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Data Storage Hardware

Five Years of PC Storage Performance Compared 90

Posted by timothy
from the professor-it-seems-to-be-getting-cheaper dept.
theraindog writes "PC storage has come a long way in the last few years. Perpendicular recording tech has fueled climbing capacities, 10k-RPM spindle speeds have migrated from SCSI to Serial ATA, Native Command Queuing has made mechanical drives smarter, and a burgeoning SSD market looks set to fundamentally change the industry. The Tech Report has taken a look back at the last four and a half years of PC storage solutions, probing the capacity and performance of a whopping 70 different notebook and desktop hard drives, SSDs, and exotic RAM disks. There's a lot of test data to digest, but the overall trends are easy to spot, potentially foretelling the future of PC storage."
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Five Years of PC Storage Performance Compared

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 11, 2009 @05:43PM (#28663915)

    The current models don't spin very quickly, but in the future people will pay a premium for the increased throughput in 5000, 7500, and 10K RPM models.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 11, 2009 @06:24PM (#28664167)
      The current models don't spin very quickly...

      That's very observant of you to notice that SSDs don't spin very quickly. But I'm not sure I agree with your assessment that they'll spin faster in the future.
      • The current models don't spin very quickly...

        That's very observant of you to notice that SSDs don't spin very quickly. But I'm not sure I agree with your assessment that they'll spin faster in the future.

        Seems to me that at least in the comparison of the technologies that there's been a lot of spin. I don't expect that this will decrease significantly in the future.

  • It is said... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jo42 (227475) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @05:48PM (#28663957) Homepage

    It is said that pr0n drives certain sectors of technology. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a single drive to store my whole collection... :-(

  • by basementman (1475159) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @05:54PM (#28664007) Homepage
    The overall trend on one page instead of 12 is that storage is getting cheaper, bigger and faster. Oh boy...
    • Re:Overall Trends (Score:5, Informative)

      by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @07:15PM (#28664465)

      on one page instead of 12

      The Firefox Add-on AutoPager [mozilla.org] is your friend: automatically loads the next page inline as you scroll downwards. Turns multi-page sites into the single page they are supposed to be. Works great with many popular pages, including search results... and idiotic news sites.

      • Re:Overall Trends (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vegeta99 (219501) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {nnyljr}> on Saturday July 11, 2009 @08:05PM (#28664641)

        That, sir, if the Comment of the Week right there.

        • I don't know, man. It's like finishing my plate of food-- mom always made me finish it before I could have dessert. The OCD in me must finish whatever page I'm on. Having the page infinitely expand is not conducive to productivity...

      • by CmdrPorno (115048)

        Where's the Safari version?

      • I'm fairly fond of Link Widgets myself. It allows (ALT+ Page Up / Down) to cycle to the previous / next page. I mostly use it for sites where I appreciate the pagination (webcomics primarily.)

        Sites with lots of superfluous pages like this one I just skim the first and last pages.

      • Too bad AutoPager on Google search screws up the Comment/Promote/Remove feature.
  • 12 pages? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    12 pages? Yeah, I want to read that. 12 pages of ads.

  • It's amazing what feats we have accomplished over the past five years. I really makes you wonder what storage technology we will have 50 years from now. I honestly can't wait to give my "in my day" speech to all the youngins when I'm 76.

    "In my day, all our data was mostly stored on spinning magnetic disks... or platters as we used to call them..."
    • by nethenson (1093205) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @07:20PM (#28664479) Journal
      One thing I find impresive about the evolution of storage: 20TB was the total hard drive space manufactured in 1995, just 14 years ago. And today some sites are offering 1TB storage for free, and it isn't hard to imagine they have much more than 100.000 users.

      Not only you get more and more gigabytes per hard drive every year, the whole world also gets a massive quantity of new storage space.

      And yet, we keep on getting 'No space left on device' errors.
      • One thing I find impresive about the evolution of storage: 20TB was the total hard drive space manufactured in 1995, just 14 years ago.

        I believe you meant 20 petabytes. You could already get gigabyte drives back then, and it's hard to imagine that fewer than 20,000 of them were manufactured during the course of the year.

        But, yes, exponential growth is impressive.

  • why so many pages? (Score:3, Informative)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @06:18PM (#28664133)
    3 benchmarks for the same thing? oh right this is techcrunch they need to fill every page with as many stupid ads as possible, and draw out their pointless review to the point you gag.

    summary - intel x25 is super fast, super expensive. not much has changed with spinning platters.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      not much has changed with spinning platters.

      Actually, I was surprised by the results for magnetic storage which showed a 2-3x performance gain over the older generations.
      Pretty amazing for a technology that was supposedly as "good as it's going to get".
      Seems perpendicular recording helped quite a bit allowing drives to get much bigger and increase in performance, mag drives may not be at the end of their rope yet.

      • by volsung (378)
        This makes sense, of course. If disk rotation speeds stay fixed, and areal densities increase, then the number of bits per second passing under the head has to go up. As long as hard drive manufacturers can keep increasing storage capacity, they will get speed increases at the same time. (If you need to use longer error-correcting codes on the platter to achieve these densities, that can fight against these gains.)
    • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @08:08PM (#28664657) Homepage

      summary - intel x25 is super fast, super expensive. not much has changed with spinning platters.

      Hmm not the trends I've noticed. From what I've paid attention to:
      1) Spinning platters hasn't changed that much, but they've gone down substantially in price. The sweet spot on capacity/cost including SATA connections and everything has gone up considerably and is now at 1.5TB/disk, which are only minimally more expensive than 1.0TB while the 2.0TB disks are top of the line and very expensive.

      2) SSD prices were in freefall up until around march. Since then there's been 4 months of increased prices, very abnormal for computer equipment. Not sure if this means the prices will go much slower from here, if so that's bad because they're still at enthusiast pricing.

      Basicly, it looks to me like we're header for SSDs as primary drives and 1.5TB+ disks for vast disk arrays that SSDs won't touch for a long while, they still have a 25:1 cost disadvantage compared to the cheapest bulk storage. Now I still got plenty old disks, but if I replaced all 12 in my Antec 1200 with the cheapest 1.5TB disk you can now deliver 18TB for less than 2000$ for the whole system, it'd be close to 100$/TB but slightly over. That's just freakishly huge compared to five years ago, so I still say things are moving along nicely.

      Also I didn't get the Intel SSD, but I did get the 120GB Vertex and it flies. I can start a torrent doing 2MB/s random writes and I barely notice I'm doing it. The world is moving forward a lot, but honesly with faster Internet I don't feel quite the same need to store everything locally anyway. Still, it's nice to have 32GB on the USB stick in my pocket for when I need something. I never thought I'd say this because I've been rather insatisfiable when it comes to computers, but things are starting to bottom out. Even a pack rat like me is starting to wonder what I need all this space for, it's moving past nice-to-have into cool-but-why territory.

      • by timmarhy (659436)
        nothing has really changed with platters though - space has been going up, speed hasn't really improved leaps and bounds and prices are always dropping. this has been consistent for the last 10 years.

        and while SSD's have come down in price, cost per gig is still huge - it's a good few years before more then a handful of consumers are using them.

      • by ZosX (517789) <zosxavius@@@gmail...com> on Saturday July 11, 2009 @08:59PM (#28664855) Homepage

        I have a 750gb that I filled with compressed video. My huge mp3 collection would be four times as large if I upgraded it to flac. A few terrabytes is not all that much and I could probably fill a 5TB array about as fast as 12mb/s would get me. With video now, especially HD video, drives are going to get filled up faster than ever. Also digital photography is pushing beyond film now with 50 megapixel sensors. They are quite expensive, but imagine what it will be like in another 5 years or so. Even my 10-meg camera stores 12 megabyte raws. Its not hard to fill up a 4gig card at around 300 images.

        What can I say? Hoarding is also addicting. Who knows. Maybe one day society will collapse and these huge caches of media will be some of our only copies of our cultural history. I think it is important for music to be preserved, and with many things going out of print and obscure record companies dissolving, it is getting rather hard to find underground stuff from even the 90s.

      • by symbolset (646467)
        And for performance we can forget about storage that uses legacy drive interfaces at all. The performance kings these days are PCIe attach SSDs and they make the fastest of these SSDs look like tape drives in comparison.
        • Modern tape drives actually have tremendous throughput, and the $/GB crown. Keep in mind that the rated speed/capacity is the raw data to tape AFTER inline hardware compression, meaning you're usually moving twice as much or more data between the host and drive. Now, looking at seek times, they're polar opposites of SSD, but that's not the universal definition of performance :)

          • by symbolset (646467)

            If you're using hard drives for tape-like tasks, for example backup, you get the same advantages of bandwidth multiplication and storage capacity as tape. Also, the random-access nature of hard drives offers the facility to do differential backups that can function as live snapshots. Current virtual tape libraries emulate all of the advantages of tape except one: archive longevity. Tape is still the standout winner there. Hardware compression is overrated in the modern era, as the task is just not compl

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jollyreaper (513215)

        Still, it's nice to have 32GB on the USB stick in my pocket for when I need something. I never thought I'd say this because I've been rather insatisfiable when it comes to computers, but things are starting to bottom out. Even a pack rat like me is starting to wonder what I need all this space for, it's moving past nice-to-have into cool-but-why territory.

        Something will come up to eat the space.

        CD-ROM's could store more text than you could ever need. Then came multimedia content. CD's suddenly felt cramped.

        Time was when computer music meant mod files. Who had the space to devote to encoding real live music? Now we have mp3 players in our pockets.

        We'll come up with more and more stuff to eat up the space. Video is the biggest driver right now but even the most hardcore downloader will need some time to fill up a 1.5tb drive. Hardcore geeks who keep the last t

        • by Kjella (173770)

          But we'll come up with something else. I don't do video editing but by all accounts you eat up hard drive space like candy.

          I do have "the ultimate" in hard disk space eating, a HD video camera. But even that... there's limits to how many hours of boring home video anyone really wants to watch and there's not that many GB/hour of film. I'm sure that for Japanese photo freaks that seem far more busy photographing where they've been than being where they're at will have problems, but not me.

          The next revolution we desperately need is reliable archival storage. Tapes tend to suck and backing up to a second external drive just makes me think of the RAID admonishment -- "RAID is not backup." (...) No, DVD's are worrisome when talking about really important data.

          RAID is not backup because any error will immidiately propagate to all the disks. Multiple independent copies like say an external drive is ba

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 11, 2009 @07:00PM (#28664363)

    Looks like slashdot is on its high horse, saying "of course SSDs are faster, duh, what a waste of time!".

    And yet if somebody had written that in a blog, everybody would merrily trolling about how "anecdotal evidence is irrelevant, BTW my HDD is teh fastest".
    I don't understand it. Somebody goes to the trouble of comparing a shit-load of drives in a variety of tests, and apparently the results are boring/irrelevant.

    Slashdotters are always bitching about lack of empirical evidence for claims, yet when an article come along with abundant information to back up its conclusions, it dosn't get any credit.

    • by blahplusplus (757119) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @08:23PM (#28664715)

      "Slashdotters are always bitching about lack of empirical evidence for claims, yet when an article come along with abundant information to back up its conclusions, it dosn't get any credit."

      The truth is the way the article displays the information is shit, they could have done a lot better job on information presentation... and anandtech did a big write up on SSD's a while back that should tell anyone all they really need to know until SSD's come down to sane price levels and storage capacities. Everything published here isn't new, and has been known for a long time and has been written about better by anand.

      Anandtech:

      http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3531&p=1 [anandtech.com]

  • log scale (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 11, 2009 @09:06PM (#28664881)

    The format of those charts is retarded. They should have time on the x axis and whatever metric in log scale on the y axis. I couldn't care less which drive from 2005 is linked to a specific data point. I just want to see the trends as a function of time. In the later charts, with apparently fully exponential trends, you can't see whats going on at all.

  • 10k- and 15k-RPM spindle speeds have migrated from SCSI to Serial Attached SCSI and SATA, and ~5k- and 7k-RPM speeds have migrated from PATA to SATA

    FTFY.

    • by Extide (1002782)
      I believe that they were referring to the fact that initially 10K disks were only available in an enterprize SCSI platform, where as now you can get a 10k drive in SATA flavor, not that SATA has replaced SCSI.
  • Noise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CmdrPorno (115048) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @11:06PM (#28665283)

    Interesting that there appear to be no subjective or objective noise measurements (I did not read the entire article, as some moron has seen fit to split it across twelve pages). I remember when 7200 rpm drives first came out, they were aimed at the server market and a RAID array of them made the room sound like there was a generator running. The 7200 rpm drive in my recent iMac is whisper quiet by comparison.

    I assume the newest 15,000 rpm drives are similarly noisy.

    • by lukas84 (912874)

      I assume the newest 15,000 rpm drives are similarly noisy.

      The current ones aren't as noisy as they used to be, especially the 2.5" drives. Older ones were pretty noisy, but current Nehalem 2U rackservers with a 8 or 12 2.5" 15kRPM drives are pretty quiet - and that includes the noise of the case fans.

    • The three 15000 RPM SCSI 320 drives in my workstation (HP XW8400) are very quiet. This machine is amazingly quiet - HP engineers at a trade show say that was one of their design goals and they certainly achieved it.

  • Is there any drive 750GB or higher in capacity that is reliable? Half the 750GB / 1TB drives I have bought in the past year or two have failed. I am currently pinning my hopes on the 1TB Green Samsung drive that I opted for because it runs slower & cooler. Anyone have a reliable higher capacity drive recommendation?
  • that they are using an ancient system to do the tests? I wouldn't be surprised if the system itself is a limiting factor with some of the SSDs. Crazy.

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