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Solid State Drives - Fast, Rugged, and Expensive

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the pick-one-quality-speed-or-price dept.

Data Storage 215

Nick Breen writes "Are solid state drives becoming a reality? Loyd Case over at ExtremeTech has written an article concerning the current state of SSD with a comparison between a Samsung 64GB SATA and a Super Talent 32GB SATA. While they showed impressive speed rates when placed against a hard disk drive, the occasional sporadic statistic (and high cost) indicate they're not quite ready for the mainstream. Dell and Alienware have been shipping laptops with SSDs for months now, and Apple may be rolling out one of their own next year. Is the time of the solid-state drive almost at hand? Does anyone have any first-hand, practical experience with SSD?"

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215 comments

Huh? (5, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356281)

What exactly is a "sporadic statistic"?

Re:Huh? (5, Informative)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356343)

> What exactly is a "sporadic statistic"?

A statistic that is neither a lie nor a damn lie.

They appear very sporadically. (For values of "sporadically" approaching epsilon, at least 19 times out of 20)

Re:Huh? (4, Funny)

Aehgts (972561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356535)

A statistic that is neither a lie nor a damn lie.
Ah, so like a drop-bear [slashdot.org]. Scary, but thankfully nonexistant.

Re:Huh? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357409)

Ah, so like a drop-bear. Scary, but thankfully nonexistant.

It only seems that way because you mistyped the link. Try this one [wikipedia.org].

Mods, Bad Mods, and Current Moderators (-1, Offtopic)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356733)

I'm going to change my sig to refer to this post. Nothing against you: your post is quite funny. But the two people who modded you up labeled your post "insightful" and "informative" rather than "funny". Possibly they don't get the joke (wouldn't surprise me) but more likely they felt the need to reward you with karma points, which you don't get with "funny". That's doubly stupid: not only does it misuse moderator points, but you obviously don't need the karma anyway.

Re:Mods, Bad Mods, and Current Moderators (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356895)

The trouble occurs when people decide he's not funny, and mod him down overrated; the overrated mods drop his karma, while the funny mods do nothing to help it.

Re:Huh? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356795)

I think it's a euphemism for "I don't know what I'm talking about." :)

the executor (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356303)

Does anyone have any first-hand, practical experience with SSD?

I know Darth Vader had his own SSD, but that's probably not what you're talking about.

Re:the executor (4, Funny)

Tavor (845700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356335)

Yeah, but the seek time on the Executor is horrible! Ever try to find one worker on the port side, when you are on the bridge? Not to mention the random A-Wing events causing the whole drive to crash!

Re:the executor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356693)

I know Darth Vader had his own SSD

So that's where the missing e-mails are stored.

you left impractical off the list (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356309)

they seriously are not that much tougher then a laptop hd.

Re:you left impractical off the list (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356355)

Is that because SSDs are not actually all that durable, or that laptop HDs are?

Re:you left impractical off the list (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356413)

A little of both.

SSD's have a short life span due to cell memory, and they aren't immune to shocks damaging them. laptop hd's will take all kinds of poundings, only a direct solid hit during a r/w would possibly damage them

Re:you left impractical off the list (2, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356595)

SSD's have a short life span due to cell memory
The larger the drive, the more spread out the wear, the longer it will ast. By my calculations [slashdot.org], a 1 GiB NAND Flash as a TiVo's video drive rerecording the same data every 30 minutes would last 570 years.

If I've made a mistake in those calculations, I'd appreciate a correction before I feel compelled to cite them again.

Re:you left impractical off the list (3, Informative)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357271)

your assumptions are all flawed because you assume the best case scenario for everything.

I on the other hand am basing my assumptions on real world experiences working with industrial equipment that uses CF cards for hard drives in mobile fleet equipment.

in the real world i've seen a 10% failure rate on CF cards (which are tougher then SSD's i might add) over 12 months WITHOUT any write action at all.

Re:you left impractical off the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357663)

Why are CF cards tougher than SSDs?

Re:you left impractical off the list (3, Informative)

Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357355)

If I've made a mistake in those calculations, I'd appreciate a correction before I feel compelled to cite them again.

Assuming NAND figures of 1,000,000 rewrites before a failure:

1,000,000 writes/bitfailure / 139.8 writes/year = 7153 years/bitfailure

I haven't confirmed the rest of your math but you appear to be off by an order of magnitude for the number of erase/write cycles without an error.

This quote is from a recent Intel 2Gb NAND chip; [intel.com]

First block (block address 00h): -- Guaranteed to be valid up to 1,000 PROGRAM/ERASE cycles
(you can view the first block as the boot block, that is - very important) And;

On-chip control logic automates PROGRAM and ERASE operations to maximize cycle endurance. ERASE/ PROGRAM endurance is specified at 100,000 cycles when using appropriate error correcting code (ECC) and error management.
I interpret this to mean 100,000 cycles without an uncorrectable error but you can expect to see random bit errors after only 1,000 cycles. You will need the overhead of error detection and correction as well as mapping the bad section of memory to another area (your read times will be slower than the theoretical max). You will find the 1,000/100,000 numbers pretty much standard among NAND manufactures.

That said, I agree that NAND is reliable and is most certainly _the_ replacement for mechanical hard drives.

Re:you left impractical off the list (2, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356737)

and they aren't immune to shocks damaging them.

Yes they are, for all intents and purposes. If you don't believe me see this story [digitaljournalist.org] about a CF card that survived the collapse of the WTC.

Re:you left impractical off the list (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357225)

thats nice but we aren't talking about a CF card we are talking about a SSD, which has more electronics in it which can flex and malfunction

Re:you left impractical off the list (2, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357633)

Samsung's datasheet says their drive is rated to 1,000g, that's 10x better than even the best shock isolated laptop drives with physical spindles and enough shock that you'd probably break the motherboard, lcd, etc long before you damaged the drive.

Re:you left impractical off the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356417)

And you base this on what? I recall having seen tests on solid state drives (albeit with different interface but that is not terribly relevant) dropped from great height, nailed to a tree, set on fire etc. with remarkable resilience.

Re:you left impractical off the list (4, Interesting)

PoliTech (998983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357111)

"they seriously are not that much tougher then a laptop hd."

I would like to see a citation for that claim. From my team's research, SSDs are much much tougher than any spindle HD. But toughness may not be a factor for you when evaluating SSDs, (it wasn't for us).

Our test SSD laptops have also demonstrated much improved battery life. On a D630 we are seeing four and a half hour battery life with standard stock batteries. That's a two hour increase. Use larger cell count batteries and battery life will just get better. A laptop equiped with an eight cell battery and a secondary battery licated in the Optical drive bay, we have experienced eight hour-plus battery life.

Our boot times are also improved with SSD. Since we also encrypt, (and if anyone has used encryption on a Windows domain then they have likely experienced a hit with login times) we were most impressed with the performance improvement of encrypted SSD, when compared to a traditional HD on the same equipment. Write times are not as much improved, but there is no negative impact either.

Our experiences have been good enough that we are planning to order SSD on all new laptops for next year. The improvement in Battery life alone is worth the price of admission. Toughness, and increased write speed are icing on the cake.

Re:you left impractical off the list (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357181)

While I know this info would only be anecdotal, make sure to keep track of failure rates.

Re:you left impractical off the list (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357305)

"I would like to see a citation for that claim"

I don't need to i have all the experience i need to make the claim. I work in pretty extreme conditions and the CF based devices we use in our trucks fail 10% of the time over 12 months, vs our laptop which get lugged around in the same conditions and don't fail any more or less.

judai$m (-1, Offtopic)

alfs boner (963844) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356331)

I like to write it as 'i$rael' instead of 'israel'

lol

"The United Jew$ of I$rael" lol lol

Also I say 'neoconservative'(neocon$ervative lol) whenever I want to complain about the hook-no$ed ba$tards in more polite company. They just think im another liberal and have no idea im specifically talking about jew$

lol i$rael lolol ^_^

Amerikkka!!1~

Got one, love it (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356351)

I've put one 32GB 1.8" IDE SuperTalent SSD in my Thinkpad X40, to replace that ever-failing 1.8" mechanical Hitachi crap, and formatted it with Reiser4 + cryptcompress. I LOVE IT. Fast, silent, more battery life, and, best of all, reliable. It was worth every buck.

Re:Got one, love it (3, Interesting)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356429)

Since these drives do not have a head moving along a platter, what would be the most efficient partition format for them? It's not like the same rules apply.

Re:Got one, love it (1)

ewhenn (647989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356845)

I would imagine it would be once large partition as SSDs have a cell memory, where each cell can be written to X number of times before expected failure. SSDs cycle where they write data as to not wear out one cell too quickly. If you split it into partitions, then you ahve the possibility of once partition beinge very active, but another partition not beign touched. This could lead to premature device failure, in the "overworked" part of the drive.

At least from what I've read thats what I gather.

Re:Got one, love it (4, Informative)

Abalamahalamatandra (639919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357015)

That doesn't sound right to me - I believe, unless I'm mistaken, that the controller on the drive levels writes across the entire drive, regardless of the partitioning scheme in place.

So even if your drive has, say, four partitions and one is written to a lot more than the others, that doesn't matter because the controller considers the entire flash space for write leveling.

Re:Got one, love it (2, Interesting)

z0M6 (1103593) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357135)

No. the wear is leveled out over the whole drive so you can partition however you want to. If only to serve as some mental map like: "I want root partition to use this much space, and the swap to have this much, and then some for my document etc"

Re:Got one, love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357045)

Binary.

Where is this applicable? (3, Interesting)

RiotXIX (230569) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356439)

I was going to buy a small one (15GB?) and put my linux partition on it (PC, so mobile benefits don't matter), but figured not too because of the fact that the number of times you can re-write is less. But according to "Because of these wear-leveling techniques, and the fact that a modern NAND device can sustain up to one million write cycles, the overall lifetime of an SSD can be decades. So losing capacity due to flash write cycles is probably not an issue", the option is now still back on.

But the re-write times are twice as slow! (ok I can live with that). But the read times are faster...as a home user, WHERE is this going to benefit me? Will I notice a diffence in 'vim file' or playing/streaming music?

I could maybe see if I were using a laptop, but I don't get how this would benefit me.

Thanks for taking the time to answer if anyone can persuade me different.
I might just get it for the cleanness of having a small segregated linux drive - really that's the best reason I can see.

Re:Where is this applicable? (3, Insightful)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356463)

For me personally, the biggest benefit would be silence. My hard drives are easily the loudest part of my machines.

Re:Where is this applicable? (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356609)

I'd be thinking in terms of speed/energy.. but the sizes are too small, and raiding these would be absolutely too expensive... It would be a good option in servers, where SAS drives are considered.. so I would expect to see an SAS interface before too long, and probably with wider adoption before we see desktop NAND drives become commonplace. Don't get me wrong, I'd love 1TB of NAND space... I think that 64GB is enough for most people's system partition though.. if I could get a 64GB NAND drive for $200 I probably would just for my core OS and swap... Would still need a much bigger drive for other storage though.

Re:Where is this applicable? (2, Informative)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357851)

Performance wise, once you switch to desktops, you are able to use performance drives like Western Digital Raptor WD1500.

http://www.storagereview.com/php/benchmark/bench_sort.php [storagereview.com]

Compare the Western Digital Raptor WD1500 No NCQ to the Western Digital Scorpio WD2500BEVS with NCQ (250 GB SATA). The Scorpio consumes a lot less power, but isn't that much quieter. The Raptor has about 2.5x the performance.

SSD wins on noise and power, and the Raptor wins on price. Depending on the application, either could win in performance.

Re:Where is this applicable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356833)

For me personally, the biggest benefit would be silence. My hard drives are easily the loudest part of my machines.
I recently replaced my desktop computer case with some random cheap antec model that has rubber grommets for mounting the hard drives. Same two hard drive in the old dell case could be heard down the hall. One sounded very clicky when running, the other kind of high pitched singing noise. With the rubber grommets in the cheapo antec, I can't hear the harddrives at all over my 120mm fan set at low speed. I have to use the blinky lights on the case front to tell if the harddrive is in use. I was more than a little surprised at how much a difference it was.

Re:Where is this applicable? (1)

isj (453011) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356541)

I recently changed the traditional HD to a flash (sata-to-compactflash adapter from Linitx, and a 16GB extreme3 from sandisk). The benefits so far: No noise. Less power use. Much faster startup (essentially no seek time). Alle my writes usually is done on files located on NFS.

Re:Where is this applicable? (4, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356611)

But the re-write times are twice as slow! (ok I can live with that). But the read times are faster...as a home user, WHERE is this going to benefit me? Will I notice a diffence in 'vim file' or playing/streaming music?


Actually, if you do any sort of multitasking, you'll probably notice it's a lot "snappier" (apps load faster, switching apps doesn't seem to take so long, etc). Or if you're a typical home user with decent RAM but still have all the usual crapware loaded, WIndows won't feel so slow. Or you don't defragment your disks and let your disk get horribly fragmented...

The deal with SSDs is that they can manage their peak datarates all the time. With disks, the smaller the I/O transfer, the slower the disk becomes. If you have a disk with a 5ms seek time, you're limited to 20 I/Os per second. If you read maybe 16 sectors each (8kiB), it means your disk throughput is on the order of... 160kiB/sec. Seeks are taking a lot of time compared to the actual time it takes to read the disk.

An SSD has negligible seek time, so reading those 160kiB off an SSD won't take noticably longer than reading 160kiB in one read (the overhead of doing the transaction over the ATA bus is the biggest overhead).

You won't use an SSD if you need high throughput, where you're basically doing huge writes or huge reads (i.e., media center media disks, video capture/production, etc). But a home user that's doing a lot of little random I/O will notice that the entire system feels "snappier" as the I/O is mostly seek-bound, not throughput-bound (small I/O). This applies as time goes on as most people don't defragment their disks (you don't have to, or should, with an SSD, since wear-levelling may still not put it contiguously on the flash media), so even a heavily fragmented disk will still feel fast with an SSD.

Re:Where is this applicable? (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356683)

You're off by a factor of 10 there, 1sec/5ms=200 I/O's per second which still gives only 1.6MB/s for totally random reads for 8KB blocks.

Re:Where is this applicable? (1)

AaronPSU777 (938553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357887)

If you have a disk with a 5ms seek time, you're limited to 20 I/Os per second.

5 ms is 5 thousandths of a second, you could achieve 200 I/Os per second. Also that assumes that seek times are constant for each I/O, which is not the case.

Re:Where is this applicable? (5, Informative)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356827)

WHERE is this going to benefit me?
Did you look at the "real world" benchmark results [extremetech.com]? The Samsung SSD drive destroyed the traditional drive by 400%-500% in 6 tests (including OS startup, app loading, gaming) and was about equal in the other two (media center and video editing).

Unless you know of some special reason why sustained write speed is critical, you should probably be looking more closely at access time, where SSD blows mechanical drives out of the water.

No doubt, mechanical drives still rule capacity/price, but with the growth rates of the two technologies over the past several years, SSD could take over soon.

Re:Where is this applicable? (1)

matt21811 (830841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357335)

Yes I agree. My reserach shows that, in relation to price, the annual improvement over three years for flash comes in at 109% whereas for hard disks over the same period the figure is only 35%

http://www.mattscomputertrends.com/flashmemory.html [mattscomputertrends.com]

This means, if the two trends continue over time, it will actually become hard to justify buying a hard disk instead of flash, especially the smaller ones the cost a lot more per gig.

Re:Where is this applicable? (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357907)

Hmm, running HDTach on my system, I get 100MB/s average read speed, with a burst speed over 200MB/s. That's 200%-400% of the reported results for SSDs.

Of course, it's a RAID0 array with 2 reasonably fast drives in it, but it's still much much much cheaper than what SSDs are running these days.

Re:Where is this applicable? (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357075)

But the read times are faster...as a home user, WHERE is this going to benefit me? Will I notice a diffence in 'vim file' or playing/streaming music?

If you are one of those home users whose computer only accesses a single file at a time on the perfectly defragmented HDD, then no, you probably wouldn't see much difference.

Dan East

Re:Where is this applicable? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357973)

I'm too lazy to set it up myself so have the question: are there any distros that use a flash file system by default and get cron and various others to leave the filesystem alone most of the time?

My voxclock2 is going great - solid state! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356441)

I have a voxclock2 talking clock from the early 80's and it works great... really loud too and I only have to change the batteries once every few years.

Hopefully an outlier (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356465)

I had a Dell D430 with the SanDisk 32GB SSD and the performance was abysmal. It was so bad that I replaced it with a standard 1.8" drive. Installing Windows itself took 3 times longer! Dell replaced the drive after I reported the problem and still no dice. There seems to be a significant problem with write performance, read performance was decent but not worth the 2-3x cost difference. I can't tell if SSD's just aren't ready yet or if Dell is just really bad at systems integration and testing before product release.

Re:Hopefully an outlier (1)

drinking12many (987173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21358009)

There is just something wrong with the D4X series dells we experienced the same thing with the 420s and 30s slow regardless of SSD or the original 1.8s. Lots of 1.8 inch drive failures. We are probably going to start buying Lenovo X61s they blow away the 4 series on performance use faster procs and have 2.5 inch drives.

I use them (5, Interesting)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356487)

Both my home server and several systems in use at work boot from compactflash drives. Our production servers run Ubuntu LTS, and are basically VMware Server boxes--the actual apps run off of guest OSs that live on the 6TB RAID-6s on each server.

All in all, I've had seven servers running off of SSDs for about eight months, and they have worked like a charm. I never have to worry about getting paged due to the inevitable mechanical failure of magnetic drives.

Also, SSDs are NOT expensive! A CF-to-IDE adapter costs $15, and a 2GB CF card costs about $30. Two gigabytes is more than enough to boot an OS and start a RAID. Don't waste your money on a 64GB CF card. The CF+RAID hybrid approach is the way to go.

Re:I use them (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356859)

OK, the cost is small, but even so, is it really worth it? What you get in return for your investment is systems that boot faster, and a small savings in power. Is there really any reason you need to be able to boot your servers in 30 seconds instead of 3 minutes?

I suppose the power issue is important if you're taking the "turn off that light if you're not using it!" approach to the global warming crisis. Not sure that's a good approach, though.

Re:I use them (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356957)

OK, the cost is small, but even so, is it really worth it? What you get in return for your investment is systems that boot faster, and a small savings in power. Is there really any reason you need to be able to boot your servers in 30 seconds instead of 3 minutes?

Amazingly, I think he answered your question before you even asked it when he said "I never have to worry about getting paged due to the inevitable mechanical failure of magnetic drives."

Re:I use them (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357649)

OK, that was sloppy/stupid of me. But I do wonder how many servers can serve all their data from a 6 GB SSD?

laptops, dummy (4, Interesting)

DreadSpoon (653424) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357091)

There's a reason that these things are commercialls available only in laptops right now. In a laptop, you boot up a lot (or resume from hibernation a lot, which is equally disk-intensive), so disk seek and read times are incredibly important. Plus, power savings are a huge benefit when you're running a system that has a limited power source. The SSDs generate less heat, which is also hugely important when all your circuitry is compacted into the smallest amount of space possibility, and it allows either for the system to be cooler (hot laptops suck, even typing on them can be uncomfortable) or allow for other components like the CPU and RAM to be sped up since they get a greater share of the system's safe heat generation capacity. The reduced noise is great - try being in a meeting with 20 laptops all with fans whirring away. Finally, the greater lifetime of an SSD (modern hard disks fails way sooner than a modern SSD will, in general) means that the machine doesn't need a new disk with a new OS install and possibly a bunch of lost data on anywhere near as frequent a basis.

Less power and less noise are good for servers and desktops, and the faster seek times can really make a different in performance for many common workloads, but the biggest benefit of SSD is that they make laptops suck way less.

Re:laptops, dummy (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357837)

My post was stupid because I neglected to note that the parent post mentioned the mechanical advantage of an SSD in a high-available server. But yours is even more stupid, since you failed to even register that we were talking about servers!

Believe it or not, the advantages of an SSD in a portable computer have occurred to me.I've actually considered getting an SSD for my tablet. But there are too many technical, cost, and reliability issues. In particular, there's the limited number of write cycles you can get with flash memory. Not an issue with most flash devices (let's see, on my desk or in my pockets, there's a cell phone with extra memory in the form of an MMC card, a Palm M515 PDA, and an iAudio MP3 player), but none of these write over files as often as your typical laptop or tablet.

Re:I use them (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357525)

What brand CF cards do you use? I've had varying luck (Sandisk good, Transcend won't boot) and am looking for reliable cards.

First-hand, practical expericence... (3, Informative)

What the Frag (951841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356499)

> Does anyone have any first-hand, practical experience with SSD?
Yes. Transcendent 4GB 266x Compact Flash card, fast, silent, installed Ubuntu 7.04, currently 1.4 GB free.
Price for the card + card to ide bridge was about two 80GB HDD drives.

Only problem was that I had to make my own drive mount first, because all I got was a board with a Compact Flash slot and a IDE connector.

If you are happy with a few GB of disk space, go for it. If you want to store big amount of data, wait. The price will fall.

similar storage, different form factor (3, Informative)

Corf (145778) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357023)

I am currently typing this on one of them newfangled Asus Eee PCs. 4gb worth of Hynix HY27UG088G5M chips through a Silicon Motion SM223 controller. The only moving parts on this thing are the keys and this near-worthless little sideways-blowing fan. It's fast, reliable, shock-resistant, and pretty durn cheap.

Specs [eeeuser.com].

Re:similar storage, different form factor (0, Redundant)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357933)

How's the 800x480 pixel 7" screen working for you though? I haven't run at a resolution that low in almost 15 years. There'd be a *lot* of scrolling, I imagine.... I find I scroll too much on full screen apps, and I'm running on a 15.4" 1680x1050 screen on my laptop. I also get 5h battery life when watching DVDs out of it, or about 7.5h if I'm just typing/surfing.

I think it's cool that you can get a laptop for $400. But there's absolutely no way I'd buy one. The screen is just too small for my use, to say nothing of the resolution. Yes, I paid $1200 more for my laptop. It weighs twice as much, and is nowhere near as portable. But I also got a hell of a lot more functionality out of the transaction, not to mention a battery that lasts more than twice as long. If all you want to do is surf and play video games, I think your money would be better spent buying an entry level laptop from Dell or HP, and tossing in the high capacity battery. It may come out to 50% more, but it'll also give you a *lot* more use.

Like Digital Cameras (4, Interesting)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356529)

I think solid state drives will be like digital cameras. The price and usability (read size) will appear not to be mainstream enough, that is, until you've just made that "big" investment in the latest incarnation of the superseded technology.

It happened to me. I bought a new (not that expensive) film SLR about 18 months prior to digital cameras having sufficient resolution/cost ratio to supersede film for everyday use. Coming from a generation where cameras tend to last almost a lifetime (having been used to my father's Minolta SR-T 101, purchased about the time I was born). The concept of a camera becoming almost obsolete in that short timeframe was a bit annoying, at the time.

Re:Like Digital Cameras (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357273)

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), technology is moving so quickly that equipment just manufactured is already obsolete due to the next revision already reaching production grade at that point. While it sucks from a consumer standpoint, from a human species perspective it kicks ass.

First hand (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356549)

I have first hand experience with SSDs as I have bought one of the Samsung 64 GB SATA SSDs. In terms of writing performance, they're approximately on par with regular hard disks, as far as I can tell. Disk reads, however, are very good. To give you a vague idea of the read speed, Windows XP on this drive boots to login screen without the black logo screen appearing at all. Additionally, for those who are interested, here's what Linux's hdparm has to say about it:

# hdparm -tT /dev/sda1 /dev/sda1:
  Timing cached reads: 7352 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3679.72 MB/sec
  Timing buffered disk reads: 168 MB in 3.01 seconds = 55.86 MB/sec

Re:First hand (0)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357319)

Well considering the fastest interface you'll find in any consumer-grade equipment maxes out at a theoretical 300MB/s (and probably 90% at best of that in actual terms), I'm going to say that your first benchmark, at least, is completely fucked up. Perhaps you misread a decimal?

Re:First hand (3, Informative)

mandolin (7248) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357547)

I'm going to say that your first benchmark, at least, is completely fucked up.

No, those are cached reads, not hitting the drive at all. The man page for 'hdparm' says -T "is essentially an indication of the throughput of the processor, cache, and memory of the system under test".

Re:First hand (1)

dlapine (131282) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357789)

No, those are appropriate hdparm numbers. Maybe not useful, but appropriate. You just have to know what's being measured.


The first number is entirely using cache- both what's on the drive and any available system ram. Max theoretical, downhill, wind-at-your-back, instantaneous speed.

The second one is measured transfer speed. The 55MB/s is a "real" number in that you can read that much real data from the platter in that time. I do a lot of drive tests (running an a 4yr old linux cluster) and 55Mb/s is just over U320 drive speed for 10K scsi drives (My drives tend to max out right at 50MB/s)

Don't knock hdparm too much- it's a decent but rough first approximation, and most linux distros install it by default. Plus, it's quick.

Re:First hand (1)

Lance Cooper (977401) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357813)

Those numbers are pretty abysmally bad, actually.
# hdparm -tT /dev/sdc /dev/sdc:
  Timing cached reads: 560 MB in 2.00 seconds = 279.65 MB/sec
  Timing buffered disk reads: 188 MB in 3.00 seconds = 62.59 MB/sec

sdc is a 7.2k RPM SATA II drive with 16MB of cache.
However, I'd take this with a grain of salt, given that the -t test uses sequential reads, which are optimal for hard drives, rather then a random access pattern that would advantage the SSD markedly.

It just boggles my mind... (3, Interesting)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356563)

It just boggles my mind how modern solid-state electronics organized for parallel I/O can be less than a factor of 10 times faster than an inherently serial and decidedly ancient-sounding "mechanically moved heads over a magnetized spinning disk" approach.
What the heck is going on here?

Re:It just boggles my mind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356677)

Just a guess, but despite how ancient the traditional drives are some pretty smart people have made just a bit better then they started out, over the course of half a century or so. And the new ones? Well they've only been around for a few years. Give *them* 50 years and you'll have your 10x improvement and more. Of course, I fully expect the current high-tech HD technology to be replaced 2-3 times in the next 50 years, so that might *never* happen.

Re:It just boggles my mind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356755)

Caching, and bottlenecks.

We've gotten really good at making ancient mechanical spinning disks. And we've discovered that adding a few MB of cache really helps the performance.

Also we've built our PCs to demonstrate the von Neumann bottleneck. I don't see how you can claim that SSDs today are "solid-state electronics organized for parallel I/O". We stick them on the other end of a serial bus like SATA. Once we've gotten the data across that bus, we either send it to the CPU (which can basically do one thing at a time really fast) or to memory (where we'll later fetch it word-at-a-time and send it to the CPU where we can process it word-at-a-time).

If it was just a fight between solid-state and spinning-metal, solid-state would wipe the floor with it. Unfortunately every level of your PC is designed to minimize or work-around or hide the effect of a slow disk.

Re:It just boggles my mind... (2, Interesting)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357371)

That fails to explain how a drive made of, in effect, nothing but cache is about an order of magnitude slower. Whether you can process the data quickly enough is irrelavent when you're dealing with a medium theoretically limited by nothing but c yet performs worse than a device spinning at 4200RPM.

We're not considering the full system performance here. We're trying to figure out why something that has a seek time that's effectively zero isn't even maxing out the interface. A RAMDisk (those funny boards Gigabyte makes that use actual system RAM and a backup battery) has that same zero seek time and completely saturates the interface; why the hell is non-volatile storage so much slower?

Re:It just boggles my mind... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357955)


Whether you can process the data quickly enough is irrelavent when you're dealing with a medium theoretically limited by nothing but c

Your problem is your assumptions about flash memory. Comparing it to system RAM is totally invalid. The medium DOES make a difference, and the write speeds aren't comparable. I couldn't tell you exactly why, but this technology isn't just system memory that doesn't lose state when turned off.

They're the only option.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356619)

..when you have to run flight quals in a non-pressurized cargo aircraft. Regular HDs don't work too well at 60,000 ft (something to do with that Bernoulli principle and the heads).

Re:They're the only option.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357189)

Not likely to be a problem. Not many cargo aircraft capable of flying at 60,000 feet. And if you're in one while it does, without pressurization, disk failures are down near the bottom of your list of things to worry about.

We are in a storage transition (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356625)

And by that I don't really mean HD -> SS, rather we are currently in a capacity transition. With burgenoning digital music collections, DVD collections and the coming of HiDef video as a mainstream resource amongst other things the capacity requirements will soon shoot up. At the moment SS drives can come close to touching the standard HD entry level machines on a laptop, 60-80 GB. Fine for web browsing and general tasks, but as the above listed capacity intense activities continue to grow and the HD capacities can transition to hold them (500 GB - 1 TB is moving towards sensible options in the next wee while) - that leaves the SS drives behind again.

SS drives will always hold a niche for the ultra-portables and the light low performance laptops - but they are not going to be able to move into mid range laptops+ - and certainly not likely to make it into desktops unless it is part of an ultra quiet setup.

Re:We are in a storage transition (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356715)

They have another very nice use, that I think will make em grow a bit faster than a small niche (not mainstream soon though), is that most SS storage devices fail very reliably. That is, you should be able to tell quite precisely and well in advance when its going to fail, as opposed to hard disk which, while quite reliable compared to a few years back, are much more likely to fail at just any moment.

That makes them very, very cool to use for dedicated application servers. The company I work for sells a fairly typical web app over database solution, and the database for our average customer is around 30-50 gigs. So 1-2 of those drives and we're peachy, and we virtually never will be woken up on a saturday because of a failed hard drive (we support the hardware).

Those kind of setups are INCREDIBLY common among ISVs, and 30-50 gigs (hell, let say 100 since these SS will be bigger soon enough) is quite reasonable for single application databases that don't do much datawarehousing (again, probably far more common than terrabyte datawarehouses).

Not mainstream to the point of being ready for a home desktop mediacenter, but there's still a LOT of uses for those to push them far beyond the niche market.

Re:We are in a storage transition (1)

balloonhead (589759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357571)

There are lots of uses. Stick the OS on your SSD and commonly used files (e.g. server) on another SSD. Have HDD for the TBs of data. Dynamically find what the demands are and pull all that info from the HDD to a spare SSD. You could even have a DVD changer with 50-200 rewriteable DVDs for storage. The thing is that the applications/OS can figure out where to put the files in order of when / how often they are used, and figure out the best and fastest way to deliver the content.

Just the same as adding more RAM can speed up your computer, rearranging the storage with SSDs should be able to do the same too. As you say though, it's not going to be useful for everyone.

DRAM Based SSDs (1)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356655)

We've been testing DRAM based SSDs (http://www.tigicorp.com) for a while. Very fast. They don't suffer the issues of flash based SSDs but they come at a much higher cost. A single drive an saturate any interconnect you'll find on the mass market right now. The neat thing about the Tigi drives is that they actually run Linux on the drive so it's easy to change interface type or even put applications on the drives themselves.

Put applications on the drives themselves? (-1, Offtopic)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356849)

You've convinced me. Linux is a bad thing. So is open source.

Devices should be black boxen (boxes now).

Nobody should consider doing such awful hacks. If Linux encourages such thinking it must be destroyed. Can you imagine trying to support such a thing once the original implementor is gone?

If that means we give up all freedom to MS and Sony that's just going to be the price we have to pay.

Re:DRAM Based SSDs (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356939)

I was interested in checking out the company's website, but the link you provided led me to a site for "Tigi bedhead manipulators." I'm not sure what those are, but I'm pretty sure they don't have anything to do with DRAM-based SSDs. Got a better link? Or did the site disappear?

Re:DRAM Based SSDs (1)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357221)

Hrmm.... I'll have to check on that. I'd say someone screwed up. I just talked to the President the other day so I know they are around.

And, the MTBF is.. (2, Interesting)

eniac42 (1144799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356669)

I am not saying it is not good, its just the idea of storing data as a few electrons of static charge on the input gate of a MOSFET (or WhatEver-FET) for a few years bothers me. Call me old fashioned..

Re:And, the MTBF is.. (4, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357267)

While storing it as an ultra-small magnetic dipole moment in a piece of rust on a rapidly spinning platter which will be irreversibly damaged from just a speck of dust sounds like a sane idea ?

So far it's a mixed bag... (4, Informative)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356711)

Basically the reviews on Anandtech [anandtech.com] & Tom's Hardware [tomshardware.com] have drawn some interesting conclusions... In terms of write performance, some are significantly worse than most notebook HDs, but all are better in terms of read performance. The idle of SATA SSD drives are significantly worse than UDMA ones (0.5w vs. 0.05w).

Basically, do your research... How much speed you'll get depends on how they bank the flash chips. More banks of lower density chips will yield a higher transfer rate--but uses more power. (Good luck finding how any one brand of SSD drive is banked...) Tom's Hardware found that the Samsung 64GB SSD offered double the transfer rate than their 32GB SSD. Anandtech found the Transcend & Super Talent SSD's to be extremely weak offerings. But then again Anandtech found the MTRON 32GB SSD far superior to most other drives they tested.

Basically SSD drives help with bootup times but in mixed tests, only the MTRON SSD drives are near Raptor speed, but I found only one retailer that even sells them--and a 32GB one for $2336.95 [google.com]!!!

SSDs (4, Informative)

phoophy (1189235) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356771)

Been using arrays of 4 and 8 32GB SSDs as both RAID0 and RAID5, off hardware RAID controllers and as Linux softraid, to push seek time to near 0 and throughput as far as possible. Bottom line is, they're significantly faster than "real" disks. We've found MTrons to be faster than Samsungs, generally 20 to 40%, and the MTron seek times are significantly better (they probably don't write-balance check as often under heavy usage). Only reliability problems I had were with another brand (neither Samsung nor MTron).

Does my iPhone count? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21356793)

Just asking.

I wish my SSD worked like that... (1)

hcmtnbiker (925661) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356901)

Because of these wear-leveling techniques, and the fact that a modern NAND device can sustain up to one million write cycles, the overall lifetime of an SSD can be decades. So losing capacity due to flash write cycles is probably not an issue.

Anybody know how these really differ from the older counterparts that are in say my Sansa e280? I've already worn out a couple sectors on it in under a year, which annoys the hell out of me. Although that might have just been SanDisk creating a drive that will run out on average the day after the warranty expires.

Give me RAM (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21356975)

All I have to say is screw NAND. Give me some DDR RAM-based hard drive... Ridiculously fast, very low power, no possible questions about lifetime. Perhaps even the possibility of just swapping out one failed SODIMM instead of scrapping the whole drive, is quite enticing.

I've been using Flash longer than most... From wiring minuscule capacity EEPROMs into embedded circuits, to squeezing OSes down to 8MBs for firewalls. Floppies are a no-go for important systems.

They're low power, quiet, and have high speed seeking, but I don't really care. What I want most in a drive is seriously high throughput... That probably means RAM, with a battery back-up. In the mean time, HDDs keep getting faster and quieter.

Data recovery from SSDs? (3, Interesting)

rHBa (976986) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357055)

I was wondering if anyone can answer a simple(?) question: Can data be recovered from an SSD after it has been overwritten once? i.e If I'm disposing of an SSD with sensitive data on it do I have to run secure erasing software to make multiple/random writes to every sector?

Sounds like Six Million Dollar... (0, Troll)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357085)

PORN. I mean, REALLY. Only engineers could so carefully choose such wording relative to "Solid State Hard Drives."

More likely to get bio-drives (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357235)

Recent discoveries and proof of concept research seems to be pointing towards the use of bio drives in the very near future.

So, while SSD may be interesting in the short term, it's unlikely they will have more impact than Bernouilli disks did in the long run.

I have an EEE with a solid state disk drive (3, Insightful)

Tracy Reed (3563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357261)

And I really like it. This laptop is great. I have a desktop with dual 24" displays for doing work so I don't need a laptop for that. What I do need is something ultra-portable to do email, read slashdot, occasional ssh into a remote machine while on the road, terminal into a box while at the datacenter, etc. And this thing fits the bill. The solid state disk has caused no problems so far but allows things like 10 second boot times and no noise and little heat. The prices of SSD will come down, the densities will go up, and SSD drives will proliferate.

So what's the magic behind wear leveling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357269)

I really wish one of these "reviewers" would take the time to think about what they are saying re. wear leveling on the NAND cells. The theory is sound, but what I want to know is what type of device are they writing their indexes to? Because you can't scan the media every time you need to access a piece of memory. You have to be able to go somewhere on the device itself and lookup which particular cells you wrote to for addresses 0x0100 - 0x01ff? That index is going to get hammered at about 64 billion times more frequently that the usable space and if it dies, the device is toast and you've lost data. So how do they handle that?

3 months real-word experience with SSD (5, Informative)

barre (48638) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357473)

I've been using a Sandisk 32 GB SSD on a Dell Latitude D630 running Vista for about 3 months now. This wasn't cheap, and even with an early adopter mindset, this is a big disappointment; it does indeed reads much faster (about 30 times), but writes at least 3 times slower than the same D630 running a SATA. My typical usage involved web/email, Microsoft Office, photography/photoshop, compiling large projects, etc.

Quiet is great, more battery is fine, and I hardly ever reboot using Vista almost instant-sleep feature, but installing software or writing large files is *painful*. Moreover, you should plan for a lot of physical memory: you do *not* want to see your system paging for virtual memory.

Now maybe Vista is to blame, but the whole system will hang now and then for 10 secs or more. Is it indexing something, writing whatever system logs to disk, who knows, but a a few other users have reported the same issue with this SSD on Dell forums. No driver update has been released either since the SSD option was out. This is also probably not coincidental that SSD vendors emphasize read speed but remain somehow quiet about the write speed (or lack thereof).

I, for one, am switching back to a 7200 RPM SATA. This is *not* ready for prime time, even if Samsung claims slightly better write speed on its 64 GB; *do* check the user forums (say, Dell), and you will find a lot of frustrated users. This was worth a shot, and I'll eventually consider that technology again in 10 months.

Hope this helps

LOW POWER USAGE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21357673)

Is the most exciting thing about SSD

Puppy Linux (2, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21357705)

Puppy Linux runs nicely on small USB memory sticks of 128MB and up. A 1GB memory stick make a beautiful system. You really don't need umpteen gazillion gigabytes of storage space for a PC.
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