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Intel Data Storage Hardware

Intel Confirms It Will Ship 160GB Flash Drives 228

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-some-solid-state dept.
Lucas123 writes "Intel has confirmed plans to ship a new line of solid-state drives for laptop and notebook PCs with storage capacities of 80GB to 160GB. While it did not lock in a ship date, Intel told Computerworld that the drives would be available in the second quarter. From the story: 'An aggressive move into the laptop and PC notebook flash disk drive business would catapult Intel into direct competition with hard drive manufacturers such as Toshiba Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. that are trying to spark demand before their SATA-based offerings are released in the coming months.'"
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Intel Confirms It Will Ship 160GB Flash Drives

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  • tell me I could have got a solid state one.

    Oh well. I'll just have to wait until the moving parts on this one stop moving.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The 160 GB SSD is probably 1-5x the size of your ipod...
      • by iamhassi (659463) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:18PM (#22730628) Journal
        "The 160 GB SSD is probably 1-5x the size of your ipod..."

        why do you say that? I can buy a 16gb flash drive for $60 [google.com]. Line 10 of those up and you have a 160gb flash drive for $600 that shouldn't be much bigger than a iPhone if you remove the unnecessary plastic and USB ports from the drives.

        Imagine a RAID0 array of ten 16gb flash drives! 200+ mByte/sec (ten x 20mB/sec) transfers and access times in nanoseconds vs hard drive milliseconds! No more bottlenecks.

        i for one welcome our new flash memory overlords!
        • by KingOfGod (884633) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <adardl>> on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:48PM (#22731066) Homepage Journal
          You forgot the 10x increased chance of unrecoverable failure.
    • by Tarlus (1000874)

      Great. I buy a 160GB iPod and now they tell me I could have got a solid state one.
      They do?
      Where?
    • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:25PM (#22730740) Homepage Journal
      I'm here today to announce the future availability of 10TB solid-state drives.

      Pricing, manufacturing, and delivery date will be announced at a later date.
  • Proof (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Slashidiot (1179447) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:27PM (#22729954) Journal
    More proof that competing companies are good for consumers. I just hope that toshiba and samsung have enough strength to come up with something that takes the lead from intel.
  • by onefriedrice (1171917) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:28PM (#22729970)
    The price needs to drop a lot for me to consider one above the tried-and-true magnetic hard drive.
    • by Pharmboy (216950) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:38PM (#22730120) Journal
      At the show in December [computerworld.com], another article said:

      "In a short demonstration of an Intel solid-state drive at work in a laptop, Saleski showed that the drive could read and write 680MB of data and related storage in 24 seconds. The read and write speed of the solid state drive will be three to four times faster than that of most hard drives, and it will initially cost as much as three times as much as a hard drive, he said."

      If in a year they are twice the price of a regular hard drive, that is a bargain for some of us, if for no other reason that to use it as a swap drive for the OS and scratch drive for Photoshop. It would also making loading game levels much faster, so an 80gb version could make an affordable addition to a regular drive that has the OS.

      • by timeOday (582209) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:53PM (#22730306)
        3x the sustained read/write at 3x the price of a winchester drive is too good to be true. Keep in mind the access time for SSD destroys a hard drive. When you consider the value of data on a drive, and what it costs to have a tech replace one, I'd think winchester drives will quickly be obsolete in PCs for business users.
      • You're right, but I think we'll be in dire need of some optimization in the scenarios you describe.

        I know that Photoshop allows you to specify a scratch drive, and I'm assuming there's a way to specify where to toss the swap file in Windows (I know this is simple in Linux by just creating the swap partition on the flash drive).

        The problems come in your game example: Yes, game level loading (and related assets) would be greatly improved, and the performance improvement is definitely welcomed. But you wouldn'
        • 80GB is actually enough to install the system, the swap, some softwares and some games. I do it with a Raptor. Data are stored on 2 other 250GB drives. I have never filed my Raptor to render it unusable. Now I have only 6 games installed on my computer and when I am fed up of one, I uninstall it and load a newer one...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lagfest (959022)
        If you're on a workstation, plugging in a few 8 or 16 GB ram modules [metaram.com] might be better than using a photoshop scratch disk.

        /not affiliated with metaram btw.
    • Better hope that it doesn't drop too quickly into hard drive prices or you'll crash the heads
  • Bummer. (Score:3, Funny)

    by RandoX (828285) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:30PM (#22729980)
    I thought this was an announcement for a 160 gig USB thumb drive. Not that I could afford it anyway.
    • at that size it better be a usb 3.0, firewire 400 or higher, or E-sata. Even firewire 400 is faster then usb 2.0.
  • Logical move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crow (16139) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:30PM (#22729992) Homepage Journal
    It's very difficult to move into an established market, like disk drives. There's tons of technical expertise to acquire, and without your share of patents to negotiate a sharing deal, you're going to be paying through the nose in royalties. You just don't see new disk drive companies popping up. The only way to enter the market is to buy or partner with an existing player.

    The shift to flash drives changes all this.

    This is Intel's one chance to become a major player in a component that they haven't been involved in until now.
    • by msgmonkey (599753)
      Intel have been in the flash memory market for as long as I can remember, they're just focusing on a growth market like everyone else is. AMD where also in the game, have n't really kept up with what they have been up to though.
    • Re:Logical move (Score:5, Informative)

      by thrillseeker (518224) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:03PM (#22730440)
      I'm curious at what point we will quit treating these hard drive replacements as that, and instead treat them as what they are - large arrays of addressable memory. Without doing the homework to be sure, I suspect that being able to remove the overhead of an OS building the needed protocol stream to address this memory as a hard drive, and instead treating it as memory, would save significant(?) code/time.
      • There is very little overhead in the block device protocol (and they are still block devices - flash chips are typically not bit-addressable, they are collections of block that must each be erased in one go). Most of the overhead is in the filesystem and you still need that for flash.
      • Re:Logical move (Score:4, Informative)

        by joe_bruin (266648) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @10:10PM (#22735154) Homepage Journal
        No, this doesn't work. NOR flash can be addressed directly. This is not NOR flash, it's NAND. NAND can only be written and read in blocks. NAND requires block error correction due to the high incidence of bit errors (especially on multi-level cells). NAND uses complex wear-leveling software and a lot of black magic to work well (not just block remapping, but active block moving). NAND is very slow compared to real memory, and if you tried to read it as directly-mapped memory your processor would slow down to a crawl.

        NAND flash is really a block device. There's no getting around it. Some assumptions we make today will have to be thrown out (such as assuming there's an advantage to writing blocks close together or trying to reorder reads so the drive head sweeps in the most efficient manner), but in general access to NAND memory makes sense only through the same block serialization stack we use today for disks.
    • by bendodge (998616)
      Flash drives are very nice, but I want bigger SD cards (or something similar). That way I can buy a pocketful of cheap storage cards for something like the Eee. USB flash drives stick out too far. (Although the type without any housing on the plug somewhat cure that.)

      Is there some limiting problem for SD cards that prevents them from being 20GB or so?
    • It's quite possible that by 2015, most consumer PC's will not have hard drives. Hard drives will be relegated to servers that have over a terabyte.
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:33PM (#22730036)
    Yes Megnetic Media is cheaper then Solid state... But higher speeds and still its prices are falling fast too, battery power usage, less points of failure. It really seems like the way to go. I could see Magnetic Media go the way of the CRT in 10 years? I think it is possible. Unless Magnetic makes some Huge Improvement in capasity and also we get a hug increase in demmand in data. Because drive size has began starting to exceed our data storage needs (at least on a personal computer Level)
    • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@nosPam.keirstead.org> on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:37PM (#22730090) Homepage

      Because drive size has began starting to exceed our data storage needs (at least on a personal computer Level)

      Er.... I have several 30 GB HD rips that would tend to disagree with you.

      Multimedia content is still huge. Your standard from-the-factory PC can only hold 3-4 high quality movies. I know people who have multi-TB RAID arrays to archive their media content and are already feeling storage crunches.

      • by qortra (591818)
        Hear Hear! Current storage capacity is just fine for people who use gmail and openoffice, but not for people who actually use their computers for media - especially video and uncompressed/losslessly compressed images and audio. I am one of those people who has a multi-TB linux server in the basement. I ripped my music collection to FLAC, and got about 1/3 of the way through my DVD collection (raw rips with menus), and now I need more space - significantly more space. If there is a be a brave new physica
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jellomizer (103300) *
        Why do you think I gave it a 10 year span...

        I never stated that people will not be able to fill the drives but it is a case the demmand for space is less then the supply of space in general... Back in them olden days were drive size was in the 100s of Megabytes people were rather quickly filling up the drives with normal operations. This was true until drive size got over 40 Gigabytes. About 10 year ago... While drive size has increased we can still get by quite well with 40 Gig hard drive. Even with Vista
      • by Anpheus (908711)
        The ratio between hard disk capacity and the size of the content we put on it is increasing, actually. Look at the trends, the launch date of the CD-ROM and DVD-ROM coincided with fantastically smaller hard disks than we have today, and they could hold proportionally less CD and DVD content without changing the compression. This is not idle speculation, this is cold hard fact.

        And this will only get worse. Already 1080P content requires you to be within 6 feet or so of a 100" screen to discern the difference
      • I'm in the middle of speccing 2 10TB fileservers for the research group I work for, and that's a pittance compared to some data storage needs in science and certainly in enterprise. Magnetic disc for large-scale storage isn't going anywhere for a while unless they can *really* push up SSD storage capacity cheaply.
    • The difficulty of fabricating flash memory are in the orders of magnitute more diffuclt compared to covering a metal disk with some magnetic material. So there will always be a market for magnetic media, unless that is replaced by some similarly cheap technology.
      • by jellomizer (103300) * on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:14PM (#22730574)
        Um sorry I was a sleep for 40 years and I just woke up... This Internet thing is pritty cool...

        But the Difficulty of fabricating Magnetic Memory is magnitutes more diffucly compared to punching holes in some cardstock. So there will always a need for Punchcards.
        • by msgmonkey (599753)
          Erm, Magnetic Memory did n't get rid of Punchcards.
          • Are you talking about in general or the fact that there is still useage of punch cards in some extent still existing....

            In gerneal computing Punchcards as they were used with early computers is dead. People do not store instructions on these cards for normal use (unless they are into retro stuff)

            Punch Cards are still used for storing small amounts of data, that can be handed to a person and then easilly put into a computer to track information such as Toll Roads without using EZ-Pass.

            I expect a simular fate
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrVomact (726065)

      I could see Magnetic Media go the way of the CRT in 10 years? I think it is possible. Unless Magnetic makes some Huge Improvement in capasity and also we get a hug increase in demmand in data.

      Sure, it's possible. Ten years leaves you a bit of wiggle room. But I'm skeptical...I think hard drives will still be around in 20 years. Heck...I'll bet on 100 years—I won't be around to pay up.

      The reason I am skeptical of announcements of the impending doom of magnetic drives is that I first heard it in...l

    • Survey says 5 years, tops.
    • Sure it could, over the late medium- to long-term. But my iMac has a 500 GB HD in it while a 64 GB SSD would represent 2/3 of the iMac's price. Even with Intel's announcement, we're not going to see any price/GB ratios that will make heavy inroads through desktops for a long time.

      Laptops... maybe, but we're still a few years away from seeing this approach the mainstream.

  • by calebt3 (1098475) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:35PM (#22730062)
    What filesystem (NTFS, ext3, etc) is best for solid-state drives anyways? All of our commom filesystems are written for spinning drives, and certain features (such as ext3 self-defragmentation) probably shorten a flash drives lifespan.
    • by peragrin (659227)
      Can someone with more knowledge,tell me if ZFS is better for flash drives over say NTFS or HFS+.

      I am wondering if OS X's slow move to ZFS has some unexpected side effects.
    • by von_rick (944421) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:43PM (#22730176) Homepage
      Why would you need defragmentation when there's no read head to consider? The whole idea behind defragmenting programs is to gather a file at one place so that the head doesn't have to jump to different addresses on the cylinder.
      • by calebt3 (1098475) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:48PM (#22730232)
        Exactly my point. Ext3 defragments itself automatically, which does more harm than good on a flash drive.
        • by Spoke (6112) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @03:08PM (#22731348)

          Ext3 defragments itself automatically
          No it doesn't. While ext3 does try to keep files contiguous and inodes in directories close to one another, it definitely does NOT do any defragmentation. ext2/3 filesystems have a history of getting highly fragmented over time and it gets worse the less free space you have on the disk.

          The ONLY way you can defragment a file is to copy the fragmented file to another partition, remove it and copy it back. If you want to defragment a complete ext2/3 filesystem, make a backup of the filesystem using tar, delete the original and restore the backup.

          No, this is not something you want to do while other software may be looking for the file.

          Of the common filesystems available for Linux (ext2/3, xfs, jfs, reiserfs) the only one that supports online defragmentation is xfs (using the xfs_fsr utility) and this has to be scheduled manually.

          Fragmentation in ext2/3 files is a huge problem when appending to files over long periods of time. You can check the fragmentation of any file on ext2/3 using the filefrag utility. Make a copy of a highly fragmented file (even to the same partition) and you will see the number of fragments go down dramatically, unless you don't have much free space left on the partition and the space you have free is also highly fragmented.
      • by nuzak (959558)
        > Why would you need defragmentation when there's no read head to consider?

        Because contiguous reads and writes are still faster than scattered ones. This means you have to avoid small fragments anyway -- once the fragments are big enough, making them all adjacent won't help much.
        • by ghjm (8918)
          No, really, they aren't. If you just read block 2000 from flash media, a subsequent read of block 2001 and a subsequent read of block 546725 execute in exactly the same amount of time. Most modern flash devices randomize the actual locations to distribute wear evenly, so when you request logical block 2000 you might be getting physical block 71541, and then when you request logical block 2001 you might get physical block 391515. This makes a mockery of the very concept of defragmentation. You would be spend
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by amorsen (7485)

            No, really, they aren't. If you just read block 2000 from flash media, a subsequent read of block 2001 and a subsequent read of block 546725 execute in exactly the same amount of time.

            In the beginning, back in the days of interleave, hard drives were pretty close to random access. Tape drives had around the ratio of transfer speed to seek speed that hard drives have today. At one time RAM was truly random access as well, now reading the next byte is often more than 10 times faster than reading a random one. The same thing is happening to flash. Of course it will be decades before the problem will be as big as the one we have with hard drives now, but it will happen.

    • by Abcd1234 (188840)
      probably shorten a flash drives lifespan.

      Well, that's probably only true on drives that don't automatically do wear leveling. Is it a waste of effort? Sure. But the additional write cycles will probably have a negligible effect given the sheer number of memory cells available in a device such as this.
      • by Telvin_3d (855514)
        Even if it has a minor effect, why should we be willing to put up with any degradation at all?
        • by Abcd1234 (188840)
          Because it's not worth the trouble to find a "better" filesystem if you've got one that already works reliably and well?
      • I think wear leveling probably potentially has significant limits that proponents seem to ignore. Especially if you have less than 10% free space. Then all your writes will "wear level" over the available free space and degrade orders of magnitude faster than the maker suggests.

        That said, I haven't found a decently detailed write-up on exactly how wear-leveling accomplishes its task. I'm assuming that stuff that is rarely written will end up occupying space that's not available to the wear leveling algor
        • I've heard that modern implementations will move existing data around to keep the free space fresh enough for wear leveling.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Abcd1234 (188840)
          I think wear leveling probably potentially has significant limits that proponents seem to ignore.

          Well, I think the earth probably is the center of the universe. 'course, both of our statements are unsupported by anything but guesswork, so why should either statement be believed over the people actually working in the industry on wear-leveling technology in modern flash drives?

          Especially if you have less than 10% free space.

          a) 10% of a 160GB flash drive is still 16GB... plenty of space, even if you are conc
    • by mapkinase (958129)
      So what is flash drive lifespan nowadays in terms of read/write ops?
      • by calebt3 (1098475) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:30PM (#22730794)
        Hmm...
        I just found this [storagesearch.com]:

        Unlike DRAM, flash memory chips have a limited lifespan. Further, different flash chips have a different number of write cycles before errors start to occur. Flash chips with 300,000 write cycles are common, and currently the best flash chips are rated at 1,000,000 write cycles per block (with 8,000 blocks per chip). Now, just because a flash chip has a given write cycle rating, it doesn't mean that the chip will self-destruct as soon as that threshold is reached. It means that a flash chip with a 1 million Erase/Write endurance threshold limit will have only 0.02 percent of the sample population turn into a bad block when the write threshold is reached for that block. The better flash SSD manufacturers have two ways to increase the longevity of the drives: First, a "balancing" algorithm is used. This monitors how many times each disk block has been written. This will greatly extend the life of the drive. The better manufacturers have "wear-leveling" algorithms that balance the data intelligently, avoiding both exacerbating the wearing of the blocks and "thrashing" of the disk: When a given block has been written above a certain percentage threshold, the SSD will (in the background, avoiding performance decreases) swap the data in that block with the data in a block that has exhibited a "read-only-like" characteristic. Second, should bad blocks occur, they are mapped out as they would be on a rotating disk. With usage patterns of writing gigabytes per day, each flash-based SSD should last hundreds of years, depending on capacity. If it has a DRAM cache, it'll last even longer.
    • Check our my post to the Linux Kernel Mailing List: http://lkml.org/lkml/2007/8/23/5 [lkml.org] It drew a lot of responses from kernel developers.
    • by AaronW (33736) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:18PM (#22730640) Homepage
      I was reading up on this a while back and it was recommended to use EXT2 instead of EXT3 since the journal would cause a lot more wear on the flash.

      I think there is definitely room for a Linux filesystem that is optimized for dealing with flash devices and limits the number of times data must be written. Furthermore, don't pad with 0's but with 1's (erased flash has all the bits as 1's).

      I would love to see a simple universal flash filesystem which could be used by portable devices and PCs without all the limitations of FAT32 (i.e. 4GB file limit) which seems to be the current fs of choice for consumer devices.

      JFFS2 is not suitable for regular flash drives (SD/MMC/CF/etc.) since it has its own wear leveling support and is optimized for devices without hardware wear leveling.

      For non-flash devices I have switched to XFS due to the higher performance and better tools compared to EXT3.

      -Aaron
    • You can write continuously to a modern SSD for 12 years before wear is a factor.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      JFFS2 [sourceware.org] is developed specifically for embedded devices, but I think that is because at its time of development the expectation was that only embedded devices would use flash media for primary storage.

      It's been a while since I've looked into how it works, but I'm speculating that it attempts to spread out write operations over the entire disk by giving file fragments fairly dynamic addresses. I believe it also has an ECC scheme and uses a reserved storage area for marking bad blocks. Since the SSD almost
  • I'm an idiot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dj245 (732906) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:38PM (#22730108) Homepage
    But shouldn't these figures be some more convenient power of 2? Like 64GB (rounded) or 128GB?
    • Re:I'm an idiot (Score:4, Informative)

      by slashgrim (1247284) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:41PM (#22730152) Journal
      160 = 10 x 2^4. So, probably 10 x 16GB chips
    • by crow (16139)
      As the other poster mentioned, these are hard drive GB, not memory GB, so it's base 10, not 2 when it comes to advertising the numbers. Also, I'm not sure how the wear leveling and failure handing works, but they may have some small extra space set aside to replace blocks that wear out, just like you see in traditional hard drives (or actually you don't see, since they hide it from you with the drive firmware).

      Anyway, in the short term, they would rather waste a GB or two and make the sizes the same as wha
    • Not if the flash drive is comprised of 5 or 10 of these or something similar: http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS5845259932.html [linuxdevices.com]

      Sure, it may be convenient for chips/modules to be powers of 2, but not necessary in the case of flash.
  • by pieterh (196118) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @01:42PM (#22730162) Homepage
    Disclaimer: I paid the extra $1,000 for a SSD with my MacBook Air, so I'm probably biased, but most notebooks I've owned has had disk drive issues. It seems part of the price to pay for portable computing. Maybe I'm just brutal with them. The HDDs used in iPods seem more robust but they're slower than normal notebook drives.

    The main value of an SSD in a notebook is therefore that the notebook will last longer and there is much less chance of losing data due to disk failure.

    Additionally, SSDs are a bit faster, and they're silent and use less power. They are also a little lighter, I assume.

    On the down side, they're really expensive and writing files is slower so I guess you want to have lots of RAM and avoid swapping.

    In 3 years they'll cost 10% of what they cost today, and they'll be in more than 50% of notebooks.

    I don't see the advantage of SSDs in desktops, where it's trivial and normal to have full backups, and where power consumption, noise, weight, etc. are less important.

    So it's a little inaccurate to see SSDs as direct competitors to HDDs, ultimately they address two distinct markets, high capacity vs. high reliability. SSDs are always going to be for secondary computers, and portable devices. Of course it's also true that these compete with desktops.

    • Additionally, SSDs are a bit faster, and they're silent and use less power. They are also a little lighter, I assume.

      On the down side, they're really expensive and writing files is slower so I guess you want to have lots of RAM and avoid swapping.

      Er, which is it?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vertinox (846076)
        Technically SSD is both:

        Reads faster (ie boots quickly, apps open faster)
        Writes slower (ie files saves slower, page file churns sluggishly)
    • by GregPK (991973)
      I'm looking forward to the day that we can just get rent movies from the store in a worm drive read only card format.

      Think, if you could get hd format movies in full length put onto an SSD that simply plays the movies. No more CD scratching.... Errors, etc.
      • by nuzak (959558)
        I've heard you can download movies off the tubes without having to go to a store. You can even do it without getting it from pirates, what with their parrots and eyepatches and all that. Amazons maybe.

      • The Internet Wins.

        I would not be at all surprised if Blue-ray is the last distributed physical media for movie distribution.
    • I don't see the advantage of SSDs in desktops
      Speed. By the end of the year SSD will be faster, both reading and writing than HDD. There's some pretty hefty physical limitations on the spinning disk paradigm and everybody is really used to those. SSD doesn't have many of those limitations. Give it a year ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DamonHD (794830)
      Hi,

      I'm here to quibble with "SSDs are always going to be for secondary computers, and portable devices."

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

      I already use SSD (4GB SD card) as my primary Linux boot/main storage device to keep power consumption of my primary HTTP/SMTP/NTP/... Internet-facing server to under 20W. I also have a 160GB HDD, spun down as much as possible, for bulk data.

      If this 160GB drive had existed in the middle of last year when I speced the machine, I'd have had bought it like a shot
  • ... where I can store my decryption key.

  • But I'm going to have to settle for relaying the chorus swamping my mind:

    ... Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! Want! ...

    Damn, but I could do with a nice .ogg-compatible portable player with one of those in.

    OK, look, I'll try and say something worth reading: it has annoyed me quite a bit lately that, as SSD-driven audio players have mostly dominated over HDD ones in the last few years, the high-end of the capacity spectrum has become quite sparse; a few iPods that don't play

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