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Data Storage Upgrades Technology

SSD Won't Make Sense In Laptops For Two Years 326

Posted by timothy
from the no-not-that-avi-cohen dept.
kgagne writes "While solid state disk drives can vastly improve random read performance and are perfectly suited to most mobile devices, many operations are sequential in laptops and desktops and involve writes where SSDs most often lose to magnetic hard disk drives in performance. While introducing multi-channel flash memory controllers and interleaving the NAND flash chips increases performance, it will still be about two years before the cost versus benefit ratio will make sense to install SSD in your laptop or desktop PC, according to a Computerworld story. '"I think you need to get to 128GB for around $200, and that's going to happen around 2010. Also, the industry needs to effectively communicate why consumers or enterprise users should pay more for less storage," says Joseph Unsworth, an analyst at Gartner Inc.'"
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SSD Won't Make Sense In Laptops For Two Years

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  • 120GB is too much. (Score:5, Informative)

    by symbolset (646467) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:04PM (#24788853) Journal

    Try 16GB SDHC, available now for $50, delivered. [newegg.com]

    One for the OS and apps, one for the data. Need more? Put the other ones in your pocket.

    • by karnal (22275) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:18PM (#24788985)

      I guarantee that the SDHC card you mention will not push any really reasonable speed.

      I bought this:

      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820208418 [newegg.com]

      Then I went to Addonics web site and ordered a CF to IDE adapter. Well, at first I ordered one on ebay. Turned out it didn't fully support DMA...??? Like they didn't complete all the traces properly... anyways, for 70$ or so total, I have a diskless machine in my garage that boots Ubuntu and plays music; no more whiney 80gb hard drive there.

      I think Linux reported hdparm stats of 25 to 30MB per second. Not too shabby; since the PC is only a 900 mhz athlon, I really can't tell if the CF is a limiting factor in speed. It feels just as snappy as when I had the original hard disk in; it probably boots a bit faster but I generally just turn it on and don't watch over it...

      • by symbolset (646467) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:31PM (#24789099) Journal

        That was just the cheapest one today. There are dozens there and one will suit. I didn't have time to construct the capacity/price/performance grid and still get a first post. Sorry.

        If you need more than 16GB of OS and apps, you don't need a laptop really. Or if you do you're a power user with unusual needs - you're not in the "most people" zone where the price/performance sweet spot is. About 4GB is an XP install with Office, for 8GB you can have Ubuntu and a few hundred of your favorite free apps. If your system image is >12GB, you have other issues and you should expect to pay more. 16GB for OS & apps, 16GB for data is plenty for almost anybody.

        Not all SDHC->IDE or SDHC->PCMCIA or SDHC->SATA converters support booting, but most do and most SDHC adapters installed in laptops do support it. You can always try it. The ones that do are quite proud of the fact and so it won't be hard to tell which is which. The performance on these things can be quite fine. I don't know why they don't just put a socket for these things on a desktop motherboard. You have to buy the embedded motherboard for that.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:36PM (#24789165)

          "16GB for data is plenty for almost anybody."

          Hahaha oh wow

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Miseph (979059)

            Yeah, actually it is. And if it isn't, you can just swap out one for another. Or you could store your hundreds of hours of anime you only watch once a year on a big ol' external HDD. Heck, you could probably just let it live in the BitTorrent cloud where you got it all in the first place; it's not like you'll never have broadband again.

            • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:16PM (#24789511)
              Ever try to torrent something that isn't popular? Yeah. That's why you keep a local copy.
              • by Miseph (979059)

                Then burn it to DVD. The point is that if you need more than 16 gb of data storage you're either being really lazy or doing things that put you well outside the needs of a normal user.

                Given the number of /.ers who will cut your balls off for suggesting that setting up redundant off-site back-ups for your personal porn collection might be overkill, it's surprising that nobody seems to think even *having* 16gb of data on your disk is a terrible idea, let alone scoffing at the idea you don't need a whole lot m

                • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                  by rockout (1039072)
                  My MacBook Air doesn't have a DVD player, you insensitive clod!

                  Oh, wait....
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Anonymous Coward

                  Let's see.

                  For a 1TB hard drive you would need 200+ DVDs.
                  1TB drive is $150, 200 DVDs would be about $120.

                  I think I'd rather just spend the extra $30 and get the hard drive since it's much faster, takes less physical space, is rewritable and I don't have to go digging around stacks of discs.

                  People who say that 16GB is enough are naive. It might be enough *for you*, but your needs don't represent everyone else's needs. For example, I own enough CDs to fill 30GB worth of space in MP3 compressed format. I own en

                  • Windows XP takes 4-5GB (while Vista takes about 15GB). Do you see where this is going?

                    Yes, I do. Do you?

                  • People who say that 16GB is enough are naive. It might be enough *for you*, but your needs don't represent everyone else's needs. For example, I own enough CDs to fill 30GB worth of space in MP3 compressed format. I own enough DVDs to fill 100GB if I compress each film down to only 1GB each. I work with image files that take 200-300MB for each master copy. I work with audio projects that take 500-1000MB each. The average size of a modern game is 5-10GB. Windows XP takes 4-5GB (while Vista takes about 15GB). Do you see where this is going? So no, 16GB is FAR from enough space.

                    And you need to carry all that around on a laptop at all times?

                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by TheRaven64 (641858)
                      For a lot of people, a laptop is their primary (even only) computer. Laptop sales passed desktop sales last year and so that isn't going to change any time soon. For most people having a laptop and a desktop makes no sense - you spend far too much effort keeping files synchronised between the two. Just keeping everything on your laptop makes a lot more sense because then it's always with you. The only people who really need a desktop these days are the ones doing a lot of gaming, and a lot of these are
                  • by suggsjc (726146) on Friday August 29, 2008 @09:48AM (#24793727) Homepage
                    You are missing the point. I had a whole post (with numbers/calculations) done, but it all boils down to this. If you are using your laptop as your main storage point (probably a bad idea), then yes 16GB is probably not enough. But if you are smart about it, then you can easily make it work. Worst case scenario for your CD's (320kbps) would come out to over a week of continuous music. If you are one of those "I need all of my songs with me at all times" people, then again 16GB may not work for you. But I go through phases and want to hear different styles at different times, so I can easily swap out what I want to hear from my main storage, out of my +20GB worth of music I probably only list to maybe a GB at a time, and probably 60-70% is stuff that I will never listen to again.
                    You can take that rough principle above and apply it to all of your other examples as well. You can easily use more than 16GB worth of storage. But with just a tiny bit of effort you can also easily live happily with less, and probably much less. Does that mean I'm jumping on the SSD bandwagon at this point, nope...I'll wait for it to be cost effective for me and my usage habits, and I don't need a /. article to let me know when that time will be.
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by lysergic.acid (845423)

                  i have a hard time finding blank DVDs that last more than a 3-4 years. and backing up hundreds of gigabytes of files onto DVDs tends to ruin your DVD burner pretty fast. not to mention it's a lot easier to lose/damage data stored in hundreds of separate DVD's than a couple of harddrives.

                  it's pretty presumptuous to think that every one has the same needs/preferences as you.

                  • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                    by symbolset (646467)

                    it's pretty presumptuous to think that every one has the same needs/preferences as you.

                    I've been called presumptuous before. It doesn't bother me. That's the price I have to pay to school people on how stuff works. The thing is, I didn't say this would suit everybody. I said it would suit most everybody. The difference is that the people whose needs exceed the usual should expect to pay more. In this case, they should expect to exit the sweet spot and pay a lot more for the bleeding edge. To them it's

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by master5o1 (1068594)
                  You do know that this is a nerd infested website. You can never get enough data storage.
                • I've got a 30GB disk that's about full, with almost no music on it. A few years ago, disks jumped rapidly from 1GB to 2GB to 10GB then 30GB, so I've had enough space for quite a while, but I've finally caught up with Moore's Law.

                  My work laptop uses MS Windows, Office, and Outlook. My current Outlook PST file is ~2GB for the past year, and I've got a total of about 10GB including older mail - I've found that really valuable, though bloated. And there's all that Powerpoint bloated material from training

            • On my desktop machine the root partition is 120GB, so far I've used 79.37 GB. That's with OSX, lots of pro multimedia software installed -- so basically, I have over 79GB of apps and system. My home directory is on a separate 240GB partitiion.I'm about to upgrade my (160GB) laptop so I have a mobile replacement that can keep up. We're entering the TB era; 16GB is woefully inadequate for anything but a netbook or a phone. And in just a couple of years, it won't be enough for those either.
              • by coryking (104614) *

                16GB is woefully inadequate for anything but a netbook or a phone

                Even then 16gb is inadequate.

                The world is moving to digitized video (netflix, tivo, etc). You are looking at a gig an hour for standard diff and probably 3-5 gigs an hour for hi-def. Within a year or so, I promise your phone will be able to play 1080i hi-def content at native resolution.

                And the "OMG Bloatware we should all be using hand-rolled for-loops in C" people can step back into their timewarp from 1970. We have fast machines now and pulling off human friendly UI effects like that on the iPhone ain'

                • by symbolset (646467)

                  We have fast machines now and pulling off human friendly UI effects like that on the iPhone ain't cheap.

                  Actually, the iPhone is a fairly low power device and its effects and then some are no problem. It does not have 32GB of storage. Compiz is far more capable even than Vista's desktop and lovely but if you're wedded to the Jobs & Gates platforms, you can't have it. Not yours. Sorry. Maybe next decade when Microsoft and their vassals have thoroughly embraced "compatibility".

        • by karnal (22275)

          Wasn't trying to cramp your style; just wanted to point out that while my solution for cost per gigabyte was much higher, it will result in a more hard drive-ish experience for the end user than buying the cheapest SD card that you can find at a given capacity. This is actually the reason I did a whole lotta googlin' and a whole lotta reading on what others had gone through in doing a project such as this.

          I can truly see myself picking up an SSD once the 64GB drives hit around 100$. Why? Well, the speed

          • by symbolset (646467)

            This is actually the reason I did a whole lotta googlin' and a whole lotta reading on what others had gone through in doing a project such as this.

            I do this on a regular basis. For home desktops on LAN I like low power units that PXE boot to LTSP for a Myth or Ubuntu desktop. I've given up on fan noise -- it ruins the computing experience for me these days. Notebooks I'm going with 30GB IDE drives this year because they came with them, but will probably bump that to 320GB before Christmas for magnetic me

      • Turned out it didn't fully support DMA...??? Like they didn't complete all the traces properly...

        This problem is rampant in many flash card models and brands - even ones that claim to support DMA or UDMA. Search around on the interweb using your Napster machine and you'll see many others with the same issues.

        After trying a Transcend 4GB 133x that would only work in PIO mode, I got my hands on a Ridata 4GB 266x that *does* work in DMA. So if anyone is considering that card, maybe that's a good sign. :)

        Mechanical challenges turned out to be not the only ones waiting for me when I worked on connecting the CF cards to the camera. These cards were hanging when the CPU tried to read them using DMA mode (and the card identified itself as supporting DMA mode). I tried to find the problem, and used all the tools I had. I added a bunch of printk's to the driver source, tried different speed settings for the DMA, and finally used an oscilloscope to spy on the signals between the CF card and the CPU. What I found was that the card did actually send the data using DMA mode, but always only for two "sectors" (1024 bytes total), regardless of the number of blocks to transfer written to the corresponding register. Then it silently hung, without activating an IRQ line, even if it was asked to transfer just a single block. And the CPU was relying on that interrupt to continue with the processing of the data read from the CF card. Careful examination of the data on the IDE bus did not reveal any problems (I was expecting something specific to the ETRAX). The same CF card with the DMA mode disabled in the driver worked fine (but slower, of course), as did the IDE hard drive (or SATA through the bridge) with DMA enabled. Googling the issue showed that I'm not the first to have problems with CF cards and DMA. The driver itself had a blacklist for some of the devices that caused problems. -- http://linuxdevices.com/articles/AT5102023409.html [linuxdevices.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Doc Ruby (173196)

      Networking makes the 16GB local drives plenty big enough. If the network is completely transparent, with automatic network drives available for the less frequently used files. That kind of local caching should be automatic, and the Gb ethernet a hassle-free bottleneck (no "login", etc).

      Then 16GB for $50 means that SSD has fully arrived. Even if the SSD vendors still want $200 for whatever they'll try to sell you.

      Which means that really, now, it's a UI and software problem to solve. The HW is ready. Isn't th

  • I completely agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moderatorrater (1095745) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:04PM (#24788855)
    The small increase in performance isn't worth the several hundred in cost it would add to my laptops. I bought my laptop for $650, and a better HD just isn't worth increasing that to nearly $1000. YMMV.
    • by KillerBob (217953)

      It really depends on what you want from your laptop. If you want tons of storage and a good performance-to-price ratio, then you'll be going for a more traditional drive with moving platters/heads. If you want something like, say, battery life, then you'll be going for an SSD. There's a reason those new Dells which boast 19h of battery life have SSD's instead of traditional storage. No moving parts = much lower energy consumption.

      • by magarity (164372) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:58PM (#24789357)

        There's a reason those new Dells which boast 19h of battery life have SSD's
         
        No, the new Dells that are boasting that have a battery pack option that is the same size as the bottom of the laptop. Think of one of those laptop cooler pads except 15 pounds of battery instead of a couple of fans inside.

        • by frosty_tsm (933163) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:08PM (#24789431)

          Think of one of those laptop cooler pads except 15 pounds of battery instead of a couple of fans inside.

          Imagine the explosion you can get out of that!

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Hal_Porter (817932)

            The high end ones have scored metal cases too to produce handgrenade style shrapnel.

        • by cnettel (836611)
          Well, the stated capacity of the battery slice is only about equal (85 watt hours or so) to the standard 9-cell battery, so it's not that heavy. And, yeah, to get 19 hours you use the SSD, keep the display dimmed, have no optical drive, and use integrated graphics.
    • by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:04PM (#24789409)

      SHHH! if we cant convince rich idiots to buy these things en masse we dont have to wait as long before they are useful.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ILuvRamen (1026668)
        they're busy buying other underperforming, overpriced, glitchy, new, status symbol crap: Apple products. So then the key is to put the SSDs in Apple products of course. Think about it, that would actually work. Rich Apple customers love paying more for anything that sounds fancy.
    • by diamondsw (685967)

      If you buy a cheap piece of shit laptop, then I wouldn't expect you to fork over for a premium. They don't carry these at Wal-Mart.

      I'm looking forward to SSD's after suffering two head crashes in the last few years (and none in the preceding 20). Silence and possibly improved energy efficiency are just icing on the cake.

      Finally, long sequential reads being the norm? I disagree. Look at any Linux/BSD/Mac OS X system. The OS is made up of a bajillion little files. Applications are made of of lots of files, li

    • by llZENll (545605) on Friday August 29, 2008 @12:43AM (#24790205)

      Why the hell are SSDs so slow? I've never understood this, its not like in an HD where you can't add more read heads because there isn't enough physical space to do so, or because they can't move fast enough with the additional weight. In an SSD you should be able to put as many chips in parallel to make your read and write speeds whatever the hell you want, 1TBps, no problem. You would think SSDs should be able to saturate a SATA/Fibre/PCIE bus instantly? What gives?

      • by AllynM (600515) * on Friday August 29, 2008 @02:25AM (#24790835) Journal

        Many of the modern SSD's *DO* saturate the bus. The Memoright GT and other SLC flash drives easily push 120-130 meg/sec over sata 150. The key is that the 'cheaper' MLC based drives have horrible write speed, especially when writing bunches of small files. Most users think this won't bother them, until they realize outlook does exactly the same thing when accessing its PST.

        The thing I don't get is why so many people think SSD's are slow. Even MLC based first generation samsung PATA SSD's obliterate even the fastest laptop hard disks in all areas except for the aforementioned small writes.

        From my own desktop testing, a single Memoright GT completely owns the pair of raid-0 74 gig raptors it replaced.

        • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Friday August 29, 2008 @05:33AM (#24791777)

          I have a GT in my vaio, and it is the best 2K I dropped since god knows when.

          The first generation SSDs were crap. All the new SSDs are pretty much good to go because the issues were mostly with the software and memory utility algorithms, and not with the physical SSD memory architecture.

          The thing I don't get is why so many people think SSD's are slow.

          Mac Air and other vendors that had made SSDs optional unfortunately went with the crappy SSDs, and a lot of people who dropped serious cash for them were severely disappointed. And so there was a backlash.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        Reads are fast. Writes are slow. The problem with reads is that the block size is typically around 128KB (coincidentally, the size of the first Flash SSD I owned, which I paid around thirty quid for in the mid '90s). If you want to read a 4KB file, then you need to read 128KB from the device. Writing is worse, since you have to erase and rewrite the entire 128KB cell. This means reading 128KB, erasing the cell, writing 128KB. Very slow if you're doing a lot of small (e.g. 1KB) writes. Buffering reduc
  • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@@@p10link...net> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:07PM (#24788875) Homepage

    craptops I don't see going SSD for a long time.
    ordinary decent laptops I see offering SSD as an option but I don't see it being popular in the near future.

    Ultraportables on the other hand are already going ssd in many cases. Tiny hard drives tend to have terrible performance and a 2.5 inch 9.5mm high drive is pretty big for an ultraportable (though some ultraportables do use them).

    • People who want to know and those who have to know to make their work better will take the arrows and learn early and figure out how best to use them ... or not.

      That is just the way it always is.

      I will get one/them, hammer them and know what I can do early on.

  • I disagree (Score:5, Informative)

    by statemachine (840641) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:09PM (#24788899)

    Complexity, power, heat, and failure from kinetic shock. These are either reduced or zero with a flash device.

    If you're looking for non-mobile, or a large storage application, then the disk makes sense.

  • by subStance (618153) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:14PM (#24788947) Homepage

    The comment about sequential reads causing the SSD to lose on performance compared with magnetic drives caught my attention. Isn't this highly dependent on the filesystem you use and its strategy for block allocation ?

    Wouldn't it be possible to design the block allocation algorithm to favour SSDs the same way previous generations of filesystems tried to put the next block on the disk to be the one under the head at the current moment (or whatever it was they did) ?

    • by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@@@p10link...net> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:27PM (#24789071) Homepage

      Afaict with SSDs the performance is pretty much constant no matter what the read order. With HDDs sequential reads are much faster than random reads.

      So SSDs lose in continuous throughput tests.

      • by lubricated (49106)

        right now file systems are made in such a way as to maximize reads that are sequential. It is possible that without these, now unneeded, optimizations ssd could run faster.

    • Using another filesystem with more 'fragmentation' wont boost SSD performance.
      I cant think of any way you can make a FS for SSDs faster than the ones optimised for hard drives.

      NTFS would get a massive speed boost though.
      But thats just because it sucks. ;)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Isn't this highly dependent on the filesystem you use and its strategy for block allocation ?

      Yes, but...

      Wouldn't it be possible to design the block allocation algorithm to favour SSDs...

      Well, fragmentation isn't the answer. That seems to be what you're suggesting...

      See, fragmentation introduces problems of its own -- for example, simple overhead of block allocation. If you've got a bunch of blocks that are sequential -- say, block 123, 124, 125, 126, and 127 -- you can say that a file is in an extent, from block 123-127. If, however, your file is stored in blocks 123, 259, 312, 567, and 964, you're going to have to store all of those addresses -- which means you're spending 250%

      • IDE media already lies to the controller about where the content is on the drive to compensate for densities beyond the original design and bad sectors. There's no good reason for your SSD to come perfectly honest about that either.

        That handles bad sectors, wear levelling, bad block failover, and a number of other issues.

        Now, about bandwidth. Solid State Drives are by definition, solid state. The way solid state devices work is that they are accessed and give up their data in real time. It takes a few

        • by afidel (530433)
          You're neglecting the fact that more data lines take more power and add expense and difficultly in packaging (expense).
          • by symbolset (646467)

            You're neglecting the fact that more data lines take more power and add expense and difficultly in packaging (expense).

            No, I'm not. To access the same amount of data in the same amount of time requires the same amount of power. My suggestion does increase the possible net power over time based on an increase in performance. Did you hear? Users expect that. It's... predictable and linear.

            • by Urkki (668283)

              More wires means they need more space, which means the wires have to be longer. Longer wires use more power as plain resistance, and also being more susceptibe to noise they need more power for the same s/n ratio.

        • IDE media already lies to the controller about where the content is on the drive to compensate for densities beyond the original design and bad sectors.

          Bad sectors can be handled in software, but that's a valid point. The rest of it is legacy crap.

          There's no good reason for your SSD to come perfectly honest about that either.

          Is there a reason for it not to?

          I'd say, the reason for it to be honest is, you can always use things like a BIOS and drivers to add the same functionality back in with software -- to lie to an OS which doesn't know better. But if you don't provide that kind of direct access, you also prevent any optimization by an OS that knows what it's doing.

          Kind of like, say, a video driver. No reason to speak OpenGL at the s

          • by symbolset (646467)

            Indeed -- though remember that the interface, too, costs money. So faster media will cost you more.

            No, this is a myth. Production efficiencies make the engineering effectively free. Faster media costs more because you can charge more for faster media. That's all.

            Problem is, of course, that the OS probably isn't ready for "all of it".

            That's easy enough to fix. You just patch the OS. It shouldn't take more than a few days if you have the source. Not having the source makes the question more problematic

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Urkki (668283)

            There's no good reason for your SSD to come perfectly honest about that either.

            Is there a reason for it not to?

            How about providing a consistent interface to the software driver? Do you *really* want solid state disks that all require a different driver? Sort of like current video hardware, which is plagued by buggy drivers, missing specs of the chip, missing open source drivers...

            I'd much rather have a standard interface, so that when I buy a disk, I know it'll work.

        • by Urkki (668283)

          So you're suggesting more wires? Not only they'd use more power, but most importantly they take up valuable real estate on the silicon chip. And with longer distances you also have to run at lower clock frequency.

          So it is actually a limit of the technology, and a very physical limit inherent of all electronic matrix-like components, including such mundane things as keyboards.

          • So it is actually a limit of the technology,

            At the silicon level we're talking about wires that are maybe 45nm wide by perhaps 500nm long. We can afford the space they take up and the time it takes a charge to traverse them relative to the alternative we're talking about, which is a spinning physical disk with magnetic pattern on it read by a physical head that must overcome inertia to move back and forth.

    • by StCredZero (169093) on Friday August 29, 2008 @12:04AM (#24789915)

      Time to burn some Karma...

      On a "News for Nerds" site, moderators should understand the sources of disk latency. Rotating Hard Drives have latency from the time it takes to move the head across the platter, and for the platter to rotate under the head. SSDs do not have these sources of latency.

      One of the big problems is that current flash is just slow on writes. Some of them don't do DMA properly. If there are problems with block sizes, this can be adjusted easily. But the underlying technology has to improve, or manufacturers need to build SSDs with more parallelism and better features. Perhaps very parallel SSD architectures might need filesystems optimized for large block sizes.

      One of the big potential benefits of flash is reliability. Imagine highly modular flash drives for servers with hardware RAID 5? Instead of a disk failure, you get a notification that a module needs replacing. In fact, you could build versions with an extra slot for a failover spare in-place!

      Also, with wear leveling, there's the potential for hard drives that can warn you several days before they fail!

  • by dindi (78034) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:14PM (#24788957) Homepage

    Well, I use Linux/Windows as my servers, and use a Mac mini/G5 as my development environment, and even though I do now own an SSD laptop I know it makes sense.

    Uses less power and can be dropped. My laptop is a macbook (not pro) and I know it is overkill with what I do with it, so a macbook AIR would be just the right thing to do if it had the correct pricing with SSD. But it doesn't, at least not for me.

    No optical drive, limited HDD? I do not really care. For my visits to clients (of web projects) could be done on a 5 year old crap (if it wasn't windows and had a battery live of 10 minutes) so for me an AIR would be just fine.

    Ohh... does it makes sense on WINTEL? Do not know how Vista runs on an SSD and if you have any space on a 64GIG drive after installing VISTA. Not flaming, I really do not know.

    I know, that if I had to travel more I would get an AIR with SSD, and it would perfectly satisfy my multimedia needs (just grab those 4-5 movies to HDD for the flight and you are set).

    Just my 2c, but I am a (mostly web) developer, so all you sales people and myltimedia freaks might have a different viewpoint about the whole fuss.......

    • by anss123 (985305)

      Ohh... does it makes sense on WINTEL? Do not know how Vista runs on an SSD and if you have any space on a 64GIG drive after installing VISTA. Not flaming, I really do not know.

      For what it's worth I got Vista installed on a 40 gig laptop.

      As for the ideal laptop, why not an eee PC? Screen to small? The Mac Air seems way too big for there to be any point IMO, but if you need a big screen and can't use projectors then a big screen light weight laptop might be something.

  • battery life? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigdavex (155746) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:16PM (#24788973)

    I think people are willing to pay a premium for extended battery life. If I can use my device more, it has more utility.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by trum4n (982031)
      I just get a bigger battery. Its cheaper than a SSD, and i don't drop laptops. If i drop my laptop, i deserve to be without.
      • Bah. I can still remember the first time I dropped my laptop. It was in an airport security line.

        I had one of those foam laptop protector thingies with the Velcro flap (on the short side. this is important), but it didn't have a strap, so I put it in my carry-on, a messenger bag with the opening on the long side. (so you can see the bag opening mismatch error already developing.)

        For some reason, the group I was traveling with (a bunch of people I had no business believing had had more travel experience

  • I'm afraid they'll want to take my Eee PC back if they hear that.
  • by Manip (656104) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:20PM (#24789007)

    It will be easy to sell the concept of SSD to pretty much anyone, particularly for a laptop. Here is the short list:
    - Faster Reads
    - Potentially faster to wake up from sleep
    - More durable
    - Less chance of sudden and complete data loss (e.g. A smaller portion of the drive would fail instead of a complete drive failure as with a magnetic disk)
    - Consumes less power
    - Quieter
    - Cooler (also a power saving feature due to less fan running time)

    SSD drives are very cool pieces of technology and I for one can't wait to be able to buy a superthin laptop with no magnetic disk.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by furball (2853)

      What about weight? Do SSD drives weigh less than the normal types today? Or is it about the same?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)

      I thought many of those hyped benefits haven't panned out, or are taken out of proportion. Power consumption even on a good drive isn't significantly lot lower, the real-world speed generally isn't there yet, and the noise? I think first you'll need to deal with CPU power consumption. Notebook hard drives consume 1-2 watts of power, standard notebook CPUs go for 30W. Then there's the fan that's needed to cool the CPU. I personally don't need silent, and I am not really bothered by the noise a good comp

      • by starwed (735423)
        I'm typing this on an ASUS eeePC 901. It gets quite a bit better battery life than the comparable MSI Wind, mostly because it uses an SSD drive.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)

          I'm typing this on an ASUS eeePC 901. It gets quite a bit better battery life than the comparable MSI Wind, mostly because it uses an SSD drive.

          How is that possibly a good comparison? There are many possible variables. The screens are different, the batteries are different, and who knows how many other differences there may be on the board, in the power regulators and what not, even if it might use the same CPU. You need to try both kinds of drives in the same system.

      • by Blackhalo (572408)
        "I thought many of those hyped benefits haven't panned out," on Vista...
    • by zoogies (879569)

      Okay. I don't know much about SSDs, but one thing I've heard tossed around in the past was limited writes. Does this present a concern? Are there certain usages that may involve abnormal amount of write cycles such that you'd have to worry about the limited writes?

    • Last I looked 7200 RPM SATA drives easily perform above 20 GB/s real world usage.

      The fastest SSDs are around 15 GB/s real world.
      This isn't a huge difference, but the cheap SDHCs are about 4GB/s.

      Cheap hard drives are still way faster than cheap SDHCs.

      Cheap:
      300 GB SATA ~ $70
      16 GB SDHC ~ $50

      Still, the claim that SSDs aren't ready for prime time is the same as saying Linux isn't ready for the desktop. Both are fallacies. Sure, SDHCs don't maker sense everywhere as a a solution.

      I have no real need for a 300 GB d

  • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:36PM (#24789163)

    I can verify that Openoffice starts much faster on my little eee PC than on my Desktop machine with 75 MB/S 7200 RPM WD7500AACS. Or any other desktop I have used for that matter.

    It is not just Openoffice of course, but Openoffice being a big pig of an application makes a nice example.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:37PM (#24789177)
    SSD HAS made sense in laptops for two years already. Things like the eeepc have brought it to the attention of the mainstream, but there were other things before it (expensive Toshiba machines etc). When you think about it the majority of tasks a laptop is used for involved changing mere Megabytes of information - it's usually a combination of a typewriter and an address book.
  • $200? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davidpfarrell (562876) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @10:55PM (#24789337) Homepage

    Maybe its just me, but I fully expect 128GB SSD to go for much less than $200 by the end of 2010.

    How much HDD space will you be able to buy by that time for $200? I'd say easily 10-15x capacity.

    I feel like TFA is trying to set you up to accept higher prices on the hardware for a longer period of time.

    SSD is merging onto the superhighway that is Moore's Law for HDD and I can't see settling for lower capacity and higher prices for more than another year or so.

    • by HiThere (15173)

      I think you're overly optimistic. The current plants can only produce so much. If at a particular price they can sell their entire inventory, then there's no reason to cut prices below that, even if they could do so and still earn a decent profit.

    • Or is it a fantasy?

      Your confidence in vaporware is disturbing and will be your downfall. Currently SLOW 32 GB SDHCs are selling at > $200. In two years (2010) we ***might*** see 128 GB SDHCs at ~ $300 capable of 8 GB/s throughput.

  • Advertising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cybereal (621599) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @11:31PM (#24789637) Homepage

    Also, the industry needs to effectively communicate why consumers or enterprise users should pay more for less storage," says Joseph Unsworth, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

    MAGIC

    Seriously, solid state electronics, even after years and years of being around them as an early 80's baby, still just seems like magic to me. I can't wait to get rid of every little motor whine in my computing world, even if it's another 10 years, that will be a happy day to have a powerful computer without any moving parts.

  • SSD is here already. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel DOT hedblom AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:09AM (#24790361) Homepage Journal

    My familys three eeepc and the one i have at work would be utter pain if they had spinning disks and not SSD. Cheap laptop drives is terrible when it comes to sequential reads but even worse at access times.

    Ubuntu runs faster in some areas on the eee than on my brand spanking new desktop.

    What i long for is faster speeds and more write cycles. Servers is what i think would benefit the most from SSD and thats where i suspect it will take off soon.

  • by Alarindris (1253418) on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:18AM (#24790427)
    FTFA

    Also, the industry needs to effectively communicate why consumers or enterprise users should pay more for less storage

    For the consumers, or average Joe, there is no reason to pay more for less storage.

    The trade off is reliability. For 99%, if not more of the people using pc's today, a generic 120gb hd does the job just fine. On my desktop, I've never had any of the 3 hard drives fail in the last 12 years that I've been using them, or any time before that for that matter.

    From a fundamental electronics standpoint, SSD is amazing. It's what I dreamed of making in the early 80's when I was first turned on to electronics by ham radio and Apple //.

    As TFA states, it's not practical for now other than USB drives, which is fine. I just hope the development of these devices continue to recieve funding, because in the long run, it will be a boon to the PC industry.

  • I think you need to get to 128GB for around $200

    Right. By the time the drives get to that price/capacity, SATA will be down to, what, 750g-1tb 2.5" drives for 50$-100$? Less?

    From everything I've gathered, the only major benefit to an SSD is that I won't swear as much when I accidentally drop my laptop while it's running. That and given the alleged longevity, they'd make a great drop-in replacement for laptops that are notoriously painful to perform user maintenance on, like the 12" Powerbook G4 (ever try

  • by Ex-MislTech (557759) on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:42AM (#24790555)

    One good reason for SSD would be the negative effects on
    using hard drives at high altitudes.

    They are not well documented either.

    http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6035_102-0.html?forumID=59&threadID=243684&messageID=2625001&tag=forums06;posts#2625001 [cnet.com]

  • by eebra82 (907996) on Friday August 29, 2008 @01:51AM (#24790609) Homepage
    It is good to see that the typical computer is closer to getting rid of moving parts. Currently we have HDDs, CD/DVD/BR/HDDVD players and fans. We know that the SSDs are replacing the HDDs and that the players will be wiped out by the internet, wireless and memory sticks. Now we just need something feasible to replace the damn fans to get the first true consumer notebook with no moving parts.
  • What I'd want:

    Fanless processor
    Fanless motherboard
    - HW acceleration of H.264/VC1/MPEG2
    - HDMI out with LPCM
    - GigE to file server
    Small SSD
    Fanless case/PSU

    The pieces are coming togeter but it's not quite there.... I guess it matters what you want, SSDs aren't unreasonably expensive if you're looking for something else than $/GB. For that, nothing will beat a TB+ size regular HDD...

  • Not that it's not at least as post-worthy as half the other content on /. - but I find it "interesting" that a Computerworld employee/blogger submitted a Computerworld story with the impression that he was a neutral observer...

    Oh well. As I said, still better than the average story, I probably shouldn't complain.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @09:33AM (#24793523)

    As a ff/paramedic the laptops we use (both truck-mounted and toughbooks) get quite a bit of abuse... though the Solid state drives are smaller, we store all patient information on a server as the report is finished, so we really don't need that much space anyway. most failures are from HDDs.
    solid state gets the rating of 'firefighter proof'

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