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Data Storage

2008, The Year of Solid State Storage 197

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the owe-me-a-solid dept.
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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2008, The Year of Solid State Storage

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  • by v1 (525388) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:19AM (#22034782) Homepage Journal
    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 4solarisinfo (941037)
      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.
      • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:47AM (#22035108) Homepage

        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....

        • And, of course, any technology with no moving parts is preferable-- mechanical parts have an annoying tendency to freeze up with vacuum thermal cycling.

          How are the SSD makers getting around the limited write cycles of flash drives? Flash, even high endurance can actually wear out faster than HDDs with all of Windows' endless writing to the page file. A fluid bearing HDD can last a long time theoretically. One of the problems with those few people who have managed to get Windows (XP, not PE) to boot from
    • by minginqunt (225413) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:31AM (#22034928) Homepage Journal
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bunratty (545641)
        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 dri
      • by alexhs (877055) on Monday January 14, 2008 @12:09PM (#22035396) Homepage Journal

        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: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          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.
      • 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 p
        • by vrmlguy (120854)

          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.
          • by Tatarize (682683)
            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.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        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

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lars Clausen (1208)
      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: (Score:2, Funny)

        by LooseBrie (1060650)

        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.
      • by afidel (530433)
        For laptops that's great but for a desktop I'd just buy 2x500GB drives(RAID-1) for $180 or so and have MUCH better write performance =) Also unless you're running something slower than a Via C3 you still have those pesky fans to worry about, I've minimized mine but I still have 4 of them (one intake, one outflow, one PSU and one CPU).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dfn_deux (535506)
        The 32GB SSD you can buy for 250USD will be unlikely to provide any performance or reliability increase over what that same 250gb would buy you in traditional magnetic media. I've done perf/reliability testing on all the current generation SSDs from mtron, stec, memoright, and ritek. And even the 800-1000USD SSD drives fall way short of their predicted write lifetime when put into any environment where i/o is primarily small random r/w operations vs large sequential stream r/w operations. Write leveling is
    • by Duncan3 (10537)
      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.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:21AM (#22034800) Homepage Journal
    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.

    • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      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.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        It has been that way for a long time it is called a cache.
        but the cache isn't as big as the drive.
        Flash is actually slower for writes and has limited write cycles.
        What I was imagining was using a ram drive for reading and writing data and then backing that up to a slow flashdrive when you powered down the drive.
        On power up You could pre cache the ram or just use it as a very large cache.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          It has been that way for a long time it is called a cache.
          but the cache isn't as big as the drive.
          Flash is actually slower for writes and has limited write cycles.

          True, but flash chips in parallel (the way SSD are made) make that less of an issue. Sort of how certain RAID configurations can speed up disk access times. Samsung [samsung.com] quotes maximum write speeds of SSD higher than equivalent magnetic HDD. Even the MTBF numbers are much much better for SSD. Of course the write speed is the maximum-guaranteed-never-to-exceed number the slowest write may very well be slower than the slowest HDD write.

          What I was imagining was using a ram drive for reading and writing data and then backing that up to a slow flashdrive when you powered down the drive. On power up You could pre cache the ram or just use it as a very large cache.

          I see, that would be a very fast drive (once all of flash has been read into

    • by Jeremi (14640)
      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

      • by robosmurf (33876) *
        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.
    • by ThreeGigs (239452)
      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
      • by pragma_x (644215)

        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.

        I'm not an OS-driver developer, but that's nothing a custom filesystem driver for bsd/linux couldn't handle in some shape or form. You could probably base it off of file use patterns (allow for a 'learning' period before it gets smart) and have it do all that automatically without need for a specialized API or changes to how the OS wo

      • by amorsen (7485)
        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

        Why do you want to place the DRAM behind a slow SATA bus? Even if you switch to a better bus, nothing beats having a dedicated channel to the memory.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ch-chuck (9622)
      I always setup a ram disk for swap space - it's so much faster than regular drives.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:21AM (#22034810) Journal
    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.
    • by DeeQ (1194763) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:25AM (#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.
      • by jaweekes (938376) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:48AM (#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!
      • by Wicko (977078)
        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...
        • by DeeQ (1194763)
          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.
          • by Wicko (977078)
            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..
      • 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
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:27AM (#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.
      • by Albanach (527650)
        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.
      • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JerryLove (1158461)
      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.
      • 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?

        • by SQLGuru (980662)
          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
          • 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...

            That would be a good experiment, but it's not exactly the same thing - all those drives would have gone through the whole power cycle, read/write lifetime already. What I'm talking about is a HDD that gets very little use - write once, wait many years (in a controlled environment), read once.

            ..provided someone can find a working RLL controller.

            Another good point - not just for HDDs but will today's tape drive read a 30 year old tape? Do tape _drives_ last 30 years?

    • "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 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theMerovingian (722983) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:22AM (#22034822) Journal

    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!!

    • they'll tell you the sky is purple if you'll only buy a Mac because of it

      P.S. My Mac Mini rules
    • 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.

    • I guarantee you the sales guys at Apple have no knowledge of future products.
  • Sequential reading? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ookabooka (731013) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:24AM (#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.
    • by jdunn14 (455930) <jdunn@igTOKYOuanaworks.net minus city> on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:38AM (#22035012) Homepage
      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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kestasjk (933987)
        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.
  • I dont see it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rooked_One (591287) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:27AM (#22034880) Journal
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lars Clausen (1208) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:32AM (#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
      • 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.
        • 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: (Score:2, Informative)

        by initdeep (1073290)
        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... (Score:2, Funny)

    by mc moss (1163007)
    I thought this was the year of the Linux desktop.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:40AM (#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.

    • by BitZtream (692029)
      Theres no need to move data already stored, the damage is caused by writes to flash, not reads.
      • Theres no need to move data already stored, the damage is caused by writes to flash, not reads.

        The point of moving existing data is that the damage is done by writes. And long-term data has no writes performed to it. Therefore, for wear-leveling purposes, you would desirably wish to move the long-term data to a heavily written, but not yet failed, area of the flash, since it wouldn't be written again, freeing up the seldom-written, or even once-written, area for more use.

  • 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! Joh
    • Just to clarify: the performance expectation is 30x the number of IOPS than an equivalent capacity hard drive, 1/10th the response time.
  • by eebra82 (907996) on Monday January 14, 2008 @11:52AM (#22035156) Homepage
    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.
    • by doti (966971)
      CDs and DVDs are already more dead the the hard disk.
    • by Thanshin (1188877)
      Fans will be replaced by water heaters and geeks will have to shower at least four times a day to keep the computer cool.
    • by _KiTA_ (241027)

      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 replac
      • by eebra82 (907996)
        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.
  • EMC just announced this this morning. They are going to start haveing soldi state drives in there DMX-4 storage arrays. "EMC plans to offer flash drives in 73 GB and 146 GB capacities for the Symmetrix DMX-4 platform beginning later in Q1 2008". http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/141323/emc_readies_solidstate_drives_to_replace_disk_storage.html [pcworld.com]
  • SSD as a boot drive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by supertux (608589) * on Monday January 14, 2008 @12:03PM (#22035296) Homepage
    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?

    • by vrmlguy (120854)
      I'd use unionfs to mount a tmpfs on top of your SSD for log files and such. Have cron run snapmerge periodically to copy the changes back to the SSD. This will let your SSD enjoy a long and useful life. See http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/7714#N0xa50890.0xdfb370 [linuxjournal.com] for more info.
    • by DamonHD (794830)
      This is what I already do for my primary Net-facing server. Boot and most-frequently-accessed stuff on a 4GB SD card, the rest on the HDD which sleeps most of the time.

      http://www.earth.org.uk/low-power-laptop.html [earth.org.uk]

      Rgds

      Damon
      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        This is what I already do for my primary Net-facing server. Boot and most-frequently-accessed stuff on a 4GB SD card, the rest on the HDD which sleeps most of the time.

        http://www.earth.org.uk/low-power-laptop.html [earth.org.uk]

        Heh, I've been thinking about doing something similar with the Eee PC [wikipedia.org]. I think the Eee PC pretty useful to run some small services for me, for the fact that it's low powered, comes with a built in UPS (battery), built in microphone (good for generating entropy), flash based drive (less prone to fa

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Heddahenrik (902008)
      One thing that has been tested successfully in various places is to RAID (RAID0) the SSD-disks. It makes them about as twice as fast, and it should be possible to RAID them in bigger arrays too. As there is so little risk of one disk breaking down, there is no excuse to not RAID-0 them.

      These disks still have a problem with speed on random write though. It's nothing for read-write databases where NCQ (SATA2) disks are faster.
    • I've been thinking about this workaround for quite a while, but I never see anything discussed about it. But why not mitigate activity on the SSD by having /var be a ramdrive? Once the system is stable, cron a backup (snapshot) to the SSD, along with writes for whenever the partition is unmounted. Ram is cheap enough that for typical applications, /var shouldn't be too large (unless you have large caches stored in /var, but that can be solved with symbolic links)
  • 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
    • by maz2331 (1104901)
      Trust me, they are using some unbelievably complex modulation schemes to write the bits on the media. It isn't simple like BPSK or FSK.
  • by JerryQ (923802) on Monday January 14, 2008 @12:46PM (#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
  • Digital video tape is approaching a tenth of a cent per gigabyte. Still going to be one to three orders of magnitude lower than flash. Moving disk will be in between.
  • How long before buffering reads into memory is considered archaic legacy support and something to be avoided?
  • Ask Slashdot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pragma_x (644215) on Monday January 14, 2008 @02:23PM (#22037258) Journal
    SSD is expensive right now. Is there any kind of DIY solution for battery-backed RAM out there? How about hacking one together?

You will lose an important disk file.

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