If solid state drives (SSDs) continue to march into the mainstream market, 2008 might very well one day be looked at as the start of the SSD era. But for that to happen, the performance numbers have to improve and users have to be convinced that the technology can be reliable on a long-term basis. Performance, which is supposed to SSD's strong point, has come under fire amid real-world benchmark comparisons, and as far as SanDisk is concerned, Vista is to blame.
Taking matters into its own hands, SanDisk has developed a new file system, ExtremeFFS, which the company claims has the potential to increase write performance by up to 100 times in SSDs over existing systems.
"To maximize random write performance, SanDisk developed the ExtremeFFS flash file management system," the company wrote in a press release. "This operates on a page-based algorithm, which means there is no fixed coupling between physical and logical location. When a sector of data is written, the SSD puts it where it is most convenient and efficient. The result is an improvement in random write performance – by up to 100 times – as well as in overall endurance."
ExtremeFFS allows NAND channels to work independently of each other, so while some might be reading data, others can be simultaneously writing. The technology also purports to "learn" user patterns and eventually localize data, which sounds a lot like advanced defragging routines. Admittedly, SanDisk senior VP and GM Rich Heye's concedes that it might not make a difference in benchmarks, but believes "it is the right thing to do for end-users."
In related news, SanDisk has also come up with a performance metric it is calling vRPM, or virtual RPM. The metric has been designed to let users know how fast a typical hard drive would need to spin to match the performance of an SSD, which would also allow for a performance comparison between SSDs.
Early batches of Dell's Inspiron Mini 9 notebooks had customers scratching their heads over what appeared to be a case of paying for a larger size solid state drive but receiving a smaller one instead. How else would you explain paying for a 16GB SSD only to find 4GB of usable space in the default shipping state?
The answer, says Dell, is a partitioning SNAFU. The confusion stemmed from Dell using a 4GB Ubuntu image for new installs regardless of the SSD size, causing some customers to "freak out" before discovering the unused and unpartitioned remaining space. The problem has since been addressed, but if you own an early model with the incorrect partition scheme, running the included system restore DVD partitions the entire drive and makes the world right again.
Intel claims that the X25E can increase the performance of servers, workstations, and storage systems by 100 times over hard drives, if measured in terms of Input/Output per Second (IOPS).
The 32GB SSD, which Intel claims can reduce energy costs by five times, boasts of 35,000 read IOPS and 3,300 write IOPS. The official press release pegged the maximum read speed at 250 MB/s and maximum write speeds at 170 MB/s respectively.
The 32GB version is out now and carries a price tag of $695. The production of the 64GB version will begin in first quarter of 2009.
SSDs are the hottest trend in storage, but how long will an SSD last? Right now,there's no industry standard for longevity or reliability. However, Cnet reports that Seagate and JEDEC are working together to establish a standards-based method for determining those factors.
Seagate isn't alone in working with JEDEC, the standards body responsible for standards in the solid-state industry. Earlier this year, X-bit Labs reported that JEDEC's JC-64.8 committee, which is responsible for developing SSD standards for embedded and removable storage, is being co-chaired by Micron Technologies and Seagate.
Micron brings its experience in memory technologies, while Seagate brings its experience in drive reliability to the endeavor. As Cnet reports:
Seagate says it can tap into the decades of expertise it has in error correction. "Some of the skills we've picked up along the way, to deal with imperfect media, has applicability to dealing with imperfect media on NAND."
Seagate's own SSDs won't hit the market until 2009, but hopefully its work with JEDEC to set standards for reliability will help make all SSDs more reliable.
So, what do you think? Will Seagate's presence on the JEDEC committee responsible for SSD standards make this latecomer to SSDs the one to trust when product finally hits the street? Or, are you ready to use SSDs right now? Join us after the jump for your chance to sound off.
Noticeably late to the solid state storage (SSD) party is Seagate, who earlier said it would offer its first SSDs sometime in 2008. As the year is quickly coming to an end, the company has now pushed its entry into 2009.
"Our history is based on rotating magnetic media," Seagate's senior manager of market development Rich Vignes told Cnet. "But as solid-state comes online, we're embracing this new media type."
Not everyone would agree that Seagate is "embracing" the increasingly popular storage medium. While several companies have made a push to get SSDs into the mainstream market, Seagate's late entry will focus solely on the enterprise market with consumer drivers to be sold "later." So far the company has not yet announced announced plans to manufacturer NAND flash memory by itself like many of it competitors are doing. Instead, Seagate has kept the focus of its flash business to hybrid (flash/HDD) hard drives.
Despite all the recent buzz surrounding solid state storage (SSD), it's the clear the technology still has a ways to go before challenging mechanical hard drives in performance superiority. The latest issue of Maximum PC (November 2008, pg. 40) pits several different SSDs against Western Digital's Velociraptor and Samsung's 1TB HD103UJ, and for the most part, the represented SSDs showed they're more suitable for notebooks than a desktop environment. And that's exactly the sector Super Talent is targeting with its newest batch of flash media.
Super Talent announced three new mini PCI-E SSDs it says have been designed specifically for the Asus Eee PC. The three drives - 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB - each boast maximum read and write speeds of 40MB/s and 15MB/s.
"It's a natural extension of our SSD product range to offer SSDs for popular netbook brands," said Super Talent director of marketing Joe James in a press release. "Solid state storage is ideal for entry level mobile PCs."
Super Talent says the new lineup will go in mass product next month with expected street pricing for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models at $53, $79, and $149 respectively.
SSD’s are hot, but how do you mount your new 2.5-inch solid state drive in a 3.5-inch bay without it looking ghettolicious?
The answer: Use a VelociRaptor’s extruded aluminum shell with Intel’s wicked fast SSD. The result is one a combination even better than peanut butter and chocolate if we may so say our selves.
Does it make sense to do this with a live VelociRaptor? Probably not, but we just happened to have a dead unit and rather than toss it in the garbage, we shucked out the dead drive by removing the four Torqx screws and mounted the Intel X25-M in its place. You can actually do this with a live VelociRaptor but you’ll immediately void the warranty on the drive. Does an SSD need all that aluminum to keep it cool? The answer is no, but it sure looks cool, right?
Super Talent continues to push its presence in the SSD market whether you're ready to invest in the technology or not. Earlier this month the company put the focus on the higher end by launching the MLC-based MasterDrive OX series with read and write speeds of 150MB/sec and 100MB/sec respectively. Price points ranging from $149 for the 32GB model to $419 for a 128GB drive means the drives aren't likely to attract many budget minded consumers, but Super Talent's new MasterDrive LX line might.
These new drives will set its sights squarely on those tempted by SSD technology but without the big bucks for higher end models. Lower prices comes at the expense of performance, however, and the MasterDrive LX 64GB and 128GB drop the read and write speeds to 100MB/sec and 40MB/sec.
"The MasterDrive LX is our most cost-effective SSD yet. However, we've made no compromises in quality and reliability," said Super Talent director of marketing Joe James.
Good thing too, because the new drives will only carry a 1-year warranty. Then again, if Samsung's latest PR stunt is any indication (check it out here), you have nothing to worry about anyway.
MSRP has been set to $179 for the 64GB and $299 for the 128GB.
The high density NAND-flash-based SSD boasts a maximum read speed of 120MB/sec and maximum write speed of 70MB/sec. On the other hand, the small-sized Flash Modules, which support 8GB, 16 GB and 32 GB densities, are claimed to be capable of a maximum read speed of 80MB/sec and maximum write speed of 50MB/sec. Both drives utilize the SATA-2 interface.
Let us see if Toshiba can pleasantly surprise everyone with cheaper than expected prices.
While SSDs are getting plenty of attention from us (and everyone else) these days, it's way too early to shovel the dirt over the classic spinning-disk hard disk drive technology, eWeeksuggests. You already know a couple of reasons: capacity and price per GB.
However, even if you can afford to give up some storage capaciy and a lot more cash, there are other reasons to think twice before turning your existing hard disk drive into a paperweight. At last week's DiskCon 2008 storage conference, experts cited by eWeek pointed out that NAND flash memory, the most common type of flash memory in use today, drops in performance with use, and that data retention is much shorter than with traditional disk drives.
So who's really excited about SSDs? Corporate data centers. In one case study described at DiskCon, a data center replaced hard disks with SSDs. The installation used one SSD for read, the other for write, and realized a 10x improvement in read/write speed and 5x less power consumption.
So, how do you feel about SSDs? Are you ready to pony up the extra dough and trade off some capacity to give SSDs a try today, or are you waiting until SSDs' price per GB, capacity and long-term behavior more closely mirror what hard disks provide today? See us after the jump for your chance to put in your feedback.