Mechanical hard drives still hold the advantage when it comes to capacity and price-per-gigabyte, but there's no touching the speed of a quality solid state drive (SSD). OEMs know this, and while mobile PC users might not be willing to pay the premium placed on SSDs, they may be willing to step up to a 7200 RPM hard drive. In fact, Seagate reckons that by 2011, half of all mobile hard drives will spin at 7200 RPM in order to better compete with their pricier brethren.
By 2012, Seagate predicts most mobile PCs -- even netbooks -- will have transitioned to 7200 RPM hard drives. That's good news for power users more concerned with performance than they are with maximing battery life. The theoretical performance difference between a 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM hard drive sits at about 33 percent, but it can be even more, depending on cache, areal density, and other factors.
The move to faster mobile hard drives at lower price points might not bode so well for SSD adoption, however. SSDs will still trump HDDs in everything from boot times to how long it takes to load an application, but it won't be as pronounced as when compared to a 5400 RPM HDD.
If you're looking for the fastest solid state drive available for your notebook or desktop PC, Micron says look no further than its RealSSD C300 drive. According to Micron, the new drive improves performance in a number of areas, including faster OS boot and hibernate times, speedier application loads, and peppier data transfer and file copying.
"The C300 SSD not only delivers on all the inherent advantages of SSDs -- improved reliability and lower power use -- but also leverages a finely tuned architecture and high-speed ONFI 2.1 NAND to provide a whole new level of performance," said Deal Klein, vice president of memory system development at Micron.
Micron says the performance gains are even better when paired with a SATA 6Gb/s interface. How much so? Try up to 355MB/s reads and up to 216MB/s writes. And in its own internal benchmarking, Micron's C300 scored 45,000 in PC Mark Vantage's HDD Suite.
See a side-by-side showdown between Micron's RealSSD C300 and a hard drive in this YouTube video.
Intel X25-M G2 SSD owners should be lauded for their patience. Don't believe it? See here, here, and, here. We won't fault anyone who takes this next bit of news with guarded optimism, but Intel's newly released 02HD firmware purports to restore TRIM support, and do so without bricking the previously problematic drives.
So far at least, user response in Intel's support forums have been fairly positive. Nobody yet has reported any major problems in the firmware's main support thread, which is a positive sign given the SSD's past problems.
The 02HD firmware applies to both 80GB and 160GB Intel X25-M G2 SSDs built on a 34nm manufacturing process, and in addition to restoring TRIM support, Intel says it also contains "several continuous improvement optimizations intended to provide the best possible user experience."
There's no way around it - if SSDs are to eventually replace mechanical hard drives, manufacturers have to find a way to increase capacity at a reasonable cost. So far, every SSD vendor has failed on both accounts, which is why we're excited to see OCZ release a 1TB SSD.
Also available in the more traditional 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities, the new Colossus 3.5-inch SSD series brings no-holds barred performance to the scene, at least on paper. According to OCZ, each drive is capable of up to 260MB/s reads and writes, up to 220MB/s sustained writes, and up to 14,000 IOPS. That puts the Colossus right up there with the fastest spec'd drives on the market.
"The new Colossus Series is designed to boost desktop and workstation performance and is for high power users tht put a premium on speed, reliability, and maximum storage capacity," said Eugene Chang, VP of Product Management at OCZ. "The Colossus core-architecture is also available to enterprise clients with locked BOMs (build of materials) and customized firmware to match their unique applications."
A 1TB drive certainly makes headway on the capacity front, but the question is, how much will it cost? OCZ didn't say, though previous reports had the then-upcoming drive pegged at $2,500. Ouch.
After a flurry of activity earlier this year, which seemingly saw a new SSD being released every week, we're beginning to see the SSD market cool down a little. But rest assured, manufacturers are still devoting R&D to the flash-based storage segment, as evidenced by G.Skill's new Falcon II 2.5-inch SSDs.
G.Skill says the Falcon II series comes equipped with the new Indilinx ECO controller. Seeing the ECO tag, the first thing that came to mind was what effect will that have on performance, and G.Skill rates its new SSDs at up to 220MB/s reads and 150MB/s writes (110MB/s writes on the 64GB model).
The drives, which are available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities, also boast 64MB of DRAM cache and advanced wear leveling algorithms. G.Skill says the Falcon II series also feature the latest Indilinx 1819 version firmware, which purports to offer improved support for the Windows 7 TRIM command, something Intel's 34nm SSDs have struggled with as of late.
Like Wile E. Coyote after failing to catch the Road Runner for the umpteenth time, it's back to the drawing board for Intel, who must figure out what the heck is going on with its 34nm solid state drives (SSDs). Allow us to elaborate.
Earlier this summer, the chip maker halted shipments of its X25-M G2 drives when it was discovered that a BIOS bug could lead to data corruption. More recently, Intel released its new TRIM firmware, which was supposed to inject a 40 percent boost to sequential write speeds, but just one day after its release, Intel has pulled the update due to corruption issues in Windows 7. Apparently, the firmware has been doing more harm than good and managed to brick a few drives.
"Yes, we have been contacted by users with issues with the firmware upgrade for our 34nm SSDs and we are investigating. We take all sightings and issues seriously and are working toward resolution. We have temporarily taken down the firmware link while we investigate," Intel said in a statement to Engadget.
When Intel will have a new update is anyone's guess. In the meantime, there's a 6 page (and growing) discussion taking place on Intel's support form where you can keep up with the latest developments.
Solid state drive technology still has a few hurdles to overcome before it supplants traditional hard drives as the mainstream storage medium of choice -- and according to a recent study, HDDs still have at least a decade left -- but as prices come down, more users are finding that it makes sense to boot off of an SSD for a little extra pep. Targeting those consumers, Kingston today released its SSDNow V Series 40GB Boot Drive.
The 'V' as you might have guessed stands for 'Value' and the 'Boot Drive' nomenclature is pretty self-explanatory. The low capacity is a dead giveaway on that latter part, too.
"The SSDNow V Series 40GB Boot Drive offers instant performance enhancement coupled with reliability and lower power consumption at a fraction of the cost of a new system," said Areil Perez, SSD business manager, Kingston. "The 40GB Boot Drive is the latest offering in our V Series SSD line. It provides a low-cost upgrade solution that complements the installed hard disk drive to extend the life cycle of existing desktop computers and workstations in homes and offices."
From a performance standpoint, the 40GB Boot Drive comes rated at up 170MB/s sequential read, but only 40MB/s sequential write. Even still, Kingston claims its new drive muscled a 13,883 score in PCMark Vantage Advanced HDD Suite, compared to just 3,708 for an un-named 7200RPM hard drive during internal testing.
Kingston's 40GB Boot Drive will carry an MSRP of $115 and will begin shipping on November 9, 2009. The company adds you'll be able to find one for as low as $85 after mail-in-rebate when it launches.
Toshiba’s $328 million acquisition of hard drive maker Fujitsu is bearing some early fruit. The deal, made earlier this year, was an effort by Toshiba to increase it’s presence in the enterprise storage market. Toshiba acquired all of Fujitsu’s hard drive related business including design, development, manufacturing, and sales.
After a flurry of activity in the solid state drive market, it's been comparatively quiet the past few weeks, but we finally have some new developments to report. As you may recall, the controllers used in SSDs can have a significant impact on performance, and Micron thinks it has a winner on its hands with its just-developed JFM612 NAND flash controller chip.
Micron's first controller ran into some pesky performance problems, some of which they fixed with the JMF602B controller. But the initial hiccups left the door open for competitors to step in, like Indilinx did with its Barefoot controller. Like Barefoot, Micron's new chip is able to use 32nm flash chips, which helps lower the cost of SSDs.
After a few initial issues with the new controller, DailyTech reports that Micron has finally begun mass producing JFM612 chips. The first SSDs to utilize them will be Active Media with the launch of their Predator-X7 series. Along with Micron's new controller, the Predator-X7 will come with 128MB of DRAM cache to eliminate any chance of stuttering, and boast sequential read and write speeds of up to 230MB/s and 180MB/s, respectively.
Six months ago, the the Predator-X7 would have been a real barn burner, but it's tough to get too excited over 180MB/s writes anymore. However, more SSDs built around Micron's new controller are on the way, and you can probably expect these to give today's offerings a run for their money.
OCZ on Monday announced its latest Z-Drive PCI-Express SSD, the m84. Unlike previous Z-Drives, the m84 doesn't target enterprise users and instead is intended for the 'mainstream' power user crowd.
"The OCZ m84 Z-Drive is the newest addition to our line of PCI-E solid state drives and is designed to offer consumers a high performance yet aggressively priced solid state solution," said Eugene Chang, Vice President of Product Management at the OCZ Technology Group. "While the previously released p84 and e84 Z-Drives were intended specifically for enterprise applications, the m84 delivers much of the same performance but at a price point that is competitive with standard SSD drives. This is the first time that such a high performance PCI-E based SSD that is optimized for media editing, gaming, and workstation productivity, has been so within the reach of power users."
The m84 comes built with multi-level cell (MLC) NAND and a bootable internal RAID 0 configuration. OCZ says users can expect read speeds up to 750MB/s and write speeds up to 650MB/s, at least in the 256GB model. Other capacities include 512GB and 1TB, with both of the higher capacity models improving read and write speeds to 870MB/s and 780MB/s, respectively. All three boast sustained write speeds in the neighborhood of 600MB/s.