SSDs do increase battery life

July 16, 2008 | 09:05

Tags: #battery #battery-life #energy-efficiency #hard-disk #hard-drive #notebook #performance-per-watt #ppw #ssd

Companies: #toms-hardware

If you've been following the debate over solid-state device energy efficiency, you'll be interested to hear that the battle is finally over – with SSDs taking their rightful place at the top of the battery-friendly chart.

Tom's Hardware made the headlines recently when contributors Patrick Schmid and Achim Roos ran a group test comparing no-moving-parts SSDs designed for notebook computers with their traditional mechanical counterparts. The rather surprising result of the test was that the SSDs showed a marked loss of runtime when on battery power, with the researchers concluding that due to a higher idle power consumption the SSDs would actually reduce battery life – pretty much the opposite of what SSD manufacturers have been trying to sell us.

Laptop Magazine caught wind of the rather counter-intuitive results and ran its own tests, with a different test methodology. Whereas Tom's Hardware had relied on the MobileMark test suite, Laptop Magazine used a shell script that simulated daily web browsing habits for a more 'real-world' result. The conclusion was that SSDs at worst made no difference to battery life, and at best could improve the time spent between charges.

Despite the confidence shown by Tom's Hardware in the original test – in which a paragraph under the heading “Could Tom's Hardware be Wrong?” the researchers stated that “our results are definitely correct” – the tech blog has seen fit to print a correction as a result of new testing. According to the new article, the test procedure produced inaccurate results due to varying workload between tests, as a direct result of the improved performance of the SSD units. As Laptop Magazine concluded in their article, the SSDs were being penalised for their increased speed compared to the mechanical units on test.

Although Tom's Hardware is sticking to its guns, stating that “the conclusion, however, that Flash SSDs are often misleadingly presented as energy savers [...] is not invalidated,” it's hard to see this latest article as anything other than an admission of poor testing procedure – especially when the correction states “[this is] precisely what our initial article should have said: most of the Flash SSD just aren't that much better [than mechanical drives],” which is quite some way from the conclusion drawn originally. While SSDs aren't going to give you ten-hour runtimes quite yet, the latest figures demonstrate that they are more than capable of competing with their longer-established mechanical brethren – and as the technology matures, the gap is only going to widen in favour of SSD.

If these latest figures have convinced you to go down the SSD route, Tom's Hardware's latest test has highlighted the best of the bunch: the OCZ SATA II 2.5” SSD showed a performance-per-watt (PPW) in the region of five to six times better than the traditional spinning-platter drives it was compared to, making it a clear winner if you want the best possible runtime from your notebook.

Are you pleased to see SSD vindicated, or will you be sticking with mechanical drive until the price drops to a more comparable level? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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