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Thinkpad X300 With SSD Performance Evaluation 133

Posted by Zonk
from the solid-gone-man dept.
Ninjakicks writes "Hard drives are typically one of the more significant performance bottlenecks in any system today. An evaluation of Lenovo's new ultra portable Thinkpad X300 notebook shows a fast solid state hard drive can substantially improve the performance of a system. This is especially true of a low-end, low power processor and integrated graphics, in addition to reducing overall power consumption. Despite its 1.2GHz CPU the Thinkpad X300 is actually able to outperform some desktop replacement notebooks equipped with dual 7200RPM hard drives in RAID 0 in productivity benchmarks, and in data transfers. Interesting results, especially considering the X300's ultra portable form factor."
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Thinkpad X300 With SSD Performance Evaluation

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  • Ummm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by What Would NPH Do (1274934) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:15PM (#23110942)

    Despite its 1.2GHz CPU the Thinkpad X300 is actually able to outperform some desktop replacement notebooks equipped with dual 7200RPM hard drives in RAID 0 in productivity benchmarks, and in data transfers.
    Sure it's data transfer performance was impressive but in all but 1 of the performance benchmarks it was last place.
    • Re:Ummm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by What Would NPH Do (1274934) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:20PM (#23111004)
      Though I guess I should add that even when it was in last place, the number it's pushing are rather impressive.
    • Re:Ummm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Koiu Lpoi (632570) <koiulpoi@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:37PM (#23111208)
      Battery life. It absolutely smokes the other three systems, and while it is in last place, it's almost tied for 3rd. It's an impressive machine. In my opinion, though, not worth the $3258.00 price tag.
      • Battery life. It absolutely smokes the other three systems,
        Well, it's also running lower end hardware so that's a given.

        and while it is in last place, it's almost tied for 3rd. It's an impressive machine.
        Which is why I did that addendum to my post.

        In my opinion, though, not worth the $3258.00 price tag.
        Well with the prices of SSD being as high as it is, you're going to keep seeing that hefty price tag for a while still.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If they really wanted to show the performance improvement of SSD vs HDD, the least they could have done was run the tests using the X300 with its SSD drive replaced with a 5400 and 7200 RPM HDD even though neither is an available option.
      • by darkwhite (139802)
        Are 5400/7200 RPM HDDs available in that form factor? I think it's using the 1.7" form factor, definitely not the 2.5" standard laptop form factor.
  • -1 Troll (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fred fleenblat (463628) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:20PM (#23111014) Homepage
    microsoft introduced readyboost just in time!
  • by mcsqueak (1043736) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:21PM (#23111020)
    The article summary gave me an interesting idea. I have an old 1.5 GHz Pentium M notebook I was going to clean up and give to my folks. I'm wondering if replacing the existing HDD with a SSD would improve performance for it. It's a little old and clunky now, obviously.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A few people are doing this (with some straining) to the old Versa Litepad tablets. At 1 kg, these things are remarkably light for a device with a 1024x768 touch screen (gotta use those Wacom pens though), and can be found for $400 used now. The 1.8" HD in them is a total dog, but swapping them for a 1.8" SDD apparently makes a huge difference.
    • by jackharrer (972403) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:44PM (#23111298)
      I did it with my Media Centre PC. Old Compaq Presario 900. I bought dirt cheap CompactFlash to IDE 44 converter and put it instead of HDD. Mythbuntu start in half of the time, even that throughput of CF is almost the same as HDD. Best of all that SSD cost me £15 for 4GB. Straight from eBay.

      Do it, it works brilliant.
    • by maxume (22995)
      Well, if you can get the SSD for less than you would pay for a brand new laptop, it might make sense.

      Do let us know if you find a large SSD that costs less than $600.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jmorris42 (1458) *
        Not a problem. Buy the addionics dual CF to laptop hdd adapter for a few bucks, add in a pair of 32GB CF cards and you should be able to get it all delivered for just a few dollars over the $300 mark. Either take them as is and have a pair of volumes or do a LVM or RAID0 and make one 64GB volume.

        Now if you want a shiny SATA drive, those are in major demand and carry a premium. So be smart and think outside the box and you can win.
        • Now if you want a shiny SATA drive...

          My laptop does indeed use SATA... I wonder when there'll be dual CF adapter for that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      For less than the cost of a SSD, you can give your parents a new Asus Eee PC which has a SSD. The advantage of the Eee PC, is that you will have ZERO support issues. It just works and just keeps right on working.
      • The advantage of the Eee PC, is that you will have ZERO support issues. It just works and just keeps right on working.
        I am thinking of taking mine back because the screen has started to flicker intermittently. It seems to be related to heating. If I leave it running on the power supply all day it will start doing this.

        I wonder if anybody else is having the same problem?
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      If you don't have any need for specific windows applications, you might want to just install Linux on it. I have a 1.6 Pentium M, with 512 MB of RAM, and it has no problems with speed. I mostly use it for browsing the web, with a little web development, and some light photo editing. As a comparison, it came with Vista, which is unusably slow.
  • by zedlander (1271502) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:26PM (#23111090) Homepage
    Check out the comparison on the next page [hothardware.com]. The Thinkpad got almost 3 times the battery life of the Dell, coming in at close to 4 hours.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Well that's kind of unfair considering the XPS line are the high end gaming laptops. The Lenova is clearly going to win considering it's not built with a bunch of high-end, and obviously more power hungry, hardware.
      • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)
        Why do high-end laptops necessarily get less battery life? Why can't things be "turned down"? I thought things like Intel's Speedstep technology existed for a reason.
        • by What Would NPH Do (1274934) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:45PM (#23111300)

          Why do high-end laptops necessarily get less battery life?
          Because the higher end hardware consumes more power. The newer XPS laptops have things like dual graphics cards in them via SLI. Do you honestly think that's going to use less power than something using a lower end integrated graphics card?

          Why can't things be "turned down"?
          Why would you turn things down when you're buying the laptop purely for performance?

          Speedstep technology existed for a reason.
          Yeah, but when you're caring about performance you wouldn't be using it.
          • by Sancho (17056) *
            I've seen some pretty spiffy laptops which came with both integrated graphics and higher-end 3d cards. There was a switch to select between them, and apparently you gained about an hour's worth of battery life (performing the same tasks) if you switched off the 3d card.

            I wish more laptop makers would follow suit, but I'd imagine that support concerns would prevent that, if not the relatively low market share for such hybrid devices.
            • Yes, but the XPS line of Dell laptops are meant to be the high, high end gaming laptops. They aren't built to maximize battery life, but to maximize performance. If you're worried about how much power the thing is going to be using, you wouldn't be buying one as it's not built to be a power saving laptop.
              • by Sancho (17056) *
                That's why I mentioned the small market share.

                I'd like one laptop that I can use while out and about, but which I can also use for gaming if the mood strikes me. For gaming, I'd almost certainly plug it in, as I can't imagine that it's got a good enough battery life to sustain itself for very long.

                Anyway, they've really revamped the XPS line. They have a 13" XPS notebook that doesn't look suited for gaming at all, and a 15" that looks like it might passably play games from 2 years ago. They've moved thei
                • Hardly portable at all.
                  Well considering the performance of the higher end XPS laptops it's much more portable than the comparable desktop. The issue is that with them sucking up so much power they aren't very mobile...
            • by qbwiz (87077) *
              AMD (Hybrid Graphics) and NVIDIA (HybridPower) have been working on this, and AMD has already released chipsets that can do it. It's taken a long time for this to happen because few people would want to reboot their computer to switch graphics cards, and switching graphics cards on the fly can be relatively difficult.
          • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)

            Why can't things be "turned down"?

            Why would you turn things down when you're buying the laptop purely for performance?
            Um, maybe because you don't need all that performance and you want to extend your battery life? My point is this: if you have higher end hardware, why can't it be turned down, so you only need one tool?
            • Um, maybe because you don't need all that performance and you want to extend your battery life?

              Then why would you be buying a high performance laptop if you weren't going to use it all? That sounds like a rather daft thing to do, don't you think?

              My point is this: if you have higher end hardware, why can't it be turned down, so you only need one tool?

              Because that defeats the point of buying high end hardware? If you're going to buy high end hardware and then turn it down so it runs no better than something lower end, you might as well have just bought something with lower end and less power consuming hardware instead.

              • by AK Marc (707885)
                Then why would you be buying a high performance laptop if you weren't going to use it all? That sounds like a rather daft thing to do, don't you think?

                No, I don't think so. Most "desktop replacements" are laptops with high end hardware. They are used 90% of the time plugged into the wall. However, when on a plane ride, you either have to carry batteries greater than the weight of the already heavy laptop, or deal with the fact that a desktop replacement will probably not be able to finish a single movi
                • For all that extra cost, you'd think they'd add some features to let you extend battery life if you needed to. I guess they aren't that "high end" after all.

                  Or if you're so worried about their battery life just save yourself the few thousand dollars premium and buy yourself a midrange laptop instead. Again, this is like bitching that your Ferrari doesn't get the same gas mileage as a Toyota Camry. Just as the Ferrari isn't built to be a gas saving car, the high end XPS laptops aren't built to have super long battery life. If you're going to constantly bitch about it's battery life, don't fucking buy it.

                  • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)
                    You're getting very worked up about laptops. Not only that, you're refusing to acknowledge that high-end laptops can even run in a power save mode. While a Ferrari isn't a gas-saving car, there are now vehicles that can switch off cylinders when they're not needed to improve mileage. Which is a much, much better analogy to a laptop.

                    I recommend you stop posting here before people start thinking you know what you're talking about.
                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      You're getting very worked up about laptops.

                      I'm explaining why you are wrong. I guess that's getting you worked up to where you think I'm worked up.

                      Not only that, you're refusing to acknowledge that high-end laptops can even run in a power save mode.


                      A high end laptop in power saver mode uses more power than an economy laptop at full power.

                      While a Ferrari isn't a gas-saving car, there are now vehicles that can switch off cylinders when they're not needed to improve mileage.

                      My grandparents owned th
                    • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)

                      I'm explaining why you are wrong. I guess that's getting you worked up to where you think I'm worked up.

                      If you're going to constantly bitch about it's battery life, don't fucking buy it.

                      I have no need to even tackle your other points, devoid of they are of any proof, and they're filled with something called "wrong".

                      For something so "high end" you'd think that it would be more flexible and configurable. That's my point.

                      No, your point has been "There is no way a high-end laptop can have good battery life, p

                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      My point has been that high-end laptops can, should, and do have adequite battery life on power save mode, and the performance loss is reasonable.

                      Then name one. I can name one that has crappy battery life and useless power saver features: Dell Inspiron 9100, Dell XPS (original), and most of the XPS line from then to now. If you have a counter point (you know, an actual fact, not your "you are wrong and I am right" rant), please feel free to post it. Just point out a high end laptop with a desktop quali
                    • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)
                      Acer Aspire 7720. Core 2 Duo 2.1 GHz; 3 GB ram; Geforce 8600 M Gt. Can play Crysis. Gets 4 hours of battery life, easily, on the standard battery.

                      Sounds like you're just bitter at having gotten ripped off when Dell didn't give a fuck with their XPS systems.

                      I keep repeating the same thing because you're wrong. High end laptops and good battery life are not mutually exclusive, no matter how hard you want them to be. No matter how much you think your personal experience encompases every situation.

                      I'm not going
                    • by AK Marc (707885)
                      Acer Aspire 7720

                      According to the Acer site, it's not available in the US. I would like to claim that a computer that the manufacture says isn't available doesn't count. Also, you didn't define the difference between full power and power saving mode, which is the issue at hand.

                      High end laptops and good battery life are not mutually exclusive, no matter how hard you want them to be.

                      You are lying again. I never said that. I said that good power savings is mutually exclusive with high-end laptops. Wh
                    • I bumped into this thread, and noticed that my good buddy "AK Marc" seems to be in his prime "discussion" form here. Unfortunately as you can see there isn't much you can do about him at this point other than stop posting.

                      However, if your discussion with him follows the same trajectory as the one I had with him [slashdot.org], you may find it to have some entertainment value. Indeed, he probably isn't far from calling you a nazi [slashdot.org], which of course will be followed by denying calling you a nazi [slashdot.org], and of course later fol
                    • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)
                      Ah yes, thank you for that. Some people are just, well, a little crazy. He repetadly called me a liar despite never backing up his points ever. Oh, and apparently the laptop I'm typing this message on is imaginary.

                      Oh well. Some people just MUST be right.
                    • His arguments are generally based primarily on repetition. He also repeatedly accused me of lying as well, and based that only on his own accusations of me lying.

                      Another of his gems was along the lines of "I'll stop calling you a liar when you stop lying". Oddly enough though, he was unable to actually demonstrate a lie.

                      Tragically, there have since been times when he and I have actually been in agreement on issues, yet his way of trying to discuss issues is utterly maddening.
                  • by asc99c (938635)

                    I'd think a lot of people would agree with him though. I've also got a 17" desktop replacement laptop. Most of the time I take it to a desk somewhere and plug it in. It's ideal for 95% of the work I use it for.

                    I don't want to compromise that 95% to be able to watch a DVD on a plane. But most laptops do occasionally need to be used as true mobile devices - I do want to be able to watch a DVD on a plane occasionally. At the moment, the best I can do is an episode of Lost :)

            • Just to further add, your comments would be like going up to the owner of a Ferrari and saying: "Why don't you drive your car at only 55 miles an hour to maximize your fuel efficiency". People don't buy Ferraris because they save on gas and people don't buy high performance laptops because they have super long battery lives.
              • by qbwiz (87077) *
                Perhaps, but wouldn't it be great if laptops could have both high performance and long battery life, even if it couldn't have both at the same time? Sometimes I want to play games, and sometimes I want to use my computer for a long time a long distance from a power jack. It would be great if I could have one computer that does both well. It's obviously not possible to do that perfectly, but your belief (that one should care only about either performance or battery life, and not both) is not helpful.
            • Processor speed, at a very basic, can usually be ramped back. This is part of what happens when you choose "longer battery life" on a PowerBook...

              Yes, I still call them PowerBooks.
              • Sure, or you can just save some money and not buy a super expensive laptop and then run it at less than it's full potential. You'd be better off by saving a good load of money and just buying something that uses less power to begin with.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by plumby (179557)
                  I've got a high end laptop that I use for development (with large amounts of background apps running on it), for photo/video editing and occasionally for playing power hungry games.

                  I also sometimes want to be able to sit in the garden for a few hours and do nothing more than surf the web. As I've already got a laptop, wanting to be able to just turn the power down to get better battery life seems a more sensible option than going out and buying a separate less powerful one.

                  Now, there may well be perfectly s
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by darkwhite (139802)
            Speedstep ondemand scaling does not impact performance whatsoever.

            There is no reason a hard disk drive, a memory chip, a CPU or a video card can't be designed to throttle down to minimal power levels when running idle. Just because nobody except Intel, AMD, and to some extent WD has done it yet doesn't mean it's impossible, and you bet your ass it's coming.

            Granted, a display panel can't dim itself unless it knows when people are not looking. But that's about the only thing that has an excuse not to throttle
        • by qbwiz (87077) * <.moc.ylimafnamuab. .ta. .nhoj.> on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:48PM (#23111338) Homepage
          This is true to an extent, but there are trade-offs that can't be made when using the computer. You may be able to turn off sections of a chip, but not nearly with the level of detail that you can by not adding transistors at the beginning. Trying to convert a fast, out-of-order CPU with many pipeline stages into a slower, in-order CPU with fewer pipeline stages at runtime would be effectively impossible. Additionally, the way that the chips are manufactured affects their speed: for example, fast transistors generally have higher leakage currents, so you have to compromise between high clock speeds and low static power.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hemogoblin (982564)
      That's a silly comparison:

      (1) The Thinkpad is a ultraportable notepad with a 13" display
      (2) The Dell XPS 1730 has a 17" display, dual videocards, dual harddrives, and 2.5x the cpu clock speed.

      No-wonder the XPS gaming laptop had a shorter battery life.
    • by dookiesan (600840)
      Is four hours supposed to be good? I thought the old Centrino's were doing that well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I just wanna point out that if you're looking for battery life, modern laptops are not where it's at. I've got an old dell latitude c610, 1.2ghz pentium 3, 1gb of pc133, ATI Radeon mobility m6. Using both bays with 66whr batteries, I get about 13 hours of battery life. I've never actually managed to run it down with the LCD closed.

      Yes, it'll run linux, it actually dual boots.
      • I just wanna point out that if you're looking for battery life, modern laptops are not where it's at.
        Especially not the ones running top of the line CPUs, dual video cards, dual hard drives and a 17" screen. The fact that people are surprised that such a laptop gets less battery life than one that's built using much lower end hardware and a smaller LCD is somewhat hilarious.
        • Yeah, the LCD's smaller, but it's also got a res of 1400x1050 so it's not too painful to use. You can even play CS if you'd like. No source, though.
  • I'm curious... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hyades1 (1149581)
    I can't believe hard drive manufacturers aren't aware that the devices they built their businesses on are headed for the museum right next to buggy whips and engine cranks. So when are we going to see that big move to solid state storage? Less weight, less heat, less power, no moving parts...what's not to like?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gat0r30y (957941)
      As soon as everyone who buys a computer is willing to put and extra 1000 dollars to get an SSD instead of an HDD.
      That or the price of flash starts dropping (right now it has been dropping linearly with density, vs. HDD's which have tended to drop price/GB exponentially).
    • Less weight, less heat, less power, no moving parts...what's not to like?
      The death of their previous patent portfolio.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I can't believe hard drive manufacturers aren't aware that the devices they built their businesses on are headed for the museum right next to buggy whips and engine cranks. So when are we going to see that big move to solid state storage? Less weight, less heat, less power, no moving parts...what's not to like?
      Less space. Higher cost. Shorter life (though that one may have been solved and I just don't know about it.)
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        The issue with the lifetime related to the maximum number of writes has been one of the issues constantly addressed. With the newer SSDs, I've heard ratings of around 20 year lifetime with average usage.
        • by Sancho (17056) *
          I wouldn't believe hard-drive maker's specs. "Average usage" is probably booting the machine and checking your e-mail in their minds.
          • Oh you would definitely want to take it with a grain of salt. The point is that things have been improving all the time and that people who are still thinking they will are going to die in less than a year are many years behind the times.
        • This is longer than hard drives last, so I'd say that issue is "solved" at least in the current context of solving it. It can still, of course, be improved.

          I'm sure someone's going to claim to have had a hard drive running for 20+ years...blurg.
    • by insllvn (994053)
      They are currently much more expensive, and cannot compete for data density with standard HDDs. I would guess that most of the major hard drive manufacturers working to develop products of their own, in hopes of having something competitively priced and comparable in storage size to market ASAP. Right now, SSDs simply cost more for less space, and while you or I may see the advantages, the average computer buyer will be a tough sell on the idea of paying more for what he/she will perceive as less. Also, I s
      • by Shados (741919)
        I don't have doc to back it up, but as far as Ive read, with the write balancing features of SSDs, they can last a sick amount of time before the amount of rewrites finish them off. Also, they have one big big big advantage over HDDs: you know in advance that they are going to fail, quite reliably. So sure, it MAY (not all that true depending on usage anymore) fail faster than an HDD, but it won't fail by surprise on a saturday morning.
    • by Pinckney (1098477)

      I can't believe hard drive manufacturers aren't aware that the devices they built their businesses on are headed for the museum right next to buggy whips and engine cranks. So when are we going to see that big move to solid state storage? Less weight, less heat, less power, no moving parts...what's not to like?
      Wear-leveling makes it difficult to securely erase files.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by hakr89 (719001)
        You shouldn't be trusting your hard drive to secure erase drives either. It has its own sector swapping when it sees a sector that's hard to read, it will copy the data to a spare sector. The old sector never gets erased, and the fragment of whatever file was in that space is now where you can't delete it. If your data is that important, it should be encrypted on whatever media it's on. You can't trust a delete to truly delete every last bit. The best you can do is write random data to all sectors a few tim
  • Before everyone gets all worked up about the great access time (~0.1-0.3ms) and great read times, consider this...

    Two issues plague SSD are write times and write wear. Just like thumbnail drives, they will "wear out" with use. Most of the newer models have wear-leveling and that reduces it greatly. But it's still an issue. Don't take the MFG's MTBF specs for face value. Then you have the huge issue with write times. Many reviews show real-world speeds of 3-4 times SLOWER then a typical 2.5" 5400 RPM H
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17, 2008 @05:52PM (#23111380)

      Most of the newer models have wear-leveling and that reduces it greatly. But it's still an issue.
      Do you have anything at all to back this up?

      Then you have the huge issue with write times. Many reviews show real-world speeds of 3-4 times SLOWER then a typical 2.5" 5400 RPM HDD.

      You may think that isn't much, but it can be. Things like moving files around, compiling software (Gentoo :), or just using swap space, will show huge hits in performance.
      Well first of all moving a file (on the same device) is irrelevant, I assume you mean copying it. Yes SSDs have slower write speeds and that is an issue, 3-4 times slower is an exaggeration though (and the rotational speed of the drive has very little relevance to its write speed unless the drive is nearly full and heavily fragmented - which of course it isn't in any common benchmarks). Swap space is the only thing this may become an issue, but then again you're springing the extra $1k for an SSD in your laptop you've probably also paid the extra $50 for 2GB of memory, making swapping a rare event.
    • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @06:02PM (#23111474)
      But for write few, read many data warehousing tasks, SSDs are an enourmous benefit. Think about Google, where the filesystem is optimized for reading due to large files being created and read from all the time for search results (yet the files aren't constantly rewritten). Or think about Netflix needing a huge video library to serve movies over the web. The movie content isn't changing, so it would make sense to have huge libraries of SSDs that save power by not spinning, get written to once with a block of movies at a time, and get read from all the time from customer devices.

      SSDs have their place now. And they're only going to get more popular as the price comes down.

    • by penguinstorm (575341) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @06:41PM (#23111896) Homepage

      Just like thumbnail drives, they will "wear out" with use.
      My understanding is that the technology being used in "SSD-Hard Drives" is quite a bit different than the tech being used in the average cheap thumb drive such as my 4GB one.

      By the same token, the tech being used in the iPod Touch is quite a bit different, which is how it can offer 32GB of flash storage for ~CDN$500 while a 64GB SSD upgrade for a MacBook Air is CDN$1,400.

      So if you can back your statements up with some evidence, knock yourself out. Otherwise...I think the issue isn't nearly as real as you seem to suggest it is.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bjourne (1034822)

      Not true, write speed isn't all that important. The reason why hard disk drives are such huge bottle necks is because reading data is a synchronous operation. When you read a file, you do so because you need to do something with its data. Right now, not some time in the future. So your program has to wait (block) until the hard disk has finished reading all data. Depending on how far the disk head has to seek, the wait may take a huge amount of time.

      To put it in perspective: when the CPU accesses a registe

      • by NotZed (19455)

        Not true, write speed isn't all that important. The reason why hard disk drives are such huge bottle necks is because reading data is a synchronous operation. When you read a file, you do so because you need to do something with its data. Right now, not some time in the future. So your program has to wait (block) until the hard disk has finished reading all data. Depending on how far the disk head has to seek, the wait may take a huge amount of time.

        Writes cannot usually be performed asynchronously thou

        • by bjourne (1034822)

          Not true, write speed isn't all that important. The reason why hard disk drives are such huge bottle necks is because reading data is a synchronous operation. When you read a file, you do so because you need to do something with its data. Right now, not some time in the future. So your program has to wait (block) until the hard disk has finished reading all data. Depending on how far the disk head has to seek, the wait may take a huge amount of time.

          Writes cannot usually be performed asynchronously though - because they need to conform to the api presented. e.g. close() or sync() guarantee the data is written to non-volatile storage, whatever that may be. Being able to cache bits of the write in memory may help but at the end of the day it's all gotta be stored once close() returns, so it makes no real difference to many applications apart from being able to better store the data on disk. e.g. a compile writes files which are read by another programme later.

          Er.. close() does not guarantee that any data has been written at all. sync() guarantees that the kernel has flushed its in memory buffer, but it does not guarantee that the disk controller has flushed the write cache. Writes does not block unless your program is stupid enough to wait for it to complete. For the compiler example, gcc writes .o-files from source which ends up in cache (=fast). Then when it is time to link, it reads them all to build the executable or library. Reads are synchronous so now g

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swillden (191260)

      Just like thumbnail drives, they will "wear out" with use. Most of the newer models have wear-leveling and that reduces it greatly. But it's still an issue.

      No, it isn't. Partly because of increases in the number of write cycles they can support, but mostly because of size increases and wear leveling.

      Consider a 64GB device with a write cycle limit of 100,000. Assuming constant rewriting of all of the data, you'd have to write 6.4 petabytes of data to wear it out. Assuming you could deliver sustained writes at 22 MB/s (150x), it would take 6,400,000,000 / 22 = 290,909,090 seconds, which is over nine years of continuous, max data rate writing.

      In practice

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I guess it really depends on how much free space you have on the device. If you have an 64 GB device (just for example), and 32 GB is filled with apps, those will never be overwritten, and will always stay in the same place. Now you only have 32 other GB in which your other data that is constantly changing to be written. Look at it this way. If you have 10 MB free, and want to write 1 MB, then there's only 10 choices for each byte it writes of where to put it. That could wear out your drive quite quickl
        • by swillden (191260)

          I guess it really depends on how much free space you have on the device.

          Assuming the naive implementation of wear leveling I described, yes. I did a little research this morning and modern CF cards are much better than what I described. They do relocate static data whenever there are blocks with significantly higher wear than average. They also have one million write cycles, not 100,000.

          Take a look at the Wikipedia article on wear leveling and at the links it provides.

    • Wear is not an issue. The available space will get smaller as some of the cells wear out, but with a drive of any serious size, this is neglegible If a 64G drive shrinks to 63Gigs after 2 years, would I care? No. And it isn't that bad.

      It is true that writing speeds are a weakness for SSDs, but this is only when compared to how well they can read. Aso it is random writes, not sequential writes that are most difficult. However, the second generation drives already have faster write speeds than HDDs [mtron.net], so this
  • ASUS C90S ran with
    160GB Hard Drive @ 7,200 RPM SATA
    Dell XPS M1730 ran with
    2x200GB in RAID0 @ 7,200 RPM SATA - The article doesn't seem to state it but does anyone know if this is Sata 3 or 1.5?
    Lenovo ThinkPad X300 ran with
    64GB Hard Drive Solid-State
    ASUS U6S ran with
    160GB Hard Drive 5,400 RPM SATA

    interestingly, the test the SSD performed best (and whuped the HDD's) was the HDD test.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      Problem is most of the time a standard laptop you already own get's a kick in the pants by upgrading the HDD.

      My old and incredibly outdated 1.8ghz iBook G4 feels snappy cince I upgraded the stock drive to a 7200rpm 120 gig drive. It gave it a new lease on life (along with upgrading to 2 gigs of ram) to the point that Tiger is very useable and I dont have to buy a new laptop for another 2-3 years again.

      Honestly, a 64gig hard drive is kind of useless today for a "desktop replacement" laptop.
      • by cbart387 (1192883)
        I don't know, I have a 40 gig laptop that is split 20 gigs windows (which is stupid because I hardly ever boot into it) and 20 gigs linux. That is my computer, I have no other one. I have never had a space issue. It really depends on what you use your commputer for. I only use it for work, my 'games' are stuff other than the computer so the space that I need is minimal.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I wouldn't spend a nickel on a device of any kind if it comes from Lenovo. Where I work we almost exclusively used Thinkpads as the laptop of choice for years. They weren't the most aggressive units in terms of modern features but they were sturdy, lasted a long time and ran various OSes reasonably well.
    Then Lenovo took over. The units that were assembled by Lenovo saw increased failure rates. Once the desktop/laptop business fully migrated to Lenovo we saw a significant increase in DOA units. Over the cour
    • by StarHeart (27290) * on Thursday April 17, 2008 @06:29PM (#23111758)
      My office uses Thinkpads exclusively. I would say maybe the failure has gone up some since Lenovo took over, but depot times have always been fast. I just turned in a hard drive RMA today, and I will probably have it with advanced replacement by Monday.

      They also seem to be having sales all the time these days. Which means prices have come down.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by treeves (963993)
      I have a Thinkpad T43 that had to have its main board replaced. I sent it out, they got it the next day, replaced the board and sent it back the same day, so I was without it for only about 48hours. I kinda wished it hadn't had that three year warranty, though. Then I could've gotten a new one instead of just fixing it.
    • by amirulbahr (1216502) on Thursday April 17, 2008 @08:03PM (#23112518)

      This is FUD. I can see why you posted as AC.

      AFAIK Lenovo bought IBM PC Division in its entirety. In other words the ThinkPads are still being made by the same entity.

      In our experience, maybe things have changed in terms of design choices on the newer models, but the service level and DOA rate has not changed all that much at all. In some territories support is still being outsourced by Lenovo to IBM.

      • Yep, I agree this is FUD. The client where I work issued all of its developers T60s (loaded with Vista Enterprise) which we have been using heavily for development. No problems I have heard of hardware wise from any of my colleagues in almost 1 year since we got these. The only thing that bothers me is the high pitch whine of the cooling fan.
    • by Ruger (237212)
      Your experience seems to be an outlier compared to most of the quality comments I've read about Lenovo Thinkpads vs. IBM Thinkpads. As I understand it, the same engineers who designed Thinkpads for IBM now work for Lenovo. Thinkpads are built in the same factories as they were when IBM owned the brand. Brand management is the same group who used to work for IBM. Basically, the only thing that's changed is the ID badges of the people who design, manage & build Thinkpads.

      I have a T60p that I love, but
      • That's a nice series, but hopefully there's a same-quality replacement for IPS in the works. Throwing more pixels on there won't do much good, but increasing the quality will.

        That's part of why some of us have gone to IBM - where $3000 got actual build quality. Dropping things like IPS(with no like-quality replacement) is not a promising sign that Lenovo wants to continue in this tradition.

        No thanks, but I'll be looking towards transplants of a T61p onto my T60p. The only reasons I have that is that it's an
  • At http://lenovoblogs.com/insidethebox/?p=141 [lenovoblogs.com] the Lenovo folks detail what goes in behind the scenes with the SSDs. They even detail why the (more recent) drives they use are better than the same brand (but older technology) used in the Macbook Air.
  • Eat that, apple fanboys. All that ... AND an ethernet port :P
  • That review has no actual disc benchmarks for that disc? Anyone got some? If you have a UNIXlike on one of these boxes, please run "iozone -a" and paste the results into a comment. That'll give us useful info.
  • It's one thing to have that SSD there, but is there a non-SSD option? At least mechanical/magnetic drives as we know them don't have the troubles of maximum write cycles.

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