Arguably no other company is doing more to push SSDs into the mainstream than OCZ, who earlier this year released its Core Series SATA II SSD drives, undercutting the competition in price and hurdling past in performance. Now the company is at it again, slashing prices one more time.
It was just a week ago that OCZ's 32GB Core SSD dropped down to just $99 after mail-in-rebate, and now the company's 64GB model is receiving similar treatment. Newegg is now selling the bigger model for the same price after a $70 mail-in-rebate, which means you can now get double the storage space for a single C-note than what you could have received last week.
It's not all peaches and cream, though, as the price cuts come on the heels of heavy criticism by Anandtech, who faulted the drives for random write issues resulting in "horrible stuttering/pausing/lagging."
Is the new low price per gigabyte enough to make up for SSD technology's shortcomings?
Let's start with the good news. Intel's new SSDs aren't just fast, they appear to be stupid-fast. The chip maker claims read speeds up to 250MB per second and write speeds up to 70MB per second, along with an 85ms read latency. And while Maximum PC has yet to put these numbers to the test, initial reports (BAM, POW) at least look promising.
Now the bad news. While Intel might be helping SSD technology regain its reputation for speed, the company's also pushing SSDs right back into stratosphere pricing tiers at a time when vendors are making a push for higher price/GB ratios. Intel announced its 80GB version will cost $595 (available now), and that's in 1,000 quantities - yikes! The 160GB model will debut later this year for an unspecified amount, but it's probably safe to assume it will command over $1,000.
Anyone think the additional speed is worth the pricing premium?
Solid state drives (SSDs) are best known for the potential performance gains, but the numbers currently being touted could be just the tip of the iceberg. Engineers and researchers at the IBM Hursley development lab in England and Almaden Research Center in California have taken SSD technology to new heights by demonstrating performance results that surpass the world's fastest disk storage solution by 250 percent.
Using a combination of flash solid-state technology and IBM's storage virtualization technology, the company managed to transfer data at a sustained rate of over one million Input/Output (I/O) per second boasting a response time of under one millisecond. When pitted against the fastest industry benchmarked disk system, the company claims not only was performance improved by 250 percent, but it did so at less than 1/20th the response time and by taking up 1/5th the floor space, all the while requiring only 55 percent of the power and cooling.
The past few months we've watched SSDs gain momentum and attract the focus of both manufacturers and consumers. From larger capacities to faster performance, traditional hard drives suddenly find themselves on the verge of obsolesence. Or do they?
One of the biggest concerns surrounding SSDs continues to be long-term reliability, but there might even be a bigger stumbling block. Because many SSDs use industry-standard NAND flash chips designed for handheld gadgets, physical security becomes a potential issue. Jim Handy, director of semiconductor research and consulting firm Objective Analysis, points out there's nothing to prevent a hacker from unsoldering NAND chips from an SSD and extracting the data using a flash chip programmer. "There's really nothing sophisticated about this process," Handy said.
But that's not the only method. A hacker could use an ultraviolet laser to wipe out lock bits (encryption locks) from fuses on chip that secure SSDs. The data can then be read without any special software.
Is Jim Handy right to be concerned? Hit the jump to post your thoughts.
Samsung is attempting to answer the question of how low can you go while doing the solid state limbo. The semiconductor company this week said it has begun sampling low-density, higher-performance solid state drives (SSDs) measuring just 30 percent the size of 2.5-inch SSDs. Samsung also says they're highly cost-efficient to manufacture, which should help the technology continue to penetrate the mainstream market.
"We've refined our manufacturing techniques and redesigned our low-density SSDs to get what the low-priced PC market is looking for in the way of improved cost, performance, and availability," said Jim Elliot, VP of memory marking.
Available in 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB flavors, the new multi-level cell SSDs will use the same SATA II controller found on Samsung's recently introduced MLC-based 128GB SSD. The company says the 32GB SSD will read data at 90MB/s and write at 70MB/s, while the 16GB will sport read and write times of 90MB/s and 45MB/s. Bringing up the rear, the 8GB model will also read at 90MB, but write at 25MB/s.
Mass production will start in September 2008. And mass consumption? That question remains to be answered.
Electronista says that Intel is planning a super fast 160GB Solid State Drive. They report that Intel's flash memory marketing head Troy Winslow says the Z-P140 was just a prelude to a series of bigger announcements to come before the end of the year. Winslow goes on to say that there will be a series of 1.8- and 2.5-inch drives for ultraportables that will hold between 80GB and 160GB. They should also outperform the 100 megabytes per second reading speed of the Samsung Flash SSD.
Solid State is really making inroads this year and as may predicted, they have invaded laptops first. Perhaps by 2010 they will be the default choice for enthusiast builds in desktops. Their read speeds are faster than traditional hard drives and their capacities have reached a useful level. Winslow points out that Intel’s experience with building quick interconnects between processors and chipsets helps them make improved memory controllers for the SSD drives.
When they hit the same price point and capacity as Western Digital’s Velociraptor drives and they do something about the pokey write speeds, count me in. They aren’t quite ready for mainstream, but they certainly do look like the future.
One of the biggest hurdles preventing solid state drives from bursting into the mainstream continues to be the relatively high price points compared to traditional hard drives. Recent strides have started to reverse this trend, with OCZ pushing its lower cost Core series and Super Talent slashing the price tag on its MasterDrive MX line, but SSDs still have a ways to go if they're to challenge HDDs for the bang-for-buck crown.
Stepping to the plate is Micron, who today announced it will ship a series of speedy SSDs up to 256GB in capacity as part of its next-generation RealSSD line. But the real story here is that Micron's new line will check in at one third the price per gigabyte of existing drives.
Hit the jump to see what Micron has to say about the RealSSD's pricing strategy after the jump.
With the all the brouhaha surrounding solid state drives (SSDs), there remains a question of exactly how big of a performance advantage flash memory really holds over today's hard drives. On paper, most SSDs scream ahead in both read and write speeds, but real-world benchmarking paints a different picture. So why the discrepancy? At SandDisk, they're blaming Vista. The company's CEO, Eli Harari, says SSD "performance in the Vista environment falls short of what the market really needs. Vista is not optimized for flash memory solid-state disks."
It's not hard to find fault with Vista, but blaming the OS for underperforming SSDs qualifies as a new one that even Apple hasn't yet exploited in its many mocking commercials. To be fair, Harari made the statement as part of a pitch to improve SSDs' next generation controllers, which he says "need to compensate for Vista's shortfalls." Because of this need, the company claims it is behind schedule bringing competitive SSDs to market.
Is SanDisk justified in pointing the finger at Vista?
Set up a swank RAID 0 array and you'll still find situations in which your hard drives remain the bottleneck. Higher areal densities, fast spindle speeds, and beefy cache have kept hard drives from being pokey, but the future appears headed for Solid State Drives (SSDs). And with companies like OCZ pushing higher performing SSDs at increasingly lower price points, the future may be closer than you think.
Lest we get too excited, SSD technology still trails considerably behind traditional hard drives in the cost-per-gigabyte arena, but helping to shrink the gap, OCZ today announced its Core Series SATA II 2.5" Solid State Drives. OCZ dubs the new lineup as the "world's first truly affordable high-performance SSD for consumers," and while still out of mainstream reach, this is as close to that goal as high performing SSDs have come. The three new models include:
32GB - $169
64GB - $259
128GB - $479
OCZ's aggressive pricing trumps even Super Talent's recently announced MasterDrive MX series, but is the time right to jump on SSD technology? Find out after the jump.
Solid State Drives are here to stay! The folks at Tom’s Hardware recently spoke to a source at Intel saying the company is sticking with the technology, despite reports to the contrary. Intel has announced some initiatives, and suggested that it would help mass produce SSD drives to help bring down prices. I myself can’t wait for reasonable capacity drives priced within my budget. There are definitely performance gains to be had with these (especially when drivers mature for them), but they have to arrive at a lower price point to be somewhat competitive with traditional hard drives. Not so easy given how cheap hard-drives are per gigabyte.