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Samsung's Solid-State Disk Drive Unveiled

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the fast-and-flashy dept.

Data Storage 241

Iddo Genuth writes "After unveiling their upcoming hybrid hard drive, Samsung — along with a number of other manufacturers — is planning to begin shipping solid-state drives during 2007. Unlike the upcoming hybrids, solid-state drives should work with windows XP as well as Vista." The drives will be introduced in 1.8- and 2.5-inch form factors for notebooks. While streaming performance can't equal that of hard disks, Samsung claims that random-access performance is more important and that (e.g.) Vista users would see a 4x speedup in many key operations. Pricing was not announced.

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Dedicated OS Harddrive? (2, Insightful)

SevenHands (984677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238000)

Now this is one configuration where this drive will make a large difference in bootup speeds. Office apps, audio, video and other media should be happy on the old 7200 rpm drives for a few years still.

Re:Dedicated OS Harddrive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17238256)

I think with these new drives file fragmentation will not as a big issue anymore and regular apps will benefit from that quite a bit.

As the drive uses flash memory I'm wondering how many writes will the drive last. In the article there read something about meeting market requirements and well that can mean just about anything. I think I'll wait a year or two before buying one.

Re:Dedicated OS Harddrive? - You're Right (0)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238268)

Now this is one configuration where this drive will make a large difference in bootup speeds.

Given that it should have no spin-up lag, and most people turn off their POST memory testing, I rather expect you're right.

Re:Dedicated OS Harddrive? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17238368)

No, this drive will be worse for boot up time. Boot time is a function of how fast info can be pulled off the drive, and this thing is modestly slower than hard drives. But its latency is terribly faster and will increase responsiveness whenever information scattered at different points is rapidly needed, since it takes no time to move a physicial arm between memory locations.

Re:Dedicated OS Harddrive? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17238868)

OS bootup time depends largely on the time required to find and load all the dynamically linked libraries and the various tools, programs and daemons that are scattered around the hard disk, so access time is a very important factor.

Re:Dedicated OS Harddrive? (2, Insightful)

epiphani (254981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238802)

Bzzt, wrong. I don't know how many applications you're loading up, but 32 Gigs is plenty for my entire windows C: drive. I'll keep all my applications and operating system on fast, quiet SSD, and I'll happily store my 400 gigs of music and video on magnetic drives.

Hate to break it to ya (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239276)

I've broken 32 gigs of applications ... over a year ago. I have a 100 gig windows/application partition. It is over half full. I don't believe I am the only one.

Re:Dedicated OS Harddrive? (2, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239232)

With hibernation I don't really have a problem with boot up speeds anymore.

Re:Dedicated OS Harddrive? (1, Troll)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239328)

Heck, even without hibernation, does anyone care about boot speed anymore? I mean it's like 11 seconds once a day if you shut off your computer at night.

Re:Dedicated OS Harddrive? (2, Insightful)

Poltras (680608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239580)

11 seconds to boot up? In what world do you live? My mac takes around 30 seconds before being functionnal and my windows 1m30 at least... Linux is around that figures too. No, I won't use VxWorks or QNX as a desktop. Good for you if you do, but I'd like to know how you achieve such performance with conventional desktop OS.

Not on XP? (5, Interesting)

bkg_cjb (952573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238022)

Could someone tell me why one type of drive wouldn't work with a specific version of Windows? Shouldn't they be able to write drivers for that?

Re:Not on XP? (4, Funny)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238184)

Could someone tell me why one type of drive wouldn't work with a specific version of Windows? Shouldn't they be able to write drivers for that?

Ah, you must be new here. It's not that it wouldn't work, it just doesn't, you dig? No? Well, here's a Vista t-shirt.

Re:Not on XP? (1, Informative)

MankyD (567984) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238190)

Could someone tell me why one type of drive wouldn't work with a specific version of Windows? Shouldn't they be able to write drivers for that?
I am guessing that a better description of the problem would be "not optimized for Windows". A hybrid drive is best used when small, in-demand data chunks are put on the flash components and large or infrequently accessed files are left on the platters. Perhaps there is no reasonable method to decide what files should go where?

Re:Not on XP? (4, Informative)

IntergalacticWalrus (720648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238252)

Could someone tell me why one type of drive wouldn't work with a specific version of Windows? Shouldn't they be able to write drivers for that?

Obviously because Microsoft paid them a certain amount of money to make it an extra reason to force people to upgrade.

Re:Not on XP? (1)

abandonment (739466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239564)

Not only as a reason to force people to upgrade, but as a reason to ensure that people move to Vista and STAY on Vista.

Not that I imagine it will take long for Linux et al to come up with drivers and a better implementation than Vista does for this hardware (if it isn't already supported).

Re:Not on XP? (5, Informative)

alexhs (877055) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238362)

Solid-state drives are flash drives with a PATA/SATA connector, and will work like a regular hard disk, as far as the motherboard and the OS are concerned. Therefore working whatever OS you're using.

Hybrid drives, OTOH, are relying on two different technologies, and it seems the choice of using disk or flash is up to the OS. It means that if your OS isn't Hybrid-drive aware, you probably will end up with using the disk and losing its flash ability. Vista OTOH will be able to put some files on the flash part.

Re:Not on XP? (5, Funny)

AnonymousHero (129337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239052)

You seem to have three hands.

"Gripping Hand" (2, Funny)

MondoMor (262881) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239254)

He's probably just a Niven/Pournelle fan.

Re:Not on XP? (0, Redundant)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239352)

I'm glad somebody got what you were saying and you got moderated accordingly, some mods do pay attention.

Re:Not on XP? (2, Informative)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239376)

Vista has features at the OS level to take advantage of hybrid drives.

While a hybrid could function in XP with a driver, you can't get the magic (extra fast app and os load) without vista.

inflection point is coming (1)

MagicMerlin (576324) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238042)

the days of the spinning platter hard drive are almost over. while it will take a long time for the SSD to completely displace all uses of traditional hard drives (especially in industrial storage -- where hard drives are now displacing tape), be prepared for an avelanche of new products in the 1-2 year time frame.

merlin

Re:inflection point is coming (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17238064)

What the...WE HAVE SHARP METAL DISCS SPINNING @ 7200prm ON OUR LAPS?!

HEAVENS TO BETSEY!

Re:inflection point is coming (1)

exspecto (513607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238406)

i just envisioned the blender scene in "Run, Ronnie Run"

Re:inflection point is coming (2, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238426)

I wouldnt bet on that. The gap between what can be stored on a given area of magnetic/optical disks compared to some type of solid state memory is actually getting larger , not smaller.

Re:inflection point is coming (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239272)

LOL, it sure takes a magic Merlin to come up with such a prediction! :-)

not yet (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239534)

The transfer rate of most flash memory is still slower than hard drives. The advantage for now is no seek latency. However, transfer rates are improving pretty fast, so we'll see in that 1-2 year time frame.

Re:inflection point is coming (2, Interesting)

TheJorge (713680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239570)


While I wouldn't doubt we see more devices in the upcoming years, hard disks definitely have a place, at least on home computers. I imagine it's rare that anyone with a full 100GB+ HDD has only programs and application data. Giant media files are commonplace, and reading/writing large files is the primary drawback of SSD, and something platter hard drives do very well and very cheaply.

I think what we'll probably see is computers starting to come standard with an "applications" ssd and a "media" hdd.

SuperFetch (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238066)

According to Microsoft, "SuperFetch understands which applications you use most, and preloads these applications into memory, so your system is more responsive".

Seems nice in theory, but the first thing I do to any XP machine that someone tells me is running very slow is to kill those quick start apps in the bottom right corner. Their use of processor and/or memory definitely slows the machine down overall. I'd much rather wait an extra second for an app to load so the system runs faster overall.

So they better have improved their techniques with this SuperFetch. If it causes many more context switches or reduces memory available to apps people are actually running then it'll be a hinderance. At the very least it should be automatically turned off for systems with less than an ideal amount of memory.

Re:SuperFetch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17238372)

It looks like you will be trying to use Microsoft Office at some point.
Do you wish me to not stop to don't avoiding SuperFetch this application?


Re:SuperFetch (3, Interesting)

mystik (38627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238636)

If it's done right, then it'll be handy. IIRC, linux uses free pages of memory for disk cache, and if an application needs more pages, it just invalidates the disk cache pages, and allocates them to the app.

If Windows caches applications into free memory pages during disk idle times, it'd probably make a huge difference, so long as it doesn't take memory away from the currently actively running applications.

Re:SuperFetch (3, Interesting)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238648)

I saw this "SuperFetch" idea and it is a total rip off of NeXT's "prebinding" system. Often, when you install something on Mac OS X (since version 10.0), there is a little status message in the installer that says "Optimizing System Performance...". This command calls a program that sits in "/usr/bin" that loads memory addresses of each program in a cache for faster launch times. After prebinding, applications load faster at startup.


There is also a daemon on Mac OS X that dynamically prebinds applications that have not been prebound. One condition of prebinding is that all the Libraries must be dynamically linked and prebound themselves. If one dependant library is not prebound, then the whole thing gets marked as something "not to prebind."

To see the actual programs on Mac OS X, do a
ls /usr/bin | grep prebinding

Re:SuperFetch (1)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238946)

According to Microsoft, "SuperFetch understands which applications you use most, and preloads these applications into memory, so your system is more responsive".
It's Microsoft, remember? They'll use superfetch to optimise Office and IE7 and a few OS functions.

Then they'll start making a big deal about Firefox and OOo being slower.

Re:SuperFetch (3, Insightful)

badonkey (968937) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239084)

So they better have improved their techniques with this SuperFetch.

You don't really seem to know what you're talking about (although I suppose that doesn't prohibit anyone from being "5, insightful" on /.). They can't "improve their techniques," because there was no version of this feature in XP.

Those "quick start apps" you mention have nothing to do with XP, and everything to do with application writers who think you want their garbage running all the time. Those aren't just "pre-loaded" into memory, they're scheduled processes that are wasting your time and resources. SuperFetch is completely different.

SuperFetch just uses heuristics to manage memory in an effort to keep items you'll want from being paged out, and if memory is available it will load something it predicts (based on your usage) you'll want. It won't schedule anything new.

Obviously, a poor implementation would slow your system down. That's the case with any memory management techniques, and isn't worth noting. Unless you're on Slashdot, and it applies to Microsoft and not Apple or Google.

---------
If it has more features than an Apple product, it's like totally bloated.

SuperFetch, or a 5 line shell script (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239320)

Amazing that this kind of stuff gets touted as innovative new features. I have in the past put together a shell script of a few lines which pre-loads commonly open files at boot time. It's trivial and shows just how inflexible Windows really is.

 

Re:SuperFetch (1)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239378)

What I want is a system where I can designate what gets accelerated. 90% of what I use commonly is small programs that only take a second or two to load up anyways. It is the big stuff that I may not use every day that I want to be able to designate.

That's why I am more interested in the solid state and RAM drives that I have been seeing than in the hybrids. Those let me install what I want to them. Everything else can go on a traditional drive.

this is bs vaporware (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17238104)

you cant fit an entire solid state in a laptop.
you have to liquify the state before it can compress to an appropriate size.
liquid state = taxachusetts [64.233.161.104] .
2 petabytes of pure liberal slime

Maximum lifetime of flash... (2, Interesting)

rmdyer (267137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238124)

Doesn't flash memory have a maximum lifetime (R/W cycles)? If so, are these new drives designed to "degrade" gracefully so that as the flash "rots", more and more data is stored to the drive instead of the memory? If so, this would mean that the drives would "slow down" over time right?

Re:Maximum lifetime of flash... (4, Informative)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238284)

Hard disks also have maximum lifetimes. Both HDDs and flash drives reallocate damaged blocks to compensate for the problem. The question is how the two compare in practical use.

Re:Maximum lifetime of flash... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17238296)

If I remember correctly, I believe that these drives are already designed to spread out data evenly so as to minimize the number of writes to any one sector. Since seek time is not an issue, you're not going to get a performance boost by putting data at the "front" of the drive like you do with traditional hard drives, so it's much more feasible to apply this "load balancing" approach.

Re:Maximum lifetime of flash... (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238568)

TFA states that current flash technology has a lifespan of about 10 years. Unlike hard drives, when flash fails you can still read from it, just not write to it. This means that, when your drive wears out, you just dump the contents to the new one, which is much larger anyway. You don't lose data.

Off topic, when did 32MB/s write speeds become slow? My new laptop gets about 30MB/s sustained (linear) write speeds, and I thought that was pretty impressive.

Re:Maximum lifetime of flash... (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239442)

High end drives for non-laptops are up around 70 MB/sec now.

30MB/sec is actually extremely good on a laptop drive. I bought the fastest 7200 rpm laptop drive available a year ago, and it can only sustain 19MB/sec.

Re:Maximum lifetime of flash... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17238954)

Wear-levelling question to knowledgeable folks:

How does a SSD with no knowledge of OS or filesystem (as it should be, IMO) do wear levelling properly? Is there like an extra percentage of flash blocks beyond the reported maximum disk size which the flash driver uses to remap blocks? This would allow a single "disk" block to be rewritten (extrablocks * maxrewrites/block) times using a trivial remapper. If you were continually rewriting 1000 blocks, then you'd get max (extrablocks/1000 * maxrewrites/block) writes.

Is this along the lines of how it works, or is it a lot sexier?

Re:Maximum lifetime of flash... (1)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239148)

Yes, but due to the number of $$$ gointo into the flash memory bussines, it'll improve soon, just like the hard disks did.

Re:Maximum lifetime of flash... (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239380)

Since Samsung had a working prototype of it already, maybe they are using a chalcogenide-based phase-change ram, but are calling if flash because that is what the average person understand. Chalcogenide RAM doesn't suffer the degrading effects of Flash, with its number-of-write-times being equivalent to that of magnetic disk media.

Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (0)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238130)

Flash is too restrictive in how many times it can be rewritten to be a viable replacement for a hard disk drive.

Nice try though...

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (4, Informative)

ironwill96 (736883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238516)

And if anyone had actually read the article, they would see that according to Samsung, the Flash technology in use in the drives has a lifetime of TEN years (your IDE / SATA HD likely wont last that long btw). They also note how much the R/W cycle issue has improved in the last few years.

Oh wait, this is /., we don't read the articles we just write silly comments first!

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238594)

your IDE / SATA HD likely wont last that long btw

I've never had a drive not last at least 10 years. Are drives today made of lower quality?

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238686)

Strange... the /. story doesn't say anything about it being flash ram. Not sure how you came to the conclusion that I didn't read the article.

Anyways, I know that R/W cycles have improved, but they still aren't at the point of lasting as long as hard drives, especially when portions of them are used for swap space, temporary files, and other virtual memory.

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238524)

Flash is too restrictive in how many times it can be rewritten to be a viable replacement for a hard disk drive.
Nice try though...


I know far too little about flash to comment on whether or not it is adequate to replace a hard-drive, but I do wonder on a modern PC how many times does a hard-drive really need to be rewritten to?

Back in the olden days of computers (as in not that long ago) few people had enough RAM to keep an entire program in memory so the OS was constantly swapping data between Memory and the hard-drive. Being that we can now put 2 or 4 GB of memory in a PC (and in the near future 8-16GB of memory) how much swapping really needs to be done? If you use the sectors of flash reasonably evenly, how long would a flash hard-drive last? 2/5/10 years? How long is it reasonable to expect a hard-drive to last?

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239236)

A hard drive can last well over 10 years... the only reason it typically gets replaced long before then is because of space issues, not unreliability issues.

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238744)

Flash is too restrictive in how many times it can be rewritten to be a viable replacement for a hard disk drive. Nice try though.

Well, there's a nice unqualified anecdotal opinion, it must be proof. On youe average corporate desktop with word and excel and powerpoint and outlook and whatnot the laptop will die long before the HDD. Your average coder's debug files don't make a dent, not even the salesmen's multi-MB powerpoint presentations. Maybe, if the desktop was used for the typical P2P "download, watch, burn/delete" that'd keep writing huge multimedia files to the disk all the time, then maybe. Or if you construct some very extreme conditions like a 98% full disk with heavy swap, in which case I wouldn't trust a HDD's sectors too much either. As long as they're consistent with a predictable lifetime, I see no showstopper here.

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239134)

As far as I was aware, the most advanced flash memory cells today become ureliable after approximately a million rewrites. This is about on par with high quality floppy media.

Hard drives last many many times longer than that.

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239490)

But if both will last, statistically, through 5 years of continuous use, do you care that much that the hard drive will last to 25? Most people don't.

And the flash will fail non-catstrophically, unlike the likely outcome for your hard drive should it fail.

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (5, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238818)

I've always wondered about this. Most modern flash seems to get 100k writes (many more reads). Fast flash is on the order of 13MB/s write.

With load balancing, you wouldn't notice a failure until all the locations were rewritten just shy of 100,000 times. So the drive will "fail" in once you've written 40GB of data 99,999 times, or almost 4PB of write ops. At 13MB/s, that's just under 10 years of 100% duty cycle writes. If you presume you'll read that data once at 20MB/s, and you allow only an 82% duty cycle overall (to make the math easy), then your drive should last 20 years.

I don't know about you, but I don't have any 20 year old computers or drives. The computer I had 20 years ago (PS/2 model 30, iirc) used 720k floppies, and a 20MB hard drive was a $400 option. Wait, check that. I do have a copy of Windows 1.04 on floppy disk here. It fits on three 720k floppies.

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238932)

Whoops - I editied the post without re-reading it before I hit submit. I was assuming a 40GB drive. I also just read the second article and my numbers are off for their drives: let me update...

32GB, 32MB/s write speed, 57MB read speed. Assumed 100k cycles. 3.2PB at 32MB/s...8 years of service. I still don't have any 8 year old drives in my box-o-stuff, though.

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17239330)

FYI: It's actually been 1,000,000 writes for a while now.

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (2, Interesting)

thebdj (768618) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239028)

Let's look at the application, notebooks. There are quite a few pros for solid-state drives here: 1) HDDs are loud, 2) HDDs are hot (especially as you increase RPM), 3) HDDs are sensitive to motion, 4) HDDs require more power, 5) HDDs are marginally heavier (I mean the things are pretty small already). So the advantages here are pretty obvious, quieter, cooler, longer battery life, and marginally lighter notebooks.

Now, it is only fair we look at the downside, which is this overplayed write issue. Let us assume 10,000,000 writes (this is very generous, so I include 1,000,000 as well), since they will surely be using the best they can get, and this is pretty close to the high end that you will hear people discuss. You rarely re-write a vast majority of the software on your PC. Many programs are installed and never updated, and those that are updated are not done that often. If we assume, for the sake of sanity and argument, that the Windows system folder will only be written during Windows updates and that there would be one update per day that would be equal to something in the range of 27,000 days before you reached 10 million writes (only 2,700 if we say 1,000,000 writes). Most of your media files will be re-written even less.

So let us look at two things that can be written fairly often. First, you have a page file. The solution, load up your system with 1 to 2 GB of RAM and set the Windows page memory settings to the minimum. Of course, if Windows behaved properly, it wouldn't even write to the page file until AFTER the RAM was full (or damn near full). Second, user documents. Let's us assume your program performs auto-saves of your documents on a 5 minute cycle. So, the file is written one time every five minutes, 12 times an hour, 288 times a day (if you type for 24 hours of course), 105120 times a year (wow, I recommend some sleep and bathroom breaks), which ultimately results in 95 years (wow, congratulations on long life) of the file. Granted if we go with one million that is 9.5 years of continuous typing, but then you probably don't have much of a life if you are doing that.

This re-write claim is the most over-stated problem. Most places tell you the average life of today's HDD (for home use) is between 3 to 5 years, of course that is why they also tend to only warranty you for that long. Also, using my numbers, how many 9.5 year old drives are you using at home? Seriously, this problem is not that big of a deal; if it was going to be a huge problem, I am sure they would have though about that. (Note: This doesn't even get into the technology they use to spread the writes out to avoid wear.)

Re:Bzzzt!!!! It uses flash ram. (1, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239202)

The problem isn't so much system folders as much as it is swap space, virtual memory, and temporary files.
if Windows behaved properly, it wouldn't even write to the page file until AFTER the RAM was full

*IF* Windows behaved properly.

It doesn't. It won't. No amount of wishing will make it so.

Reminds me of when... (3, Informative)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238136)

Reminds me of when a company in the 70's built a solid-state swapping "drum" memory system for IBM S/370 mainframes. Of course, that one wouldn't fit in a 2.5" form factor.

Re:Reminds me of when... (1)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239560)

I remember it being in the 1980's, and there were two primary vendors: Memorex and a little startup called Intel.

The solid state paging devices were great; the only problem was that they needed a driver written by (if I remember correctly) Cambridge University. The driver writers ran 6 months to a year behind operating system releases, so our operating system upgrades (VM/CMS) were held back. The vendors didn't care; they were the only game in town.

Fortunately, IBM released their 3380 drives around that time. By spreading the paging area across multiple spindles/controllers/channels in small seek areas allowing low contention parallel paging I/O, we were able to exceed the performance of the solid state devices.

I had the great please of telling Intel and Memorex that we were not renewing our contract. Suddenly, they were bending over backward. They continued to ship the driver to us, only a month or two after OS releases, to show they could maintain the schedule. Apparently, we weren't the only ones to cancel our contracts.

It's funny to see how history repeats itself from time to time in the IT industry.

Solid State = Sexy (4, Interesting)

Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238146)

The greatest immediate benefit from the transition to solid state storage will, of course, be reduced power consumption.

Coupled will fuel cell technology, mobile computing is finally going to live up to its potential.

And I love this William Gibson quote from 1991:

It wasn't until I could finally afford a computer of my own that I found out there's a drive mechanism inside- this little thing that spins around. I'd been expecting an exotic crystalline thing, a cyberspace deck or something, and what I got was a little piece of a Victorian engine that made noises like a scratchy old record player. That noise took away some of the mystique for me; it made computers less sexy. My ignorance had allowed me to romanticize them.

Re:Solid State = Sexy (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238484)

For someone who's supposedly an influential Sci-fi author you'd have expected the guy to have a vague clue about how the technology of the day worked. I'm not sure I believe him to be honest.

Re:Solid State = Sexy (2, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238804)

Why would you expect that? Gibson has always been very up front about the fact that he's not a technophile.

Re:Solid State = Sexy (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239180)

Because he seems pretty darn techno savvy in his books. I can't believe he makes it all up and it just happens to be derived from technology that already exists by pure coincidence. I'm sure he's a lot more clued up than he lets on.

Re:Solid State = Sexy (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239248)

Yeah, I'm sure he's dishonest because he doesn't hew to your preconceptions. That must be it.

Re:Solid State = Sexy (1)

x3nos (773066) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239326)

For someone who's supposedly an intelligent /. commenter you'd have expected the guy to have a vague clue about a prolific sci-fi author. I'm not sure I believe him to be honest. By the way, last I remember Gibson still composes most of his work on a mechanical typewriter (I know at least Neuromancer was written in this way).

Battery life = not sexy (time) (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238760)

I weakest link will become the battery. Even after switching to OLED for displays and to solid state drives, the CPUs and the video cards will drain more and more power because they'll have to run behemoths like Vista on the machine. So unless there is a dramatic improvement in the basic processor design or battery technology (fuel cells?) mobile computing won't quite live up to it potential yet.

Re:Battery life = not sexy (time) (1)

Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238960)

they'll have to run behemoths like Vista on the machine
That would be a good point were it not for the fact that in addition to the advances being made in storage, display, power, and all related technologies, there is a parallel evolution going on in the realm of software platforms. Microsoft may have a huge chunk of the market right now, but as even they realize, the OS as such is becoming increasingly relevant as the Internet becomes a full-fledged platform in its own right.

Re:Battery life = not sexy (time) (1)

Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239026)

becoming increasingly relevant
err...that should be "increasingly irrelevant. Guess I was channeling Steve Ballmer there for a minute :)

Re:Solid State = Sexy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17239438)

Of course, to a Victorian a modern hard disk would be a miracle of engineering: in a tiny package you have a precision-engineered disk spinning at some 10000 RPM, with a read/write head moving at micrometer precision in milliseconds around the disk surface, reading and writing microscopic fluctuations in magnetic fields on the disk surface. And when you hit or drop the thing with any reasonable force, the machine reacts to protect itself faster than the shock wave can make any damage. Not to say that I don't find solid-state devices even more amazing, like Gibson. But when you stop to think about it, we are surrounded by science fiction machinery here in the 21st century.

"Pricing was not announced" (2, Informative)

magarity (164372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238178)

...because they don't want you to get a bad case of sticker shock. If texas memory systems (http://www.texmemsys.com/) is any guide, these things won't be comparable to platter drives in cost per GB per performance. Maybe they've figured out a way to manufacture the things not too expensively per GB but the performance will be wretched. And even though most apps will not care unless you have a stopwatch people will look at the raw numbers and shy away. Just see all the trouble AMD had with the Pentium 4 vs Athlon XP CPU GHz wars.

Re:"Pricing was not announced" (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239256)

Well, I checked price now for a 16GB USB stick, 150 NOK/GB and it's almost constant from 2-16GB. HDDs is around 2.3 NOK/GB at the sweet spot. That's a guesstimated 65x price difference. I doubt they're that far ahead of the curve or they'd make a killing in the stick/memory card business. Also note that most of the advantages are only for laptops "on the go" like power reduction and shock/vibration resistance. Cool? Yes. But definately a high show-off factor, doubt it means much for real work.

Oh good! (3, Funny)

theGil (1010409) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238202)

Vista users would see a 4x speedup in many key operations.

So now this might get Vista running half as fast as every other operating system, right?

Re:Oh good! (1)

Utopia (149375) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238434)

No, Its means that Vista users with this drive can take advantage of Readyoost [wikipedia.org] giving them faster performance versus those who don't have the drive.

Re:Oh good! (1)

theGil (1010409) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238644)

I know, I know...but did you have to go and throw a serious twist on my sarcastic comment!? :-)

MythTV, PVR, DVR, I want I want I want (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238208)

This would be cool for your PVR solution. Faster, more quiet, uses less power, therefor cooler component, less fan noise, I hope. Now, can I strap one to my old Jornada 525?

Re:MythTV, PVR, DVR, I want I want I want (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238490)

No, I don't think you want. For streaming reading from a disk is faster. If your video is stored continuously on disk then a spinning platter can transmit the data faster. Flash can be faster for random reads.

Re:MythTV, PVR, DVR, I want I want I want (1)

Foodie (980694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238504)

Only problem is that it won't do well for streaming. Well, that would be the biggest problem.

Cheap Spinning Media has come a long way too (3, Informative)

humphrm (18130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238236)

I did an eval of SSD back, oh five years ago for my employer. These were SSD's attached via SCSI to Sun boxes running Solaris and Sybase. Based on the results I saw then, I have two problems with this:

>Vista users would see a 4x speedup in many key operations.
Back in the day, we were seeing 10-20X improvements over spinning media in Random Access. 4x is almost not worth it, depending on price - give spinning media another year or two and they'll match that gain.

>Pricing was not announced.
Of course not, because it's going to be outrageously expensive!

Better performance for email servers (1)

tcopeland (32225) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238342)

I've got a fairly busy email server [blogs.com] and this sounds like a great thing for the queue files... lots of little files, lots of random access.

Of course, the other posts about flash memory degrading after n writes would be something to watch, too.

Re:Better performance for email servers (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238522)

Just add more ram to your email server, and the size of the disk cache should increase automatically :P

obvious problem (1)

wes33 (698200) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238444)

My notebook only has room for *one* drive onboard. I'm not going to replace a 80gb hardrive for a 4gb ssd (which currently cost $465 (see http://www.dvnation.com/nand-flash-ssd.html/ [dvnation.com] ). So the hybrid is the way to go ... but what I'd like to see is a hybrid that just shows up as two drives under non-vista operating systems. Then the boot stuff could go on the small flash drive and everything else on the old fashioned (big) hard drive.

Re:obvious problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17239386)

I guess this (or something very similar) is what Vista will be doing with hybrid drives, only it will do it transparently. Put some not-too-large not-oftenly-changed files in the flash section of the hybrid and voilà! you get a noticeable boost when they are requested.

Re:obvious problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17239496)

Sounds pretty much like an idea I've been working on in my free time. There is enough room in the hard drive compartment of my laptop (old, modified Tecra 8000) to fit something a bit thicker than the regular 2.5", 12.5mm thick drive (probably around 17mm). Now that I've upgraded to a 20Gb, 9mm thick drive, there -might- just be enough space to fit a slim (and probably custom-designed) IDE-CompactFlash adapter. Of course I still have no idea if the laptop itself will tolerate the presence of a slave drive on the primary IDE interface, where there should usually be only one.

FirsT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17238476)

FrreBSD went out leavi8g the play and piss cocktail. there are

Wouldn't a better focus be (1)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238480)

Wouldn't a better focus be on battery backed up RAM drives instead? Like those PCI DDR ram drives that cost a bundle. It would be nice to get a blazing fast PC3200 1GB RAM-Drive for $100.. which would be multiple times faster than these drives.

Re:Wouldn't a better focus be (no) (1)

tradeoph (691427) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239064)

If you are going to use 1GB of RAM, it would be much more efficient to add this GB to your main memory and increase the size of your filesystem cache (if your OS doen't do it automatically). Ok, you wouldn't gain in boot time, but after that the OS makes sure your additionnal GB is used in the most efficient way.

It's almost the same thing as when pagefiles were introduced in Windows. People suggested using a RAMdisk to hold the pagefile, so that swapping would be much faster........

Re:Wouldn't a better focus be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17239136)

Ugh, please don't use the expression "blazing fast." It's been co-opted as a marketroid term, and is irredeemable. When I was in Electronics Sales, I quickly learned that any product labeled "blazing fast" was the slowest product in the line-up.

"Buy this blazing fast Intel Celeron computer with 128 MB of RAM, running Windows XP."

Yes, we actually had to try to sell boxen resembling the above.

I'm still shuddering.

Re:Wouldn't a better focus be (1)

romrunning (963198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239520)

I agree that a RAM-based drive would be a great aid. Back in the day, I remember creating a RAM drive, copying some game/program to it, and working off it instead of my 1.44MB floppy. I would love to see the creation of a drive that can accept ECC-capable memory (perhaps 8 slots that can handle up to a 4GB stick each), utilizes the SATA-2 (3.0Gb/s) interface, and has a series of rechargeable batteries as a backup when power is completely out. The amount of memory will be whatever you can afford as long as they are all matched pairs. You could easily run XP/Vista/whatever since it would be seen as just another hard drive, and you could have a separate normal drive for mass storage. Then you could almost have an "instant-on" experience.

Kudos to Samsung! (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238526)

Samsung in my "small world", has risen from a relatively unknown entity in the electronics world, to a world leader ahead of names like Sony, JVC and Toshiba.

I understand they (Samsung) are the largest manufacturers of television sets of any kind now. And their stuff is of quality. Kudos to them.

Re:Kudos to Samsung! (0, Offtopic)

Inda (580031) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238598)

The best mobile phone I ever owned was a Samsung. I look forward to buying from them again.

What about security? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238554)

It would seem to me that these drives if they were used might be present an issue with data security. Are there any plans to protect the solid state components from being read by unauthorized access? Hopefully the design is such that all data is protected but being new, I couldn't get enough details to make a determination.

Perfect for pagefiles? (1)

BobSixtyFour (967533) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238604)

This might be perfect for page files if you have low amounts of ram and want to reduce the "Hard disk thrashing" that windows goes through when paging.

not likely (1)

kelleher (29528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239224)

If you can't afford RAM you shouldn't even be dreaming about SSDs.

Still not the complete solution. (2, Interesting)

Bright Apollo (988736) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238642)

This is one of those interim solutions for early adopters who have more disposable income than capacity for delayed gratification.

Here's an "Ask Slashdot" moment though: why do the heads need to move at all? Why isn't WD or Samsung or Hitachi building a long, length-of-radius head over each platter? Then the only motor needed is for the platter, and the head is merely a fixed unit? This would probably reduce most HDD crashes too, since the arm would no longer traverse the drive plane.

I dunno, there's better ways to describe what I mean but I know there's something good in the creamy center of that idea.

-BA

Applications (1)

deuterium (96874) | more than 7 years ago | (#17238842)

This would make an ideal drive for streaming media servers and small databases, which is exactly what I currently need. Streaming media requires a lot of sustained reads from different locations, which taxes the ability of a drive head to cover. With 1ms access time, a single drive could replace a RAID configuration, saving power and space in our 1U boxes. Woot!

Useful for what applications? (1)

hrieke (126185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239006)

Since flash does have a limited number of writes, using one of these in a PC for daily use would be limited at best, so I'm wondering what types of applications would this media be ideal for?

The only answer that I could think of is anything that is 'write once, read many times'.
Movies - build a huge RAID array of flash drives an let them go to town on the lastest blockbuster.
TV - PPV system / VOD. New shows come on their own stack, plug them into the PPV system and be done with it.
Databases - certain tables that hold nonchanging data / lookup values.

That's about it. Anyone else?

No assurance from the photo presentation (1)

rjdegraaf (712353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17239588)

If you look carefully at the photo of the HDD drive on top of a laptop [tfot.info] in the article , you can read the popup on the screen saying '... to fix this problem'.
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