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Why a Hard Disk Is a Better Bargain Than an SSD

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the did-this-really-need-saying dept.

Data Storage 403

Lucas123 writes "While solid state disks may be all the rage, what's often being overlooked in the current consumer market hype is that fact that hard disk drive prices are at an all-time low — offering users good performance and massive amounts of capacity for 10 to 30 cents a gigabyte. And in a side by side comparison of overall performance of consumer SSDs and HDDs, it's hard to justify spending 10 times as much for a little more speed."

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403 comments

Understatement (4, Informative)

zaibazu (976612) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373131)

"A little more speed" ? how a bout a lot more speed ? Putting the OS on a quality SSD gave lots of people immense performance gains.

Re:Understatement (0, Troll)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373221)

Given the choice between a 256GB SSD and a 1.5TB HD, I'll go for capacity every time...

Re:Understatement (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373373)

I'd hate to be quoted as the guy who says "256GB is all anyone ever needs," so I'm posting as AC. However,

Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda1 303G 68G 220G 24% /

I don't even need 256GB, so I'd prefer the 256GB SSD. Thanks.

Re:Understatement (5, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373585)

And for contrast:

Filesystem                Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/mapper/mythvg-mythtv 658G  645G   14G  98% /mythtv

Or: Pick the right tool for your job. :)

Re:Understatement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373719)

I know that feeling ;/

Time for another 750GB I think...

Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on /dev/sdg2 685G 602G 49G 93% / /dev/sdb1 184G 171G 3.7G 98% /mnt/of1 /dev/sda1 184G 124G 51G 71% /mnt/of2

Re:Understatement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28374107)

Or have a nice comfortable buffer... /dev/sdc1 917G 508G 363G 59% /mnt/Hitachi-1TB-20090207

Re:Understatement (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28374195)

Honestly, some people are becoming garbage collectors though. Lots of content they never watch, that just sits around on disk spinning around in circles.

Re:Understatement (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373631)

I don't even need 256GB, so I'd prefer the 256GB SSD. Thanks.

In a dirt-cheap subnotebook PC, which needs to run as long as possible on its battery, what would you choose between an 8 GB SSD and a 120 GB HD?

Re:Understatement (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374319)

Might be possible. My current notebook has 256G which is getting tight the two before that came in at 50G which got tight near the end of the 2nd one's life. The one before that had 4G. 4G was very tight and that was Windows 2000 or Linux a decade ago.

Other than the OS, the main problem is you want 2-3x ram for virtual memory and I can't see being under 2 gigs of ram. Also mail is now frequently in the megabytes.

On the other hand on my blackberry I have a 4g memory card and I never use it. The 64 megs of flash is plenty. It is going to come down to what you use it for.

Re:Understatement (1)

vandit2k6 (848077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373897)

I agree with you here. I have 70G 10 000 rpm WD and this is my OS only drive. Although I have other drives in my system. Now if 250G SSD will perform notably faster than mine raptor, then I think I would definitely switch to SSD. Faster speed and bigger capacity - yes!

Re:Understatement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28374171)

You probably don't do anything with video and don't have a humongous music collection encoded in a lossless format.

I get by with 160GB on my MacBook Pro, but I use that primarily for software development (and general web browsing), and even for that I've had to delete things to make space (like VMs and such). I wish I had much much more so that I *could* use it for more, the hard drive size is the only limitation here. My Mac Pro on the other hand has 3 TB in it (I edit video / audio on it and have a sizable collection of music / movies / TV shows loaded on it; I use 1TB as a backup drive), and I'll probably have 4 or 5 TB in it soon, not including external drives.

If cost wasn't a preventing factor, what I'd really like to do is ditch the optical drive in my notebook (can't remember the last time I used it, since I do all ripping on my desktop), have the biggest fastest SSD possible as my main drive and in place of the optical drive the biggest HHD possible. I believe this is possible with some notebooks.

Re:Understatement (5, Insightful)

qortra (591818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373415)

I'll go for capacity every time

Will you? Even when your primary objective is one of the following?

  • Speed (Reading)
  • Low Power
  • Low [No] Noise
  • Low Heat
  • Robustness
  • Longevity (debatable)

If you just need storage, I would agree with you. My file server uses an array of traditional 1TB HDD like everybody else, but when you have a file server with all your data, none of the other computers in your house will need significant amounts of their own capacity. Why target capacity on basically a thin client when you can get something smaller with so many better attributes?

When clients aren't so thin (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373697)

Why target capacity on basically a thin client when you can get something smaller with so many better attributes?

Because some clients are not so thin. Someone who shoots photos or videos on the road might use a laptop for storing and editing them. Other people might want to download files to work on locally so that they save hundreds of USD per year by not needing to buy a mobile broadband plan or a tethering clause on their cell phone plan.

Re:When clients aren't so thin (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373815)

Think long term.

The 256GB SSD drive of today matches the processor speed and feature set of a machine that will be a castoff in maybe three years. It's my observation that people almost never take a drive from an old machine to a new machine in notebooks.

Therefore if you liked SSD for whatever reasons, do it if the reasons are of value to you. If you need the terabyte, do it-- and be happy.

Thin is in. The vast majority of users probably don't do video or audio for a living, and only have what they consume as cache. Your next machine will have a bigger drive. It is the way of the world.

Re:When clients aren't so thin (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373865)

*if* a ssd really costs ten times the equivalent hdd, which is not the case, you could just create a 10 disk raid array attaining speed AND capacity that ssd would dream of.

Re:When clients aren't so thin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28374305)

I assume you're talking about raid 0. Are you insane? A ten disk HDD array would be loud, hot, power consumptive, and deeply unreliable. Let's say you buy relatively reliable drives with a 1 year failure rate of 5% (actually, pretty awesome these days). A raid 0 array of 10 drives would have a 1 year failure rate of just over 40%. Not good.

Re:When clients aren't so thin (1)

hclewk (1248568) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373959)

This is what just happened.

gorta:

I like oranges better than apples, so it's better for me to eat an orange.

tepples:

You are wrong, gorta. Some people like apples better than oranges.

And as for you sig, when was the last time you lost "the cloud" or "the cloud" broke?

Re:When clients aren't so thin (2, Insightful)

qortra (591818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373991)

Someone who shoots photos or videos on the road might use a laptop for storing and editing them.

Firstly, let's be a little more specific. Shooting photos on the road is not exactly a space intensive task for most people. At 2 megabytes a jpeg for your average ultra-portable, you'd have to try pretty hard to fill up 16 gigabytes. On the other hand, if you're the guy shooting in raw making 60 megapixel landscapes, a laptop probably isn't the best tool for the job anyway. Photos aside, I'll grant your point with video which does tend to be very space intensive.

Secondly, somebody who needs that kind of space on the road would be well advised to keep an SSD in the laptop and buy an external USB hard drive. This model offers several advantages:

  • SSDs are great laptop companions because they have lower heat, power, ambient noise, and use less battery.
  • A 3.5" USB drive will offer much higher capacities at a similar price vs laptop internal 2.5" drives.
  • One can maintain the Application/Data dichotomy even while on the road apart from a file server.

I do think we agree here - if you don't have at least 100 megabit to the fileserver, it isn't practical to pull large files from that server.

a tethering clause on their cell phone plan

Is that actually stopping you?

Re:Understatement (3, Insightful)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373951)

Replace "Longevity" with "Resistance to mechanical failure" and you're onto a winner.

Re:Understatement (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374297)

Tell that to my friend who just lost an entire web design project because he was storing it on a two year old flash drive which died. Dim not to have backups, yes, but flash memory is guaranteed to die after a sufficient number of writes. Mind you, my main desktop head crashed yesterday after seven years, so it's swings and roundabouts, really.

Re:Understatement (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374279)

Generally speaking, consumers don't benefit from the extra speed that SSD offers.

Sure there are some serious specialty applications that depend on high
volume low latency IO. These are not things that your consumer user is
typically doing though.

Usually, USB or network attached storage is quite sufficient.

Re:Understatement (2, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374311)

Will you? Even when your primary objective is one of the following?

I won't speak for the GP, but personally, my primary objective is always storage. So yes, I really will choose storage capacity every time.

Re:Understatement (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373673)

personally i like using two disks, a small one say about 40 or 80 gigs for my OSs and a second HUGE disk for /home /swap & data storage, i like to keep the OS separate from the personal files & data & storage

Re:Understatement (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373777)

Hard drives are fast enough for me, and a small SSD drive would take up a SATA socket that could otherwise be used for another hard drive.

Re:Understatement (1)

y86 (111726) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373757)

Unless you ONLY can have 1 hard drive space isn't an issue.

I run a Samsung 128GB SSD for my OS with 220/200MB read/write and a hitachi terabyte drive for storage. This thing FULLY boots Vista in under 30 seconds (to the desktop). It was over 2 minutes on a raid10 array with 4 7200RPM hard drives. SSD for programs and old mechanical for storage is the magic bullet right now.

What makes an SSD own is the random seek time and the random write time. The rest of the numbers don't drive the user experience. Having an extra 20MBs sequential write speed doesn't make much of a difference.

Learn2SSD

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3531&p=1 [anandtech.com]

Re:Understatement (2, Insightful)

parlancex (1322105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373881)

Why do the options have to be exclusive? Stop thinking about it terms of storage and start thinking about it as layers in the tiered memory subsystem; CPU registers, L1 cache, L2 cache, RAM, SSD, conventional HDD.

If I were building myself a new system today I would opt for a smaller high performance SSD for my system partition and scratch / swap partition, and a lower performance high capacity conventional HDD for backups, music, movies, etc.

Re:Understatement (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374087)

I'm not sure you would really want a swap partition on your SSD as that would wear it out faster (and these being a newer technology, you can bet they haven't tested reliability as much as they wanted to).

Re:Understatement (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374011)

Why not a 1.5TB for your data and 256GB for your OS and applications?

Re:Understatement (5, Insightful)

initdeep (1073290) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373237)

but burst speed measured with HDTach is the only metric that's important when you wish to make your point that traditional rotating platter based hard drives are "nearly as fast" as quality SSD drives.

seriously.....

is there anyone by now that HASN'T seen the extensive test by Anandtech that completely DESTROYS this bullshit article?

All that matters in the real world for HDD performance is Random read and write speeds.
And the difference in the two is an order of magnitude or more using the very fastest consumer drives (WDVR) and a quality SSD (Intel X-25).

Re:Understatement (5, Informative)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373565)

but burst speed measured with HDTach is the only metric that's important when you wish to make your point that traditional rotating platter based hard drives are "nearly as fast" as quality SSD drives.

seriously.....

is there anyone by now that HASN'T seen the extensive test by Anandtech that completely DESTROYS this bullshit article?

All that matters in the real world for HDD performance is Random read and write speeds. And the difference in the two is an order of magnitude or more using the very fastest consumer drives (WDVR) and a quality SSD (Intel X-25).

The best part is that this isn't even an article, just a random slashdot user musing that SSD's aren't worth it and a review of two of the newest high performance disk drives.

Or maybe there is a typo and he actually wanted to link to this [computerworld.com] story?

Re:Understatement (1, Informative)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373813)

is there anyone by now that HASN'T seen the extensive test by Anandtech that completely DESTROYS this bullshit article?

Actually, yes, I hadn't seen the bloody article, and would have greatly benefitted from a link, you know, one of those wonders of modern technology whereby you can give a clickable fragment of text that takes a reader directly to the article you are talking about, so they don't have to scratch their heads and wonder WTF you're talking about.

Having had a quick scan of Anandtech, I guess you are referring to this article [anandtech.com] , but it's so long that it will be a couple of hours before I can finish reading it and decide for sure, but you probably have a point.

Re:Understatement (5, Insightful)

StayFrosty (1521445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373309)

This [tomshardware.com] benchmark shows Intel's X25-E SSD beating a 15k Seagate Cheetah SAS drive by over 50MB/s read and 10MB/s write speeds. I'd hardly call this "a little more speed." The SSD seems even better when you figure in the noise and heat generated by the 15k RPM Cheetah.

Re:Understatement (2, Insightful)

cheftw (996831) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373589)

Only an idiot would buy either of those products.

Or an "irrational consumer" to use the technical term.

Their price does not justify their benefit. RAID etc.

Especially in an article about "bargains".

Re:Understatement (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373683)

While what you are saying is true, how many of the common folk are actually going to need or even be able to notice the difference in their day to day tasks? I build and repair PCs for a living, and you know what I hear time and time again from my customers on the new AMD 7550 and Pentium Duals I sell them? "OMG it is just so fast! This is incredible!". You know why? Because CPUs passed ludicrous speed awhile back. If you were to secretly swap their new bottom of the line dual for an octo-core monster I doubt very seriously they notice anything except the fans are loader.

The same thing has happened with hard drives. Those old 400Mb to 20Gb HDDS were slow as hell, but for today's tasks? The new drives with 16-32Mb and beyond RAM caches are just crazy fast for the jobs folks have for them to do. The only places I see these taking off is in the ultra mobile Netbook and Smartbook space, and of course the gamers who see no problem with shelling out insane money to get another 3-FPS in Crysis. For most folks the HDD ain't the problem, and it hasn't been for awhile. It is the OEMs cheaping out and doing stupid shit like putting a Vista image filled with bloatware on a box with a crappy 512Mb of RAM.

Of course since all my customers go bragging to all their friends and family how much better anything I build is compared to a Dell (because I refuse to sell anything with less than 2Gb, preferably 4Gb of RAM) I get plenty of business from referrals. Thanks Dell!

Re:Understatement (2, Informative)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373939)

Check out the May 08, 2009 ComputerWorld article "Analysis: SSD performance -- is a slowdown inevitable?" written by Lucas Mearian.* Intel's speed is not permanent.

The recent revelation that Intel Corp.'s consumer-class solid-state disk (SSD) drives suffer from fragmentation that can cause a significant performance degradation raises the question: Do all SSDs slow down with use over time?

The answer is yes - and every drive manufacturer knows it.

This is a very interesting article if you are considering SSDs versus HDs for your next computer.

*I copied this from a print-out. No I don't have a link. I am at work and I don't have the time to provide it.

Re:Understatement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28374027)

This [tomshardware.com] benchmark shows Intel's X25-E SSD beating a 15k Seagate Cheetah SAS drive by over 50MB/s read and 10MB/s write speeds. I'd hardly call this "a little more speed." The SSD seems even better when you figure in the noise and heat generated by the 15k RPM Cheetah.

I'll post, from your own link, what Tom's actually says about the X25-E

"The X25-E doesnâ(TM)t provide throughput thatâ(TM)s as steady and controllable as on a hard drive, especially on writes, but the overall performance is still more than impressive. Bear in mind that this isnâ(TM)t a drive one would buy for its throughput; modern 15,000 RPM hard drives arenâ(TM)t too far away from these numbers at only a fraction of the cost. The X25-E was made to dominate in I/O performance"

If you then consider that they were using a 32 gig version of the Intel, and a 450 gig version of the Seagate, then you will need to figure that you'll have to buy 14 of them. I found a decent price on the Intel, 32 gig for about $320, and the Cheetah goes around $500 for that model. So to get the same capacity in the SDD version you're going to kick out around $4,500, compared to $500 for the HDD.

The moral of the story being, don't just run out and buy a SDD (or a HDD for that matter) without doing some serious homework first. If you aren't doing anything important enough to justify doing the homework, then you should probably just pick up a HDD. But ultimately, you just need to pick the best tool for whatever job you are trying to do.

Alchemy (3, Funny)

siloko (1133863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373383)

"A little more speed" ? how a bout a lot more speed ?

No matter what I do with my Bunsen Burner and Alchemy cookbook I can still only turn my SSD's into a molten pile of useless debris. Which smells.

Tips for speed production using only harddrive technology would be most welcome.

Speed is only one half of the story (1)

Keltia (92329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374133)

Having lost 5 hard disks due to a failing motherboard (or SATA controller) in 3 months, I must say that speed is only half of the story, reliability is foremost in my book. Especially in a notebook, I appreciate it being even just a little faster (and many SSD are much faster than HDD) but I love the fact that there is no moving part at all. I take relieability over speed anyday.

"hard disk drive prices are at an all-time low" (5, Insightful)

riflemann (190895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373145)

Aren't hard disk prices always at an all time low? Have they ever gone up in price?

Re:"hard disk drive prices are at an all-time low" (4, Interesting)

CosmicRabbit (1505129) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373403)

What makes sense to analyze is not just the hard disk prices per se, but how the price sweet spot evolves in specs, as well as the sweet spot price trends. There's an interesting article about this here [mattscomputertrends.com]

Re:"hard disk drive prices are at an all-time low" (1)

crabboy.com (771982) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374161)

Not a single +Funny for this one? I guess I'm the only one who laughed when I read it... :(

Of course, his logic is infallible, too.

If you have ever owned one (5, Interesting)

Goodl (518602) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373179)

you would know why you would never ever go back for your boot drive, these things are just so night and day faster. Yes it squeezed my budget till it squeaked to get my Intel x25-m (early adopter) but I'd never have anything else now for boot, my Velociraptor went on Ebay after a week of using it. I'm considering a second for raid0 even though as it is it's fast enough (more for the extra space than speed tbh now they have come down in price). Bulk storage is fine for movies etc, but for the OS space mechanical magnetic disks are a dead dead end to me.

Re:If you have ever owned one (2, Insightful)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373473)

fast enough

Is that like having too much memory, big enough hard disk? No such thing as fast enough.

Re:If you have ever owned one (1)

Goodl (518602) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373999)

I quite agree but fast enough in terms of 'fast enough for me not be be bugged by it and feeling pleasantly responsive'

There is no definitive answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373183)

It tottaly depend if you're aiming at mass storage or at operation per second. And sometimes, that "little more speed" can be key to outperform competition.

forre.st storage calculator (5, Interesting)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373197)

FYI, this is a pretty nifty tool [forre.st] that pulls drive information from Newegg and calculates the best price/size so you can quickly find out the best deal.

Re:forre.st storage calculator (5, Informative)

stiller (451878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373655)

I like this one better: http://diskcompare.com/ [diskcompare.com]

Re:forre.st storage calculator (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374277)

Thanks, that's fantastic! I didn't realize that a 2TB drive was now available. The prices for 1TB and 1.5TB have really dropped, though it looks like the low priced 1.5TB drive has some issues.

I purchased a 1TB drive on 10/8/2007 for $329.99. A 1TB drive now costs $74.99. Ouch! That's not even two years.

On the plus side, in another 1.5 years the price for a 2TB drive should have dropped from $239.00 to under $100. I think that's when I'll be upgrading.

Re:forre.st storage calculator (2, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373791)

You're assuming all SSD's are create equal which is FAR from the truth. Most of the really cheap ones use crap chips that can make writes MUCH slower than even normal HDD's. If you buy a decent one you will pay more per GB but you will actually see an advantage vs traditional HDD's, cheap ones can often lose in every category except noise.

pointless analysis: -1! (5, Insightful)

MagicMerlin (576324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373207)

From the article: "(Random access was a jaw-dropping 7ms.)" 7ms random access time is not "jaw dropping"...in computer terms it's an aeon. This fascination with sequential read and write speeds has got to stop. A ssd with 40 mb/sec read and write but 0.1ms random access time will fell faster than a 200mb/sec hard drive for a large number of applications. In the enterprise world, random access time is even more important. Performance critical databases run on giant storgage systems with dozens of disks not for storage reasons, but because of limitations of the spinning platter. SSDs stand poised to revolutionize computing by drastically raising the slowest (and most important) component in the computer a couple of orders in magnitude of performance.

Re:pointless analysis: -1! (2, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373503)

Maybe they meant "jaw-dropping slow"? Even for a rotary drive, that doesn't strike me as terribly impressive.

As far as latency vs. throughput, which is more important varies by your usage.

With RAID setups, you'll want lower latency drives, as throughput can be increased with more drives.
For you OS/application disks, you'll want lower latency, since you are usually dealing with smaller data files.
For "pure data" disks, throughput may be better, unless you have a lot of simultaneous reads/writes, in which case latency can be more important (or equally important).

It really varies on the use, and there is no universal "best" between the two (although latency needs a lot more respect than it'http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/06/18/1333230#
Previews given).

Re:pointless analysis: -1! (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373851)

Yep, HP has a 2.5" 15K drive that has a MAX seek latency of 4.85ms, average is 2.58ms.

Re:pointless analysis: -1! (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374243)

That would have the same problem as the solid state - expensive and small size. The HDD I just ordered for my notebook (supposedly) has a 5.5ms seek time.

I wish this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820609415 [newegg.com] was about 1/5th the price so I could seriously consider it. Still, it's already down from the ~$2100 I first saw it for. I think I'll just hold my breath...

^H^H^H^H^H^H NO CARRIER: FATAL USER ERROR

Doesn't die.... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373211)

If I have an SSD in a laptop and I drop the laptop, what are the chances that even if my screen goes splat, my keyboard gets crumbled and the case splits open that my data is still safe? Pretty good. On the other hand, if the same laptop had a hard disk, you are looking at some pretty expensive data recovery plans to get data off of it. Sure, SSDs may have other issues (such as you can only write to a certain sector so many times till it becomes read-only) but with SSDs now and in the future you shouldn't have unpredictable failures like what happens to so many HDs.

Re:Doesn't die.... (2, Interesting)

chrismooch (993970) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373259)

You could try NOT dropping it? I've dropped my laptop before, busted the screen, and the hard drive was fine.

Re:Doesn't die.... (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373359)

you are looking at some pretty expensive data recovery plans to get data off of it.

When you find a data recovery company that can recover data from shattered glass platters, let me know.

Re:Doesn't die.... (1)

vintagepc (1388833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373425)

Seems to me SSDs can still fail catastrophically if there's a failure in the drive logic. (Or even a cracked PCB if it's dropped just right). This would be the case for any drive, though. These types of failures are less common (and typically happen in the first 48 hours of use) but they're just as unpredictable.

Re:Doesn't die.... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373521)

But chances are if there is a flaw in the drive logic you can return it because it shows up early. However most HDs fail after the warranty is expired.

Re:Doesn't die.... (2, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373569)

It depends - I put some of my laptops through a lot of abuse. The Western Digital and Toshiba drives took some good falls in the notebook (running or not running), and survived without an issue. The Seagates and Fujitsus tended to die if I bumped the thing wrong (well, not quite that bad, but they did die with some fairly small mechanical shock compared to what the WDs and Toshibas survived).

Yes, a flash drive is more sturdy than any of those, but that is only important if the others are not sufficiently sturdy.

Paying for extra in an area that you won't need/use it, is a waste of money.

Define "bargain" (5, Interesting)

Cutie Pi (588366) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373265)

I don't think anyone out there is saying that from a $/GB perspective that SSD's are a bargain.

But here are two key points:

1) Not everyone needs 1TB of storage (about $100, and practically entry level now for hard drives). Especially on laptops, a $350 32GB SSD (also entry level) can get you quite far, especially if it is reserved for the OS and applications. You can pick up a 32GB SSD for a reasonable price, and get the really good performance, and use a big, cheap HD for media files.

2) Many people view the extra performance + lower power consumption + greater reliability as worth the premium price, and that makes them a value. Just because they can't compete on a $/GB basis doesn't make them a bargain to some people.

Re:Define "bargain" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373679)

Especially on laptops, a $350 32GB SSD (also entry level)
For entry level that's overpriced. You can buy 60GB second generation SSD (eg. OCZ Vertex) for roughly $200.

Re:Define "bargain" (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373825)

There are, actually, a lot of areas where flash based storage is a bargain(though, they don't tend to be areas where SSDs are used).

If you quote the cost/gig of magnetic storage based on the price of a basic OEM drive in whatever the sweet spot happens to be at the time, it looks like an incredible deal. 10 cents/gig seems to be the going number these days. However, that is for a 1TB+ drive. What if you only need 4GB, or 1GB, or 16MB? You can get a 1TB drive for $100; but you can't get a 1GB drive for 10 cents, or even $10. Traditional hard drives have comparatively high fixed costs("fixed" in the "these costs are more or less the same between the lowest capacity and the highest capacity" not in the strict economic sense). The cheapest HDD you can get(new, quantity one, not off the back of Honest Yuri's truck) is $25-$30, no matter how small a drive you want. For roughly the same price, you can get an 8GB flash drive under the same conditions.

For any application at or under 8GB(a number that is way higher than it used to be, and will probably keep rising) flash is actually cheaper than HDD, because of HDD's high fixed costs. Not to mention all the applications where a full hard drive is undesirable for other reasons. This certainly doesn't include file servers(unless IOPs are a big consideration) and it doesn't yet cover most desktop/laptop scenarios(though it is much closer than it used to be, and it does cover a fair few netbooks); but it does include the overwhelming majority of PMP, appliance, and embedded applications.

It's not just about speed, is it ? (2, Insightful)

bytesex (112972) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373269)

It's also about dropability. And moving parts. And use of Coulomb. And heat.

Stupid story (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373273)

This story is completely asinine. Everybody knows that HDDs are cheaper than SSDs. And the "little more speed" thing is way off -- SSDs can read and write at double the speed of a HDD in many cases. You are always going to pay a premium for having the best, this is like putting out an article about how you get more for your money with a Volkswagen than you do with a Mercedes -- of course you get more car dollar for dollar with Volkswagen, but for someone in the market a Mercedes a Volkswagen just is not an option, they want top quality and are willing to pay more for it. It's called the price/performance curve and we all struggle with it.

2.5" or 3.5" ? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373281)

Looks like the submitter is mixing up 2.5" HDD and 3.5" HDD.
SSD is all the rage in the 2.5" segment, not the 3.5" (yet, as they are much much faster than what's described in the article and much more expensive as well).
I can't fit these very fast 3.5" HDD in my Macbook Pro no matter hard I try.

Re:2.5" or 3.5" ? (2, Insightful)

TheP4st (1164315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373785)

I can't fit these very fast 3.5" HDD in my Macbook Pro no matter hard I try.

Then you are not using the right tool for the job, try using a hammer.

Am I naive in now hoping that we won't see that Anonymous Coward fella posting links to goatse and random rantings 24/7 for a while?

Wrong article linked (5, Informative)

smallshot (1202439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373311)

The article in the link is from July 31, 2008 and has nothing to do with SSDs, but rather a comparison of WD HDDs. I think they meant to link to this one: http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9134468 [computerworld.com] from today (June 18, 2009)

How much is your time worth? (1)

Zarf (5735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373315)

... I suppose it's a matter of assessing if the speed difference and the battery power differences are worth it for you. If your time simply isn't worth the premium price (let's be honest you're not doing anything that important are you?) then I don't suppose it is *worth* the price premium to you.

This article is nearly 80 computer years old (5, Informative)

Papabryd (592535) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373317)

Let me be the first of many to point out this article was posted July 31, 2008, though its central point still stands. Also worth nothing, this article was written before Intel's X-25 SSDs were released which moved the performance bar so high [anandtech.com] that their insane price (~3-4$/GB) started to make sense for the some people.

July 2008 (2, Interesting)

ranson (824789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373343)

Did anyone bother to take a look at the date of this article? Seems a little outdated given the continuing advancements in disk storage over the past year.

A side by side comparison? (1)

Daniel Wood (531906) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373363)

Could someone please point out the SSD they compare to in the article?

I don't know why... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373369)

Here is the link to the real article http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9134468 [computerworld.com] considering the one linked from the summary is totally different.

Re:I don't know why... (1)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373573)

time to tag this 'typoinsummary'

Performance has always had its premium. (5, Interesting)

MarchTheMonth (1232442) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373389)

Higher performing parts have always carried a higher price. However, there is a need for higher performance, and clearly the market shows that the demand is there for the price, I'm looking at you servers and computer enthusiasts.

I have a 300GB velociraptor in my computer, and I have been eye'ing the SSD's for some time, but they just haven't hit the price point for me yet to justify purchasing them yet.

In fact, I feel like an oddity, I work for a small IT firm, and when I asked my boss why a customer's computer had a raid0 of 250'sGB (where we had to replace them both with a new 500GB) why did he just get a velociraptor in the first place, he simply stated that it was cheaper to get 2 250GB hard drives at $60 than it was to get 1 300GB velociraptor.

Now, the only thing that may change the landscape from all this is that SSDs are built on silicon, which is subject to Moore's Law, and we've witnessed how cheap thumb drives and other flash media drives are, there's definitely a real possibility that in time SSD's will be faster AND cheaper than HDDs.

Re:Performance has always had its premium. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373953)

You work for a small IT firm, and you don't understand why you wouldn't get 2 small drives over 1 Velocirator?

:facepalm:

It's the same reason why we're getting 24 TB drives and doing RAID1+0 for our (decidedly cheap) SAN rather than 14 15K SAS drives in RAID5 like our last one.

WRONG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373393)

Why is it pointing to the wrong article?

Wrong article link (5, Informative)

crt (44106) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373419)

Should have been this article [computerworld.com] .
That said, I don't think anyone claims SSD is better than HDD if your bottleneck is capacity or sequential read speed. However if you do lots of random reads/writes, this line from the comparison says it all:
OCZ's drive had a random access time of .2 milliseconds; Seagate's 16.9 milliseconds.
That's an 84X difference.

Re:Wrong article link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373723)

Actually the newer SSDs, the Barefoot controller based ones, like the Vertex, Torqx and Falcon all have 0.10ms random access times. Which is 169X difference ;)

Re:Wrong article link (1)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374125)

Well said, random reads are an order of magnitude faster. What's interesting is to see the article neglect this mark, when the desktop/laptop computing experience relies most on this exact variable.

I don't expect enterprise data centers to be using SSD to host my flikr photos any time soon (outside of a few specialized workloads such as database write cache [sun.com] ), but the laptop and the solid state disk are a match made in heaven.

Re:Wrong article link (2, Insightful)

Wolfger (96957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374337)

Would be nice if Slashdot's editors would actually RTFA (or even scan over it) to see if it is what the submitter says it is. It took me all of 15 seconds to say "Hey, this article doesn't mention SSD's at all."

Then the actual article says the opposite of what the submitter is trying to get us to believe: "if you're downloading video and using multiple applications at the same time, an SSD will give you a very noticeable performance boost"

...and I'm guessing the review was written with the same FS on each drive, but we are now seeing new FS's that are better suited to SSD's than HDD's.

I agree (1, Informative)

gweihir (88907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373485)

I have used a 30GB OCZ for some time now, with one system partition and one for data. I recebtly moved the system part (Windows XP) back to an older 250GB Hitachi drive, with no perceptible speed loss. The data partition holds World of Warcraft and does give a moderate speed gain on startup. It also reduces delay when switching between two WoW instances significantly. But that is about it.

I think the primary strengths of SSD are still high shock tolerance and low power needs, which makes them ideal for laptops. In some (very few) specialized applications that are aware of the geometry of a SSD (i.e. its very large effective sector size), an SSD may also give a speed improvement. There are also applications, where SSDs are significantly slower. For example small write performance is really bad.

Re:I agree (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374153)

Depending on the RAM quantity in your computer, you're probably seeing a speed boost switching between WoW processes as the used memory from one process is shifted into the pagefile, and vice versa. That performance will definitely be improved.

You won't see any speed increase on your home system as your file system attempts to be contiguous, which is what disk defragmentation does. You read a file, that file is in sequence on the drive, the spinning platter model works for this. If you tried the same thing with a 30GB Oracle database on that same disk, with transactions writing to random parts of the file many, many times a second, you'd be reduced to a crawl with an HDD. This is where an SSD would shine.

In short, you're (your OS is) using your SSD in the same way you (your OS) would normally, which it's not optimised for. Now, if you were to have very little RAM and make big use of swapping...

Re:I agree (1)

qortra (591818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374227)

No. I have an OCZ 30GB MLC too, and the read speed is exceptional. OS startup is *fast* on both XP and Ubuntu.

The write speed is poor (I agree with you there), but that is not the fault of SSDs in general. The problem is that you and I are both cheap and spent only things that HDD have on SSDs is capacity and price.

Performance is night and day better (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373517)

I just got a new IT supported laptop at work (HP EliteBook). Performance was significantly better than my previous laptop (now on dualcore, 4GB ram, etc)... I took my new machine and put in the 80GB Intel SSD... The performance is amazing. I would estimate that things I do on the system are around 3-10x faster than with the stock disk.

Now I did go from a 150GB down to an 80GB drive, but for mobile with no waiting, it's like getting a new machine again. It may cost more, but being able to load visual studio, open a solution (small project), compile and run in under 10 seconds where my last HD took over a minute is well worth the "hype".

(as a disclaimer, my IT supported laptop is loaded with a TON of crap software)

That's not quite an honest statement. (4, Insightful)

talldean (1038514) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373531)

You drop them, and they don't break. That seems - for many, including myself - the killer feature. For internal laptop drives, they take less energy, so my laptop lasts longer. And on my laptop, since it's not my primary machine, I don't need an enormous drive. That said, you were right; it's hard justifying extra cost for a small speed bump, but that's a less-than-honest way to phrase this particular choice.

I'd rather have more capacity then speed. (1)

NervousNerd (1190935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373551)

I'd rather have a 1TB hard drive then a 32GB SSD. I play lots of games, watch videos and listen to music. A 32GB SSD just won't fly. Let me put it this way, would you rather have 4GB of DDR2 ram or 512MB of DDR3 ram?

Re:I'd rather have more capacity then speed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373643)

Are you sure ?
A 1 TB hard-disk is far less reliable than a much smaller capacity hard-disk model

Re:I'd rather have more capacity then speed. (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374069)

I'd rather have a 1TB hard drive then a 32GB SSD. I play lots of games, watch videos and listen to music. A 32GB SSD just won't fly.

Let me put it this way, would you rather have 4GB of DDR2 ram or 512MB of DDR3 ram?

If you care about random read/write performance, which is the bottleneck for almost all disk access tasks, it's actually more like 4 GB of DDR2 ram vs 512 MB of L2 cache if you consider the ~100x speed difference between SSDs and HDs. That becomes a more compelling choice.

What about SAS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373567)

For this price range it seems going with some enterprise rated SAS drives @ 15k RPMS. It seems they'd be a bit better for RAID configs.

Also, the 2.5" WD drives require a 3.5" drive bay, real enterprise class drives only require a 2.5" small form factor bay..

Thank you, Captain obvious. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28373583)

This should win the "duh" award. I don't think anybody outside a relatively small community of super-geeks even gives a flop about SSD's, and I'm pretty sure they're qualified to do a cost-benefit analysis.

How did this article even make it to the front page? Aren't there ground breaking stories about Miss California or something?

Moving parts (4, Interesting)

krulgar (250929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373611)

Read distance measured in microns, magnets, heads, cylinders, normal forces, weight and my favorite, impact functions - all of these seem like great reasons to move to SSD.
1000 (or more) rewrites is a scary limit for the SSD route, but I like the idea of walking around with my laptop on and not worrying about drive failures (as much).

Take this for what it's worth, but I was at a conference a couple years ago and the VP of Intel's desktop support division said that 30% of his problems with laptops were solved by requiring folks to wait for the drive to spin down after hibernating/shutdown operations and before shouldering the laptop. Even if the number seems somewhat inflated, it seems like good advice for anyone with a "conventional" hard drive.

Stop, Hammer time! (1)

linuxg0d (913436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373717)

I really don't think that it's important that Hard Drives are at an all time low.

Would you still buy an older iPod from back in 2005? Or would you go for the newer iPod models?

It isn't because something is at an all time low that it makes it right to keep investing in it. Keep in mind that demand drives the market and that demand drives the advancement of said markets.

Technically, based on this article, I should go out and buy myself a walk-man, some parachute pants and a Hyundai Pony.

Stop, Hammer time!

Performance and storage are not the only metrics (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373743)

SSD are also silent, do not warm too much, are resistant to shocks, are smaller...
This is how you justify the ten-fold increase in price.

when we looked at netbooks... (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28373875)

It was a 120GB HDD or 8GB SSD for the same price. We chose the HDD's and it took about a whole 2 seconds to come to that decision. SSD's might be all the rage in the geeky circles, but 120GB vs. 8GB. The extra performance was not worth it to us over the extra storage.

How can you say that with a straight face? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374019)

what's often being overlooked in the current consumer market hype is that fact that hard disk drive prices are at an all-time low â" offering users good performance and massive amounts of capacity for 10 to 30 cents a gigabyte.

Really? People don't know that hard disks offer a capacity/$ value that would shock your grandpa, and that the deal just keeps getting better? I don't believe you. Find me just one of these people. I bet you can't.

You don't buy SSDs for a bargain.. (1)

moxley (895517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374021)

You don't buy SSDs for a bargain..

You buy them because it is the one modification you can make in this day and age that will have a dramatic impact on the speed of your computing experience.

Adding more RAM, stepping up to a faster processor with twice as many cores - yeah, you'll notice those things a bit (especiaslly when multitasking) but if you want to do something that may cust your start up time to a third of what it was, and make it seems like you've turbochraged your machine, for most people an SSD will do that - especially on a laptop where yo're generally not going to have a 10k or 15k RPM drive or a striped array - but there is a cost, and it's significant, and there are a lot of SSD drives to choose from that use different sorts of technologies, generally speaking you get what you pay for with these.

Article Misses The Mark (5, Insightful)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374033)

This is some seriously shoddy reporting. Take for example this gem:

Next I transferred a 1GB folder filled with photos and video files to the drives from a USB drive. Both the SSD and the HDD accomplished the file transfer in about 50 seconds (the Seagate was 2 seconds slower).

Hmm, interesting that they both performed exactly the same. I would have expected the HDD to be faster transfering sequential data, except they were probably both limited by the transfer rate of the older, generic USB drive you were using. Way to go, you've successfully benchmarked the transfer rate for a USB drive that you weren't even reviewing.

Or this:

A lot depends on how you expect to use your computer. If you're a college student writing papers and surfing the Internet for information, the advantages of an SSD are negligible, but if you're downloading video and using multiple applications at the same time, an SSD will give you a very noticeable performance boost, Wong said.

This is exactly backwards. The college student downloading video will need the extra hard drive space, where the college student writing papers and surfing the internet is going to have a much better experience with storage that performs better under random io workloads. But then again, what college student these days doesn't have an external usb hard drive for all their media?

They also mention that consumers will likely look for larger storage regardless of the type of underlying technology. But the consumers likely to care are the same as those likely to know the difference between HDD and SDD in the first place. The consumer that doesn't is more likely to make a purchase based on "wow 20 second bootup" and "MS Office starts in a snap, and everything goes faster" than anything else.

For interactive workloads nothing beats SSD.

when space is enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28374047)

I currently use 30 gigas for windows + games, 20 gigas for ubuntu, and 80 gigas for porn. 130 gigas in total.

I don't like 1080p movies. 25 gigas for the sake of watching a movie? pff.. does not pay the extra time to download/burn/cut+paste/whatever. So 80 gigas for porn is right.

In 12 months 256GB SSDs will cost 150$ or less. And then, I will clearly prefer to pay 50 extra dollars for less heat, less consumption, less noise, and more resistance.

And, if today my current disk die, I would seriously consider to purchase a 128GB SSD. In fact, YouTube satisfies 90% of my multimedia needs so I could actually use a fraction of that 80 gigas.

Typo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28374053)

I try to keep my hard disk from getting SSDs ever since that movie they made us watch in highschool.

uh huh (1)

Khashishi (775369) | more than 5 years ago | (#28374269)

When I can stick a USB magnetic platter drive that is smaller than my thumb in my pocket and not worry about it breaking into pieces or when I can insert and remove them into my camera/phone, then you can say that traditional drives have caught up with SSD. And as the world goes netbook, netbooks have a lot to gain from compact, robust, low-power, silent storage.

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