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Four SSDs Compared — OCZ, Super Talent, Mtron

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the be-vewwy-vewwy-quiet dept.

Data Storage 206

MojoKid writes "Solid State Drive technology is set to turn the storage industry on its ear — eventually. It's just a matter of time. When you consider the intrinsic benefits of anything built on solid-state technology versus anything mechanical, it doesn't take a degree in physics to understand the obvious advantages. However, as with any new technology, things take time to mature and the current batch of SSDs on the market do have some caveats and shortcomings, especially when it comes to write performance. This full performance review and showcase of four different Solid State Disks, two MLC-based and two SLC-based, gives a good perspective of where SSDs currently are strong and where they're not. OCZ, Mtron and Super Talent drives are tested here but Intel's much anticipated offering hasn't arrived to market just yet."

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Use the handicapped stall (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24888213)

...and shit as a king would.

SSD (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24888217)

Super Sloppy Dikes?

I love lesbians!

1+1+1 != 4 (-1)

winterphoenix (1246434) | about 6 years ago | (#24888275)

OCZ, Super Talent, Mtron - Sounds more like three SSD drives compared. Good counting there, Lou.

Re:1+1+1 != 4 (1)

xpuppykickerx (1290760) | about 6 years ago | (#24888291)

OCZ has two different drives reviewed.

Re:1+1+1 != 4 (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 6 years ago | (#24889073)

By what WITCHCRAFT would thou know the article contents?

Re:1+1+1 != 4 (1)

xpuppykickerx (1290760) | about 6 years ago | (#24889131)

Well, you see, they teach nobility how to read and write. Also, how to wield a sword and ride a horse into combat.

Re:1+1+1 != 4 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24888301)

One manufacturer makes both an SLC and MLC drive. RTFM.

Re:1+1+1 != 4 (5, Funny)

Holi (250190) | about 6 years ago | (#24888599)

RTFM? Shit... comments, articles, now I have to read a damn manual too. Jesus Slashdot is getting harder and harder these days.

1+1+1 = 4 if 1, 1, 1, and 4 are rounded numbers (1)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#24888953)

I did RTFA; at least, the first several screens. Not a word about price. If you've read the whole thing, what do these suckers cost? I want to build fanless, nose-free a media center but I ain't Bill gates (good thing too because I'll base it on Linux).

Re:1+1+1 = 4 if 1, 1, 1, and 4 are rounded numbers (4, Informative)

amdpox (1308283) | about 6 years ago | (#24889023)

Lots. For a high-speed SLC (i.e. something that will equal a cheap 7200rpm spinning platter), you'll pay $400+ for a 64gb and $700+ for a 128gb at this point. Basically, they're completely economically infeasible at anything larger than the 4/8gb you see being used to store the OS and apps in netbooks, unless you have a critical need to access a lot of data at high speed while driving a truck over a small post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Re:1+1+1 = 4 if 1, 1, 1, and 4 are rounded numbers (1)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#24889165)

Ouch! Thanks for the info (mods, please mod him "informative"). I'll have to wait until the price comes down. Seems that since they're solid state, eventually they'll be cheaper than magnetic drives.

Re:1+1+1 = 4 if 1, 1, 1, and 4 are rounded numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24889175)

the ocz they tested is near $700, while the maxtor is at near $200.

Re:1+1+1 != 4 (2, Informative)

AllynM (600515) | about 6 years ago | (#24889367)

These guys are idiots. A few points:

- They 'cheated' on ATTO, only configuring it to start at 8k. Last I checked, default sector size is 512b. Regular day-to-day apps, such as Outlook, perform random sector-level access to the PST when downloading mail.

- If you're going to do an SSD roundup, how about at lest grabbing a few drives off of the SSD top 10. Specifically, Memoright (#1 on that list) makes an SLC drive that competes with the other SLC drives on price, yet outperforms them all: http://www.storagesearch.com/ssd-top10.html [storagesearch.com]

- Disclaimer: I own a Memoright drive. I don't claim to be a fanboy, I just did my research beforehand (along with trying out a few other drives), and found the best thing going at the time.

- The Intel drives, expected to come out this month, are likely to bury everything on that review.

Re:1+1+1 != 4 (3, Informative)

Zymergy (803632) | about 6 years ago | (#24888303)

They tested two (2) different OCZ SSD models, one with SLC NAND Flash memory chips, and the other with MLC NAND Flash memory chips. 2+1+1=4
I know, I RTA...

Re:1+1+1 != 4 (1)

winterphoenix (1246434) | about 6 years ago | (#24889583)

Sorry, it was meant as more of a joke, but I guess my snarkasm is weak today

Along with SSDs an optimized OS? (1)

DaveWick79 (939388) | about 6 years ago | (#24888299)

Ultimately I think we're going to see systems with the OS essentially in ROM on a solid state disk, with room for application installation. Data will end up being stored on a traditional disk. I sincerely hope that the developers of next gen Windows, Linux, MacOS, and others, are taking this scenario and building an OS that is optimized for it. I think Linux certainly has a head start.

Re:Along with SSDs an optimized OS? (2, Insightful)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | about 6 years ago | (#24888387)

I had a 286 laptop with MS-DOS in ROM.

Re:Along with SSDs an optimized OS? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | about 6 years ago | (#24888575)

I had a 286 laptop with MS-DOS in ROM.

I had a Sinclair ZX-81 with OS and BASIC language in ROM. It was the first in a series of machines I owned in which the OS and BASIC were either included in onboard ROM or came on a ROM cartridge that plugged in.

Man, I just realized how old I'm getting ...

Re:Along with SSDs an optimized OS? (0, Troll)

cerberusss (660701) | about 6 years ago | (#24889101)

Showmaster: Well, well, well ladies and gentlemen, these fine men have come very far in our show! Here we have contestant 1:

I had a 286 laptop with MS-DOS in ROM.

And contestant 2:

I had a Sinclair ZX-81 with OS and BASIC language in ROM

It's obviously a very close call, ladies and gentlemen! We're looking at each contestant its Slashdot UID....
 
*drumrolls*

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's Neon Spiral Injector who obviously has the advantage here!

Re:Along with SSDs an optimized OS? (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 6 years ago | (#24889115)

Man, I just realized how old I'm getting ...

No you didn't. You realized that awhile back but forgot.

Re:Along with SSDs an optimized OS? (2, Interesting)

DaveWick79 (939388) | about 6 years ago | (#24888739)

My point being, they spent so much time measuring performance with sequential data transfer and write speed, when at least in the short term (next 5-10 years) these are pretty much just going to be OS drives where those benchmarks are inconsequential. Let's test system performance in the setup I mentioned. Test Autocad performance with the app on the SSD. Test Crysis performance with the game data on the SSD. Run PCmark or similar benchmark utility installed on the SSD and compare it to the typical 7200rpm or 10,000rpm hard drive that is in a typical desktop today. Then we'll have a useful benchmark and a really good basis to determine whether or not we're getting close to price vs. performance feasibility.

Re:Along with SSDs an optimized OS? (1)

wooferhound (546132) | about 6 years ago | (#24888825)

Looks like the drives will star coming built into the motherboard

Re:Along with SSDs an optimized OS? (2, Informative)

mstahl (701501) | about 6 years ago | (#24888939)

You can set up your machine this way right now if you want. Just put /home on a traditional disk and have the kernel and maybe a couple more trees of system files on an SSD. This way your SSD doesn't wear out as fast and you have super-quick read access to the kernel and settings.

If you're running something other than linux I'm sure there's a less transparent way of doing this. Mac OS doesn't really let you set mountpoints with Disk Utility but it won't freak out if you put in your own (MacFUSE does this). You may have to do so in a script though since Mac OS ignores the contents of /etc/fstab I thought. Someone out there probably knows for sure.

Re:Along with SSDs an optimized OS? (1)

drsmithy (35869) | about 6 years ago | (#24889281)

Ultimately I think we're going to see systems with the OS essentially in ROM on a solid state disk, with room for application installation. Data will end up being stored on a traditional disk. I sincerely hope that the developers of next gen Windows, Linux, MacOS, and others, are taking this scenario and building an OS that is optimized for it. I think Linux certainly has a head start.

Maybe it's just me, but putting the OS data (least performance sensitive and most easily replaced) on the SSD (most reliable and highest performing) seems to defeat the purpose.

You can run linux in ram now (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 6 years ago | (#24889361)

For server systems, you can build a fully functionally ram based server image which will run in less than 200mb of ram.

Just add 4-128gb of memory as required.

Course, all that goes completely out of the window the instant the words "Gnome", or "Java" are mentioned. You are welcome to your rotating metal disk levels of performance there.

Deconstructing solid state. (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#24888313)

You know, we keep talking about solid state as its better because there are no moving parts, and less wear, but chips and circuits have plenty of moving electrons and go through a lot of thermal stress. I know that for a lot of applications a circuit can seem to be more reliable, but do we really have a sufficient experience to make such a sweeping statement that in fact solid state is more -reliable- than a mechanical system? There are some steam trains out there that are running and are over 100 years old... do we really think that a CPU or a RAM or a motherboard can live that long?

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 6 years ago | (#24888351)

They gave him a bunch of free drives to play with. Therefore, they are better. Don't you understand how these reviews work?

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 6 years ago | (#24888835)

Don't know why this was modded flamebait - there's often more than just a bit of truth in this statement.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (4, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 6 years ago | (#24888381)

Well, let's see:
- Magnetic hard drive = solid state (ICs, buffers, etc) + magnetic platter + mechanical (rotating platter(s) + moving heads)
- SSD = solid state

As soon as the price per GB of SSDs is at parity with the magnetic drives, I'm switching. It probably puts out less heat and require less power, meaning quieter drives too.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (4, Insightful)

ericspinder (146776) | about 6 years ago | (#24888817)

As soon as the price per GB of SSDs is at parity with the magnetic drives, I'm switching.

Actual price parity will likely only occur once the older technology become a rarity, and I suspect that for the next decade, magnetic drives will continue to be the cheapest mass storage out there. That being said, for me, I'll buy a SSD when I can get a decently rated 120 gig drive for less than $150.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | about 6 years ago | (#24889047)

By that reasoning, we should all still be using tape drives which if I recall are like $50 for around 1 TB or more. I'll switch when I don't have to worry about SSDs fizzling out because of too many writes, which I believe is still a problem.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

Blice (1208832) | about 6 years ago | (#24888979)

You're right, except for one thing.

You're going to use more power. Yes, SSDs use less power, that much is obvious. But what you're forgetting is that the CPU does a lot of idling because of waiting for harddrives to give it the data it needs to process... With an SSD, the data comes faster and the CPU spends less time idling and more time working, and in turn ends up using more power.

Seriously, go replace your laptop's HDD with an SSD and watch your battery life actually go down. It's because your CPU is drawing more power, not to mention everything else that has to wait for the harddrive.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

MrNaz (730548) | about 6 years ago | (#24889153)

Yes, but if your CPU loads data faster you'll be able to finish your work sooner which means you'll be able to turn the computer off sooner.

For the reasons above I conclude that SSD are directly related to the number of pirates in the world, and thus have a huge effect on global warming.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

sdsucks (1161899) | about 6 years ago | (#24889179)

Is this a joke?

The only way that makes any sense is if your reading from the disk more (ie doing more things) because your not waiting in disk reads. In which case its an unfair comparison.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

EMeta (860558) | about 6 years ago | (#24889247)

More power for time in use? Yes. More power per computer task done? No.

I've been debating on which one is more important to me though. (/sarcasm)

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | about 6 years ago | (#24889391)

The problem is, that most modern OSes do journalling on filesystem reads, which causes a lot of write actions... To really get the most from SSDs, OS installs need a light-write option, where writes for filesystem journaling, and logging is queued... even a moderate write-cache, and enough capacitor power to handle it would go a long way towards performance... Not to mention, that the constant writes tend to have the devices powered on more than desirable. Also, sequential read/write becomes less necessary, and on-disk optimizations make defraging a bad thing to do.

I think in the long term SSD is a great option, just OSes and applications need to be tweaked a bit to support it. Servers using SSD for data caches is a great thing, since, for instance a web, mail, or nntp server need mostly random reads. A service implementing memcached's protocol that is set to utilize SSD drive storage in addition to memory would be great as well, since SSDs are still cheaper than RAM per GB, and SSDs have much faster read than HDDs.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

jebrew (1101907) | about 6 years ago | (#24888987)

I'm using one at the moment, I've got to say, I love it.

As soon as I've got the money, I'm putting one in my home system.

This is Slashdot. And you forgot Microsoft? (1)

MickLinux (579158) | about 6 years ago | (#24889437)

I know, let's hit that old dead horse again.

But Microsoft is, in a way, just symbolic for the software developers in general. We've had growing SSDs for quite some time, now (let's think thumbdrive, CF, Ramdisk, and others).

The problem with this is that as RAM becomes cheaper, the software developers deliberately bloat their software, and thus make SSDs again impractical for the latest software. Since government purchases and requirements drive everyone to the new level, SSDs have remained impractical.

So now people are coming out, saying "Well, the SSDs are getting better, so NOW they'll be practical."

Well, can someone explain to me what changed in the market forces, to make software developers want their products small enough to fit on a SSD? To a software company president, SSD = Piracy = Lost Profits.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | about 6 years ago | (#24888513)

There are some steam trains out there that are running and are over 100 years old... do we really think that a CPU or a RAM or a motherboard can live that long?

I agree completely. I, too, am dismayed at the lack of development in steam-powered computing.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

Holi (250190) | about 6 years ago | (#24888613)

Yeah ever since we lost Babbage that tech seems to have stalled.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24889485)

I use steam powered computing all day long.

The "steam powered" part comes from the electric plant which heats water, produces steam, and turns a turbine that produces the electricity.

This being /. someone will now digress about how electric power isn't generated that way, or not in their part of the country. The coal powered plant that does all this can be seen from my home.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (3, Interesting)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | about 6 years ago | (#24888579)

I noticed they claim 1,000,000+ h MTBF, but they only warranty for less than 10,000 h (or 20,000 in some cases). What makes you wonder why they have so little faith in their product (or in their own reliability estimate).

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 6 years ago | (#24888661)

I noticed they claim 1,000,000+ h MTBF, but they only warranty for less than 10,000 h (or 20,000 in some cases). What makes you wonder why they have so little faith in their product (or in their own reliability estimate).

Makes you wonder why they're permitted to claim 1,000,000+ h MTBF in their literature when they don't give any assurance. Seems kind of like the sort of scummy propaganda that ought to be illegal. Saturate the media with consistent but unsubstantiated claims, and you make bullshit into gospel.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24889345)

They ran 1000 drives, and the first one failed after 1000 hours. So there was 1,000,000 hours of total product time before a failure, that's how MTBF works.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (2, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 6 years ago | (#24889043)

I noticed they claim 1,000,000+ h MTBF, but they only warranty for less than 10,000 h (or 20,000 in some cases). What makes you wonder why they have so little faith in their product (or in their own reliability estimate).

You need not wonder. The disks have a limited life time - like the brakes on your car, or the tyres, they will wear out eventually, and then you have to replace them. Nothing you can do about that. But that is not the same as "failures". A "failure" happens when your tyre blows after only 10,000 miles of normal use. Let's say a tyre is worn out after 800 hours of normal use. And one in thousand tyres has a failure before it is worn out, then you have 800,000 hours MTBF but only 800 hours life time.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 6 years ago | (#24889055)

I noticed they claim 1,000,000+ h MTBF, but they only warranty for less than 10,000 h (or 20,000 in some cases).

Which if you do the math is well over a year of 24/7 operation, 20000 is almost 2.5 years. Last I checked you didn't normally get more than three years (in many cases less) on consumer HDDs too, so draw whatever conclusion you like but I don't think they're very different from other sellers.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

macsuibhne (307779) | about 6 years ago | (#24889093)

1,000,000 hours is over 114 years. Your estate would be making those warranty claims.

Tony.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | about 6 years ago | (#24889355)

That was exactly my point. To get to these estimates (and they are actually having numbers there in excess of 200 years for some parts) you'd need to run some very extensive tests since you have to get a certain number of devices to fail to show you're on some form of normal distribution curve pointing to a max at that age. You shouldn't see any failures in the first 10 years to begin if you're following some bell shape curve unless you have a huge number of test subjects.
So the number is presumable "simulation data" based in some usage pattern. What explains the lack of trust in it by the business people who have to deal with potential claims.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24889237)

1,000,000 hours = 114.15 YEARS

20,000 hours = 2.28 YEARS

I would think a 3-5 year warranty is more than sufficient.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | about 6 years ago | (#24889293)

I noticed they claim 1,000,000+ h MTBF, but they only warranty for less than 10,000 h (or 20,000 in some cases). What makes you wonder why they have so little faith in their product (or in their own reliability estimate).

Because those are completely different things. One is "this drive has an expected lifespan of 10,000 hours", the other is "if you are using 1,000,000 drives that haven't reached the end of their expected lifespan, you can expect approximately one to fail every hour" (a way to measure how likely a drive is to fail before the end of its expected lifespan). Remember the "bathtub curve"? MTBF is how high the low middle part is, lifespan is where the rise at the end is. Of course, this assumes that the "bathtub curve" theory is accurate...

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (4, Interesting)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | about 6 years ago | (#24888643)

It's a good point. SSDs are so new that we can't really say empirically that they'll last for a lot of years. If nothing else, though, they'll be relatively safe against dropping your laptop on the floor.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

Trashman (3003) | about 6 years ago | (#24888663)

IANAME (I Am not a Mechanical Engineer) but history has shown, that Machines/Devices with fewer moving parts are generally more reliable and tend to last longer. Look at Diesel Engines, Turbines, et al. I imagine this applies to SSD's as well.

Trains are actually very simple machines which fall under the rule above.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

Indras (515472) | about 6 years ago | (#24888729)

There are some steam trains out there that are running and are over 100 years old...

I hope you also realize how much continual maintenance the average train requires, or any large piece of machinery for that matter. I should know, I am a maintenance technician for a plastics factory. Even our most dependable and reliable machines require at least annual maintenance. Tear down and check for part wear, replace or weld up worn parts, change belts, fluids, etc.

If a hard disk could be maintained (replace worn motor, lubricate bearings, etc) then I would agree with you. But they are disposable parts. Use them once and when they break, toss them.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (4, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | about 6 years ago | (#24888751)

Are those steam trains really running with 100 year old parts?

Or do you regularly go in and maintain the various components of you hard drives?

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

Fastfwd (44389) | about 6 years ago | (#24888775)

Those 100+ years train has a lot of maintenance done on them. Broken computer parts don't get repaired; they get replaced.

I think anything that can last 3-5 years 95% of the time should be sufficient. Hard drives are almost there but they still fail and most people don't do frequent backups.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

larkost (79011) | about 6 years ago | (#24888923)

But do you think that the steam trains are still working with all-original parts? Or do you think that those steam trains have been disasembled and replacement parts swapped in repeatedly over the course of that 100 years? If you were (able) to treat hard drives the same way, then you could expect longer lives out of them.

And we don't expect computer components to last that long (at least not in production use) much for the same reason none of those steam trains are in regular production use (novelty use is not the same thing as production use): they are going to be superceded by something so much better that it does not make economic sense to continue to use the old. The speed of transition in computers is a bit faster, but the process is the same.

But in general non-moving parts beat out moving parts in tearms of wear almost uniformly. And if you then factor in the lack of phisical maintenance, the solid-state device is going to pull away.

Re:Deconstructing solid state. (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | about 6 years ago | (#24889501)

The comparison with 100 year old steam trains isn't fair. Those steam trains are under constant maintenance to keep running while your RAM or CPU use the same set of components for their whole lifetime.

Oh For God's Sake (4, Insightful)

SQL Error (16383) | about 6 years ago | (#24888335)

Yet another SSD review by clueless PC dweebs.

The whole point of SSDs is that they have no moving parts, so they don't have the seek time and rotational latency of spinning disks. That translates into faster random access. As the review says:

What was absolutely impressive however, were the random access and seek times, along with the benefits that come with them and Solid State Storage in general.

So what do they measure? Sequential transfer rates.

Gah.

Re:Oh For God's Sake (2, Informative)

_bug_ (112702) | about 6 years ago | (#24888703)

The whole point of SSDs is that they have no moving parts, so they don't have the seek time and rotational latency of spinning disks.

Indeed, but it's nice to have some hard numbers to back that claim up. And it's nice to see HOW much faster they are versus a traditional drive.

So what do they measure? Sequential transfer rates.

Actually they measured the performances against each other. They show us that not all SSDs are created equally and they show tell us which SSDs they think are worth the money.

What they measure, then, is value for money. And that's always nice to know before buying something.

Re:Oh For God's Sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24888777)

So what do they measure? Sequential transfer rates.

Yeah, that was kind of strange. Beware instruments in the hands of those who do not understand what is being measured.

The thing is, this kind of article jumps the gun. Once flash memories have techniques in place (similar to SDRAM) to prefetch large amounts of data internally so they can feed it out quickly, then sequential access will be much better.

Re:Oh For God's Sake (1)

project-nova (930308) | about 6 years ago | (#24888821)

So what do they measure? Sequential transfer rates.

Random Read / Write Test: http://www.hothardware.com/Articles/FourWay-SSD-RoundUp-OCZ-Super-Talent-Mtron/?page=5 [hothardware.com]

Re:Oh For God's Sake (1)

SQL Error (16383) | about 6 years ago | (#24889111)

If you look at those results, you'll find they only ran sequential tests. They talk about random access, but don't run any random access benchmarks.

Disagree (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 6 years ago | (#24888341)

>> When you consider the intrinsic benefits of anything built on solid-state technology versus anything mechanical

As far as I can see there really aren't any, at least for conventional desktop PC use. The most obvious one would be performance, except suprisingly when comapred with the fastest of todays mechanical drives there's not much if any performance advantage. In some cases SSDs are actually worse.

There's still a lot of other disadvanteges to SSDs, like a more limited number of write operations, only small storage sizes available, and much higher cost per Gb.

Someone wake me up when there's a 1TB SSD for $250 that can do unlimited rewrite ops.

Re:Disagree (4, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | about 6 years ago | (#24888541)

Someone wake me up when there's a 1TB SSD for $250 that can do unlimited rewrite ops.

Um, even mechanical hard drives cannot promise unlimited rewrite ops. Maybe you want lower your sights jut a tad?

Re:Disagree (1)

sjaskow (143707) | about 6 years ago | (#24888761)

Not the grandparent, but how about "Someone wake me up when there's a 1TB SSD for $250" instead :)

Re:Disagree (1)

_bug_ (112702) | about 6 years ago | (#24888785)

Maybe you want lower your sights jut a tad?

Why? He's the consumer. He wants a drive that promises unlimited writes. If the opinion were popular enough then it might motivate the industry to work on developing new tech for SSDs rather than having to only cater to the "lower sighted" people.

Re:Disagree (1)

the_raptor (652941) | about 6 years ago | (#24888861)

And I want a pony. The point is that even spinning disc drives don't offer unlimited writes. Modern drives only don't crap out constantly because they "cheat" and automatically remap bad sectors (and have tens of thousands of spare sectors).

Re:Disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24889065)

And I want a pony. The point is that even spinning disc drives don't offer unlimited writes.

I think that an alicorn or dragon would be better. You could pick the winning lottery ticket out of the gutter and win enough money to buy a pony. That's merely unlikely. A machine that never wears out is closer to impossible. We're probably closer to genetically engineering a flying horse (possibly will only be able to fly in low gravity) than an unlimited writes storage device.

Re:Disagree (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | about 6 years ago | (#24888897)

At least here in the usa, his desire is already fulfilled, just the manufacturers haven't caught on yet wiht their box labeling. You see, here in the USA, the maximum device lifetime of any device is 7 years. No manufacturer is expected by law to make any device that lasts longer than that, and they are legally allowed to call any device that is expected to last 7 years of normal service "lifetime" and other BS keywords, that could easily encompass "infinite writes". Because you see, these SSD drives can already perform 7 years of normal usage. That right there qualifies as "infinite writes". Thank goodness noone told the marketing folks tho.

Re:Disagree (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 6 years ago | (#24889419)

At least here in the usa, his desire is already fulfilled, just the manufacturers haven't caught on yet wiht their box labeling. You see, here in the USA, the maximum device lifetime of any device is 7 years. No manufacturer is expected by law to make any device that lasts longer than that, and they are legally allowed to call any device that is expected to last 7 years of normal service "lifetime" and other BS keywords, that could easily encompass "infinite writes". Because you see, these SSD drives can already perform 7 years of normal usage. That right there qualifies as "infinite writes". Thank goodness noone told the marketing folks tho.

When you throw away your devices and replace them with newer ones, this is not called execution, it is called retirement.

Re:Disagree (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 6 years ago | (#24888943)

Someone wake me up when there's a 1TB SSD for $250 that can do unlimited rewrite ops.

Yeah! Drives with current rewrite ratings will start to lose capacity after four or five years of normal use. Imagine how pissed off you'd be if you noticed that 100GB drive you've been beating on since 2003 now holds only 95GB, and that you'd have to spend nearly $80 to replace it with a drive five times as large.

Re:Disagree (4, Insightful)

Gewalt (1200451) | about 6 years ago | (#24888993)

Someone wake me up when there's a 1TB SSD for $250 that can do unlimited rewrite ops.

Let me guess, you want a car's drivetrain to promise "unlimited mileage" and your homes A/C refrigerant to promise "unlimited compression/decompression cycles".
 
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but words like "unlimited" are marketing words only. EVERYTHING is limited and finite. In this case, consumer protection laws state that 7 years of normal usage is long enough to be considered "lifetime" or "infinite" or "unlimited" and all sorts of other key words and tricky phrases.

Those mechanical drives you are comparing SSDs to? They don't offer "unlimited rewrites" except in the marketing sense. 7 years of normal usage. In that same sense, SSDs are already offering unlimited rewrites as they have enough rewrite cycles to last 7 years of normal usage. Just like the mechanical drives.

Re:Disagree (2, Funny)

omnipresentbob (858376) | about 6 years ago | (#24889211)

Someone wake me up when there's a 1TB SSD for $250 that can do unlimited rewrite ops.

Ah, finally! We've waited for you to go away forever, and here you offer it to us on a silver platter!

MTBF fails (0)

Lucas123 (935744) | about 6 years ago | (#24888359)

Mean Time Between Failure, as quoted directly from the manufacturer in this article, is not an accurate method of measuring disk life because how long any disk lasts varies greatly on the applications using it. For instance, MLC NAND memory has between 1,000 and 10,000 write cycles per cell, SLC memory about 100,000. Some applications will be more write intensive, so they'll wear out the memory faster.

10 writes per second for 18 years (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 6 years ago | (#24888609)

For instance, MLC NAND memory has between 1,000 and 10,000 write cycles per cell, SLC memory about 100,000. Some applications will be more write intensive, so they'll wear out the memory faster.

That's why modern CF, SD, and SSD controllers spread writes to a single logical sector over multiple physical sectors [wikipedia.org] . They also dedicate 5 to 7 percent of their space to spare sectors in case one wears out; this accounts for the difference between a GB and a GiB. For example, a half-full 16 GB SSD with blocks of 128 KiB has over 60,000 free blocks. If your app makes 864,000 writes per day (10 writes per second 24/7), then the wear leveling circuitry would go through the entire free memory just under 15 times a day. If your SLC is guaranteed for 100,000 erases per block, then it should still last over 18 years.

Re:10 writes per second for 18 years (1)

DDumitru (692803) | about 6 years ago | (#24888807)

Your math is a bit off. Wear leveling lets you use the entire drive. If it is done correctly (and most SSDs are at least very close), then you can guess how many total "random writes" you can do before the drive wears out.

The first thing to guess is the size of the erase block. With most current drives this is 1MB or 2MB. So a 16GB SLC drive has 16,000 / 2 * 100,000 = 800,000,000 total lifetime available writes. At 86,400 writes/day this is 9,259 days or about 25 years.

The same numbers for MLC are 1/10th (10,000 write cycles instead of 100,000) so you wear out in 2.5 years.

Either way, these numbers are "good enough" for some applications and impractical for others.

Re:10 writes per second for 18 years (1)

sshir (623215) | about 6 years ago | (#24889217)

Sure, but write leveling algorithms are essentially black boxes.

The thing is - to avoid trashing SSD when it's almost full you need to actually move data around - i.e. move "stable" data sectors from "fresh" cells into highly used ones. So the obvious problems are:
1. What if my application is such, that it will "chase" the same blocks that the controller targets for moving?
2. When do you do that background moving (reading&writing) thing? If I pound the disk continuously it will suddenly lose 50% write performance (which is not too hot to begin with).

So the numbers for performance and reliability are very application based (true - situation is the same as with mechanical drives but much less predictable). I.e. you don't know how well particular drive model will do until you actually try it (and for a long period of time)
So you select an SLC and sit with your fingers crossed.

If anyone has more money than sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24888383)

you can copy a 1GB file as of Dec 2007 in four seconds [nextlevelhardware.com] with the right RAID controller using nine 16GB Mtron drives in RAID 0.

flash looks really nice and stuff (1)

Z80a (971949) | about 6 years ago | (#24888389)

but i'm personally waiting for that memsistor thing.

yes i know,a long wait.

So.... sideways? (1)

Haffner (1349071) | about 6 years ago | (#24888459)

Solid State Drive technology is set to turn the storage industry on its ear. Good to know that the industry isn't going in a completely new, turned-on-its-head direction.

No BS Version (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24888511)

Here's [hothardware.com] the printable version with all the extra crap removed.

Article without 60 pages of ads (4, Informative)

Taibhsear (1286214) | about 6 years ago | (#24888551)

OFFTOPIC: what is this "nod" tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24888673)

I seem to have missed the boat on this one...

Re:OFFTOPIC: what is this "nod" tag? (1)

Alt_Cognito (462081) | about 6 years ago | (#24888921)

Agreed, wtf is this, everything is getting tagged nod. Sort of defeats the purpose.

Actually not too far off (1)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | about 6 years ago | (#24888695)

I was actually surprised to see the capacities and prices. As someone who's never had a hard drive bigger than 80GB (and even then only used half of it), the capacities of SSDs are starting to look pretty decent. The prices are still an order of magnitude away from what they'd need to be to get me to switch, but hopefully that's only a year or two away?

The big thing for me is the durability to shock. I don't own a desktop; I'm a purely notebook guy. Just recently I toasted a (mechanical) hard drive by dropping it on the floor. If SSDs can save me from my own stupidity, it could be worth it soon....

Re:Actually not too far off-ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 6 years ago | (#24889563)

The prices are still an order of magnitude away from what they'd need to be to get me to switch, but hopefully that's only a year or two away?

Are you speaking of a binary order of magnitude, or a decimal order of magnitude?

And human years, dog years, or Internet years?

I don't understand the problem (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 6 years ago | (#24888849)

I am not an expert by any stretch but it seems to me that write speed issues, at least when it comes to relatively small amounts of writing, could easily be mitigated with a very long on-board RAM buffer controlled by the drive... and by very large, I mean like 1GB at least. And to keep it stable, a capacitor should be enough to keep it alive when power drops to commit any changes in buffer to the SSD storage. Maybe what I speak of is impossible or ridiculously expensive, but I don't think either is the case.

Re:I don't understand the problem (1)

Spatial (1235392) | about 6 years ago | (#24889235)

That sounds like a pretty good idea actually. RAM is cheap as dirt [newegg.com] nowadays.

Re:I don't understand the problem (3, Insightful)

Courageous (228506) | about 6 years ago | (#24889243)

You're not the first person to think of such a thing. Problem is: it's pretty risky.

Most high end RAID controllers do this already, if you set to write-back. But they also have big batteries attached to them, and even then, you have something like 24 hours to power back on or total system corruption can occur. This means that mentioned systems must be affirmatively managed.

Can you imagine what a hassle this would be for the HD makers, particularly in the notebook use case? It would be a never ending chain of angry users blaming the HD maker for their data loss...

I think the right place to do this is way up in the OS, with a file system that is aware of the issues of small page commits to these devices, and therefore doing some kind of page-coalescence thing. Sun's ZFS can do this. Now we just need something over in consumer space.

C//

Re:I don't understand the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24889519)

On the other hand, SSDs are almost ideal for this kind of extreme delayed-write scheme: their power use is sufficiently low that a reasonably small and cheap li-ion battery would have enough juice to commit the pending writes to NAND even while main systems power was off.

The mtron SSD in TFA actually has an integrated ARM microcontroller to orchestrate things from the SSD's point of view -- it's easy to make the logical leap of having that controller also handle write-back and battery management...

The reason enterprise RAID controllers can't do this is of course that it takes quite a bit more juice to write-back 1GB of data, say, onto 8 fast and power-hungry enterprise HDDs [especially if you're running RAID5 or RAID6 and have to do a bunch of parity stuff as well].

Re:I don't understand the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24889289)

Speed issues with relatively small amounts of writing are already mitigated by the operating system's disk cache, are they not?

Re:I don't understand the problem (1)

m.dillon (147925) | about 6 years ago | (#24889535)

Write staging is virtually irrelevant with a modern filesystem. Any log-based, undo-baesd, or recursive-update (zfs) based filesystem has virtually no synchronous writing constraints. HAMMER for example can issue a ridiculous amount of write I/O asynchronously even when it is flushing or fsync()ing.

So there are two things going on: First, the OS is caching the write data and disconnecting it from the application. Second, a modern filesystem is further disconnecting writes by reducing write-write dependancies to a minimum, and allowing non-dependant writes (particularly bulk data) to run out even in the face of other parts of the filesystem needing an occassional write-write dependancy.

What it comes down really is fsync() time. Only databases really need to use fsync() and frankly most of that functionality is well covered by battery or dime-cap-backed static ram. You don't really need much more then a megabyte or two of that sort of ram to absorb nearly all the write latency of the backing store's hard drive.

-Matt

Flash is fairly mature, believe it or not.... (0)

Joce640k (829181) | about 6 years ago | (#24888875)

By the time they produce 1Tb for $100 SSDs our hard disks will be 10Tb for the same price.

Anybody thinking hard disks and SSDs are going to reach equal price/capacity in the next five years is dreaming.

Re:Flash is fairly mature, believe it or not.... (2, Informative)

Courageous (228506) | about 6 years ago | (#24889301)

SSD's will reach $/GB equity for enterprise disks within 2 years. They already beat them on $/IOPS, and will soon on $/MB/s.

A reasonable projection for SATA is 6-7 years. However, if you know technology, that's like talking about what's going to happen in a thousand years. One just cannot know. The cross-industry pressure is definitely going to incentivize the spinning media makers to work on areal density.

In spite of that, I feel pretty sure that SSD's are going to wipe out Tier 1 entirely. Tier 1 is an IOPS-centric thing. The real formula is something like $/IOPS/GB or some weighted mutation. When that hits, 15K drives are DEAD.

And I doubt very much you will EVER see a 20K drive. Power is something like the cube of the RPM. Such a drive would be dead on arrival.

C//

Re:Flash is fairly mature, believe it or not.... (1)

m.dillon (147925) | about 6 years ago | (#24889435)

I would agree that SSDs can take a large chunk out of the high-performance HD market, but only for read-heavy environments. I can already see it solving issues related to hybrid static and dynamic web content serving, for example. But in write-heavy environments the IOPS capabilities of flash becomes irrelevant because any write-heavy environment will also quickly wear the flash device out. That makes its usefulness questionable as a staging medium for things like database commits. It doesn't take much battery-backed (aka dime-cap-backed) static ram to greatly improve commit staging operations on a database, there is no need to use flash there.

-Matt

Caveats indeed: limited lifespan (1)

macraig (621737) | about 6 years ago | (#24889229)

I have magnetic media drives that are 15 years old and still work fine. Would I be able to say the same about any SSD "drive"? I doubt it. Unlike magnetic media, flash RAM technology is known to have a finite, limited, and unpredictable lifespan; it will only tolerate so many rewrites and then begin to fail, and you'll never know exactly when that will be. That sad day will come sooner than 15 years down the road, and you'll have paid a premium for it. Same for phase-change optical media, really. That doesn't really happen with magnetic media ever, AFAIK, unless the heads drag and shear off material.

It's been a decade since I first began hearing the proclamations about the rise of SSDs and the fall of magnetics, yet still magnetics rule supreme. This is marketing hype, not progress.

Re:Caveats indeed: limited lifespan (1)

m.dillon (147925) | about 6 years ago | (#24889359)

Actually that isn't correct. Magnetic media has thermal bleeding and magnetic cells will deteriorate over time. However, many of the issues surrounding magnetic media are directly related to reading and writing, verses just sitting on a shelf, and if you really needed the data you would still be able to recover it many years down the line even after the bearing lubrication turned to mush.

With flash you are dead in the water once a cell dies. There is no way to recover the data. And flash cells will leak whether the flash is in use or not (though flash cells also have issues with adjacent writes). Rewriting a flash cell damages it, so the actual life of the data just sitting on a shelf is going to be all over the map depending on how heavily the flash device was used.

Still, the read-life of a flash cell can in fact be extended considerably if the temperature is kept low. I'm not sure that counts for archival storage (a HD isn't suitable either), but it should count for something.

-Matt

SSDs are useful, but not for write performance (1)

m.dillon (147925) | about 6 years ago | (#24889233)

The usefulness of SSDs is undeniable in small devices, but there isn't much of a point of actually using it as a high performance write-heavy device with the limited life of its flash cells. Any heavy write use will quickly wear the device out, and this has already been proven pretty much with people trying to use them as generic HD replacements on microsoft systems with swap enabled.

The amount of storage is also very tiny compared to a modern hard drive in the same form factor. Combine those two together and the usefulness of SSD for any application that writes a lot of data is going to be severely limited. I don't think I would trust it even as a staging device for database transactions.

Laptops and small devices are the only consumer devices that would have a clear advantage in the use of such storage. Laptops for the solid-state nature of SSDs (not the performance), and consumer devices for the same.

On the flip side, SSDs clearly have a major advantage for serving moderately-sized static or mostly-static data sets. Such data sets are often larger then the 2-16G of main memory a server has. Having 50G of 'fast' mostly-read-only SSD storage would greatly improve the performance of static web servers.

Any mostly-read application of moderate size would benefit from SSDs by reducing the need to cache data in main memory, leaving more memory available for dynamic data sets and operations. One would no longer have to separate static and dynamic web content in heavily loaded sites, for example. The static content could be served out of SSD with very little main memory impact and the same system's horse-power and memory could then be directed to the dynamic content.

I'm hoping the research IBM is doing will yield better non-volatile, high performance solid state storage.

-Matt

Not a Benefit or Obvious Advantage (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 6 years ago | (#24889453)

When you consider the intrinsic benefits of anything built on solid-state technology versus anything mechanical, it doesn't take a degree in physics to understand the obvious advantages.

I don't find a benefit or obvious advantage in a device that requires wear-leveling to keep from wearing itself out. The fact that it degrades its storage capacity gracefully instead of all at once doesn't offset that swap files can really work over mass storage devices and the first bad sectors have been known to start showing up after only weeks of use in some cases.

How about a solid-state non-volatile storage device with good speed, low power, dense packing, competitive price, and effectively unlimited read/write cycles? Then I'll be a convert.

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