Useful SSD Articles

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randomizer

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A look at the NAND itself. How an SSD works at the lowest levels:

http://www.lostcircuits.com/mambo//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=69&Itemid=1
http://www.ocztechnologyforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=65372

Write caching, wear levelling and the importance of partition alignment:


http://www.lostcircuits.com/mambo//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=72&Itemid=1

A broad overview of everything SSD (including TRIM):

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3531

http://anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3631 (A follow-up of the previous Anandtech article. Touches on a few more details, but it's more of a review of OCZ drives than a good overview of SSDs. Worth reading if your SSD has an Indillinx controller.)

More links will be added when I find them or when somebody else points me to them :)
 

pathasse

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After reading those I really think I will spend the extra money on the Intel X25-M or E. That drive kicks some ass. I would also consider looking into the OCZ Vertex. The rest are not worth looking at for now.
 

randomizer

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The OCZ Agility is definitely worth considering if you decide against an Intel drive. The newer Agilities are a bit faster than the Vertices/Vertexes (choose your plural) of the same capacity thanks to a change of NAND.
 
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a movie must be worth 30,000 words per second, right? ;)

Here's a ~1-minute clip I put together showing the difference between booting Windows 7 and starting Firefox from a WD Green drive vs. a 160GB Intel X25-M drive. The hardware and Windows 7 installation is identical in the two scenarios (I did an image backup/restore from one drive to the other):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTHX0MqVMss
 

anachronite

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thanks for the article. pretty much made me deside against an SSD at this time until technology improves and TRIM gets implemented. Yea it's faster, but sounds like there are issues to work out before sinking a bunch of cash into an SSD.
 

randomizer

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Remember that some of these articles are relatively old now. TRIM works for most drives, but not if you go with RAID. Alot of the doom and gloom that some of the articles go on about is unimportant to the average user. When was the last time you worried about how many writes your HDD can do? You don't, because you haven't read a recent article saying anything along the lines of "write amplification" or read thousands of forum threads where people are trying to reduce their writes. These are all pointless tweaks. HDDs can only sustain a certain number of writes as well, and reads also lower their lifespan, unlike with SSDs. Mechanical drives wear out the more they are used, and they go out with a bang (not literally). SSDs will die slowly, and will still be readable even when they are no longer writeable. As long as you don't benchmark an SSD every day, it will not wear out before it becomes obsolete.
 

anachronite

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So TRIM is implemented by Windows 7 now? Is this passive or something you have to set up once you install the drive?

Should one keep their browser installed on a storage drive to reduce the constant writing of files to the SDD you will get while browsing all day?

Guess I am just paranoid after reading those articles. If they are outdated are there some new articles to read that discuss where technology is now?

thanks
 

randomizer

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From a technological standpoint the articles are still correct most of the time. But any that talk about constant speed degradation without any fixes are behind the times. It's mostly in the details. SSD (flash) technology still has a limited amount of program/erase cycles just as it did before those articles were written, but while the articles speak from a technical perspective, they don't speak practically or real-world. It's like how LGA1366 has a monstrous amount of memory bandwidth compared to AM3, and the memory benchmarks show it, but in real world apps the difference is barely noticeable most times (a few exceptions exist). Sure, it technically is faster, but you probably won't ever notice it. In the same way SSDs do slowly die over time, but too slow for most people to notice without absolutely hammering the drive with writes, something that would also kill a HDD.

Anyway, on to your questions. Windows 7 supports TRIM but not all SSDs do. The older ones still lack support, mostly by the manufacturer's choice. There's no reason to buy the older SSDs. TRIM should work out of the box, although there are a few odd occasions where it hasn't. Unfortunately Microsoft in their infinite wisdom have decided that implementing the TRIM standard completely was unnecessary so like IE they've made their own "standard" which is a bit quirky and not exactly ideal. However, it's only exceptional cases where TRIM is actually a problem. Newer firmware revisions have reduced this as well, and some have implemented an algorithm that "defrags" the drive when there's no activity independent of the OS to maintain performance (Garbage Collection).

I certainly wouldn't keep my browser or page file off the SSD. I like having my browser start up almost instantly :) This is the kind of typical usage that isn't going to harm an SSD at all. The drive will be well and truly obsolete before regular usage wears it out. If it can't be used for everyday tasks, it's not a very useful technology is it? ;) The Garbage Collection I mentioned before adds to the erase count, and it is implemented at the firmware level by the SSD controller manufacturer, so obviously you shouldn't worry about writes that much.

SSDs all have extra NAND that is visible only to the controller that replaces bad blocks when they can no longer be erased. The larger the SSD, the more "over-provisioned" NAND you have. This will sustain the drive for even longer as the erase count increases. Obviously the manufacturers don't want to sell a 60GB drive that after 2 years of usage starts to decrease in capacity because someone has written lots of data and expired many blocks ;)

What you want to avoid is the urge to get a warm fuzzy feeling from high benchmark numbers. Benchmarks hammer the drive when done in excess and can significantly reduce its life. Also, avoid filling the drive beyond 80-85% capacity, as you would with a HDD, because slowdown is inevitable then and no amount of wear levelling, GC or TRIM will help until you free up space.

HDDs are so old that you'd never expect them to have problems now. SSDs are not truly plug-and-play as HDDs are because they are still a new technology only really designed for enthusiasts (this will change over the next 2 years) or for netbooks (but those ones are slow). However, for most people there won't be any significant issues. There's always official support forums if you do have problems.
 

anachronite

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wow that is fantastic reply. thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I'll go back to considering an SSD again. It will just depend on the price. Couple more questions. Tried to get these answered in another forum but have not gotten a response. Maybe it's ok to ask here since we are discussing drives?

1. What's a good size partition to put on the SSD or HDD for Windows 7?
2. Should the remainder to the drive be just one partition for apps like photoshop, office, video editing software, etc?
3. does it do any good to put games on this drive or should they remain on the storage drive because of size and writing/deleting new and old games?

sorry if this is sort of off topic, just can't get an answer in my other thread. If this is too off topic please feel free to delete this post.

thanks again for your time and input.
 

randomizer

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1. Well it depends on the capacity of the drive. A 32GB drive is probably only good for 1 partition, and a 64GB drive is probably the same. ** 80GB and above you may consider a second partition, but it's entirely up to you. Unlike HDDs, the speed time is (for all intents and purposes) identical at all areas of the drive for blocks that have not been written to or have been pre-erased. Partitioning is more for organisation of data than anything else. I find it good when putting the page file on a HDD though, because having a partition dedicated to the page file keeps fragmentation of it to a minimum. For SSDs it does not matter if a file is in 1 contiguous area, or if it is split into 100 different places. I'm not sure about SSDs, but I know that HDDs transfer very slowly between partitions, so if you think you'll be moving large amounts of data between partitions regularly, consider just using folders instead and keeping all data in the same partition.

2. That or keep everything in the one partition, it doesn't really matter for an SSD.

3. You'll decrease loading times but you won't get any other benefits. Regularly accessed games or games with long loading times might be worth putting on there if you have space, but otherwise just leave them on a HDD for now until SSD capacities go up and prices go way down.


**Note that some manufacturers specify the formatted capacity, while most don't (as with HDDs). So a 30GB drive is identical in capacity to a 32GB drive, it just depends on whether you assume 1MB is 1000kB or 1024kB, the former is what most HDDs and SSDs are rated at while the latter is what you'll see in Windows (it will be smaller).
 

anachronite

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ahh makes sense. normally on an HDD I like to partition the OS on it's own partition to keep it clean and easily defragable, but it sounds like with the SSD that won't be a big deal. Only concern left is price.

Thanks again for your help
 

anachronite

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I found a new 3rd follow up article to the 2 original anadtech articles posted. Thought it would be good to add the link here. The author is great and has me drooling over an SSD now. lol.

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3702


thanks



 

randomizer

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The only problem with that is it's basically a review of a specific drive rather than a general look at SSDs. I might have to re-organise the OP into general articles and model-specific articles.
 

anachronite

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ahh true. my bad, as it is not a true followup to the SSD market overview in the other articles. I get the feeling from the author he dreads doing the 3rd followup overview. he certainly put a lot of work into those first two articles.
 

anachronite

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probably not much until Intel's next gen SSD comes out Q3 or Q4 and then he'll have to do it all over again. The good thing is it looks like now there are 2 really nice options to go with, the Intel X25-M G2 and the new OCZ Vertex 2 Pro. it's nice to have a choice and maybe save some cash.
 

anachronite

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except now that I look on Newegg it doesnt look like OCZ's Vertex 2 Pro is for sale yet. He did mention in the article that they should be out soon though. Hope we dont have to wait long as they should challenge intel in pricing and we can all save some cash!
 

Carl2

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I've seen the OCZ core series, the solid 2 series for sale. There are reviews on the Vertex 2 Pro but i can't find a seller for it. Tiger direct has a broader base for SSD's but prices are higher.
Carl2
 

Xhani

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Hello,
I just bought 2 OCZ Colossus Series SATA II 256Gb 3.5" SSD. The one that I put on an ASUS 775 mb gave a score of 7.1 on the Windows Experience Index and the other one installed on a Gigabyte P55 gave a score of 6.9 (both computers have Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit). Then I decided to include both drives as Raid 0 array in the Gigabyte p55a-ud5 thinking that the performance will get even better with higher scores however now I only get a disappoing 5.9! Can anyone kindly advise what went wrong and suggest any solutions?
 
G

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Any links on tomshardware you could include with benchmarks?
 
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