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Intel's 2.5" and 1.8" SSDs  (Source: Intel)
Intel prepares to launch its next generation SSD drives

It seems as though we can't go a week without learning about the latest travails in solid-state disk (SSD) technology. Just last week, Super Talent stepped into the fray with what it called the world's thinnest 2.5" 256GB SSD.

Two weeks earlier, Intel revealed its plans to blow past all of its competitors with high performance SSDs ranging in size from 80GB to 160GB. According to Intel's Troy Winslow, the drives promise to far surpass the high watermark set by SSDs currently on the market.

"When Intel launches its...products, you'll see that not all SSDs are created equal," said Winslow in early March. "The way the SSDs are architected, the way the controller and firmware operates makes a huge difference."

Intel's SSDs are coming closer to fruition and Intel Fellow Knut Grimsrud provided a picture of two prototype Intel SSDs. The drives pictured use the standard 1.8" and 2.5" notebook drive form factors.

Knut was able to take one of the pre-production prototypes for spin and was impressed with the results. "Although I was quite familiar with its capabilities from all the performance characterization data, I was unprepared for the powerful instant high it gave my system," said Grimsrud. "It was such a dramatic difference in how my system responded that I found myself uninhibited in doing things that I previously would have shied away from."

"So a word of warning to those that might be considering dabbling with the use of our new SSD technology," Grimsrud added. "It can give you quite a rush, and once you have enjoyed its effects, it can be quite difficult to ever go back."

Unfortunately, Grimsrud only gave his "seat of the pants" impressions of the SSD's performance instead of hard data on the performance. For now, we'll just have to leave Intel to its word that its improved NAND controller greatly improves SSD performance.

Despite the performance advantages offered by SSDs, the technology is not without its downside -- most notably, cost. Seagate CEO Bill Watkins has been vocal about the impact of SSDs and recently noted that, "Realistically, I just don’t see the flash notebook sell. We just don’t see the proposition."

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At last
By Nightskyre on 4/3/2008 10:24:09 AM , Rating: 4
This is really where I see the SSD market taking off. A relatively small disk size (80-160GB) is all that is necessary as a system drive in most applications. Once that size has been accomplished, speed should be the next on the agenda. The faster, the better. I am a lot more interested in this than I am in a 250GB+ SSD. I don't need to pay the price premium to SSD data speeds on my storage drive(s), but I might be willing to do it for my system drive.

RE: At last
By amanojaku on 4/3/08, Rating: 0
RE: At last
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 4/3/2008 10:52:40 AM , Rating: 2
Where are the business majors here? P3I is at work artificially keeping costs high until the manufacturers can soak the early adopters. These things should only cost about 30% more than comparably sized memory cards. Us cheapos will have to wait till they become commodities. Dang.

RE: At last
By afkrotch on 4/3/2008 12:55:34 PM , Rating: 2
And comparable sized memory cards don't have the same performance as these type of drives. Why? The millions of dollars worth of R&D time put into increasing size and performance. Not to mention the cost to produce them is high, as they aren't being mass produced.

Someone's gotta pay and it's usually the early adopters.

RE: At last
By osalcido on 4/3/2008 1:29:13 PM , Rating: 2
err the reason memory cards/ usb drives dont have the same performance is because they are limited by things like the PCI bus speed or USB 2.0 throughput

There isnt some magic pixie dust on these things... get yourself a crossfire to ide adapater and you end up with the same performance

RE: At last
By PB PM on 4/3/2008 1:37:14 PM , Rating: 2
There is a difference in the quality of the NAND itself. The kind found in many lost cost memory cards/flash drives is often slower in and of itself not just due to USB.

RE: At last
By winterspan on 4/5/2008 1:35:14 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, but don't even bother writing if you don't know what the hell you are talking about.

The USB2.0/PCI bus is absolutely NOT the limiting factor in the performance of a USB stick or memory card. SSDs don't have magical pixie dust, but they are most certainly different than your average USB memory stick.

Although they are all use varying types of NAND flash, SSDs use much more robust, higher tolerance, and higher speed architectures, disk controllers, firmware, etc.

The manufacturers are indeed charging high margins on these products, but the raw costs are much higher than you speculate in addition to the massive amounts of R&D that have been invested into the technology.

RE: At last
By vladio on 4/3/2008 1:20:35 PM , Rating: 1
If some person can't afford $120 for a good HD ...
that person is OUT of the loop!

Different market is available for these people:
used computers, used cars, used clouse..
[leality of life]

RE: At last
By vladio on 4/3/2008 1:26:13 PM , Rating: 2
If some person can't afford $120 for a good HD ...
that person is OUT of the loop!

Different market is available for these people:
used computers, used cars, used clouse..
[Reality of life]

RE: At last
By ciparis on 4/3/08, Rating: 0
RE: At last
By leexgx on 4/3/2008 2:37:02 PM , Rating: 2
i use raid 0 all the time works fine for me (alot faster) its users who have no brain that do not have an 500gb hdd that has all the important stuff back up onto it that are not very smart (or an server to back up to)

Vista needs SSD as its very good at doing lots of random read and writes at the same time utterly destroying norm hard disks performace as thay just cant handle randome access well

RE: At last
By Samus on 4/3/2008 3:00:42 PM , Rating: 2
I do RAID 0. Last I checked, I have a brain, too. I'm pretty sure I used it to get my CCNA & MCSE. Maybe if you had a brain, you'd know the value of RAID 0 in a web server or data streaming environment.

RE: At last
By amanojaku on 4/3/2008 3:53:30 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like I ticked a lot of people off with my RAID 0 comment. My apologies, and a little clarification.

I come from a datacenter background. ISPs, ASPs, webhosts, fortune 100 companies, etc... I have NEVER seen RAID 0 in use in those spaces. With RAID 0 you lose one drive and your entire volume is gone. The performance gains are insignificant when compared to uptime, which is expected to be 24/7, even through maintenance windows. RAID 5 is the best when given a choice of RAID 0,1 or 5. Yes, desktops tend to get exotic RAID choices like 6 and 10, but servers are usually limited to 0, 1 and 5. RAID 5 provides more performance than RAID 1 and more reliability than RAID 0. No one who has lost a RAID 0 yet has complained about RAID 5 being too "slow," especially when configured on a $600 battery-backed RAID card or $500,000 SAN.

Desktops performing RAID are typically using software, so any performance gains from RAID 0 are typically lost. Worse, if you have to use a RAID 0 AND a backup solution you are probably better off with RAID 5.

FYI, I have had all of your certs and can tell you that means nothing. Just think "Test King." All those months of studying only to find out about this site AFTER passing the exams. :-)

RE: At last
By kattanna on 4/3/2008 11:00:05 AM , Rating: 2
i agree. I am hoping the reality lives up to the hype.

then i can get one of them for my OS drive and the few main apps/games i use, then my rarely used data will sit on my "old" hard drives.

hopefully they will be a realistic option for when i finally get around to getting a new system end of this year.

RE: At last
By Sunday Ironfoot on 4/3/2008 1:10:05 PM , Rating: 2
It depends on the situation. With a desktop you could combine a 'relatively' cheap 16/32GB SSD with a large 1TB hard drive, put your core OS and games on the SSD and everything else (media etc.) on the hard drive.

However, a lot of people use laptops now and they usually only have room for a single 2.5" sized drive. Laptops would benefit tremendously from a SSD (performance, power, heat, battery life etc.), so the bigger and cheaper they can make SSD's the better.

For me I could barely scrape by with 160GB, and the current 32/64GB SSD offerings are simply out of the question. I'm sure a lot of laptop owners would feel the same way.

RE: At last
By abzillah on 4/3/2008 1:20:50 PM , Rating: 3
You know what would be best, if a drive was made with both traditional magnetic hard drive and solid state in one drive. Like have 16GB of SSD and 500GB of magnetic on one drive and so we could put the OS on the SSD and everything else on the regular hard drive. Also, the price should be about $100 or so.

Intel's domination is almost complete...
By therealnickdanger on 4/3/2008 10:36:04 AM , Rating: 2
Their CPUs are the fastest around, their chipsets are the most stable that can be found, their integrated video and sound is getting better, now they stand poised to strike at the futuristic heart of storage technology. If the actual performance meets the hype and the price isn't out of control, Intel will really shake up the SSD market. Considering their even bolder research into other solid-state technologies, by the time the market catches up, they'll be even further ahead.

If there's one thing I've learned in recent years, Intel doesn't exaggerate anymore. Often times they will understate the performance of an upcoming product, leaving the influx of reviews effectively shocked and awed.

RE: Intel's domination is almost complete...
By amanojaku on 4/3/08, Rating: -1
RE: Intel's domination is almost complete...
By andreschmidt on 4/3/2008 11:48:30 AM , Rating: 2
To put some numbers to your statement. Bear over with me though, the numbers are from 2007.

Market Cap (Value of company stock in the stock market) :
AMD 7.74 billion
Intel 110.55 billion

Revenues (Amount of money the companies got for their products and other activities):
AMD 5.65 billion
Intel 35.38 billion

Net Annual Income (Amount of profit the companies made after meeting their expenses for the year) :
AMD -166 million
Intel +5,040 million

Number of Employees:
AMD 16,500
Intel 94,100

Where I stand I cannot even see them competing.

AMDs problem is not the performance of their products but rather their inability to provide them in quantity to the market.

Solid State Drives will start get interesting when it can replace an RAID-array in performance and provide sufficient storage to boot.

At least this is a step in the right direction and I gladly look upon another contender (with some financial capability) push the boundaries of current technology.

I wouldn't put too much in Grimsruds statement. Give us numbers to back up those claims.

By omnicronx on 4/3/2008 1:09:24 PM , Rating: 2
AMDs problem is not the performance of their products but rather their inability to provide them in quantity to the market.
Probably because Intel has made it into a nm race, or who can have the smallest process.. AMD just does not have the money to open new fabs, when they keep having to convert their old ones..

By Shadowmaster625 on 4/4/2008 1:33:36 PM , Rating: 1
If Itel's SSDs are anything like intel GPUs, then I'm sure their competitors have nothing to worry about. There may be a market for $5 GPUs but there wont be a market for cheap drives that are slower than dirt.

By winterspan on 4/5/2008 1:44:25 AM , Rating: 2
Are you totally dense? I certainly don't love Intel, but I have to stand up for reason and (at least basic) intelligence.

It doesn't make any sense to compare Intel's crappy integrated graphics to their SSD technology, any more than it does to compare their SSD technology to their blazing fast processors.

1) Intel's integrated graphics processors were never meant to compete with discrete units from ATI and nVidia. I personally think these products are much too poor and should be improved, but they never CLAIMED they were attempting to take the performance crown. On the contrary, they admit they haven't put much effort into it and now are working on an innovative new solution which will most likely be a great performer, Larabee.

2)Even more importantly, Intel gave a whole presentation on their new Intel/Micron NAND technology, which they claim is 5X faster than conventional NAND, and they claimed SSD bitrates
in the 100's of Megabytes/sec. They are not going to claim that and then deliver slow, sub-par technology. Your speculation to that effect is totally unwarranted.

By RyanM on 4/3/2008 11:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
It's as if they learned a lesson from the Netburst days.

They've gone from "Our processors will make your internet faster!" to sheer and utter modesty.

Not the right approach for now
By blowfish on 4/3/2008 11:16:20 AM , Rating: 4
Whjilst at some point in the near future, SSD prices will come down to a more reasonable level, I feel that manufacturers are taking the wrong approach to their use.

None of my pc's use more than 9GB on the OS and programs partition I set up. All my data is kept in separate data partitions. I believe that this mshould be the default setup on a pc, rather than lumping everything in a C: partition,

Conventional hard drives ofter great storage capacity - so I would rather see a small, 8 - 12GB SSD used for the Operating System and Programs, and use a conventional hard drive for data storage. To my mind this would capitalise on both the speed benefits of SSD's and the storage capacity of regular hard drives, without incurring a huge price premium.

By Spoelie on 4/3/2008 11:52:21 AM , Rating: 1
Can't really agree with that sentiment with what we're seeing lately - if you're a gamer anyway. A single install of Crysis requires 6-7GB, 8GB for supreme commander, etc. etc. I'd say 32gb is the bare minimum for the SSD to replace the system disc - if you're like me and don't consider installation folders of games as 'data' that you want to keep through formatting etc.

RE: Not the right approach for now
By afkrotch on 4/3/2008 1:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
Everyone has a different way of setting up their computer. I run a RAID 0 array of Raptors for System and progs. Then I have a 200 gig hard drive for data storage.

I seriously cannot find any reason that programs require it's own partition. If I'm reloading the OS, I'm going to need to reload the progs anyways. Majority of games create save points in your My Documents folder, which I have pointed to a folder on my data storage.

Like others mentioned 8-12 gb SSD is hardly enough. My pair of 36.7 gig Raptors is too small for the OS and programs/games. I'm stuck having to either install onto the data storage drive, remove programs, add more 36.7 gig Raptors, or replace them both with larger drives. I've gone with installing onto the data storage drive. I see no point in buying Raptors anymore, as the latest drives are so close in performance to them, while providing more space and less cost.

For me, the huge price premium makes SSDs a non-viable option for regular home users. What I'm wondering is "where are the hybrid drives?"

By Reclaimer77 on 4/4/2008 5:27:28 PM , Rating: 2
When Raptors came out they also had a " huge price premium ".


I remember when
By mattclary on 4/3/2008 3:01:49 PM , Rating: 3
I remember exulting at the killer deal of buying a 340 M B drive for a mere $340. Only $1 / MB! What an awesome deal!

RE: I remember when
By saiga6360 on 4/3/2008 3:19:13 PM , Rating: 1
And I remember looking back and thinking I really feel sorry for that sucker.

RE: I remember when
By mattclary on 4/4/2008 2:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
Considering you were probably still in diapers when hard drives were $1/MB, wouldn't expect you to appreciate that. ;)

Huge SSD waste for consumer market
By pomaikai on 4/3/2008 12:10:56 PM , Rating: 2
I dont see the point in having huge SSD drives. I have just over 1TB in my media server and all it does is server media. A 5Gig 720P movie streams at between 1-2MB/s. If I were to run 5 movies at once that is only 5-10MB/s. My movies are split between 2 drives. While the lower seek time would help if you were trying to play alot of movies at once from one drive, I dont see the average home user doing that. Media is why there is such a large demand for huge hard dives and the bottleneck is the network not the hard drive. Small SSD for system, apps, caching makes sense but not huge SSD for media serving.

By JonnyDough on 4/4/2008 12:57:48 PM , Rating: 2
You and many other posters above seem to be missing the punch. SSD's are not JUST about speed. They're about durability and shock resistance, they're about low energy, and they're about silence. Speed is the LAST concern of most SSD manufacturers. Do they push the envelope on it? Yes. But they focus on cutting costs, on making it work well, and on making them viable for BUSINESS. Few products are designed around the home consumer in computer technology. People at home use them for internet and games, and have limited budgets. Large companies are where the money is at, and Intel is designing SSD's for consumers, but makes most of their money through OEM's. If the SSD doesn't meet the cost and other requirements of laptop makers like Dell, HP, Toshiba, etc. and find a use in webservers and datacenters...then there isn't a market for it. SSD's have been around for years, the part to really get excited about is the improvements they've seen as of late. The market heats up, and companies invest research into it. Memory prices have come down (in part because of legal action against anti-competitive practices such as price gouging), and so SSD's have come into the spotlight.

Perhaps Intel is the one to get it done here
By Hulk on 4/3/2008 12:36:45 PM , Rating: 2
Intel does have a track record of producing large quantities of very fast silicon at good prices. Perhaps they will be the one to get the ball rolling here with affordable and fast Solid State Drives.

As for size, I'd like to see a 100GB drive for around $300. Assuming it was a fast performer that's about as much as I'd be willing to pay.

By VooDooAddict on 4/3/2008 5:55:31 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed on that price point.

Give me a fast SSD for sub $300 and it might be worth a try.

By sphyder on 4/3/2008 4:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone know if there is a limit to the number of times you can write/format one of these SSD drives. Doesn't have to be this one in particular, just in general. Last I heard it was limitted in read/write. If this is the case, it wouldnt be practical from a consumer standpoint unless it is for OS only. I can see many commercial uses for it though.

RE: question
By MMilitia on 4/3/2008 4:47:36 PM , Rating: 2
They do have a limited life span, but I believe it is comparable to the estimated life of a traditional magnetic drive so you're not really losing out on anything.

A rush compared to what?
By icrf on 4/3/2008 10:33:42 AM , Rating: 2
I don't doubt SSD's are going to be faster, but is he comparing it to a 4200 rpm laptop or something? I want to get excited, but I need at least a hard comparison, if not hard data.

Is there an ETA on these? They said they'd be great a month ago. Now they're coming closer? Has anything changed, or did they just have another press release saying how great it is?

SSD Sweet Spot
By MMilitia on 4/3/2008 11:31:56 AM , Rating: 2
I'm really looking forward to when ~150GB SSDs drop in price to become competitive to performance drives such as WD's Raptors.
The main problem I have right now with high performance drives is the noise and heat the kick out, which should be eliminated by SSD tech.

still waiting
By Shadowmaster625 on 4/4/2008 1:37:40 PM , Rating: 2
I'm still waiting for a company to take sixteen 1GB chips ($2 apiece) and parallel them all and slap on a $20 SATA controller and ship it to me. In theory, such a device should only cost $100. Where is it??? There is way to much gouging going on here.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
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