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Data Storage Hardware

Samsung's Solid-State Disk Drive Unveiled 241

Iddo Genuth writes "After unveiling their upcoming hybrid hard drive, Samsung — along with a number of other manufacturers — is planning to begin shipping solid-state drives during 2007. Unlike the upcoming hybrids, solid-state drives should work with windows XP as well as Vista." The drives will be introduced in 1.8- and 2.5-inch form factors for notebooks. While streaming performance can't equal that of hard disks, Samsung claims that random-access performance is more important and that (e.g.) Vista users would see a 4x speedup in many key operations. Pricing was not announced.
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Samsung's Solid-State Disk Drive Unveiled

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  • Now this is one configuration where this drive will make a large difference in bootup speeds. Office apps, audio, video and other media should be happy on the old 7200 rpm drives for a few years still.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No, this drive will be worse for boot up time. Boot time is a function of how fast info can be pulled off the drive, and this thing is modestly slower than hard drives. But its latency is terribly faster and will increase responsiveness whenever information scattered at different points is rapidly needed, since it takes no time to move a physicial arm between memory locations.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        OS bootup time depends largely on the time required to find and load all the dynamically linked libraries and the various tools, programs and daemons that are scattered around the hard disk, so access time is a very important factor.
      • by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @02:00PM (#17240098)
        Don't forget spinup time. Spinup time is pretty important, especially for notebooks. Notebooks are bound to suspend the disk a lot more than desktop drives, so to safe power.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by epiphani ( 254981 )
      Bzzt, wrong. I don't know how many applications you're loading up, but 32 Gigs is plenty for my entire windows C: drive. I'll keep all my applications and operating system on fast, quiet SSD, and I'll happily store my 400 gigs of music and video on magnetic drives.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jugalator ( 259273 )
      With hibernation I don't really have a problem with boot up speeds anymore.
      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Surt ( 22457 )
        Heck, even without hibernation, does anyone care about boot speed anymore? I mean it's like 11 seconds once a day if you shut off your computer at night.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Poltras ( 680608 )
          11 seconds to boot up? In what world do you live? My mac takes around 30 seconds before being functionnal and my windows 1m30 at least... Linux is around that figures too. No, I won't use VxWorks or QNX as a desktop. Good for you if you do, but I'd like to know how you achieve such performance with conventional desktop OS.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Surt ( 22457 )
            I use windows xp on a dell laptop and desktop ... post is 3 seconds, 8 more seconds to reach the xp login. The desktop is a little faster.

      • by blixel ( 158224 )
        Coming out of hibernation (S4) seems almost slower to me than a regular boot. (Hibernation being where the machine writes all the information from RAM to the hard-drive and then completely shuts down.) Hibernation is certainly less reliable than a regular reboot ... at least in my experience with my Workstation PC. (i.e. The proprietary NVidia Linux module doesn't come back out of hibernation properly.)

        Coming back out of "Suspend to RAM" (S3) on the other hand... is virtually instantaneous. And it works
  • Not on XP? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bkg_cjb ( 952573 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:14PM (#17238022) Homepage
    Could someone tell me why one type of drive wouldn't work with a specific version of Windows? Shouldn't they be able to write drivers for that?
    • by danpsmith ( 922127 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:23PM (#17238184)
      Could someone tell me why one type of drive wouldn't work with a specific version of Windows? Shouldn't they be able to write drivers for that?

      Ah, you must be new here. It's not that it wouldn't work, it just doesn't, you dig? No? Well, here's a Vista t-shirt.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MankyD ( 567984 )
      Could someone tell me why one type of drive wouldn't work with a specific version of Windows? Shouldn't they be able to write drivers for that?
      I am guessing that a better description of the problem would be "not optimized for Windows". A hybrid drive is best used when small, in-demand data chunks are put on the flash components and large or infrequently accessed files are left on the platters. Perhaps there is no reasonable method to decide what files should go where?
    • Re:Not on XP? (Score:5, Informative)

      by IntergalacticWalrus ( 720648 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:26PM (#17238252)
      Could someone tell me why one type of drive wouldn't work with a specific version of Windows? Shouldn't they be able to write drivers for that?

      Obviously because Microsoft paid them a certain amount of money to make it an extra reason to force people to upgrade.
      • Not only as a reason to force people to upgrade, but as a reason to ensure that people move to Vista and STAY on Vista.

        Not that I imagine it will take long for Linux et al to come up with drivers and a better implementation than Vista does for this hardware (if it isn't already supported).
    • Re:Not on XP? (Score:5, Informative)

      by alexhs ( 877055 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:32PM (#17238362) Homepage Journal
      Solid-state drives are flash drives with a PATA/SATA connector, and will work like a regular hard disk, as far as the motherboard and the OS are concerned. Therefore working whatever OS you're using.

      Hybrid drives, OTOH, are relying on two different technologies, and it seems the choice of using disk or flash is up to the OS. It means that if your OS isn't Hybrid-drive aware, you probably will end up with using the disk and losing its flash ability. Vista OTOH will be able to put some files on the flash part.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Surt ( 22457 )
      Vista has features at the OS level to take advantage of hybrid drives.

      While a hybrid could function in XP with a driver, you can't get the magic (extra fast app and os load) without vista.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Could someone tell me why one type of drive wouldn't work with a specific version of Windows? Shouldn't they be able to write drivers for that?

      As others have pointed out, they are standard connectors and would work with any OS basically.

      Why 'Vista' is singled out, is Vista will recognize that it is a solid state drive, and use a 'different' set of cache and pre-cache techniques to get even more performance out of it than a regular OS would, by utilizing the drives random r/w speed over conventional HDs.

  • SuperFetch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:18PM (#17238066) Homepage Journal
    According to Microsoft, "SuperFetch understands which applications you use most, and preloads these applications into memory, so your system is more responsive".

    Seems nice in theory, but the first thing I do to any XP machine that someone tells me is running very slow is to kill those quick start apps in the bottom right corner. Their use of processor and/or memory definitely slows the machine down overall. I'd much rather wait an extra second for an app to load so the system runs faster overall.

    So they better have improved their techniques with this SuperFetch. If it causes many more context switches or reduces memory available to apps people are actually running then it'll be a hinderance. At the very least it should be automatically turned off for systems with less than an ideal amount of memory.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mystik ( 38627 )

      If it's done right, then it'll be handy. IIRC, linux uses free pages of memory for disk cache, and if an application needs more pages, it just invalidates the disk cache pages, and allocates them to the app.

      If Windows caches applications into free memory pages during disk idle times, it'd probably make a huge difference, so long as it doesn't take memory away from the currently actively running applications.

    • Re:SuperFetch (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mkiwi ( 585287 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:45PM (#17238648)
      I saw this "SuperFetch" idea and it is a total rip off of NeXT's "prebinding" system. Often, when you install something on Mac OS X (since version 10.0), there is a little status message in the installer that says "Optimizing System Performance...". This command calls a program that sits in "/usr/bin" that loads memory addresses of each program in a cache for faster launch times. After prebinding, applications load faster at startup.

      There is also a daemon on Mac OS X that dynamically prebinds applications that have not been prebound. One condition of prebinding is that all the Libraries must be dynamically linked and prebound themselves. If one dependant library is not prebound, then the whole thing gets marked as something "not to prebind."

      To see the actual programs on Mac OS X, do a
      ls /usr/bin | grep prebinding

    • According to Microsoft, "SuperFetch understands which applications you use most, and preloads these applications into memory, so your system is more responsive".
      It's Microsoft, remember? They'll use superfetch to optimise Office and IE7 and a few OS functions.

      Then they'll start making a big deal about Firefox and OOo being slower.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by badonkey ( 968937 )
      So they better have improved their techniques with this SuperFetch.

      You don't really seem to know what you're talking about (although I suppose that doesn't prohibit anyone from being "5, insightful" on /.). They can't "improve their techniques," because there was no version of this feature in XP.

      Those "quick start apps" you mention have nothing to do with XP, and everything to do with application writers who think you want their garbage running all the time. Those aren't just "pre-loaded" into memor
    • Amazing that this kind of stuff gets touted as innovative new features. I have in the past put together a shell script of a few lines which pre-loads commonly open files at boot time. It's trivial and shows just how inflexible Windows really is.

    • What I want is a system where I can designate what gets accelerated. 90% of what I use commonly is small programs that only take a second or two to load up anyways. It is the big stuff that I may not use every day that I want to be able to designate.

      That's why I am more interested in the solid state and RAM drives that I have been seeing than in the hybrids. Those let me install what I want to them. Everything else can go on a traditional drive.
  • by rmdyer ( 267137 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:20PM (#17238124)
    Doesn't flash memory have a maximum lifetime (R/W cycles)? If so, are these new drives designed to "degrade" gracefully so that as the flash "rots", more and more data is stored to the drive instead of the memory? If so, this would mean that the drives would "slow down" over time right?
    • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:28PM (#17238284) Homepage Journal
      Hard disks also have maximum lifetimes. Both HDDs and flash drives reallocate damaged blocks to compensate for the problem. The question is how the two compare in practical use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 )
      TFA states that current flash technology has a lifespan of about 10 years. Unlike hard drives, when flash fails you can still read from it, just not write to it. This means that, when your drive wears out, you just dump the contents to the new one, which is much larger anyway. You don't lose data.

      Off topic, when did 32MB/s write speeds become slow? My new laptop gets about 30MB/s sustained (linear) write speeds, and I thought that was pretty impressive.

      • by Surt ( 22457 )
        High end drives for non-laptops are up around 70 MB/sec now.

        30MB/sec is actually extremely good on a laptop drive. I bought the fastest 7200 rpm laptop drive available a year ago, and it can only sustain 19MB/sec.
    • Yes, but due to the number of $$$ gointo into the flash memory bussines, it'll improve soon, just like the hard disks did.
    • Flash has a maximum number of *write* cycles. Not read/write cycles. The trick is to only store the data that does not change readily (hah, or should that be "writely"?), which I think was what MS had in mind. Of course, using the hdd as backup and a checksum over the sectors would be a good idea none-the-less, if only as protection against malicious programs re-writing the entire contents of the drive until it fails. A bit of paranoia is needed if you consider security.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:21PM (#17238136)
    Reminds me of when a company in the 70's built a solid-state swapping "drum" memory system for IBM S/370 mainframes. Of course, that one wouldn't fit in a 2.5" form factor.
    • I remember it being in the 1980's, and there were two primary vendors: Memorex and a little startup called Intel.

      The solid state paging devices were great; the only problem was that they needed a driver written by (if I remember correctly) Cambridge University. The driver writers ran 6 months to a year behind operating system releases, so our operating system upgrades (VM/CMS) were held back. The vendors didn't care; they were the only game in town.

      Fortunately, IBM released their 3380 drives around th

  • Solid State = Sexy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Giant Ape Skeleton ( 638834 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:21PM (#17238146) Homepage
    The greatest immediate benefit from the transition to solid state storage will, of course, be reduced power consumption.

    Coupled will fuel cell technology, mobile computing is finally going to live up to its potential.

    And I love this William Gibson quote from 1991:

    It wasn't until I could finally afford a computer of my own that I found out there's a drive mechanism inside- this little thing that spins around. I'd been expecting an exotic crystalline thing, a cyberspace deck or something, and what I got was a little piece of a Victorian engine that made noises like a scratchy old record player. That noise took away some of the mystique for me; it made computers less sexy. My ignorance had allowed me to romanticize them.
    • by Viol8 ( 599362 )
      For someone who's supposedly an influential Sci-fi author you'd have expected the guy to have a vague clue about how the technology of the day worked. I'm not sure I believe him to be honest.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Moofie ( 22272 )
        Why would you expect that? Gibson has always been very up front about the fact that he's not a technophile.
        • by Viol8 ( 599362 )
          Because he seems pretty darn techno savvy in his books. I can't believe he makes it all up and it just happens to be derived from technology that already exists by pure coincidence. I'm sure he's a lot more clued up than he lets on.
    • I weakest link will become the battery. Even after switching to OLED for displays and to solid state drives, the CPUs and the video cards will drain more and more power because they'll have to run behemoths like Vista on the machine. So unless there is a dramatic improvement in the basic processor design or battery technology (fuel cells?) mobile computing won't quite live up to it potential yet.
      • they'll have to run behemoths like Vista on the machine

        That would be a good point were it not for the fact that in addition to the advances being made in storage, display, power, and all related technologies, there is a parallel evolution going on in the realm of software platforms. Microsoft may have a huge chunk of the market right now, but as even they realize, the OS as such is becoming increasingly relevant as the Internet becomes a full-fledged platform in its own right.

        • becoming increasingly relevant
          err...that should be "increasingly irrelevant. Guess I was channeling Steve Ballmer there for a minute :)
  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:23PM (#17238178)
    ...because they don't want you to get a bad case of sticker shock. If texas memory systems ( is any guide, these things won't be comparable to platter drives in cost per GB per performance. Maybe they've figured out a way to manufacture the things not too expensively per GB but the performance will be wretched. And even though most apps will not care unless you have a stopwatch people will look at the raw numbers and shy away. Just see all the trouble AMD had with the Pentium 4 vs Athlon XP CPU GHz wars.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )
      Well, I checked price now for a 16GB USB stick, 150 NOK/GB and it's almost constant from 2-16GB. HDDs is around 2.3 NOK/GB at the sweet spot. That's a guesstimated 65x price difference. I doubt they're that far ahead of the curve or they'd make a killing in the stick/memory card business. Also note that most of the advantages are only for laptops "on the go" like power reduction and shock/vibration resistance. Cool? Yes. But definately a high show-off factor, doubt it means much for real work.
  • Oh good! (Score:3, Funny)

    by theGil ( 1010409 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:24PM (#17238202) Homepage
    Vista users would see a 4x speedup in many key operations.

    So now this might get Vista running half as fast as every other operating system, right?
    • by Utopia ( 149375 )
      No, Its means that Vista users with this drive can take advantage of Readyoost [] giving them faster performance versus those who don't have the drive.
  • by humphrm ( 18130 ) on Thursday December 14, 2006 @12:25PM (#17238236) Homepage
    I did an eval of SSD back, oh five years ago for my employer. These were SSD's attached via SCSI to Sun boxes running Solaris and Sybase. Based on the results I saw then, I have two problems with this:

    >Vista users would see a 4x speedup in many key operations.
    Back in the day, we were seeing 10-20X improvements over spinning media in Random Access. 4x is almost not worth it, depending on price - give spinning media another year or two and they'll match that gain.

    >Pricing was not announced.
    Of course not, because it's going to be outrageously expensive!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by owlstead ( 636356 )
      I would not know about that. 5 years ago, a fast drive would do a seek in about 12 ms. Now it is 9 ms. That's not impressive. Density and streaming speed has increased manyfold within that time frame. Seek time has not. And it'll be some time before the random access speed of flash is met by spinning disks (and more importantly maybe, the drive heads). Especially if you read the article carefully, and see that the 4x speed up mentioned is the overall speed speedup.

      From the faq:

      Q: How fast is your current SS
  • I've got a fairly busy email server [] and this sounds like a great thing for the queue files... lots of little files, lots of random access.

    Of course, the other posts about flash memory degrading after n writes would be something to watch, too.
    • Just add more ram to your email server, and the size of the disk cache should increase automatically :P
      • "Just add more ram to your email server, and the size of the disk cache should increase automatically :P"

        Yeah, well, some people don't want to loose the mail after retrieving it from the SMTP server. Then again, you would need to put the flash replacement drive in a RAID configuration as well to be completely sure. Besides that, you would need a 64-bit CPU and application to use more than 2 GB of RAM for some systems. But that's probably why the ":P" is there.
  • My notebook only has room for *one* drive onboard. I'm not going to replace a 80gb hardrive for a 4gb ssd (which currently cost $465 (see []). So the hybrid is the way to go ... but what I'd like to see is a hybrid that just shows up as two drives under non-vista operating systems. Then the boot stuff could go on the small flash drive and everything else on the old fashioned (big) hard drive.
    • Maybe in future versions, the flash will be part of the design of the laptop. I'm pretty sure it will. The only reason to put flash on an IDE interface, PATA or SATA is to accomodate for older laptops. If the BIOS support starting from flash, there is absolutely no reason to put an expensive and sluggish interface in between.

      Before you get one of those laptops, put your OS, applications and documents on the flash, and all the media on a 1.8" or 2.5" HDD drive on a (well-powered) USB port. If you use develop
  • Wouldn't a better focus be on battery backed up RAM drives instead? Like those PCI DDR ram drives that cost a bundle. It would be nice to get a blazing fast PC3200 1GB RAM-Drive for $100.. which would be multiple times faster than these drives.
    • Wouldn't a better focus be on battery backed up RAM drives instead?

      For servers and desktop, maybe... But for laptops it is impractical given the restrictions of keeping it powered.
      • Wouldn't a better focus be on battery backed up RAM drives instead?

        For servers and desktop, maybe... But for laptops it is impractical given the restrictions of keeping it powered.

        Seems to me that you could do RAM+flash; have it work as a RAM drive when "powered on", but then when powered off (either with the whole system, or by power management powering the drive down due to inactivity) it dumps the RAM to the flash, and restores the RAM from flash when powering up. You get better performance, and save rea

  • Samsung in my "small world", has risen from a relatively unknown entity in the electronics world, to a world leader ahead of names like Sony, JVC and Toshiba.

    I understand they (Samsung) are the largest manufacturers of television sets of any kind now. And their stuff is of quality. Kudos to them.

  • It would seem to me that these drives if they were used might be present an issue with data security. Are there any plans to protect the solid state components from being read by unauthorized access? Hopefully the design is such that all data is protected but being new, I couldn't get enough details to make a determination.
    • And how were you planning to do that? Having the OS authenticate itself? No, on a common PC, the OS is the factor that should protect you. The drive is just what it always was, a drive.
  • This is one of those interim solutions for early adopters who have more disposable income than capacity for delayed gratification.

    Here's an "Ask Slashdot" moment though: why do the heads need to move at all? Why isn't WD or Samsung or Hitachi building a long, length-of-radius head over each platter? Then the only motor needed is for the platter, and the head is merely a fixed unit? This would probably reduce most HDD crashes too, since the arm would no longer traverse the drive plane.

    I dunno, there's bet
  • This would make an ideal drive for streaming media servers and small databases, which is exactly what I currently need. Streaming media requires a lot of sustained reads from different locations, which taxes the ability of a drive head to cover. With 1ms access time, a single drive could replace a RAID configuration, saving power and space in our 1U boxes. Woot!
  • Since flash does have a limited number of writes, using one of these in a PC for daily use would be limited at best, so I'm wondering what types of applications would this media be ideal for?

    The only answer that I could think of is anything that is 'write once, read many times'.
    Movies - build a huge RAID array of flash drives an let them go to town on the lastest blockbuster.
    TV - PPV system / VOD. New shows come on their own stack, plug them into the PPV system and be done with it.
    Databases - certain table
  • My System folder (OS X 10.4.8) is only 1.87GB and my Applications folder is 8.3GB (with iWork '06, Adium X, Textwrangler, One Button FTP, etc - aside from iWork, small programs).

    Unless I'm missing some huge hidden folder, that means a 16GB drive would be plenty for most users as the OS+applications drive, unless (since I said "most users") Windows XP or Vista have become so bloated that they can't fit it all in even 16GB.
  • I've been wanting to build a computer for my ATV so I can have a nice mapping program (like TopoFusion, or maybe an open source app) and GPS tracking and recording.

    These drives wouldn't be affected by the bouncing and vibration like a normal drive would.

  • I could hold my whole XP image on 10.4GB. Anything that's not on the image is on the corporate network somewhere such as Notes servers. So if someone would build a laptop with a 16GB fast SSD then that would be great. I'll even buy my own portable USB harddrive for everything that doesn't fit. For home use I already have a NAS.
  • If these drives become standard they'll have a huge impact on my day-to-day.

    The most common point of failure in a desktop PC is the drive head smacking into the disk platter in a rotational-magnetic drive. The worst part of these failures is that your drive head runs a real good chance of being over your important data when it hits (because you access it often, because it's important), so you're much more likely to toast your critical ACT! database instead of the rarely used Typing Tutor Turbo III you do

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