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Data Storage Hardware

Samsung Mass Produces Fast 256GB SSDs 280

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'm-sure-this-will-be-a-bargain dept.
Lucas123 writes "Samsung said it's now mass producing a 256GB solid state disk that it says has sequential read/write rates of 220MB/sec and 200/MBsec, respectively. Samsung said it focused on narrowing the disparity of read/write rates on its SSD drive with this model by interleaving NAND flash chips using eight channels, the same way Intel boosts its X25 SSD. The drive doubles the performance of Samsung's previous 64GB and 128GB SSDs. 'The 256GB SSD launches applications 10 times faster than the fastest 7200rpm notebook HDD,' Samsung said in a statement."
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Samsung Mass Produces Fast 256GB SSDs

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  • My left nut is an unreasonable price.

  • Does this mean it's no longer useful to buy 10,000RPM drives? 10x faster? Sweet.

    • Re:10,000 RPM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:38PM (#25878513)

      Just imagine the power savings as well. Also, they should last an order of a magnitude longer than media that needs to spin all the time.

      As soon as these get cheaper and have more capacity, spinning media is dead.

      • Re:10,000 RPM (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bunratty (545641) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:48PM (#25878669)

        Spinning media already is dead. It's just that no one's told it yet.

        Actually, spinning media will continue to be used in servers that need huge capacities of storage. But for cheaper devices, the speed, energy efficiency, durability, and price of solid state drives will effectively make using spinning media obsolete in the next few years.

        • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:59PM (#25878783) Journal

          It isn't dead until Netcraft confirms it.

        • Well, this year I bought an Acer AspireOne netbook, but I decided for the model with a HDD instead of the SSD version...

          However, if SSDs continue improving and becoming cheaper, maybe my next mobile computer will be moving-part free!

      • Re:10,000 RPM (Score:5, Informative)

        by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:15PM (#25878939)

        1 TB of SSD today = 17 * $150 [newegg.com] = $2,550.

        1 TB conventional storage = $95 [newegg.com].

        SSDs are still over 25 times as expensive. They will improve quickly, but they need to hit a moving target to kill conventional drives.

        • Re:10,000 RPM (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bunratty (545641) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:24PM (#25879051)

          SSDs are still over 25 times as expensive for 1 TB of storage. Fixed that for you.

          64 GB SSD today = $150.
          80 GB hard disk = $40.
          If you need only 64 GB of storage, as most handhelds, laptops, and desktops do, SSDs are only about four times more expensive today. You can expect SSDs to become cheaper than hard disks in about two years, at least for the smaller capacity drives.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by DogDude (805747)
            Where can you get a 64 GB SSD for $150? I'd buy about 10 of those right now if I could find 'em.
          • Well at 80GB hard drive prices don't scale as well because hardly anyone makes 80GB hard drives anymore. Your comparison is a bit unfairly slanted, because while 64GB might have been fine 3 or 4 years ago, these days Windows takes up 11GB by itself, and in the age of HD movie downloading and double-digit GB games 64GB doesn't quite cut it. However, if you're going for more of an ultraportable type device you can probably get by with 64GB easily I suppose, and add on with an external HDD.
          • I agree that SSDs will find a niche soon, and that niche will continue to grow. My point is simply that spinning drives are nowhere near being a "dead" technology as the original post stated.

            You can expect SSDs to become cheaper than hard disks in about two years, at least for the smaller capacity drives.

            Is this just speculation? In any case, it seems likely. Every hard drive requires a calibrated motor and many other specialized parts. The cheapest hard drive can only be so cheap, and so at smaller sizes,

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by cheater512 (783349)

              Calibrated motor? You think that they have to specially make motors which run at exactly 7,200rpm? O_o

              They just use a feedback mechanism for precise positioning and speed.

              Flash on the other hand chews up massive amounts of space on silicon.
              That is quite expensive.

          • by kklein (900361) on Monday November 24, 2008 @08:13PM (#25879493)

            If you need only 64 GB of storage, as most handhelds, laptops, and desktops do

            My laptop has a 250GB drive that's almost full with work files. I haven't had less than a few hundred GB of storage on a desktop for almost a decade.

            Hell, even my iPod is 80GB, and almost full.

            Are you from the past?

        • by ignavus (213578) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:42PM (#25879229)

          1 TB of SSD today = 17 * $150 [newegg.com] = $2,550.

          1 TB conventional storage = $95 [newegg.com].

          SSDs are still over 25 times as expensive. They will improve quickly, but they need to hit a moving target to kill conventional drives.

          A perfect choice for RAVED - Redundant Array of Very Expensive Disks.

          • by afidel (530433)
            Not expensive at all if what you need is IOPS instead of storage (though you would want SLC flash for a server app which is more expensive).
  • by clang_jangle (975789) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:36PM (#25878487) Journal
    FTFA:

    Samsung would not release the price of the drive because, it said, the product is targeted at the reseller market and those vendors would have to determine the mark up for the drive in their desktops and laptops.

    Damn -- How can I bitch about how expensive it is when they won't even tell me!

  • It makes a nice press release. But I like to see a story with a little more meat on the bones.
  • Fuzzy math (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msblack (191749) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:37PM (#25878503)

    So it launches applications 10 times faster [sic] (should say in 1/10 the amount of time), but the article only claims speed improvements of about 3.5 to 1. People need to seriously examine how they quote or accept statistics.

    Jim Elliott, vice president of memory marketing at Samsung, said the new 256GB drive can store 25 high-definition movies taking up 10GB of space each in just 21 minutes, which he said is a significant advancement over a 7200rpm hard disk drive, which takes about 70 minutes.

    • Re:Fuzzy math (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Walpurgiss (723989) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:44PM (#25878603)
      the transfer speed they tout is probably the peak transfer speed. But the time it takes to launch a program also depends on factors besides the transfer speed. Like seek time for example.

      Hard disks have to position the heads at the right sector before starting a read. Maybe these SSDs don't have a solid state analog to that activity and are thus faster by however long that takes.

      I don't know the specifics, but I'd guess that comparing overall program access and launch time to peak transfer speed is apples and oranges.
      • the transfer speed they tout is probably the peak transfer speed. But the time it takes to launch a program also depends on factors besides the transfer speed. Like seek time for example.

        My eeePc feels much more consistent than a system with a rotating disk.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by los furtive (232491)
        Seek time is next to zero for SSD drives (less than 1ms [laptopmag.com]). There's no seeking because it's all in the register already.
    • Re:Fuzzy math (Score:5, Informative)

      by ustolemyname (1301665) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:45PM (#25878625)

      So it launches applications 10 times faster [sic] (should say in 1/10 the amount of time), but the article only claims speed improvements of about 3.5 to 1. People need to seriously examine how they quote or accept statistics.

      Jim Elliott, vice president of memory marketing at Samsung, said the new 256GB drive can store 25 high-definition movies taking up 10GB of space each in just 21 minutes, which he said is a significant advancement over a 7200rpm hard disk drive, which takes about 70 minutes.

      Ah yes, but you don't have the seek times of the 7200rpm drive which are at best ~7ms. And since opening an application involves opening lots of different files (in different physical locations on the drive), this is where launching an app can be 10x faster.

      So for straight writing a single, large, contiguous piece of data, it's only 3.5 times faster. For loading 200 random, tiny files, it's ten times faster.

      • Re:Fuzzy math (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TeacherOfHeroes (892498) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:06PM (#25878851)

        This is somethat that a lot of people tend to overlook, either because they don't understand how a hard drive works, or because they don't stop and think about it. Loading programmes, especially ones which rely on libraries, translation files, multimedia, etc... at other locations on a disk would greatly slow down a HDD in comparison to an SSD.

        Contrasted with SSDs, which are pretty much random access devices, in order to read each of those files from an HDD, there are basically 3 time factors to consider.

        1. Seek time. The time it takes to move a reader head to a specific track (ring of data on a platter). Assuming that there is only this read taking place, you can pretty much assume that the reader head moves from its current location to the correct spot on the disk right away. Things are not always this pretty, though.

        2. Rotation time. On average, you will have to wait half a rotation for the correct spot on the disk to spin around to the reader heads. There may be algorithms designed to mitigate this by reading even as it waits. In case the read is large enough to span a significant portion of the track, it can append that buffered data later, but I don't know if this is done or not.

        3. Read time. This is the amount of time required to read the data off of a single track, and can take up to 1 rotation of the platter to complete.

        So while the GP has a point in that people need to be careful about what kinds of statistics they believe, he/she glosses over the fact that reading a single piece of data with an HDD is hardly a random access, constant time operation (or linear time for n pieces of data).

        • Yep (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:47PM (#25879275)

          Disk I/O is the one area I still have an easy time slamming modern computers on. Most others, it isn't too expensive for me to simply get enough power that handles what I want in realtime without slowdown. Multiple VM, no problem quad cores are cheap. Big audio projects? Hell I can get 4GB of RAM for less than a month's Internet access... However when those projects start hitting the disk, I start having problems, even with a RAID array. The sequential stuff isn't it, it's the random access that kills it.

          Audio only takes 172Kbytes per second per track (for 32-bit floating point). So you figure that doing something with, say, 64 tracks isn't a big deal right? Only about 11Mbytes/sec, way under what a single disk can take. However you can find that it'll choke. Reason being is that the audio isn't all nice and sequential. It's written to disk as 32 separate stereo audio files. Also you maybe have some of them reading, some of them writing and so on. The disk gets overloaded trying to seek to the information in time.

          VMs are the same thing. Two VMs running computations at the same time on a system works at full speed. They each use a core of the CPU, there's no problem. The do contend for memory bandwidth, but that is plenty high enough. Likewise one VM doing disk access happens at near native speeds. There's not a lot of overhead to read and write to the disk. However get two VMs doing disk access, man things grind to a halt. Your drive is dancing all over trying to service the simultaneous requests from different areas so throughput grinds to a halt.

          An SSD would just be amazing for apps like this. Not because it has so much more bandwidth, but because it's bandwidth stays much higher under intense random access. Where a harddrive might obtain 50MB/sec in sequential read, the same drive might struggle to pull even 5MB/sec in random reads. For the SSD it might be more along the lines of 200MB/sec for sequential and 180MB/sec for random. Even though it isn't full speed, it's close enough as no odds. With that, the VM and audio work would have no throughput problems.

          • Re:Yep (Score:5, Informative)

            by Gazzonyx (982402) on Monday November 24, 2008 @11:54PM (#25881355)
            I've found that for VMs it's best to short stroke the drive. Partition it so that your VMs are in the middle of the drive, all together, in a somewhat narrow section of the disk. That way, even while doing high IO/sec, you're at most half a disk seek from anything else on the disk. Also, always pre-allocate your VM disks; the performance difference is huge. If you're running a *nix distro, it pays to put your swap on one side of the VM partition and /var on the other, this way you shouldn't have to stray out of the center of the disk too much. The anticipatory IO scheduler in Linux helps a good deal here, you'll get much more throughput for a sub millisecond latency cost. With NCQ/NTQ, and only using 1/3 of the disk surface, you can feel the difference... especially as compared to a single partition that's running low on space and doing a full stroke to get from the VM to your OS.
    • by Telvin_3d (855514)

      Both claims could be correct. It is entirely possible that by having a really low seek time and high read speed the drive could launch programs, specifically larger applications that involve many smaller files and plug-ins, an order of magnitude faster than current drives. At the same time, it could have a write speed that is only a couple times faster than normal drives. Personally, I take all of this with a grain of salt until independent benchmarks come out but the claims themselves are not impossible or

    • It is not a contradiction for the relative performance of two devices to vary depending on the workload.

    • Re:Fuzzy math (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kimvette (919543) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:05PM (#25878841) Homepage Journal

      That the job time differs by a factor of 3.5 does not mean that data transfer speeds aren't improved tenfold. There are other factors involved, you know. It'd have been a cleaner comparison if they had transferred a single 250GB file from one HDD to another HDD, then a copy of that same file from one SSD to another SSD.

      All the same, once capacities reach 750gb or better and the price point is below $200 or so, I'll be buying them. Hell, I'd probably consider buying a 256GB drive just to improve boot times. (when Linux decides it's time to fsck boot times are slow)

      Question: That they could transfer 10 25 GB files to the SSD leads me to think it's 256 gigabytes rather than gibibytes? Are these SSDs rated using actual gigabytes, or gibibytes with the gigabyte label? I think SSD technology is a great breaking point where manufacturers could/should agree to abandon the misleading gibibyte ratings.

      On an unrelated note: Maybe a spyware-infested Windows box will boot in under two minutes now ;)

    • by westlake (615356)
      The new 256GB drive can store 25 high-definition movies taking up 10GB of space each in just 21 minutes

      That will be nice to know the next time I need to manually rip 25 Blu-Ray discs to a laptop in a single half-hour session.

      Rather than set up an automated download from a home media server.

  • keep it up (Score:5, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:39PM (#25878541)
    The spinning disc is slowly beginning to wind its way down.
  • I am thrilled, as a home user I think 250 gigs is the sweet spot for my laptop. While I certainly could fill more than that, I think that mark represents a reasonable amount of space for the average mobile user looking to ditch the problems associated with a spinning platter. I also expect the price to fall quickly, making these drive much more affordable in the near future. SSD is finally getting close to the masses.
  • Not Yet Available? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:58PM (#25878775) Homepage Journal

    The ComputerWorld article says "and are available for resellers today". The Samsung press release [businesswire.com] says, "announced today that it has begun mass producing". I couldn't find them in any of the usual places.

    The Samsung website is particularly un-useful and hard to navigate, though I suppose it's appropriate that they require you to use Flash for this one.

  • by wooferhound (546132) <tim@NoSPaM.wooferhound.com> on Monday November 24, 2008 @06:59PM (#25878791) Homepage
    W O W
    I never thought a Single Sided Disc (SSD)
    would ever be able to hold so much data . . .
    • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:03PM (#25878823)

      W O W
      I never thought a Single Sided Disc (SSD)
      would ever be able to hold so much data . . .

      Just try installing one flipped. Cutting the notch will surely be a bitch.

      • by FlightTest (90079) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:25PM (#25879057) Homepage

        I wonder how many of today's /.'ers remember doing this. To the best of my hazy recollection, I never had a "single sided" disk fail to format both sides.

        When I first heard about it, I used a second disc to mark the location and an X-acto knife to cut the slot. I recall it being several months before tools to cut the slots started showing up in computer stores.

        I also recall discussions about whether spinning the disk "backwards" would dislodge dirt trapped in the liner and cause premature failure of the disk. In hindsight it sure didn't seem to.

        • by PRMan (959735)

          We had one brand of floppies that were completely unfinished on the back and wouldn't hold data. But most of them, including very cheap brands, worked just fine.

          And you didn't use a hole punch? That's what all the cool kids were doing...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Greyfox (87712)
          I do. I never had a single sided disk fail to format, though a couple of times I accidentally hit the media while punching the notch. I always just used a regular paper puncher to punch my notches, so it wasn't quite as precise as one of the square punching tools would have been.

          That didn't last all that long though. I went from cassettes in a TI 99/4A in 1984 to 5.25" diskettes for the Apple ][ machines at school from 1986-1988. By the time I got to college the 3.5" disks were starting to come out and th

        • by raddan (519638)
          I do. I also remember telling my friends that it couldn't possibly work. I'm not sure if I was dumbly missing out on getting extra storage on the cheap or if I was being smart by realizing the value of my data (which I still have to a large extent). But I was in middle school at the time, so I'm opting for 'dumb'.
        • I used a normal hole punch. Cheap and easy. :)
    • by Phroggy (441) <.moc.yggorhp. .ta. .3todhsals.> on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:11PM (#25878901) Homepage

      You fail at acronyms.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:02PM (#25878813) Homepage
    I know the impetus is to produce big and fast SS drives, but I'm more interested in cheap and fast ones. My desktop machine has 11 Gb of system and apps and <1 Gb of user files. I would be perfectly happy with a 16 Gb SSD that had great performance, was cheap, and was reliable. Reliability is a big issue. Although theoretically a device with no moving parts should always be more reliable than one with moving parts, in reality SSD technology isn't as mature as HD technology, so the failure rate may actually be higher [slashdot.org], and there may be no way to recover from a failure.
    • by david.given (6740) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:37PM (#25879183) Homepage Journal

      You can get 16GB SDHC cards for about 30 USD. Those are class 6, which means you get anything from about 8MB/s to 20MB/s depending on the brand. Of course, if you want more speed, you can always use RAID0.

      In fact, given how cheap they are, a RAID5 system would probably make sense. You get a speed boost, and the ability to hot swap a single card if it goes bad. ZFS would also work really well, but I don't know if you'd get a speed boost that way. Also, all these approaches would allow you to very easily extend your system by buying another card (and reader) and adding it to the pool. (You may want to check up on whether you can remove it again later, though.)

      Hmm. Thanks for prompting me to go and look at this stuff. I might actually do this for my next lightweight server.

    • so the failure rate may actually be higher, and there may be no way to recover from a failure.

      Flash fails on write, not on read. If the write was successful, then baring catastrophic failure like a bullet to the unit, it will be readable indefinitely.

      Rotating disk can fail on write, but the most common failure is degradation over time that is only discovered when a read fails.

  • Powers of Two (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:10PM (#25878883)

    All these flash drives and solid state drives keep advertising capacities in powers of two: 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB. So why do they still say a 256 GB SSD is 256 million bytes?

    • by darksaber (46072) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:27PM (#25879087)

      If a 256GB SSD drive is only 256 million bytes, I'm a lot more concerned about the missing factor of ~1000 than the binary/decimal notation.

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        I would say I must be feeling British today, except that wouldn't have excused the mistake either.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wesley Felter (138342)

      It has 256GiB of raw capacity but some capacity is used for overhead so only 256GB is left.

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        If the file system's overhead consumed 17.58 GiB of my 256 GiB drive, I'd look to use a different file system. There's no cause for that much to be wasted, regardless of what your block size is.

        • The overhead really is necessary for bad block management and garbage collection. Some "enterprise" SSDs have 20% or even 50% overhead, so you're actually getting off easy.

        • I believe the extra space is reserved for use by the wear-leveling mechanism, not the file system.

    • Re:Powers of Two (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:49PM (#25879299) Homepage

      Computer math doesn't work like regular math, like for example SATA2 which is 3Gbps. Now if I showed you a cargo ship with a capacity of 3000 tons, you'd think you could actually load 3000 tons right? And not that 600 tons of the cargo hold would have to be fixed support beams. But with computers it's somehow okay that 600Mbps is just parity bits and that you can't actually transfer more than 2400Mbps of data. And computers have been fucked with 1000/1024 at least as far back as the 1.44MB = 1.44*1000*1024 floppy which can't be right in any system and probably longer. Ignore it, honestly whoever started this has wasted more time for computer users than whoever dropped the century digits leading to the y2k problem.

      • Re:Powers of Two (Score:5, Informative)

        by iggya (1401047) on Monday November 24, 2008 @09:04PM (#25879929)

        Computer math doesn't work like regular math, like for example SATA2 which is 3Gbps. Now if I showed you a cargo ship with a capacity of 3000 tons, you'd think you could actually load 3000 tons right?

        No, you wouldn't necessarily expect to be able to load 3000 tons. Firstly, what type of tonnage are you talking about? In shipping, there are several different types of tonnage, or in other words, different values for the same thing, with at best slightly different names. For example, Gross Register Tonnage, Net Tonnage, Gross Tonnage, Thames tonnage, Panama Canal tonnage, Net Register Tonnage, and who knows what else.

        Secondly, suppose a ship has a "capacity of 3000 tons". Could you fit more pillows or gold bars into the ship? Which one will fill the hold first? Can you fit 3000 tons of pillows into a ship with a capacity of 3000 tons? Can you fit 3000 tons of helium in? 3000 tons of depleted uranium? What if the ship is to be sailed from a salt water port into a freshwater lake? Does that affect anything?

        Why would you pick tonnage of shipping as an example of regular math? Shipping measurements are all over the place. For example, how long is a ship? Well it depends on the shape of the ship, and where you measure it. Length at the waterline or length overall? With the ship loaded or empty? Heeling or sitting level? Salt water or fresh?

        Just about everything to do with computers is simpler and more regular than just about anything related to boating.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday November 24, 2008 @07:59PM (#25879377)

      Giga is an SI prefix. It is defined as 10^9 and abbreviated as a capital G. So to say you have 200G of something implies you have 200,000,000,000 of them.

      Computers do it wrong. When computers say Giga they mean 2^30, not 10^9. That's wrong, for that you use IEC prefix of gibi, abbreviated as Gi.

      The reason is that back in the day, computers had little memory. Thousands of bytes was all. So when talking about thousands of bytes, programmers started calling them "kilobytes". After all, it is close. 2^10 is close to 10^3, only 2.4% error. Well memory kept growing, and the incorrect prefix usage kept going on and they kept using bigger ones.

      However this has two problems:

      1) The error grows. At the giga level it is about 7% off. The large you are talking about, the more the difference between the base 10 prefix and it's "closest" base-2 amount.

      2) You get confusion between levels. For example suppose your computer shows you something in megabytes. It says you have a file that is 2000 megabytes. Well that's 2 gigabytes right? Wrong, 2 gigabytes is 2048 megabytes. So it is rather unintuitive to humans. We work in base 10, the numbers displayed are base 10, but the prefixes are used wrong.

      Really, the harddrive makers are right. Computers should display amounts according to the base 10 prefixes. Computers have no problems with base conversions, they should be doing that for people.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TClevenger (252206)
        Sugar-coat it however you want, but hard disk manufacturers did it for selfish marketing reasons only. An ST-225 20 megabyte drive is about 21,000,000 bytes. A 360k floppy disk is 362,496 bytes formatted. 256MB of RAM is 262,144 kbytes.

        It was only when somebody couldn't quite make a 1GB hard disk that 1,000,000,000 bytes became "good enough."

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ivan256 (17499)

        That's revisionist history.

        The IEC prefixes were created in 1999 to deal with the discrepancy introduced by hard drive manufacturers. (kilo|giga|mega)bytes had standard definitions in powers of two decades before the hard drive manufacturers started ignoring them, and yet an additional decade before the IEC prefixes were created. Worse, hard drive manufacturers used the correct definitions right up until 1995, when it was switched so they could advertise their drives as having a 1GB capacity.

        Just because th

  • Perfect for systems that need to be written to once, then read lots, available with minimal delay (no spin-up) and maximum reliability. ie pr0nz server. Immense sales for this market sector alone should bring prices down.

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