Opening Up The Bottleneck

Opening Up The Bottleneck

Opening Up The Bottleneck

Performance advancements in storage have been pretty stale over the years. Drives continue to increase in capacity, but not so much in speed.  Current HDDs can be seen as simply an evolution of drives from 20 years ago. With the introduction of solid state drives (SSDs) we are beginning to see a real advancement in the biggest bottleneck of modern PCs. 

SSDs are more energy efficient, reliable, dissipate less heat, and have virtually no seek time when compared to their mechanical counterparts (< 0.01 milliseconds for SSD vs ~8 milliseconds for HDD). With no moving parts, SSDs are able to withstand considerable shock and vibration, as well as being less prone to failure. From a performance stand point, my brief experience with these drives has exposed me to the quickest boot into Windows I have ever witnessed. Granted, read/write speeds of flash-based drives lag considerably behind your typical hard disk drives (33MB read/30MB write vs. 50MB read/60MB write).

In the day of DDR3 memory and multi-core processors, it is easy to overlook advancements in storage devices. But I believe that these drives have great potential. The sizes will continue to increase, the prices will begin to fall, read/write speeds will improve, and over the next few years traditional HDDs will begin to be phased out. In regards to getting one at this point in its life cycle, I have to quote one of the greatest American movies of my life time: “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up” (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).

Comments (2)

  1. Chris
    October 11, 2009

    This article is rather old, and other information on your site recommends using only SLC flash memory for OS installations. Considering improvements in Win7 with respect to SSDs (cf: http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/2009/05/05/support-and-q-a-for-solid-state-drives-and.aspx) and availability of commercial grade SLC SSDs, does that change your advice with respect to use in consumer Win7 installations?

  2. Tony Fiset
    tony f.
    October 15, 2009

    Hi Chris,

    Yes, this article is on the old side indeed. As a general rule for our project customers who require high reliability and longevity, we will still continue to urge them to use SLC-based SSDs. For private consumer use, I believe Win7 will make MLC a much more viable option. The real problem with MLC for consumers in the past was XP constantly writing to the page file. Assuming Win7 really does what Microsoft says it will, this issue should be nullified. We have begun to offer MLC-based SSDs in the last few months, and I expect that this will continue to expand as Win7 adoption increases and SSD prices continue to decrease. Personally, I’ll probably wait for Anand’s analysis before throwing an SSD in my own Win7 computer.

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