Sometimes it’s OK not to take the medal stand in the race to get a product out first. Take the case of Western Digital’s new 5,400rpm Scorpio Blue 500GB notebook drive. It’s the fourth 500GB mobile drive to hit the market, after Hitachi’s Travelstar 5K500, Fujitsu’s MHZ2 BT, and Samsung’s Spinpoint M6, but the Scorpio is, arguably, better than its competitors.
No matter how fast or reliable solid state drives become, there will be some who will continue to scoff at the price per gigabyte ratio, particularly as SSDs breach the 256GB mark. That could change if we start to see significant capacity increases in upcoming SSDs, such as the 1TB SSD Pure Silicon was showing off at CES.
Hold your excitement, however, as there's a major rub. While a 1TB SSD sounds like a tantalizing option, pureSilicon doesn't have you, the consumer, in mind. Instead, when the Nitro drives become available in Q3 2009, they will be used for industrial applications, including military, medical, and other such uses. Drats!
Even still, if pureSilicon paves the way to 1TB, it's likely other manufacturers would soon follow. And when they do, it doesn't appear performance will have to be sacrificed to reach higher capacities. The company rates its entire Nitro line, including the 1TB model, at 240MB/s and 215MB/s sustained read and write speeds, respectively, placing it in line with higher performing consumer SSDs.
Now in its third generation of solid state drives (SSDs), SanDisk says its new G3 series qualifies as the world's fastest multi-level cell (MLC) based SSDs, equating the performance to that of a theoretical 40K RPM hard drive. That's a big claim considering that, for the most part, SSDs have thus far failed to push real-world performance boundaries.
SanDisk rates the G3 series at 200MB/s read and 140MB/s write, which the company says is five times speedier than the fastest 7,200 RPM hard drives, and twice that of SSDs shipping in 2008. On the reliability side, which is another concern when it comes to high usage Flash memory, SanDisk says its G3 series can withstand 160 terabytes written (TBW) for the 240GB version before the cells turn into read-only. By SanDisk's measurements, that translates to over a century of typical usage.
Do you ever find yourself wondering what to do with those spare SSDs you have lying around? Neither do we, but A-DATA's new XPG Dual SSD 3.5" RAID Enclosure makes a fairly compelling pitch to go out and buy a pair of the pricey drives. Or at least put to use those spare HDDs cluttering your PC room, which is a far more likely scenario.
Whether you want to roll with a pair of SSDs or HDDs, A-DATA's RAID enclosure will accommodate both. By adjusting the hardware DIP switch on the back, users can opt to run each drive independently or in tandem with seven different RAID modes to choose from, including JPOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, Span, SAFE33, SAFE50, or GUI.
A-DATA's multi-purpose enclosure comes with a one-button backup utility and can be used as either an internal or external unit with support for both SATA and USB. The enclosure will also be offered without the built-in RAID function.
Both versions are expected to ship by the end of Q1 2009, and according to TomsHardware, will run roughly $30 for the non-RAID version and $60 with built-in RAID.
Just how low can the memory market go? Pretty freakin' low, according to DRAMeXchange, who revised its flash bit growth from 108 percent in September to 81 percent. By comparison, that number stood at 175 percent in 2006, or more than double what it currently is. DRAMeXchange blames the slowed growth rate on declining demand for electronic gadgets.
Despite the weakened demand, the market research firm estimates 1Gb flash shipments to reach 52 billion units, up significantly from 28 billion in 2008. But as competition continues to heat up in the memory market and push flash storage capacities to new heights, actual chip shipments are expected to decline as a result. Throw in an oversupply of flash memory and there's not much for memory makers to celebrate in 2009.
Also feeling the pinch are SSD sales. There's been a major push in 2008 towards maneuvering SSDs into the mainstream, but despite those efforts, sales have been lower than anticipated.
"The penetration rate of SSD in the low cost PC market will be lower than 10% in 2009,” DRAMeXchange stated. "The short term demand mainly comes from the industrial market and the outcome in the low cost PC market is actually lower than expected, which was due to price and reliability issues."
The upshot, at least for consumers, is that flash memory is dirt cheap, and will probably remain that way at least through the next few months.
MSI has launched it's U1115 Hybrid netbook, which the company bills as the first notebook computer in the world capable of running both SSD and HDD drives at the same time. Combined with its 'ECO on' mode, MSI claims "the battery life of U115 Hybrid is super long." Sounds super duper.
The new netbook operates primarily with the SSD to run Windows, with the HDD being used for storage duties. With ECO on mode, the U115 Hybrid temporarily disconnects the HDD to help extend battery life, presumably offering the best of both worlds. Storage options come in 8GB/120GB (SSD/HDD) and 16GB/160GB configurations.
Outside of the hybrid drive configuation, MSI sticks closely to the standard netbook formula. Underneath the 10-inch hood sits a 1.6GHz Z530 Intel Atom processor, 1GB of DDR2-533 memory, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth, a webcam, media card reader, and Windows XP Home.
So you opened your advent calendar today, and what did you find? A new episode of the No BS Podcast, of course. In our penultimate podcast of 2008, we find time to not care about Apple’s recent announcement that they’re pulling out of Macworld Expo, discuss the merits of Nvidia’s new Ion netbook platform, and speculate about what we’ll see at CES next month. Join the podcast gang as we send off this past year (next week is a special all-rant edition), visit the lab, and answer your tech questions.
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are standing by. For the love of all that's holy people, if you guys don't start asking tech questions, we're going to change the name to the Nothing But Undead podcast...
Most of the talk surrounding solid state storage tends to revolve around the performance numbers, or lack thereof. Sluggish write speeds have hampered the hype on all but a select few models, and while more attention is being paid to the performance numbers, speed isn't the only thing increasing; SSDs are getting bigger.
Toshiba said it will have on display a 512GB solid state drive next month at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), with shipments expected in the second quarter of 2009. At 512GB, Toshiba's SSD would rival mobile hard disk drives and qualify as one of the largest capacity SSDs for use in notebooks.
Alongside the 2.5-inch 512GB SSD, Toshiba also plans to release 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB models in both 1.8 an 2.5.-inch drive enclosures or as SSD flash modules. The new drives will be part of Toshiba's upcoming lineup of "fast read/write SSDs" built on a 43nm manufacturing process using multi-level cell (MLC) technology.
"The solid state drive market is evolving rapidly, with higher performance drives to meet market requirements, and differentiated product families targeted for appropriate applications,” said Mr. Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Vice President of Toshiba Corporation's Semiconductor Company. "This new 43nm SSD family balances value/performance characteristics for its targeted consumer applications, through use of MLC NAND and an advanced controller architecture."
Performance for the new drives look promising, with rated read and write speeds up to 250MB/s and 200MB/s respectively.
This past year we've seen a major push by several manufacturers to move solid state drives (SSDs) into the mainstream market, but the lower pricing has often come at the expense of performance. Enter Intel, who did away with any notion of bang/buck and instead focused on lightning-fast read speeds with its X-25M SSD.
Now OCZ is getting into the high performance SSD game with the introduction of its new Vertex series. Unlike the company's existing Core series SSDs,which target average users, the Vertex is aimed squarely at enthusiasts.
"The new Vertex Series of SSD drives are a premium MLC based SSD solution that are designed for consumers that require fast, rugged, and reliable solid state storage,” commented Eugene Chang, Director of Product Management for the OCZ Technology Group. “The Vertex makes use of our newest architecture and controller design complete with 64MB of cache to offer faster transfers and superior overall system response times in a broad range of applications and games."
Write speeds have traditionally been a weak spot for MLC-based SSDs, but that doesn't appear to be the case with the Vertex drives, at least on paper. OCZ claims read and write speeds of up to 200MB/s and 160MB/s respectively. By comparison, Intel claims up to 250MB/s and 70MB/s read and write speeds for its X-25M, making the Vertex appear to be a more balanced higher performance solution.
No word yet on availability, but OCZ did say the Vertex series will come in 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, and 250GB capacities. MSRPs for the 30GB-250GB will be set at $130, $250, $470, and $870 respectively.