/blog/thinkpad-benchmarks
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