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SSD Price Drops Signaling End of Spinning Media? 646

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the you-spun-me-baby dept.
gjt writes "When Intel and OCZ recently announced new 'affordable' Solid State Disk drives — offering a meager 32-40GB — we initially yawned. But, then we took a closer look at the press releases and the in-progress research and development in SSD technology and opened our eyes. While the new drives aren't affordable on a cost per gigabyte basis for everyone, it does set a precedent — and most importantly a barometer price of $100. And it really does start the death clock for hard drive technology."
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SSD Price Drops Signaling End of Spinning Media?

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  • by Drethon (1445051) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @01:52PM (#31586586)
    HDD is the new tape drive and SSD is the new HDD?
  • Nikon F6 and FM10 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <> on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @01:53PM (#31586596)

    There are only two advantages SSD has over spinning media at this time: Access speed and Durability. Storage space is still not up to par, and cost is definitely a weak point. However, technology progresses and we're hitting the limits of the current hard disk technology. SSD technology is definitely the future of most personal storage.

    But it won't replace it in all areas. There are still "obsolete" technologies in widespread use due to technical superiority over perceived convenience. No one is going to say digital cameras are lousy, but compared to film, they are simply outmatched. Where is Velvia for digital? Where is Kodachrome? These films have no equal in the digital world except as poorly implemented filters in Photoshop.

    Spinning media is going to be with us for a while, and I expect, like film, that eventually prices will go back up and this technology will be a specialty market targeted at high-end users and professionals.

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by delinear (991444) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:00PM (#31586748)

    Depends on the purpose, really. As the basis for your OS, the number of writes might be an issue, but for general user data it's less so. I can see a trend developing in smaller hard drives to carry the heavy loads while data which doesn't require constant access is pushed onto increasingly larger SSD, and of course the move away from desktops to laptops and notebooks will drive this forward too.

    Having said that, for home media servers it's not unusual to have several TB of linked hard drives, until SSD can even come close on both size and price, the humble hard drive should be safe for a while longer.

  • 32-40 GB isn't bad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:01PM (#31586772)

    While most computers come with bigger disks (because the cost of making spinning disks makes the marginal cost bigger, and bigger numbers are always easier to sell), I've had 30-40 GB Linux setups on dual-boot machines where the primary was Windows, and never really had space problems. And lots of the things that eat up space on consumer machines (like video) are stuff that is better on a hard disk anyway. So I could easily see computers that aren't heavily used for video or similar applicaitons going to SSDs if 32-40 GB SSD are affordable, and computers with a 32-40 GB primary SSD as well as an HDD, where the HDD is mainly used for things where sequential transfer speed rather than random access time is key. The trick for the latter is getting a good configuration/UI setup that makes it "just work" for the most common applications without the user manually choosing locations (mapping locations appropriately, and maybe implementing MIME-type-based defaults for download locations), while giving power users precise control.

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:02PM (#31586802)

    I think it'll be quite a few years before spindle drives are completely replaced.
    $100 for a 20-40gb drive is still more than a 1000gig spindle drive.
    I think spindle drives will be relegated to mass storage for media servers and other
    such home devices. Big banks of personal storage using ZFS, Mirrored, RAID5 or whatever
    ends up being used. I know the MPAA/RIAA wants us to stream everything (paying each time
    of course) from the net but all those HD streams will block all the intertubes. With net
    neutrality failing we'll see more and more bandwidth caps and rate limiting (unless you
    pay for their premium internet service with faster streamed media for only $80 more).

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stonewallred (1465497) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:06PM (#31586872)
    Excuse my ignorance, but what is the security status of these things? Like running an erase HD command where you rewrite three or seven times for supposedly no data recovery. Are these similar, better, worse?
  • by Silentknyght (1042778) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:09PM (#31586932)

    SSD reliability is highly variable, and in no case as good over the long term as hard drives

    SSDs are much like anything else, you get what you pay for.

    Buy the cheapest hard drive you can find; it won't last 5 years. Same for CD-R media and SSDs.

    It's a pretty safe bet that under normal workloads, a good SSD will outlive just about any HDD.

    I'm going to have to agree, especially considering I've just recently suffered a premature HDD failure. If you read the customer specs for any of the larger capacity platter drives, you really notice the failure rates: failures at the 3-6 month mark should be one in 100,000, not a one in 100 (or less).

  • by amorsen (7485) <> on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:09PM (#31586936)

    Where did you find reports from the field? All I've seen are lab studies and guesses.

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LaughingCoder (914424) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:14PM (#31587010)
    Interesting. Hard drives replace tape backup. SSDs replace hard drives.
  • by Hadlock (143607) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:20PM (#31587120) Homepage Journal

    I wonder how long it will be before SSDs lose the traditional 3.5" form factor. There's no reason why you couldn't say, drop the guts into a PCI form factor. That cast aluminum enclosure is probably $3-5 of a product that probably costs $45 to make. With less heat and mass requirements it's likely we'll start seeing naked chips on a breadboard to save 8-9% of the manufacturing cost.

  • by thms (1339227) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:25PM (#31587208)
    Tiered Storage - "on the fly" support for that is something I would love to see:
    • All your files are on on big 2TB rotating-rust* HD
    • The OS automatically uses a 10 or 20 GB SSD to cache the parts which are accessed most.
    • Then of course the usual RAM cache on top of that.
    • And CPU cache on top of that, thus - 4 tiers!

    I'd prefer that software solution to a hardware solution since the OS knows so much more about which files it would make sense to cache and which aren't worth it. Also, you could overrule the prediction algorithms easily to cache the music you want to listen to or the database you are working on. I actually use /dev/shm (a Linux tmpfs in RAM) often to store quickly changing files.

    * I know iron oxides aren't used anymore, but I still like the mental image :)

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RobKow (1787) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:31PM (#31587336)

    P=I^2 R

    So, for the same resistance, the heat is proportional to the square of the current.

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aix tom (902140) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:33PM (#31587368)

    Here, too.
    My basic "swap cycle" for hard drives was

    1) Buy them
    2) Use as data storage 2-3 Years
    3) Use as OS drive 2-3 Years
    4) Use for swap space 2-3 Years
    5) Throw them out

    I have gone through maybe 25-30 drives for various boxes at home so far, and exactly ONE has failed me so far, while it was already on "swap space" duty. Usually the ones I throw out are about 8-10 years old, just because they are now even to small to be useful as swap space.

  • by FrozenGeek (1219968) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:35PM (#31587398)
    Seriously. Google is (believed to be) the largest single user of consumer hard drives. When they start replacing hard drives with SSDs, I will consider HDDs to be done. I wonder what price differential the power savings (don't forget the power for cooling) will cover?
  • by Hadlock (143607) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:36PM (#31587410) Homepage Journal

    Back in middle school me and my buddy wanted to try out linux but didn't want to wait to format* the drive so we stuck the magnet out of the base of a magnet-mount shop lamp (10 lb "capacity", about 5" in diameter). To our surprise, not only did we corrupt the drive data, but the computer wouldn't recognize the drive, either.
    *I am aware now that there's more involved to formatting a drive

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:37PM (#31587440) Journal

    If you get rid of the fans, there won't be any funny/troll posts about Microsoft, Apple and Linux.

    There were never really any fans:
    They're all perpetual motion sterling engines running off the temperature differential of their own hot air and the chilling glares of everyone who thinks they're idiots.

  • by MrNemesis (587188) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:40PM (#31587490) Homepage Journal

    I reckon we'll need a couple more years of SSD acceptance before this becomes mainstream - for one thing, we'll need an OS-agnostic method of using PCIe cards as bootable block devices, which will probably take a while to work out. Heck, I'm not even sure if FusionIO is bootable yet (I think they're working on it). And then there's all those filesystems in use that all assume they're on spinning discs.

    SSD will be made of awesome when this happens though - SATA has been a bottleneck for flash for quite a while now, and removing a) the slow-assed bus and b) the complex disc controller overhead and the futzing around that the OS does will give gargantuan speed improvements. I expect there'll be a shift like there was from MFM to IDE - move the control of the hardware away from the OS and into a smart hardware controller that embedded with the device. SATA is just used now because it's common and universally supported by pretty much everything - crucial at the "early adopter" stage.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:48PM (#31587588) Homepage Journal

    What you will probably see soon is a new mini-pci standard. The current mini-pci standard has a USB port as part of the standard. Once they start putting USB 3.0 on there it will be trivial to put a USB 3.0 Flash drive chip on a card. You may even see a card that is both an SSD and WiFi which would be great for netbook makers.

  • by Hadlock (143607) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:49PM (#31587612) Homepage Journal

    Oh, I was just talking about something that mounted in the PCI slot and was held in with a single screw like an old school sound card. There'd be no pin connectors interfacing directly with the motherboard; it'd still have a SATA jack to wire it to the motherboard.
    Hell, there's no reason why they couldn't just integrate a 20 or 40gb SSD right into the motherboard. Talk about a microcomputer! Lenovo has some pretty tiny nettops nowadays, I imagine the physical dimensions of the hard drive more or less doubles the thickness of the unit. With a different form factor they could probably reduce the size of the packaging even further.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:50PM (#31587622) Homepage Journal

    Of course the scary thing is now that we have 64 bit processors it could be possible to just map the flash right to the address space. I could see a netbook with a flash drive right on the motherboard.

  • by MrNemesis (587188) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:50PM (#31587630) Homepage Journal

    How much for a hard drive that's as fast as that $125 SSD?

    It was probably a rhetorical question, but I'll answer anyway: lots. Lots and lots and lots.

    We've in the middle of replacing 48U's worth of short-stroked fibre channel discs with 4U's worth of solid state drives. Capacity was never much of an issue with these databases (they only total about 800GB) but to get the performance with an IBM pSeries box cost stupid money - I don't know the exact figure but it was somewhere in the region of 50k a year just for maintenance.

    Even if you're not using hardware like a pSeries, a SAN or disc array capable of sustaining >20,000 IOPS is still going to cost you silly money, take up alot more space and eat at least five times more power.

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @02:57PM (#31587734) Journal

    The thing is, SSDs are expensive primarily because of economies of scale. If a lot of major manufacturers started making these drives available for $100 bucks as a feature, you'd see much wider adoption, and it would be more profitable to build additional fabrication plants that would bring the costs down immensely. Even now, 32 GB USB flash sticks cost on the order of $70. SSDs cost twice as much solely because the controllers are made in such limited quantities.

  • by MrNemesis (587188) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:07PM (#31587858) Homepage Journal

    Dunno about magentic leakage as tapes aren't really my area (mainly because I hate the damned things :))

    Personally, I don't really think people using a single tape drive without a robot/library count as "enterprisey" enough for my blood - if I had a single drive, I too would use a nearline HDD-based storage system to keep the last few versions close at hand so there's no need for the rigamarole of spooling through a tape to restore just one file. We implmented just such a "on the cheap" system in a previous job some years ago - we backed up to tape directly from the file server, but also maintained a backup server that rsynced the files over every hour. It used hardlinks to allow us to keep several faux-snapshots of the entire system whilst only actually keeping one instance of every unique file, giving us about 4 months of instant restore-any-file-you-like in just 2x the amount of space in use on the file server. Easy to set up and saved us a fortune on backup infrastructure.

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:10PM (#31587882) Journal

    I think part of the confusion here is that you're confusing the word "backup" with the word "archive". They're not the same thing, though a lot of IT people try to use backups as archives, which is why folks cling to archaic technology like tape.

    Hard-drives aren't intended for long-term storage, but that's okay because backups don't have to last long-term. Backups are short-term, by definition. They just have to last long enough to guarantee that you have two or three complete backups of the data, preferably with a couple of those backups off-site and offline at any given time.

    Archives, by contrast, provide the ability to fetch an ancient version of some file. Although those can be implemented using tape, they can also be implemented through a version control system. Doing so has the advantage of more rapid availability of the old data, lower overhead (you don't have to call somebody from IT to go digging through a tape vault for an ancient backup tape), and eliminating the need for long-term storage entirely because now even the old versions of the files are being backed up regularly---backups that really only need to last until the drives have their next turn in the backup rotation....

  • by socrplayr813 (1372733) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:10PM (#31587890)

    Definitely agree here. The vast majority of 'average Joe' computers that I come across have a 160-500GB hard drive, of which they've generally used less than 20-25GB, including all of their apps, music, etc. Unless they have an absolutely massive music collection or like to play a whole bunch of high-end games, a 40-80GB SSD is PLENTY.

    Even a more tech-oriented person like myself doesn't need a ton of space. I keep all of my files on a server at home, which I access from my other computers when I want something. If I'm going on a trip, I can put the important stuff on my laptop, with all of my music and whatever videos/games I feel like I want for entertainment. That easily fits within my arbitrary 80GB and it would not take much effort to fit into 40GB. How much information can a person really need, especially for short trips? Are people really using 2TB of files on their laptop when they leave the house? (Short of possible work-related stuff)

  • Re:This just in! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spazntwich (208070) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:16PM (#31587952)

    Perhaps I failed at properly representing my point.

    There is always some new technology signaling the end of current technology. There are always some hurdles that remain before this technology overtakes current tech because otherwise, well, it already would have.

    Apparently, there is also always a market for tech writers who can sensationalize incremental price drops in consumer tech. HARD DRIVES WERE HERE TO STAY, FOREVER, UNTIL THESE NEW AMAZING PRICE DROPS HAVE FINALLY OPENED OUR EYES AND STARTED THIS AMAZING DEATH CLOCK FOR HARD DRIVES THAT NOBODY SAW COMING.

    I'm not sure your specifics on the economics of consumer electronics are relevant.

    I also disagree with your point on helicopters and solar cells. You could have said SSDs "have inefficiencies built into them that cause their cost to remain relatively high" a number of years ago and been correct about them. It would be naive to assume helicopters and solar cells won't undergo technological advances that result in significantly lower costs of construction.

  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:24PM (#31588086) Homepage Journal

    He is correct but that is not what I was thinking.
    The OS would know that it is flash and protect it from general access. The applications would still access it through a device driver but instead of going through an IO chip and the sata bus the OS would handle the IO on the memory bus.
    The way things happen now is that when you do a disk read the data is copied from the drive across the bus and into the controller chip. The controller chip then does a direct memory access to a block of memory that you have told it to use as a buffer. This is a simple explanation of how it works BTW.
    If you just mapped the flash to part of the address space the programs would never know the difference.
    What would change is that when you did a read the data would be copied from the slower flash to the ram buffer all across the memory bus.
    Now what I don't know is if that would cause issues with having the two different speeds of memory or not. It could be that it is faster to not do all of the IO on the Address bus. Of course you could have a dedicated DMA chip for memory to memory copies so it could be possible to unload the CPU from that task.
    Of course when you are talking about things like netbooks the savings in cost may make any performance issues moot.
    But I am not a hardware guy just a programmer.

  • Re:Tape vs. Spindle (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jafiwam (310805) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:42PM (#31588260) Homepage Journal

    1.5 TB drives have just been advertised this week for less than $100.

    For another 50 I can get a SATA (eSATA/USB) cradle that lets me hot-swap drives, to add as many as I want.

    Tape has it's uses, small time backup for lots of data is not one of them.

  • by Richy_T (111409) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @03:44PM (#31588278) Homepage

    And a waste of a PCIe slot.

  • by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:01PM (#31588508) Journal

    Blu Ray and CDs are still "spinning media" aren't they? I think I've seen many holographic storage disc products (touted to be THE FUTURE) that were spinning as well.

    CDs are tiny... ~12 full CDs will fit on a $30 USB thumb drive. Blu-Ray isn't all that big, either... ~40 Blu-Ray movies on a $100 HDD?

    Optical media will succeed only if densities can continue to increase, all the while the pressing technology remains fairly simple. As soon as Disc+ yields / speeds are low enough that writing data to Flash is faster, discs will go away for good... The ability to stamp out discs at high speeds and low costs is a great benefit, but the drawbacks will kill the medium as soon as those benefits aren't so huge anymore... For example, if the number of layers on a disc has to climb much more than 2 to keep up with desired capacities, expect prices to rise, substantially.

    And holographic discs are the ultimate in vaporware... Slashdot has been having stories on multi-terabyte HVDs since '99. They come with a massively expensive product they swear will be dirt cheap in a month, they get a bit of funding, then they fizzle out...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:10PM (#31588606)

    Where did you see these reports from the field? For one thing, when an SSD runs out of write cycles and fails, the data doesn't just vanish. It becomes a read-only device. So a failure isn't catastrophic. Recovery consists of shutting down, dropping in another device, copying data over, then rebooting again. That alone is a HUGE improvement over hard drives.

    HDD reliability itself is highly variable. I have working 100-meg drives from the early 1990s (I have no idea why I've kept them except as curiosity pieces). Then I've had drives fail just days out of warranty. And the last conventional HDD I bought lasted long enough to install Windows and use it for a couple of days, then it failed spectacularly.

    And if I write to an HDD and put it on a shelf, when I come back to it, will it still work? The data will almost assuredly be on the platters, but will the motor spin up? Will the heads stick? I know if I write to flash memory, I can set it aside for years and years and it will still work, because we've been using flash memory for storage for at least the last 15 years. Will my Pentium-75 motherboard from 1995 go into the BIOS if I apply power and hit DEL? Yes. So there's proof of flash memory's longevity.

    I switched over to OCZ Vertex SSDs in my home PCs about a year ago and couldn't be happier. They've been highly reliable, and not just fast--they're stupid fast.

  • by MrNemesis (587188) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:13PM (#31588640) Homepage Journal

    Figured you were a programmer (I'm an infrastructure guy so have only a murky view of the internal workings of software) - part of the question about the apps was why two different speeds of memory would be an issue - I figured it'd be bad practice for an app to assume that it'd always be able to map memory at 20GB/s or whatever, but I don't really know the ins and outs of low(ish)-level programming.

    I figured it'd work in a similar way to file cache now - a map of blocks/tables is given to the OS to use for storage, and the kernel just alternates between flagging these blocks as in or out of memory as applications demand - effectively using memory as read/write-through cache. As soon as a DMA came in, the OS would read those blocks from SSD into memory transparently, and keep them there for as long as necessary. Similarly, a file object that's opened read/write in memory and has been static for X seconds would be transparently written back to the SSD, or immediately written back to disc as soon as the file handle is closed. I figure a small battery and/or capacitors would be able to handle keeping the data cached (or even written) in the event of sudden power loss to help prevent corruption, plus I'm pretty sure you could implement journaling as well.

    But again, IANAP so please feel free to pick holes in my naive assumptions :)

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pentium100 (1240090) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:17PM (#31588678)

    Depends on the purpose, really. As the basis for your OS, the number of writes might be an issue, but for general user data it's less so.

    This sounds kind of backward to me. The advantage of SSD over HDD is speed (especially seek time), but only the OS really benefits from reduced seek time, and what benefits the most is the pagefile, which gets written often. Only in certain circumstances user data would benefot from reduced seek time mostly video editing etc. Movie files not intended for editing, Office documents, audio files and photos won't benefit from reduced seek time, but SSDs will be more expensive per gigabyte than HDDs for some time.

    So, it's more likely for one to have a small, but very fast SSD as a system drive and one or more slow, but big hard drives for data. This is almost what I use. System drive is 36GB 15000RPM HDD and files reside on a bunch of 5400-7200RPM 40-750GB hard drives. When I want to safely store files that I don't plan to access often I write them to LTO2 tape.

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:24PM (#31588776)
    Every week or so a van leaves Google crammed full of hard drives containing their current backup of the Internet.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:30PM (#31588848) Homepage Journal

    The problem with mapping mass storage to memory at the application level becomes one of locking and threads.
    You will have a very difficult time with any threaded applications if you just do a map to memory. Locking goes from being a real pain to a total freaking nightmare.
    In effect traditional disk io acts like a message passing system which is much simpler to deal with when doing threaded applications.
    The real issue I think was a failure to communicate between you and m.dillion.
    m.dillion was thinking of the programing model where you can actually open a file and it looks like a big honking block of memory. That model is really handy in a single threaded application but really starts to become a big mess when you are doing more than one thread.

  • by t0p (1154575) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:40PM (#31588970) Homepage
    But do you really *need* to carry all 30GB of music around with you on your laptop? My music collection adds up to a pitiful 10GB or so, and that represents quite a few songs. I couldn't listen to all of them in one working day even if I wanted to. I've got one of those EeePC 701s, the one with the 4GB SSD. I'll put some music on it when I'm going out and believe I'll want to listen to some sounds. Meanwhile my entire collection is on a hard drive at home. Back in my youth, I had a Walkman. I also had up to 50 cassettes of music; and I *never* felt the need to take it all out with me. I'd slip a cassette or two in my pocket, and the rest stayed in my bedroom. Why would I feel the need to carry my entire collection all the time now?
  • by petermgreen (876956) <> on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:51PM (#31589136) Homepage

    2TB of SSD storage is unrealistically expensive

    if you can even find a way to get that much in one system.
    You can get a 512GB 2.5 inch 9.5mm high SSD now. You can stick two of those in one 3.5 inch bay so putting four of them in should be possible in almost any case. I'm quite sure that if one of the major vendors tried they could make a 2TB 3.5 inch SSD.

    Software, games, and media are ever increasing in size.
    While true to some extent in my experiance most PCs sold to normal lusers are still sold with drives of 320GB-500GB and this is more than enough for most people (with the exception of those who like to keep movie collections on thier computers but afaict most people don't).

    Drastically reducing the size of drives is not realistic in peoples computers.
    Some SSDs that are as big as typical HDDs in consumer machines are already on the market. That leaves two things to happen, firstly SSDs of acceptable size need to come down a lot in price, secondly someone needs to convince users that SSDs are worth it.

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spazdor (902907) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:51PM (#31589146)

    I was under the impression that SSD's remain readable forever even after they become unwritable.

    If I'm wrong about this then I stand corrected, but if I'm right then that is a highly desirable trait when you're worried about preserving data integrity across a hardware replacement.

  • Re:Nikon F6 and FM10 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:58PM (#31589220)
    No one is going to say digital cameras are lousy, but compared to film, they are simply outmatched.

    SLR digital cameras exceed SLR 35 mm cameras. The film stuff you are talking about is an issue of filters. Yes, you say you have crappy filters in software. But whether on the film or in software, it's a perversion. It's like the electric guitar amp. A digital amp would perform better in all ways, but they don't use them. Why? Because they want the amp to fail, and it's the manner of failure in the amp that generates what they are looking for. No mistake about it, it is a failure, but it is a specific controlled failure that is desired. Film is the same. It's the attempt to capture what the photographer wants, not the accurate representation of what's there, that gives any value to film. Film stores a perverted copy, but perverted in a preferred way. That isn't accuracy, that's creative freedom.

    When you want your stored bits exercising creative freedom, then you'd have a point. But we want an accurate representation. And for that, your argument is irrelevant.

    Spinning media is going to be with us for a while, and I expect, like film, that eventually prices will go back up and this technology will be a specialty market targeted at high-end users and professionals.

    Aside from price, there is no benefit to spinning media. Regardless of price, some people like "old" audio and video tech. The old audio and video tech is "worse" in every measurable way (including price), but fails in desired ways. Storing bits can't ever do that. So, if SSDs were cheaper than spinning disks and available in the same size with the current parameters, I assert that we'd have no spinning disks (unless some tiny market happened to remain for places where mechanical disks were superior for environmental reasons, like being easier to shield against an EMP for military use or other such very specific and tiny markets). For general use consumer laptops, desktops and servers, we'd be 100% SSD.
  • Re:In 5 years (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn@earthlin k . n et> on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @04:59PM (#31589238)

    Which keeps longer if you stick it on the shelf and forget about it?

    If you're thinking about backup, you should be concerned about long periods of time. 20 years at the bare minimum. Reports are that DVDs don't last that long. Disks freeze up and need expensive repair to recover the data. How do SSDs stack up here. (Don't judge by current capacity, we're in the very early days yet.)

    P.S.: *I* don't know. If you do, I'd like to hear your answer.

  • by gwjgwj (727408) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @05:31PM (#31589564)

    I could see a netbook with a flash drive right on the motherboard.

    It' s called eMMC and you can find it e.g in n900.

  • Re:In 5 years (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fullfactorial (1338749) on Tuesday March 23, 2010 @06:14PM (#31590114)

    I was under the impression that SSD's remain readable forever even after they become unwritable.

    I have heard the same regarding SLC, but I'm not sure if it applies to the cheaper MLC drives discussed in TFA. Any experts care to weigh in?

Old programmers never die, they just become managers.