SSD Solid State Drives - Pros and cons - NEW article!

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SSD Solid State Drives - Pros and cons - NEW article!

Postby Gordon Laing » Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:47 pm

2011 UPDATE! New What's the smallest SSD you can get away with?

I wanted to start a sticky thread about SSDs as these are undoubtedly growing in popularity. If you're using one, please post your experiences. We all know they're quick and quiet (with low power consumption too) but suffer from higher cost, lower capacity and shorter lifespan than traditional hard disks, but how does this translate into real-life situations?

Have you upgraded to an SSD and found it performs much faster, or much the same as a hard disk? What applications really benefit and which won't? Have you found the smaller capacity restrictive, or actually adequate for booting and application drives? Have you experienced any performance or lifespan issues?

Please tell us more!
Last edited by Gordon Laing on Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Citruspers » Sun Jan 10, 2010 10:58 pm

I've been considering one of the newer intel SSD's for my laptop, but currently my camera gear takes the priority here, as well as a new screen that is more color neutral.
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Postby Cam-I-Am » Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:56 pm

I don't use SSDs yet in the strict sense of the word although in a way I do as part of my "storage strategy". I use flash cards in a card reader for watching videos for instance. Currently mainly an 8GB SDHC card. I copy video files to this card and watch them from that card to save wear and tear on my hard drives. It takes only a few minutes to copy many hours of video to the flash card while watching these videos from the hard drive will require many hours of (extra) hard drive activity. I use my 1TB drives for "long term background storage" and they make as few hours as possible. Only when I want to backup something or want to free up space on the internal 640GB RAID 1 array or want to retrieve something from it I switch a 1TB drive on, make backups, move files from the internal drives to it and copy files from it to internal drives and/or the 8GB flash card. Then it gets switched off again.

Since the only way you can back up a 1TB drive is to another 1TB drive I use few operating hours as a way to decrease the chances of data loss due to a failing hard drive.

Although SSD development is interesting I don't have a great need for them yet. There are strategies to decrease your 'need for speed' that an SSD might satisfy. At least in a desktop. For laptops it's different.

Talking about speed.... If you haven't seen this video about how you can turn 24 SSDs into a RAID array giving 2GB/sec :shock: throughput you should definitely take a look.

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Postby frs69 » Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:52 pm

Cam-I-Am wrote:I use flash cards in a card reader for watching videos for instance. Currently mainly an 8GB SDHC card. I copy video files to this card and watch them from that card to save wear and tear on my hard drives.

I'll try that :wink:

Postby Citruspers » Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:01 pm

You know a flash drive is a lot more prone to wear and tear than a harddrive, right?

Also, sticking a lot of SSD's in RAID-0 isn't really beneficial right now since most motherboards peak at 2 GB/s, equaling about 2,3 SSD's.

A motherboard with a dedicated RAID controller and a couple of raptors should be a lot faster in sequential writes and reads, also, where SSD still wins in random access times.
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Postby Bob Andersson » Tue Jan 12, 2010 5:29 pm

Wear and tear on flash drives used to watch videos or stream music isn't going to be an issue as the memory cells will only be written to infrequently.

I use an SSD as the boot drive in my main PC and I'm not convinced that it's noticeably faster than my RAID 10 array of conventional HDDs and it certainly took more trouble to set up as I moved most of the User/AppData folders across to the RAID 10 array which provides my D: drive. That said, if cost wasn't a factor then I'd certainly have no problem using an SSD again but I can think of much better ways to spend a limited budget.

The only exception would be a Media PC in a situation where the media files can be stored in another room and accessed via Ethernet. I briefly tried this in my own Media PC and the boot time was spectacularly good compared to the HDD which eventually replaced it and, of course, the only noise was from a few fans. Unfortunately the SSD in question was a very early example and pure garbage as it would regularly corrupt data written to it. My next Media PC build won't be for a year or two but it will definitely use an SSD now that the technology has matured.

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Postby Gregory.Rotter » Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:05 pm

Until they have the trim tool, or other reconditioning tool 100% ready, where the drive reconditions itself, or etc, and the prices stabilize, I won't be buying into this. Sure it's a much more responsive system, but this is one bit of tech I won't be adopting early.

Postby Gordon Laing » Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:06 pm

The existing Serial ATA II interface is proving to be a bottleneck for SSDs right now, and also prevents much if any benefit to striping them in RAID. I hope we'll see more Serial ATA III controllers and drives this year - they're still quite rare.

An interesting solution for those with deep pockets (or enterprise servers) is an SSD which bypasses the Serial ATA interface and communicates directly through PCI Express. OCZ has a selection of PCI-E SSDs which deliver blinding speeds, but at equally blinding prices. ... te_drives/

For example: ... xpress_ssd

I'd love a couple of these in my PC - one for booting and the other as a scratch disk!
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Postby popo » Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:21 pm

I have a SSD in a netbook, but as an early generation I don't consider it comparable to modern SSDs.

The SATA interface is only a limit for single drives. RAID arrays are limited by the bus the controller sits on. I suspect when typical onboard SATA/RAID controllers were designed, it was not foreseen that individual drives would push the bandwidth so hard in itself.

As discussed in my win7 box building thread, I was on the edge of going SSD. I had decided on the Intel G2, and the main reason that stopped me was that at the time you simply couldn't buy them! No one had stock. Too much demand, not enough supply. As such, they're now pushed out to my next PC whatever that may be.
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Postby fudge » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:57 am

I have just moved from running Windows with a 320Gb Seagate SATAII to one where i now use an 80 Gb Intel X25-M

Disk size was never an issue for me as i always had all data on other internal drives.

To compare the two systems, its not a perfect apple to apple comparison as the Seagate ran Win 7 RC (64Bit) while the Intel has the actual release version (64 bit). Also the RC version had a fair few programs cluttering it up and maybe slowing it down.

Overall the new drive feels much snappier (arent all new installations anyway?). In terms of start up time its faster but no "instant on".

It takes about 18 seconds to clear all the Bios screens etc to the first point you get the "Starting Windows" screen in both systems as you might expect. Thereafter the first "Welcome" comes up in a total elapsed time of 32 sec (old drive 45s), first sign of a desktop in 41secs (old 59 s) and usable system in 46 s (old 1m:05s).
I'll dig out the old Windows Experience scores - the new drive is 7.5 for disk speed which from memory is higher.

I guess in the next few days i will gather more impressions as to the general speed improvements (or not) to the system - we'll see.
Overall now as i said above, it does feel faster tho not as fast as i was lead to believe by Leo Laporte et al, so i am OK with it. A relatively expensive upgrade i would say, though probably cheaper in than a mobo/processor/ram change - probably not a good use of cash but what the heck.

Hope this is of interest to others out there.
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Postby DD_nVidia » Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:36 pm

I find it funny when people get so excited about boot up time on SSD's thats usually the last thing on my mind haha, my desktop is never off, and my laptop is usually in sleep mode until it needs a restart.

I'm hoping to trade my 2 x 15,500RPM 74GB RAID 0 setup for a 128 or 256GB SSD in the next 12 months although I'm not expecting to see any dramatic increase in speed.

I see the SSD's as a double pronged thing. Firstly we get our OS and apps OFF slower hard drives so that them and the pagefile is on a much faster drive and one with near instant seek times. As a result of this it also helps teach people who may just be complete ignorant to the fact of data separation, of which i am a HUGE fan.

Secondly, once the storage densities get up there then speed for editing will be greatly increased. The speed mixed with the lack of random seek time, means that they are in ram instantaneously so the CPU (or GPU if they get it rendering RAW, JPG, TIFFs etc on windows) is the thing that has to pull its weight again. Also great for large databases that are running on 15,000 or 17,000RPM drives to get the storage densities via RAID 5 or 6 but also the speed they give plus lowered seek time of the higher RPM drives and reasonably dense platters (600GB 17,000RPM Drives are the highest I've read about)

So when you think of a 2TB drive able to transfer at over 700MB/s with instant random seeking for people like facebook, flickr or any other social network with MASSES of files that are getting millions of requests.

I'm excited about everything going SSD in the next 5 or so years.
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Postby DP-PARIS » Fri Feb 05, 2010 9:45 am

I just finished upgrading my old PC earlier in the week. Part of it is an intel 160gb SSD drive. The system boots very quickly as expected, however the thing I like the most is how responsive and quick it feels to start programs when installed on this drive. LR3 starts in about 1 second or less.

The only problem I have with the drive is the price per GB. I wish I could have justified buying a larger drive, but at the current prices, I had to stop myself.

I will however wait for the prices to come down and buy a couple of 512 drives I think, to replace the old and slow HDDs I use for storage.
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Postby Solok » Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:59 pm

Here's what I'm going to do (95% certain).

I'll install an Intel X-25 80GB SSD to house Windows/CS4/Lightroom/Team Fortress 2 and a couple of other things. When importing photos into LR, I'll import them to the SSD, so that when LR and CS4 wants to access the images, everything will run smoothly and quickly. When I'm done editing the pics, I'll simply move them to a 1TB Samsung F3 drive, for storage. When I'm simply storing the images, I won't need the speed from the SSD, so I'll save a lot of disk space by doing it this way.

Any comments? Am I missing something, or does this sound like a good idea to you folks?
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Postby fudge » Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:06 pm

Go for it - if you can afford it then you will not regret it. With an SSD for more than a month now i remain impressed. Its one of those things you cannot go back to old tech. i hear my new work laptop will have an SSD - great.
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Postby Lorride » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:53 pm

Running an 80GB Intel G2 SSD for some time now, fast and does not deteriorate(Trim), however small and expensive.

If you can afford it got for it. =)
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