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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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  • Typo in summary? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Piete ( 2687 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:28PM (#32820506) Homepage

    It says: "A few of the SSDs offer much better value than their solid-state competitors, too."
    Is that meant to be "SSDs"?

  • Reliability? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRedDuke ( 1734262 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:30PM (#32820522)
    While a pretty comprehensive article, nowhere do they actually talk about reliablity and longevity of these drives in their value calculations. That's a pretty important factor for me, and has been one of the reasons (besides price) that I haven't seriously considered one yet.
  • Nope. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:38PM (#32820586)

    Sorry, but until I can get an SSD and not have to spend almost the same amount of money again for a drive to store media and games on, no deal. They are just way too expensive per GB, and I'd rather pay for one HDD to get a lot of space than pay for a HDD PLUS an SSD just to get a speed increase with only slightly more space.

    I'm afraid that people jumping big-time on the expensive SSD bandwagon, though, will not encourage makers to decrease prices as fast as if people would have actually smartly waited until they were a decent price to size ratio.

  • by KonoWatakushi ( 910213 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:50PM (#32820676)

    While most every hard disk supports and respects proper cache flush semantics, SSDs typically trade performance for data integrity. Although it should be a standard feature, very few SSDs include a capacitor to prevent filesystem/data corruption in the event of power loss.

    Unfortunately, the vendors are very secretive about SSD internals, and the algorithms they choose to employ can also have a significant effect on data integrity. At this point in time, there is far too much blind faith required, and many vendors definitely do not deserve it.

  • by Nemilar ( 173603 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:10PM (#32820828) Homepage

    I think the consumer trend is pretty clear with respect to SSDs (enterprise-level I think is still uncertain). Consumers like the speed and the battery savings (laptops being incredibly popular now) that SSDs provide, but of course there is no way you are going to get the sheer quantity of storage space that you can get with hard disks.

    Consequently, a lot of companies are marketing "home storage servers." I've seen Lenovo, Acer, Asus, etc... all come out with small 4 or 5 bay boxes, usually running Windows Home Server, all aimed at the mid-range consumer market. It makes complete sense to put the platters in a box, where you can keep network-accessible massive storage, and to put the fast, low-power SSD into your client machine.

    The problem arises when you need to access what's on that home NAS while you're out on the road. While I think many people have the upload bandwidth for streaming music, I don't think that exists for video (at least, not in the United States, or at least not where I live). So sites like hulu, etc.. will remain popular in that regard for the time being.

  • by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:21PM (#32820892)
    Well good thing we have your exceptionally small sampling size of two total drives (one of each) to make generalizations off of.
  • Re:Reliability? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Miseph ( 979059 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:24PM (#32820918) Journal

    "Do you say the disk is 9% worse, or 10x worse?"

    Probably depends on which product we're advertising. No, scratch that, it depends ENTIRELY on which product we're advertising.

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

    by TheRedDuke ( 1734262 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:29PM (#32820946)
    I honestly don't feel like rebuilding our MySQL server once a year. Or any other server for that matter. And as for value, a good 128GB SSD is $300. For about $200 more, you can get 3 x 150GB Raptors and a $100 Adaptec SATA RAID controller, config it in RAID 5 and get comparable performance, not to mention a little redundancy. The extra initial investement will pay for itself in uptime over the long-term.

    SSDs for expendable client laptops - possibly. For mission-critical servers - hell no.
  • by StormyWeather ( 543593 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:31PM (#32820954) Homepage

    If your really a budget consumer, and are using the hard drive to get crap done then at the cheapest rate a laptop replacement SSD from newegg is going to cost you like 80 dollars more for a 64 gb SSD than a 500gb hard drive. If your time is worth 50 bucks an hour on the market, and your boot time is reduced by 2.5 minutes your ROI is at break even in around 3 work weeks according to my head math.

    Don't chase dimes with dollars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:49PM (#32821046)

    OTOH if your boot only takes 30 seconds to begin with then the SSD is unlikely to reduce that by more than 10 seconds and ROI is over two years away.

  • by luther349 ( 645380 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:35PM (#32821334)
    they didnt test all brands but all the controllers the brands use. so look up your samsong controller and that site probly has the test.
  • Re:Reliability? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:25AM (#32821658)
    I'd rather spend an extra $100 and get 2xSSD's and do software RAID1 across them, since no RAID controller I have benchmarked can keep up with a single Intel X-25e it's best to do software raid anyways =)
  • Re:Reliability? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:34AM (#32821716)

    One of the biggest gains I see from SSD is in boot time. I tend not to reboot my servers. I tend to boot my client machines when I need them. So I see little to no point in putting SSDs in a server, anyway. A RAID-5 of Raptors, yeah, that's a nice idea!

    My PhotoShop machine, on the other hand, gets booted when I want to work on some photos - maybe once a week. I put in an SSD as the boot drive, and save a noticeable amount of time when it boots, and when it loads programs, like PhotoShop. I put in a second SSD to use as workspace - I put a folder of images onto the SSD when I am working on it, and Adobe Bridge runs like lightning. SSDs in this machine make perfect sense to me. The files on the workspace drive are transient - I copy them back to magnetic storage after working on them. The files on the boot drive are almost entirely system and software - if the drive failed I'd have to re-install, that's all.

    So reliability, while a nice-to-have, isn't critical.

  • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:50AM (#32821830) Homepage

    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.

    eg. I just rebuilt my machine with an X25-V for the OS and applications. The X25-V gives the machine amazing boot up times and near-instant application load times - way faster then my old Velociraptor. As an overall performance enhancement it's a complete no-brainer for $110.

    For the price of a big SSD you can probably get an X25-V (boot drive) plus a 300Gb Velociraptor (video editing and/or your hardcore games) plus a 1.5Tb HDD (for your torrentz and AVIs). Beat that for price/performance!

  • by DMUTPeregrine ( 612791 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:00AM (#32821898) Journal
    No, it's a fine conclusion. Don't trust SSDs. Don't trust spinning rust. Don't trust your drives, make sure you have redundancy (RAID) and backups. And don't blindly trust your backups, test them first. Then keep a set off-site.
    Now, the implied "don't-trust SSDs, trust rust instead" conclusion is bad.
  • Re:Reliability? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by multiplexo ( 27356 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:15AM (#32821970) Journal

    (Also, god help you if you put a database server on RAID 5... goodbye performance! RAID 10 or bust.)

    Don't get out much do you? Ten years ago this might have been the case, but with modern storage technology you can run a lot of database loads on RAID-5 with an acceptable level of performance and as a matter of fact I've done so. Indeed the technology has improved so much that when I migrated the Oracle environment at my last job off of a SAN using RAID 1+0 volumes to a SAN using RAID-5 disk access was still around 10 times faster. I'm not sure that I'd run any kind of OLTP system on RAID-5, but a lot of other databases will run just fine.

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

    by multiplexo ( 27356 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:48AM (#32822172) Journal

    our MySQL server

    3 x 150GB Raptors

    100 Adaptec SATA RAID controller

    RAID 5

    Now you have four problems. Could you Do It Wrong in any more ways?

    Ooooohhh! Ooohhhh! Oooohh! I could. I'll run it on Vista and directly connect it to the internet. I can haz epic fail yet?

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

    by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:22AM (#32822706)

    What's even better, is that the life span of an SSD is linearly related to it's capacity (because there's more cells to write to, and the write speed remains constant), so as SSDs get to the capacity needed for A/V editing, they'll also get many many many year reliability at that write speed.

    At the moment, good SSDs last ~10 years writing to them at a normal rate (which is tbh, better than most HDDs anyway); many TB ones will last upwards of 40 years, great news :).

  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:44AM (#32823100)

    The article sounds like an "industry sponsored report" designed to sell more SSDs because, presumably, the manufacturers are not selling as many as they would like to.

    Personally, I don't see what value SSDs bring based on how expensive they are currently:

    1. Reliability? - A responsible computer user will still need to maintain backups of SSDs in the same way that they currently do for hard disks. Sure, the failure rate of SSDs may be lower but, ultimately, every SSD will eventually fail - and because it's a new technology, people do need to be extra vigilant for previously unforeseen problems that may only appear after millions of them have been sold. The price of three hard disks (a mirrored pair and a backup disk) is still far cheaper than one SSD.

    2. Battery life? - I cannot argue with this one except to say it's still cheaper to buy a couple of spare laptop/netbook batteries than it is to buy an SSD.

    3 - Bootup/operational speed - I'd certainly be impatient waiting 5 or 6 minutes for a computer to boot up but I'm not sure my life is that busy that waiting 30 seconds for a hard disk as opposed to 3 seconds for an SSD matters that much to me. In my 30 years computing experience, machine speed comes from avoiding bottlenecks and good OS optimisations - yes, a faster SSD helps with the hard disk speed bottleneck but that still leaves things like the amount of memory, CPU power, OS bloat and fragmentation to consider.

    I'm certainly not dissing SSD, it's a logical progression to the hard disk, but for the current prices of them, there's not enough benefit to me that justifies replacing my hard disks with them.

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

    by wintermute000 ( 928348 ) <`ua.moc.sserpxetenalp' `ta' `redneb'> on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:10AM (#32823234)

    I'm from the networking side of the fence but even I know that kinda kit is strictly Small-Medium-Business kit

    Proper enterprise grade SQL you're talking SAS drives, multiple RAID setups (different for different parts of the data - e.g. logs are mostly writes, so RAID5 is out).

    Of course, 'real men' use SANs and fibre channel but I'm guessing thats OTT for many

  • by ewhenn ( 647989 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:30AM (#32825982)
    Sometimes value isn't practically measured just by numbers/benchmarks. I think this is one of those cases.

    I think personal enjoyment and your user experience trumps data of Performance per dollar from a chart. If updating your PC to use SSD storage signifigantly improves your user experince on a day to day basis, it's probably worth it.

    As an example, what's the difference between a $10 bottle of wine and a $20 one? You could compare alchol levels, etc., but in the end the taste, and palate (ie. user experience) is what matters. Sometimes it's not really possible to put a value on these things using charts and graphs. Your own opinion and what the value is for that convenience/experince is the true measure.
  • by eihab ( 823648 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @12:49PM (#32828088)

    The GP might have missed the point, but you certainly did. Let me put it more bluntly: Comparing the price of an ssd to a disk by $/GB is idiotic.

    I think they missed the point because you did not include a car analogy. Here, let me try to help:

    Comparing the price of an SSD to a rotational hard drive by dollar/GB is akin to comparing a small sedan to a Ferrari based on dollar/mile for all the miles driven over the lifetime of the vehicles.

    Sure, the sedan will cost WAY less and you'll probably drive it more than the Ferrari, but try putting them on the race track and see what happens.

    Obviously you do not buy a Ferrari to commute in (unless you're John Carmack), and likewise you shouldn't buy an SSD to store your warez/mp3z and pr0n on.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.