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Seven Mobile ATA Hard Drives Compared

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the compare-and-win dept.

125

AnInkle writes "Though hard drives are allegedly the fastest advancing high-tech product, most laptop manufacturers persist in saving a buck by outfitting their units with a low-end, low-cache, low-capacity, low-spindle-speed HDD. The Tech Report takes a different angle from other mobile hard drive reviews by including one of those maligned 4,200 RPM, 2MB cache models in their roundup of 2.5" hard drives, which includes 'a 160 GB perpendicular monster and a couple of 7,200-RPM speed demons.' The results are clear that most of us would see a tremendous boost in performance by upgrading this one component."

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125 comments

First HDD upgrade! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15221353)

First HDD upgrade!

suprise :( (4, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221396)

tremendous boost in performance by upgrading this one component

If you think THATs suprising, imagine my face when I found out that FLAMMABLE and INFLAMMABLE mean the SAME THING.

Re:suprise :( (0, Offtopic)

beady (710116) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221525)

What a country!

Re:suprise :( (2, Informative)

Mayhem178 (920970) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221670)

For future reference:

Flammable vs. Inflammable [lifetips.com]

Anyways, back on topic. The day I see a mobile HDD survive an 3-story fall onto solid concrete, then I'll be impressed. And yes, I've seen it. Except for the surviving part.

Re:suprise :( (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221727)

I'll take this [reference.com] opinion over that one:

flammable Audio pronunciation of "flammable" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (flm-bl) adj. Easily ignited and capable of burning rapidly; inflammable

Replacing, not upgrading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15221879)

Of course you see a big boost in performance, because you also get a fresh install and no fragmentation.

Re:suprise :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222042)

"If ignorance is bliss, then slap the smile off my face." -- Rage Against The Machine

Your quote is wrong. It should be:

"If ignorance is bliss, then knock the smile off my face"

What happens (-1, Offtopic)

mayesa (944673) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221398)

Just testing.. http://www.servicerules.com.ar/ [servicerules.com.ar]

Re:What happens (0, Offtopic)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221415)

Let me guess... this is the website for the kids dad that beat you up and took your ipod?

Quite true indeed (4, Interesting)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221407)

I use a real old laptop every day. (Just because I'm too cheap to buy a new one) I got it for 100€ from my former employer. It's a P-III 600MHz with 256Meg RAM. I added 256Meg that I had lying around and that already boosted performance.

However, one day the included 6Gig harddisk with a really low speed (Must have been a 4200RPM, but could be less) and I bought a new 5400RPM 80Gig harddisk . That was pretty much the upgrade that gave me most speed. That, and I could finally install more than one OS and keep the machine usable ;-)

Fast harddisks do matter.... Even if I tought that it was one of the least important things in the overall speed of the machine.

Re:Quite true indeed (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222486)

Well, I just upgraded from a 3 year old 4200 rpm drive to a 100G 7200 rpm TravelStar 7K100, and I went ahead and did some tests while I was at it:

Copy a big directory: 2m18s -> 1m17s (Wow!)
Boot up: 54s -> 47s (Ok...)
Compile some code: 58s -> 56s (Meh.)

In short, it depends on what you're doing. Unfortunately the things I wait for the most, didn't speed up much. Overall, going from 4200rpm to 7200rpm is an OK upgrade but I think overrated. Power consumption of the laptop as a whole only increased by 1%, so that's good.

IMHO the first thing to check is RAM. If you don't have enough, adding some will make a world of difference. Oddly, upgrading the hard drive on a laptop with too little RAM would probably make a big difference by speeding up swapping, yet that's the wrong upgrade, since upgrading the RAM would make a far bigger difference and lessen the need for a fast drive.

Re:Quite true indeed (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222979)

Wouldn't it speed up your laptop immensely and reduce power usage if you upgraded to enough RAM to have no swap file? About 1 Gig should be enough in most cases. How much power battery life/ speed could be expected from a configuration like this?

Re:Quite true indeed (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15223069)

I agree swap is pretty useless, and have often run systems without it, with no ill effects. But there are other programs that hit the disk. In linux, it's not that easy to stop all accesses to the disk. You have daemons like syslog that access every minute or so. There is (or used to be) some special module or patch that would defer writes to memory. This allows the disk to sleep more. I don't bother with that anymore because in my experience the runtime only increased 10 minutes or so. IME the drive is a smaller factor than the screen and, especially, the cpu.

Re:Quite true indeed (1)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15223192)

the ram boost from 512mb to 1gb helped my machine a lot since now i have more space to cache the files from the 4200rpm hdd :D

however, the latency tests on the benchmark were not sufficient, they should really cripple and fragment the hdd before they make the benchmarks. there is the point where the 7200rpm drive with 20% less seek time really hits in.

with continious data like the "default test setup", the speed difference isn't really worth to mention.

if my ubuntu runs, it's all great and fast. if it works it's way through the 1700 packages installed to upgrade some or to install anything new, the hdd led keeps on flickering and everything is damn slow (if you think reiserfs is good enough to prevent it, well better think again ... and the partition is only 50% full right now).

Hard Drives are the slowest advancing components (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15221421)

While for instance Moore's law still holds the hard drives are not developing as fast. Ca. 10% performance improvement per year in the previous years is a good estimate. That means the hard drives are actually the slowest advancing components. In modern higher end PC they are the slowest link and in many applications the most horrible bottle neck.

There isn't a good solution available either. RAIDs can get expensive, flash and similars can be fast but there are problems with interfaces (quality, selections, ..), the fastest things are expensive or on development cycle anyways... The state of hard drives and their performance is simply put pathetic and will be at least for the next a few years.

What? (1)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221686)

When I had a 100 MHz PC, I had a 1 GB HDD. Now I have a 400 GB HDD and I don't have a 40 GHz processor. What are you talking about?

Re:What? (0)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221881)

Do you wrok for Intel or something? Your current processor does a lot more per clock than the 100 MHz Pentium did.

Re:What? (1)

rhesuspieces00 (804354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221971)

I've had my powerbook for almost 30 months. It came with an 80 GB hard drive, which at the time, was the largest laptop drive available, and had been for quite a while...at least a few months.

The largest laptop drive currently available is 160 GB, and that has only been available for a few weeks.

So, in roughly 3 years, the capacity of 2.5" hard drives has doubled. (A far cry from Moore's law.) Processor speeds haven't kept up with Moore's law either, but they have certainly more than doubled in the past 3 years.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15221996)

When I had a 100 MHz PC, I had a 1 GB HDD. Now I have a 400 GB HDD and I don't have a 40 GHz processor. What are you talking about?

Read his post again. What he says agrees with what you have said.

Re:What? (2, Interesting)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222175)

Throughput. Actually I occasionally chart the growth in CPU speed vs the size of hard drives and there is an amazing difference (with drive space growing a LOT faster than CPU speed) - but on a purely bandwidth based observation, narrowing it down to laptop hard drives only : drives haven't really kept up.

Six years ago most laptop drives were 3600 rpm. Now most laptop drives are 4200 rpm (yes there are plenty of 5400 and 7200 rpm drives out there, but I'd wager to say that most people don't have them.) That's a 17% (1.1667x) boost over six years. Compare that to the PII-300MHz in use six years ago vs the P4-3GHz we can get today and there is a 1,000% increase (10x). Even if you drop in a Toshiba 7200rpm drive, you are still only looking at a 2x improvement in speed over six (or more) years.

Re:What? (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222335)

Due to higher density disks, the throughput had advanced quite a lot faster than just the rotating speed. So what you are saying is - to be honest - a load of bunk.

Re:What? (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222905)

Actually what I was saying is that laptop drive speeds (throughput) haven't seen the massive gains that CPUs have over the last six years.

Not magic 'burst' throughput (which is akin to measuring horsepower at the piston rings) but real throughput.

Open two command line windows, and on each one start a copy of a zillion small / medium size files from some directory to another directory on the same drive (your MP3 directory would be perfect.) Two threads just doing concurrent reads and writes of uncached data, lots of small files, long enough for you to get some quality throughput numbers. Since your read throughput has to approximately equal your write throughput (reading the files, then writing them, absorbing the minor overhead for creating the directory structure and updating the file allocation table) measure the average sustained overall write speed using perfmon (or nmon if you are using Linux) - this is a fairly accurate measurable real-world throughput that demonstrates what your drive (and drive alone, as it will be the limiting factor) will do and I'd be amazed if it exceeded 7 megabytes written per second, sustained average over the course of ninety seconds. Mind bendingly amazed, actually, as I expect a 4200 rpm laptop drive to run less than 5MB/s for this test (again - sustained write speed for two simultaneous sets of file copies, multiple files and not one massive file, to another directory on the same physical drive.)

It wouldn't be too difficult to dig up a six year old laptop to run this test against - I am sure it would be slower, but it wouldn't be 10x slower (meaning that in six years laptop drives have gotten faster, but not 10x faster.)

Re:Hard Drives are the slowest advancing component (1)

qval (844544) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222043)

I hold that floopy drives are the slowest advancing technology. they started out at 360 KB some time in the eighties, and are currently at 1.44 MB.

[\dry wit]

Re:Hard Drives are the slowest advancing component (2, Funny)

uncoveror (570620) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222911)

In my day, a hard drive was going across the country in a car with kids in the back whining, "Are we there yet?" We didn't have it easy like you whipper-snappers with your SATA and your RAID! Hell, Raid was for killing bugs.

Biggest bottleneck (1, Informative)

hjf (703092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221430)

IMHO, what makes a crappy (laptop) computer different frin a great computer is the hard drive. The biggest bottleneck is the hard drive, no matter if you have a Pentium 4 or a 486, if you put a fast drive, the machine will work great, but if you put a slow drive performance hits the bottom, even if you have a dual, quad or 64-core computer...

Re:Biggest bottleneck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15221680)

MMMMMMmmmmmm.... 64 cores....... *drool*

Re:Biggest bottleneck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222074)

IMHO, what makes a crappy (laptop) computer different frin a great computer is the hard drive. The biggest bottleneck is the hard drive, no matter if you have a Pentium 4 or a 486, if you put a fast drive, the machine will work great, but if you put a slow drive performance hits the bottom, even if you have a dual, quad or 64-core computer...

Which is why people ought to install the maximum RAM they can if they can afford it. And combine that with a fast hard drive for when your dataset is larger than your RAM.

Then if you use UNIX like OS', use something with a decent unified buffer cache implementation, like NetBSD's and FreeBSD's. It will allow the most efficient use of the RAM you have. Last time I checked, Free and Net were super fast in that respect, even faster than Linux. Although I checked about a year ago.

I checked by creating a file that is almost as large as the available RAM size and then writing a script to read it over and over again. FreeBSD was the fastest, closely followed by NetBSD. Linux was so slow that it was as if it was broken. Even OpenBSD, without UBC was MUCH faster than Linux at the time.

Power consumption (3, Interesting)

Junta (36770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221433)

I see in their published specs that the 7200 RPM drives run at least 0.4 to 0.6 Watts higher. This may not seem like much, but right now my laptop is sucking about 17 watts of power, and that means about 2.4 to 3.5 percent higher power consumption.

Still not much, but a factor to consider.

Re:Power consumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15221584)

I bought a laptop with a 60GB HD, probably a 4200 RPM, and upgraded to a 80GB, 7200 RPM, and as well as being faster, it actually used less juice! I got an extra half hour of battery life from it with the new, bigger HD.

power is rate * time (3, Insightful)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221634)

If the computer runs faster you may use less power. If it takes 10 minutes to check email and slashdot with the old drive and 9 minutes with the new, you've just saved 10% time spending 3.5% higher power rate. That's about 7% less power consumed.

Re:power is rate * time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222327)

If the computer runs faster you may use less power. If it takes 10 minutes to check email and slashdot with the old drive and 9 minutes with the new, you've just saved 10% time spending 3.5% higher power rate. That's about 7% less power consumed.

Ahh yes, that's the old LunaticTippy law of powers, which states, "You have to spend power, to make power".

Yes, interesting, yet so very true.

Back in reality, we find that of the 10 minutes people use to check their mail and slashdot, 9 minutes and 55 seconds are spent with eyes reading the screen and the other 5 seconds is spent with the HDD heads thrashing about and other background system type things. My point is, computers keep getting faster, but people don't. Which is why efficiencies like UI design for example, typically matter so much more than an upgrade of HDD rotational speed or the like.

On the flip side of that, that is why I like UNIX like CLI UI evironments so much, yet many people would consider them to be less efficient UI's. I can use my intelligence and creativity to do things really fast that would stump me if I were confined to a Microsoft, Apple or any other GUI.

Re:power is rate * time (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222348)

No, since the disk, while in use, would be on all the time. It does not go from spinning to non-spinning within the second or something like that. Maybe there is a small difference because of the head moving or not moving, but that's about it.

Re:power is rate * time (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222695)

Let me explain again. You need to check your email and slashdot, ok?

Old rig: takes 10 minutes. You turn off your rig.
New rig: takes 9 minutes. You turns off yer rig.

Voila, less power!.

It's true that if you sit there using it constantly you will have less total run time, but my point is that you will get more done in less time (same total power use if you run the bat flat) with a faster drive.

I guess there are some people that only care about total run time. They'll just poke around until their battery dies. You're right that those people are better off with a slower drive, but they're not really doing anything anyway.

Re:power is rate * time (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222970)

The thread heading is plain wrong. Do not confuse Power and Energy. Rather, with electricity-related units added for illustration:
  • Power [W] = Energy rate = Energy [W s] / Time [s]
  • Power [W] = Voltage [V] * Current [A]
  • Energy [W s] = Power [W] * Time [s] = Voltage [V] * Charge [A s]

If the computer runs faster you may use less power.

Which one consumes less energy depends on both the power and the total time (which, granted, was the point of the post).

Re:Power consumption (2, Insightful)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221636)

Yeah, that's the trade off. Do you want higher performance or lower power consumption? I would hazard a guess, and say that the majority of laptop buyers want lower power consumption. Those that want performance can upgrade at the time of purchase or sometime in the future.

Most of the time, my 5400 rpm drive is fine on my laptop. When I want performance (say for video editing), I'm most likely to be somewhere where I can plug in to the wall, and use a higher performance, higher capacity firewire drive for my media.

What is important to me is larger capacity. The 100 GB HD on my PB just isn't going to cut it in the near future. So, I'm really looking forward to seeing more HDs that use that perpendicular magic.

The Real Question: (0, Offtopic)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221434)

What is growing faster: hard disk capacity or Taco's wife's waistline?

Re:The Real Question: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222047)

Can't it be both?

Nerve racking (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221440)

If you had enough experience with computers, or especially if you lost one or more hard drives with precious data, that hard drive stack on the first page will shorten your life with a couple of years.

It's enough for someone to fire up a match for me to panick and go check if it's not the HDD. Works every time.

It's Simple... (4, Insightful)

MudButt (853616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221446)

most laptop manufacturers persist in saving a buck by outfitting their units with a low-end, low-cache, low-capacity, low-spindle-speed HDD.

Well, they're saving an average of 111 bucks in these examples. The "low-end" model is about 35% of the cost of the others (on average).

Now look at the performance differences. WorldBench is clocking the more expensive drives as only 30% faster (on average) than the "low-end" drive.

My own conclusion: yes, you're getting a performance boost if you pay more... But it's definately not a 1 to 1 ratio. In fact, for the money, the "low-end" drive is the best solution. So... Why do "most laptop manufacturers persist in saving a buck (or 111 bucks)? Because it's a better choice for the average consumer! Believe me... If Company A started selling only expensive drives, their market would go niche (like Alienware), and most people would purchase a "lower-end" machine.

Re:It's Simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15221691)

Unless you use windos, it can't handle the speed and crashes.
That's an eXPerience I can live without!

Re:It's Simple... (5, Interesting)

nfarrell (127850) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221735)

True, the other drives are ~$100 more expensive. If all you got was a 30% speed increase, I'd agree with you.

But these drives are not just faster, they're also higher capacity. An ipod holds more than these low-end drives, and anyone who wants their laptop to be their MP3 player will happily spend $100 extra for ~80Gb more space.

Yep, some people will buy the cheapest thing without looking at what they're missing out on. But it wouldn't be hard to market a lappy as "NEXT GENERATION: MASSIVE 100GB DISK DRIVE". But what would I know, I'm not in marketing.

Re:It's Simple... (1)

MudButt (853616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221904)

But these drives are not just faster, they're also higher capacity.

Point well taken... Overall, you're probably getting a 1:1 increase for your money. (Or maybe you're getting more bang for the buck by spending more when you consider all things). But I think that people like you and me can see the value in the high end drives. That's a given.

But my next door neighbor, for example, asked me for advice on buying a notebook that would let him surf/email/type in his living room wirelessly. I recommended getting the cheapest machine from HP / Dell / Whoever because high-end components aren't going to do anything significant for him. I guess I'm assuming that most consumers are like my neighbor, and not like us.

Re:It's Simple... (1)

rhesuspieces00 (804354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222015)

What is your time worth? What if I sold you a laptop, and I gave you the hard drive for free, but it only held 8 kilobytes, and had a read/write speed of, say, 12 bits per hour. The performance to cost ratio is INFINITELY better than any other laptop on the market! Would you take it?

Re:It's Simple... (1)

MudButt (853616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222111)

What if I sold you a laptop, and I gave you the hard drive for free, but it only held 8 kilobytes,

What if my Grandma had balls? She's be my Grandpa. What does this have to do with anything?

You can't take an analogy to an extreme and then expect it to still hold true.

Do you think taxes are too high? Well what if we disbanded the IRS and nobody ever had to pay taxes again? No more fire dept, police, schools, courts, military, etc. Would you like that? No? Then okay... You should agree with higher taxes then.

Re:It's Simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222128)

> Do you think taxes are too high? Well what if we disbanded the IRS and nobody ever had to pay taxes again? No more fire dept, police, schools, courts, military, etc.

Actually the first three are paid for with local taxes.

Re:It's Simple... (1)

rhesuspieces00 (804354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222721)

You can't take an analogy to an extreme and then expect it to still hold true.

Ok, well let me strip my comment of the sarcasm so you can follow it.

Your metric sucks.

If an average consumer uses a laptop for 3 years, and the performance hit due to a low end HD is on the order of 10 minutes of productivity per day on 300 days out of the year, thats a loss of 150 productive hours. Assuming the consumer's time is worth more than $1.35/hour, they are better off with a faster hard drive. Thats before we consider the cost of storage limitations. Having to purchase an external drive to be able to store all your files, besides eating up most of the cost savings, is generally less convenient than having all your data in one location. And don't even get me started on quality of user experience.

Re:It's Simple... (1)

MudButt (853616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15223057)

Ok, well let me strip my comment of the sarcasm so you can follow it.

Me is able to follow much. Not need simple words.

Your metric sucks.

I don't even use the metric system! WTF are you talking about!

If an average consumer uses a laptop for 3 years, and the performance hit due to a low end HD is on the order of 10 minutes of productivity per day on 300 days out of the year, thats a loss of 150 productive hours. Assuming the consumer's time is worth more than $1.35/hour, they are better off with a faster hard drive.

LOL! Are you really commiting the biggest foul in ROI generation technique!? Take a frickin business class at your local community college, dude! Okay, let me put this in terms of mathmatics, maybe you're better educated in that area: In statistics, we have something called significant figures(SF). SF's are used to determine a threshold for making reliable conclusions based on the precision of the data (notice I didn't say accuracy). You may have learned SF theory when determining how many decimals to keep or drop in chemistry or physics.

If you're REALLY going to say that you can measure WITH PRECISION how many man-hours are lost while waiting for a fucking program to load, then you damn well better be taking into account every time the programmer has to scratch his ass, pick his nose, and jerk off in the employee kitchen when nobody is looking.

Simply put: the man-hours lost while waiting for your hard drive is INSIGNIFICANT next to the thousands of man-hours we waste every year on other piddly shit. BOOYA!

Re:It's Simple... (1)

rhesuspieces00 (804354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15223180)

the difference: people like picking their ass and jerking off in the employee kitchen. they don't like staring at hour-glass cursors.

Great Point (1)

Illbay (700081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222149)

...If Company A started selling only expensive drives, their market would go niche...

I never thought of it that way before, but consider:

I can name a couple of PC brands like Alienware and Voodoo [voodoopc.com] , but I can't really think of anyone who is "known" for making similarly high-end laptops.

I realize that's because most people need them for mundane, business-related tasks, but with so many (myself included) using laptops at work as desktop replacements, you'd think the specs would matter more.

Our company just rolled out "new" laptops for the staff: IBM/Lenovo T-41 ThinkPads, which were first introduced almost two years ago! That's "good enough" for a laptop around here, and I'm sure that's the consensus at the majority of offices.

Re:Great Point (1)

MudButt (853616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222196)

but I can't really think of anyone who is "known" for making similarly high-end laptops.

I see your point. Maybe the market's ready for a high-end notebook alternative...

Re:It's Simple... (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222256)

However, it should be noted that dollar for dollar, assuming you have already gone to 512mb ram, nothing else will boost your speed better than investing in the hard drive. Many people will invest the same amount in a 200 mhz faster processor before investing in a hard drive, though, which is a blatant mistake, and likewise a jump to 1gig of ram is typically more expensive, and a mistake for most users.

Re:It's Simple... (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222427)

Consumers dont know nor care about hard drive speed.

We are geeks so we know but when they look for a new laptop they look for processor speed and memory and wifi connections. Thats it.

Go look in ads for circuit city and Best Buy? Not even the graphics cards are listed as consumers dont care.

So if Joe sees laptop A: for $1411 or laptop B: for $1300 with the same specs which one do you think he will go home with?

Same argument for winmodems and the consumers picked the winmodem machines because they were $100 cheaper.

I did not even know laptop manufactors did this but I am not in the market for a laptop currently. I knew they were slower but I am surprissed they were 4200RPM's and slower!

Faster Harddrive? (2, Insightful)

stonefoz (901011) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221448)

When I fire up my laptop, its because I'm not at a outlet, or am moving somewhere. The harddrive is the largest battery pull on my old rig. I'm not looking for fast but smart. They should have large caches and 4200 rpm or maybe even lower. An old toshiba from the 80's I've had, used to run for a few hours with power management. I haven't seen that again from these new 'mobile super computers' that is flooding stores. SATA is one of the smart ideas, but they'll all be chasing the benchmark crown for speed.

Re:Faster Harddrive? (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221758)

I used to get 6 hours on mine (centrino 1.7, dell latitude D505). Of cause, battery quality goes down pretty quickly, 12-18months in now I must be, and will get around 4 hours.

Re:Faster Harddrive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222642)

I used to get 6 hours on mine (centrino 1.7, dell latitude D505). Of cause, battery quality goes down pretty quickly, 12-18months in now I must be, and will get around 4 hours.

Wow. My new Sony VAIO 17" laptop claims 2 hours (up to), but in reality if I am just typing into a text document I'll be lucky if I get a single hour. That's about the best I have EVER got with it, including turning power settings down and having a hard time reading the screen because it is so dim.

That's what I get for buying a desktop replacement! You are expected to be plugged in everywhere it seems and the battery is merely a 1 hour UPS.

Re:Faster Harddrive? (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222259)

Compact Flash drives just got large enough to hold your basic operating system, web-surfing, IM'ing, productivity tool set and office suite, cheap enough to actually go for it (4G Ultras recently dropped below the $150 mark.) Granted, four gigs isn't enough for leet warez/mp3z/gamez monkeys, but it is enough to keep someone productive if they want to be productive on the go. At 9MB/s read/write they aren't as fast as the fastest drives out there, but ... I wonder what kind of current they draw under use - I know that under no use they draw no current, but I wonder what kind of difference they would make by using one in a laptop instead of a regular drive.

Yes, there is the issue of the drive getting bad spots over use - but if you could get twice the battery life out of a laptop and knew you had to replace the media once a year or so, maybe it would be worth it. Not to mention you don't have to worry about a head crash or losing your data if you drop it (might break your laptop, but your data will be ok.)

Other Benefits (2, Interesting)

iPodUser (879598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221461)

I have personally witnessed many mobile PCs speed up and get quieter after having the HDD swapped for a higher spec unit. In addition to the increased performance in read/write speed, many of the newer drives offer another benefit to mobile users: Lower power consumption. Upgrading an older drive to a new faster drive could increase battery life.

Re:Other Benefits (1)

johneee (626549) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221684)

Yeah, my theory on that is that if a drive takes 2 seconds instead of 4 seconds to do what it needs to do, then even if it takes more power to operate, it's still going to be a net decrease in the amount of power that an individual operation takes.

I don't know if it actually works that way, but it's my theory and I like it.

Re:Other Benefits (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222026)

Only really if you spin down straight afterwards, which you rarely do, as spinning back up takes time.

The primary issue is cost (1)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221513)

Notebook hard drived (2.5 inch for factor) cost about three times as much as desktop drives, because they almost never seem to go on sale. I just had to buy a replacement for my notebook, and an 80GB/5400rpm/8M 2.5 inch drive cost me about $100. I can frequently get a 250GB/7200rpm/16M 3.5 inch drive on sale for a half to a third that price these days. With a $/GB ratio that high, cost is a significant factor in adopting higher capacitry drives on mobile platforms. A secondary issue is heat - some notebooks aren't designed to handle the additional heat load from the higher-end 7200rpm (or even 5400rpm) drives, shortening the drive life significantly.

where are the flash hard drives? (0)

spacerodent (790183) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221526)

I keep wondering why we havn't started putting out flash based hard drives, especially for laptops. Without having a platter to spin around and heads to move it's power consumtion would be much less than a standard drive and quieter. I'm not sure but I suspect heat production would be lower as well. I remember reading somewhere that these were in devolopment and due out in small numbers this year but I havn't seen anything since.

Re:where are the flash hard drives? (4, Insightful)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221678)

The cheap flash memory (like in my 1GB thumbdrive) has ~100,000 r/w cycles. If your internet cache was there, you'd hose that memory within hours.

It would make a lot of sense to have 10% of your disk solid state, only spin up the real drive as necessary. I don't think multigigabyte memory will be affordable anytime real soon.

Re:where are the flash hard drives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222101)

I don't really need 100GB in a laptop. Hmmm... Put the OS in internal flash, give me a massive amount of RAM to reduce need for swap, and I'll use USB flash drives for my data and apps. If I need big storage, that's what the network is for. It would probably be more expensive than a traditional laptop, but I'd buy one if Apple made something like this.

Things like internet cache, I guess I'd have to live without. You could implement something in RAM on a per-session basis, but it would fill up quick with the large content on modern web sites. I can deal with that as long as the network is fast. Reliability could be a big win with this setup.

Someone get working on this.

Re:where are the flash hard drives? (1)

Shanep (68243) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222722)

The cheap flash memory (like in my 1GB thumbdrive) has ~100,000 r/w cycles. If your internet cache was there, you'd hose that memory within hours.

The cheap flash memory in thumbdrives is not the only flash memory around. 100,000 cycles nowdays for flash would be considered bad. I'm seeing 1,000,000 refered to now for decent CF.

It would make a lot of sense to have 10% of your disk solid state, only spin up the real drive as necessary. I don't think multigigabyte memory will be affordable anytime real soon.

Multi-gigabyte memory is affordable NOW. CF cards can be used as IDE hard drives and 2GB units are cheap (even 4GB looks cheap to me). I've been using CF for firewalls (OpenBSD/pf) for more than a year now without any troubles. I just switch on soft updates and use noatime.

Re:where are the flash hard drives? (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 8 years ago | (#15223113)

Valid points.

I was referring to replacing an 80GB drive, which isn't currently feasable. If you used a few GB for the OS and frequently used files you could get away with running the harddrive very little, which makes sense.

10K 2.5" SAS coming to laptops? (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221543)

Sun opteron servers are shipping with Segate Savvio 2.5" 10K serial attach SCSI drives. Astonishingly expensive, and they suck about 8 watts each. Burn your thighs today . . .

http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=S eagate+ST973401SS&btnG=Google+Search [google.com]

It's not just heat that's the problem. (2, Funny)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221695)

The other issue with using ultra fast spindle speed HDs in laptops is that it makes your laptop pull to the left.

Not to mention, they ice up during rapid spin down (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221761)

The next generation of disks will be fuel-injected, and not subject to this problem.

Other poster is right, the drives are too tall to fit in a laptop.

Re:It's not just heat that's the problem. (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221909)

That's why I bought a rear-wheel drive laptop! No torque steer!

Re:It's not just heat that's the problem. (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222078)

The other issue with using ultra fast spindle speed HDs in laptops is that it makes your laptop pull to the left.

Only in the northern hemisphere.

Re:10K 2.5" SAS coming to laptops? (1)

igb (28052) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221730)

I just wandered down to the machine room to look at the SAS drives on a X4200 Opteron and a T2000 Niagara. The disks are in use, but I popped out the fillers on the spare slots and they're only 16mm deep. So how deep are the drives themselves? Standard laptop these days is 9.5mm.

ian

I want reliabity (2, Interesting)

hey (83763) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221597)

I want a raid in a harddrive form factor. So I can just plug it in like a new hardrive but if one disk fails it can still live.

Re:I want reliabity (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221692)

I have to agree. Personally I don't buy 7200 rpm drives for my desktop, I would rather have the cooler temperature, better battery life that the slower drives have. Laptops tend to run hot IME anyway, why add more heat by using 7200 rpm drives. I don't recall anybody questioning the relationship between heat and lifespan of hard disks. As for cache, I can't see any excuse other than cost. As for laptops and raid, unless 1.8" disks gain the reliablitiy of a 2.5" disk, I think we are stuck with slower drives or huge laptops.

Re:I want reliabity (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222293)

For a long time Dell made drive carriers that were the same size as their removable CD drives (back when you could swap out a CD or Floppy on your laptop) - you could put another laptop drive in the carrier and run two drives in the same laptop. I don't believe there was hardware support for RAID, but I'm sure you could do it in software.

I don't know if the current generation Dell laptops have removable bay CD drives, as it has been a while since I bought a new laptop.

Re:I want reliabity (1)

XeroDegrees (717293) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222346)

I want a raid in a harddrive form factor. So I can just plug it in like a new hardrive but if one disk fails it can still live.

How would this work? two drive motors? A better option would be removable stepper motors, If one of your motors went(platter or heads) it could be swapped out without compromising the protective atmosphere in the casing. this would drasticly reduce your spenditure on harddrives
..I wonder why the manafacturers don't do this...

Hah (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222401)

I have two hard drives in my Thinkpad. Have to go without internal CD drive, but still interesting. Particularly with external USB CD drives (even ones that draw all the power they need via USB).

Warning: hyperbole detected (2, Insightful)

thesp (307649) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221605)

Since when was 10-30% overall from worst to best performer regarded as tremendous? The impact of the disk subsystem is around 30% on daily tasks, and around 70-90% on disk-intensive tasks. So we're looking at a ' tremendous performance increase' of around 10% to 25% in the best case, only achievable by owning the worst performer, and thence upgrading to the best available technology.

Let me see if I understand your point correctly (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221660)

Boosting over all speed by up to a quarter is not a tremendous advance? Heck, I'd consider a 10% raise in my paycheck to be pretty tremendous. If my paycheck went up by a quarter, I'd blow a gasket.

I feel the same about computing. If I could boost my laptop's overall performance by 10% by making a single change, I consider that pretty impressive.

Re:Let me see if I understand your point correctly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222932)

Boosting over all speed by up to a quarter is not a tremendous advance?

No, I also feel that a 25% performance increase is not "tremendous". It's nice to have, but not something I am going to spend lots more money on.

I seem to remember back in my old overclocking days (when you might do some soldering to acheive it:), that 10% or 15% never really seemed noticable. Even if 25% was, it was hardly something I would call "tremendous".

I've had tasks in the past where I have tried a different OS and seen a 5 TIMES boost is performance (disk caching performance between OpenBSD and NetBSD for some very large files). That I would call tremendous.

Compared? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221619)

From the article photos it seems they were primarily interested in comparing their width, height and depth, as well as trying to build various models using them as freakishly expensive LEGO blocks.

What I wonder is if after the experience, at least one of them is behaving odd or making funny noises on startup.

Face it (2, Insightful)

DoctorDyna (828525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221621)

Face it, mobile technology trails regular stuff. It's just a symptom of technology.

While it is nice to have fancy shmancy specd laptops to tote around, you can only put faster (read: more power / heat) devices in a laptop to a certain extent. There is a curve that follows along with an opposite one, which refers to efficiency / portability and the other to power / speed.

The other end of this discussion that I've not seen discussed yet is being mobile also presents real dangers to physical disks. Perhaps having a slower spindle speed is slightly less risky for those individuals who insist on slinging around a computer while it's powered on.

Gyroscopic forces probably hit those drives harder too, with thinner platters. Anybody who has held a bicycle tire in their hands while sombody else spun it, then tried to tilt it one way or the other knows exactly what I'm talking about.

Can we lose the troll writeups? (3, Insightful)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 8 years ago | (#15221829)

most laptop manufacturers persist in saving a buck by outfitting their units with a low-end, low-cache, low-capacity, low-spindle-speed HDD

That's because rational consumers 'persist' in saving a buck by buying the least expensive thing they think will fill their needs.

Most people buying PCs have absolutely no idea how to compare one computer to another. Even most Jeff K's understand nothing beyond screen dimensions and clock speed (and I've worked with enough IT people toto understand that Jeff K is the rule, not the exception). Of course, even the bottom of the line $650 Dell XPS comes with a 7200 RPM 8MB Cache HD, so I'm not sure what kind of poor sucker is still getting the 4200 RPM dog described in the article.

Re:Can we lose the troll writeups? (1)

Billobob (532161) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222119)

The poor suckers who buy an IBook, that's who. I still don't see why Apple has such a tendency to skip on relatively cheap upgrades such as extra RAM and a faster HD, even on mid-range models.

Re:Can we lose the troll writeups? (1)

Karma Farmer (595141) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222941)

The poor suckers who buy an IBook, that's who. I still don't see why Apple has such a tendency to skip on relatively cheap upgrades such as extra RAM and a faster HD, even on mid-range models.

The iBook is the bottom-of-the-line model, not the mid-range model. The midrange PowerBook has a 5400 RPM drive, and the top-of-the-line MacBook has a 7200 RPM drive option.

I don't see why consumers have such a tendency to skip on relatively cheap upgrades such as extra RAM and faster HD.

Re:Can we lose the troll writeups? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222285)

Dell inspiron B's which start $150 cheaper than that come with 5400 rpm hard drives. A lot of businesses and home users buy those. I'm pretty sure dell sells significantly more of those than xps laptops.
http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/features. aspx/featured_basnb?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs [dell.com]

Re:Can we lose the troll writeups? (2, Interesting)

Browzer (17971) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222308)

That's because rational consumers 'persist' in saving a buck by buying the least expensive thing they think will fill their needs.

The rational does not persist, rather it is a new way of thinking. It probably has something to do with the guilt of having to throw away a top-of-the-line-x-years-ago-that-cost-an-arm-and-a -leg-back-then equipment which is worth nothing today (actually in some cases it costs money to get rid of the equipment). In my case, I can't throw away, but I don't use for obvious reasons, a functioning SGI workstation my company bought for $25K, 10 years ago.

swapping is the bottleneck (4, Informative)

jilles (20976) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222007)

Swapping is the bottleneck. So remove the bottleneck. No seriously. The harddisk activity you are most likely to notice is memory swapping. Swapping can be disabled. Of course you run out of memory if you do that, so add more memory. I find that with 2GB no application ever complains of having not enough memory despite there being exactly 0MB of swap space. I run some pretty memory intensive stuff too. It turns out most of this stuff is designed to run well on systems with only 512-1024 MB (particularly games rarely use more, even if it is avaialable). That extra GB is cheaper than a new harddrive and if 2 is not enough make it 3 or 4. It's not like win32 processes can address more than 2GB anyway!

At least under windows, memory swapping is implemented very stupidly. Basically the system will spend (your) time swapping even when there's plenty of memory available. I've observed it swapping applications to disk with over 75% memory available. This causes all sorts of noticable delays when you try to actually use your system (e.g. switching from application A to application B). With 2GB available, windows should run out of excuses to swap but it will still swap.

Disabling swap space effectively stops this behavior. Especially on slow harddisks this means a huge performance improvement. Depending on your software you can do with much less memory. I've disabled swap space on machines with only 512MB which you are unlikely to exceed running just office type applications. In all cases that I did this the result was an immediate, noticable performance increase.

In case you do run out of memory, you get an out of memory error. I find that closing applications usually is a good solution. Much better than windows continuously wasting my time with unnecessary UI blocking harddisk activity. Anyway, given the low cost of memory, I'm very intolerant towards having my time wasted due to the fact that there's not enough.

Re:swapping is the bottleneck (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222123)

Funny thing, I almost always end up doing this even on Linux laptops, and it seems to make the laptop a lot more stable. In this day and age of plentiful cheap RAM, OSes should default to swapping disabled and only prompt the user to enable it when the user first runs something that commits > 95% of memory. Swapping is an anachronism from the days of $100/M RAM, and most data-intensive apps do their own application-aware swapping anyway (photoshop, databases, etc.).

Don't even get me started on the supidity of OSes which prevent a single app from fully utilizing the hardware you paid for. Or ones that load-balance single processes between processors in SMP configs just to make sure cache performance sucks (another Windows innovation).

Re:swapping is the bottleneck (2, Informative)

pilkul (667659) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222144)

Yeah, I often do something similar: I fix the amount of swap space to a set amount (e.g. 1gb). It seems that Windows wastes a lot of time resizing the swap file and I've seen noticeable reduction in thrashing when you stop it from doing this. A useful alternative when you don't have the large quantities of RAM to prohibit swapping completely.

Re:swapping is the bottleneck (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222460)

Sometimes that can worsen performance as well. Windows will just swap more often if the swap size is smaller as it loves to use virtual memory and slow everything down. At least unix is smarter in that it only swaps if its needed.

The results are clear... ? (2, Insightful)

FFFish (7567) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222070)

Are they really? I'm on an iBook G4 w/768Mb of memory. I hardly ever shut the machine off; it does sleep mode perfectly, so there's never really a need to reboot. When I'm working, it's on only a few applications at a time; the second or two it requires to load a seldom-used application is so rare that I honestly can't see how a faster hard drive would provide me much benefit at all.

In all honesty, the slowest thing about my computer is me. Even if an app were to load instantaneously, my brain is still gonna spend a few seconds getting its shit together to actually use the application, let alone do anything truly useful with it.

Re: The results are clear... ? (1)

feepness (543479) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222271)

I agree. I most often use my laptop for playing DVDs (lotta help from the fixed drive there) and my wife uses it for browsing (which using firefox she can do while any remaining stuff loads). Please give me the slowest, lowest power, cheapest hard drive available.

Re: The results are clear... ? (1)

BlueYoshi (670106) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222592)

So true, I ve myself the same problem. Do you know where i can upgrade this component?

I m also looking for an extended waranty. The manufacturer (MOM Ltd.) is really cheap on this an I begin to see some degredation in performance and stability.

Glad to know that (1)

Illbay (700081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222094)

...the fastest advancing high-tech product...

One thing's for sure. It ain't Lithium-Ion battery life [wikipedia.org] .

Pokey Hard Disks (2, Interesting)

aarmenaa (712174) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222095)

Quite frankly, I feel that 30% understates how slow some laptops feel because of their slow hard drives. I don't really consider myself to be terribly impatient, but a fast hard drive is the best reason I can think of to use a desktop whenever possible. However much as these drives bother me, they do have thier merits. The 4200 RPM drives consume noticeably less power, and are much cheaper, though capacity still has more sway on the bottom line.

There's a nice middle ground for laptops, I think. When my 4200 RPM drive in my laptop died 6 months back, I replaced with a 40 GB 5400 RPM drive with a 16 MB cache. It does reduce my battery power slightly, but the faster spindle and enormous cache make it worth the loss for me. At the time, it was one of the cheapest drives listed on Newegg at $70 shipped. Considering that even the cheapest 20 GB 4200 RPM/2 MB cache drives are $60 shipped, I'd call what I got a good deal.

friSt pSot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15222167)

Plenty of ignorant comments ;-) (1)

JollyFinn (267972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15222900)

There is plenty of trade offs to be made on hard-drives.

Size, weight, power consumption, price, capacity, rotation speed, platter density, and ruggedness.

For mobile harddrives, the number of platterns is verylimited by size, and platter size itself is limited.
So they never get anywhere near the capacity of its desktop equivalent. However, less and smaller platters means also less power consumption so its still another point why its so in mobile computers.
The platter density helps capacity, and bandwith and thats what harddrive manufacturers are trying to improve.
Rotational speed costs more weight, power and in some cases hurts platter density.

The improvement of bandwith, can be done either improving density or rotation speed.
Improving seek times can be done either by using more power for faster seek head, or using smaller platters. Or better electronics.

In overall, if you would allow desktop powerconsumption size and weight for your harddrive you would get desktop capacity and performance out of your laptop harddrive. However if you sacrifice some capacity and performance you can cut down both the active and idle power consumption by order of magnitude which is more important than having desktop performance and capacities for most laptop users.
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