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Will PCIe Flash Become Common In Laptops, Desktops?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the unless-the-singularity-gets-here-first dept.

Data Storage 372

Lucas123 writes "With Apple announcing that it is now using PCIe flash in its MacBook Air and it has plans to offer it in its Mac Pro later this year, some are speculating that the high-speed peripheral interface may become the standard for higher-end consumer laptops and workplace systems. 'It's coming,' said Joseph Unsworth, research vice president for NAND Flash & SSD at Gartner. The Mac Pro with PCIe flash is expected to exceed 1GB/sec throughput, twice the speed of SATA III SSDs. Apple claims the new MacBook Mini got a 45% performance boost from its PCIe flash. AnandTech has the Air clocked in at 800MB/s. Next year, Intel and Plextor are expected to begin shipping PCIe cards based on the new NGFF specification. Plextor's NGFF SSD measures just 22mm by 44mm in size and connects to a computer's motherboard through a PCIe 2.0 x2 interface. Those cards are smaller than today's half-height expansion cards and offer 770MB/s read and 550MB/s write speeds."

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372 comments

Yes (4, Insightful)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#43980119)

In ten years we'll be using equipment that makes the current best look like pocket calculators, just like we're buying gear today for a few hundred that would have been worth tens of thousands ten years ago, if we could even manufacture it. Goddamn I love living in the future.

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#43980649)

The real desktop/laptop performance measurement is iops at low queue depth. Large sustained rates are meaningless for all but servers. (I mean really, how often are you going to copy files big enough for these speeds to matter, and what are you going to copy it to that can keep up? Certainly not cloud storage or a USB drive.)

This is sounding to me like MHz myth 2.0

Re:Yes (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#43980701)

I'll have you know I copy big files back and forth all day long, you insensitive clod!

Re:Yes (-1, Offtopic)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year ago | (#43980931)

Meh they'll sell a few to those that have to have the biggest ePeen, most won't give a shit. Hell why do you think Intel and AMD have both seen the PC sales drop so much? I can tell it it AIN'T because of tablets or phones, its because all these PCs became so insanely overpowered that they spend most their their time twiddling their thumbs, its like telling a guy he should spend $100K+ on this turbocharged funny car when he already has a funny car and all he is using it for is to drive to the store, its really just overkill for the vast majority.

I mean what do the vast majority use these desktops and laptops FOR anyway? they surf, watch videos, play a few games, that is it, that's all. hell any C2D or Athlon X2 can do these jobs with cycles left over yet these companies just keep building ever more powerful when the programs simply don't use the power we have. So while I can see why they are doing it, to have as many bullet points as they can, honestly? I bet there isn't even 5% of laptop users that would find this a big enough improvement to go shell out the big bux to get this feature.

Re:Yes (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year ago | (#43980955)

Ahmdahl's law: A system needs a bit of IO per second per instruction per second.

Given that the i7-3720QM is capable of 20,333 "MIPS" source [digitaltrends.com] ,

we will need 20 billion bits of IO per second.

We're close, but not quite there.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980759)

the *present*

Will it be a repeat? (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year ago | (#43980137)

Of course if Apple follows it's past history and wants too high of a royalty on it, the mobo & other hardware manufacturers will find something else to satisfy their need for speed. After all, that's why USB exists.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (0)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43980171)

Um... what the hell are you babbling about?

Re:Will it be a repeat? (2)

Tapewolf (1639955) | about a year ago | (#43980205)

Um... what the hell are you babbling about?

At a guess, Firewire.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (2)

meerling (1487879) | about a year ago | (#43980291)

Correct Tapewolf. USB came about because Apple wanted to charge other manufacturers a royalty rate on firewire that was higher than they could stomach. Maybe they'll do better this time around, but never underestimate arrogance, greed, and human shortsightedness.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (2, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43980295)

How exactly will they do the same with PCIe and SSDs? Explain.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43980351)

USB largely came about (or finally became a utilized technology) because Apple made it the only way to hook stuff up to the iMac. The idea of using USB for external storage was laughable until USB 2.0.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (3, Funny)

grim4593 (947789) | about a year ago | (#43980415)

USB 1.1 wasn't bad compared to floppy disk capacity and read/write speeds.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980515)

High-density 3.5" floppies (what one might consider the pinnacle of floppy evolution) came out in 1987. USB 1.1 came out in 1998. That it could keep up with an ancient technology is pretty meaningless. Nobody was using floppies for any significant external storage in 1998.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (2)

dukeblue219 (212029) | about a year ago | (#43980641)

Sure they were. People may not have been using floppies to backup their hard drives anymore, but in 1998 a floppy was absolutely the standard way to transfer and store small files. It was totally normal still to type up a school paper and save it only to "your floppy" and put it in a stack of other floppies, and it was the only way to transfer a file to someone and know they'd be able to access it. Plenty of people didn't have internet, and nobody had CD-R's yet. Even USB 1 was fast enough to get the job done with the (then 16MB-ish) thumb drives that were about to become ubiquitous because they were certainly faster than floppies.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

dugancent (2616577) | about a year ago | (#43980829)

They weren't? Then do tell what they were using.

I was in school at the time and we were required to have a floppy for each class using a computer. Nothing else was affordable at the time.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year ago | (#43980903)

wikipedia claims

The raw maximum transfer rate of 3 12-inch HD floppy drives and interfaces, disregarding overheads, is as much as 1000 kilobits/s, or approximately 83% that of single-speed CDROM (71% of audio CD). This represents the speed of raw data bits moving under the read head; however, because of the very high amount of overhead in the system (use of soft sectors with headers, sync issues preventing sequential reads of an entire 18-sector track in a single rotation, etc.), the actual user data read/write speed is much lower

so, usb 1.1 would appear to be an improvement.

Nevertheless, it's quite slow compared to the rest of the computer.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43981019)

Yeah, if you remember, the iMac was dinged for its lack of floppy, and Apple's answer was that you should buy a USB floppy drive. This was ridiculed by many (particularly here on Slashdot).

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

dfghjk (711126) | about a year ago | (#43980511)

Apple had nothing to do with USB other than taking credit for it. Furthermore, Apple was a bankrupt, meaningless player at the time willing to claim anything to impressionable fools to stay alive. Worked on you.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43980983)

I never bought an iMac, but if you would like to point to a non-candy-themed USB peripheral from that time period I will have to reconsider my memory.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980617)

Laughable? You clearly never had the "joy" of using a parallel port zip drive.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43980407)

That's rather some revisionist history considering that Apple used only FireWire and USB when they first unveiled the iMac. Also other MB munfacturers had started to include it but a fully working Windows implementation was years away. At the time it was USB 1 which was pathetically slow compared to FireWire and the two had different purposes. USB was for low data, low speed connections like mice and keyboards and printers. FireWire was for high speed, high bandwidth connections. If you wanted high bandwidth transfers, FireWire was the only good choice for pros. FireWire 800 is a different story.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (2, Interesting)

dfghjk (711126) | about a year ago | (#43980661)

USB was on ALL new motherboards before Microsoft supported it in Windows. Microsoft required it for certification and then grossly missed their end of the deal.

USB was ubiquitous in PCs when the iMac was announced but was unknown because of MS's failure. Apple simply grabbed mature technology off the shelf and claimed to be the visionary.

The irony was that USB's primary reason for existence was to replace legacy IO yet Apple claimed to be the forward-thinking company that invented the concept. Legacy-free was the idea that gave birth to USB and it was fully formed and mature when Apple swiped it.

Firewire's reason for existence was far less grand than people like to imply. Apple was looking for ways to overcome their horrible disadvantage in processor technology and they were researching MP interconnects. They eventually abandoned Firewire but Sony found a need in their new DV standard. Sony wanted peer connectivity because editing was largely done outside of computing in those days. Firewire was never envisioned as a high speed serial IO connect, it just lucked into it.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

catsRus (548036) | about a year ago | (#43980769)

Windows 95 OEM service release 2.1 and beyond supported USB. For consumer versions it was not supported till the release of windows 98

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43980865)

My recollection is that Windows 95 SR2.1 had partial support. You could use mice and keyboards but data transfer was slow regardless of hardware capabilities. Full Speed wasn't supported until 98.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43980831)

Apple only recently dropped FireWire on the iMac. They still offer it on the Mac Mini. I suspect ThunderBolt will replace it.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (2, Insightful)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#43980943)

apple wasn't visionary because they used USB, they were visionary because they phased out the old stuff and made USB mandatory. that was the visionary part and it took some guts. you cannot disagree or deny that.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year ago | (#43980777)

The first few iMacs didn't come with firewire. Gradually, Apple introduced it as a premium DV feature--so users might plug in their camcorders. It wasn't until 2001 that firewire was standard on every iMac. At that time, the CDRom was read only, so a lot of people fretted about not being able to backup their stuff.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43980887)

Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] disagrees with you.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (2, Interesting)

dfghjk (711126) | about a year ago | (#43980581)

Intel developed USB without the slightest concern for Firewire. The two were largely coincidental. Firewire came about because Sony wanted a serial interface for its new digital video standard and Apple had some old lab tech in the garbage heap. Sony made Firewire a success from spare parts while Intel developed their own from scratch. Apple lacked the leadership to deliver any of it but had the gonads to claim all of it.

Apple doesn't own 1394, only the Firewire name. Never underestimate ignorance and revisionist history.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#43980925)

nope. apple saved usb through things like the imac, which only had usb and got rid of serial ports etc. usb was lanugishing before then on windows because of poor support and buggy performance. this is why USB exists!

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

tmark (230091) | about a year ago | (#43980281)

And how long were Apple users using Firewire drives before USB 3 - heck, even USB 2.0 if you want to pretend that's anywhere close to Firewire ? Even now Firewire is a viable interface.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43980325)

USB doesn't exist because of fire-wire, at the time they were for 2 radically different reasons, one was for simple peripheral devices, the other was for fast transport of large streams such as video. How USB won is because it was the port that seemed to do everything whereas firewire still limits itself to media equipment and hard drives

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43980375)

USB also uses the CPU for the heavy lifting, so it is cheaper to implement. Which is a plus or a minus, depending on the use case.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#43980795)

USB also uses the CPU for the heavy lifting, so it is cheaper to implement.

The statement that USB uses CPU for the heavy lifting is thrown around a lot, but is it still true?

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#43980971)

With CPU power being what it is nowadays it's irellevant. The average computer has spare CPU cycles to burn. I will say that I have an external hard drive case and when I run benchmarks on it using USB2 and Firewire 400 it's obvious that Firewire is superior. USB2 is supposedly faster but not in real life.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43980975)

To be honest, I don't know if USB 3.0 still relies on the CPU as heavily. It was certainly true with USB 2.0 - you could demonstrate it easily enough. In theory, it was a design goal, but I haven't seen any real-world tests.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (2)

Nutria (679911) | about a year ago | (#43980431)

How USB won is because it was the port that was a hell of a lot cheaper and pushed by Intel

FTFY.

If FW had been reasonably priced, there would now be 1 USB1.0 port on machines for kb+mouse, and 3 or 4 FW1200 ports for cameras, external HDDs, scanners, etc.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

quacking duck (607555) | about a year ago | (#43980447)

While true, there's no denying that Apple charging a per-port fee on Firewire ports (on devices at both ends of a cable) was a major motivation to get USB2 spec and devices out there faster.

It was a facepalm moment when I first heard it announced and knew right then Firewire's chances of becoming a ubiquitous interface was over. This was in early 1999, almost 3 years before they introduced the first iPod. Apple was in no position to dictate the direction of hardware at the time, having just started shipping the first iMac a quarter earlier.

Re:Will it be a repeat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980429)

Apple didn't magically invent PCIe x2 overnight, its been around for a while so I don't get where you assume they are going to be charging royalties for anything. All they did was put it in a laptop and connect a hard drive to it, what royalties could they possibly collect? Oh and desktops have PCIe x4 interfaces with SSD drives that get 1500MB/s read and 1300MB/s write, see: OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2 series

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43980523)

I am not aware of Apple owning the PCIe standard. Did I miss something?

Re:Will it be a repeat? (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#43980969)

Won't stop them trying to patent it. Was the rounded corners debacle so long ago?

Re:Will it be a repeat? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43980981)

There is a difference between a design patent and a functional patent.

Re: Will it be a repeat? (1)

shitzu (931108) | about a year ago | (#43981007)

This is not some proprietary Apple tech that it even can claim any royalties for. They are just among the first to have it in production systems, they did not invent hooking SSD onto PCI-e cards. The article is just saying that as apple has it in their products, perhaps the install base is large enough for other makers to move away from the s-ata bottleneck.

Was Wondering when this would happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980195)

Might extend my SATAII MB (already 5 years old) for another few years. .. which is of course why is hasn't happened (no forced upgrade path) until now when PC sales are slipping.

Not until capacity, price, and lifetime improve (0)

scottbomb (1290580) | about a year ago | (#43980227)

...which is why Apple's not advertising the capacity. It's probably only 128 or 256 GB. Spinning platters also last longer (I have a few going on 10+ years). Flash has that nasty problem where it can only take so many write cycles before it starts losing capacity. I have high hopes for flash but they've got some hurdles to overcome.

Re:Not until capacity, price, and lifetime improve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980275)

Flash is not meant to replace spinning drives. No one believes this except for people who keep comparing the 2 like 1 is superior to the other.

You buy flash for the same reason you buy the better CPU & GPU, better performance.

Re:Not until capacity, price, and lifetime improve (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980347)

Flash is not meant to replace spinning drives.

Spinning drives are not meant to replace reel to reel tape.

The automobile is not meant to replace the horse.

Re:Not until capacity, price, and lifetime improve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980531)

Except that both of there were meant to replace, and they did.

Re:Not until capacity, price, and lifetime improve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980625)

Flash is meant to replace spinning hard drives, and it will.

Re:Not until capacity, price, and lifetime improve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980825)

I am betting on ssd will replace hdd and it doesn't have to be nand(Phase-change) but ssd non-the-less.

Re:Not until capacity, price, and lifetime improve (1)

Rod Beauvex (832040) | about a year ago | (#43980997)

Woosh.

Re:Not until capacity, price, and lifetime improve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980533)

I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Spinning drives didn't replace tape, they're still used in some cases, and where they were replaced, spinning platters were better in almost every way for that case.

And the automobile replaced horses because where there are roads there's no advantage to having a horse, they're slower, more expensive, and harder to use.

Sure, SSD will come down in price, go up in capacity, and will be the default on a lot of stuff .... but we're not going to get rid of spinning disks until there is a cheaper GB/$ replacement with reasonable performance (it doesn't have to be as fast as SSD to make HDD obsolete.

Re:Not until capacity, price, and lifetime improve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980941)

For Consumer Desktops and Laptops it did!

Re:Not until capacity, price, and lifetime improve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43981053)

Spinning drives didn't replace tape,

Oh so this [investors.com] is what google's data center looks like and not this [com.com] . My mistake.

How many failed to upsurp the throne (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#43980559)

Spinning drives are not meant to replace reel to reel tape.

The automobile is not meant to replace the horse.

This is storage, lets look I used to lust after those large storage floppy disks Floptical; Superdisk; HiFD...in the end people use USB flash drives, or Optical Disk failures Laserdisk :) MiniDisc, HD DVD...in fast Is Blu Ray success. Lets look at SSD's which are ideal for portable technology, because they are faster , and more resistant to knocks..and expensive and small storage so poor for Desktop machines and Data Centres. The idea that a (storage) technology will succeed because its measurable better by some metric is short sighed especially if its worse in others. Comparing it to unrelated technology insane.

Re:How many failed to upsurp the throne (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980691)

In 10 years no company will be manufacturing spinning hard drives.

The Thought and Effort (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#43980849)

In 10 years no company will be manufacturing spinning hard drives.

Again impressed with the well thought out argument from an AC, Here is a Ramcard from 1982 by Microsoft http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/300240/the-secret-history-of-microsoft-hardware/3 [pcmag.com] that is 21 years ago. I won't bother with any real explanation, because I'd be wasting my time.

Re:The Thought and Effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980951)

In five years there were be no 2.5 " hard drives manufactured any more. In 10 years no harddrives period.

The hard drive industry is in decline [forbes.com]
The flash industry is eclipsing [simmtester.com] it.

Re:The Thought and Effort (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#43980959)

what is a ramcard?

Re:The Thought and Effort (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a year ago | (#43980999)

31, but who's counting...

Current generation Flash lasts about as long (5, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#43980527)

I don't yet own any flash drives either. I have about 40 magnetic drives. One reason I didn't buy flash drives was write endurance.
I recently found out that the newer Flash drives have the same or better life expectancy as magnetics, though. They have enough write cycles for like 40 years of hard use now, so that's basically a solved problem. Also, when they fail they normally become read-only, so you can copy everything over to a replacement drive. 18 months ago I wouldn't have purchased flash drives, but now that they have improved I will. To reinforce what I read, I have watched Flash drives perform reliably in busy database and web servers. Not that the eight or so flash drives in those servers are statistically significant, but it's nice when your own anecdotal experience is consistent with the studies.

Yes, of course one particular drive might last a long time or a short time. I've had magnetic disks that lasted a long time and magnetic disks that died quickly. On average, an SSD will last just as long as a spinning platter .

Re:Current generation Flash lasts about as long (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year ago | (#43980913)

no they dont :)
the newest 19nm MLC drives have 80TB for 256GB drive write endurance.
80 TERRABYTES and warranty is GONE.

I do have a question about this ..... (4, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | about a year ago | (#43980237)

From the photos Apple has on their site of the Mac Pro with its cover open, it looks to me like the flash storage used is a "mini PCIe" form-factor. I've already purchased and used an identical looking 480GB flash drive to fit in an HP "Ultrabook" type of portable called the "Spectre XT Pro".

(HP claims the notebook can't be purchased with a drive larger than 256GB, even in a custom build order on their web site, but a technical manual I found clearly showed it took the mini PCIe type of flash drive, so I bought a 480GB from CDW to try it and it worked just fine.)

I've seen a few comments yesterday and today though claiming some of these mini PCIe form-factor SSDs are not *really* following the standards for the PCIe connector? So in effect, they perform with a lot less throughput, the same as any existing SSD drive, except just using that type of physical connector.

Anyone know if there's much truth to such claims .... meaning what Apple is offering here really will be more advanced than current SSD technology, or is this a case where companies like HP have really been using the same stuff for at least the last 1-2 years in select ultraportables?

Oh, wait ... clarification needed! (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about a year ago | (#43980341)

I didn't recall the type correctly... The drive I replaced in the Spectre XT Pro was actually an "mSATA" type of drive.

I guess it was something like the drive Crucial sells here:

http://www.crucial.com/store/mpartspecs.aspx?mtbpoid=433DDBDFA5CA7304 [crucial.com]

So I stand potentially corrected.... Perhaps the PCIe connector Apple is using here a little thinner and different. Looked very similar though.

Re:I do have a question about this ..... (1)

hklingon (109185) | about a year ago | (#43980367)

I believe this is intel's "NGFF" or "Next Gen Form Factor" -- I think the trade name is now m.2 . This format which apparently is a hybrid pcie-e and sata form factor. I guess the electrical signals are there for sata? But these devices can operate at pci-e x2 or x4. http://www.techpowerup.com/178188/intel-ssd-530-in-ngff-form-factor-pictured-arrives-in-q2.html [techpowerup.com]

Look familiar?
http://www.tweaktown.com/news/27850/adata_shows_working_next_generation_form_factor_ngff_on_video_at_ces/index.html [tweaktown.com]

Apple seems to have their own "extra long" variety (maybe) -- possibly to get at capacities around 1tb?

Re:I do have a question about this ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980539)

This is Apple we are talking about... it might LOOK like a m.2 but that does not mean it is WIRED as a m.2...

Example:

Macbook Air... it's SSD looks like a mSATA, but you cannot use a mSATA drive in the beast... you must buy a special Mac Air SSD and they are $80 - $100 more than a regular mSATA for a 240GB...

Re:I do have a question about this ..... (2)

Azmodan (572615) | about a year ago | (#43980835)

You are right. From the article : "Update: It's a custom Apple design, not M.2. Since there's no PCIe routed off of the CPU in Haswell ULT, these 2 lanes come from the on-package PCH." http://www.anandtech.com/show/7058/2013-macbook-air-pcie-ssd-and-haswell-ult-inside [anandtech.com] Look under the disk benchmarks.

Re:I do have a question about this ..... (2)

quacking duck (607555) | about a year ago | (#43980517)

Steve Wozniak is the chief scientist at Fusion IO, which makes a range of PCIe flash storage devices, including ones meant high-performance database servers. Woz has gone to previous WWDCs so his attending the keynote doesn't necessarily mean a thing, but I'm willing to bet that Fusion IO is involved in some way with the new Mac Pro's PCIe storage.

Re:I do have a question about this ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980781)

Those are PCI Express Mini devices you are referring to. The specification allows for pins to carry PCI Express, USB, and mSATA signaling - any combination of which can be supported by the socket on the motherboard.

This was discovered to my annoyance when I purchased one of Intel's Soda Creek SSD devices, and had to go research why my laptop didn't support it. My system only had PCIe and USB support, and the Soda Creek devices required mSATA support.

You can read more about this in the PCIe specification found at PCI-sig.org

Ummm, I kinda doubt it (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#43980255)

While the speed sounds impressive on paper, SSDs are really already going beyond what is needed for storage speeds. You can try this by upgrading from a SATA II to SATA III SSD yourself. I've done that, and I even went from a slow one (WD SiliconEdge Blue) to a fast one (Samsung 840 Pro). Actual difference in system performance? Eh, I doubt I could tell you which was which in a blind test.

The big numbers are mostly dick-waving in a desktop setup. I think the advantages offered by a storage connector and controller are likely to outweigh speed.

Also please note SAS 12g is coming out soon, and that means SATA at the same speed is soon to come as well.

It just really isn't that big a deal on the desktop. For SANs, databases, other high performance shit? Sure, there are cases where you need more IO or iops then you can get out of a SAS interface and then PCIe or the like may be an answer. But for user systems, SSDs are already more than fast enough, additional speed gains don't seem to translate in to wall time gains.

Re:Ummm, I kinda doubt it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980313)

There will always be a system bottleneck where 1 particular resource is slow enough to prevent the full potential of the rest of your stuff. You might not notice it in your usage, but there will always be people who want to do more processing than is possible with their gear.

For home use I have found cases where my Sata 6.0 SSD is the bottleneck, and I'm running a i5 2500 and Geforce 250 gts, so older crap. Was it enough for me to spend money on buying faster storage? no, but it is still the bottleneck.

Re:Ummm, I kinda doubt it (2)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#43980455)

While the speed sounds impressive on paper, SSDs are really already going beyond what is needed for storage speeds. You can try this by upgrading from a SATA II to SATA III SSD yourself. I've done that, and I even went from a slow one (WD SiliconEdge Blue) to a fast one (Samsung 840 Pro). Actual difference in system performance? Eh, I doubt I could tell you which was which in a blind test.

The big numbers are mostly dick-waving in a desktop setup. I think the advantages offered by a storage connector and controller are likely to outweigh speed.

This,

In sports car communities this is called "Hard Parking". People who modify their cars, intakes, cat-backs, chips, so on and so forth but never actually take it out on the track. They compare dyno scores and talk about how their latest tuning netted them an extra 5 bhp between taking photo's of their never-tracked car. For those of us who aren't hard parkers, I have to say it's a lot more fun taking an unmodified S13 around a track than sitting on a dynamometer in a highly modified WRX STI (I.E. I'd rather be using my computer than benchmarking it).

Moving from spinning disk to SSD nets real world performance benefits, but moving from SATA 2 to SATA 3 only shows real world benefits in niche applications (I.E. image processing, build/test, crap that already takes hours due to I/O requirements).

Re:Ummm, I kinda doubt it (1)

smash (1351) | about a year ago | (#43980629)

Whilst it is a case of diminishing returns, sure... but...

If i have to wait AT ALL for my machine to do something it is wasted time in my life I will never get back. Until everything I do on the machine is INSTANT, i'll take any speed improvements they can provide, thanks.

Re:Ummm, I kinda doubt it (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#43980775)

Whilst it is a case of diminishing returns, sure... but...

If i have to wait AT ALL for my machine to do something it is wasted time in my life I will never get back. Until everything I do on the machine is INSTANT, i'll take any speed improvements they can provide, thanks.

Right.

Way to miss the point. For the most part, the time you spend waiting isn't for disk I/O. It's not about diminishing returns, rather it's ineffective as it's not the bottleneck.

Anyway, as the OP said, I highly doubt you'd be able to tell the difference in a blind test. The only people it would matter to are people who have disk operations that are measured in hours.

Also, you have some serious problems if you cant wait 30 seconds for anything. Seriously, people suffering from ADHD tend to have more patience than that. However as someone who sells high priced items that provide minimal gain, I like suckers like you.

Re:Ummm, I kinda doubt it (4, Insightful)

Pulzar (81031) | about a year ago | (#43981037)

Also, you have some serious problems if you cant wait 30 seconds for anything. Seriously, people suffering from ADHD tend to have more patience than that. However as someone who sells high priced items that provide minimal gain, I like suckers like you.

Ok, you had good points until here.

Any (good) programmer, artist, writer, or anyone else who creates on a computer for a living will tell you that they hate unresponsive applications. Open a new file and wait 5 seconds before you can see it? It's distracting, and it breaks your train of thought.

It's not ADHD, it's the fact that we're used to, from the "real world", to have instant response to actions -- pull out a piece of paper and you can read it immediately. Put a brush to the paper, and the colour shows up instantly. The brain expects the computers, which are trying to model this real world interaction, to work the same way.

Re:Ummm, I kinda doubt it (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#43981011)

have you considered multitasking? while waiting for your machine to do something you could clip your toenails, for example. just a thought, it works well for me.

Re:Ummm, I kinda doubt it (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#43980689)

Even with an SSD I still find suspending and resuming VMs to be slow enough that I avoid it until necessary. I am delighted by these improvements; for decades, hard drives were an increasingly narrow bottleneck in computer performance relative to other components, and it seemed it would always stay that way. But I guess I won't be totally satisfied until the L1 cache on my CPU is big enough to store my media collection and we can do away with the entire memory hierarchy.

Re:Ummm, I kinda doubt it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980779)

Obviously not a software developer

Re:Ummm, I kinda doubt it (1)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about a year ago | (#43981033)

For throughput maybe but not IOPs. SATA adds a tremendous amount of overhead to I/Os. For spinning disks it didn't matter since the overhead represented a fraction of the rotational and seek latencies. For flash media however the SATA overhead is huge and inhibits transactional performance. As fast as SSDs are for IOPs they will see a quantum jump in IOPs with direct-attached interfaces like PCIe.

What about Storage!! and Price!! (0)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#43980305)

I hate to say it but I'm still on spinning disks in fact I just updated my Raid5 to 12TB dunning on 4 Disks. I actually run my applications from an SSD drive, that's the advantage of a big rectangular box as opposed to a none upgradable cylinder.

The maximum size of an SSD drive is 1TB, While Hard old spinny derives are about 4GB...and the Cost difference is insame, a quick look at Google shopping puts the Samsung Pro 256gb at $230 while the 3TB WD Red $145 about 20 times cheaper.

By the way the black rectangular box under my monitor is very attractive too :). Apple have dropped the ball on design, and moved from functional design(rectangular box, with upgradable components) to form over function design(Sanitary Bin, with thunderbird ports or something). So this advertisement for Apple is lost on me, as my 15 year old computer has better specifications, at a fraction of the cost.

Re:What about Storage!! and Price!! (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43980497)

I think you mean 4TB there...

But I agree, Raid 6 here with 8 new 4TB drives in the last six months. In SSD pricing I'd be astronomical for that but then again I wouldn't probably be running Raid 6 more like Raid 0 if it was an all SSD array.

Re:What about Storage!! and Price!! (2)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43980735)

Your 15 year old computer has a better processor than a 12 core Intel Xeon, better memory than registered, ECC 1866 MHz RAM and better external connectors than 6 Thunderbolt (20 Gbs) ports? Really? I have to see this computer.

Better :) (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#43980907)

Your 15 year old computer has a better processor than a 12 core Intel Xeon, better memory than registered, ECC 1866 MHz RAM and better external connectors than 6 Thunderbolt (20 Gbs) ports? Really? I have to see this computer.

In context of the article I notice you haven't mentioned storage. To be fair I consider Thunderbolt to be as useless as a serial port. In fact I plan on sticking a new graphics card in next year. So when I say better I mean it.

Re:Better :) (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#43980939)

First of all Apple hasn't said anything about storage capabilities other than PCIe flash. Secondly my company has a PB server of storage in their data center so if you are measuring useless metrics, your 15 year computer has nothing on my company's rack of disks. Lastly what technology do you use for external transfers and how much does it cost you? If you say eSATA let me remind you if the bandwidth.

External Storage. (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#43981005)

First of all Apple hasn't said anything about storage capabilities other than PCIe flash. Secondly my company has a PB server of storage in their data center so if you are measuring useless metrics, your 15 year computer has nothing on my company's rack of disks. Lastly what technology do you use for external transfers and how much does it cost you? If you say eSATA let me remind you if the bandwidth.

...and yet I am already bragging that my 15year old PC has larger storage capacity than it, and I need the storage *in* my machine, and no external storage does not cut it. The last thing I want is ugly boxes hanging of my machine...its a ugly stupid design. The reality is my *desktop* computer doesn't have data centre storage :), but it has *desktop* storage...the apple machine is a fast nettop I have no use for one of those. As I said I plan on upgrading my graphics card this year too. ;)

MacBook Mini? Really? (1)

rainer_d (115765) | about a year ago | (#43980327)

Can't people even get the half-dozen different computer models that Apple makes right?

Re:MacBook Mini? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980723)

I'll give it a go: (1) underpowered, (2) quite expensive, (3) expensive, (4) really expensive, (5) amazingly expensive, (6) prohibitively expensive.

Re:MacBook Mini? Really? (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year ago | (#43981025)

(1) depends on use case. (2) very reasonably priced (sub $1000) compared to $$$$ ultrabook alternives or that schmancy chrome book.

PCI drives have been around for a while. (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#43980369)

Both in traditional storage and cards that allow you mount volatile RAM as a HDD. Long before the age of SSD's friend had one of these drives with 4 x 2 GB sticks to form an 8 GB drive (at the time a 500 GB drive was the largest commercially available, XP service pack 2 was causing great consternation and people used Friendster). These never took off because.

- Performance benefits weren't useful outside niche applications.
- They simply weren't practical.

SATA has a huge legacy, is cheap to produce and numerous. SATA III has a transfer rate of 600mbs which is faster than most drives that people will use and definitely faster than most application. Unlike moving from spinning disk to SSD, this wont have a noticeable performance difference to the end user.

Reading up on this, it sounds like they just used SATA 3.2 Express, which means fortunately Apple wont be able to control it... But still, no doubt Apple did this so they can make it hard and more expensive to replace a HDD in a Mac by making it difficult for 3rd parties to build compatible components.

no! (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#43980401)

Self contained modular components are always superior in ease of replacing and overall use to both the manufacturer and the consumer. If it's some one of a kind custom one made just for them, that's trouble because the manufacturer has them by the balls and it's just one supply source. The last time I heard of a company getting 100 "identical" Dell laptops, there were 4 different hard drive models in them. That's because of cost and supply changes. With just 1 item to choose from, that's bad.

Then from the consumer side, some modified BIOS that only boots off of PCI-E controlled storage devices and then not being able to use Acronis or GParted because it's a custom driver on a custom controller are both huge problems. Not being able to replace it with any 2.5" drive, just 1 single replacement option at a price-gouging 5x charge from the manufacturer is pretty awful too. Your upgrade options go out the window too.

Then it's just some anonymous nothing brand. There are 3 brands of SSDs that I buy and that's it because I don't want the flash chips failing in a year like Kingston SSDNow or Adata or Sandisk or any of those wacky off brand ones. HP and Dell are famous for garbage like rebranded lite-on DVD burners that fail constantly instead of something nice like Phillips so you bet it's going to be a true piece of crap.

Overall, it's a terrible idea.

Re:no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980561)

Uh, this is a self contained modular component... It's a card that goes into a slot, just like all the mSATA drives that are the rage in Ultrabooks these days...

Two trends reversing? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#43980451)

Most Motherboard manufacturers have been coming out with designs that reduce the number of slots for expansion, this may be a reversal and there's mini PCIe which I'd love to see available in more and more systems. It will definitely push for more SSD solutions in laptops/desktops and workstations but I was also curious about the release of the new Mac Pro yesterday and their expectation of externally connected hardware as well. While they've reduced the footprint of the system I can imagine a bunch of cable now all over my office going to the hard drive expansions and also this bucks the trend a bit in "PCs are dying" doesn't it? I mean yeah the Mac Pro will probably cost your first born and your left nut but still if Apple is willing to bet on the High End workstation market I guess they're not seeing the IPAD as the end all killer for everybody. Oh well, it'll be fun over the next few years.

Re:Two trends reversing? (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year ago | (#43980557)

If PCIE disks gain market share, motherboard manufacturer will inevitably add more PCIE slots, and gradually start removing SATA2 slots, on at a time.

Pundits speculate on a depressingly regular (1)

Nutria (679911) | about a year ago | (#43980453)

basis and are almost always wrong. Why should we believe them this time?

If you can, do.
If you can't, teach.
If you can't teach, pontificate.

apple (1)

smash (1351) | about a year ago | (#43980565)

... only use cheap components, same design as everybody else, blahblahblah...

No.

I doubt PCIe based flash will be universal or even that common for a long time. Hell, one of the tablet/notebook convertible things (HP envy I think?) I tested recently was trying to run Windows 8 Pro on SD based flash. Took me a while to figure out why it was so slow and unresponsive...

Totally ruined the performance of the machine, but hey its cheap!

never heard of PCIe Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980651)

I have never heard of PCIe Flash before. The only thing I know about PCIe is that my motherboard has a PCI express 1.0 16x slot on the mother board for a video card. Thanks for posting the link.

MacBook Mini (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43980685)

"MacBook Mini" does not exist, nor has it ever.

It doesn't need to (2)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#43980905)

Apple is the king of put what you don't need into computers. Unless your doing intensive video editing or mass virtualization, you simple don't need the bandwidth that is given from PCIe flash. A standard SSD over a Sata 3 interface is more then fast enough for 97% of general computer users. I would really like to hear the actual reason, beside price increase, that Apple can give as to why anyone needs this. How about they put the Ethernet port back on the notebook, they include more USB ports and a solid optical drive. The next thing Apple is going to include is a 10GB Fibre interface, because they can and it looks / sounds cool.
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