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2008, The Year of Solid State Storage

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the owe-me-a-solid dept.

Data Storage 197

An anonymous reader writes "At CES, SSD drives were a plenty on the show floor. "Some companies said we could see 250GB SSD units by the end of this year, while others predicted it could take up to a couple of years for them to become mainstream. None of the companies promised mainstream adoption, but they promised a bright future and we are inclined to believe them. High capacity drives are going to be expensive due to their very nature of early technology and gradual adoption rate."

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197 comments

Lets try the other way around, eh (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034782)

High capacity drives are going to be expensive due to their very nature of early technology and gradual adoption rate.

I think they have that backwards. Lets try High capacity drives are going to have a gradual adpotion rate due to their very nature of being expensive due to their being early technology

There, that's better.

I'd have one now ("be an early adpopter") if they weren't so bloddy expensive.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (2, Insightful)

4solarisinfo (941037) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034904)

Price isn't the only factor here. Has anyone seen any real reliability or Environmental numbers on any of these drives yet? I know many government/military programs who would be glad to pay for it, if it could prove to increase availability in certain environments.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (5, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035108)

Price isn't the only factor here. Has anyone seen any real reliability or Environmental numbers on any of these drives yet? I know many government/military programs who would be glad to pay for it, if it could prove to increase availability in certain environments.

Well, flash storage certainly is better in the space environment. Conventional hard-disk technology requires a pressurized compartment (the heads stay separted from the disks with a thin film of air). And, of course, any technology with no moving parts is preferable-- mechanical parts have an annoying tendency to freeze up with vacuum thermal cycling.

Spirit and Opportunity are now four years into their 90-day mission on Mars, running on flash storage....

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (1, Interesting)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035582)

No, no.

Hard drives are actually vented. There's no pressurized compartment. They run at the same atmosphere as the rest of the machine. The lift of the hard drive heads is the "Bernoulli effect" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernoulli's_equation) see also (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/5413198.stm).

Flash storage is certainly preferable in hard environments, no doubt. But as far as I've seen, I'm not a convert. Useful as hell for digital cameras, PDA's, MP3 players and USB drives. Not so much for primary storage. They're simply not fast enough, usually. I guess some people are making faster ones, but you still can't affordably beat the ol' hard drive when it comes to transfer speed. Seek times, flash wins, but when the transfer rates are as slow as they are on most flash, it doesn't matter.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (1)

jenik (1030872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035640)

i think the previous post meant they need to be pressurised in space, since normally there's no air there.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (2, Informative)

mlush (620447) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035734)

No, no.
Hard drives are actually vented. There's no pressurized compartment. They run at the same atmosphere as the rest of the machine. The lift of the hard drive heads is the "Bernoulli effect" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernoulli's_equation) see also (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/click_online/5413198.stm).

So when these drives are exposed to hard vacuum (as suggested by the OP) the Bernoulli effect fails and the heads start gouging into the platters.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (2, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035984)

Bulk trasfer speed does not have to be slow. Its not like your hard drive in your PC now reads from one head at a time. It uses multiple heads to achieve higher rates by reading/writing all the platters at one time. The same applies for your RAM. You don't read 32 bits from a single chip in a clock cycle, your stick of ram has several chips on it, they all get strobed at once to return a larger size. Then there is the whole dual channel thing, not only do you do it with each chip on the stick, you do it with 2 sticks on seperate channels so you can now read in twice as much as a single stick.

So with flash memory you don't put in one really big chip to get 250GB, you put in 250 1GB chips working in parallel. Instant 250x increase in throughput using a relatively minor increase in die real estate for the extra controlling circuits. The only reasons USB flash drives are slow now is because A) they are dirt cheap B) no one is using them in a way that REALLY needs to be fast C) its on USB anyway, not like we're talking about a high performance bus in the first place

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (5, Interesting)

minginqunt (225413) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034928)

I remember seeing a curve of cost/gig over time of SSDs vs magnetic media, and it seemed to show that although both were falling, SSDs were falling faster, and were due to overtake their clicky brethren in the 2012-2014 time frame.

Once that happens, I imagine that magnetic drives' usage will tail off sharply, and disappear within a couple of years, because nobody (or at least nobody worth speaking of) wants to use magnetic over solid state anyway. In fact, it might start happening even whilst SSDs have a small price premium.

God knows, I'd be happy to pay a 20% premium to never have to use magnetic hard drives again.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (2, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035286)

The cost for a given capacity will depend on the capacity needed. The smaller the capacity, the more advantage flash will have over hard disks. For now, 250 GB of flash is much more expensive than a 250 GB hard disk. On the other hand, you can get 1 GB of flash for under $10. Are there any hard disks at all available for that price? Also given that flash is faster, smaller, and consumes less power than disks, flash will replace disks in devices that need smaller capacities first. That means the usage of drives will decrease gradually from now until the 2012-2014 time frame you mention.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (5, Funny)

alexhs (877055) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035396)

nobody wants to use magnetic over solid state anyway
Oh, but I've heard that magnetic data has a warmth and nuanced feeling that SSD harsh data doesn't have...
Already that magnetic drives weren't all that good [slashdot.org] to start with...

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22036094)

You magnetophiles really take the cake ... I suppose next you'll be telling us that if we can't tell the difference on our monitors between data pulled from a simple SSD as compared to your overpriced magnetic platter storage with wooden control knobs and monster cable connecting everything together, it's because our vision isn't discriminating enough.

OS drives. (1)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035710)

Yeah, certainly I'd pay double for storage for a reasonable 20-30 gig SSD. The seek times and lack of instant crashes out are great. For the speed and reliability, I'd replace my harddrive with a downright tiny drive just to run my OS. Their clicky cousins can store my massive amounts of non-critical data. I'm fine using magnetic drives I just don't want to use them for data I access all the fricking time.

I think we'll start seeing the drop off of magnetic drives well preceding the the overtake. We'll see people buying cheap 4 TB drives a couple years from now, but as is most basic users can't fill the 40 gigs. Why do they need more than a few gigs for a few dollars? If they have storage needs... that'll be your MM's job.

Re:OS drives. (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035904)

We'll see people buying cheap 4 TB drives a couple years from now, but as is most basic users can't fill the 40 gigs. Why do they need more than a few gigs for a few dollars?
Are you saying that most users don't have access to porn newsgroups and/or ripped DVDs? LifeBits can be expected to generate a lot of data, as well.

Re:OS drives. (1)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 6 years ago | (#22036034)

No. I'm saying that if they happen to have 3TB of porn and movies, mp3s and TV shows... they can put it on the slower cheaper drive that doesn't load up lots random files all the time.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#22036106)

I remember seeing a curve of cost/gig over time of SSDs vs magnetic media, and it seemed to show that although both were falling, SSDs were falling faster, and were due to overtake their clicky brethren in the 2012-2014 time frame.


That must've been a while ago... SSDs can only drop in price as fast as Moore's Law (only faster if someone dumps them) - the bytes/area of silicon is fixed by Moore's Law (as is the cost/area of silicon - or why full-frame DSLRs are always going to be pricey - silicon wafers are more or less the same cost, until some breakthrough means we can use larger wafers. But it's taken many years to go from 12cm wafers to 30cm wafers (decades). Hard drive storage seems to double faster than Moore's Law, practically doubling yearly. Last year's pricey drive was a 500GB one, and now 500GB is economical, with 1TB disks being pricey.

Of course, right now, the technology is immature, so as it matures, it may be increasing in space temporarily faster than Moore's Law (as we figure out how to do controllers to do accesses over multiple devices, etc).

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (1)

JulieHo (1219500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035058)

Tigi SSD 8GB costs around 20,000 USD. I am going to guess, this will hopefully be cheaper.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (2, Informative)

Lars Clausen (1208) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035134)

Just looking at newegg.com, I find the current sweet spot of SSD to be 32GB, at $250. $7/GB, half down from what Wikipedia mentions for "late 2007". The price is not just falling, it's plummeting like a jumbojet with both wings shot off. I love it. Can't wait to get the last mechanical pieces out of my computers.

-Lars

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035256)

Can't wait to get the last mechanical pieces out of my computers
What? Do they now have a CD drive that can read any part of the disc with no moving parts? Cool!

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (1, Funny)

Lars Clausen (1208) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035334)

What? Do they now have a CD drive that can read any part of the disc with no moving parts? Cool!
No, but I don't expect my laptop to have an internal CD drive, for as rarely as I need it I'm fine with an external one. Also saves space and power, not to mention the internal "gotta spin up the CD just for fun" symptom.

-Lars

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (1)

wwwillem (253720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035752)

What? Do they now have a CD drive that can read any part of the disc with no moving parts? Cool!

Yes, that's called a USB stick!! A one gig one (CD size) is nearly a give-away, and a DVD matching 4 GB stick is by now pretty affordable as well. And hey, you can even boot from them.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035818)

Last I saw, I couldn't pick up a 100-pack of 1-Gig flash drives (I haven't been to the flea market forever...) for $25.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (1)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035524)

Yeah, but if you look at SD cards the raw retail cost of flash is about $4/GB (newegg) So realistically the 32gb drive is only worth 128 dollars in flash, plus the cost of the IDE/SATA flash controller logic. The problem is that this logic is new and probably expensive. I give it about a year for volume and competition to ramp up on these controllers, and then they will drop to commodity pricing. Then I would guess the sweet spot would be $2/GB for flash, 64gb drive (2x$64 + $10 (controller logic)) = $138. Give it a year.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (2, Funny)

LooseBrie (1060650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22036092)

Can't wait to get the last mechanical pieces out of my computers.
I'm intrigued how you read CDs/DVDs. I'm also interested how you keep your machines cool.

Re:Lets try the other way around, eh (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035656)

And don't forget the horrible write performance.

By the end of this year, they won't suck, and another halving of price will approach reasonable.

So we are back to RAM drives! (3, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034800)

Oh well everything that old is new again I guess.
I used a RAM drive on my Amgia way back when. Yes I know that they are how using flash but it does seem very familiar.
I wonder when we might see a hybrid flash-ram drive? A big bunch of ram for high speed and flash for permanent storage. Just use a super cap for a power backup and have it copy the ram to flash on power down. A little bit pricey but if you need the speed you need the speed.

Re:So we are back to RAM drives! (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034916)

First thing I did when I put 64MB in my old Mac Performa 6100 was set up a 40MB or so RAM drive. I then copied the System Folder over to it and set it as the startup volume. That's still about the fastest I've ever seen a machine boot (took about 3-4 seconds from the startup chime). Too bad it wasn't non-volatile memory...

Re:So we are back to RAM drives! (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034958)

I have never seen the point in setting up a fixed RAM drive.
The amiga natively supported a variable sized RAMdrive which was always 'full' but as long as physical memory was available still had space.

Anything else since has seemed archaic.

Re:So we are back to RAM drives! (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035080)

I have never seen the point in setting up a fixed RAM drive.

I think it had more to do with how the old MacOS handled memory management. That is, very poorly.

Re:So we are back to RAM drives! (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035486)

There can be issues of allocation in a multi-user environment, where you want to have a set ceiling for the drive. In some cases this ceiling has to be low, so there's not a lot of benefit of dynamic allocation over just allocating the dang thing.

Certainly in a personal-only environment where I do not compartmentalize security, it seems obviously desirable.

Just saying, it isn't always what you want.

Re:So we are back to RAM drives! (1)

Heddahenrik (902008) | more than 6 years ago | (#22036000)

ramfs and tmpfs on Linux work so that they don't take any memory when not filled with something, but they also have a specified maximum size.

As a side-note I can tell that putting a database on tmpfs is a really bad idea because it gets very slow when it's swapped out (compared to being on a disk in the normal way) and it will get swapped out. ramfs worked like charm, but it makes it hard to shut down the server cleanly, of course.

Re:So we are back to RAM drives! (2, Informative)

Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035210)

I wonder when we might see a hybrid flash-ram drive? A big bunch of ram for high speed and flash for permanent storage.
Normal magnetic hard drives already do this [wikipedia.org] to speed up sequential access (read ahead) among other reasons. No reason to believe this feature won't be transfered to SSD media. Although flash is much faster than magnetic media already.

Re:So we are back to RAM drives! (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035260)

I wonder when we might see a hybrid flash-ram drive? A big bunch of ram for high speed and flash for permanent storage.


But isn't this pretty much what we have now for every drive we use? The only difference is that the "high-speed RAM cache" is located in the unused portion of your computer's RAM, instead of being part of the drive itself. I'm not sure what the advantage of putting another cache inside the drive itself would be; why not spend the money adding more RAM to your computer instead... that way the cache can be used by any disk you attach, and isn't restricted to just one drive.

Re:So we are back to RAM drives! (1)

robosmurf (33876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22036038)

RAM for a RAM disk could potentially use slower (and cheaper) memory than the main memory.

Also, as it wouldn't have to be attached to the main memory controller, there is the possibility of adding more RAM than could be supported by the main system.

Neither of these reasons is amazingly compelling, but there might be a niche for this. Particularly if people are still stuck with 32bit Windows, and thus limited in main RAM size.

Re:So we are back to RAM drives! (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035924)

My 'ideal' hybrid drive would have DRAM, Flash *and* magnetic platters.

2GB or so of DRAM as a buffer and as a /temp filesystem for things like internet cache, swap and other stuff that can (and maybe should) be cleared/erased on a reboot. Flash for the hardest hit bits, like FAT tables and disk indeces so the heads on the platters don't have to jump around as much, and magnetic media because it's cheap.

Downside is, you'd really need an OS that could 'tag' writes as volaitile/io priority/standard data, and some smarts built into the drive itself to take advantage of the tags.

within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have troubl (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034810)

HDD still have a ways to go. In particular, the flash storage will be used for desktops, laptops and the core of servers. The real data will still reside on HDD for a long time to come because of cost / MB. What will happen is that HDD will learn to really park and lower their energy needs, most likely due to dropping in size. Tape has been used for eons for back-up, but I think that HDD will overtake that role as their prices will be forced to go way down.

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (3, Interesting)

DeeQ (1194763) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034854)

I don't think so, tapes will still have many uses. They are very reliable for backups more than I would trust a hard drive. They also have the ability to be taken to off site locations like all backups should be. Hard drives would make doing that a little more difficult, even with external Hard drives it would be more of a pain than having the media of a tape. I don't see the tape going away any time soon.

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (0, Offtopic)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035042)

...and I have known at least two women who seem to enjoy being tied up in magnetic tape. Not only is it 'good memory' but it seems to have an effect on my hard drive systems as well.

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (3, Insightful)

jaweekes (938376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035120)

I actually see the solid state drives replacing tape (if the cost goes down). They would be smaller then tape, and the life-span would be as good. You could technically have a SSD loader, working like the current tape loaders, and the only thing needed would be a good connector that can take several thousand insertions (like the SD connector). SSD would be more reliable then tape because of the reduced mechanical parts.

SSD's would have all the advantages of tape (portable, easy to load, etc) without the mechanical problems that tape has. Wow, I need to patent this now!

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (1)

Wicko (977078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035354)

Really? I would have thought that magnetic tapes were more prone to damage/errors. I have no experience with them, but I guess I automatically related them to VHS tapes or cassettes, both of which show signs of noise after being used X amount of times. That and the fact that a magnet next to it can really screw it up. Then again, same goes for HDD...

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (1)

DeeQ (1194763) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035518)

Well, Im not sure about you but im my personal VHS and cassette players I never used a cleaning tape to maintain them. Using a cleaning tape on a monthly basis in tape drives seems to have great results. Also there is alot more ware and tare on a VHS or cassette player you are constantly pulling tapes in and out every couple of hours or so. With a tape drive backup its a daily type thing most likely which wouldn't put as much ware. Its all about maintaining them properly.

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (1)

Wicko (977078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035702)

True, and I guess VCRs and tape decks aren't really made with longevity in mind (instead, use cheap parts to sell to the consumer for lower prices), and could cause some of these problems with VHS or cassette, whereas the entire purpose of a tape drive is to backup information, and longevity is the main factor in a purchase..

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (1)

Apparition-X (617975) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035528)

With respect to the "trust" issue: this is perception, not reality. Disk drive arrays of the type used for backup (virtual tape) have a reliability rating of 99.99% to 99.999% for uptime, and lose or corrupt data even less than that. The very best tape will approach 99.5% but only if it is not physically moved outside of a tape library--like it would, for example, it taken off site for disaster recovery purposes. The moment that humans start to handle it, bump it, get it dirty, etc, reliability drops below 99%, sometimes well below to the 95% level or so. So, very best case, disk is at least an order of magnitude more reliable than tape, and most often, several orders of magnitude.

full disclosure: I work for a company that sells virtual tape. Nevertheless, all the data is backed up by vendor neutral analysts like Gardner, and tape companies themselves.

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22034890)

That's hardly the situation at all. For massive magnetic data storage, tape is still very valid. You're just not going to find 500GB HDD's with such low failure rates in 10-packs for $1000 like you can get tapes at today. And tape can drop in price much more easily than HDD's will.

I'd give it a good 10-15 years before our massive tape storage units disappear from the datacenters.

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035192)

Actually you can pick up 10 500GB SATA Seagate drives with 5 year warranties for $1300.

The price per GB will continue to fall, so magnetic storage will be more cost effective. Of course there are other advantages and disadvantages to both.

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035460)

In the end, ppl will pick what is convenient Back-up is going to be moved to being a service. No doubt BIG business will continue to run tape drives. But the homes, and small businesses will move to service approach instead. And most are using hard drives with compression.

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (3, Interesting)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034942)

As I understand it, the problem with using HDDs for backup, at least archival backup, has more to do with longevity than anything else. An LTO tape has a shelf life of 30 years. HDDs don't.

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (1)

Sen.NullProcPntr (855073) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035556)

An LTO tape has a shelf life of 30 years. HDDs don't.
You are probably right but are there any numbers on the expected shelf life (powered down) of a HDD? The typical 1-5 year warranty assumes normal usage with a certain number of power on/off cycles and some number of MBs written and read per day. What about the case of write once, power off for a long time, then read? It may turn out that HDDs are more durable than tape.

Or looking at it from the other side - how long would a tape last as your swap media?

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035838)

I'm sure there are enough old hard drives floating around places that accept used computer equipment (Goodwill, Tech museums, collectors) that we should be able to do a quick survey.....provided someone can find a working RLL controller.

Layne

Re:within 5 years, tape manufactuers will have tro (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035516)

"Tape has been used for eons for back-up, but I think that HDD will overtake that role as their prices will be forced to go way down."

There may be another revolution in hard drive technology if they keep pushing new head designs, i.e. "non-mechanical" heads (i.e. light/lasers/etc), how feasible and cost effective this is, is up in the air.

apple (4, Interesting)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034822)


The sales guy at the Apple store told me that there was a persistent rumor of a solid state laptop coming in the next few weeks...

Boot camp + solid state = me finally replacing the old powerbook!!

Re:apple (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035728)

So you're assuming that windows would just magically compile the drivers for all the new hardware they may be introducing in their ultraportable?
For all we know that thing may well have a multitouch screen. What use would your bootcamp be for that then?

Unless the windows table version is included into whatever version of windows you're intending on running on the new ultrap.

Sequential reading? (3, Informative)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034842)

I was talking to a gentleman from (big name hard drive company) about their plans for hybrid and/or solid state drives. Essentially he told me that solid state was still limited by price and sequential reading. So it may be advantageous to put some things on flash like OS files that require a lot of random seeks, but for sequential reading of things like media files, traditional hard drive tech won't die just yet . . .I apologize for being too lazy to back this stuff up with numbers, what can I say, I'm a true slahsdotter.

Re:Sequential reading? (5, Informative)

jdunn14 (455930) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035012)

I've never seen the performance numbers for sequential vs random read on flash drives, but you have to do pretty damn bad to get beat by random access on a standard hard drive. If you look at the the units used you'll get the idea. Your average random access on a standard drive is based on the average seek time which is measured in small milliseconds (4 ms, 8ms). Access time for flash drives is measured in double-digit nanoseconds (e.g. 60ns). That's 5 orders of magnitude difference. Even if the access time for random reads on flash was 100 times worse than it's average access time those reads would STILL be 1000 times faster than from a hard drive.

I don't think people realize just HOW slow drives are compared to the rest of the machine. Sure we programmers know the disk is "slow" but it really puts it in perspective to know it's a 100000 times slower than an alternative tech.

Re:Sequential reading? (2, Informative)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035986)

Well those are seek times, as you said. Reading/writing continuous data is very fast, and the OS (and some HDDs) will use memory caches so that data access will be continuous as possible. The problem of hard disk seek times has become less and less of a problem as memory has increased.

Re:Sequential reading? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22035114)

For sequential reading a SSD would still SMOKE a HD. As that is what they were designed for. Most experiance people have with SSD is thru a USB 1.1 interface. Which is not exactly that fast. Also random with the type of flash currently being put in these devices actually has a random performance hit. Also by putting small chunks of S/DRAM they can smooth out any speed bumps. You can quite litteraly put a gig of DRAM memory on the thing for cache.

Where traditional hard drive tech has the SSD is price per MB. You can build a 1TB SSD but it will cost a bunch currently. At least WAY more than the $~300 1TB HDs are right now. You are seeing about $10 per GIG on SSD drives currently. That is pretty high up there vs the 0.30 for HD.

I dont see it (2, Interesting)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034880)

Maybe in 09... not 08... unless we get chipsets that can supply greater throughput, the chipset will become the bottleneck - therefore, the only reason to have one of these is in a laptop or desktop... and thats for people for whom price is no object.

In the enterprise sector... forget about it... Even SATA drives are becoming ideal for storage solutions, and a simple raid-5 will max out the cap of a raid controller's bus.

So in other words... I don't see it.

Re:I dont see it (5, Insightful)

Lars Clausen (1208) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034950)

We have already been running tests showing Lucene to be several times as fast on large indexes and realistic queries using SSD than using normal drives. I'm going to have a smallish SSD in my new laptop combined with an external drive for my large data. Faster, more solid, and less battery usage. Doesn't matter if I get 32GB rather than 160GB on board. I agree fully with the OP, SSD will really break through in 2008. Dell already offers it as an option. It's all a matter of usage patterns right now, in the long term I am prety sure hard disks will die.

-Lars

Re:I dont see it (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035062)

I fully agree - but not in 08. As far as large indexes and such - raid-10 yourself and save some duckets. I have first hand exposure to this stuff and for 99% of people, they are wow'ed by the performance of a simple SATA raid array.

Re:I dont see it (1)

Lars Clausen (1208) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035202)

I would give you the data on the direct comparison, but they haven't been published yet. Even over RAID-5, we get twice the speed without any warm-up time. And once you're talking high-performance HDD + RAID controller + extra disks for RAID + extra power for HDD + extra power for cooling, the savings on HDD are minimal if not gone.

-Lars

Re:I dont see it (2, Informative)

initdeep (1073290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22036074)

I have a 64GB SSD Drive in my Dell M1330 Laptop. I too use an external as storage for files.
The differences, side-by-side, to one without it, simply for OS Startup, are easily 3 to 1 in speed.

I was lucky enough to basically get the drive for free due to the EPP program coupons and discounts and other discounts..
otherwise i would never have gotten it.

But I'm sure glad i did.

I've also noticed a slight increase in battery life, although this could be simply a small difference in batteries themselves.

Wait... (2, Funny)

mc moss (1163007) | more than 6 years ago | (#22034900)

I thought this was the year of the Linux desktop.

Re:Wait... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22035044)

Well, it looks like the year of many things:

2008: The year of the big airline merger [nytimes.com]
2008: The year of RSS [typepad.com]
2008: The year of OpenID [identity20.com]
2008: The year of layout engine - CSS3 [css3.info]
2008: The year of principles [usatoday.com]
2008: The year of Palestine [bbc.co.uk]

And all along I thought it was the year of the rat...

Re:Wait... (1)

Loibisch (964797) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035400)

You forgot that it is probably also "The Year of Linux on the Desktop" again...like every year before. :)

(sidenote: 2007 was "the year of Linux on MY Desktop" at least...+1 to the crowd)

Retrofitting existing equipment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22034980)

Is there any hope of retrofitting old existing boxes with these drives or are they all going to come with newer (eg: SATA) interfaces?
I have a few older servers which will be too expensive to completely replace, but it would be nice to have solid state drives in

Re:Retrofitting existing equipment? (1)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035064)

Is there any hope of retrofitting old existing boxes with these drives or are they all going to come with newer (eg: SATA) interfaces?
I have a few older servers which will be too expensive to completely replace, but it would be nice to have solid state drives in


Hasn't SATA been around for five years? I agree it would be nice to keep old interfaces around, but at some time, you're going to have to buckle up and replace your server if you want to use new technologies

Re:Retrofitting existing equipment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22035090)

Hell, you can get addon SATA PCI cards. You have to have a _really_ old server for it to be totally incapable of SATA.

Reports I Continue to Hear (3, Informative)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035034)

Reports I continue to hear is of blocks going bad (meaning that overall storage is reduced by measurable chunks, rather than failing all at once the way a head-crash on rotating media can happen) in as short as weeks of use. Especially when the drive is rather full to start with, since wear leveling doesn't tend to move stored data to empty slots.

Until that time is years, instead of weeks, I don't see myself preferring more expensive, or even equal cost SSD, over rotating media drives.

Re:Reports I Continue to Hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22036036)

HDD have the same issue they deal with it by including hidden storage space that only get's used as sectors goes bad. However, this increases random seek time on otherwise sequential data which is a PITA.

PS: A SSD with wear leveling last far longer than HDD when you do lot's of random R/W.

Re:Reports I Continue to Hear (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22036102)

Theres no need to move data already stored, the damage is caused by writes to flash, not reads.

Obligatory Wear Leveling Remark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22035070)

Allow me:

Initial Poster: These drives will not last! Solid state drives have limited read/write cycles.
Response: Dude! You are such a n00b. Newer versions of SSD have wear leveling to correct this problem!
Another responder: I am getting a kick out of these replies. We service 10,000 SSDs at our company and they only last 4 months.
Response: You suck!

It's not just for laptops... (2, Informative)

johnmcd (571171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035124)

Looks like the big boys are getting into the game also: EMC in Major Storage Performance Breakthrough; First with Enterprise-Ready Solid State Flash Drive Technology Market-leading Symmetrix DMX Systems to Feature Newest Flash-based Technology for Unprecedented Performance and Energy Efficiency http://www.emc.com/about/news/press/us/2008/011408-1.htm [emc.com] They're claiming a 10X performance improvement, but at 30X the cost/MB. Given that a high-end DMX holds around 3000 drives, that a lot of flash memory! John

Re:It's not just for laptops... (1)

BrianHursey (738430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035338)

Looks like you beat me to the posting.. I saw this this morning in my email. We will see how many customer bite into it.

Re:It's not just for laptops... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22035360)

The beauty of an enterprise storage system like EMCs Symmetrix is that, coupled with Documentum content management, you can set up automated lifecycle management and service level assignment so that the content that most needs to reside on your insanely expensive SSD storage at any given time is the content that is written there, and if that content is later reassigned to a lower service level (permanently or temporarily) it is automatically moved to more appropriate (read: cheaper) media. Done properly, this happens on-the-fly and automatically.

So you don't need to buy 100TB of flash storage for your 100TB of enterprise content ... you just need to spend a little time thinking about the value of your data and planning your storage infrastructure.

Re:It's not just for laptops... (1)

Apparition-X (617975) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035558)

Just to clarify: the performance expectation is 30x the number of IOPS than an equivalent capacity hard drive, 1/10th the response time.

Stupid tech, making me feel old (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035144)

When I was a lad, just starting out at university, back when nobody uncool knew what an iPod was, the biggest you could get was something like a 15GB version for £250, and it was a hard drive because as a rule of thumb, you couldn't fit more anything of value on a flash player. I was browsing on play.com last night, and Creative are doing a 16GB all-Flash player for about £160. That in itself wasn't surprising, as 16GB isn't much these days, but thinking back, this was one memory technology completely replacing another in a particular application. Really, I could see SSDs completely replacing hard drives in certain consumer products at the rate this is going. Joe and Jane public's internet box doesn't really need more than 50GB, does it? It'll keep them storing 10-megapixel holiday snaps for years.

Re:Stupid tech, making me feel old (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035560)

I've somehow managed to accumulate 50GB worth of data and I don't store anything of interest. If I was storing photos and video like Joe Average does I'd imagine I'd be looking for a new hard drive right about now.

On the MP3 player side of things, realistically, you can't even listen to 1GB worth of music in a day. Because it's synced with your computer it doesn't matter if you need to remove some songs to make room for more. Therefore if you synced your MP3 player daily you wouldn't need more than 1GB of storage (assuming you want to listen to new music each day). On the other hand, I wouldn't want to remove photos on my computer to make way for newer photos. That's why you need a huge drive in your computer, but you don't need much space at all in your MP3 player.

Re:Stupid tech, making me feel old (1)

jackpot777 (1159971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035842)

...but it IS nice to have so much stuff on your iPod that it throws the occasional shuffled song at you that makes you think "what the...?"

I had it two minutes ago. I don't remember putting "Move" by Moby into iTunes. But there it was. Nice. Really nice.

Re:Stupid tech, making me feel old (1)

jackpot777 (1159971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035778)

Joe and Jane public's internet box doesn't really need more than 50GB, does it? It'll keep them storing 10-megapixel holiday snaps for years.


Video files can be quite big, but I see web-based storage handling that in the coming years too. Even if you're taking video at 720p (1GB per 30 minutes of home movie), it'll be relatively simple for someone with basic computer skills to throw the clips together into one home movie and upload them to some future YouTube HD (or competitor) site. Or it should be: it's bloody simple now. And if it's just a stupid home movie, the 320 by 240 resolution of YouTube is good enough right now for the "here's my holiday to Cancun / Ibiza / Blackpool" crowd, even when enlarged to full-screen. Upload your holiday vid, delete the larger file (or back-up to a CD or DVD ROM), easy.

Oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22035146)

I was sure it's the year of the Linux desktop...

Say no to moving parts (2, Interesting)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035156)

We are finally starting to move away from a long era of computers with moving parts. Since conventional hard drives will be gone within 10 years (my prediction), all that remains is the media player (CD, DVD, etc). Obviously, I am not taking fans into consideration since I don't consider it to be a part of a computer system like a processor is.

Hopefully computers will be completely free from moving parts in 10 years or so. Now that would make it interesting for laptop owners.

Re:Say no to moving parts (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035378)

Fans will be replaced by water heaters and geeks will have to shower at least four times a day to keep the computer cool.

Re:Say no to moving parts (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035406)


We are finally starting to move away from a long era of computers with moving parts. Since conventional hard drives will be gone within 10 years (my prediction), all that remains is the media player (CD, DVD, etc). Obviously, I am not taking fans into consideration since I don't consider it to be a part of a computer system like a processor is.

Hopefully computers will be completely free from moving parts in 10 years or so. Now that would make it interesting for laptop owners.


And CD/DVDs can easily be replaced with HVD Cards. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Say no to moving parts (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035490)

Apparently, I didn't make myself clear. I'm not saying there is no alternative to CD/DVD/etc. Obviously, there is, with the most prominent being a simple internet connection. Eventually, everything will be downloaded instead of mounted via a disk. My point is that you don't buy a computer without a media player today because the vast majority still require it.

Re:Say no to moving parts (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035774)

all that remains is the media player (CD, DVD, etc)

The network replaced the CD/DVD media players years ago. I would like to say that Apple will discontinue the CD/DVD drive in certain models as soon as tomorrow (like they did with the floppy in the iMac), but I'm not sure we have a decent alternative for OS installation yet, so that's going to keep them around for a while longer.

SSD as a boot drive (5, Interesting)

supertux (608589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035296)

The article talks about large solid state drives, but because of the price premium, I've been experimenting with smaller SSDs. In particular, I've been using an 8GB 266x CF card coupled with a CF->SATA adapter as the OS drive for my mythtv system for 5 months now with great success.

Not only is the flash drive completely silent, it is reasonably fast. Reads always benchmark at 40MB a second and writes benchmark at 34MB a second.

I've been a bit worried about the flash wearing out after repeated writes, but so far so good. Since my mythtv mysql installation is stored on it, as well as the normal system log files, I'm sure it sees quite a lot of action.

But to my point...

One common problem with systems such as mythtv that are under heavy IO stress is that during these moments of stress (lots of recordings going on at once) the whole operating system grinds to a halt or at least becomes sluggish waiting on some needed IO.

It was very common on my old mythtv setup where I used the extra space on the OS hard drives as extra storage space for mythtv recordings. I'm not experiencing any of that sluggishness with the new setup.

This has got me thinking that for my future desktop system, maybe instead of getting a raptor for the OS drive, and a large, slower hard drive for the rest of my stuff in order to minimize IO bottlenecks, I should swap out the raptor for a 16GB SSD for the OS drive. I'd end up with something that has almost no latency, good speed, silent, and it may be possibly just as reliable in that role.

What do you think?

CDMA works for hard drives too! (2, Interesting)

Hasmanean (814562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035496)

As far as I know, hard drives encode data on the disk using simple binary waveforms. Communication systems are designed to use elaborate modulation schemes, and employ digital coding methods which make much more efficient use of the communication channel.

Hard drive makers could do something similar, like spreading the data over a number of physical bits on the disk (such as CDMA does.) Essentially, they would not be limited by the density of the data on the disk, but by the SNR (signal to noise ratio) of the magnetic medium, which I imagine is very high.

Taking this idea furthur, they could bifurcate their encoding methods into 2: a low latency one that retains the characteristics of existing drives, and a high-bandwidth-low-latency scheme which uses digital coding methods to spread each block of data over an entire cylinder for example, and has requires reading the whole cylinder to retrieve a single bit. This would be useful for storing video and large image data, which is retrieved linearly and usually buffered too, and does not require low-latency access the way normal files on a filesystem do.

Hybrid schemes are always better than simple implementations, if they provide a closer fit to reality.

Re:CDMA works for hard drives too! (1)

Hasmanean (814562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035530)

Sorry the second scheme I mentioned should read high-bandwidth/high-latency.
High-bw/low latency is what flash offers today, and is something hard disk makers can only dream about.

Flat panel/CRTs all over again (3, Informative)

JerryQ (923802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22035902)

In (approx) 1992 I went to SID (society for information display) in Florida, and a keynote speaker said, roughly: "I have been coming here for 30 years, and I expect to hear, just like I heard 30 years ago and most years since, that within 10 years flat panels will overtake CRTs and make them redundant. Why has this not happened? Because CRT has continued to get cheaper and better quality, thus removing the opportunity for flat panel, because the goals keep moving" He also pointed out that we would get there (and we have) but that we should never underestimate where old technologies can go. In 1983 I put together a business plan for an outsourced proposal I was working on, and we put in £17K (thats $28k) to cover a 70 megabyte hard drive. Now I see one inch drives in iPods carrying multi gigs. I believe that we will see phased take up, ie where it is needed most (e.g. like the way airlines put in flat panels instead of CRTs to reduce weight), before the HDD manufacturers will curl up and leave the scene. Jerry
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