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Are Consumer Hard Drives Headed Into History?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the yes-but-at-what-pace dept.

Data Storage 681

Lucas123 writes "With NAND flash fabricators ramping up production, per GB prices of solid state drives are expected to drop by more than half by this time next year to about 50 cents. Even so, consumers still look at three things when purchasing a computer: CPU power, memory size, and drive capacity, giving spinning disk the edge. SSD manufacturers like Samsung and SanDisk have tried but failed to change consumer attitudes toward choosing SSDs for their performance, durability and lower power use. But, with the release of the new MacBook Air (sans hard disk drive), Steve Jobs has joined the marketing push and may have the clout to shift the market away from hard drives, even if they're still an order of magnitude cheaper."

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681 comments

Steve Jobs has clout (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33999890)

He has enough clout to push about 8% of consumers to buy overpriced hardware.

Re:Steve Jobs has clout (0, Troll)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999922)

It's now 20% in the USA.

Re:Steve Jobs has clout (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999968)

Says who?

Re:Steve Jobs has clout (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33999980)

20% of retail sales. That leaves out all online and corporate purchases.

Re:Steve Jobs has clout (1)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000108)

Online is retail.

Re:Steve Jobs has clout (3, Informative)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000088)

Even a Mac site [maclife.com] doesn't back up your number. Not even by half. Sorry.

Re:Steve Jobs has clout (4, Informative)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000264)

He's not making up the 20% number...

Cook pointed to a study from market research firm NPD that pegs Apple’s current share of the US consumer retail market at 20.7 percent...

Source: Study: Mac claims 20 percent US consumer market share [loopinsight.com]

Re:Steve Jobs has clout (4, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000018)

Actually I'd say those numbers are probably declining except for the diehard Mac users. Why do I say that? Because I live next to a college that traditionally has been HEAVY Mac territory. in fact just 5 years ago I bet I could have counted the non Macs I'd see when I walked upon campus with one hand. What is it now, and as far as the eye can see? Netbooks. Nothing but small thin light easy to carry and cheap netbooks as far as the eye can see. While Steve has usually been good at getting ahead of the curve with consumers I think he missed the boat with this one, as the most popular models I'm seeing, and this is on a campus with a LOT of old and new money, and can certainly afford MBA if they want, is the 7-10 inch mini netbooks. Talking to the kids, which since my oldest is now attending I get to quite often, is the size and weight makes them just too handy for classes, and more and more the average folks are jumping on as well. You'd be surprised how many times I've seen women pull out mini-netbooks while waiting in some office somewhere.

So while I wish old Steve nothing but luck and give him credit for taking a company the Pepsi guy had all but killed and bringing them back from the dead, I really think the Macs are gonna be shrinking and going back to what they were pre-hype, which is a tool for graphics designers. i just don't see the wealthy carrying them anymore. Old Steve don't have to worry though, because the iPhone will more than make up for that, but the days of hipsters carrying around Macbooks seems to be ending. Now all I see is mini-netbooks with custom graphics covers everywhere.

Re:Steve Jobs has clout (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000048)

Why do I say that? Because I live next to a college that traditionally has been HEAVY Mac territory.

In San Francisco? Ah well. I bet that college is full of guys with great hair and even better interior decoration.

Re:Steve Jobs has clout (1, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000192)

No.

In reality, and I wish I wasn't making this up, Apple became the #1 provider of end-user computers in the US *if* you count the iPad.

Why do I wish i wasn't making it up? It means that all of the other ones, despite their best efforts, couldn't do better. Subtract the iPad, and it's still an ugly marketplace out there.

The reason there's resistance to SSDs is that they're JUST TOO EXPENSIVE.

Ok. Enough karma whoring for today. My work is done here.

Spinning disks have left this customer (2, Interesting)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999898)

I've got an SSD in my laptop, and I couldn't be happier. Its easily lengthened the life of my laptop by about 2 years.

Re:Spinning disks have left this customer (2, Interesting)

Nichotin (794369) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999918)

Going from the typical 5.400rpm laptop drive to SSD makes you feel like a 14 year old girl again. Jokes aside, it is really a noticeable difference, even for simple things like opening the start menu. And the best of it, your computer does not slow down so horribly much when multiple applications are accessing the drive. Even netbooks benefit greatly from SSD.

Re:Spinning disks have left this customer (4, Funny)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999938)

Wait, I'm supposed to feel like a 14 year old girl again? Damn, I musta missed something in my childhood!

Re:Spinning disks have left this customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000012)

Well, maybe next reincarnation you'll get it right.

Re:Spinning disks have left this customer (2, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999976)

makes you feel like a 14 year old girl again

Speaking as the parent of two teenage girls, feeling like a 14 year old girl is not a good thing at all.

Re:Spinning disks have left this customer (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000128)

How's the noise? My sister has a one of those early, pre nvidia macbooks, and is quite miffed at how loud it can be. Does switching to SSD help?

I 3 SSD, but spinning drives have a purpose too. (1)

emeade (123253) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000136)

Same story here. Didn't hesitate to buy a replacement when the first failed after 3 months. The speed difference is just incredible. Bit early to call spinning drives dead for me yet, DVRs for example.

Re:Spinning disks have left this customer (2, Interesting)

XCondE (615309) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000266)

I agree. My Dell Inspiron 1501 is 3 years old and I was ready to replace it because of a failing hard disk.

Looking for a disk replacement I came across a Silicon Power 128GB 2.5" MLC SSD for A$330. Since it is the same size of the disk shipped with my laptop I can still fit all my stuff and my Ubuntu installation boots in 8 seconds.

The speed difference is still brutal, even with an encrypted home directory. I am very happy with the upgrade and don't see myself shopping for a new laptop for the time being.

Re:Spinning disks have left this customer (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34000280)

SSDs just don't have the capacity I need at a price I can afford. My laptop's using a 250GB disc, usually with another external 250GB disc attached, and I'm still constantly running low on space. Until SSDs can match (or preferably beat) $0.25 per gig, I'm not going to switch over.

ridiculous story (5, Insightful)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999914)

Even if the Per GB price dropped by 80 or 90% SSD's would still be more expensive and have a lot shorter life expectancy than current HDD's, we are many many years before the possibility of SSD's fully replacing HDD's becomes even conceivable

Re:ridiculous story (5, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999932)

have a lot shorter life expectancy than current HDD's

Citation needed.

Re:ridiculous story (1)

blai (1380673) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999988)

If
- said SSD is MLC,
- you are into video editing or other high-IO applications, and
- write failures, not just read failures, count as a failure,

Then SSDs are of shorter lifespan.

Re:ridiculous story (2, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000074)

Citation still needed.

What I am basing my assumptions on is where the manufacturer puts its money where its mouth is. Both SDD and HDD's have 3 year warranties.

The MTBF values could be horseshit, but are equal or better on modern SSD's as well.

Re:ridiculous story (2, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000248)

3 years? Is that much? My 80GB IDE disk is still chugging along just fine after 8 years.

Re:ridiculous story (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34000302)

Jeez you're a fucking fag. Stop with the gay shit Wikipedia Citation Needed shit. Oh, and get your mother's cock out of your ass. You should kill yourself.

Re:ridiculous story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000226)

Well, this is going to be anecdotal evidence to you but to me I feel quite convinced that you are wrong. My SSDs keep on running nicely as system disk and storage for my projects.
I do not dare to rely on the spinning platter ones since one of them gave up on me about a month ago and from previous experience I wouldn't trust a disk that is older than a year.
A friend of mine from the older generation nearly lost a load of vacation photos from a spinning disk no more than a week ago too.

If the SSDs have a shorter lifespan then mine should already be dead.

Re:ridiculous story (2, Interesting)

stoanhart (876182) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000084)

I was under the impression that with the wear leveling algorithms these drives use, and the higher quality chips used for SSDs, the lifetime under typical laptop usage is expected to far exceed a spinning platter drive.

Makes sense, really. Most disk access is reading (booting the OS, opening applications, loading libraries, viewing images/videos, listening to music), and this doesn't wear out the memory cells. Unless you're doing heavy disk work like video editing or serious photography, or running some sort of highly accessed write intensive database, I'd bet on SSDs to outlast HDDs. After all, an HDD is usually spinning and thus being worn out, even when no files are accessed.

Re:ridiculous story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000132)

just between you and me, you are flat out wrong, hd's will be gone from consumer computers within 5 years. Right now we are hitting the jump from a new product to mainstream product. The jump for these technologies goes from lik e 5% market stuatation to 95% market satuaration in just a few years

No kidding (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34000324)

In the long term? Yes I'm sure flash, or some other solid state, based storage will replace magnetic disks. It is just plain faster, not to mention other benefits. Our storage subsystem is by far the slowest thing we've got, improvements would be welcome.

In the short term? Hell no. SSDs are useful in special cases, but not for general use and not showing any signs of reaching a crossover soon.

I mean if I wanted to meet my storage needs with SSDs only, I'd have to spend on the order of $10,000. Granted, my needs for storage exceed most users, but still. It costs me all of about $500 to get them met with HDDs. Even if I left backups to magnetic media and just went with SSDs for primary storage I'd still be out about $4000. I could replace every component in my system, including my professional NEC monitor, for less than that.

Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to have SSDs, but they have to come down in price a shitload before they are realistic for the regular desktop. Right now, SSDs have 3 uses:

1) Systems that don't need a lot of storage and space/power are a premium. The Air is a good example. If you can live with 64GB of storage, then flash is ok price wise. Still expensive per GB, but since you have few GBs it isn't bad. If all you are doing is running basic apps then that works fine. You can't hold much media or large games or whatnot, but not all systems need that.

2) Systems where performance beyond what reasonable HDD solutions can offer is needed. Audio production sees this. New virtual instruments are getting extremely complex. Tons and tons of samples played back in heavy layers. You can't load them all in RAM (without amazing amounts of RAM) and they just overload disks when you try to stream it all. SSDs can be useful here. While a $10,000-20,000 fiber channel array would probably do the trick, a $4000 SSD will also do the trick and not only cost less but be easier to deal with.

3) Ultra high end storage solutions that need performance beyond anything HDDs can offer. With databases, you can run in to this. Heck they had SSDs back before they were popular. Expensive, expensive devils, but tons of performance. You need this to reach certain performance levels, no amount of disks can handle the IOPs you need. This is where cost just isn't an issue, performance is.

That's pretty much it. For cheap systems, HDDs reign supreme. They cost less than flash and that is that. For higher end systems, you end up needing more storage than flash can provide at a reasonable cost.

Before we see flash replace HDDs we will probably see augmentation. Intel, Adaptec, LSI, all are supporting SSDs as a cache for HDDs on various RAID controllers. If this comes down to consumer price levels, could be useful. 1TB of storage for $100 and then $100 more for some flash cache would be doable for many people.

It'll be a long time before SSDs are the way most people go, however. It is too bad, I want solid state storage now, but there is a big, BIG price gap that has to be covered.

Durability? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33999916)

SSDs are known for their durability? Perhaps if properly set up, with temp and cache in memory instead of on disk, then yes.

Correct me if I'm wrong, bOtherwise, constant read/writes (at least used to) chew through the "spare blocks".

Re:Durability? (2, Interesting)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999956)

I think the write cycle issues aren't as bad as before, but they probably mean physical durability. Drop one and drop a hard drive. The SSD is much more likely to survive, due to no moving parts.

Re:Durability? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000198)

The last few HDD's I've bought have a 150G impact survival rating. So I'd say unless you're throwing the drive against the wall, it should be just fine.

SSD's die more than HD's (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33999930)

I have had the opposite experience. I bought a small SSD and was really happy with it until it died after 2 months of use. I didn't even have a swap partition :(

Re:SSD's die more than HD's (0, Troll)

Unoriginal Nick (620805) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000014)

So from a sample size of 1, you can conclusively prove that SSDs are less reliable than hard drives?

Re:SSD's die more than HD's (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000168)

So from a sample size of 1, you can conclusively prove that SSDs are less reliable than hard drives?

He described his personal experience ("I have had the opposite experience"). He made no claim that it was a representative sample. He did not claim to have proven anything.

I know that some people make claims they have no ability to back up and pretend they are universal truths. But the GP didn't do that. So ... sheesh. Trigger-happy much?

Occasionally manufacturers do make defective products. It's just not possible to have quality control that is 100% perfect on all counts. Assuming his personal experience was not a quality-control issue, it's not possible to ensure that no damage occurred during shipping after the drive left the factory. In other words, shit happens and what he's saying is not some terribly unbelievable story. I would hope that such a product which fails after only 2 months would be covered by warranty. That's the only relevant information the GP did not share with us.

If the manufacturer of his failing SSD offers no reasonable warranty because they are unwilling to stand behind the quality of its products, I'd like to know what company it is so I can avoid buying from them.

Re:SSD's die more than HD's (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000232)

I know that some people make claims they have no ability to back up and pretend they are universal truths. But the GP didn't do that.

Did you completely miss the subject of this thread? (Perhaps the awful application of apostrophes caused your brain to redact it).

Re:SSD's die more than HD's (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000080)

And the simple fact is there really isn't any reason to be using the HDD much at all if you have a modern system. With Windows 7 and superfetch plus 4Gb of RAM just about everything you'd want to do with your laptop or netbook is already in RAM and waiting on you so the only time the HDD is being used is boot and saving changes, that's it. I got my oldest an AMD Neo X2 netbook with 4Gb of RAM and frankly the thing doesn't use the HDD enough to worry about. With Superfetch it took all of 2 days to learn which programs he was always firing up, so now they are always loaded into RAM and are ready to go. So with a decent cache buffer like most drives have now you can save writes and there really isn't any SSD that is gonna compete with RAM.

that isn't to say I don't think SSDs are cool, and if one is gonna go for the fastest I/O or have a server that needs fast I/O they are worth the $$$, but for what I've seen most of my customers doing with portables it is simply a better investment to max out the RAM and have a nice fat HDD.

I tend to hold on to my tech for years... (4, Insightful)

Vandil X (636030) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999934)

I tend to hold on to my tech for years. With the finite number of read/writes to flash memory, I don't want to be forced to part with a computer because it uses a proprietary flash storage system or be forced to purchase a proprietary replacement storage module.

Things like iPods, smart phones, and PDAs are cheaper and easily replaced in whole, but I wouldn't want to face a replacement cost for a laptop.

I would cringe to do secure erases (writing zeroes) to a flash memory drive (solid state drives or Apple's flash "drive" module in the new Airs), knowing I was prematurely killing my storage life. Platter-based disks with sudden motion sensors will still be my huckleberry for a few more years...

Re:I tend to hold on to my tech for years... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000180)

finite number of read/writes to flash memory

This myth needs to die. [penz.name]

I would cringe to do secure erases (writing zeroes)

Problem solved [truecrypt.org] .

Re:I tend to hold on to my tech for years... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000186)

Yet more perpetuation of what has become a myth.

Do the math, flash cell wear limit vs capacity/write speed.

Modern drive has to be written to for about 50 years continuously for it to 'wear out' like that.

Even taking manufacturer's MTBF... lets use a Crucial RealSSD 2.5" 64gb (good entry level consumer laptop SSD)... 1.2 million hours. That is like 140 years.

I'd trust an SSD to last longer than a spinny disc (it has moving parts ffs) any day.

Gotta love his Highness' reality distortion field (0, Troll)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999936)

more than 10 million laptops ships with SSDs annually

...failed to change consumer attitudes...

Steve Jobs has joined the marketing push

...may have the clout to shift the market away from hard drives...

Only five times more than magnetic... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33999942)

$0.50 per GB is still about five times the cost of a magnetic drive. Put another way, each user has the choice between paying $50 and $250 for the same amount of storage. Does anyone think there is a real competition here?

And of course, that's by next year. How much denser/cheaper will magnetic drives be by then? Please stop with these "year of the flash drive" posts.

Re:Only five times more than magnetic... (1)

Rising Ape (1620461) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999984)

If they only need a modest amount of storage, say 40 GB, it could be cheaper. There's a lower limit on the price that you can buy a magnetic drive for and that's stayed pretty constant.

Re:Only five times more than magnetic... (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000120)

Can you buy any computer on the market with only 40 gig in it anymore?

Look, the only way tiny hard drives make sense is for Grandma who doesn't use computers for anything but email and web surfing. Apple is intent on pushing these people to the cloud with iPads and diskless notebooks, and you could make a good case that the cloud is exactly where some of these people belong.

But that also imposes a network burden and cost that not everyone can afford. Streaming everything is just wrong on so many levels, and doing it today in spite of current rock bottom storage (spinning) prices is crazy - but I digress.

In a corporate world fast booting SSD machines can latch onto the network for all of their storage needs, thats fine, because the corporate net can probably handle the load.

But for the computer savvy home user or small developer, with a significant music collection, a ton of video, photos, and a couple major projects to work on, SSD is not going to cut it at today's prices when compared to spinning disks. Too small. Too expensive. To fragile.

40 Gig? My phone has 40 Gig.

Re:Only five times more than magnetic... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000218)

Yes. They make consumer drives in the 30,40,60gb ranges.

Re:Only five times more than magnetic... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000016)

But they scale down, so you don't actually have to get as much storage in the SSD if you don't need it. Hard drives have a minimum capacity before you don't get any savings by going smaller.

Re:Only five times more than magnetic... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000246)

...and that "scaled down" drive is TOAST just as soon as grandma discovers digital cameras or home video.

TRIM for Mac OS X? (1)

Nichotin (794369) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999946)

In Windows 7 you have TRIM to make sure the SSD keeps its performance over time. What does Apple have to offer in this area for Mac OS X? I tried to put a OCZ Vertex in a MacBook Unibody, but after the drive got completely filled up, the performance gain was lost. In Windows 7 the drive is fast like it should thanks to TRIM. Is it any different from the Apple blessed drives you get in the Air or when you order SSD as a option straight from Apple?

Re:TRIM for Mac OS X? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000194)

They haven't announced anything, and such a small detail isn't the kind of thing Apple tends to make a big deal about. That said, they've been selling SSDs for a few years now and now have an SSD only computer.

I'd fully expect TRIM support in Lion (10.7). It's a standard feature now and SSDs are only going to become more common.

where's the hybrid? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33999950)

What ever happened to transition technology? Most PCs and laptops have media card readers, PC card slots. Put the OS and Apps on a SSD card and save the spinning disk for personal storage.

Re:where's the hybrid? (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000046)

Talk about confusing people buying a system at their local Best Buy/Staples/Walmart.
The label:

OS Space: 5G
Application Space: 180G

Versus:
250Gb harddrive

Because you know they'd reduce the drive size to compensate for the SSD price. They'd also screw up the label naming, like in my example... and TOTALLY confuse the consumer.

Re:where's the hybrid? (1)

froggymana (1896008) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000144)

There are hybrid drives [wikipedia.org] that offer a type of transition device. But those usually will do a smart cacheing of the most used things and put those on its small (~4GB) of SLC flash storage. You could also have two disks, one small 8GB flash disk for your OS, and than a standard HDD for your files.

File under (3, Insightful)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999952)

"if Apple are involved it must be news"

Yeah, they're headed to history, but that might take another ten years.

Re:File under (1)

jvillain (546827) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000214)

It will be entirely because of Steve Jobs and only because of Steve Jobs.

10 years is the new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34000298)

1 year. You may not be old enough, but just look at any tech magazine from the nineties and you'll read expert opinion on why Apple was going to fail within a year. This went on pretty much all through the nineties. It eventually became a joke. And now folks short on history are filling those doomsayer shoes.

Round and round it goes...

Are Consumer Hard Drives Headed Into History? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33999958)

So is Steve Jobs.

With the rest of us to follow.

Not for quite some time (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999966)

Certain technologies have pretty long shelf lives - Hard Drives are one of those. Tape Backups and CDs are another.

Sure SSDs are getting cheaper, but so are hard drives. Hard drives are now a nickel a GB, half the price of just a year ago. The best SSD prices still look like they're 40x as expensive.

Sure, they'll take over the small drive / low power / slim profile market, especially for expensive hardware (SteveJobsthankyouverymuch). But as we do more with large audio/video/photo files, out appetite for storage is still a 5-10 years away for cost effective SSDs at TODAY's rate of use.

Just look at the usenet. DivX was king, with only hard core nuts going with full DVD rips. Then HD was here and everything was recompressed to 720p x264. Now it's mostly 1080p x264 recodes and straight 26GB AVC rips. Our use is definitely not slowing down, and spinning platters is the only thing that can give us that kind capacity for the foreseeable future.

Money (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999970)

Consumers vote with their wallet. Give them the same storage space at the same or even close, and the market will shift to SSDs. Given that these points are still far apart for SSDs means that no matter what manufacturers do (aside from discontinuing disk drives altogether), people won't buy SSDs in any great numbers. Apple fans seem not to mind paying for overpriced hardware, so the fact that Jobs is wading in doesn't really matter for the majority of the small computer market (PCs).

Re:Money (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000008)

oops

s/'at the same or even close'/'at the same price or even close'/

In short, NO. (1)

toygeek (473120) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999974)

Consumers go for numbers. This one has 1.5TB and this one has 200GB. Well the 1.5TB *MUST* be better, so I"m going to buy that so I can check my mail and surf teh intarwebz.

Additionally, SSD's aren't a panacea yet. Sure they're fast but they do have a finite life and as far as that goes they are best for short term storage rather than long term, and vice versa for hard drives except for the finite life part.

There's my 2 inflated-into-uselessness cents.

Headed off of desktops / laptops, perhaps... (1)

MonTemplar (174120) | more than 2 years ago | (#33999996)

...but I can definitely see hard disks still having a role as external backup or archival storage for years to come. The amount of data (photos, music, video) that people are accumulating will guarantee this!

-MT.

This is silly. (5, Insightful)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000000)

Why would I switch to SSD? I've had 1 drive go bad in my lifetime. They've lasted in some cases 20+ years. Plus they are cheaper. Why would I bother buying SSD's when they have a known failure point at after given number of writes?

This is very much like the blue-ray issue. It's not surprising folks aren't interested in jumping on board because, frankly, there is no real reason to run out and BUY it.

CD's and DVD's had huge adoption because you saw a large improvement on your existing hardware. Bluerays required a new TV to see that improvement - and it was a very expensive TV at the time.

Once people have purchased new TV's (it will probably take another 5-10 years for the older TV's to all fail so that the mom and pops of the world HAVE to go buy a new one) blue-rays will have come way down in price and they'll finally replace the DVD.

Likewise the SSD. I'm sure many other folks are as tired as I am regarding these silly... strike that... STUPID press releases trying to push their sale.

They will be bought when there is a need. There is none at this point, except in very specific applications, like the high-vibration atmosphere at manufacturing plants.

Shame on Slashdot's editors for continuing to run this hokey marketing BS, and shame on the people who continue to send articles like this. It's quite silly, frankly.

Re:This is silly. (3, Funny)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000032)

How's your Intel 80386 is going? It's so reliable that it can still work after 20 years!

SSD give a very noticeable performance boost. However, they cost too much right now, so it's a bit hard to justify them.

Re:This is silly. (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000062)

But if you put a SSD in a 386 you would see a noticeable performance boost, and on very cheap hardware too. I saw a press release which proved it.

Re:This is silly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000156)

I have put a SSD in with a 386 as the laptops original HDD died (Toshiba Satellite from 1993). The performance is a noticeable improvement on either a; trying to boot from a dead HDD or b; booting from floppy disc.

Re:This is silly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34000286)

You laugh, but I'm considering it for the swap on some greying Ultra-60's. We've got legacy software which is only cerrtified to run on legacy hardware, and if I can find a reasonable ultra-wide SCSI flash drive, we're golden. Yes, haters, I specifically intend to put swap on a flash drive. Why? The machines are maxed out on memory and swapping. So what if I only get a year of performance on the drives. It's a whole hell of a lot cheaper than contractor time.

Re:This is silly. (1)

radish (98371) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000052)

Why would I bother buying SSD's when they have a known failure point at after given number of writes?

Because they're orders of magnitude faster than spinning disks? Because they use less power? I just put a $120 SSD in my laptop to replace it's 5200rpm spinner which I was only using 40GB of anyway. It's like a new machine...amazing difference.

As for lifespan, I've had an Intel SSD as my boot drive in my desktop for about a year now and SMART is showing it at 98% lifespan remaining. Check back in 49 years to see if I'm ready to replace it!

Re:This is silly. (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000158)

Why would I bother buying SSD's when they have a known failure point at after given number of writes?

They have faster seek times, they are silent, and some brands have a very low power consumption.

Now, for the failure modes. Let us assume your drive can handle 10 000 writes ( a low estimate ). Modern drives use wear leveling to avoid writing to the same sector all the time. Thus for a 100GB drive you would have to write over a thousand terabytes before it would start to fail, and even then the failure is a "soft" failure in the sense that reads are fine, so your OS should be able to tell you that the writes are failing, allowing you to copy down unsaved work to your USB stick, mail it to yourself, save on another drive , whatever.

Re:This is silly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000222)

Darn, you've had very good luck with hard drives. I, personally, have had 7 drives fail on me in the last 8 years. (One was my wife's computer, the others were in my work and home computers). I'll admit I have a LOT of drives. I have 4 drives in my Home Server, three drives in my desktop at work (I also have three notebooks at work), so coupled with the three notebooks I have at home that gives me 14 drives (yes, there is one attached to my router too). Oops, another drive - in the TiVo. So 15 drives and 7 failed in the last 8 years. I am obviously not as lucky as you are with drives. However, we've tried the gen 2 SSD's at work and saw such a marginal improvement (boot went from 40 seconds to 39 seconds) that there was no chance we would convert to them. We've got an order in for a bunch of the current generation SSDs to do some testing again - but I wouldn't expect them to have the price / performance ratio yet to take over.

Godwin's Law, shame edition (1)

edw (10555) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000238)

The more trivial the topic under discussion, the more likely someone will attempt to shame people who hold a contrary opinion.

Show me the price of 3 TB of SSD. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000002)

Spec the street price of 3 TB of SSD to replace the new "old" drives hitting availability this week and get back to me.

Arrogant use-case much? What ever happened to the hybrid drives that were supposed to be the practical solution...

Re:Show me the price of 3 TB of SSD. (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000090)

It does no good to try and base things on something that's not even OUT yet.

Re:Show me the price of 3 TB of SSD. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000258)

...OK then. Replace 2TB with 3TB.

2TB drives are out.

I have 2 of them myself.

Internal drives maybe, external no (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000030)

Ssds are quite attractive for internal drives, their speed advantage means quicker booting, faster application startup etc, but eventually you hut the point of diminishing returns, for instance even external hard drives allow you to watch movies without any noticeable delay so you gain very little by putting them on ssds. So while laptops and to a certain extent desktops will see fewer internal magnetic disks, that won't mean the end if consumer level magnetic disks at all.

Let's remember that we're in a recession (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000036)

People are finding out that, yep, they can make due for a while with older stuff.

I think we'll start seeing mixes of machines: board with Flash memory and HD as well as a push to get people to buy HD/HD multi-bay towers for their homes thanks to increasing amounts of video. A dark horse here is SD. People keep waiting for SD to replace hard drives but the spec maxes out at 32GB so it won't happen soon.

Disk life and data permanence (4, Informative)

CaptBubba (696284) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000042)

Even with the best wear leveling techniques SSDs will not be able to provide the sort of write cycles that a magnetic drive can withstand. This may not be an issue in most consumer use, but the possibility is there that somebody will hear of a friend of a friend's uncle who had his entire life's work (read: porn collection) wiped out. Something doesn't actually have to be a risk for someone to freak out about it and avoid the technology.

On the other end of the spectrum of usage scenarios: If the disk is not accessed and rewritten occasionally the issue of disappearing data comes up. In a NAND cell the data may be stored by as few as 100 electrons which are trapped in the floating gate of the transistor. Over the years imperfections in the insulation layers or quantum tunneling through the insulation layers (some of which are merely a few atoms thick) results in the electrons escaping and the cell eventually becoming unreadable. The target minimum data retention time for NAND flash is 10 years, but just due to the absurd number of individual transistors in a SSD some data will be lost before that time period. Suboptimal storage temperatures combined with smaller cell sizes and multi-level-cell NAND flash designs tend to make this effect worse.

SSDs may find a home in specialized situations where the pros outweigh the cons, like laptops, but I doubt they will ever displace magnetic hard drives in most applications.

It's been the cost (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000054)

We often deploy SSD's in our POS terminals and recommend SSD for clients who have busy checkout lanes and performance matters. However, in servers we're still HDD because they are well known and proven technology. SSD's have been on the market long enough that they are starting to prove themselves.

But at home, I much rather have the 1TB HDD drive rather than 128MB SSD for the same price. Same thing in my laptop. I much rather have the extra storage space for the money than performance.

Re:It's been the cost (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000148)

Speaking of servers, it seems that some of the larger SAN/NAS manufacturers are starting to use SSD as a tier... SSD -> 15K SCSI -> SATA is the tier line-up I've seen. It's actually lighning fast for tier 1, but you know damned well there's lots of redundancy to compensate for the write-death. The write speed is ridiculously fast, I have to admit.

HDDs are the new CRT (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000068)

SSDs are the LCDs of hard drives. In time they will be cheap reliable and fast. Moore's law will win in the end.

Re:HDDs are the new CRT (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000240)

Considering I can buy large sized CRT's(26-30") for the same price as a 19-22" LCD, I suppose it depends. SSD's will catch up to being cheap in several years, whether they'll be as reliable as current magnetic storage is another question altogether.

It's not a question of switching... (4, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000072)

The ssd is already a good value for the function of the boot drive - the place where you host the OS, applications and games. There is no need to approach terabyte territory to hold all this stuff. And my collection of ripped DVDs, etc., wouldn't benefit from being on an ssd. These two technologies make sense in parallel and will continue to do so for so long as the per-terabyte prices keep falling at the present rate.

Re:It's not a question of switching... (1)

anom (809433) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000164)

Mod parent up. I've never had so large a boost in the performance of a PC as when I switched the main OS/game drive to a SSD, and magnetic drives are the clear choice for all the data that doesn't need to be uber-high-performance, which is most of it.

The MacBook Air is a poor example to choose here (1, Informative)

NimbleSquirrel (587564) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000076)

The MacBook Air is a pretty poor example to choose as a shift to SSDs. In the MacBook Air, the SSD chips are soldered to the logic board. It is not like there is a choice on what kind of drive can be installed. When 64GB isn't enough, there is no way to upgrade. When the SSD gets a fault, there is no drive to swap out - it would be time for a new logic board. With NAND Flash having a finite lifetime, soldering the SSDs to the logic board is a prime example of planned obsolescence. When the SSD dies (when, not if), there is only Apple to turn to, so Apple effectively has vendor lock-in as well, but we have come to expect that from Apple.

Marketing isn't going to shift far away from traditional hard drives any time soon. Yes, prices for NAND flash is dropping but there are disadvantages to using flash: low capacities (compared with HDDs), relatively low write performance and a finite lifetime of write cycles (yes wear levelling does help, but doesn't eliminate the core of the problem).

Re:The MacBook Air is a poor example to choose her (5, Informative)

linc_s (653782) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000154)

In the MacBook Air, the SSD chips are soldered to the logic board. It is not like there is a choice on what kind of drive can be installed. When 64GB isn't enough, there is no way to upgrade. When the SSD gets a fault, there is no drive to swap out - it would be time for a new logic board. With NAND Flash having a finite lifetime, soldering the SSDs to the logic board is a prime example of planned obsolescence. When the SSD dies (when, not if), there is only Apple to turn to, so Apple effectively has vendor lock-in as well, but we have come to expect that from Apple.

No, the SSD's are on a removable board. See http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/MacBook-Air-11-Inch-Model-A1370-Teardown/3745/1 [ifixit.com] (It's the thing that comes off from above the RAM)

Re:The MacBook Air is a poor example to choose her (1)

NimbleSquirrel (587564) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000182)

Apologies. You are correct. The board is a custom part, and I doubt that you will find replacements from anyone but Apple, so they still have vendor lock-in, and Apple can easily EOL parts, so there is still a degree of planned obsolescence.

Re:The MacBook Air is a poor example to choose her (1)

do0b (1617057) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000212)

No the flash modules are not soldered to the logic board.
See this [apple.com]
The flash module uses a mini pci-e connector like the wireless module right above it. While it might require an Apple module at the moment, it is serviceable.

Re:The MacBook Air is a poor example to choose her (4, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000244)

The RAM is soldered in

Let me just repeat that, in case it hasn't quite sunk in yet.

The RAM is soldered in/ If you buy it with 2GB, you can't upgrade it. If you buy it with 4 GB, you can't upgrade it.

However, you can upgrade the SSD.

source [eweek.com]

Of course, it comes with a paltry 1.4 GHz Core 2 Duo (soldered in, naturally) or a 1.6 GHz C2D.

Oh, I see that my new talking points have come in from Apple.

You don't need a faster processor because it's still faster than an Atom.
You don't need to upgrade the RAM, because virtual memory on an SSD is so much faster.

Thanks, Apple! My Fanboy subscription still pays dividends!

Are you looking at the wrong metric? (1)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000118)

Hard drives may still be much cheaper in terms of $/GB, but that is only the important number for geeks who actually care about big drives.

The important number for the mass market is the minimum price for a new drive of minimally usable size (call it 32-64 GB for now, it's drifting up, but not terribly quickly by the standards of exponential tech progression). And I suspect that SSDs will surpass HDDs in that metric fairly soon. A hard drive has a certain amount of unavoidable manufacturing complexity and materials requirements, no matter what the capacity, whereas a SSD is basically just chips and can be made almost arbitrarily cheap as fabrication technology leads to fewer and smaller chips being required for the same capacity and performance.

In a five years or so, I expect the "drive" on most new computers to be just another $10 chip on the motherboard.

Fine for a large part of the market... (1)

sillivalley (411349) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000122)

Think about it -- couldn''t most of the real people you know, the ones you do upgrades and friends/family tech support for, get along just fine with 256GB or so of mass storage?

Yeah, the price differential will be there, but it won't be that big. Another aspect, at Fry's this morning I noticed that disk drives smaller than 250GB are getting harder to find at least at pseudo-retail.

So, most real people/families could get along fine with SSD based systems, particularly if they have a box on their network with a much bigger rotating beast for storing backups and other files.

And us folks that frequent Slashdot will end up there too, as price comes down, because the combo of (hi) speed and (low) power is so good with SSDs -- especially when we already have bigger boxes off in the closet to store those massive collections of pr0n^h^h^h^h files...

That's supposed to be cheap? (1)

Jethro (14165) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000146)

50 cents per gb is cheap?

I'm no math genius, but wouldn't that make 1TB be about $500? The absolute hugest spinning-platter harddrive, the just-announced Western Digital Green 3TB drive costs less than HALF that ($239 at newegg) for three times the storage, and a 1tb can be had for $60.

Until SSD prices get much, MUCH closer to that range, and until someone can reassure me that they'll last for several years of heavy use, the only way I'll use one in my desktop is an OS-only-quick-boot drive.

Yeah, it might be worth the extra money on laptops, but some of us still have desktops, and RAID arrays, and we'd rather not spend $10K on something we can get for $1K and might not even give us a performance boost or last.

Price per gigabyte isn't really the issue (2, Insightful)

m.dillon (147925) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000150)

It's simply absolute price for a reasonable amount of storage, which these days is around 250GB. Sure I can pop in multi-TB drives for less money, and I do on the machines that need that kind of storage. But the vast majority of machines out in the world don't really need terrabytes of storage. If you don't actually need the storage then it doesn't really matter whether the drive you have installed is 250G or 2TB.

The comments regarding a SSD's ability to extend the life of older computer hardware, and even brand spanking new computer hardware, are right on the mark. How meaningful is one or two hundred extra dollars if your laptop is nice and responsive with the latest memory-hogging software for another year or two because you popped in that SSD? Not very meaningful at all.

So if the question is when will SSDs really start to take off in the consumer world as more than just a niche item? It will be when the price point for that 250G SSD drive drops to something reasonable, like $100 or so. That price point is not actually that far off.

In terms of durability I gotta laugh at anyone who thinks a hard drive is more durable than a SSD. Hard drives last maybe 5 years. I don't think any of my HDs have lasted more than 7 or so years without accumulating serious enough errors to warrant replacement. There is one key difference... it is possible to recover critical data off a HD many years later whereas data stored in flash is gone once it goes bad (and even that might not be true any more with HD densities getting so high). But those sorts of recovery services (where the HD cannot even be powered up any more without destroying it) cost a lot of $$ and I don't think your average consumer would ever use something like that.

Even a little Intel 40G SSD has a 35TB vendor-specified durability. When configured properly along with the OS that durability rises in excess of 200TB, and that's for the cheaper MLC flash. I have around 10 of the 40G SSDs installed and their durability is riding the 200TB mark based on the wear values returned from SMART over the last 8 months or so. The higher capacity SSDs have higher durabilities. With nominal use (which is 99% of the use cases) we are still talking 10 years plus for a small SSD.

I'm not sure who these people are complaining about SSDs failing on them... maybe they should post the vendors they bought them from along with the actual model. I haven't had a single one of my Intels fail and I'm hitting some of them pretty damn hard. I have not seen any performance drop-off with my SSDs either and, besides, a thrashing HD can only do 2MB/sec or so, even a SSD with a moderate performance dropoff is still going to do an order of magnitude better than a HD with a fragmented filesystem. When it comes right down to it if a performance drop-off is a problem for you, just copy the raw storage off the SSD and then back onto it. Poof, problem solved for another year or three.

TRIM is not really needed. In fact, it can be a liability performance-wise since it isn't a NCQ-capable command. All you really need to do is partition a fresh drive a bit smaller than its rated capacity and you get 95% of the benefit of TRIM without having to deal with it. If you have 120G SSD then create a 110G partition. Congratulations, you now have 95% of what TRIM would get you. It's funny how the rabble keeps screaming the TRIM mantra but it isn't that spectacular a feature.

-Matt

Show me the bonus in using SSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#34000176)

Honestly where is the bonus in using a SSD? First it's more expensive. Second for what you do pay for they are really small in today's world of bigger and bigger files, os installs, media, etc. Third they are not like HDDs where you can use it for almost forever in computer terms (longer than 10 years). SSD are known to fail after X point. No matter what you do this is a drawback of the technology. The only people that would actually notice any REAL observed performance are the early adopters/IT people that don't mind spending hundreds of dollars on a 40gb drive. Your average computer user cannot tell the difference between 5400 rpm, 7200rpm or even 10000rpm. They don't notice at all. SSD drives fill a niche market.

Hybrid SSDs are the Near Term Future (2, Interesting)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000202)

SSDs are still not a good value for their MBTF (Mean Time Between Failures). I predict the hybrid harddrive/SSD combo drive will be the near term winner (assuming laptops don't all get as small as the Air). I have had several friends recently purchase and install hybrid drives in their laptops and they gave it a "thumbs up" for performance but are very paranoid about failure, so they backup much more frequently. Additionally, these drives spin down quite regularly which increase battery life, however there are concerns about the duty cycle of spinup/spindown before failure. Example Hybrid Drive: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148591&cm_re=hybrid_hard_drive-_-22-148-591-_-Product [newegg.com]

meeeh (2, Interesting)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000206)

You can get 500gb for $40 with decent specs on it which is like 8cents per gig. Unless I'm using it in a production environment I don't really care so much about the speed difference between your typical SATA hard drive and all of these new solid state things. I think speed will really matter once the price has lowered enough to about 15cents per gig and we go through a year of hard drive space not really budging in default pc's/laptops. Even then, the average consumer probably won't ever use more than 2tb legally until of course 4k resolution monitors come out and the size of games and other media will be vastly bigger, as they normally do.

Kryder's Law (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000252)

Kryder's Law is an analog to Moore's Law, and states that magnetic disk density doubles every year or so. As long as this law is roughly true, raw disk space per dollar will be cheaper in magnetic disks than flash. See http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=kryders-law [scientificamerican.com] for more information. With the explosion in information out there, I believe disk space per dollar is a critical criteria for many industries and applications.

That said, consumer computing will be dominated by flash memory (it's already half way there). Consumer demand for disk space does not increase exponentially like capacity, so even flash capacity will be overkill at some point. Instead, consumers will value random access speed and dependability (especially in portable computing).

Keep hard drives legal! (0)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000254)

The day may come when individual possession of a hard drive may be illegal, as a "piracy device". How many people generate enough data of their own in their lifetime to fill a 1 TB drive?

Not for something with a lot of IO calls (1)

BionicSniper (947382) | more than 2 years ago | (#34000256)

Hmm spend 2$/GB on something that is going to be dead within 3 months of me installing it on my server or spend 6/GB for 3.5' drives or 12/GB for 2.5' drives which should last a few years... Yeah that is a really hard decision...

Hopelessly Biased Anecdotal Comment... (2, Insightful)

Shemmie (909181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34000306)

but I've had more hard drives than I can care to think about, with 1 genuine failure.

I recently bought an SSD for my laptop, from Corsair. Many people seem to have had a problem with the drive, from it disappearing from the BIOS through to massive data corruption (me, yay).

Yes, it's a sample of 1. But I won't be going near SSD for a hell of a long time - Corsair refuse to admit to a problem, despite them having phased out the model very quickly. SSD has potential, but not at current prices, with their current life-span and failure / fault rates.

I've been down the quick adopt path before (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34000312)

I've adopted technology quickly before. As time has gone by, I've discovered that you don't get bit by underpowered and overpriced by living on the edge (and make no mistake, that was my home at one time). I'm still looking at read-write lifetimes, and dependability rates. Will they last 8+ years? It seems I've had more than my share of old dead and dying drives. The last dead drive I played with had read problems once it got above a certain temperature, and it got there after being turned on more than about 10 minutes. I found that keeping it in a fridge for about 30 minutes, plugging it into an external firewire bay with a 20 inch fan keeping /that/ cool, I was able to retrieve data from it (but only for the first 10 minutes). Rsync was my friend. When I have a bad chip on the solid state drive, is all lost?

Fine, where is my teaser training drive then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34000322)

All these companies want me to switch, fine, just fine, but give me a CHEAP intro drive to try it out first. No, I am not going to spend hundreds on a drive, try $29.95 for like a 20-30 gig drive, around there, for a teaser try it out drive. For 50 bucks on sale you can find huge spinning drives, half a tera or better in size. I use a 20 gigger now, that I dumpster dove for, and it is mostly empty because I don't store games or media like movies on it, it's just for the OS, meaning 20 gigs is enough, so where is a cheap and small is OK SSD drive that doesn't suck?

Not all of us are rolling in dough and run the latest and greatest high end stuff, but we still will spend SOME money, just make us an offer that doesn't suck, like one dollar equals one gig of space on your SSD, at the LOW end in size.

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