Monday, February 14, 2011

Solid state disks

I've long thought that the hard disk was perhaps the biggest bottle neck for speed in a personal computer. And it does seem that the lack of one, replaced by solid state memory in the iPad and MacBook Air is responsible for the high responsiveness of those systems, for they are much faster than their modest RAM and processors would indicate normally.

And now solid state drives are coming down in price, so... the issue is that that I can't fit all my files in a drive of less than 1TB or preferably 1.5TB or larger, and I'm not keen on splitting them up, it would complicate admin and backup procedures so... I'm still thinking about it.


Dave said...

Not tried it myself, but at present one way to do it is to have a smallish SSD (under 250Gb) and load the OS, swap & programmes on that, then use normal fast HD for your files. If you want more speed and your system supports it try running 2 HD in raid 0 striping but note that it doesn't give any more secirity.

ttl said...

I've had an SSD as the system disk of my Mac Mini for the last six months now, and I'm very happy with it.

There are certain things you need to do on Mac OS to reduce wear of the disk, such as disable file access time updating, etc. But after that it does work very well.

I've never had a computer this fast. It is on class of its own.

Philocalist said...

Been watching these for a while, but the prices are still at a level where any perceived benefit is far outweighed by even the most modest degree of financial common-sense: last time I sniffed around they wanted me to part with well in excess of £300 for a 240GB drive ... compared to being able to source a 2TB drive from a major manufacturer for less than a third of this price.
Take into account other potential bottlenecks within most computers, and its still a bit of a no-brainer really, particularly for anyone who needs large amounts of storage.

Jeff R. said...

For some months now I've had a twin-drive HP laptop with a SSD (128Gb) for the main system drive, and a 640Gb for the data.

Work great!

Photoshop CS4 loads from scratch in 4.5 secs. if closed, it will then reload in 1.5 secs. I'm happy.

There's little advantage to be gained from loading large data files on a SSD. It excels when dealing with lots of random access - such as dealing with DLL libraries for an app.

(1) SSD for programs,
(2) conventional huge magnetic drives for data.

I couldn't be happier with my setup.

eolake said...

"There's little advantage to be gained from loading large data files on a SSD. It excels when dealing with lots of random access"


Thanks, Jeff and you others.

ttl said...

There's little advantage to be gained from loading large data files on a SSD.

If large means 100MB and up, then in terms of speed that is true. But there are other advantages for files of any size: SSD is more reliable, consumes less power, and is silent.

So even for large files, say, full length films, SSD makes a difference.

Jeff R. said...

Au contraire!

I would differ on all of your points.

Reliability? Anecdotally I would suggest the reverse. SSDs may have no moving parts, but reliability actually is an issue with them.

Power Consumption? I have no data, but I suggest that for the short active time, power use is irrelevant.

Silent? Can you hear a 2.5" disk running? Ye Gods! You must have super-hearing! Out in the open I can barely hear one. Encased in the laptop - not a chance.

...and finally - playing full-length films is an excellent example of where a SSD serves no purpose and has no advantage whatsoever. A HDD can effortlessly keep up with a video with no effort - or are you referring to copying said file? In that case it's a once only (who cares?) operation.

No - SSDs are brilliant when used appropriately. So are HDDs. SSDs are a waste of resources for storage which is essentially static. They will only become viable for such use when they are price-competitive, which they are definitely not.

Oh, and BTW - SSDs are not all that fast compared to HDDs in bench tests. Do a Google search. The actual advantages are less than you would imagine - unless one is referring to random access with lots of seeks.

SSD for programs;
HDD for data.

The only way to go (until 1TB SSDs cost $200).

Kentg said...

- unless one is referring to random access with lots of seeks.
I guess one should defrag their disks.

Jeff R. said...

Different issue.
A 100% contiguous, de-fragged disk will still require random access and many seeks when running program code; opposed to loading large data files.

Defrag got nuffink to do with what I'm arguing.