The State of Solid State Hard Drives

I've seen a lot of people play The Computer Performance Shell Game poorly. They overinvest in a fancy CPU, while pairing it with limited memory, a plain jane hard drive, or a generic video card. For most users, that fire-breathing quad-core CPU is sitting around twiddling its virtual thumbs most of the time. Computer performance is typically limited by the slowest part in your system. You'd get better overall performance by building a balanced system and removing bottlenecks.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

For Militis re: Windows 7, on a Lenovo X200T with an OCZ Summit 120GB SSD, boots from the first “loading Windows” graphic to the login screen in 15 seconds. It really is amazing!

I replaced the stock hdd in my macbook pro with the Intel X25 160, and it’s a night and day difference.

Itunes loads in a second, same with firefox, mail, and other applications.

Magentic? Such colorful language! :slight_smile:

(I’m betting that was supposed to be “magnetic”.)

Watch out for the random write performance on non-Intel drives, though. I managed to snag a brand new 160gb Gen-2 Intel X25-M about 3 minutes after newegg finally got them in stock (after the recall), for MSRP of $449. 5 minutes later they started running their script. It got all the way up to $1000 that week …

My favorite graphs are the ones that show the I/O’s per second for random reads or random writes. Intel usually sits at the top, or pretty close. Even the cheapest, dirtiest SSD’s pull decent scores here. The most expensive 15k RPM SAS Ninja drives can’t get more than 1 pixel width on the chart.

For Militis re: Windows 7, on a Lenovo X200T with an OCZ Summit
120GB SSD, boots from the first “loading Windows” graphic to the
login screen in 15 seconds. It really is amazing!

And after you log in it takes another 30 seconds… just kidding but that’s how windows works. I think my 2year+ old winxp install on a thinkpad t61p (no ssd) takes less than 15seconds to get to the login screen. And I’m more of a power user, having a lot of apps installed and also removed over the years. That’s cool.
But after I login it takes soooo loooong till it eventually is done loading. Such a pain.


So you’re saying that upgrading my already-insanely-fast CPU is going to give me a better performance increase than getting a second gigabyte of RAM?

The “weakest link” model basically says exactly what you appear to be advocating - upgrade everything with not-quite-top-end parts instead of picking and choosing a handful of bleeding-edge components.

Did you try SanDisk SSD? i understand they are the best in the business of flash

I have the 160GB Intel X-25M in my desktop machine and it’s crazy fast. I previously had a Raptor RAID 0 striped set and it DESTROYS that setup. It’s like nothing you’ve every experienced. At the time that I purchased, the drive was over $700. You should be able to get them for around $500. They’re so fast, I’m probably going to change-out my company-owned corporate laptop drive on my own dime. It’s just that worth it.

(BTW, I DO back everything up to a HDD RAID 5 array).

You make some good points.

But as someone intimately involved in both technologies, hard disk is far from dead and SSD is far from a sure thing.

Stuff in the pipeline for HD has the potential to make SSD seem as silly as bubble memory. Densities of HD are still growing at a faster rate than SSD semiconductor scaling. Flash is on borrowed time as it is. Nanoelectronics is a wild card, as is even Moore’s Law. Planar CMOS is in its end-of-life phase right now.

From a device reliability standpoint, I very much doubt the 12-year lifetime estimate mentioned. Most minimal geometry transistors are already pushing half that lifetime under normal operating conditions. That would require a fair amount of redundancy to achieve at a systems level.

In general scaling down decreases lifetime and it will only get worse as we continue scaling downward. When I started in the industry, the estimated device lifetime was 1000 years. That dropped to a comfortable for still slimmer 20 years. This is one area that HD has a simplicity advantage.

Cannot agree more

@James, 2 points:

#1: If you do CPU intensive work (e.g., transcoding, raytracing, etc.) then upgrading your already-fast CPU to a faster one will certainly give you a better speedup than any other upgrade, even in your contrived example of only having 1 GB of RAM.

#2: No, I do not advocate upgrading all components to a not-quite-top-end level. Actually the opposite. I advocate buying low-end memory, motherboards, and video cards. Anything else is a waste of money unless you want a nice video card for 3-D gaming.


I did an online search for the drive and found some sites that offered the drive at close to what you paid, but I had not heard of the site before. Where did you get the drive for $325 + tax & shipping?


TRIM support?

$200-300? That’s how much my entire PC cost me. What kind of programming requires such beastly machines?

Wow… in the next years this will become the standard and the long loading times will be the past :smiley:

I want.

How timely - I’m buying an SSD this very week. Cheers, will take a look at the Crucial.

You sure know how to sell. I’m sold. I’d get SSDs next time.

Note currently SSDs have too much internal logic which vendors do for maximum compatability, but also to increase differentiation and user tie in.

This is analogous to the hardware/software RAID situation.