SSD Update

I’ve been running on the SSD I purchased (see I Hate Waiting Ten Milliseconds) for a month now.  You might be wondering what I think and whether anything has changed in the market since I made the jump.  Amazingly, I’ll cover both topics now!

The 1 Month Milestone

Short version: I’m very pleased.  By making this one change, it feels like a decade of technology improvements has gone by.  Imagine booting Windows 95 on today’s hardware.  It almost feels like I’m booting Windows 7 on hardware from 2019.  The delays that I see now are very clearly waiting for the CPU.  I’m now itching to upgrade my laptop to the latest and greatest CPU.  I’ll (try to) wait for the Core i7 mobile version.  It’s not due out until 2H 2009.

When I pulled the trigger, I knew the price tag would hurt.  I tempered that with how much faster I knew my system would be.  I’ve virtually forgotten the pain of the purchase price because I’ve been so happy with it.  It’s always odd, however, to hold such a small yet expensive item in the palm of your hand.  It reminds me of the $600 I spent on the 16 MB of RAM I got for OS/2 Warp 3.

Today’s SSD Market

If you want to get your hands dirty and read a 30-page article on SSD, I recommend reading AnandTech’s article.  You’ll get a feel for the progress the market is making as well as the struggle the consumers and the vendors are having.  There’s also an update.  Here’s what I’ve taken away from those articles:

  • The X25-M would probably have been just fine.  While writes are slower on the X25-M than the writes on the X25-E that I purchased, it’s still far better than a hard drive
  • MLC drives lose some percentage of their write performance after use.  The X25-M drops to 60% of it’s original write performance (which is comparitively very good).
  • JMicron-based (JMF602A and JMF602B) drives still suffer horribly
  • The difference between latency and bandwidth: think speed limit (latency) versus number of lanes (bandwidth).  For a typical desktop, latency is far more important than bandwidth
  • Enter the OCZ Vertex — a different controller (Indilinx) and some back-n-forth between OCZ and Anandtech  resulted in a viable drive.  Why?  Anandtech pushed for better latency rather than bandwidth.  The new firmware resulted in a drive with lower bandwidth (MB/s) specs, but a much more consistent stutter-free experience
  • Most recently, Vertex published a new firmware revision (1275) that resulted in a 3x improvement on random write performance (both bandwidth and latency).  Sequential writes also enjoyed a huge performance boost.

While the Vertex is new and Indilinx is new, it’s looking pretty good so far.  The 250 GB version is available on Newegg for $725.  A properly performing SSD has broken through the ~200 GB barrier and as such, two of my good friends made the jump.  They’ll be receiving theirs this coming week.  I’ll be sure to check it out 🙂

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