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Samsung's laptop features a 32GB SSD

Samsung showed off a laptop at this year's CeBIT that uses 32GB of flash memory for storage. Recent drops in flash memory prices along with smaller-sized memory chips allows the prototype drive to occupy the same space as traditional 1.8" disk-based drives. This makes upgrades a snap for existing laptops.

Solid-States Disks (SSDs) allow for faster data access than current hard drive technology. The prototype laptop that Samsung showed off was able to boot (the operating system was not mentioned) in 18 seconds versus 31 seconds for the laptop with a regular hard disk drive.

Other benefits included durability to no moving parts and the fact that it is completely silent.

But for all the benefits, there still remains one big downside: cost. While flash memory prices have seen a steady decline, a 32GB SSD as seen in the prototype Samsung laptop would cost about $960 for the memory alone.

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It's a start
By zsdersw on 3/10/2006 12:30:54 PM , Rating: 3
Great news. I certainly hope we see more of this or something like it in the future.

It's kinda comical that we have processors, graphics cards, chipsets, and removable media technology that in many ways is quite amazing... saddled with such essentially ancient technology: hard drives. I don't care how fast the platters spin, how many (or few) of them there are, how much data can be crammed onto one, or how much throughput you can achieve with them.. they're still a mechanical device.

I know the excuse-makers and naysayers will chime in momentarily, but even they have to admit... how sad would it be that, say, 20-30 years from now, we're still using something so ancient and relatively unreliable as hard disk drives.

This thing from Samsung is a good start on the journey away from mechanical disk drives.

RE: It's a start
By phaxmohdem on 3/10/2006 3:51:13 PM , Rating: 2
IT all boils down to $$$ Perhaps in 10-20 years we'll all reminisce and laugh at hard drive technology, or perhaps in 10-20 years, hard drives will still rule because of massiv capacities at prices regular people can afford.

RE: It's a start
By zsdersw on 3/10/2006 5:01:01 PM , Rating: 2
Of course it's about cost, but that's not the point. The point is that mechanical hard drives should be on their way out. Whether they will or not depends on a variety of factors of which cost is one.

RE: It's a start
By tjr508 on 3/10/2006 6:01:39 PM , Rating: 2
They should?

I don't see this solid state stuff being a huge improvement as it only cut the boot speed in half as compared to a slow notebook drive. I would say that two $50 80G/8M/7200rpm drives in RAID 0 could offer similar (broad defination) performance at literally 1/50 the $/Gb ratio as the solid state. Of course this is not an option for portables. Going to $80 200Gb drives would make the comparison look even worse. As the ol saying goes "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

As it turns out, modern drives are extremely good and reliable and extremely cheap.

For people that actually "need" better performance form their storage, there are companies offering like 50Gb arrays of old leftover PC133 memory, but they have plenty of disadvantages as well.

RE: It's a start
By masher2 on 3/10/2006 6:06:18 PM , Rating: 2
> "I would say that two $50 80G/8M/7200rpm drives in RAID 0 could offer similar (broad defination) performance..."

You have to make that definition very broad. For desktop usage, Raid 0 is slower than a single disk in many cases-- it increases bandwidth, but also raises the latency as well. Compared to solid-state disks with their extremely low latency, a Raid array is going to lose hands down in 99% of all typical usage patterns.

RE: It's a start
By tjr508 on 3/10/2006 6:57:03 PM , Rating: 1
Yep substantially broad but its still "similar."

My main problem is the 50X price difference and reliability though.

Does anyone know how much better performance of solid state would be with a customized interface to the chipset rather than IDE/SATA? I would think that would be the interesting question.

RE: It's a start
By kfonda on 3/11/2006 12:51:58 AM , Rating: 2
That's what I was going to ask.

Seems kind of silly to spend that kind of money on the SSD and then tie it to a relatively slow interface.

RE: It's a start
By masher2 on 3/11/2006 8:51:03 AM , Rating: 2
Well, you're looking at the wrong metric first of all. Boot times require a lot of wait states to initialize hardware, so even an infinitely fast drive won't cut the time that much.

In the tests done at IDF, they also ran some Office benchmarks, which came out nearly 5 times faster with the SSD.

RE: It's a start
By zsdersw on 3/10/2006 7:11:46 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, they should. I suppose you'd be okay with a quantum computer that had a mechanical hard drive as its primary storage device.

RE: It's a start
By masher2 on 3/11/2006 11:42:08 AM , Rating: 2
> "It's kinda comical that we have processors, graphics cards, chipsets...saddled with such essentially ancient technology: hard drives."

Cpus, gpus, and chipsets are still just microchips...advanced versions of technology that's been around for forty years. Hard drives have advanced nearly as much as chip technology.

The first hard drive had platters two FEET in diameter...and each platter could only hold 100KB of data. Today's 3.5" platters are 1/50 the areal size of those mega-platters-- but hold one million times as much data.

RE: It's a start
By rykerabel on 6/7/2006 4:58:45 PM , Rating: 2
Well, some people are working on holographic drives:

InPhase already has a version of a Holographic Drive commercially available, but its ROM:

Solutions will be found.

We're getting there
By Hulk on 3/10/2006 12:34:21 PM , Rating: 2
From a cost perspective SSD drives for laptops and video camcorders is slowly becoming a reality.

A few years ago this much flash memory would have cost over $10,000 at $2500 per 8GB stick.

Right now at $30/Gig it's still too high. I think right around $5/Gig is where things will start to really take off. That would be 50GG for $250. Only about double the price of a hard drive.

RE: We're getting there
By plinden on 3/10/2006 12:40:39 PM , Rating: 2
So what about flash memory's write limits? Isn't NAND flash limited to about 100,000 writes before it starts to deteriorate physically? I would say this is fine for storing your applications, backups and databases but I wouldn't want this for swap space.

RE: We're getting there
By DarthPierce on 3/10/2006 12:56:45 PM , Rating: 2
flash deterioration doesn't lose data unless it's completely full, btw....
What happens is as the flash detects areas that are starting to become less reliable, it removes them as possibilities from the file table. (so basically it very slowly shrinks).

You could always just increase your ram and turn off "disk" swapping....

RE: We're getting there
By miahallen on 3/10/2006 2:58:10 PM , Rating: 2
Endurance: >5,000,000 write/erase cycles, unlimited read cycles according for msystems M-SSD drive

RE: We're getting there
By DarthPierce on 3/10/2006 2:05:39 PM , Rating: 2
You note the remarkable decrease in flash memory costs...

Flash doubles its density (and therefore GB/$) every year, while hard drives take 2 years to do the same....

Right now the price point for flash (where a flash drive and HD of the same size cost the same) is about 2 GB....

If flash can maintain its historic rate of advancement, it will eventually conquer the hard drive, but unfortunately, it's a ways off... :)

RE: We're getting there
By tjr508 on 3/10/2006 6:04:37 PM , Rating: 2
75 years =p

RE: We're getting there
By Scrogneugneu on 3/10/2006 7:04:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'd be glad to live off a 20Gb flash drive for around 100$.

Just pack in your good old hard drive so you can still stock all that stuff... for that magical day, 75 years later ;)

RE: We're getting there
By Souka on 3/10/2006 8:42:56 PM , Rating: 2
But when a 20gb FlashHD is available for $100, $100 will buy you an equally fast 250gb+ mechanical HD.....

RE: We're getting there
By theOracle on 3/11/2006 10:59:58 AM , Rating: 2
...but five years after this point, a half terabyte flash disc will cost $100, and five years further on a 16TB flash disc for $100.
With hard discs the evolution is slower, and in ten years they will only advance to 16TB for $100 also. Thus within ten years flash based drives will be used universally.
(Mind you, this ignores other technology which may well make both flash and mechanical hdd obsolete - nanotechnology, MR-RAM and MO-RAM, holographic storage etc...)

Any other performance measurements?
By Nocturnal on 3/10/2006 12:24:30 PM , Rating: 2
Was there any other performance measurements or bench marks?

RE: Any other performance measurements?
By brownba on 3/10/2006 12:46:39 PM , Rating: 2
From TFA:

The SSD technology has three major benefits over hard disks, said Yun. The first is that data access is faster. This could be seen when the SSD-based laptop was booted up alongside the same-model machine with a hard disk. The desktop appeared on the screen of the SSD laptop in about 18 seconds while the hard-drive-based computer took about 31 seconds to reach the same point.

RE: Any other performance measurements?
By gerf on 3/10/2006 6:11:37 PM , Rating: 2
Very interesting. People do some crazy things these days to increase hdd time (Raptors, 2x Raptors..). Maybe this would have some other application outside laptops.

On another note, Why don't they just have about 10 - 15GB instead, then use 60GB microdrive as another "data" drive? I don't know how fast those little drives are, but I imagine with their small size, they could be nicely bundled to avoid shock damage. So, you'd get the necessary performance when needed, and have a buncha storage for when you need it.

RE: Any other performance measurements?
By masher2 on 3/10/2006 6:14:09 PM , Rating: 2
> "Why don't they just have about 10 - 15GB instead, then use 60GB microdrive as another "data" drive?"

You essentially just described the new "hybrid drives" which many manufacturers are working on at present.

RE: Any other performance measurements?
By gerf on 3/10/2006 7:03:30 PM , Rating: 2
I r a genius!

RE: Any other performance measurements?
By kfonda on 3/11/2006 12:35:12 AM , Rating: 2
day late and a dollar short...

I'm also really good at inventing stuff that already exists.:-)

By gerf on 3/11/2006 7:34:40 AM , Rating: 2
I hear ya

When I got my iPod, only last year (won it in a drawing), I was fed up having to ear phone all the time, which is an illegal pain in the car.

So I'd been thinking about how an in-car mounting device would work for them, where it'd recharge, play music, etc..

Now they have them.

Eh, maybe I'll just write a futurist-type book instead :P

By slash196 on 3/10/2006 12:52:16 PM , Rating: 2
There are still major issues with flash memory that still need to be worked out before it can become a viable hard-drive replacement. Plus, space requirements are increasing exponentially all the time. It will take a major breakthrough to supplant the hard disk drive.

RE: s
By mindless1 on 3/10/2006 3:28:16 PM , Rating: 1
Space requirements are not increasing exponentially. That is ridiculous. IF you CHOOSe to put everything and the kitchen sink on your laptop, which for many people seems to mean several GB of MP3 or video, then you're creating your own problem.

If on the other hand you use a laptop like the typical user does (keeping in mind they don't try to make ONE laptop that satisfied entire world+dog (hence there is more than one laptop model that exists), 32GB is a lot more space than you really need. If you simply chose to use a slimmer OS than XP (or soon, Vista), you might even get by with 4GB of flash-as-HDD.

Indeed, anyone who chooses to can run their laptop off flash memory TODAY! If not in an array architecture to increase sustained performance it may not exceed mechanical drive performance, but would still have the lower latency, lower power usage, higher durability.

The main reason more laptops aren't using flash- people CHOOSe not to. Personal preference is a nice thing, but highly subjective. It's reasonable perhaps to choose windows, but there's also that part about Windows incessantly writing to the HDD even if the swapfile is turned off. Until MS has some competition in the market what will they care if such minor issues degrade hardware until it fails? So it really comes back to the same thing, different day- people claim others are MS-haters because they don't see the cumulative effect of having only one commercial alternative OS, they don't know how much they're limited without being mindful of the mountains of small issues if discounted from only a subjective perspective.

RE: s
By Souka on 3/10/2006 8:51:03 PM , Rating: 2
I absolutely need HD space on my laptop... I comute on a train and do developement work with VMware all the time.

My HP Widescreen has three HDs(removed Optical and floppy drive and put HD's in caddys).

Primary Boot/OS/storage is a 60gb 7200rpm Hitachi
2nd + 3rd 5400rpm drives for apps and working data in Raid0 config for a total of 240gb Seagate 5400rpm

Those VM's take tons of space and a Raid0 really helps out.

But then again, because I can work while commuting, I only spend 5-6 hours tops at the office each day....

More HD space... more speed......

RE: s
By mindless1 on 3/11/2006 5:27:10 AM , Rating: 1
Sure, it'd be a bad thing if ALL laptops suddenly came with only 32GB HDD. There needs be even more variation in future laptops to cater to the myriad uses. You may need more space and speed but on that train you ride, how many people sitting nearby were doing same work? Likely few if any.

RE: s
By zsdersw on 3/10/2006 10:17:54 PM , Rating: 2
There are still major issues with flash memory that still need to be worked out before it can become a viable hard-drive replacement.

It's rather scary to imagine what would happen to progress if people let current obstacles stop the development of things with great potential. Progress would stop; stagnate.

Obstacles and shortcomings are things to be overcome.. not reasons with which to be pessimistic.

RE: s
By slash196 on 3/11/2006 4:43:31 AM , Rating: 2
Sure, in 5 years we might have the technology to make it affordable to own a solid-state hard drive of reasonable size by modern standards, but 5 years ago a 10 GB hard drive was WAY more than I needed. Now I have 410 gigs of space and that'll be gone in a few months. As file formats change, especially with HD video, we're gonna need WAY more space. Flash memory will have to become MUCH cheaper and MUCH denser to be usable as a hard drive.

RE: s
By zsdersw on 3/11/2006 7:07:11 AM , Rating: 1
Don't you get it? I'm well aware of the obstacles that alternatives to mechanical hard drives face. Unlike you, though, I look past those obstacles. You continue to talk about them as if they're somehow unknown.

Price threshold
By ProviaFan on 3/10/2006 12:37:36 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, if I had the budget, I would buy one when they reach the cost of an equivalent 15kRPM SAS/SCSI drive and controller combined (thus about US$400 to $500). Since I already have a 36GB Raptor for an OS / programs drive that is nowhere near full, a 32GB SSD would be just fine, and would make my system (and me) very happy. :)

RE: Price threshold
By miahallen on 3/10/2006 2:48:23 PM , Rating: 2

They've been available for a while. Direct sales only.

RE: Price threshold
By DarthPierce on 3/10/2006 3:10:34 PM , Rating: 2
nice site. It would be nice to cut my boot/load times down, save power, and not have any clicking on my laptop, but I don't think my wallet could handle it!

32GB is ok for OS/Application HD
By Xajel on 3/11/2006 4:59:03 AM , Rating: 2
This will be very good...

but too costly $33.68 per MB

If it get down to $500 I may think about one :D

wow, starting Photoshop in 1 sec. !!!

RE: 32GB is ok for OS/Application HD
By Clauzii on 3/11/2006 3:46:42 PM , Rating: 2 GIGA byte I think You mean ;)

By Clauzii on 3/11/2006 3:47:13 PM , Rating: 2

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