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Are Consumer Hard Drives Headed Into History? 681

Lucas123 writes "With NAND flash fabricators ramping up production, per GB prices of solid state drives are expected to drop by more than half by this time next year to about 50 cents. Even so, consumers still look at three things when purchasing a computer: CPU power, memory size, and drive capacity, giving spinning disk the edge. SSD manufacturers like Samsung and SanDisk have tried but failed to change consumer attitudes toward choosing SSDs for their performance, durability and lower power use. But, with the release of the new MacBook Air (sans hard disk drive), Steve Jobs has joined the marketing push and may have the clout to shift the market away from hard drives, even if they're still an order of magnitude cheaper."
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Are Consumer Hard Drives Headed Into History?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:10PM (#33999890)
    He has enough clout to push about 8% of consumers to buy overpriced hardware.
    • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:28PM (#34000018) Journal

      Actually I'd say those numbers are probably declining except for the diehard Mac users. Why do I say that? Because I live next to a college that traditionally has been HEAVY Mac territory. in fact just 5 years ago I bet I could have counted the non Macs I'd see when I walked upon campus with one hand. What is it now, and as far as the eye can see? Netbooks. Nothing but small thin light easy to carry and cheap netbooks as far as the eye can see. While Steve has usually been good at getting ahead of the curve with consumers I think he missed the boat with this one, as the most popular models I'm seeing, and this is on a campus with a LOT of old and new money, and can certainly afford MBA if they want, is the 7-10 inch mini netbooks. Talking to the kids, which since my oldest is now attending I get to quite often, is the size and weight makes them just too handy for classes, and more and more the average folks are jumping on as well. You'd be surprised how many times I've seen women pull out mini-netbooks while waiting in some office somewhere.

      So while I wish old Steve nothing but luck and give him credit for taking a company the Pepsi guy had all but killed and bringing them back from the dead, I really think the Macs are gonna be shrinking and going back to what they were pre-hype, which is a tool for graphics designers. i just don't see the wealthy carrying them anymore. Old Steve don't have to worry though, because the iPhone will more than make up for that, but the days of hipsters carrying around Macbooks seems to be ending. Now all I see is mini-netbooks with custom graphics covers everywhere.

      • by MudflapSoftware ( 773087 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @09:00PM (#34000652)
        My experience differs. My employer does on-campus interviews at around 50 schools nationwide, and over 70% of the potential recruits were equipped with macs.... according to the web logs from a site they were required to visit individually.... Our public web site has seen a marked increase in 'mac' traffic as well.... averaging around 10%, up from 3% a couple of years ago.
  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:11PM (#33999898)

    I've got an SSD in my laptop, and I couldn't be happier. Its easily lengthened the life of my laptop by about 2 years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nichotin ( 794369 )
      Going from the typical 5.400rpm laptop drive to SSD makes you feel like a 14 year old girl again. Jokes aside, it is really a noticeable difference, even for simple things like opening the start menu. And the best of it, your computer does not slow down so horribly much when multiple applications are accessing the drive. Even netbooks benefit greatly from SSD.
    • How's the noise? My sister has a one of those early, pre nvidia macbooks, and is quite miffed at how loud it can be. Does switching to SSD help?

    • And you could have done even better by just adding a second hard drive to your laptop (most 17" laptops will accommodate 2 drives) and used one for your OS and one for your data, or ran them as a RAID-1

      AND saved $$$$.

      Just for fun, I just priced a 17" mac laptop (I like my full-sized keyboards). With a 512gig SSD, it's $3,628.00

      For the same price, you can buy, not one, not two, not 4, but 6 17" laptops. plus a second 640gig hd for each of them.

      So, for the price of ONE 17" mac with half a terabyte of SSD, you get:

      1. 24 gigs of ram
      2. 12 cores
      3. 10 terabytes of storage
      4. 6 displays (imagine the virtual desktop !!!)

      On top of that, if one breaks, you would have 5 spares. Plus lots of place to store backups

      Think about being able to carry a lan party in one of those large recyclable shopping bags.

      And you won't have to just imagine having your own Beowulf cluster.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Klinky ( 636952 )

        Ok and how many random 4K write/read IOPs could you get even if you did RAID-1? A few hundred. How many can you get with an SSD? 10,000+. Even if you took all 12 hard drives in your scenario and put them in a RAID configuration you'd still not match the performance of a single SSD. Also no one is saying go out and get a 512GB SSD which is on the bleeding edge of consumer SSD. You can easily find a 64GB SSD for around $125. Also no one needs to buy an Apple notebook.

      • Why the hell do you want a half a terabyte of SSD? Because it's the most expensive offering?

        RAID 0 and RAID 1 are nowhere near SSD in terms of power consumption, throughput and IOPS.

        In today's computing environment, RAM is plentiful, CPU cycles are cheap, storage is abundant yet IOPS will bring even a high end machine to it's knees.

        I was migrating some data from an old laptop (2 year old MacBook Pro) to a new one (MacBook Pro with a small SSD). I don't know what it's like on Windows or lInux, but on OS X once you're hitting 500-800 IOPS on a 7.2k hard drive everything slows to a crawl. You CPU utilisation can be idle, your RAM usage can be well within the amount of physical RAM installed yet too many IOPS and you soon can't do much with the machine.

        On this new machine, I was copying a mail spool to it (mbox folders) installing software and Spotlight (full text indexing) was running in the background. This machine (a laptop mind you, not a workstation) was pulling in 7500 IOPS and not breaking a sweat - it was quick, responsive and completely usable for interactive tasks.

        In order to get 7k IOPS from spinning media, you're talking about Fibre Channel or iSCSI storage arrays costing tens of thousands of dollars.

        I, for one, am more than happy to put up with a small boot drive (40-60GB) if it's an SSD and move my bulk storage to spinning media. After that experience I now carry a laptop with a 64GB SSD and a 500GB FireWire external drive for bulk data and I couldn't be happier with that setup. I've even made the boot drive (and apps drive) in my workstation a small SSD, with bulk data on spinning media. I can boot this machine in mere seconds and launch half a dozen apps at login and it just doesn't slow down.

        If you haven't used a machine with an SSD in real life, don't knock it until you've tried it.

        It used to be that adding more RAM to a machine was the cheapest way to speed it up as just about all machines used to be (more or less) RAM bound. Now it's IOPS and adding an SSD is the cheapest way to have a more responsive machine. Older machines will potentially benefit even more than a newer machine as the relative speedup can be even greater...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tomhudson ( 43916 )
          Remove your swap file - you don't need it when even a $500 laptop comes with 6 gigs of ram. There goes the #1 advantage of SSDs - no disk thrashing on swapping.

          So now, instead of IOPS, your primary goal is sustained throughput. A 4-drive setup gives you the same read/write throughput as an Intel X25 SSD (which claims 4x the throughput of a regular hd, and 2x the throughput of a fast hd, so the math is really simple), but much more bang for the buck.

          /dev/sda1 /
          /dev/sdb1 /home
          /dev/sdc1 /srv

  • ridiculous story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:15PM (#33999914)
    Even if the Per GB price dropped by 80 or 90% SSD's would still be more expensive and have a lot shorter life expectancy than current HDD's, we are many many years before the possibility of SSD's fully replacing HDD's becomes even conceivable
    • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:18PM (#33999932)

      have a lot shorter life expectancy than current HDD's

      Citation needed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stoanhart ( 876182 )

      I was under the impression that with the wear leveling algorithms these drives use, and the higher quality chips used for SSDs, the lifetime under typical laptop usage is expected to far exceed a spinning platter drive.

      Makes sense, really. Most disk access is reading (booting the OS, opening applications, loading libraries, viewing images/videos, listening to music), and this doesn't wear out the memory cells. Unless you're doing heavy disk work like video editing or serious photography, or running some sor

    • No kidding (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @08:08PM (#34000324)

      In the long term? Yes I'm sure flash, or some other solid state, based storage will replace magnetic disks. It is just plain faster, not to mention other benefits. Our storage subsystem is by far the slowest thing we've got, improvements would be welcome.

      In the short term? Hell no. SSDs are useful in special cases, but not for general use and not showing any signs of reaching a crossover soon.

      I mean if I wanted to meet my storage needs with SSDs only, I'd have to spend on the order of $10,000. Granted, my needs for storage exceed most users, but still. It costs me all of about $500 to get them met with HDDs. Even if I left backups to magnetic media and just went with SSDs for primary storage I'd still be out about $4000. I could replace every component in my system, including my professional NEC monitor, for less than that.

      Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to have SSDs, but they have to come down in price a shitload before they are realistic for the regular desktop. Right now, SSDs have 3 uses:

      1) Systems that don't need a lot of storage and space/power are a premium. The Air is a good example. If you can live with 64GB of storage, then flash is ok price wise. Still expensive per GB, but since you have few GBs it isn't bad. If all you are doing is running basic apps then that works fine. You can't hold much media or large games or whatnot, but not all systems need that.

      2) Systems where performance beyond what reasonable HDD solutions can offer is needed. Audio production sees this. New virtual instruments are getting extremely complex. Tons and tons of samples played back in heavy layers. You can't load them all in RAM (without amazing amounts of RAM) and they just overload disks when you try to stream it all. SSDs can be useful here. While a $10,000-20,000 fiber channel array would probably do the trick, a $4000 SSD will also do the trick and not only cost less but be easier to deal with.

      3) Ultra high end storage solutions that need performance beyond anything HDDs can offer. With databases, you can run in to this. Heck they had SSDs back before they were popular. Expensive, expensive devils, but tons of performance. You need this to reach certain performance levels, no amount of disks can handle the IOPs you need. This is where cost just isn't an issue, performance is.

      That's pretty much it. For cheap systems, HDDs reign supreme. They cost less than flash and that is that. For higher end systems, you end up needing more storage than flash can provide at a reasonable cost.

      Before we see flash replace HDDs we will probably see augmentation. Intel, Adaptec, LSI, all are supporting SSDs as a cache for HDDs on various RAID controllers. If this comes down to consumer price levels, could be useful. 1TB of storage for $100 and then $100 more for some flash cache would be doable for many people.

      It'll be a long time before SSDs are the way most people go, however. It is too bad, I want solid state storage now, but there is a big, BIG price gap that has to be covered.

      • Re:No kidding (Score:5, Insightful)

        by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @08:27PM (#34000444) Homepage Journal

        It's not only the bigger size and lower price that makes HDDs attractive. The worst case random write time, for example, is generally far worse for SSDs, and if you absolutely need to commit within a guaranteed time frame, SSDs might not be an option even if they're much faster on average, and orders of magnitudes faster for random reads.

        Don't underestimate the power of a rack of short-stroked 15k rpm drives.

  • by Vandil X ( 636030 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:18PM (#33999934)
    I tend to hold on to my tech for years. With the finite number of read/writes to flash memory, I don't want to be forced to part with a computer because it uses a proprietary flash storage system or be forced to purchase a proprietary replacement storage module.

    Things like iPods, smart phones, and PDAs are cheaper and easily replaced in whole, but I wouldn't want to face a replacement cost for a laptop.

    I would cringe to do secure erases (writing zeroes) to a flash memory drive (solid state drives or Apple's flash "drive" module in the new Airs), knowing I was prematurely killing my storage life. Platter-based disks with sudden motion sensors will still be my huckleberry for a few more years...
    • by causality ( 777677 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @08:09PM (#34000328)

      I tend to hold on to my tech for years. With the finite number of read/writes to flash memory, I don't want to be forced to part with a computer because it uses a proprietary flash storage system or be forced to purchase a proprietary replacement storage module.

      Things like iPods, smart phones, and PDAs are cheaper and easily replaced in whole, but I wouldn't want to face a replacement cost for a laptop.

      I admit I have never owned an SSD and therefore I might be ignorant. Having said that, to the best of my knowledge SSDs use the same standard connectors (SATA) as spinning hard drives. If/when an SSD fails you should be able to buy either another SSD or a spinning hard drive as a drop-in replacement. This situation is no different and no more proprietary than mechanical drives.

      When a question like that is so immediate and obvious, it does occur to me that I have probably misunderstood you. I don't know if maybe laptops are a special case. Can you explain this for me?

      I would cringe to do secure erases (writing zeroes) to a flash memory drive (solid state drives or Apple's flash "drive" module in the new Airs), knowing I was prematurely killing my storage life. Platter-based disks with sudden motion sensors will still be my huckleberry for a few more years...

      That really would be an issue. I'll note that usually a secure erase is more thorough than merely overwriting a file with zeroes. It often involves multiple passes that overwrite it with random data, either exclusively or in conjunction with overwriting it with zeroes. What I don't know is whether that's necessary for an SSD, though I do know it's often done that way for spinning hard drives.

      On a desktop you could balance wear-and-tear and the need for secure deletion by having two drives. You could have an SSD with the operating system and applications installed on it for performance and then a larger mechanical drive for data storage. For a laptop that doesn't sound so practical, unfortunately. Perhaps on a laptop you'd want to have a small partition for sensitive data that uses filesystem encryption. That way sensitive data is never written to the device in plaintext and wouldn't need to be overwritten just to protect your data from someone who obtains the drive.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:19PM (#33999942)

    $0.50 per GB is still about five times the cost of a magnetic drive. Put another way, each user has the choice between paying $50 and $250 for the same amount of storage. Does anyone think there is a real competition here?

    And of course, that's by next year. How much denser/cheaper will magnetic drives be by then? Please stop with these "year of the flash drive" posts.

    • If they only need a modest amount of storage, say 40 GB, it could be cheaper. There's a lower limit on the price that you can buy a magnetic drive for and that's stayed pretty constant.

      • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:40PM (#34000120)

        Can you buy any computer on the market with only 40 gig in it anymore?

        Look, the only way tiny hard drives make sense is for Grandma who doesn't use computers for anything but email and web surfing. Apple is intent on pushing these people to the cloud with iPads and diskless notebooks, and you could make a good case that the cloud is exactly where some of these people belong.

        But that also imposes a network burden and cost that not everyone can afford. Streaming everything is just wrong on so many levels, and doing it today in spite of current rock bottom storage (spinning) prices is crazy - but I digress.

        In a corporate world fast booting SSD machines can latch onto the network for all of their storage needs, thats fine, because the corporate net can probably handle the load.

        But for the computer savvy home user or small developer, with a significant music collection, a ton of video, photos, and a couple major projects to work on, SSD is not going to cut it at today's prices when compared to spinning disks. Too small. Too expensive. To fragile.

        40 Gig? My phone has 40 Gig.

    • But they scale down, so you don't actually have to get as much storage in the SSD if you don't need it. Hard drives have a minimum capacity before you don't get any savings by going smaller.

  • In Windows 7 you have TRIM to make sure the SSD keeps its performance over time. What does Apple have to offer in this area for Mac OS X? I tried to put a OCZ Vertex in a MacBook Unibody, but after the drive got completely filled up, the performance gain was lost. In Windows 7 the drive is fast like it should thanks to TRIM. Is it any different from the Apple blessed drives you get in the Air or when you order SSD as a option straight from Apple?
  • File under (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordSnooty ( 853791 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:20PM (#33999952)
    "if Apple are involved it must be news"

    Yeah, they're headed to history, but that might take another ten years.
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:22PM (#33999966) Journal

    Certain technologies have pretty long shelf lives - Hard Drives are one of those. Tape Backups and CDs are another.

    Sure SSDs are getting cheaper, but so are hard drives. Hard drives are now a nickel a GB, half the price of just a year ago. The best SSD prices still look like they're 40x as expensive.

    Sure, they'll take over the small drive / low power / slim profile market, especially for expensive hardware (SteveJobsthankyouverymuch). But as we do more with large audio/video/photo files, out appetite for storage is still a 5-10 years away for cost effective SSDs at TODAY's rate of use.

    Just look at the usenet. DivX was king, with only hard core nuts going with full DVD rips. Then HD was here and everything was recompressed to 720p x264. Now it's mostly 1080p x264 recodes and straight 26GB AVC rips. Our use is definitely not slowing down, and spinning platters is the only thing that can give us that kind capacity for the foreseeable future.

  • Consumers vote with their wallet. Give them the same storage space at the same or even close, and the market will shift to SSDs. Given that these points are still far apart for SSDs means that no matter what manufacturers do (aside from discontinuing disk drives altogether), people won't buy SSDs in any great numbers. Apple fans seem not to mind paying for overpriced hardware, so the fact that Jobs is wading in doesn't really matter for the majority of the small computer market (PCs).
    • oops

      s/'at the same or even close'/'at the same price or even close'/
    • Let's invent a buzzword for SSDs like "PowerStream Boost w/ Turbo AI", makes no fucking sense but people will gobble it up even if they have no clue what it really means. Ultimately SSDs just need to be marketed correctly to educate customers that there is a performance improvement and that you do not need the larger hard drive. A lot of consumers could probably even get by with a 64 or 128GB SSD. So just market it as "20,000 Operations Per Second!!!! Thanks to PowerStream Turbo. Stores up to 20,000+ music

  • Consumers go for numbers. This one has 1.5TB and this one has 200GB. Well the 1.5TB *MUST* be better, so I"m going to buy that so I can check my mail and surf teh intarwebz.

    Additionally, SSD's aren't a panacea yet. Sure they're fast but they do have a finite life and as far as that goes they are best for short term storage rather than long term, and vice versa for hard drives except for the finite life part.

    There's my 2 inflated-into-uselessness cents.

  • ...but I can definitely see hard disks still having a role as external backup or archival storage for years to come. The amount of data (photos, music, video) that people are accumulating will guarantee this!


  • This is silly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Puls4r ( 724907 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:26PM (#34000000)
    Why would I switch to SSD? I've had 1 drive go bad in my lifetime. They've lasted in some cases 20+ years. Plus they are cheaper. Why would I bother buying SSD's when they have a known failure point at after given number of writes?

    This is very much like the blue-ray issue. It's not surprising folks aren't interested in jumping on board because, frankly, there is no real reason to run out and BUY it.

    CD's and DVD's had huge adoption because you saw a large improvement on your existing hardware. Bluerays required a new TV to see that improvement - and it was a very expensive TV at the time.

    Once people have purchased new TV's (it will probably take another 5-10 years for the older TV's to all fail so that the mom and pops of the world HAVE to go buy a new one) blue-rays will have come way down in price and they'll finally replace the DVD.

    Likewise the SSD. I'm sure many other folks are as tired as I am regarding these silly... strike that... STUPID press releases trying to push their sale.

    They will be bought when there is a need. There is none at this point, except in very specific applications, like the high-vibration atmosphere at manufacturing plants.

    Shame on Slashdot's editors for continuing to run this hokey marketing BS, and shame on the people who continue to send articles like this. It's quite silly, frankly.
    • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:32PM (#34000032)

      How's your Intel 80386 is going? It's so reliable that it can still work after 20 years!

      SSD give a very noticeable performance boost. However, they cost too much right now, so it's a bit hard to justify them.

      • But if you put a SSD in a 386 you would see a noticeable performance boost, and on very cheap hardware too. I saw a press release which proved it.
    • by radish ( 98371 )

      Why would I bother buying SSD's when they have a known failure point at after given number of writes?

      Because they're orders of magnitude faster than spinning disks? Because they use less power? I just put a $120 SSD in my laptop to replace it's 5200rpm spinner which I was only using 40GB of anyway. It's like a new machine...amazing difference.

      As for lifespan, I've had an Intel SSD as my boot drive in my desktop for about a year now and SMART is showing it at 98% lifespan remaining. Check back in 49 years t

  • Ssds are quite attractive for internal drives, their speed advantage means quicker booting, faster application startup etc, but eventually you hut the point of diminishing returns, for instance even external hard drives allow you to watch movies without any noticeable delay so you gain very little by putting them on ssds. So while laptops and to a certain extent desktops will see fewer internal magnetic disks, that won't mean the end if consumer level magnetic disks at all.
  • by CaptBubba ( 696284 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:33PM (#34000042)

    Even with the best wear leveling techniques SSDs will not be able to provide the sort of write cycles that a magnetic drive can withstand. This may not be an issue in most consumer use, but the possibility is there that somebody will hear of a friend of a friend's uncle who had his entire life's work (read: porn collection) wiped out. Something doesn't actually have to be a risk for someone to freak out about it and avoid the technology.

    On the other end of the spectrum of usage scenarios: If the disk is not accessed and rewritten occasionally the issue of disappearing data comes up. In a NAND cell the data may be stored by as few as 100 electrons which are trapped in the floating gate of the transistor. Over the years imperfections in the insulation layers or quantum tunneling through the insulation layers (some of which are merely a few atoms thick) results in the electrons escaping and the cell eventually becoming unreadable. The target minimum data retention time for NAND flash is 10 years, but just due to the absurd number of individual transistors in a SSD some data will be lost before that time period. Suboptimal storage temperatures combined with smaller cell sizes and multi-level-cell NAND flash designs tend to make this effect worse.

    SSDs may find a home in specialized situations where the pros outweigh the cons, like laptops, but I doubt they will ever displace magnetic hard drives in most applications.

  • We often deploy SSD's in our POS terminals and recommend SSD for clients who have busy checkout lanes and performance matters. However, in servers we're still HDD because they are well known and proven technology. SSD's have been on the market long enough that they are starting to prove themselves.

    But at home, I much rather have the 1TB HDD drive rather than 128MB SSD for the same price. Same thing in my laptop. I much rather have the extra storage space for the money than performance.

  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:36PM (#34000072)
    The ssd is already a good value for the function of the boot drive - the place where you host the OS, applications and games. There is no need to approach terabyte territory to hold all this stuff. And my collection of ripped DVDs, etc., wouldn't benefit from being on an ssd. These two technologies make sense in parallel and will continue to do so for so long as the per-terabyte prices keep falling at the present rate.
  • Hard drives may still be much cheaper in terms of $/GB, but that is only the important number for geeks who actually care about big drives.

    The important number for the mass market is the minimum price for a new drive of minimally usable size (call it 32-64 GB for now, it's drifting up, but not terribly quickly by the standards of exponential tech progression). And I suspect that SSDs will surpass HDDs in that metric fairly soon. A hard drive has a certain amount of unavoidable manufacturing complexity and

  • Think about it -- couldn''t most of the real people you know, the ones you do upgrades and friends/family tech support for, get along just fine with 256GB or so of mass storage?

    Yeah, the price differential will be there, but it won't be that big. Another aspect, at Fry's this morning I noticed that disk drives smaller than 250GB are getting harder to find at least at pseudo-retail.

    So, most real people/families could get along fine with SSD based systems, particularly if they have a box on their network
  • 50 cents per gb is cheap?

    I'm no math genius, but wouldn't that make 1TB be about $500? The absolute hugest spinning-platter harddrive, the just-announced Western Digital Green 3TB drive costs less than HALF that ($239 at newegg) for three times the storage, and a 1tb can be had for $60.

    Until SSD prices get much, MUCH closer to that range, and until someone can reassure me that they'll last for several years of heavy use, the only way I'll use one in my desktop is an OS-only-quick-boot drive.

    Yeah, it might b

  • by m.dillon ( 147925 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:43PM (#34000150) Homepage

    It's simply absolute price for a reasonable amount of storage, which these days is around 250GB. Sure I can pop in multi-TB drives for less money, and I do on the machines that need that kind of storage. But the vast majority of machines out in the world don't really need terrabytes of storage. If you don't actually need the storage then it doesn't really matter whether the drive you have installed is 250G or 2TB.

    The comments regarding a SSD's ability to extend the life of older computer hardware, and even brand spanking new computer hardware, are right on the mark. How meaningful is one or two hundred extra dollars if your laptop is nice and responsive with the latest memory-hogging software for another year or two because you popped in that SSD? Not very meaningful at all.

    So if the question is when will SSDs really start to take off in the consumer world as more than just a niche item? It will be when the price point for that 250G SSD drive drops to something reasonable, like $100 or so. That price point is not actually that far off.

    In terms of durability I gotta laugh at anyone who thinks a hard drive is more durable than a SSD. Hard drives last maybe 5 years. I don't think any of my HDs have lasted more than 7 or so years without accumulating serious enough errors to warrant replacement. There is one key difference... it is possible to recover critical data off a HD many years later whereas data stored in flash is gone once it goes bad (and even that might not be true any more with HD densities getting so high). But those sorts of recovery services (where the HD cannot even be powered up any more without destroying it) cost a lot of $$ and I don't think your average consumer would ever use something like that.

    Even a little Intel 40G SSD has a 35TB vendor-specified durability. When configured properly along with the OS that durability rises in excess of 200TB, and that's for the cheaper MLC flash. I have around 10 of the 40G SSDs installed and their durability is riding the 200TB mark based on the wear values returned from SMART over the last 8 months or so. The higher capacity SSDs have higher durabilities. With nominal use (which is 99% of the use cases) we are still talking 10 years plus for a small SSD.

    I'm not sure who these people are complaining about SSDs failing on them... maybe they should post the vendors they bought them from along with the actual model. I haven't had a single one of my Intels fail and I'm hitting some of them pretty damn hard. I have not seen any performance drop-off with my SSDs either and, besides, a thrashing HD can only do 2MB/sec or so, even a SSD with a moderate performance dropoff is still going to do an order of magnitude better than a HD with a fragmented filesystem. When it comes right down to it if a performance drop-off is a problem for you, just copy the raw storage off the SSD and then back onto it. Poof, problem solved for another year or three.

    TRIM is not really needed. In fact, it can be a liability performance-wise since it isn't a NCQ-capable command. All you really need to do is partition a fresh drive a bit smaller than its rated capacity and you get 95% of the benefit of TRIM without having to deal with it. If you have 120G SSD then create a 110G partition. Congratulations, you now have 95% of what TRIM would get you. It's funny how the rabble keeps screaming the TRIM mantra but it isn't that spectacular a feature.


  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @07:49PM (#34000202) Homepage
    SSDs are still not a good value for their MBTF (Mean Time Between Failures). I predict the hybrid harddrive/SSD combo drive will be the near term winner (assuming laptops don't all get as small as the Air). I have had several friends recently purchase and install hybrid drives in their laptops and they gave it a "thumbs up" for performance but are very paranoid about failure, so they backup much more frequently. Additionally, these drives spin down quite regularly which increase battery life, however there are concerns about the duty cycle of spinup/spindown before failure. Example Hybrid Drive: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148591&cm_re=hybrid_hard_drive-_-22-148-591-_-Product [newegg.com]
  • by Shemmie ( 909181 ) on Saturday October 23, 2010 @08:05PM (#34000306)
    but I've had more hard drives than I can care to think about, with 1 genuine failure.

    I recently bought an SSD for my laptop, from Corsair. Many people seem to have had a problem with the drive, from it disappearing from the BIOS through to massive data corruption (me, yay).

    Yes, it's a sample of 1. But I won't be going near SSD for a hell of a long time - Corsair refuse to admit to a problem, despite them having phased out the model very quickly. SSD has potential, but not at current prices, with their current life-span and failure / fault rates.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford