We've longed bemoaned the real-world write performance of most SSDs, which often falls short of the much speedier read speeds. Even worse, surmises HotHardware, is the potential for an SSD's write performance to degrade over time.
"The flash memory used on today's SSDs is comprised of cells that usually contain 4KB pages that are arranged in blocks of 512KB," writes HotHardware. "When a cell is unused, data can be written to it relatively quickly. But if a cell already contains some data -- no matter how little, even if it fills only a single page in the block -- the entire block must be re-written. That means, whatever data is already present in the block must be read, then it must be combined or replaced, etc., with the new additional data, and the entire block is then re-written."
The good news is most manufacturers are attacking the problem head on via firmware. One such example is OCZ's implementation of the Indilinx firmware, which the company plans to include on all Vertex series drives. When the drives are idle, Indilinx and other similar SSD firmware sweep through an SSD's cells looking for and removing so-called "garbage data."
HotHardware got its hands on one of OCZ's new Vertex drives outfitted with the Indilinx firmware and the results are pretty surprising. After "dirtying" the drive with chunks of data, performance degradation became apparent while running the ATTO Disk Benchmark. But after letting the drive sit idle for 5 minutes, performance numbers were nearly restored to new condition.
It’s been a long time since TDK had bragging rights in the storage wars, but a new breakthrough promises to put them back on top. According to the companies recently released roadmap, a 3.5 inch 2.5TB drive design is currently being tested which will feature a new 640GB platter. This would allow TDK to leapfrog Seagate, Hitachi and even Western Digital who are still working with 500GB platters.
Mass production is currently planned for November of this year and will most likely result in drives hitting the street on or around late January or early February 2010. TDK is also investing heavily in the production and testing of a new 320GB platter for 2.5 inch drives which will result in low power, high performance 640GB notebook drives around the same period next year.
Sure this is a far cry from the 5TB Hitachi was promising for 2010, but TDK can still be king for a day right?
Hitachi can't lay claim as the first manufacturer to develop a 2TB hard drive -- that distinction belongs to Western Digital -- but it is the first one to do so with a 7200RPM spindle speed, besting the spindle speeds found on 2TB drives from both WD and Seagate.
"The new Deskstar 7K2000 reflects our ongoing commitment to provide customer, channel partners, and OEMs with proven, reliable solutions for enabling desktop computers, gaming systems, workstations, and desktop RAID arrays," said Brendan Collins, vice president of marketing, Hitachi GST.
Hitachi's fourth generation Deskstar crams 2TB onto a five-platter design "with relaxed bit density" and perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology. As would be expected in a modern, high performance drive, the 7K2000 boasts 32MB of cache and a 3Gb/s SATA interface.
Active Media Products, makers of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Penguin and Panda USB drives, has added to its Penguin line with a bootable Linux USB (BLU) drive that the company says is compatible with Windows 7.
"These bootable Linux USB drives are handy for users who need flexibility in an OS, and will be an invaluable tool for disaster recovery and system maintenance," Active Media stated in a press release.
Designed in the likeness of an emperor penguin with "exacting detail," the new drives come in 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB capacities, each one pre-loaded with the full installation of Ubuntu Linux 9.0.4., which occupies about 700MB of space.
The drives are available now ranging in price from $13 (1GB) to $44 (16GB), with 5 percent of the retail price donated to World Wildlife Fund.
After being the first to release a 1TB desktop hard drive, Western Digital is at it again with the release of the first 1TB 2.5-inch mobile hard drive.
The drive, known as the Scorpio Blue 1TB, will be accompanied by a smaller 750GB brother as well. These are both already shipping to retailers, and will run you for $189.99 (750GB) and $249.99 (1TB).
Now, it should be noted that this isn’t truly the first drive of this size, given that pureSilicion released a 1TB SSD of this form factor, but kudos to WD on releasing the first 1TB HDD measuring only 2.5-inches.
Solid state drives continue to go through growing pains, and not even Intel can avoid having to beat back bugs in this relatively new market. After some customers reported slowdowns following extended use with the first generation of X25-M SSDs, Intel pushed out a firmware update to fix the problem. Now it appears the company's new 34nm X25-M G2 SSDs are also in need of a firmware update, but for a different problem.
According to OEM system builder Puget Systems, a defect exists in the new drives which causes data corruption if a password is set on the drive in the system BIOS and then is changed or disabled later.
"There was a lot of confusion, but it was clear that something was wrong with these first units - enough so that Newegg and other online vendors had also pulled them entirely from their sites," Puget wrote in a blog. "We too stopped listing them, and began contacting our customers who were expecting us to ship them out this afternoon."
Puget says Intel was able to work out a firmware fix for the problem rather than rework the drives, however the updated firmware won't be available for another two weeks. In the meantime, Intel has stopped shipping the new drives until the fix is fully implemented.
We've seen some third-party USB makers toy with adding movies to USB sticks -- PNY being the first by adding Ghostbusters to a 2GB USB thumb drive -- and now Disney is looking to do the same thing, only with microSD cards.
According to news site TGDaily, Panasonic and Disney have inked a deal to distribute Disney movies on microSD cards, the first of which will be the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy this November. Looking longer term, Disney plans to release future titles on DVD and microSD at the same time.
Buyers will be able to view the movies on car navigation systems, mobile phones, and other portable media players with a microSD card slot, as well as some existing Panasonic TV sets that come with card readers already built in.
There are a couple of caveats, however. First, the card/movie bundles will only be available in Japan, at least initially. And secondly, the $53 price tag and included copy protection may scare off some potential customers.
Much to the delight of power users who avoided the temptation of spending too much for too little capacity in Intel's first-generation X25-M solid state drives, the chip maker earlier this week announced a second generation of SSDs with a die shrink (34nm down from 50nm) and reduced pricing. Even better, Intel's latest pricing has at least one competitor reevaluating its own price points.
That competitor is OCZ, who said it plans to reduce prices on its Vertex, Agility, and Colossus SSD lines. Pricing for Intel's 80GB and 160GB X25-M (34nm) check in at $2.81 and $2.75 per GB respectively, while all but one of OCZ's nine drives receiving a price cut will undercut Intel by at least a few cents per GB, with the 128GB Agility expected to cost $2.11 per GB.
While OCZ is so far the only manufacturer to announce price drops, don't be surprised to see other third-party SSD makers forced to do the same as a result of Intel's comparatively aggressively pricing strategy.
Look for OCZ's price cuts to go into effect in the coming weeks.
Thanks to the recent move to 34-nanometer manufacturing, Intel has been able to create a new series of SSDs, which will (eventually) sport higher capacities, and reduce costs. The new price for the 80GB X25-M drive is $225 (a 60 percent decrease from the $595 price tag a year ago). The 160GB version is down to $440, which is down from its introductory price of $945.
Though, we’ll have to wait a bit for higher capacities. According to Intel’s marketing manager for the NAND Products Group, Troy Winslow, “What we decided to do is split 34-nanometer into a two-step process.” The first step will be to cost-reduce existing 80GB and 160GB drives. “And what we'll do later--and it's not even going to be this year but first half of next year--we will introduce, also on 34 nanometer, a performance enhancement and a doubling of the capacity.”
So what does all this mean? Simply, we won’t see drives over 300GB until next year. Still though, the price cuts are very welcome.
For those of you that are looking to carry around every piece of information that you might ever need (and most of your family photos) around with you in your pocket, Kingston has got the thumb drive for you.
With the recent introduction of their 256GB thumb drive, you’ll be able to take a plethora of files around with you everywhere you go. The drive itself packs a transfer speed of up to 20MB/sec and a read speed of 10MB/sec. And, if you’re using Vista, it also supports Windows ReadyBoost.
Though, this beast is only available in Europe and the UK for a whopping £565.67 ($931.60) upon custom order.