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2009: The year to buy your SSD

Posted on 18th Jun 2009 at 12:21 by Richard Swinburne with 14 comments

Richard Swinburne
For those who haven't already grabbed one and are still wondering if now is the time, I think I can say that yes, the time is now: SSDs are becoming the predominant boot drive for enthusiasts with a bit of spare cash.

Don't just take the big sustained read/write values at face, it's actually in day-to-day usability of SSDs that really make the difference: click as fast as you can on Word or FireFox and they'll open at the rate your finger moves. It's akin to having a fresh install every time you turn on your PC - everything just loads.

Prices are dropping all the time and while the cache supported Indilinx or Samsung SSDs are clearly the premium products - balancing top performance with anti-stutter cache and zeroed response times - even the more affordable Samsung (or Corsair) 64GB MLC SSDs, or even the dual JMicron OCZ Apex, or G.Skill Titan afford most of the benefits.

There are downsides, of course - limited capacity will put off some, especially those who never uninstall a game or work with extremely large files, but pairing an SSD with a cheap 1TB disk for storage works well.

Others have citied the £1-per-GB rule and I can only tell these people they are missing out on a notably faster experience - especially if they're the type to drop a few hundred on a new graphics card or CPU.

Some are worried about the extremely short shelf life of 3-6 months of SSDs, with prices dropping all the time and new technology appearing regularly. Why upgrade now when you can wait?... and wait... and wait?

The lifespan and reliability of an SSD is yet to be fully determined, too - while we have a quoted failure rate of 5+ years thanks to clever write algorithms, will this actually pan out or will some unforeseen usage scenarios have a greater toll than others? Then again, considering the relentless progression, upgrades will become consistent - but what about the resell value? How do you factor wear into the equation?

Finally, the JMicron 612 chipset will be the deal breaker in the short term. Despite the largely negative press to the original JMicron chipsets without cache, the new 612 with cache will offer a whole world of possibilities because unlike Indilinx and Samsung, JMicron can be paired with any NAND flash (not just Samsung) and any DDR2 cache.

This choice could potentially open up a whole world of possibilities as companies fight to offer the best price:performance ratio, but it could also mean that the SSD market starts to look like the memory one, with companies constantly rejigging the internals with different NAND Flash and cache, possibly affecting performance, in order to meet market demands for price competitiveness.

With JMicron 612 drives scheduled to drop late July, it'll be an interesting Q3-Q4, but even if you do upgrade now, I still maintain it's worthwhile investment because it's rare to have that "notable difference" feeling.

14 Comments

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Silver51 18th June 2009, 12:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
With JMicron 612 drives scheduled to drop late July, it'll be an interesting Q3-Q4, but even if you do upgrade now, I still maintain it's worthwhile investment because it's rare to have that "notable difference" feeling...

Ordered an OCZ Vertex 120Gb model last night to replace my Core II. Hopefully there'll be less stuttering as the Core II seems to be getting steadily worse over time. :/
Jamie 18th June 2009, 14:04 Quote
I think it's still far too early to adopt the solid state tech in workstations.
Silver51 18th June 2009, 14:13 Quote
I'd actually be genuinely interested to know why.

TBH, the original reason I went SSD was to avoid drive oscillation noise. The system isn't totally silent, but it's quiet enough for hdd noise to be annoying.
kenco_uk 18th June 2009, 14:20 Quote
I think that when it nears at least 10% of the available bandwidth, then's the time to shift to ssd. It's getting near and shouldn't be too far off. 300MB/s read and write would be unreal. Then there's sata3 (6GB/s) on the horizon :)

As noted in the article, the problem with J-Micron based ssd's is the fact that they have previously had either no or micro amounts of cache, which has caused massive stuttering in benchmarks. The 612 chip sounds like it'll solve this issue and bring the speeds up to Indilinx/Samsung levels, then. Wonderful.
WildThing 18th June 2009, 18:59 Quote
I was thinking about getting one when I next upgrade, probably October (birthday time! :)). Although Win7 is due for September right? So I might be persuaded to upgrade early if the price is right. As always, I will await Bit-Tech's advice nearer the time. ;)
pimonserry 18th June 2009, 19:29 Quote
I'd grab a Corsair P256... if it wasn't 256, but was 512GB instead. Never mind!
(Not to mention price. I'll probably get an SSD with Win7 around Christmas, when prices should be down.)
naokaji 18th June 2009, 19:57 Quote
Let me put it this way:

I love my SSD

I did not really believe in the whole hype surrounding them at first, but eventually gave in and got one, after about 1.5 month of every day usage I simply can't imagine going back to mechanical drives (have to admit though, I still use them for storage).
raGe82 18th June 2009, 20:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildThing
I was thinking about getting one when I next upgrade, probably October (birthday time! :)). Although Win7 is due for September right?
I think that this is October 22nd, so this could be your chance :)
Skiddywinks 18th June 2009, 23:05 Quote
I was planning on getting one towards the end of Summer, but likely won't be able to afford it.

Even if I could, though, I will likely wait. The new JMicron controller has really interested me. I am very curious to see whether they have pulled it back. What is the ETA on them arriving in purchasable SSDs? Anyone know?

It is looking like Christmas time when I will take the plunge. Not only does that give them a fair chunk of time to mature and decrease in price, hopefully the holiday season will see some seriously good offers.
wuyanxu 19th June 2009, 11:45 Quote
ah, just decided to talk myself out of buying SSD in the hardware thread. and you write this article?

should i buy one? especially the mentioned Samsung 64GB MLC.
Xtrafresh 19th June 2009, 12:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by article
the dual JMicron OCZ Apex, Agility or G.Skill Titan afford most of the benefits.
If i'm not mistaken, the Agility is also an Indilinx drive, only with slower memory.

Anyway, i just snagged myself a Samsung SLC 64GB SSD, and i'm going to give it a spin testing it tonight. I don't even care anymore if it's really that fast, this thing looks so uber-sexy, it's the dogs dangly bits!
Bindibadgi 19th June 2009, 13:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xtrafresh
If i'm not mistaken, the Agility is also an Indilinx drive, only with slower memory.

Yea I forgot to change that! :o
Xtrafresh 19th June 2009, 15:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bindibadgi
Yea I forgot to change that! :o
Luckily there are always the resident pesky know-it-all forum geeks! Glad to be of service
yakyb 22nd June 2009, 19:43 Quote
to be honest i would pick one up at £1 / GB but they have not reached that level yet

and my first job is to build a new home server as the old one is running seriously low on space
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