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Data Storage Technology

Will 2009 Be the Turning Point For SSDs? 290

Iddo Genuth writes "Since first entering the consumer market about two years ago, solid state drives (SSDs) have improved significantly. While prices remain substantially higher than conventional magnetic storage, it is predicted that in 2009 SSDs will finally make an impact on both the consumer and business markets bringing blazing fast speeds at reasonable prices for the first time — will it finally happen?" It seems likely, as Samsung began mass-producing both 128GB and 256GB SSDs this year. Intel and Micron have also posted recent breakthroughs which will help to bring the technology into the mainstream.
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Will 2009 Be the Turning Point For SSDs?

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  • by size8 ( 1067704 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @06:21AM (#26101487)
    I own an Asus Eee PC, which has a 4GB SSD. I take it with me everywhere and, being a butter-fingered oaf, I tend to drop it everywhere too. If the Eee had a conventional HDD I'm sure it would have given up the ghost long ago. But the Eee bounces along quite happily with no damage to the SSD. Solid state is great, especially for children and folk like me!
  • by Schlemphfer ( 556732 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @06:34AM (#26101527) Homepage
    Just like the iPods suddenly being introduced as solid state units, things for SSD's will soon pass the threshold where it's suddenly viable for everyone. Only Samsung knows exactly when, but it seems clear that in the next six to eighteen months widespread SSD availability will trickle down from elite systems to mid-range.
  • Wrong question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whuffo ( 1043790 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @06:36AM (#26101537) Homepage Journal
    The question should be "is this the year that SSDs will be price competitive with hard drives?" Until that day comes, SSDs will only sell in small quantities.
  • No, they won't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hanzie ( 16075 ) * on Saturday December 13, 2008 @06:37AM (#26101543)
    Money. HDD's will keep getting cheaper. I'm betting on 2010.
  • by zyrorl ( 1069964 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @06:42AM (#26101569)
    will come likely before the year of the linux desktop.
  • Re:Wrong question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @06:45AM (#26101577)

    You are thinking to monolithical.

    There are two aspects to consider:

    A) Most computers dont need a lot of storage. At least compared to that fact that the smallest HDs now would be 160Gbyte (only one side of one platter used). There is just no way to reduce costs with HD beyond that point, you always get a 20-30$ minimum. While with SSDs, you can scale down very far (a $5 drive would not be impossible).

    B) Tiered Storage will be the future, imho. There is just too much a discripancy between the storage needed for media and for OS/Programms/etc. While i cannot see the first going SSD anytime soon, the latter is already well within reach, if you sensibly seperate.

  • by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:47AM (#26101749)

    It will be phased out (by Windows 7 or something similar) before XP will be phased out, so why bother.

  • Re:Limited writes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Soul-Burn666 ( 574119 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:47AM (#26101751) Journal

    I prefer reliability.
    With good wear-leveling algorithms, the life expectancy of an SSD is comparable or even higher than a standard magnetic HD. The area for wear leveling increases as the HD gets larger as the relative part of the HD that is constantly written gets smaller and more areas are only read. If an area is "close to death", the algorithm can move these less written files there and use their less used areas for files which are written more.

    The SSD knows when one of its cells is about to go bad and can mark it unusable. Compare that to a random bit dying on your HD and the only way to know is through a scandisk of sorts.

    Sure SSDs might have a life expectancy of 10 years, but by that time the only thing you'd want to do with it is copy its contents to your 64TB SSD and throw it away.

  • by Jeppe Salvesen ( 101622 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @07:48AM (#26101759)

    When comparing two computers, consumers go for the one with best numbers most of the time. They have no clue what harddrive throughput is, and even less clue about seek time. Capitalism provides the goods that sell, not the best-engineered goods (unless they sell better.. )

    I bet the worldwide consumerist harddisk space utilization is about 15%, but most people don't realize this. Unless people have magically wised up, we won't see widespread SSD in laptops until they catch up pricewise.

  • -1, Disingenuous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2008 @08:08AM (#26101829)

    How many people need (or even have) 250GB+ in their laptops?!

    In capacities from 30-60gb there is overlap in price ranges between SSD and HDD. Below that you can't get an HD drive, but SSD drives are available. SSD pricing has nowhere to go but down. HDD can drop relative prices, but only by adding more and more GB relative to your dollar.

    That will keep HDDs alive for awhile in higher capacity drives, but the low low end is already ruled by SSDs (4GB, 8GB, etc as only options for netbooks). As time goes on SSD will move up from there, out-competing larger and larger capacity HDD until "boom" - they are produced more cheaply per GB regardless of total capacity.

    I think that "boom" mark is sometime in 2010, but certainly the GP's point about laptops stands. Unless you are the rare person who needs a large capacity laptop drive, there is no reason not to have an SSD in your laptop now.

  • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <> on Saturday December 13, 2008 @08:32AM (#26101919) Homepage

    In the mid 1990s 'disk doubler' programs were popular, compressing data on the fly as it was saved to disk. After a few years, however, disk sizes increased sharply and the relationship between price and disk size is much steeper than linear (a 1Gibyte disk does not cost twice as much as a 500Gibyte disk). So hardly anyone bothers with dynamic compression any more. It is much easier to spend $40 more and get a drive that's twice as big.

    However, with SSDs, even when the price falls, there is still an almost linear relationship between capacity and cost (since to get twice the capacity you need twice as many flash memory chips). And while the transfer speed is fast, it's still not keeping pace with the increase in CPU speeds. Compressing on-disk data with a fast compression scheme such as LZO is often faster than reading or writing to disk uncompressed. With SSDs you need much less complexity in the filesystem to get good performance, since minimizing seek time is no longer as important. Perhaps, then, adding file compression can be done more straightforwardly than the earlier compressed filesystems designed for rotating disks.

    It won't do anything for your movie collection, but for virtual machine images and other bloat we put on our disks nowadays it could make quite a difference.

  • by Netsplitter ( 983360 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @09:28AM (#26102171)
    It's not all about the cost per byte. A lot of people are willing to pay that sort of money for the benefits. People already spend big on RAID and fast disks because they need the performance. Others probably want silence and battery life, or resistance to bumps and other movements, and (probably, not sure) lower or more predictable failure rates. Whatever the reason, I'm sure there are plenty of people who will buy them. $700 is "affordable" even though it's a lot of money. And once these early adopters buy them, they will be cheaper and better for us the next year.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @09:57AM (#26102297) Homepage

    Try using 10,000 or 15,000 rpm drives.

    My old XP editing station boots in 17 seconds. My OSX editor boots in 8 (Although the 15,000 rpm SATA drives are expensive as hell, it makes that old G5 faster than hell)

    When SSD can touch the speeds of the 10,000 and 15,000 RPM drives.... I'll pay attention.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @10:01AM (#26102321) Homepage


    RAM is far faster. simply pump your system up to 4-16 Gigs of ram and call it done. Why do you want a kludge like a second drive?

  • Re:No, they won't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tylerni7 ( 944579 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @11:41AM (#26102975) Homepage

    My money (longer term in say 3-5 years) is on Memristors winning over flash. Memristors can be made very small, they are also easy to design with and easy to make (on existing production lines) and they have better speed and better lifespan than Flash.

    Memristors, the components that are less than a year old? The ones that there are probably less than a thousand of in existence?

    Something tells me we might need to wait and see a little bit(no pun intended) before knowing that they are faster and have a better lifespan than flash, which lasts longer than solid state memristors have existed.

  • by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @11:50AM (#26103065) Homepage
    Disclaimer; I'm not an SSD fanboy- I still prefer the bytes-for-your-buck that traditional HDDs give at present. However, I dislike misleading statements like this:-

    Well the SSD proponents ignore the trend of hard drives.

    On the contrary, you're the one that's selectively ignoring trends. Hard drives certainly continue to grow; I recently noted that there was 18 months between the first 1TB HDD and the first 1.5TB model.

    A 1.5x increase every 18 months sounds good until you consider that flash memory is currently increasing at a rate of at least 2.5x if not faster. (*) THAT is the trend and enough in itself; but its real significance is that this difference would be magnified exponentially over longer periods.

    I see I can buy a 1 terabyte USB HDD can be bought for $115.

    We're not talking about the present, we're talking about the not-so-distant future. It's possible that SSD memory's increases may slow down like hard drives' did. However, that's speculation, and doesn't change the fact that present trends prove exactly the opposite of what you implied they did.

    (*) It's notable that HDD size increases have slowed in recent years. I estimated that they were roughly matching flash's current 2.5x to 3x every 18 months during most of the 1990s and early-2000s.

  • Re:I doubt it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Surt ( 22457 ) on Saturday December 13, 2008 @05:44PM (#26105927) Homepage Journal

    Good odds of that happening in 2009 actually, 2010 at latest. 250G SSD's that are faster than 5400rpm laptop drives are available now at NZD1600, and prices are projected to fall at least 4x in 2009, which gets you within spitting distance of your NZD 150 price. 2010 is almost a certainty to reach that price.

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