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Data Storage Hardware

SSDs vs. Hard Drives In Value Comparison 263

EconolineCrush writes "SSDs hardly offer compelling value on the cost-per-gigabyte basis. But what if one considers performance per dollar? This article takes a closer look at the value proposition offered by today's most common SSDs, mixing raw performance data with each drive's cost, both per gigabyte and as a component of a complete system. A dozen SSD configurations are compared, and results from a collection of mechanical hard drives provide additional context. The data are laid out in detailed scatter plots clearly illustrating the most favorable intersections of price and performance, and you might be surprised to see just how well the SSDs fare versus traditional hard drives. A few of the SSDs offer much better value than their solid-state competitors, too."
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SSDs vs. Hard Drives In Value Comparison

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  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:48PM (#32820656)

    I doubt you would. I have a 40 GB Fujitsu MPG3409AT-E hard disk from 2001 that is still running yet the so called best Seagate Pulsar - the "first enterprise-ready" SSD failed after less than a year of database usage.

    Bottom line: Do not trust SSDs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:09PM (#32820810)

    Generally speaking, yeah SSDs are better for laptops where battery life is a huge concern. But on a desktop, HDDs rule supreme where electricity is constantly supplied and people expect to have EVERYTHING on their systems.

    Have we traded volume for performance? On laptops, definitely. On desktop, certainly not.

  • I doubt you would. I have a 40 GB Fujitsu MPG3409AT-E hard disk from 2001 that is still running yet the so called best Seagate Pulsar - the "first enterprise-ready" SSD failed after less than a year of database usage.

    Bottom line: Do not trust SSDs.

    Intensive DB read/write is exactly the use case I decided to go with a SSD for. I replaced a Seagate HD with an Intel SSD. The HD had failed in less than 1 year of use. The SSD noticeably sped up the work of every person in the office. So far so good, but even if it dies in 6 months, it would be worthwhile for my staff.

  • Re:Reliability? (Score:3, Informative)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:38PM (#32820988)
    Consider that nobody ever really knew what HDD reliability was, either. Google's 2007 study of HDD reliability [engadget.com] was surprising on many counts. How is that possible with such a mature technology?

    Me, I just go for a good warranty and keep backups.

  • Re:Reliability? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:52PM (#32821070)

    IDK, I've got three netbooks with SSDs, one of those died during/after a power-outage (I blame line transients at failure or turn-on, combined with a cheap power-supply and brittle SSD controller design, but I'll never know for sure), none of them have died from old age, and the runcore SSD I replaced that one with is still doing fine as well.

    So I've only got a sample size of 4, ranges from 1 to 2.5 years old (all over your "6 month" average), and 3/4 are still good, and the one that failed was not wear-related -- not scientifically conclusive, but enough that I think you're either full of it, or are comparing semi-disposable media (SD/MMC/MS/CF) which do have alarming failure rates in heavy usage against purpose-built SSDs that seem to be built with better wear-leveling and more spare blocks...

  • Re:Price only (Score:4, Informative)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:53PM (#32821074) Journal

    Not to mention that thanks to Readyboost [wikipedia.org] and SuperFetch [wikipedia.org] you can get many of the advantages without the crazy cost. Using an 8Gb flash that I got for a whole $18 over Xmas and the above my boot time is under 45 second (wouldn't be as long if I didn't have multiboot set up) and my wake from sleep less than 4. In addition all my apps that I use most often are nearly instant thanks to superfetch learning which apps I use at certain times and loading them into memory.

    The real market I see here at the shop for SSDs is in laptops, where lack of moving heads and lower heat help extend the life of the laptop, but even then the market is shrinking thanks to the increasing popularity of netbooks in the sub $500 range, where it simply doesn't make sense to spend 35% or more of the cost of the device to replace the HDD with a SSD. In those cases I simply sell them a sub $80 USB drive for backups and set Win 7 to back them up a couple of times a week.

    I really hope they have a breakthrough with SSDs and we see the price plummet like we have with HDDs, but ATM the price is simply too high and the sizes too small for most of my customers. With cheap HD camcorders and 10MP+ cameras becoming common you'd be surprised how many folks can quickly load up a sub 300Gb drive, and as the chart shows a 500Gb SSD is truly crazy money.

  • Re:Reliability? (Score:2, Informative)

    by scotch ( 102596 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:54PM (#32821090) Homepage
    Streaming media applications.
  • by BagOBones ( 574735 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:55PM (#32821100)

    We have started to deploy more multimedia intense apps and found most of our 3+ year old laptops where dogs at running them..

    We then did some side by side benchmarks between an old laptop with the HD replaced with an SSD vs a new laptop with a new normal HD. Guess what? In MOST tests the old laptop performed BETTER than the new one, despite the new laptop having a faster CPU and main board...

    Guess what, although they cost WAY more than a new normal HD per GB, they are WAY cheaper than a new laptop!

  • Re:Reliability? (Score:3, Informative)

    by itzdandy ( 183397 ) <dandenson@gmUUUail.com minus threevowels> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:07AM (#32821554) Homepage

    how do you get 9% worse? 1% of 100 is, well, 1, 10% of 100 is 10, 1:10 is 10X different. 9% worse would be 1.1% return rate. you cant say 10% - 1% is 9%, thats not how it works.

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@nOSpam.worf.net> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:18AM (#32821614)

    Hard drives tend to use the momentum stored in the spindle itself to at least park heads after a power failure (especially for laptop drives that park away from the media). This presumably works by powering the drive's rails through the motor controller's protection diodes. I'm not sure if they also use it for last-gasp writing of write-cached data, though. i guess it depends on whether the write controller can handle media that is losing speed.

    No, they don't do the last-gasp writing. It simply takes too long to do it and it's too risky as the speed is uncontrolled and there's always a danger of overwriting critical areas by accident (servo tracks, firmware regions, control data, etc) which would render the drive unusuable.

    In fact, this sort of power down is designated as "emergency stop" - the momentum is used to turn the spindle motor into a generator, and the power is dumped into the voice coils directly. It's quite a violent procedure and most drives are severely derated. I've seen one rated to 50,000 load-unload cycles, but only 10,000 "emergency unloads". It's just that all those pieces slamming into each other start wearing out the mechanical bits.

  • Re:Reliability? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Velorium ( 1068080 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:00AM (#32821896)
  • Re:Reliability? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:29AM (#32823700)

    Streaming media applications.

    No. Sorry.

    In that kind of environment, you would read multiple streams at once, which leads to heavy seeking and a HUGE performance drop for normal hard drives.

  • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:08AM (#32823920) Homepage Journal

    The test is very unfair on small SSDs like the Intel X25-V because it doesn't look at overall price, only $/Gb. Hardly anybody is going to install a small SSD as the only drive in a machine. Most people would combine them with a big hard disk so the final score would be a blend of the scores for the SSD and the second hard disk.

    Does it, really? A 'big' X25 @ 160 GB is $2.68/GB vs your 'disadvantaged' 40GB at $2.75. I wouldn't call a 3% price difference major when hard drives are hanging around a tenth of the price of SSD.

    From my personal price checking, while with hard drives the highest non-cutting edge capacity tends to be the cheapest, SSD prices tend to level off very quickly with regards to price.
    From newegg:
    Intel X25-V 40GB 2.5": $110 $2.75
    Intel X25-M 80GB 2.5": $220, $2.75/gb
    Intel X25-M 160GB 2.5": $430 $2.68

    Was going to post some HD prices, but gotta go to work. 80GB HD = .50 cents/gig, 2 TB =.065 cents/gig for the two first examples I found.

  • by Skal Tura ( 595728 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @07:12AM (#32823954) Homepage

    The true winner is a RAID of 2Tb WD Caviar Black & WD Raptors here. Get several of them and RAID, you get all the performance benefits of SSDs to a large degree (still failing a bit short on IOPS probably), at fraction of the cost for a large capacity.
    40Gb SSD is still too small for the OS + Apps (w7 ... so gigantic), and honestly: You really want to enjoy the performance for everything you do for a that pile of cash.

    The RealSSD C300 costs 660$ or Corsair Nova 349$. They buy ~6 or ~3, WD 2Tbs. at RAID0 you can expect about 4x and 2-2.25x performance in RAID0 config. Random IO latency stays the same, but manageable count of IOPS without increasing latency, and that's ultimately what you'll want. And you get very high performance for the same cost, yet so much storage you don't need to even consider about upgrade in many years to come. As an icing, you can opt for redundancy as well.

    Of course, that comes with bigger wattage, but if you are like most people, it doesn't matter when your computer doesn't run 24/7. Mine does so it kinda matters, but i don't care.

  • Re:SSD Pros and Cons (Score:2, Informative)

    by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <(gterich) (at) (aol.com)> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:59PM (#32833298) Journal

    A typical HDD uses maybe half of that when it's not busy, while an SSD uses practically zero.

    The power savings come mostly during idle time. It takes energy and constant computation to control the head position and platter rotation. That takes power. When an SSD is idle, it's idle. The clocks can shut off, and the thing just drains the few microamps of quiescent current the devices require to live.

    One pro I forgot to mention before was for laptops, where SSD users don't have to worry about shock and vibration.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.