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SSD Won't Make Sense In Laptops For Two Years

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the no-not-that-avi-cohen dept.

Data Storage 326

kgagne writes "While solid state disk drives can vastly improve random read performance and are perfectly suited to most mobile devices, many operations are sequential in laptops and desktops and involve writes where SSDs most often lose to magnetic hard disk drives in performance. While introducing multi-channel flash memory controllers and interleaving the NAND flash chips increases performance, it will still be about two years before the cost versus benefit ratio will make sense to install SSD in your laptop or desktop PC, according to a Computerworld story. '"I think you need to get to 128GB for around $200, and that's going to happen around 2010. Also, the industry needs to effectively communicate why consumers or enterprise users should pay more for less storage," says Joseph Unsworth, an analyst at Gartner Inc.'"

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120GB is too much. (4, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about 6 years ago | (#24788853)

Try 16GB SDHC, available now for $50, delivered. []

One for the OS and apps, one for the data. Need more? Put the other ones in your pocket.

Re:120GB is too much. (4, Informative)

karnal (22275) | about 6 years ago | (#24788985)

I guarantee that the SDHC card you mention will not push any really reasonable speed.

I bought this: []

Then I went to Addonics web site and ordered a CF to IDE adapter. Well, at first I ordered one on ebay. Turned out it didn't fully support DMA...??? Like they didn't complete all the traces properly... anyways, for 70$ or so total, I have a diskless machine in my garage that boots Ubuntu and plays music; no more whiney 80gb hard drive there.

I think Linux reported hdparm stats of 25 to 30MB per second. Not too shabby; since the PC is only a 900 mhz athlon, I really can't tell if the CF is a limiting factor in speed. It feels just as snappy as when I had the original hard disk in; it probably boots a bit faster but I generally just turn it on and don't watch over it...

Re:120GB is too much. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789033)

I hate black gangster bastards with their fat lips and shit colored faces. I wish they'd all stop trying to be something they're not. Niggers are closer to monkeys than white people. They belong either in a field picking cotton or in a zoo. And there's a sign that says, "Don't feed the nigger.. or give him drugs."

Ya know what else I hate? Indians.

I can't stand fat, drunk Native American bastards that take all our tax money and bitch that they're still being affected by their ancestors who died 200 years ago. "Boohoo, I'm 1/64 Chippawa and my great, great, great, great, great grandpa died of Small Pox because of you. Now give me $1000/month." Fuck no and fuck you. Whites won fair and square.

See, wars have winners and losers. White people went to war with Indians, and whites won. It's The United States of America now. Shut up and deal with it.

"Waa, boohoo, our heritage is being lost." Fuck that. Who gives a shit about heritage? Whites don't even care about their stupid heritage. It's all the same shit. Stop acting like you're special. You're a human like everybody else. A stupid, fat, lazy, primitive looking human, but a human none-the-less.

Ya know what else I hate? Gooks. Fucking chink bastards should be nuked.

Why couldn't the US have nuked Japan right off the map? I don't understand why they stopped at two cities. If you start a job, you might as well finish it.

Along the same lines, how come nobody stood up to take Hitler's place in eliminating the world of those whiney, greedy, kike bastards?

I hate every ethnicity. I think there should be a new Olympic sport where you put samples of every race into a field and they all get weapons and have to kill eachother. Then the the last team left standing wins a cheesy plastic medal, and then is quickly shot by riflemen and eaten by hungry white men with tobasco sauce and salsa.

Re:120GB is too much. (-1, Offtopic)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 6 years ago | (#24789931)

You know what I hate? What I really hate is trolls. Stupid ass little bastards, always naked with their damned hair that sticks straight up, and their fake little smiles. They used to only be a problem when you had to cross a freaking bridge; now they're all over the intarweb, a regular infestation. So moronic, so clueless, and so predictable... I hope the next session of Congress makes it legal to hunt them for sport.

Re:120GB is too much. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790101)

with their damned hair that sticks straight up, and their fake little smiles.

That shits so cash!

Re:120GB is too much. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790317)

Troll is fail for hating the wrong kind of Indians. THEY TOOK OUR JOBS!!!!

Re:120GB is too much. (5, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | about 6 years ago | (#24789099)

That was just the cheapest one today. There are dozens there and one will suit. I didn't have time to construct the capacity/price/performance grid and still get a first post. Sorry.

If you need more than 16GB of OS and apps, you don't need a laptop really. Or if you do you're a power user with unusual needs - you're not in the "most people" zone where the price/performance sweet spot is. About 4GB is an XP install with Office, for 8GB you can have Ubuntu and a few hundred of your favorite free apps. If your system image is >12GB, you have other issues and you should expect to pay more. 16GB for OS & apps, 16GB for data is plenty for almost anybody.

Not all SDHC->IDE or SDHC->PCMCIA or SDHC->SATA converters support booting, but most do and most SDHC adapters installed in laptops do support it. You can always try it. The ones that do are quite proud of the fact and so it won't be hard to tell which is which. The performance on these things can be quite fine. I don't know why they don't just put a socket for these things on a desktop motherboard. You have to buy the embedded motherboard for that.

Re:120GB is too much. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789165)

"16GB for data is plenty for almost anybody."

Hahaha oh wow

Re:120GB is too much. (2, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | about 6 years ago | (#24789491)

Yeah, actually it is. And if it isn't, you can just swap out one for another. Or you could store your hundreds of hours of anime you only watch once a year on a big ol' external HDD. Heck, you could probably just let it live in the BitTorrent cloud where you got it all in the first place; it's not like you'll never have broadband again.

Re:120GB is too much. (5, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 6 years ago | (#24789511)

Ever try to torrent something that isn't popular? Yeah. That's why you keep a local copy.

Re:120GB is too much. (1)

Miseph (979059) | about 6 years ago | (#24789597)

Then burn it to DVD. The point is that if you need more than 16 gb of data storage you're either being really lazy or doing things that put you well outside the needs of a normal user.

Given the number of /.ers who will cut your balls off for suggesting that setting up redundant off-site back-ups for your personal porn collection might be overkill, it's surprising that nobody seems to think even *having* 16gb of data on your disk is a terrible idea, let alone scoffing at the idea you don't need a whole lot more.

Re:120GB is too much. (2, Funny)

rockout (1039072) | about 6 years ago | (#24789649)

My MacBook Air doesn't have a DVD player, you insensitive clod!

Oh, wait....

Re:120GB is too much. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790155)

Let's see.

For a 1TB hard drive you would need 200+ DVDs.
1TB drive is $150, 200 DVDs would be about $120.

I think I'd rather just spend the extra $30 and get the hard drive since it's much faster, takes less physical space, is rewritable and I don't have to go digging around stacks of discs.

People who say that 16GB is enough are naive. It might be enough *for you*, but your needs don't represent everyone else's needs. For example, I own enough CDs to fill 30GB worth of space in MP3 compressed format. I own enough DVDs to fill 100GB if I compress each film down to only 1GB each. I work with image files that take 200-300MB for each master copy. I work with audio projects that take 500-1000MB each. The average size of a modern game is 5-10GB. Windows XP takes 4-5GB (while Vista takes about 15GB). Do you see where this is going?

So no, 16GB is FAR from enough space.

Re:120GB is too much. (2, Informative)

lysergic.acid (845423) | about 6 years ago | (#24790191)

i have a hard time finding blank DVDs that last more than a 3-4 years. and backing up hundreds of gigabytes of files onto DVDs tends to ruin your DVD burner pretty fast. not to mention it's a lot easier to lose/damage data stored in hundreds of separate DVD's than a couple of harddrives.

it's pretty presumptuous to think that every one has the same needs/preferences as you.

Re:120GB is too much. (3, Insightful)

master5o1 (1068594) | about 6 years ago | (#24790265)

You do know that this is a nerd infested website. You can never get enough data storage.

Why I'm using over 16MB for work (1)

billstewart (78916) | about 6 years ago | (#24790315)

I've got a 30GB disk that's about full, with almost no music on it. A few years ago, disks jumped rapidly from 1GB to 2GB to 10GB then 30GB, so I've had enough space for quite a while, but I've finally caught up with Moore's Law.

My work laptop uses MS Windows, Office, and Outlook. My current Outlook PST file is ~2GB for the past year, and I've got a total of about 10GB including older mail - I've found that really valuable, though bloated. And there's all that Powerpoint bloated material from training, presentations, etc. (And of course there's swap space, another 2GB or so.)

Re:120GB is too much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789587)

That might work for retards like you but regular people don't work like that.

Re:120GB is too much. (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 6 years ago | (#24790023)

On my desktop machine the root partition is 120GB, so far I've used 79.37 GB. That's with OSX, lots of pro multimedia software installed -- so basically, I have over 79GB of apps and system. My home directory is on a separate 240GB partitiion.I'm about to upgrade my (160GB) laptop so I have a mobile replacement that can keep up. We're entering the TB era; 16GB is woefully inadequate for anything but a netbook or a phone. And in just a couple of years, it won't be enough for those either.

Re:120GB is too much. (1)

coryking (104614) | about 6 years ago | (#24790087)

16GB is woefully inadequate for anything but a netbook or a phone

Even then 16gb is inadequate.

The world is moving to digitized video (netflix, tivo, etc). You are looking at a gig an hour for standard diff and probably 3-5 gigs an hour for hi-def. Within a year or so, I promise your phone will be able to play 1080i hi-def content at native resolution.

And the "OMG Bloatware we should all be using hand-rolled for-loops in C" people can step back into their timewarp from 1970. We have fast machines now and pulling off human friendly UI effects like that on the iPhone ain't cheap. And dont even start with "OMG eye candy" because quite frankly, the smooth scrolling and "human" touches make the user experience so much better then before. Turn off those things and the iPhone would feel bland and dull.

Arg... I hate technophobes who wind up working in technology.

Re:120GB is too much. (1)

karnal (22275) | about 6 years ago | (#24790065)

Wasn't trying to cramp your style; just wanted to point out that while my solution for cost per gigabyte was much higher, it will result in a more hard drive-ish experience for the end user than buying the cheapest SD card that you can find at a given capacity. This is actually the reason I did a whole lotta googlin' and a whole lotta reading on what others had gone through in doing a project such as this.

I can truly see myself picking up an SSD once the 64GB drives hit around 100$. Why? Well, the speed will be on par with the fastest consumer drives if not faster due to the seek times. As well, I agree with your sentiment regarding not needing storage space for useless things --> on the desktop or on a laptop. If I can access my content via my home network 95% of the time (5% travel, give or take) then I'd be happy with 16+16GB. Note this would probably only be feasable on a laptop, as my gaming desktop tends to have space eaten by games. I use network storage for anything media related (app installs, movies, music and picture collection) and local is reserved for scratch/games/dvd re-encode "swap."

Re:120GB is too much. (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 6 years ago | (#24790395)

This is actually the reason I did a whole lotta googlin' and a whole lotta reading on what others had gone through in doing a project such as this.

I do this on a regular basis. For home desktops on LAN I like low power units that PXE boot to LTSP for a Myth or Ubuntu desktop. I've given up on fan noise -- it ruins the computing experience for me these days. Notebooks I'm going with 30GB IDE drives this year because they came with them, but will probably bump that to 320GB before Christmas for magnetic media because my laptops are older. But if I was getting a new laptop it would be all SSD or SDHC even now, with external 2.5" USB drives for the bigger data. The dual core Atom Netbooks are looking sweet for Q4. I find myself booting Ubuntu from the pen drive more and more often, just because it's ready to rock in four seconds. USB 2.0 is fast enough for data. The lack of moving parts is a big win for flash media. The torque from a minor bump on a 2.5" centrifuge clipping 5000 RPM is pretty huge. 16GB is enough for OS&Apps. Any more than that and image storage is a bear. I keep system images of my machines using Clonezilla to make rebuilding easier, and I like a lot of waypoint snapshots.

It was looking for a while like CF was going to win here. Compact flash interface is perfectly compatible with IDE, so it makes a good intermediate step so I agree with you there. 1" hard drives did look for a while like they were the answer in the CF form factor. The thing is that MicroSDHC is about the size of four grains of rice and is available in 8GB sizes already. It's easy to see that the Compact flash form factor isn't going to be needed in the long term. Also, IDE is being deprecated in favor of SATA, which suits SD better. Still if you have a CF camera this is not a bad choice.

Re:120GB is too much. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24788993)

No, 120GB is NOT ENOUGH! Doing what you suggest is completely retarded.

Re:120GB is too much. (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 6 years ago | (#24790061)

Ok, that's Hitachi. Is Fujitsu in the house?

Re:120GB is too much. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789019)

Speak for yourself, 120GB is miniscule. I'll just keep using hard drives until flash drives are able to compete both in storage space and price (ie. 1TB for $150).

You might like this better. (-1)

Erris (531066) | about 6 years ago | (#24789041)

A handy CF to IDE adapter [] . 16 GB really is enough space for the basics, but you might want more or less. This would be a nice retrofit to lighten up a laptop. Can't say what kind of performance it would bring.

Re:You might like this better. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789753)

oh my, it looks like twitter might actually be bringing one of his 14 accounts [] out of karma hell. that's impressive.

and scary.

Re:You might like this better. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790079)

Nobody cares, STFU.

Re:You might like this better. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790397)

you should also link to twitter's attack journal: [] [] []

when i grow up, I hope I can get away with shit like that.

Re:120GB is too much. (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#24789723)

Networking makes the 16GB local drives plenty big enough. If the network is completely transparent, with automatic network drives available for the less frequently used files. That kind of local caching should be automatic, and the Gb ethernet a hassle-free bottleneck (no "login", etc).

Then 16GB for $50 means that SSD has fully arrived. Even if the SSD vendors still want $200 for whatever they'll try to sell you.

Which means that really, now, it's a UI and software problem to solve. The HW is ready. Isn't that always the case?

I completely agree (5, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 6 years ago | (#24788855)

The small increase in performance isn't worth the several hundred in cost it would add to my laptops. I bought my laptop for $650, and a better HD just isn't worth increasing that to nearly $1000. YMMV.

Re:I completely agree (1)

KillerBob (217953) | about 6 years ago | (#24789179)

It really depends on what you want from your laptop. If you want tons of storage and a good performance-to-price ratio, then you'll be going for a more traditional drive with moving platters/heads. If you want something like, say, battery life, then you'll be going for an SSD. There's a reason those new Dells which boast 19h of battery life have SSD's instead of traditional storage. No moving parts = much lower energy consumption.

Re:I completely agree (4, Informative)

magarity (164372) | about 6 years ago | (#24789357)

There's a reason those new Dells which boast 19h of battery life have SSD's
No, the new Dells that are boasting that have a battery pack option that is the same size as the bottom of the laptop. Think of one of those laptop cooler pads except 15 pounds of battery instead of a couple of fans inside.

Re:I completely agree (5, Funny)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about 6 years ago | (#24789431)

Think of one of those laptop cooler pads except 15 pounds of battery instead of a couple of fans inside.

Imagine the explosion you can get out of that!

Re:I completely agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790377)

Not to mention the burns on your penis!

Re:I completely agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789889)

moron, the 19hrs thing is when you use the embedded linux on the motherboard just for surfing and doing simple doc processing.

guess you never really read the press release, or you can't understand anything.

SSD are not THAT power efficient. The best thing it offers nowadays is it's "shock resistance" and the marketing of "less prone to failiure"

Re:I completely agree (5, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 6 years ago | (#24789409)

SHHH! if we cant convince rich idiots to buy these things en masse we dont have to wait as long before they are useful.

Re:I completely agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790009)

SHHH! if we cant convince rich idiots to buy these things en masse we dont have to wait as long before they are useful.

Like the mac Air? Compare it to an ultralight toshiba laptop, which is the same size & weight, but manages to squeeze in a dvd drive, usb ports and ethernet.

Not performance... (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 6 years ago | (#24789783)

It's not worth it for performance. It IS worth it for reliability, though. I'd really like to not to have to worry about my hard drive crashing every year, or every time it bumps something (especially in a laptop). No moving parts is a pretty big deal.

Re:I completely agree (1)

diamondsw (685967) | about 6 years ago | (#24790001)

If you buy a cheap piece of shit laptop, then I wouldn't expect you to fork over for a premium. They don't carry these at Wal-Mart.

I'm looking forward to SSD's after suffering two head crashes in the last few years (and none in the preceding 20). Silence and possibly improved energy efficiency are just icing on the cake.

Finally, long sequential reads being the norm? I disagree. Look at any Linux/BSD/Mac OS X system. The OS is made up of a bajillion little files. Applications are made of of lots of files, libraries, resources, etc. SSD's *kill* hard drives on content like that.

Re:I completely agree (4, Interesting)

llZENll (545605) | about 6 years ago | (#24790205)

Why the hell are SSDs so slow? I've never understood this, its not like in an HD where you can't add more read heads because there isn't enough physical space to do so, or because they can't move fast enough with the additional weight. In an SSD you should be able to put as many chips in parallel to make your read and write speeds whatever the hell you want, 1TBps, no problem. You would think SSDs should be able to saturate a SATA/Fibre/PCIE bus instantly? What gives?

I think it depends on what type of laptop (4, Interesting)

petermgreen (876956) | about 6 years ago | (#24788875)

craptops I don't see going SSD for a long time.
ordinary decent laptops I see offering SSD as an option but I don't see it being popular in the near future.

Ultraportables on the other hand are already going ssd in many cases. Tiny hard drives tend to have terrible performance and a 2.5 inch 9.5mm high drive is pretty big for an ultraportable (though some ultraportables do use them).

Re:I think it depends on "Pioneers" (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 6 years ago | (#24788925)

People who want to know and those who have to know to make their work better will take the arrows and learn early and figure out how best to use them ... or not.

That is just the way it always is.

I will get one/them, hammer them and know what I can do early on.

I disagree (5, Informative)

statemachine (840641) | about 6 years ago | (#24788899)

Complexity, power, heat, and failure from kinetic shock. These are either reduced or zero with a flash device.

If you're looking for non-mobile, or a large storage application, then the disk makes sense.

Re:I disagree (0)

Peter Cooper (660482) | about 6 years ago | (#24788969)

Power? The current batch of SSDs use more power, not less [] although I suspect this is a temporary issue.

Re:I disagree (5, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | about 6 years ago | (#24789023)

It's not as cut and dried as you think; from the article you link to:

Update: We apologize for a procedural mistake in testing battery runtime for this article. As the benchmark looped, the total workload processed by the fast Flash SSDs was higher, causing other components, such as the chipset and the CPU, to be more active as well. We followed up with the article

Check out the graphs on the retest []

Re:I disagree (0, Troll)

Anpheus (908711) | about 6 years ago | (#24789423)

Actually, what you said supported him exactly. He said he suspected it was a temporary issue. Turns out, on the re-test involving a drive that didn't exist on the initial test, it was shown to be a temporary issue. A flash drive beat every other drive in every metric except capacity.

So... he was right. You were right. Everyone can go to sleep happy.

Re:I disagree (1)

Blackhalo (572408) | about 6 years ago | (#24789983)

Wait, they did the test EXTERNAL to the laptop? That would seem to not take in to account the reduced heat of the SSDs resulting in less fan use resulting in less overall power drain. Who uses their laptop with an external drive?

Re:I disagree (1)

Peter Cooper (660482) | about 6 years ago | (#24790029)

You missed:

We followed up with the article Flash SSD Update: More Results, More Answers, which proves our conclusion correct, despite the procedural mistake. Most of the Flash SSDs are not there yet.

Only one in the re-test (the newest, most cutting edge one) come out ahead in terms of power - and I wouldn't consider that one of the "current batch."

Re:I disagree (2, Interesting)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 6 years ago | (#24790339)

which proves our conclusion correct

Saying it doesn't make it true.

Only one in the re-test (the newest, most cutting edge one) come out ahead in terms of power

I'm looking at those graphs [] and trying to work out exactly what definition of "one" you are using....

Re:I disagree (1)

statemachine (840641) | about 6 years ago | (#24789027)

Then you should also link to the follow-up article [] where they admit they goofed, and the results for power consumption weren't so cut-and-dried like you suggest. In fact, they even say there was at least one flash device on the market that beat them all.

I'll bet that Windows' penchant for hitting the hard disk as often as it does even when "idle" makes the disk use more power than a flash device.

Re:I disagree (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 6 years ago | (#24789105)

Why on earth would you link to that article, it was widely debunked at the time because the test procedure was (to use a technical term) a complete load of horse shit.

The follow up article (though unfortunately filled with attempts to save face by proving their original conclusion correct even though their methodology was laughable) shows fairly clearly [] that SSDs can deliver great performance for the power they use. (Of course there are some shitty ones two, but that's what you expect in a newish product range).

Re:I disagree (1)

cryptoluddite (658517) | about 6 years ago | (#24789231)

They say that flash drives provide significant performance advantages... and they measure how long a benchmark runs until the batter runs out?! If the drive is faster, the benchmark does more work in a given time. It uses more % of the processor rather than waiting for the drive, which uses more power.

Some of these drives take less power under load than idle hdd's. I may not be a rocket scientist, but how do they think something that draws less power has a shorter battery runtime other than the computer is doing more work? /boggle

If they had seen fit to publish how many runs or iterations the benchmarks performed before the battery ran down, you'd clearly see that flash drives are better in pretty much every way except space and cost -- certainly in power and speed.

Random write performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24788909)

While they vastly increase random read performance. Random write performance is currently no where near as good as a HDD.

Losing out on performance (5, Interesting)

subStance (618153) | about 6 years ago | (#24788947)

The comment about sequential reads causing the SSD to lose on performance compared with magnetic drives caught my attention. Isn't this highly dependent on the filesystem you use and its strategy for block allocation ?

Wouldn't it be possible to design the block allocation algorithm to favour SSDs the same way previous generations of filesystems tried to put the next block on the disk to be the one under the head at the current moment (or whatever it was they did) ?

Re:Losing out on performance (4, Interesting)

petermgreen (876956) | about 6 years ago | (#24789071)

Afaict with SSDs the performance is pretty much constant no matter what the read order. With HDDs sequential reads are much faster than random reads.

So SSDs lose in continuous throughput tests.

Re:Losing out on performance (1)

lubricated (49106) | about 6 years ago | (#24790285)

right now file systems are made in such a way as to maximize reads that are sequential. It is possible that without these, now unneeded, optimizations ssd could run faster.

Re:Losing out on performance (1)

cheater512 (783349) | about 6 years ago | (#24789261)

Using another filesystem with more 'fragmentation' wont boost SSD performance.
I cant think of any way you can make a FS for SSDs faster than the ones optimised for hard drives.

NTFS would get a massive speed boost though.
But thats just because it sucks. ;)

Re:Losing out on performance (1, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 6 years ago | (#24789749)

Isn't this highly dependent on the filesystem you use and its strategy for block allocation ?

Yes, but...

Wouldn't it be possible to design the block allocation algorithm to favour SSDs...

Well, fragmentation isn't the answer. That seems to be what you're suggesting...

See, fragmentation introduces problems of its own -- for example, simple overhead of block allocation. If you've got a bunch of blocks that are sequential -- say, block 123, 124, 125, 126, and 127 -- you can say that a file is in an extent, from block 123-127. If, however, your file is stored in blocks 123, 259, 312, 567, and 964, you're going to have to store all of those addresses -- which means you're spending 250% more disk space simply storing addresses.

Also, Flash is written to (and read from) in rather huge blocks -- so you want a file to at least be contiguous on that level.

No, I would say that the simple solution to Flash not appearing to perform as well (for sequential operations) is to defragment just as aggressively, and to increase readahead by a lot. Flash would work great for contiguous sequential reads, assuming that the filesystem (or block layer) are anticipating that you'll keep reading from the same file.

But first, you need the flash disk itself to support simultaneous reads, and probably some OS support as well.

And for what it's worth, Linux has filesystems which are optimized for raw Flash -- which handle things like wear-leveling on their own. CompactFlash, and the newer standards, provide an IDE-like interface, which does the wear-leveling in hardware -- in other words, they pretend to be a hard disk, mostly for the benefit of Windows.

So I predict two things: First, that Linux will solve this problem the "right way", given sufficiently low-level access. And second, that there will be a lot of hardware, firmware, and BIOS hacks to get around the fact that Windows isn't going to be changing its filesystem anytime soon.

I was explaining this to an engineer years ago (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 6 years ago | (#24790201)

IDE media already lies to the controller about where the content is on the drive to compensate for densities beyond the original design and bad sectors. There's no good reason for your SSD to come perfectly honest about that either.

That handles bad sectors, wear levelling, bad block failover, and a number of other issues.

Now, about bandwidth. Solid State Drives are by definition, solid state. The way solid state devices work is that they are accessed and give up their data in real time. It takes a few nanoseconds to heat up the address lines and drag the data out of the hardware storage. If, for example, it takes too long to drag a sequence of bits out of the flash, there's no reason not to access many bits in parallel in the electronics on the device. So, given an infinite interface, how much data can you pull out of a properly designed SSD in a millisecond? All of it. And that should be fast enough for this decade, at least. The reason why many of these devices are bandwidth constrained is due to the limited thinking of the engineers who envisioned them as temporary storage for camera photos and external pen drives. No such limits are in fact present in the technology.

If you're an engineer and you're looking at these constraints, you need to ask: "Well, whose fault is that and what can be done to change it?"

Geeks Should Understand Latency (5, Interesting)

StCredZero (169093) | about 6 years ago | (#24789915)

Time to burn some Karma...

On a "News for Nerds" site, moderators should understand the sources of disk latency. Rotating Hard Drives have latency from the time it takes to move the head across the platter, and for the platter to rotate under the head. SSDs do not have these sources of latency.

One of the big problems is that current flash is just slow on writes. Some of them don't do DMA properly. If there are problems with block sizes, this can be adjusted easily. But the underlying technology has to improve, or manufacturers need to build SSDs with more parallelism and better features. Perhaps very parallel SSD architectures might need filesystems optimized for large block sizes.

One of the big potential benefits of flash is reliability. Imagine highly modular flash drives for servers with hardware RAID 5? Instead of a disk failure, you get a notification that a module needs replacing. In fact, you could build versions with an extra slot for a failover spare in-place!

Also, with wear leveling, there's the potential for hard drives that can warn you several days before they fail!

SSD makes sense.... (3, Insightful)

dindi (78034) | about 6 years ago | (#24788957)

Well, I use Linux/Windows as my servers, and use a Mac mini/G5 as my development environment, and even though I do now own an SSD laptop I know it makes sense.

Uses less power and can be dropped. My laptop is a macbook (not pro) and I know it is overkill with what I do with it, so a macbook AIR would be just the right thing to do if it had the correct pricing with SSD. But it doesn't, at least not for me.

No optical drive, limited HDD? I do not really care. For my visits to clients (of web projects) could be done on a 5 year old crap (if it wasn't windows and had a battery live of 10 minutes) so for me an AIR would be just fine.

Ohh... does it makes sense on WINTEL? Do not know how Vista runs on an SSD and if you have any space on a 64GIG drive after installing VISTA. Not flaming, I really do not know.

I know, that if I had to travel more I would get an AIR with SSD, and it would perfectly satisfy my multimedia needs (just grab those 4-5 movies to HDD for the flight and you are set).

Just my 2c, but I am a (mostly web) developer, so all you sales people and myltimedia freaks might have a different viewpoint about the whole fuss.......

Re:SSD makes sense.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790035)

to answer your question, i have a Dell XPS m1330 with a 64GB SSD drive in it running Vista Home Premium.

total install size is approx 15GB including Office, Visual Studio, Visio and some other apps.

plenty of drive space left over.

and in a side by side unscientific test with the exact same model laptop with the only difference being the SSD drive and LED screen in mine versus a standard offered HDD and regular screen, using both laptops till they shut down at 3% battery life per vista measuring, mine lasted approximately 15 minutes longer.

On the other hand, mine has survived a lot of travel and the other has already had a hard drive failure......

all anecdotal evidence but just answering based upon my experience.

oh, and i got mine with the SSD because of a coupon that basically gave it to me for less money than the regular priced HDD.

God love Dell and EPP coupons and special pricing!

battery life? (5, Insightful)

bigdavex (155746) | about 6 years ago | (#24788973)

I think people are willing to pay a premium for extended battery life. If I can use my device more, it has more utility.

Re:battery life? (2, Insightful)

trum4n (982031) | about 6 years ago | (#24789389)

I just get a bigger battery. Its cheaper than a SSD, and i don't drop laptops. If i drop my laptop, i deserve to be without.

Shh, don't tell that to Asus... (1, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 6 years ago | (#24789001)

I'm afraid they'll want to take my Eee PC back if they hear that.

Typical Obama Su (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789005)

Going smaller generally requires compromises. Performance takes a backseat, because manufacturers design the drives primarily for lower power consumption and heat emission. Solid state drives have just been very expensive for much of their existence. Late last year 160GB SSDs sold for around $1,000. That number is far from affordable, but it was still half as expensive as it was more than a year ago. SSDs will continue to drop tremendously in price, but they are still out of reach for most of us.

The high cost may not perfectly suited to most mobile devices, but what if you have one of these low cost [] SSD drives? More reliable than a hard drive, at a fraction of the cost. Low cost SSDs will soon be so cheap, everyone will be able to have at least one. I already preorded two.

They have regular SSDs on the Macbook Air, and quite frankly, it's a rip off. Considering cost, I believe that this is the next big thing.

More for less is an easy sale... (5, Interesting)

Manip (656104) | about 6 years ago | (#24789007)

It will be easy to sell the concept of SSD to pretty much anyone, particularly for a laptop. Here is the short list:
- Faster Reads
- Potentially faster to wake up from sleep
- More durable
- Less chance of sudden and complete data loss (e.g. A smaller portion of the drive would fail instead of a complete drive failure as with a magnetic disk)
- Consumes less power
- Quieter
- Cooler (also a power saving feature due to less fan running time)

SSD drives are very cool pieces of technology and I for one can't wait to be able to buy a superthin laptop with no magnetic disk.

Re:More for less is an easy sale... (1)

CyrusOmega (1261328) | about 6 years ago | (#24789137)

The noise factor alone *could* sell SSD far better than most think. I know at my place of work, drive space isn't a big deal but having 15 different hard-drives rattling on during a meeting can get quite annoying, especially if a meeting runs till noon when everyone's laptop starts doing the "mandatory" virus scan.

Re:More for less is an easy sale... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790089)

well i for one can say that many times i've thought my dell xps wasn't running because of no HDD noise.....

Re:More for less is an easy sale... (1, Interesting)

furball (2853) | about 6 years ago | (#24789315)

What about weight? Do SSD drives weigh less than the normal types today? Or is it about the same?

Re:More for less is an easy sale... (1, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 6 years ago | (#24789319)

I thought many of those hyped benefits haven't panned out, or are taken out of proportion. Power consumption even on a good drive isn't significantly lot lower, the real-world speed generally isn't there yet, and the noise? I think first you'll need to deal with CPU power consumption. Notebook hard drives consume 1-2 watts of power, standard notebook CPUs go for 30W. Then there's the fan that's needed to cool the CPU. I personally don't need silent, and I am not really bothered by the noise a good computer emits, the noise level is so low that the money is much better spent on sound treatments for the house or quieter appliances.

Re:More for less is an easy sale... (1)

starwed (735423) | about 6 years ago | (#24789471)

I'm typing this on an ASUS eeePC 901. It gets quite a bit better battery life than the comparable MSI Wind, mostly because it uses an SSD drive.

Re:More for less is an easy sale... (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 6 years ago | (#24789743)

I'm typing this on an ASUS eeePC 901. It gets quite a bit better battery life than the comparable MSI Wind, mostly because it uses an SSD drive.

How is that possibly a good comparison? There are many possible variables. The screens are different, the batteries are different, and who knows how many other differences there may be on the board, in the power regulators and what not, even if it might use the same CPU. You need to try both kinds of drives in the same system.

Re:More for less is an easy sale... (1)

Blackhalo (572408) | about 6 years ago | (#24789741)

"I thought many of those hyped benefits haven't panned out," on Vista...

Re:More for less is an easy sale... (1)

zoogies (879569) | about 6 years ago | (#24789335)

Okay. I don't know much about SSDs, but one thing I've heard tossed around in the past was limited writes. Does this present a concern? Are there certain usages that may involve abnormal amount of write cycles such that you'd have to worry about the limited writes?

Ah...No. (1, Insightful)

actionbastard (1206160) | about 6 years ago | (#24789065)

"I think you need to get to 128GB for around $200"

The price needs to drop below equivalent rotational-based technology -currently $42.00 for 160GB- in order for it to become 'cost effective' to change.

Re:Ah...No. (1)

walshy007 (906710) | about 6 years ago | (#24789213)

in desktops perhaps, but laptop HD's are typically more expensive, about $68-75 for 160gb

Re:Ah...No. (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | about 6 years ago | (#24789975)

Dude! You're shopping [] at the wrong place!

Re:Ah...No. (4, Insightful)

ottffssent (18387) | about 6 years ago | (#24789239)

Sure. If speed, durability, power, and acoustics are valueless to you.

For the rest of us, SSDs are worth a premium. The amount of that premium depends on the user and workload.

However, given the success of WD's Raptor line of drives, I would suggest that there's certainly a segment of the population who needs or thinks it needs faster rather than larger disk. And further that this segment is sufficiently large to support a business.

It's not just database users who are buying fast SSDs (which can hit 200MB/sec read and >100MB/sec write these days), and prices are plunging as a result.

Re:Ah...No. (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | about 6 years ago | (#24790011)

"For the rest of us, SSDs are worth a premium."

For the 'average Joe', price is the motivating factor. Cognoscenti will always demand more than the mainstream, but will always be the smallest percentage of consumers.

Re:Ah...No. (1)

Trogre (513942) | about 6 years ago | (#24790149)

Sure, if reliability is valueless to you.

How many write cycles are your SSDs good for?

I think that SSDs will eventually take over, but until this major engineering hurdle is cleared, it's not a serious runner.

More like... (0)

sthomas (132075) | about 6 years ago | (#24789123)

it'll be two more years before people demand SSD in laptops so much that sales of traditional storage laptops falls off enough to motivate laptop manufacturers to a) switch fully enough to SSD models to gain economies of scale in production and b) to stop charging premiums for those models because they have to be competitive in the market.

Rubbish (2)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | about 6 years ago | (#24789163)

I can verify that Openoffice starts much faster on my little eee PC than on my Desktop machine with 75 MB/S 7200 RPM WD7500AACS. Or any other desktop I have used for that matter.

It is not just Openoffice of course, but Openoffice being a big pig of an application makes a nice example.

Re:Rubbish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790165)

Don't know about openoffice, but my EEE (900 MHz, 16G SSD) seems significantly slower than an old 600 MHz Toshiba Portege with a fairly modern 40G Toshiba HD.

Have to inform Gartner Inc (3, Interesting)

dbIII (701233) | about 6 years ago | (#24789177)

SSD HAS made sense in laptops for two years already. Things like the eeepc have brought it to the attention of the mainstream, but there were other things before it (expensive Toshiba machines etc). When you think about it the majority of tasks a laptop is used for involved changing mere Megabytes of information - it's usually a combination of a typewriter and an address book.

The long term answer ... (1)

spotvt01 (626574) | about 6 years ago | (#24789233)

The greatest benefit of the SSDs aren't in what they do today, it's their future potential. For a long time HDD access has been one of the biggest bottlenecks. The best thing about SSD is that it _opens the door_ to persistent storage that is not limited by it's mechanical mechanisms. There will be a lot improvements that can be built on this path whereas the mechanical HDD has almost run it's course.

Since When (2, Interesting)

DougF (1117261) | about 6 years ago | (#24789265)

has "sense" ever trumped fashion? SSDs are fashionable and workable enough that the "lead the fleet" types will purchase, and hopefully buy enough that businesses will start producing enough to drop the prices for the rest of us.

I've been using solid state for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789271) []

It all depends on what you want to do with your laptop. My ancient 233 MHz Thinkpad has been running damnsmalllinux for years now. DSL fits on 50 MB of flash card. If I need to do something heavy duty, I SSH to my desktop. The two biggest battery eaters on the laptop were the hard drive and the display. Getting rid of the mechanical hard drive saved a lot of power.

OTOH, my daughter does heavy duty graphics on her laptop. For her, one file can be bigger than 50 MB. ie. YMMV

$200? (5, Insightful)

davidpfarrell (562876) | about 6 years ago | (#24789337)

Maybe its just me, but I fully expect 128GB SSD to go for much less than $200 by the end of 2010.

How much HDD space will you be able to buy by that time for $200? I'd say easily 10-15x capacity.

I feel like TFA is trying to set you up to accept higher prices on the hardware for a longer period of time.

SSD is merging onto the superhighway that is Moore's Law for HDD and I can't see settling for lower capacity and higher prices for more than another year or so.

Re:$200? (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 6 years ago | (#24790131)

I think you're overly optimistic. The current plants can only produce so much. If at a particular price they can sell their entire inventory, then there's no reason to cut prices below that, even if they could do so and still earn a decent profit.

Erm... 2010? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789525)

2010 is in less than a year and a half. Two years? Learn to count.

Re:Erm... 2010? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789911)

Do us a favor and try to rub a couple brain cells together before posting. What will the date be exactly two years from now? That's right.

Advertising (5, Insightful)

cybereal (621599) | about 6 years ago | (#24789637)

Also, the industry needs to effectively communicate why consumers or enterprise users should pay more for less storage," says Joseph Unsworth, an analyst at Gartner Inc.


Seriously, solid state electronics, even after years and years of being around them as an early 80's baby, still just seems like magic to me. I can't wait to get rid of every little motor whine in my computing world, even if it's another 10 years, that will be a happy day to have a powerful computer without any moving parts.

Re:Advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789943)

Quiet computing. Yup, I'm sold. We don't need motors and fans in our computers. But, there are the hard drive manufacturers and the slowly dying makers of PCs largely based on a very outdated processor that requires a fan, and Gartner is paid to support findings for this legacy industry.

Re:Advertising (3, Funny)

rthille (8526) | about 6 years ago | (#24790187)

Go on ebay and buy yourself an apple II

Re:Advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24790207)

I guess there are a lot of noise snobs in the computing world. I, for one, don't give a shit about noise. Give me more performance, more storage and more cooling, noise be damned. I wish I had actual data for the noise put out by my machine (which is sitting right next to me). To give you an idea, I'd compare it to a muffled hair dryer. But it has nine hard drives, near as many fans, and an air-cooled overclocked quad-core processor in it. Best computer I've ever had. Couldn't be happier with it.

With some good speakers and the volume turned up, it's less noticeable. With headphones on, it's not noticeable at all. Brought it to Quakecon expecting other people to complain about it, but you couldn't even hear it over the ambient noise in the BYOC.

Only place I'd consider using SSD would be my laptop, but even then I'd want to carry around a fat external with a spinning disk inside. Well that's not exactly true. With fast internet connections I could leave my fat spinning disks at home and access them over the network. Point is, spinning disks aren't going anywhere anytime soon

spam test (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789795)

spOnge (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24789851)

Why is this even a story? (1)

Butisol (994224) | about 6 years ago | (#24789991)

Should anyone really be surprised that SSD tech isn't quite mature and competitive yet? Hold your horses, it's coming! I'm absolutely thrilled that it's advancing as fast as it is, and in a few short years the vast majority of laptops and desktops will be packing SSDs that make hard drives based on spinning magnetic surfaces obsolete outside of a few niche purposes. Onwards!

SSD is here already. (4, Interesting)

miffo.swe (547642) | about 6 years ago | (#24790361)

My familys three eeepc and the one i have at work would be utter pain if they had spinning disks and not SSD. Cheap laptop drives is terrible when it comes to sequential reads but even worse at access times.

Ubuntu runs faster in some areas on the eee than on my brand spanking new desktop.

What i long for is faster speeds and more write cycles. Servers is what i think would benefit the most from SSD and thats where i suspect it will take off soon.

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