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Solid-state disk capacities set to soar

Solid-state disk capacities set to soar

STEC Mach8 MLC SSDs now available in 512GB sizes.

American memory manufacturer STEC claims to have the answer to capacity problems, with a novel new controller which is capable of speeds similar to single-level cell memory in a high-capacity multi-level cell (MLC) device.

This allows the size of the SSD to increase without sacrificing speed. The initial product range, the Mach-8 MLC, will be available in sizes from 32GB to a whopping 512GB at half the cost of current SSDs.

Whilst the performance isn't quite on a par with the latest traditional drives, with a claimed 90MB/s read and 60MB/s write, the technology certainly seems to be heading in the right direction. I certainly wouldn't mind a 32GB unit to replace the ageing 20GB drive in my laptop, providing the price per gigabyte isn't too far away from traditional disks. With STEC claiming that its parts will cost OEMs around half that of existing solutions, there's certainly room for prices to fall.

Solid-state disks, for those who are unaware, are the latest innovation in laptop computing. Taking the place of a traditional magnetic hard-disk an SSD has no moving parts, making it ideal for the harsh treatment a notebook drive is likely to get and also helping to prolong battery life. The only downside is the capacity: although it's possible to buy 32GB SSDs at the moment they're exceedingly expensive, and will set you back much more than a 250GB mechanical drive.

Tempted to replace the 4GB drive in your Eee PC with a 512GB whopper (and thus doubling the value of your Eee -- Ed)? Thinking about making a solid-state RAID array? Let us know in the forums.

25 Comments

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Almightyrastus 5th December 2007, 12:40 Quote
Any word on expected lifetime for these drives?
Woodstock 5th December 2007, 12:42 Quote
i wouldnt say no to something close to 80gb
p3n 5th December 2007, 12:57 Quote
mmm solid state passive cooled PC, just need to remove sound from CD/DVDs now :)

btw ed needs to learn vb tags :p
airchie 5th December 2007, 13:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Almightyrastus
Any word on expected lifetime for these drives?
MTBF is quoted at 2,800,000 hours. :)

Just as well I can't find a stockist of the Samsung 64GB SSD. :D

All I need now is a stockist of one of these solutions so I can buy one. :)
cjoyce1980 5th December 2007, 13:06 Quote
just let me know when these bad boys are going to hit the shops bit-tech
TreeDude 5th December 2007, 13:16 Quote
SSDs already exceed normal drives in their life span. Current SSDs have a MTBF of 1,000,000hrs.

As soon as high capacities get cheaper we are going so see nothing but speed increases, since they are not mechanically limited like HDs. I get the feeling as soon as I go to buy one they will release a new one that is the same price but 30% faster or something. It will be interesting to see how fast they progress once they are selling well.

As soon as I can get a 32gb with 100+MB read for less that $100 I'm gonna jump on it.
yakyb 5th December 2007, 13:18 Quote
i would a 32gb drive to throw my games on as read speeds far exceed traditional drives load time should be drastically reduced


any chance of one of these before february?
Silver51 5th December 2007, 14:12 Quote
I'd love to replace all drives in my machine with SSDs, just to remove hdd oscillation noise. The problem with current SSDs is their price, they're stupidly expensive at the moment.
[USRF]Obiwan 5th December 2007, 14:14 Quote
As long as: 500Gb-HD $ < 500Gb-SSD $

It is not going to be attractive to consumers.

But it is another story when: 500GB-HD $ <= 500Gb-SSD $

On the other hand a SSD is way better then anything a hd is made off:
No moving parts
Less heat
No magnetic influences
No wear
Less parts
Less power consumption
Larger live-span estimate
Cheaper in production
Environment friendlier then HD's
Less raw resources needed
Faster access times
Less space needed
Space to grow in memory/storage sizes
Space to read faster to/from memory

It really is a win/win situation. All it needs is to get into the consumer market and cheaper.
Redbeaver 5th December 2007, 14:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF
Obiwan]As long as: 500Gb-HD $ < 500Gb-SSD $

It is not going to be attractive to consumers.

uh i dont think so....

if SSD price drops even to a 2:1 ratio (2x HD = 1x SSD), these puppies will sell like hotcakes.

current price for 320Gb = ~$100.

would u pay $100 for a 160Gb SSD drive??

i would.

how about $150 for a 250Gb SSD drive?

oh please.... :)
Cupboard 5th December 2007, 15:22 Quote
I suppose there is a bit of cost saving with SSDs because you don't need any redundancy. SSDs fail bit-by-bit, rather that the whole thing at once don't they? The fact that you could get away without "wasted" hard drive and expensive controllers could convince some people to swap.
<A88> 5th December 2007, 16:20 Quote
I've been thinking about building a blisteringly fast yet quiet SFF PC recently and was going to stick a laptop drive in it until SSDs become cheap enough to make them a viable option. Seems I won't be waiting as long as I thought now :).

<A88>
crazybob 5th December 2007, 16:21 Quote
I'm with Redbeaver on this one. I'd pay double the cost/GB if it would get me all the benefits of flash storage. I'd even pay 3x to replace my system drive, but at that price I'd probably hang on to magnetic storage for my data drive.
Delphium 5th December 2007, 16:25 Quote
512GB SSD, YES PLEASE!!!!!!!!!

Would love to swap my current RAID array out with a bunch of these drives, be sooo much quieter, less heat, more speed, MOAR WIN :D

Its the hard drives in my pc that make the only noise now, with the rest being watercooled, i would love to remove the heat and noise form the pc, by swapping out the drives for these SSD's.
crazybob 5th December 2007, 16:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Article
the performance isn't quite on a par with the latest traditional drives, with a claimed 90MB/s read and 60MB/s write
Actually, that's rather faster than the majority of drives out there. Most modern magnetic drives can outperform this at the outer edge of the disk, but speeds fall dramatically as the disk fills - my current system drive, a 40GB, has an inner-edge write speed of under 40MB/s. The flash drive will have the same speed no matter how full it is. Additionally, the reduced latency of flash will make them feel faster for most people's uses. The latency also makes fragmentation irrelevant.

Personally, I'll feel a lot better when the only mechanical devices in my computer are the cooling fans. Now we just have to figure out how to get software distributed on flash so I can get rid of my optical drives - optical has all the drawbacks of magnetic, plus a few more issues. I wish we could use CompactFlash cards today like we used floppy drives 5-10 years ago.

EDIT: Does anyone else find it strange that while the fastest drive on the manufacturer's page is the 3.5", the highest-capacity drive is the smaller 2.5?" I suppose that's not all bad - I'd be just fine with the smaller form factor, if most desktop cases could provide mounting.
specofdust 5th December 2007, 17:38 Quote
It's claimed speeds though crazybob, real speeds tend to be so much lower than claimed speeds, that chances are real hard disks are still faster.
The_Beast 5th December 2007, 22:42 Quote
512GB SSD; How much??? $20,000???
airchie 6th December 2007, 01:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust
It's claimed speeds though crazybob, real speeds tend to be so much lower than claimed speeds, that chances are real hard disks are still faster.

While I agree claimed speeds are often a little optimistic, they're usually not wildly inaccurate.
I think current 3.5" HDDs still don't beat 100MB/s in sustained sequention transfers.
That's at their best and as bob mentions, their inner edges are much slower.
I think a suitable average would be around the 80MB/s mark.

Now Samsung's latest SDD (which I'm currently looking for a stockist of :() claims 100MB/s reads and 80MB/s write IIRC.
Even if they were wildly optomistic that's probably still gonna be at least 80MB/s read and 60MB/s write.
Now combine that with the fact that's the speed you get across the whole capacity of the drive, seek times of less than 1ms (meaning you don't have to worry about fragmentation nearly as much), very little heat, no noise, comparitively little power draw, no spin-up times and you can start to see why most of us are excited. :)

Just a shame about the cost but it looks like that'll be tumbling soon too.

Start bringing raid into the mix and we're gonna see great leaps forward in the storage area soon.
And about time too! :)
Hwulex 6th December 2007, 01:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
On the other hand a SSD is way better then anything a hd is made off:

Don't forget no fragmentation. Shweeet.
airchie 6th December 2007, 01:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hwulex
Don't forget no fragmentation. Shweeet.
AFAIK there's gonna be way more fragmentation by design due to the way the drives spread out the writes over all the blocks to prolong their life.
You just won't notice it due to the sub 1ms seek times. :)
woodshop 6th December 2007, 02:07 Quote
Hummm no mention of a express slot version... TBH those appeal to me in current 16 and 32 GB sizes... just big enough for the OS and maybe a few of the most used apps... Then you still get to keep the old disk drive... All you'd have to do in a lappy is find a way to actually turn the old platter disk OFF. when not in use..
Tyinsar 6th December 2007, 06:28 Quote
When the cost gets to 1.5x current models (or lower) I'll start looking for these. Until then I'm not able to justify the cost - especially not for a non-laptop PC. Still, this looks like a good step in the right direction.
Redbeaver 6th December 2007, 15:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by specofdust
It's claimed speeds though crazybob, real speeds tend to be so much lower than claimed speeds, that chances are real hard disks are still faster.

but current reviews so far its been better. yes,only time will tell, but like archie said, theyre usually not that wildly inaccurate. plus, 'on paper', it promised so so SO much more.... for the sake of simplicity, if only HALF of those features are true, its still better than regular spinning disk IMHO..... :)
FR34K 7th December 2007, 03:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by airchie
MTBF is quoted at 2,800,000 hours. :)
basically, you won't live to see it die(unless you hit it with a hammer)...that is, unless you live to over 320y/o and have it running 24/7.
crazybob 7th December 2007, 06:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by FR34K
basically, you won't live to see it die(unless you hit it with a hammer)...that is, unless you live to over 320y/o and have it running 24/7.
If only that were the case. MTBF is not life expectancy; rather, it's reliability. Essentially, MTBF means that if you replace the drive every few years (the actual life expectancy, which isn't an easy number to find), it'll be 300 years before you have a failure other than a manufacturing defect or damage from an outside source (power surge).
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