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Seagate Announces First SSD, 2TB HDD 229

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the get-with-the-program dept.
Lucas123 writes "Seagate CEO Bill Watkins said today that the company plans to put out its first solid state disk drive next year as well as a 2TB version of its Barracuda hard disk drive. Watkins also alluded to Seagate's inevitable move from spinning disk to solid state drives, but emphasized it will be years away, saying the storage market is driven by cost-per-gigabyte and though SSDs provide benefits such as power savings, they won't be in laptops in the next few years. A 128GB SSD costs $460, or $3.58 per gigabyte, compared to $60 for a 160GB hard drive, according to Krishna Chander, an analyst at iSuppli. 'It will take three to four years for SSDs to come to parity with hard drives,' on price and reliability."
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Seagate Announces First SSD, 2TB HDD

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  • Every news source (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gewalt (1200451) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:44PM (#23605471)
    Every news source has merged those two statements together, and every time, my brain gets stuck on it.

    Seagate is announcing two seperate products. One is a SSD and the OTHER is a 2TB hdd.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think Seagate wants you to buy both of them. You can use the SSD for the 2TB HDD's cache.
    • Re:Every news source (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bennomatic (691188) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:02PM (#23605597) Homepage
      Yup, I'd love a 2TB SSD, man.

      Truthfully, I'm really looking forward to hybrid drives with, say 64-128 GB of flash, where all the "load-often, change rarely" data goes, like applications, OS, etc., and 2^N (N >= 8) GB of classic HD storage space for stuff that may need gazillions of writes (browser cache, working documents, SVN repositories, etc.).

      In fact, wouldn't it be great if the drive could be smart about it and--over time--identify files that were mostly read-only (iPhoto archives, MP3s) and migrate them to the flash storage area where fast, low-power reads would be a benefit.

      While we're dreaming, database engines could even be optimized to read only from the SSD-portion of a hybrid drive if a particular data point had not been written to in over N minutes, or since the last collation (explained later), but would write to the platters, and then during quiet cycles, it could do a collation. The collation would move data which was on the platters, but which did not have a pattern of large volumes of writes back to the SSD volume.

      And... I'd like a pony...
      • Re:Every news source (Score:4, Informative)

        by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:37PM (#23605855) Journal
        What you describe is called wear-leveling. On pure flash drives, the data that rarely changes gets written to the most worn sections of the drive.
      • Re:Every news source (Score:4, Interesting)

        by v1 (525388) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:46PM (#23605945) Homepage Journal
        basically using the SSD part of it as a giant buffer? Not a bad idea really. I could use that. I reboot my laptop maybe every three weeks, so a lot of my OS probably doesn't get reaccessed much after a restart. A lot of what's on my HDD is media - movies and other entertainment for when I'm stuck somewhere on the road. Again not stuff I need access to very frequently.

        My HD has 186gb usable, and I'm using 172 of it. (eek...) I bet I only access at most 20 gb of that most of the time. Even making a say, 32gb or 64gb buffer would work great for how I use the computer - I'd be running entirely off the SSD part most of the time.

        Most users could probably accommodate a dual drive anyway. One partition for the SSD and one for the HDD. Put your media and other things you don't need access to often but want to have on tap on the HDD.
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          What is the actual speed increase when using solid state drives. I've seen a couple benchmarks, and most of them point to the solid state being a little faster, but only mildly so. For the price difference, it just doesn't seem to make sense yet. Even if you don't need the extra space. Right now, you'd probably be better off stocking your computer with 3-4 GB of RAM, and just using a plain old hard drive.
          • SSD Performance (Score:5, Informative)

            by DDumitru (692803) <doug@easyco.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Friday May 30, 2008 @11:33PM (#23607181) Homepage
            is very dependent on the application. In particular it depends on the mix of linear vs random operations and the mix of reads and writes.

            For 100% read applications SSDs tend to be similar in performance to hard disks when reading linearly, and a lot faster than hard disks when reading randomly. This shows up in linear read speeds of 100 MB/sec for a typical Flash SSD which is "close" to a hard disk. For random 4K reads, Flash SSDs can stomp any hard disk. Most disks are in the 10,000 4K read IOPS range where 15K SAS drives are in the 250 range or 40x slower. So for applications that are 100% read SSDs can be as much as 40x faster, although the average is usually in the range of 15x to 20x.

            When you start writing to Flash things get interesting. Flash is really designed for large, linear, aligned, writes. With most drives, you can get maximum write throughput only if you write exactly aligned with the drives internal erase blocks. Thus you can write exactly 2 megabytes on exact 2 megabyte drive boundaries and get 100% of the theoretical write throughput of the drive. Unfortunately, no application acts like this, so you are at the mercy of the file system and Flash controller to turn your smaller, probably random, and probably mis-aligned writes into what the drive can handle. The net impact of this is that good Flash SSDs have 4K random write IOPS in the 120s which is 1/2 the speed of a 15K SAS drive. I have measured Flash SSD with 4K write IOPS with values like 135, 120, 64, 43, 24, 13, 4.0, and 3.3.

            This is why Flash SSD performance is so hard to judge. The random write performance can suck up the available "drive time" and dig a system deep into dirty buffer flushing. We talked with one Dell laptop user that described their system becoming "unusable" while an Outlook indexing operations was randomly updating a big file. Unusable in this case was 2+ minutes for to bring up task manager.

            These random writes also have a real impact on the wear of the drive. Every time you seek a write, you basically chew up a write/erase cycle, even if the write is only 4K long. If you look at a drive that claims 50 GB/day for 10 years, this is 50 GB of linear writes on exact erase block boundaries. If you write 4K randomly, the 50 GB really means 25,000 4K writes or 100 Megabytes of random writes.

            The solution to this is to not write randomly to the drive. There are file systems designed for Flash that address these issues. These are typically called "Log File Systems". Unfortunately, there is no generally available file system really designed for performance. In Linux the LogFS options are really tuned for small memory small storage systems and for hardware where the flash chips are directly accessible. They do help drive wear a lot, but they are just not tuned for Gigabytes of space or database crunching performance.

            Another solution is my companies product called MFT (Managed Flash Technology) which is a software block mapping layer that runs on the host. It gives you the random write performance benefits and wear benefits of a LogFS while allowing you to use whatever file system you wish. MFT was developed on 2.6 Linux and has been ported to Windows. With MFT, the same drives that do 25 4K random write IOPS usually measure over 10,000. The linear speed of the drive is still equal to a hard disk, but the random speed is now closer to symmetric with reads and writes. Thus jobs like updating databases can literally run 20x faster than the fastest hard disks.

            In the end, Flash SSDs will find specific markets initially. I can say with certainty that they won't get used for off-line backups or storing/edit large quantities of HD video. But give them databases or file systems with lots of small files, and they can really smoke a hard drive.
      • Re:Every news source (Score:4, Informative)

        by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Friday May 30, 2008 @09:52PM (#23606731)
        I really don't understand why everyone treats SSDs as being so fragile when writing to them. Yes, they have a limited write cycle. But so does your regular hard drive. The difference is that your SSD's cycle is guaranteed by the manufacturer, whereas your HD could blow up at any moment.

        With modern wear leveling algorithms, you can write to an SSD continuously at its maximum write rate for about fifty years before you wear it out. They are, if anything, much more suitable for rapidly changing data than a regular hard drive.
        • It's not the fragility I was worried about; it's the latency. SSDs are slower than traditional platter drives for writing, if I understand correctly.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by kestasjk (933987)

          With modern wear leveling algorithms, you can write to an SSD continuously at its maximum write rate for about fifty years before you wear it out. They are, if anything, much more suitable for rapidly changing data than a regular hard drive.
          Is that the whole SSD drive being written to, or just one commonly used piece? How long would it take to constantly write to a single byte before you ran out?
      • In fact, wouldn't it be great if the drive could be smart about it and--over time--identify files that were mostly read-only (iPhoto archives, MP3s) and migrate them to the flash storage area where fast, low-power reads would be a benefit.

        No. Actually, it'd be awful. The drive has absolutely no business knowing anything about filesystems. That's the OS's job, specifically delegated to the filesystem driver.

        It's not impossible to implement that functionality with a dumb SSD and HDD. The easy part is unionfs -- done. The hard part is determining with sufficient accuracy what files are unlikely to be written again -- a first cut could just consider some directories, MIME types and/or file extensions more or less likely to be rewritten tha

      • With hot file adaptive clustering ( http://developer.apple.com/technotes/tn/tn1150.html#HotFile [apple.com] )

        Basically, read only often accessed files are moved to the zone on hard drive where the access to files is fastest.

        It would not be hard to adapt this behaviour to move the files onto SSD portion of the disk at all.
    • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:10PM (#23605665) Homepage

      Seagate is announcing two seperate products. One is a SSD and the OTHER is a 2TB hdd.


      Wow, I saw the headline in my RSS feed and misread it the same way everyone else did. I expected the next story to be about the new finance company Seagate was opening to provide mortgages on 2TB SSDs.
      • by Anpheus (908711)
        The good news is that the mortgages will be cheap and sub-prime rate.

        The bad news is that most of the people who get them will be left with only the SSD and not their home.
    • by nxtr (813179)
      Hutz: All right gentleman. I will take your case. But I will require a thousand dollar retainer.
      Bart: A thousand dollars. But your ad says "no money down".
      Hutz: Oh, they got this all screwed up. [corrects ad with felt-marker]
      Bart: So you don't work on a contingency basis?
      Hutz: No, money down. Oops, I shouldn't have the Bar Association logo here either.
  • by Mornedhel (961946)

    SSDs [...] won't be in laptops in the next few years
    Huh. I guess the Eee PC isn't a laptop anymore. (It wasn't a 128GB drive, but it was SSD all the same...)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dal20402 (895630) *

      Or the MacBook Air, or the Lenovo x300.

  • by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:48PM (#23605493) Journal
    I can't help it. I remember buying my first two gig drive for $780, back when the dollar was worth squat. Now of course, the value of the dollar is rapidly approaching diddly-squat.

    -jcr
    • by Detritus (11846) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:05PM (#23605627) Homepage
      Ha! I can remember having to order the installation of a new 220V electrical circuit to support the installation of a rack-mount winchester 450 MB hard disk drive. You needed at least two people to lift the drive enclosure off the floor. The new electrical circuit was needed to supply enough current for the drive to spin up. We used 10 MB removable hard disk cartridges that were about the size of a large pizza to store the operating system and user programs.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        That the best you got? I remember having a line of 10Mb drives connected to our Burroughs B5500. Each drive cabinet was the height and depth and about half the width of a washing machine. They had platters over two feet in diameter spinning on a horizontal axle. Every day or two we had to put them back into line as they precessed as the earth rotated. Great fun. Oh, we also had one of those IBM 1401 with a model 1405 drive which provided 10Mb in a cabinet about the size of a new side-by-side refrigera
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          You kids and your fancy Winchester drives. Why, in my day, all we had was tape! Giant reel-to-reel drives and huge spools, spinning all day! If someone wanted data, we had to go the cabinet and locate the tape for it. Why, I had to carry those tapes through 6 feet of snow, uphill both ways.

          Now you kids get off of my lawn!
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by jacquesm (154384)
            that's the best you can do ? Tape... hah, if only we had tape.

            All we had was chisels and hammers, and stone tablets, lots of stone tablets.

            Sequential writes were bad enough, but random ones, my back still hurts remembering.

            When punch cards came it was a great relief!

            tape... young whippersnappers...

    • by Bluesman (104513) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:39PM (#23605875) Homepage
      I remember getting the expensive 52Mb Supra hard drive for my Amiga 500, and being amazed at how much faster than floppies it was.

      An extra 2Mb of RAM came with that drive, for a system-wide total of 2.5Mb. Of course, with such a limited system, all I could do was run office and desktop publishing software, paint programs, 3-d modeling and ray-tracing software, and the latest games like Turrican, Lemmings, and the Indiana Jones adventure game.

      It's amazing to see how far we've come these past 18 years.
  • Me Too! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gewalt (1200451) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:49PM (#23605499)
    The SSD from Seagate is a total "Me Too!" product. Seagate thinks they are in the "Mass storage" market, but they are not. They never have been. Their market is the one that includes "rotating magnetic platters". The only reason they are trying to break into this market (that they continuously decry as useless, futile, and too expensive) is because they are afraid of what "might" happen ten years down the road.

    It's so nice to see a company that fought this at every step pretend to embrace it.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      "that they continuously decry as useless, futile, and too expensive)"

      Could it be that's because it has been? It's just now really becoming practical to the average user.
      And until it gets a lot closer to the current Spinning Disk Cost per Gig, it's not going to be mainstream.
      It will be, and they know it.
      • Re:Me Too! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bennomatic (691188) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:14PM (#23605681) Homepage
        It's one thing to say, "the market's not ready, but we'll get into it when our customers are likely to be interested, cost-wise." It's another to try to undermine the market by saying it's just a bad idea and changing positions when you realize it's become a good enough idea that if you don't embrace it, it'll kill you.

        I'm all for adjusting to your environment, but there's a difference between being a leader and innovator, and a gadfly-turned-also-ran. Not saying I wouldn't buy their products, but even when they were saying, "never never never" (wish I could cite a source), I know it was BS BS BS.
        • I really don't pay attention to the PR of drive companies, so I've not seen anyone say "never". But so far, the SSD market is so small that a typical drive maker like Seagate really didn't need to bother with them.Even now, it's not a big market, but it may be time for a traditional drive manufacturer to get into it.
        • by Firethorn (177587)
          As a consumer, I've been running the math each year, at least, on various options like heat pump systems, hybrid cars, solar panels, etc...

          I can afford to wait until it makes sense for me.

          As a business though, I should always be aware of trends and actively engage in at least setting myself up for new markets or opportunities.

          The death of hard drives isn't necessarily close, but it isn't necessarily far anymore. True contenders are rising. For many years, the cost of flash per GB has been dropping faster,
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lupis42 (1048492)
        I hate to say this, but that's horse dung. There are tons of places where SSD flash drives are in fact the norm. It's just that in all of those places things like Watts, BTUs, and Ounces are more important that Gigs. Thing is, the faster networks get, and the easier having a home fileserver becomes, the more that laptops become one of those places. Seagate can prognosticate that far in the future. They just want the changeover to come as slowly as possible, so that they can get every last dollar out of
        • Not horse dung, you're talking about something different. The person you replied to talked about mainstream uses of flash as large mass storage. Most of the uses you refer to are still niche.
          • by lupis42 (1048492)
            Digital Cameras aren't mainstream?
            • I don't consider that to be the same thing.
              • by Firethorn (177587)
                Digital cameras, MP3 players, cell phones, game stations, PDAs, etc...

                A 'in the future' quote can easily refer to 10-20 years in the future. Unless something strange happens, at the current rate most laptops and many desktops would be using solid state memory for permanent storage.

                They may not be the 'same thing', but I remember when you had a number of digital cameras that would use a 3.5" disk, or a CD, but today you'd have to go on ebay to find one.

                In a sense, it's like a relentless march. SSDs are mak
    • Re:Me Too! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:05PM (#23605617)
      So you're saying what? You think they lack artistic integrity? Are you some kind of indy storage manufacture that focused on SSDs before it was the cool thing to do?
    • Re:Me Too! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by code4fun (739014) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:17PM (#23605699)
      Or, it could be they lost business deals from customers like Google who are switching to faster SDD drives. It would also explain the recent grumbles they had about suing flash companies on trying to get in their enterprise business.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by skelly33 (891182)
      Agreed - waiting for the price to come down is something consumers do. Driving the price down is something competitors do. Waiting around for it to happen on the part of the mfr. is silly.
    • Re:Me Too! (Score:5, Informative)

      by matt21811 (830841) on Friday May 30, 2008 @08:01PM (#23606085) Homepage
      Spot on. Making a hard disk for a competitive price is hard. Thats why there are only a handful of hard disk manufacturers. Making a circuit board with some chips on it can be done by hundreds of companies all over the world. I cant think of any reason to buy a Seagate SSD over any one of the other hundreds of competitors, especially when they all have the same electronics inside.

      Separately, it's nice to know that analysts agree with research I've done that it's only 4 years before SSD surpasses HD, at least in 2.5 inch drives. I've been comparing the relative price improvement of hard disk prices to flash and its pretty easy to estimate a crossover point.

      You can have a look at my data (charts) and conclusions here. http://www.mattscomputertrends.com/flashdiskcomparo.html [mattscomputertrends.com]
      • by guruevi (827432)
        Making a good, reliable large flash drive (as in >128GB) is also hard. The same issue as hard drives, they have to be very precision and the chips so small, only a few can afford them. Sure, making a 512MB or 1GB flash drive, everybody can do these days, but making a 200G SSD for a decent price seems to be a bigger problem. Next to that, even those relatively 'simple' flashdrives go for about $5-10/gigabyte but of course they have the profit margins so a 200G would cost easily more than $200 retail. I bu
      • Well. You're right about that.

        TOH:

        I might be impelled to buy a 2TB SATA drive if, in the drive, there was a few GB of SSD circuitry that itself ran at the full speed of the SATAII bus. You know, a persistent cache

        Anyway, I plotted a similar set of intersection curves, coming to about the same conclusions. Your data is much more specific than mine, though, so I was wondering where you got the exact figures?

        C//
      • by Firethorn (177587)
        Looking at your charts, I'm thinking now that it's more a question of why seagate waited so long, more than 'why are they getting in early?'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rrohbeck (944847)

      The SSD from Seagate is a total "Me Too!" product.
      So? They have lots of experience with the interface, firmware, low cost production, the market etc. Replacing rotating platters with Flash is easy.
      I wouldn't be surprised if they'd be shopping for a Flash supplier or at least a cooperation right now.
    • Re:Me Too! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Firethorn (177587) on Friday May 30, 2008 @10:05PM (#23606781) Homepage Journal
      The only reason they are trying to break into this market (that they continuously decry as useless, futile, and too expensive) is because they are afraid of what "might" happen ten years down the road.

      I'd say they're being smart. Right now Seagate DOES have market recognition for storage. A proper, forward thinking CEO(I know, rare), should always be thinking on how to adapt to evolving markets.

      Much like how, when IBM started, they were a tabulating machine company. If they had tried to stay that, they wouldn't be around today.

      Much like how, if you start digging into them, you'll find many oil companies are busily attempting to become 'energy' companies, diversifying into solar, wind, biological fuel production, etc...

      Sure, right now SSD doesn't make financial sense in most applications. But it's out there, it's selling. It doesn't take much work to look at a graph comparing SSD vs HD cost per gig for various form factor hard drives. It doesn't take much to look at computer usage and realize that the majority of laptop users aren't filling up their existing hard drives. It doesn't take much to look at the dropping cost of a usefully large SSD vs the more or less constant 'minimum cost' low capacity HD. Just looking at these factors a competent CEO will realize that Seagate could be relegated to special purpose needs, and maybe even bankrupt from the loss of the mass market.
  • by wolf12886 (1206182) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:51PM (#23605507)
    Technically speaking, if it were always about price vs performance, we'd all be running last generation AMD's, using CD-R's and the like. In reality, you don't pay proportionally more for extra performance, you pay EXPONENTIALLY more.

    For the average consumer, SSD's aren't yet the way to go, but for what I'd bet is a good proportion of the /. readership, a 20% boost in performance is worth a 200% increase in price, especially considering how cheap computing equipment is these days, compared to the utility it offers.
    • by StCredZero (169093) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:23PM (#23605755)
      I'd buy a $460 128 gigabyte SSD in a laptop. Not to long ago these options were about $1000. If you do this right (and often it's been done wrong) you get better performance, much longer battery life, and enhanced reliability. With the right software monitoring of repeated writes, you could also know about hard drive failures coming in advance. That's fantastic, in my book. $460 is still a tad high, but I'd bite.
    • Tricky miss (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467)

      The false dichotomy is that it's an either/or thing.

      There will be SSD components with high speed and low power and their price/GB will decrease very quickly. Largest capacities will always be expensive. For a long time they will cost more than magnetic media, but it probably won't always be so. Their speed and reliability will improve as vendors build out the drive intelligence that abstracts the physical media from the logical media and parallelize atomic access with internal RAID to compensate for the

    • by lupis42 (1048492)
      Price / Performance is always king, but performance is measured by many different metrics, and there are cutoff points. My car costs 25k and has 250hp Your car costs 25k and has 150hp You feel you got a better deal on your car than I did. How? Because your car handles better, or gets better gas mileage, or carries more people, or can drive through rivers, or the top folds down, or it's just more comfortable inside, and you care more about whatever those features are. I clearly cared more about horsepowe
  • by poeidon1 (767457) on Friday May 30, 2008 @06:52PM (#23605519) Homepage
    which utilizes both SSD and a mechanical disk to get the best of both worlds in a way similar to processor caches L3 >> L2 >> L1. Ofcourse, current drives already use buffering but the buffer data gets lost when the drive is switched off.
    • by poeidon1 (767457) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:00PM (#23605577) Homepage
      Just found out that hybrid drives are already in the market. http://www.engadget.com/2007/03/07/samsungs-hybrid-hard-drive-hhd-released-to-oems/ [engadget.com]
      • This appears to be just a flash cache. See my post above about a real hybrid. Gigs, not MBs of flash, smart storage of read-only vs. high-volume read-write data. That would be cool.

        The one you linked to is really just about reliability, as the cache doesn't go away if there's a sudden power loss. It's definitely got its niche, but with only 256MB, it's not a groundbreaking SSD device.
        • by poeidon1 (767457)
          yes 256 MB is small but this drive is in market since 2007.......and its not a falsh cache. The data stays there and visa uses it for fast boot up.
    • by mlts (1038732) * on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:20PM (#23605729)
      Vista offers a spec to drive makers called the ReadyDrive, or a hybrid hard disk which combined some flash memory with a mechanical hard disk, to allow the drive to immediately write contents somewhere permanent, which boosts performance and allows the drive to schedule the optimum way to write out data as opposed to writing one chunk, waiting for the platter to spin around for another segment, then back to the first.

      The only hybrid drive I see is an 80 gig seagate though, although there are likely more offerings.
    • by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:29PM (#23605797) Journal
      Someone else posted something similar and to both of you I say: Why does this have to be a single drive? Why can't you do this today with 1 high storage drive(or raid) and 1 ssd?

      Obviously you'd need to write some good software to get full use of it, but the same is true for an all in one with any intellligence (i.e logfiles are low-use but deserve to be on solid state since it means not spinning up the disk for idle activity)

      It's not too different from the old scene setup of /archive on a multi-tb slow IDE raid and /incoming on a superfast scsi disk of only 100gb or so.

      New release comes out, it hits /incoming as fast as it can and everyone else rushes to grab it, all getting use of the fast disk. After a week demand drops dramatically as most people that want it already have it so it hits the slow but large storage.

      No reason you couldn't do similar on a desktop with one "fast&small" and one "slow&large". It's all about being able to define what goes where, and preferably having software take care of that for you.
  • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:18PM (#23605707)

    A 128GB SSD costs $460, or $3.58 per gigabyte, compared to $60 for a 160GB hard drive...

    Is it that fucking hard to include the cost per gigabyte of the current hard drives ($0.375/GB for the example given)? Why quote one $/GB figure if you can't be bothered to include the other?
  • Analysts are dumb (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:18PM (#23605709) Journal
    SSD will never reach parity with hard disks because of the economics of spinning disk storage. Yes folks, a 160GB drive costs $60.

    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM. Cache: 32MB. Form Factor: 3.5". $184.99

    Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000340AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM. Cache: 32MB. Form Factor: 3.5". $209.99

    Next year these will be 4TB, 8TB, 16TB? $100-$200 range. Call me on it; by December 2009 (i.e. in 2009, next year) it'll happen. Where will we see the SSD price point?
    • We would disagree (Score:5, Interesting)

      by postbigbang (761081) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:27PM (#23605781)
      Spinning hard disks will go the way of tubes in ten years, more likely faster than that. Scaling the manufacturing up will drive SSD drive costs down. There are long-life reasons why:

      - SSDs aren't as vibration sensitive (both will not take a bullet, but only SSD can likely survive a normal drop of 2M on to concrete)
      - SSDs don't have the temperature/altitude constraints
      - SSDs don't have latency and no rise/shutdown time for green needs, in fact, they use hardly any power at all
      - SSDs are generally faster, although there are algorithms needed in flash to prevent bucket overuse because reads are almost infinite, but writes are not
      - SSDs take less in terms of precious metals and present fewer QA problems
      - No electromechanicals to wear out.

      The price point? Going down. It's an obvious solution to a long time problem. Magnetic versus flash storage will tend to favor flash, as magnetism decays sooner than flash will-- when flash is written to correctly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bluefoxlucid (723572)
        Tubes are in the expensive high-end hi-fi stuff (as well as some interesting transformer stuff-- because a 1:1.14 transformer winding can transfer a crisp clear square wave while a 1:3 will round and distort it), and are extremely important for building a good guitar amp. Classic rock versus modern day stuff, listen to something like ZZTop or Hendrix and you'll hear tubes. When they play soft it's clean or a little fuzzed; hard and loud and it becomes dirty. That essential sensitivity of a blues amp is s
        • Uh, no. Tubes were once used in almost every radio and TV set before transistors, and then integrated circuits. I'm not talking about audio-frequency rise-time characteristics to transformers in push-pull circuits.

          We're talking about spindles balancing platters at 15Krpm and slower, attempting to over a long life cycle, correctly position a head over a platter using the Bernoulli Effect to prevent skinning the magnetic substrate of the platter.

          Tubes aren't electro-mechanical, while drives are.

          And I have a c
          • Yes, solid state replaced tubes in low-end, cheap and compact devices. Tubes are the highest land of hi-fi however, followed by MOSFET/JFET (which operates like a tube) and then by BJT transistor op-amps (which suck). (Technically any amplifier is an op-amp, even a complete preamp/power amp vacuum tube circuit).

            You're right that tubes are orders of magnitude simpler than hard drives. My point is you can't just discount an "old" technology for something new; the new stuff has its own problems.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by postbigbang (761081)
              Were it new.... but flash has been around for a while. Write-cycle fatigue is well known, as are the work-arounds. As ROM, it's unmatched. As RAM, it's defeatable, but the defeats are the crux of many patents, and it's a patent war that will ensue, for a while.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Generic Guy (678542)

        SSDs don't have latency and no rise/shutdown time for green needs, in fact, they use hardly any power at all

        While it's true, on average, they may use marginally less power, I think you'd be surprised at how much juice these SSDs can use up. Typical hard drives use most of their power spinning up the platter, and then momentum helps keep them going at a lower draw. SSDs also have a tendency to get rather warm, along with the CPU and RAM chips inside the machine. Overall, I still think SSDs are prefera

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Detritus (11846)
      What happens when the engineers run out of bright ideas to increase the storage density on magnetic media? Magnetic domains can only get so small before they become unstable.
      • The same can be said of NAND. A single DRAM chip might hold 1/8GiB, or 128MiB. A single NAND chip of the same area can hold more, with a MicroSD holding some 4GiB. Hitachi's perpendicular storage might increase density by 4 or 8 times, or more; imagine a 2TiB disk and then you have 8 or 16TiB.
        • Hitachi's perpendicular storage might increase density by 4 or 8 times, or more; imagine a 2TiB disk and then you have 8 or 16TiB.

          Um... those 750GB and 1TB drives that have been selling for the last 12-18 months? Those are already using Perpendicular Recording. All of the Barracudas since 7200.10 are PR drives.

          The expectation is that PR only gets you about a 4-5x increase in density over the older longitudinal recording. So if you could get a 500GB drive in the old days, that puts the upper limit at
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Serge_Tomiko (1178965)
      Assuming past performance is indicative of future performance is a classic FAIL of analysts of all types.

      You have no idea what the future will hold. With the rising costs of metal, disk technology may one day become as expensive and obsolete as 4,000 pound solid steel cars are today.

      Economics can and do change every day. Keep an open mind.
    • People said CDs would never come down in price significantly to be as disposable as floppies. Blank DVDs would never come as close in price as blank CDs.

      SSDs launched in the $2000 price mark from what I saw, and now can be had for less than $500. The price will likely decrease faster on SSDs than HDDs since SSDs are newer. The price gap will shrink enough that people will migrate for the benefits of SSDs.
    • by rrohbeck (944847) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:52PM (#23606001)
      Actually there are reasons why SSDs may catch up to rotating disks:

      1. Rotating disks get closer to physical limits and designers are planning for some big technology changes that will have an effect on cost. Check out Mark Kryder's video presentation on future disk technologies at CMU (I don't have the URL handy.)

      2. SSD technology can go up with Moore's law for the foreseeable future.

      3. We're getting to the point where SSDs reach practical sizes. I don't need 1TB in my laptop - I could live with 64GB quite well (I only have 120GB right now.) So, in a year or two I can probably get an SSD for my typical usage pattern at a decent price. At that point the volume for SSDs will grow dramatically and rotating disks will be used mostly for very large capacity and/or very low $/GB. Less profitable => fewer engineering dollars => slower density growth. Just what happened to tape a decade ago.
      • With SSD being slower too, right? 0mS seek, 32MB/s transfer; versus 8mS seek, 280MB/s transfer (and we're expecting 600MB/s transfer in SATA3).
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rrohbeck (944847)
          There are several SSDs with >100MB/s transfer rate available today, the transfer rate will go up with Moore's law too (as opposed to hard drive transfer rates) and there are architectural possibilities too (running more chips in parallel.) And those hard drive transfer rates are only applicable when you do linear transfers, as everybody with a fragmented drive found out the hard way. As opposed to SSDs, where it doesn't matter because of zero seek time.
          Finally, the interface has nothing to do with the re
    • by amyhughes (569088) on Friday May 30, 2008 @08:15PM (#23606217) Homepage
      For the majority of people 4TB, 8TB and 16TB are no more useful than 128GB. So, cost/capacity improvements in spinning discs will be relevant to a smaller and smaller number of people.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Znork (31774)
        I see you're not fighting with the wife and kids over whose material gets to stay on the PVR...
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Next year these will be 4TB, 8TB, 16TB? $100-$200 range. Call me on it; by December 2009 (i.e. in 2009, next year) it'll happen. Where will we see the SSD price point?

      I'm pretty sure I can call bullshit already. 1TB drives were introduced mid 2007, and nobody has even gotten past that yet. Seagate is issuing a 2TB press release about "next year", which I assume will be some kind of five-platter juggernaut since we're at 320-350MB/platter now, and 5*400MB (or 4*500MB if lucky in late 2009) doesn't sound entirely unlikely next year. in reality though platter density is increasing very, very slowly compared to SSD development, which is rapidly increasing in capacity, perfo

    • by grumbel (592662)

      SSD will never reach parity with hard disks

      It doesn't have to. Most uses don't need 1TB, even less 4TB or 16TB, storage is quickly reaching the point where you simply don't need more. Simple example would be MP3 players, 1TB gives you a full year of non-stop audio in good quality, who is ever going to listen to all of that or even collecting that much music in the first place? Most people just don't have a use for that much storage in an MP3 player, they are more then happy with 10GB and if size is becoming a non-issue other things get much more im

      • I worked with the OLPC people a while, they really wanted an unbreakable machine so went with raw NAND.

        EeePC with a 20GB hard disk is cheaper than with a 4GB solid state.

        Apple's iPod Nano 4GB outpriced the 30GB of its time, while the 30GB used a spinning disk.
  • Christ, as if existing standard hard drives aren't unreliable enough already.

    It's not unrealistic to see 1 out of every 10 to 20 (well, 1 in every 3 if you use Maxtors :p) modern IDE/SATA drives fail within 3 years as is, they already have a pretty high failure rate.

    I thought one of the major advantages of SSDs was their reliability or is that simply not the case? are they really so unreliable currently?

    One of my biggest dislikes of hard drives in general is reliability, I want to be sure my hard drive wont
    • by afidel (530433)
      I don't know about SATA drives as I only have a few in my datacenter but our Seagate SCSI/SAS drives have a failure rate of about .5% per year, that's pretty damn low.
    • by rrohbeck (944847)
      Reliability isn't driven by technology, it's driven by cost and customer expectations. I worked with disk drives for years, and the main reason why drives would fail were cheap components (motors, bearings, heads...) and short time-to-market. It would be easy to make more reliable disk drives at slightly higher cost and slightly reduced performance, but if it will be totally obsolete in 3 years, why bother to make it last longer? And 1 to 3% AFR are accepted in the industry so nobody wants to pay more for a
      • What I like about SSDs is that you have multiple chips and only the interface is a single point of failure. So, it shouldn't be cost prohibitive to do RAID 5 inside the drive between multiple banks of Flash.

        Still better to do RAID outside of the individual drives. It's a lot easier to replace whole drives when they fail rather then individual chips inside a drive.

  • by m.dillon (147925) on Friday May 30, 2008 @07:47PM (#23605961) Homepage
    For two reasons. First and foremost, low power consumption. Secondly, we have already passed the sweet spot in the storage capacity needed for the applications most people run, particularly on laptops. Add to that the fact that current HD form factors are an extremely good fit for SSD units, and the writing is on the wall.

    So what will happen is pretty obvious. Laptops are going to push SSD storage into the mainstream, giving it the critical mass needed to start the research bandwagon rolling, and 5-10 years after that happens hard drives will become the 'new' tape storage and most production systems will be using SSDs.

    Even more pointedly, with power costs being the premium concern for data centers these days, and the hard drive being the only thing left in the computer that can't be engineered down to near 0 power consumption when idle (short of spinning it down, which has its own problems), my expectation is that large commercial concerns will see a huge cost benefit to using SSD storage despite the higher front-end cost of purchasing it.

    -Matt
  • Where are they finding 128 GB SSD's for $460? The lowest price I've seen on these is around $3k ($3,049 at NewEgg, $2980 at eWiz). That puts the cost/GB at around $23.50/GB, give or take.

    I'd jump at the opportunity to buy one of those at that price, if only to turn around and sell it on eBay. :P
  • by CFD339 (795926) <andrewp@@@thenorth...com> on Friday May 30, 2008 @10:14PM (#23606827) Homepage Journal
    ...paying $400+ for a 128gb SSD to replace the standard sata drive in my laptop as long as the performance was truly better and the battery life was that much better.
  • Cost/IOs/s (Score:3, Insightful)

    by treat (84622) on Friday May 30, 2008 @11:24PM (#23607143)
    For many applications, what matters is price per IO operations per second. Sometimes price per IO operations per second per U of rack space or per watt is what matters.

    Flash will beat hard drives there much sooner than it will beat hard drives in simple $/GB.

    Flash has fast reads and slow writes. Sun is promising flash drives with 25% of the space reserved for bad block remapping, and a huge amount of supercapacitor-backed write cache. They are promising to release this in SFF HD form factor with a SAS interface, and SO-DIMM form factor with a presumably proprietary interface.

    Even if Sun breaks its promise, as is typical for them, someone else will come out with the product.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday May 31, 2008 @01:38AM (#23607657) Homepage

    The next step is to stop treating them as "disks". We tolerate the library and OS overhead of getting to a block on a disk drive because access times on disks are so long. But solid state memory devices can be accessed in microseconds. We need a different model for these devices.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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