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Intel 34nm SSDs Lower Prices, Raise Performance

samzenpus posted about 5 years ago | from the getting-better dept.

Data Storage 195

Vigile writes "When Intel's consumer line of solid state drives were first introduced late in 2008, they impressed reviewers with their performance and reliability. Intel gained a lot of community respect by addressing some performance degradation issues found at PC Perspective by quickly releasing an updated firmware that solved those problems and then some. Now Intel has its second generation of X25-M drives available, designated by a "G2" in the model name. The SSDs are technically very similar though they use 34nm flash rather than the 50nm flash used in the originals and reduced latency times. What is really going to set these new drives apart though, both from the previous Intel offerings and their competition, are the much lower prices allowed by the increased memory density. PC Perspective has posted a full review and breakdown of the new product line that should be available next week."

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Oooh. (0)

HitoGuy (1324613) | about 5 years ago | (#28796889)

Does this mean that SSDs aren't laughably expensive yet?

$3 per GB (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 5 years ago | (#28797099)

The last page of the review [] states that these should cost you roughly $3 per GB. Whether that's "laughably expensive" depends on what you want to do with the drive.

Re:Oooh. (4, Informative)

slyn (1111419) | about 5 years ago | (#28797431)

Last year when the x25-m first came out the 80 gig version cost $595, or just a little less than $7.50/gig. Now the same 1st gen drive costs $314 with a -10 dollar discount and free shipping on newegg, or about $3.92/gig.

The new 2nd generation drive 80 gig drive sells for $225, or $2.81/gig. If it follows the same price trend as the 1st gen model around this time next year it should cost ~125 dollars, or about $1.53/gig.

Here are the quick results of the xbench of my 5400rpm 160gig drive in my two year old macbook pro:

        Uncached Write 35.48 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Write 38.42 MB/sec [256K blocks]
        Uncached Read 10.70 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Read 40.71 MB/sec [256K blocks]
        Uncached Write 0.86 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Write 21.42 MB/sec [256K blocks]
        Uncached Read 0.42 MB/sec [4K blocks]
        Uncached Read 16.66 MB/sec [256K blocks]

Compare those to the results of the new drive here: []

Sequential read on the SSD is over 6x faster, and sequential write is 2x faster, but for the performance where it matters the difference is much more noticeable. Random read on the SSD is nearly 140x faster, and random write is over 40x faster.

Couple that performance difference with the lower power consumption, lower noise, and higher threshold for damage, and its a no brainer as to what is the single most price-efficient possible upgrade you can make to a laptop to boost overall performance, responsiveness, and battery life.

I wish I could justify buying one now, but I can't. However, 12 to 18 months from now I will probably be shopping around for a new laptop, and when I do I won't be settling for anything but a SSD. The benefits are just to great to ignore.

Re:Oooh. Questions Still Remain... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 5 years ago | (#28797905)

I won't be settling for anything but a SSD. The benefits are just to great to ignore.

As long as they don't wear out in months, instead of years. I'm still leery of just how quickly you can start killing one of these when it's hosting the swap file. And I have yet to hear data on just how many R/W cycles 34nm cells are good for yet.

Re:Oooh. Questions Still Remain... (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | about 5 years ago | (#28798023)

They have wear leveling algorithms. Enterprises wouldn't be buying these if they didn't work.
If you're really that worried about it just throw a velociraptor or something in your machine and put your swap file on that and use the SSD for everything else.

Re:Oooh. Questions Still Remain... (1)

RoboRay (735839) | about 5 years ago | (#28799639)

I bought a 4GB Gigabyte iRAM box specifically for the swap file on an SSD system.

Re:Oooh. Questions Still Remain... (5, Informative)

LordKronos (470910) | about 5 years ago | (#28798185)

This has been covered many times. It's a good number. I can't recall the article, but basically if you write 20GB per day, you'll get more than 5 years out of it thanks to wear leveling and extra space (SSDs actually have more capacity than they make available to you). Now, you might scoff at that but:
1) 20GB/day is a lot for the typical user.
2) People who routinely do more than 20GB/day probably need a lot more storage than SSDs currently provide (you are talking about filling the drive in 4 days) so you probably won't be using an SSD for those purposes anyway
3) People who buy into SSDs at this point in time are typically more on the cutting edge, and are likely no have moved on before the drive wears out.
4) When the drive finally does start having problems, my understanding is that it won't just fail and you'll have lost data. The failure should happen on write, and if it fails to write that will be detectable. If it writes successfully, then it should be readable. If it does fail, I believe that part will just be marked inaccessible and the data will be written somewhere else. The drive should (again, as far as I know) provide details of the failure to SMART and other disk utilities, so the problem can be detected before it progresses to a critical stage. This is much better than magnetic media, where the typical failure is that you go to read data and it is suddenly inaccessible.

Of course, this is all just what I've read about previous generations. I have no data about the 34nm, but I have no reason to suspect it's any worse.

PS. If you want to know how much you currently write to disk and you run a linux system, check out /proc/diskstats. The 10th column should be number of sectors written. Each sector is 512 bytes, so take value*512/1024/1024/1024 and you'll get the number of GB each device has written since bootup.

Re:Oooh. Questions Still Remain... (1)

Fross (83754) | about 5 years ago | (#28799043)

The interesting difference between SSDs and platter based drive, is a write failure is not a warning sign that your heads are about to crash and you're going to lose the whole drive, it's just a failure of that one sector. Given extreme use over an extended period, the sectors would start to fail one by one, but no data should be lost, the drive capacity would start to shrink but the rest of the drive would be fine. Head crashes will be a thing of the past, thank god.

Even when the entire device's writes are used up, one should still be able to read all the data from it! :)

Re:Oooh. Questions Still Remain... (3, Informative)

PsychoKiller (20824) | about 5 years ago | (#28799973)

Cool, thanks for the tip!

cat /proc/diskstats | grep "[sh]d[a-z] " | awk '{print $10 "*512/1024/1024/1024"}' | bc -l

Re:Oooh. Questions Still Remain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28800207)

unfortunately column 10 is not the number of sectors written, it is number of milliseconds spent doing IO []

Re:Oooh. Questions Still Remain... (1)

Fweeky (41046) | about 5 years ago | (#28798307)

Intel rated the first generation X25-M's at 100GB/day for 5 years, I'd be surprised if these were significantly worse.

Re:Oooh. Questions Still Remain... (1)

Fross (83754) | about 5 years ago | (#28799011)

One assumes they are MLC which are still good for about 10,000 write cycles. SLCs for 100,000.

The controller does a very good job of cycling "sectors" used, so the whole disk gets good use, rather than the same areas being overwritten constantly. The MTBF for SSDs is much higher than for conventional drives as a result, although the figure is less relevant as it's much more down to usage than anything else.

Keep enough free space on the drive for the controller to do its cycling, don't use it for constant writes (torrents are a good example of what not to use it for - as for swap file, I don't know), and the drive will last longer than you'll use it for.

Re:Oooh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28797943)

how long till they catch-up with HDD though, SSDs great for laptops (maybe high performance servers too), but i can pick up a 1TB drive and use a smart FS (logfs for example where there is little random write) at $0.09/gig!

Re:Oooh. (1)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#28798495)

There is a huge market segment that doesn't care about much more space than 500 GB, so when the cheapest hard disk available is only $75 cheaper than a 500 GB SSD that runs circles around it, lots of people are going to go with the SSD.

So the actual crossing of the price / GB ratios isn't real important to the people marketing the SSDs.

Hell, I would jump at a 320 GB SSD for $200, which is nearly 7 times the price ratio you quote.

Re:Oooh. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 years ago | (#28799119)

Its not only that, but the commodity platters that currently cost so little are not anywhere near the high end of regular HD performance. Time and again people compare the best HD performance against SSD's while only considering the lowest HD prices.

A high performance 10K RPM drive is going to cost $0.66/GB at best, while the 15K RPM drive will easily cost $1.00/GB or even a lot more. SSD's are considerably faster than these things, and look even better compared to the commodity drives.

Re:Oooh. (3, Interesting)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | about 5 years ago | (#28798453)

Let's make some wild predictions based on recent price trends. (Trends found [] here [] ). Over the last few years, flash memory has been increasing in GB/$ at a rate of 185% per year. Meanwhile, hard drives have slowed to only 42% improvement per year.

Based on these trends, here is the estimated cost of 10 TB using either technology:

July 2009: Platter = $750 [] , Flash = $28,125 []

July 2010: Platter = $528 [] , Flash = $9,868 []

July 2014: Platter= $130 [] , Flash = $150 []

July 2019: Platter= $23 [] , Flash = $0.80 []

July 2024: Platter= $4 [] , Flash = $0.004 []

In July 2024, a 10 PB flash drive would cost $42 [] ! Of course, we can't assume these trends will continue, but it seems a good bet that we won't be worrying about the size of our mp3 collections. The traditional hard drive may only have five years of competitive life remaining.

Re:Oooh. (2, Funny)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 5 years ago | (#28798993)

Let's make a few predictions based on recent trends:

July 2007: number of wives = 0
July 2009: number of wives = 1

July 2011: number of wives = 2
July 2013: number of wives = 3
July 2015: number of wives = 4
July 2017: number of wives = 5
July 2019: number of wives = 6
July 2021: number of wives = 7

Gosh, I'll need to implement wear levelling soon, too.

Extrapolation: almost as good as copulation.

Re:Oooh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28799927)

you missed: July 2010: joined mormon church.

Re:Oooh. (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 5 years ago | (#28798541)

"boost overall performance, responsiveness, and battery life"

That's the crux: SSDs boost performance pretty much only when doing random reads. Not random writes, not sequential reads, and not anything not HD-related. Basically, you're boosting boot times, app launch, game level load... and anything else that has to do with disk access, exclusively.

$200-400 is a lot to pay for a boost, even sizeable, in those rare occasions. They don't help with anything CPU-, RAM- or I/O-intensive. And cost pretty much the price of a second computer, or a netbook.

Re:Oooh. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 years ago | (#28799029)

Intel's SSD (and OCZ's Vertex) boost random read AND write speed, as well as sequential read AND write speed.

So what the hell are you talking about? Did we catch you talking about something you havent research at all, again?

Re:Oooh. (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 5 years ago | (#28800173)

Try and put things in perspective. On a desktop computer, what % of the time is spent doing disk access ? Actually, what % of the time is spent doing blocking disk access, because background ones are not really noticable, fast or slow.

Anandtech found sequential writes to be 50% faster than an HD (192 vs 120 MB/s). That's good, but not incredible, especially if your OS or HD does any kind of write caching.

Same remark for random writes, though SSD's advantage is much larger then: small % of time spent doing that, mostly cached anyway... the low-level tests are pretty much worthless.

Higher level tests show really negligible performance gains.

Re:Oooh. (2, Interesting)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#28799375)

>Sequential read on the SSD is over 6x faster, and sequential write is 2x faster,
>but for the performance where it matters the difference is much more noticeable.
>Random read on the SSD is nearly 140x faster, and random write is over 40x faster.

>Not random writes, not sequential reads, and not anything not HD-related.
is wrong.

It also seems to me that you don't really need to say
>[no performance increases on] anything not HD-related.
>They don't help with anything CPU-, RAM-...-intensive
when you are talking about hard drive upgrades.

And of course it does help with I/O intensive stuff if that I/O is to the HD.

My RAM and CPU speed are fine, but my second upgrade (when I can afford it) will be an SSD (my first upgrade will be a video card - I currently have an Intel x3100, good for bleeding edge Xorg stuff, but low-powered, and Radeon[HD] will be catching up before I can afford it).

P.S. I wish slashdot would quote like a mail client (or a *chan), Also, the preview should not leave out blank lines if they will be present in the final post

Re:Oooh. (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 5 years ago | (#28800043) []

tests say sequential write = 50% faster than HD, not twice as fast. Maybe 2x faster than older SSDs, but not than HDs. Again, that's 50% when you're doing disk writes, which really is not that often. Plus those disk writes need to be "blocking", not done in the background.

My point is that SSDs boost performance in the very rare cases where
1- you're doing "blocking" disk IO
2- SSD are significantly faster than HDs
That's not a lot.

Four your second upgrade, I'd sell my old PC, and use that + the SSD money to buy a whole new PC, sans SSD. That's what I'm doing right now.

Re:Oooh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28799401)

Oh come on, single most important upgrade? It depends entirely on what you do. After my computer is booted, the disk is accessed very infrequently except when first starting an application. Upgrading an SSD isn't going to make anything faster except load times (assuming you have enough RAM), and load times for most applications are fast anyway (unless it's an Adobe product).

If you find an SSD drastically improves performance, then perhaps you need more RAM to avoid swapping. There's probably some applications where disk performance is important, but most of these also require large amounts of space.

Re:Oooh. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#28799843)

Define laughably. The first SSD I bought, around '94-95ish was 128KB. At the same time, my laptop had a 60MB hard disk. The hard disk was worth about £80, the SSD cost £30, so the SSD cost around 180 times as much per unit storage. The SSD had a few serious limitations. The transfer speed very slow, but most importantly it was a single cell so the only way of reclaiming space after deleting / modifying a file was to copy everything off, format it, and copy everything back.

This generation costs around $3/GB, while a 2.5" HDD costs around $0.25/GB, meaning the SSD has gone from being 180 times as expensive to being 12 times as expensive over the past 15 years. The SSD can now handle orders of magnitude more seeks per second than the HD (which it couldn't) and a much faster linear transfer rate (which it couldn't), so it's now giving better performance than the HDD, in exchange for lower capacity and a higher price.

I've got one of the G1 Drives (3, Interesting)

CajunArson (465943) | about 5 years ago | (#28796927)

Fortunately I got it for only about ~$300 so I only "lost" $100 with the new ones coming out. That having been said, I don't regret the purchase at all, it is insanely faster than any other laptop drive out there, while being completely silent and power-friendly. As for TRIM support, I've heard that Intel is not going to add it for the older drives, but I'm not sure if that is just speculation or if it's been officially confirmed by Intel (Intel not expressly say the old drives are getting TRIM support is not the same as expressly denying the support). Fortunately, the drives with the newer firmware don't seem to suffer from much performance degradation, so I'm not really obsessed with TRIM anyway.

Oh and yes, it does run Linux (Arch 64-bit to be precise) just fine.

I can't wait for next year with the ONFI 2.1 FLASH chips (the new drives are not using the new ONFI standard yet) as well as 6Gbit SATA support. At that point I'll put together a new desktop that only uses SSDs, and turn my existing desktop into a 4TB RAID 1+0 file server to handle all the big files... the perfect balance of SATA & spinning media.

Re:I've got one of the G1 Drives (2)

thms (1339227) | about 5 years ago | (#28797231)

Fortunately, the drives with the newer [non-TRIM] firmware don't seem to suffer from much performance degradation, so I'm not really obsessed with TRIM anyway.

I wonder how they managed that without the TRIM command, i.e. without the OS telling the HD which parts can be nulled because they are not needed anymore. Did they hide more pages from the OS which are then nulled regardless to hack together something like a buffer? But that would still show terrible write performance once that overflows. Did they implement deep-data-inspection for the most common filesystems so the HD now knows when something is deleted?

At that point I'll put together a new desktop that only uses SSDs, and turn my existing desktop into a 4TB RAID 1+0 file server to handle all the big files... the perfect balance of SATA & spinning media.

I'm planning the same thing once the prices are right and TRIM is supported, though I'll probably keep the old spinning-platter drive local. Then we are one step back/forward to the old unix days where /bin was on the fast, and /usr/ on the slower but much bigger drive.

As with virtualisation (ok, more mainframes than unix there), everything old is new again - can't wait to use the underrated Sys-Req key to switch between Linux and Windows instances that are virtualized by the hardware!

Re:I've got one of the G1 Drives (1, Troll)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 5 years ago | (#28799041)

It's always fun to read bleedin' edgers rationnalize how they didn't pay over-the-top for immature first trys that soon got obsoleted.

So, yes, you only overpaid $100 for a drive which Intel hasn't yet come out and said will never get TRIM, and is 25%+ slower than the new one. Congrats.

I've got some oil here that will do wonder for your hair ! it is expensive, too.

Re:I've got one of the G1 Drives (4, Insightful)

LordKronos (470910) | about 5 years ago | (#28799289)

I'm not the person you were replying to, but I too bought a X25-M 80GB back in April (though I only payed $300, so I only overpaid by $75). That said:
1) I've enjoyed the increased performance over the last 4 months. I've done a lot of work where I've benefited from the increased performance, so I feel I've gotten at least a good portion of that $75 in the form of the value of increased productivity (I use this computer for work for my business).
2) I've had no performance complaints from the new drive. Compared to my old drive, there are nearly zero times that I'm waiting on disk I/O anymore, so if it might be a little slower (and look at the charts in the's not 25% slower) I'm not really noticing where it could be improved.
3) Obsolete? I do not think that word means what you think it means. My G1 drive is neither "No longer in use" nor "Outmoded in design, style, or construction". It has been surpassed (very slightly) by a newer model, but if that translate to obsolete, then I guess anyone who isn't paying $1000 for a Core i7-975 CPU is also buying obsolete hardware. And of course, anyone who does buy a Core i7-975 for $1000 will promptly be mocked by you when the price drops to $900 or a new model 1/3 GHz faster comes out or something.

Re:I've got one of the G1 Drives (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 5 years ago | (#28800079)

To me, Trim-less, and at least 25% slower is obsolete. That would be "design".

I'm happy for you if you think you got your money's worth. After much reading, I finally decided not to get one for the new PC I just ordered.

Re:I've got one of the G1 Drives (2, Interesting)

CajunArson (465943) | about 5 years ago | (#28799817)

So I'm assuming you are typing your comment in from somebody else's computer, because following your impeccable logic nobody should ever buy any piece of computer technology ever because something else is going to come along and make it obsolete. I can also say that if you are not a hypocrite you'd wake up every single day and loudly thank everyone who does buy technology, because if nobody went out and paid for computers, they would not exist for you to act like a smarmy bitch on.
    I assure you that the new drive's performance is quite fine for the amount of money I paid for it, and (because I'm a lot smarter than you) I was quite aware that newer and better drives were on the horizon, but I still made my purchase and have no regrets. Since I use my laptop for work that you can't even comprehend, I know I'm getting the value out of it that I put into it, making it a fair deal.

Good move (3, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | about 5 years ago | (#28796945)

Getting the prices lower is definitely a move in the right direction. I'm looking forward to moving to SSD in the near future, and not having to worry about hard drive crashes anymore.

Re:Good move (1)

Itninja (937614) | about 5 years ago | (#28797139)

...not having to worry about hard drive crashes anymore

God, I hope you are never in the IS department at my company. Or any company for that matter.

Re:Good move (1)

Onymous Coward (97719) | about 5 years ago | (#28797969)

You mean it may be naive to expect zero failures with the new drives?

I wouldn't be surprised if the failure profile between moving-parts devices and solid state devices were radically different.

the era of the SSD is here (4, Interesting)

MagicMerlin (576324) | about 5 years ago | (#28796973)

While hard drives will continue to live on for a good while yet where $/GB considerations are paramount (especially archival type applications), the performance advantages of flash drives will soon trump the decreasing cost advantage both for workstation (x25-m) and server (x25-e) environments. The case for flash in servers is even more compelling, where we measure drives in terms of IOPS and a single Intel flash drive performs 10 or 20 times better than the best hard drives on the market for a fraction of the power consumption. Understandably, many IT managers are cautious about adopting new technologies, especially when the failure characteristics are not completely known, but I suspect the advantages are so great that minds are going to start changing, quickly.

Re:the era of the SSD is here (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 5 years ago | (#28797071)

I'd love to see a RAID5 array of SSDs in a Dell PowerEdge 2950. I'm willing to bet a few of these drives alone would saturate the bandwidth on a PERC 6i controller.


Re:the era of the SSD is here (1)

afidel (530433) | about 5 years ago | (#28797663)

I bet one drive could saturate the PERC 6i, I know it can saturate the HP P400 no problem. In fact I got about 2x the 4k random write IOPS when I used it in a workstation with Intel ICH as I did when it was connected to the P400.

Re:the era of the SSD is here (1)

Fweeky (41046) | about 5 years ago | (#28798631)

I've tried an X25-M on a few servers with LSI SAS controllers (as used by PERC 6i, though I don't think I've used that exact chip) and been disappointed to encounter IO hangs and other drives disappearing randomly; even just having an X25-M plugged in is enough to seemingly make the controller rather unhappy. Doesn't appear to be a driver problem, unless it's one shared by FreeBSD, Linux and Solaris.

Hopefully Intel will do an SAS version at some point; they could compete against 15kRPM drives rather well, I think.

the era of the SSD is not far away. (2, Interesting)

slack_justyb (862874) | about 5 years ago | (#28797261)

While SSD may be the new kid on the block and show signs of superiority. Hard drives retain a bit of advantage over their non-moving, solid state counter parts. Hard drives can take more write overs than SSD. Flushing the cache to the actual media is still faster on HDD than SSD. SSDs are still very susceptible to static discharge versus HDD due to more surface area having sensitive parts.

I do agree with the parent. SSD are a big thing and they have some important advantages. However, let's not go putting the cart in front of the horse and say that the era of SSD is here upon us. Cost, durability, performance, and longevity are some important areas where SSD needs improvements. In some departments of each of those categories SSD wins hands down. But SSD doesn't win enough in those areas to justify the incredibly high price of the drive. So it is a bit premature to start waving the banners right now.

Re:the era of the SSD is here (1)

afidel (530433) | about 5 years ago | (#28797639)

The x-25e is great, and I use it in a few situations, but at 8x the cost per GB of 15k FC I'm not moving to it wholesale. It's true that for $10K I could get as many IOPS as my $200K EVA, but it would only have the storage of a single drive in the array.

Re:the era of the SSD is here (1)

MagicMerlin (576324) | about 5 years ago | (#28799917)

The x-25e is great, and I use it in a few situations, but at 8x the cost per GB of 15k FC I'm not moving to it wholesale. It's true that for $10K I could get as many IOPS as my $200K EVA, but it would only have the storage of a single drive in the array.

...for 5% of the price, and trivially built without proprietary protocols, hardware, or software support. Let's compare apples to apples, and spend 200k on some sas sata enclosures. good raid cards, and intel x25-e, and see who is kicking whose ass. many, many databases are iops bound, not storage bound (or they would be stuffed with dense sata drives). Now, I can't blame you for not doing that _today_, but it should be patently clear that flash is the future of enterprise databases (as a bonus, you get a huge reduction in power consumption!).

Re:the era of the SSD is here (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 5 years ago | (#28799053)

Because everyone knows how Ferraris have made trucks redundant so quickly !

Now THIS is the way to market on Slashdot! (-1, Offtopic)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 5 years ago | (#28796977)

Wow - Vigile put on a marketing CLINIC just now.

...they impressed reviewers...gained a lot of community respect...What is really going to set (this product) apart though, both from (last year's model) and their competition, are the much lower prices allowed... (Magazine that we paid) has posted a full review and breakdown of the new product line that should be available next week.

Nice now and again to see that it isn't just geeks who tune in to Slashdot.

Not even Intel can fix the FF problem... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28796981)

I have to say that Firefox is getting a lot worse lately. The user experience is in serious need of improvement and development is the pits. I installed the latest "big deal" Firefox update on June 30th. (For some reason they skipped a full four secondary updates, but whatever.) Upon restarting, which took several minutes, I began using Firefox 3.5 [] .

At first, Firefox seemed strangely familiar. I thought they had changed very little unnecessarily until I visited the Acid3 [] test. Lo and behold, I was still using Firefox [] . What the fuck? I manually invoked Check for Updates and repeated my first attempt only to find, upon restarting, the same thing.

Finally in desperation I downloaded the installer manually from Mozilla [] . The install ran surprisingly quickly and, after a few minutes, I was launched with the new version. I had to check, though, because again I thought it looked like very little had changed.

In fact, did Mozilla bother changing anything beside the JavaScript? The new TraceMonkey is great and all, but they could have at least made it look like they were working on something else. When the most noticeable improvement is the "Know Your Rights" button (which everyone ignores) one really starts to wonder what the fuss was all about.

Well, after the three tries it took to upgrade, I found my profile wouldn't migrate. This was a mess, but I was able to eventually retrieve my bookmarks from a long, arcane file path in a hidden directory. But then upon visiting my bookmarked sites I found that almost none of my add-ons are compatible with it. Therefore my browser is almost entirely functionless.

The bookmark tool itself could use a polishing. It's a mess and has been since version 1.0. If a browser is meant to render and organize content, Firefox surely falls down in this area. Why does it take me several minutes to slosh through the GUI just to make a new folder and alphabetize some bookmarks in it? Not to mention the damned Bookmarks toolbar, which takes up too much damn space and can't be turned off.

And speaking of the GUI, it's slow as Hell slowget rid of the proprietary XUL and just hardcode the damned interface already!

I also have to mention memory use. On my system, Firefox was swallowing an incredible 400 MB with only a simple HTML 4 table open. 400 MB?! I blame this on the Firefox team's use of C++, where memory management is about as easy as herding cats. Likewise Firefox is a slow, bloated nightmare. (For a contrast, there's Safari [] , which is written in Objective C and is very small and efficient.)

Most of the time I have heavy JavaScript sites open. I shudder to think how much Firefox eats then, and I'll be sure to check in the future. No wonder my system tends to slow down when I've left Firefox open for days on end with dynamically updating pages and RSS feeds. Clearly, Firefox leaks memory like a cracked sieve in a waterfall.

With Firefox smelling more and more like crapware, I started to dig a little, first on Wikipedia [] and then on the Mozilla Development Forums [] . It turns out that my observations are part of a larger pattern of Firefox quality issues and development customs. The Mozilla developers are a bunch of arrogant, abusive shitheads.

For starters, they're still running all tabs in the same process. This is something IE7 and Safari 3 have had right for years. So if a plugin crashes or a page takes forever to finish rendering, everything's stuck. You can't even switch tabs to another page! And Firefox 3.5 is a "milestone" release? Firefox 3.6 and 4 are milestones too, and process-per-tab isn't scheduled for either.

Developer interaction with Firefox users is stilted too. Sometimes Bugzilla [] reports are dismissed out of hand, only to be reopened when something goes terribly wrong later. I also saw instances of reported security flaws sitting years before being patched. In one case, someone released an exploit to point out the deep holes in Firefox before anyone did anything.

One time, a user with some programming experience suggested a bugfix to the wishlist. One programmer, whom I will not publicly name, suggested the user submit patches "once his balls dropped," if he were even male. If this were a real company and not a bunch of arrogant hacker hippies, user antagonism and sexism would never be acceptable. When I read this particular incident I uninstalled Firefox for good.

If anyone else has complaints about Firefox, post them here. For a browser that's taken nearly a third of the market, it's doing so with an incredibly broken development model and backend. Just imagine if the Firefox team actually treated its users right or prioritized projects properly. Maybe then the web would move beyond the mess of incompatibile standards and site hacks it is today.

Until then, Firefox is just another out-of-control Open Source project that needs a good stiff slap in the face [] .

Faster, Cheaper, Better (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 5 years ago | (#28797059)

Having gotten 2 out of 3, does Intel make a trifecta here, or is there some lurking downside (e.g. limited write cycles etc.)?

Re:Faster, Cheaper, Better (1)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#28797277)

You mean the drives are faster and better, right?

Re:Faster, Cheaper, Better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28797899)

We're only talking about shrinking IC logic. Every generation of a processor is faster, cheaper, better than the launch of the previous model.

All fine and dandy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28797073)

But is the linux driver from intel or is it the typical open sores shit written by some basement dwelling, virgin linux nerd?

AnandTech writeup (5, Informative)

tab_b (1279858) | about 5 years ago | (#28797137)

AnandTech [] has a nice writeup too. If the price curve drops like the first-gen X-25M [] we should all be happy pretty soon.

Re:AnandTech writeup (1)

hattig (47930) | about 5 years ago | (#28797355)

I think the next generation 80GB, as a boot and apps drive, could be very compelling, if the price is right. You could probably get dual-boot Windows and Linux in 80GB, for the OS and apps for each. /home and /Users will have to be on the big dumb slow disc.

Re:AnandTech writeup (1)

Spoke (6112) | about 5 years ago | (#28799667)

I suspect we'll see the 2nd gen X-25M launch at prices similar to the current X-25M, and then drop down to the $225/80GB that you can get them in 1,000 unit quantities over the next couple months.

The competition for these Intel drives is at least 2-3x behind in random IOPs. Too bad the streaming write performance didn't go up significantly, because that's the only place where the Intel drives lag behind their competition.

Nice price drop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28797173)

I'd thought about getting an Intel SSD previously, but couldn't quite afford it. At these lower prices, I'm gonna have to grab one at some point.

I have a G1 Intel X-25M (5, Informative)

ironwill96 (736883) | about 5 years ago | (#28797337)

..and it is fantastic. This was the largest performance increase i've seen on computers in over a decade. I was going to go with a Velociraptor because I knew how important drive access latency was but then Intel patched the fragmentation issue that was worrying me.

I got mounting rails to fit the drive into my desktop case so i'm using it as my primary desktop drive for OS, some applications (Adobe Design Premium Suite runs great on it! Photoshop CS4 loads in 3-4 seconds!), and my main games. I then have a 1.5 TB secondary drive to store my data and music collection etc. I paid around $430 for my 80GB Intel X25-M so being able to get the 160GB for that same price is a fantastic improvement. I will definitely only be going SSD in my machines from now on. Everything loads faster, I get consistently fast boot times even after months of usage.

It is amazing to see Windows XP load up and then all of the system tray apps pop up in a few seconds. You can immediately start loading things like e-mail and Firefox as soon as the desktop appears and there is no discernible lag on first load like you will get with SATA drives since they are still trying to load system tray applications.

Re:I have a G1 Intel X-25M (0, Redundant)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | about 5 years ago | (#28797545)

and there is no discernible lag on first load like you will get with SATA drives since they are still trying to load system tray applications.

Protip: Intel's SSDs are also "SATA drives".

From here []

Intel Mainstream Solid-State Drives are available in either 2.5in (Intel X25-M Mainstream SATA Solid-State Drive) or 1.8in (Intel X18-M Mainstream SATA Solid-State Drive) standard hard drive form factors.

The term you meant was hard disk drive (or HDD) not the name of the connector interface (SATA).

Re:I have a G1 Intel X-25M (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28799617)

Protip: Intel's SSDs are also "SATA drives".

Man, you really must be the life of the party. Remind me to invite you to my next one!

I'm not excited about the era of SSDs... (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | about 5 years ago | (#28797399)

I'm excited about the end of the tiny-primary-memory era. One of these days, maybe the line between primary and secondary storage will shrink.

Re:I'm not excited about the era of SSDs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28797709)

and when you're content the next generation of kids will be complaining about how much slower RAM is than L1 and L2 cache.

reliability? (3, Insightful)

Goffee71 (628501) | about 5 years ago | (#28797437)

How can reviewers be impressed by reliability when they've only had the units for, at most, a year? When these things hit the five-year mark running perfectly well with no data loss in the home/work environment, then I'll be interested.

Ok, they may have been stress tested in factories by the manufacturers, but reviewers don't do that sort of work.

Compared to rotating media... (2, Interesting)

clawsoon (748629) | about 5 years ago | (#28797533)

If you can get a regular hard drive to the five year mark running perfectly well with no data loss, you can consider yourself moderately lucky. Rotating media is what RAID was invented for.

All you'd need to do to demonstrate to me the greater reliability of an SSD is drop it and a regular hard drive onto the table a couple of times while they're running and see which one keeps running. That would be enough to get me impressed by increased reliability. Regular hard drives are delicate beasts.

Re:Compared to rotating media... (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | about 5 years ago | (#28797611)

If you can get a regular hard drive to the five year mark running perfectly well with no data loss, you can consider yourself moderately lucky.

There's nothing lucky about it. Unless you are just straining the drive constantly or don't have any adequate ventilation in your box, an HDD lasting 5 years if not longer is a pretty mundane thing for quite some time.

What luck has to do with it (1)

clawsoon (748629) | about 5 years ago | (#28797731)

You may not be extremely lucky to get a regular HDD to the 5 year mark, but you are moderately lucky. Lucky enough that I would recommend regular backups rather than depend on your luck with the hard drive.

Wouldn't you?

Re:What luck has to do with it (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | about 5 years ago | (#28797887)

Lucky enough that I would recommend regular backups rather than depend on your luck with the hard drive.

Wouldn't you?

Based entirely on my own experience and that of those around me? No, not really. For extremely critical information, sure, but I don't really bother backing anything up as it's pretty much all replaceable and I've never really had a hard drive fail before the 5 year mark. By the time I've ever had a drive fail it's been probably 8-10 years old and is storing nothing of extreme value anyway so anything that may get lost is easily replaced.

Re:What luck has to do with it (1)

clawsoon (748629) | about 5 years ago | (#28798009)

Ah. My experience is mostly as a sysadmin storing other people's data. It's no wonder we have very different views on hard drive reliability.

Re:What luck has to do with it (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | about 5 years ago | (#28798115)

Considering this topic is about consumer SSDs I figured we were talking about home desktops. Of course in a business environment you would back things up because it is critical information and as I said in my post:

For extremely critical information, sure,

Consumer-class devices in servers (1)

clawsoon (748629) | about 5 years ago | (#28799173)

I've had to build more than one server from consumer-class components when money was tight. Once these are down to 70 cents or so a gigabyte with 500GB+ capacities - let's say in two years, if prices keep dropping as they have been - I'll be putting them in servers at first opportunity. With their random read performance, they blow away even the best server-class rotating hard drives.

I can hardly wait. Really. Rotating media is the bane of my existence.

Re:What luck has to do with it (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 5 years ago | (#28798859)

I've not always held on to a single hard drive for 5 years, but I've never had a desktop hard drive fail on me, ever. I've probably owned 20 different drives over the past 15 years.

I have had exactly one laptop drive fail, but that was almost certainly due to having the laptop fall off the passenger seat repeatedly while using it for GPS.

Re:Compared to rotating media... (1)

David Gerard (12369) | about 5 years ago | (#28797875)

Having recently come from a job supervising two rows of racks of servers, the hard disk failure rate seemed to match well with a 3 year expected lifetime.

Re:Compared to rotating media... (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | about 5 years ago | (#28797923)

Well drives in servers are also put through far more strain than a home desktop so their failure rate would be expected to be earlier than a 5 year mark for a consumer drive in a home PC.

Re:Compared to rotating media... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28798175)

Server hdds also tend to spin faster than 5400/7200 rpm. It stands to reason this affects their mtbf.

Re:reliability? (1)

sshir (623215) | about 5 years ago | (#28799409)

The troubling aspect of it all is that SSD's controller is a kind of a black box.
As a result, reliability is application specific! Much more so than regular spinning drives.
And I'm not talking about "flash cell rewrite limit". The thing is, the controller uses undisclosed/patented/whatever algorithms to place your writes at particular addresses on flash. They need to be tricky because of 4k_write/512k_erase problem of the flash technology.
So if you do a "right" combination of small and large writes you will drive controller nuts, into "failsafe mode" with absolutely abysmal performance characteristics afterward (as been already demonstrated).

I personally would prefer a simple, stupid device, for which a "flash aware" file system could be created and used with minimum surprise occurrence.

Re:reliability? (1)

owlstead (636356) | about 5 years ago | (#28799651)

Oh, and you know all the algorithms that are on your hard drive controller out of the top of your head, do you? Or those on your motherboard? Or your OS? Or the applications you run on them? Especially with Intel, I do trust the market place to have some influence in them testing their drives really well before supplying them to customers. If these drives start failing in large numbers they'll have serious problems.

Re:reliability? (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | about 5 years ago | (#28799491)

Most of my HDDs (Maxtor, WD, Seagate) over the past ten years have not lasted more than 2 or 3 years... My last system drive (WD 320GB) died after ~6 months - Just finished the RMA a few weeks ago.

Is this English? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28797885)

"quickly releasing an updated firmware"

What's "a firmware"?

Would You Run DeFrag on an SSD? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 5 years ago | (#28797955)

Would you run DeFrag on an SSD like you do on an HD? After all, sequential reads are still sequential reads.

Re:Would You Run DeFrag on an SSD? (1)

Frenchman113 (893369) | about 5 years ago | (#28798129)

Except that SSDs randomly relocate data and doing a software defragment doesn't make files any more contiguous.

Re:Would You Run DeFrag on an SSD? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28798291)

You get a small savings if the OS does not have to issue a bunch of small commands to get the fragments but can issue one larger command on the SATA bus.

Also defraging them can possibly put them into contiguous blocks as many defragmenters move the whole file around anyway.

The improvement is not quite as dramatic as doing it to a 10 year old system that has a nearly full drive and its never been defragmented. But there is a measurable difference.

If you value your data a defragment also may not hurt either. As having a 'contig' blob of data many times makes it easier to recover your data.

Am I saying defragment it all the time? No. Every couple of months probably would not be out of the question though. Not as necessary as used to be, but useful...

Re:Would You Run DeFrag on an SSD? (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 5 years ago | (#28798159)

AFAICT, sequential vs. random loses its meaning with SSDs. The access time to any arbitrary block is equal, regardless of whether it's right next to the current one or on a different chip on the other end of the board.

Re:Would You Run DeFrag on an SSD? (1)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | about 5 years ago | (#28798593)

Not only that, but there's no way a standard defrag program would be able to tell where data is physically located with a SSD. Block addresses are mapped by the controller to actual locations because wear-leveling needs to be able to move data behind the scenes. This is transparent to the OS; the disk will still report back the same data for a given logical block address, but said data can be physically located anywhere.

Re:Would You Run DeFrag on an SSD? (2, Informative)

sshir (623215) | about 5 years ago | (#28798583)

Actually, surprisingly, you do need to run a kind of defragmentation.
Just not the usual one.
That's because writing in flash is in pages (4k?) but erase can be done only in blocks of 512k. So what happens is that controller have to do some insane job of joggling your writes and rewrites to spread or combine or whatever... on the fly...
As a result, after intensive use, the address space become fragmented, just like memory heap in regular software after lots of allocations/deletions.
Currently, the only way to restore performance is to issue low level format command - secure erase or some such.
I think AnandTech wrote a big piece on it.

The TRIM thing will help to delay (or even eliminate) the need for such drastic measures.

Re:Would You Run DeFrag on an SSD? (1)

owlstead (636356) | about 5 years ago | (#28799797)

There seem to be some defragmentation applications that say they can change some of the characteristics of the writing. I would be very wary of using these kind of applications - it's uncertain that they'll do any good.

For the Vertex drive there is an application that can perform the TRIM command for unused sectors. It's quite new so I would look up if it fits your OS - and only if there is no native TRIM support in the OS of course.

For these kind of Intel drives (especially the latest): unless you do very very heavy writes, just ignore the issue (see the reviews - write is at a constant 80 MB/s).

Otherwise, e.g. for heavy use DB applications, ghost to that 1 GB green hard drive, use a SATA command to clear the drive and ghost the stuff back in. You'll probably manage at least 60 MB/s doing that, so in total it would be something like 2 hours to do this - for a 160 GB drive (and so no time at all for a vertex 30 GB drive, come to think of it).

Re:Would You Run DeFrag on an SSD? (1)

Like2Byte (542992) | about 5 years ago | (#28798647)

Any kind of memory can be become fragmented after some time in use. Defragging in the traditional sense may not be as necessary (as before) as the memory addressing scheme is much faster than before and, therefore, read operations for address spaces far apart are not going to be a problem. I mean, what's the difference if the next segment of code/data is FFFFFFFF away from the last address? Nothing! There are no heads to move from location 'X' to location 'Y' therefore, the throughput is sustained. Traditional HDs need time to seek to the position and are thus slowed.

I would think, though, with just about any machine that had power interrupted during some kind of disk access would cause some fragmentation from time to time - among other things.

Necessary? No.
Reasonable to perform? On sparse occasions, sure. Why not?

Re:Would You Run DeFrag on an SSD? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28798665)

I'd use a proper filesystem.

mod d0wn (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28797957)

sure that bY the []

Nice if they would sell them. (0, Redundant)

DAldredge (2353) | about 5 years ago | (#28798051)

When will you actually be able to buy one?

Re:Nice if they would sell them. (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 5 years ago | (#28799535)

TFA says next week. Try reading it some time.

This post reads like it was written by Intel (1)

freedan (1382597) | about 5 years ago | (#28798155)

marketing. WTF?

Posts are generally easier to (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28798671)

understand when you put them all.

  In the right place.

More cheap now? (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about 5 years ago | (#28798255)

For me, the biggest problem from SSD is the price (on Brazil, you pay two to three times the US price) and off course, the write cicles limit too. But, if they can be cheaper, maybe now I can consider a SSD to "system" partition.

No Battery? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 5 years ago | (#28798597)

These SSDs contain a RAM cache that's powered by the host PC IO bus. Why don't they have a battery in the SSD? The OS thinks that everything ACKed as sent to the storage unit is written, but a power failure kills the cache before it's flushed. A little battery charged off the host PC IO bus would make these drives even more reliable than spinning discs.

Re:No Battery? (2, Informative)

RoboRay (735839) | about 5 years ago | (#28798901)

I think the UPS will cover that.

Re:No Battery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28799263)

They don't have batteries because it would throw the environmental footprint and toxic compounds testing straight into the gutter. Battery-backed hard disk in an apple notebook? Not in this decade. I have ROMB-batteries for many of my servers in the data center... only about half made it to the 2-year mark, and less than half the remainder will make it to year-4.

And all of that is besides the fact of wanting to make hard disks *cooler*. Charging an embedded battery all the time generates heat, which has to go somewhere... (oh, and heat helps degrade circuit pathing faster too)

Re:No Battery? (2, Insightful)

Carl Drougge (222479) | about 5 years ago | (#28800237)

I suspect they have a capacitor large enough to finish committing their buffers. At least they seem to see little performance degradation with write barriers, and do retain all the files they should when I pull the power while writing. (I didn't do a proper test, but it seems to work correctly, assuming your OS does.)

(And for the record, any OS that still thinks anything the HD acks is written is living in a dream world, it hasn't been true for 15 years on consumer disks.)

Was 50 nm. WTF? (2, Interesting)

HiggsBison (678319) | about 5 years ago | (#28798805)

(Yes, I know the new parts are 34 nm)

I thought the progression of feature size went: 90 nm, 65 nm, 45 nm, 34 nm.

But the graphics processors seem to be using 55, and these SSDs are being reduced from 50.

I thought they had to pour gazillions into standardizing fab construction, steppers, and all the equipment. So is some plant manager stumbling in with a hangover one morning and accidentally setting the big dial for 50 or 55 or something? What's the deal here?

25% faster game level loads. (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 5 years ago | (#28799111)

That's what Anandtech found out during "desktop" testing.

(And, I assume, OS, Apps and Documents loads)

That's it. 25% faster during the, what, 1% of the time your PC spends actually loading stuff off the disk ?

The rest of the time, you get nothing.

That's not worth $200 to me.

On the Enterprise front, I wouldn't know how compelling that is (or not). But on the consumer front ...

Re:25% faster game level loads. (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 5 years ago | (#28799523)

It all boils down to how you value your time. Don't rush to be so skeptical when there's clearly a market out there for them already. You may not value your time in that way as much as a person who already shelled out the money for an SSD.

Personally, from my own first hand experience, I think it's worth it. Everything just feels more responsive. I normally don't do the whole early adopter thing even though I have some FU money laying around, but this time I did do it. The difference you notice is just like night and day.

Re:25% faster game level loads. (1)

TravisO (979545) | about 5 years ago | (#28800113)

Well from the enterprise(y) side of things, if your HD is being ran 50+% of the time (and your home desktop is 1%), then 25% speed improvement is a huge improvement considering a server has times where it's pegged for performance. In small setups where you're on the verge of needing a second server and a load balancer (which adds up to a very pricey upgrade) then merely using SSD could be a life saver. But this is a niche example, despite, in high demand setups SSD is going to be huge success but not until after SSD proves itself on lifespan, as others have mentioned.

Remember, just because it seems better on paper, mother nature might prove otherwise, I'm also in the "when consumer SSDs hit the 5yr mark, then I'll be impressed" camp. But I won't lie, if the price drops continue like they do now, I'll be happy to buy a 160GB SSD for $199 next year and keep my current SATA drive for my big storage (music and video).

Next week? (1)

Talinom (243100) | about 5 years ago | (#28799857)

the new product line that should be available next week.

I am fighting the urge to head down to Puget Systems in Auburn, WA and see if they really have the SSDSA2MH160G2 [] for sale for $490.55. My guess is it isn't quite ready to be sold yet and was merely indexed by Google.

Must. Control. Checkbook.

How about a hybrid model? (1)

swb (14022) | about 5 years ago | (#28799939)

Part HDD, part SSD?

During operation, the SSD data is mirrored onto the HDD in the background, or, better yet, the HDD is larger and the most frequently used data is kept on the SSD but you get the whole capacity of the HDD.

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