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Print 56 comment(s) - last by Clauzii.. on Jun 14 at 9:27 PM

64GB flash discs will be available in PATA and SATA flavors

We are finally starting to see some real technological breakthroughs in the area of mobile storage after a long period of stagnation. 2004 saw the rise of speedy 7200RPM hard drives while this year saw the introduction of perpendicular recording which allows data to be recorded in a smaller area. Just yesterday, DailyTech reported on Seagate's hybrid solution which pairs a traditional hard drive with perpendicular recording technology to 256MB of non-volatile flash for better performance, increased battery life and faster booting in Windows Vista.

Today, PQI is showing off new drives that mimic Samsung's 32GB Flash-SSD.  PQI, with the help of Samsung NAND flash memory chips, has new 64GB IDE and 64GB SATA 2.5" storage solutions for mobile users. The drives, which are due for release in August, are by nature more rugged, lighter, cooler and more efficient than traditional hard drives with a spinning disc. And best of all, there are absolutely no moving part so no more listening to your hard drive whir while you’re typing away and no more clicking and thrashing as you open up Photoshop or perform other disk-intensive operations.

Pricing has not been announced on the new 64GB IDE and SATA 2.5" drives, but rest assured that the new drives will be many times more expensive than even the fastest 7200RPM hard drives on the market today. As the market matures and more players enter the fray, we are sure to see a steady fall in prices. In fact, Samsung predicts that the global market for NAND flash based drives will increase from $540M USD in 2006 to over $4.5 billion USD in 2010. With growth like that, there will always be a premium for NAND-based disks over traditional hard drives, but the price differential should be much more manageable than it is today.



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By lemonadesoda on 6/8/2006 5:42:47 AM , Rating: 0
Very nice. I would love to replace my laptop HDD with this this to significantly improve performance, and reduce noise/heat. BUT...

Assuming 1,000,000 maximum write cycles, and one write to swap/paging file per second, the device would last for 1,000,000 / 8hrs per day / 60 minutes per hour / 60 seconds per minute = 1 month. BOOM!

(I never realised how much of a hard time we give our HDD drives)

So I can only assume the product is designed as an industrial strength data drive. Perfect for data. But due to limited flash write-cycles, this cannot unfortunately replace my main OS HDD yet. Perhaps a hybrid is still a better solution for most of us.




By animedude on 6/8/2006 5:46:45 AM , Rating: 1
I think they have taken this fatal flaw into consideration before releasing it.


By animedude on 6/8/2006 6:09:07 AM , Rating: 4
Addon:
Longevity/Lifespan

"Unlike DRAM, flash memory chips have a limited lifespan. Further, different flash chips have a different number of write cycles before errors start to occur. Flash chips with 300,000 write cycles are common, and currently the best flash chips are rated at 1,000,000 write cycles per block (with 8,000 blocks per chip). Now, just because a flash chip has a given write cycle rating, it doesn't mean that the chip will self-destruct as soon as that threshold is reached. It means that a flash chip with a 1 million Erase/Write endurance threshold limit will have only 0.02 percent of the sample population turn into a bad block when the write threshold is reached for that block. The better flash SSD manufacturers have two ways to increase the longevity of the drives: First, a "balancing" algorithm is used. This monitors how many times each disk block has been written. This will greatly extend the life of the drive. The better manufacturers have "wear-leveling" algorithms that balance the data intelligently, avoiding both exacerbating the wearing of the blocks and "thrashing" of the disk: When a given block has been written above a certain percentage threshold, the SSD will (in the background, avoiding performance decreases) swap the data in that block with the data in a block that has exhibited a "read-only-like" characteristic. Second, should bad blocks occur, they are mapped out as they would be on a rotating disk. With usage patterns of writing gigabytes per day, each flash-based SSD should last hundreds of years, depending on capacity. If it has a DRAM cache, it'll last even longer. "

http://www.bitmicro.com/press_resources_flash_ssd....


By Pops on 6/8/2006 12:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
I have not had a hard drive last me more then 5-7 years before they fail. So the deminish rate on a HDD seems to go from 100% to 0%. If they dont outright fail in 5-7 years you need to replace them anyways due to size and speed limitations.

So if these flash drives can last hundreds of years I think we are ok, even if their capacity drops a little.


By CorrND on 6/13/2006 1:59:33 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I have not had a hard drive last me more then 5-7 years before they fail. So the deminish rate on a HDD seems to go from 100% to 0%. If they dont outright fail in 5-7 years you need to replace them anyways due to size and speed limitations.

I'm very sorry if that's been your experience with hard drives. I've never had a hard drive fail on me -- EVER -- going all the way back to my first 50MB hard drive.

I definitely agree with you on your second point, though. That's been my experience: size and speed always dictate my new hard drive purchases.


By animedude on 6/8/2006 6:20:35 AM , Rating: 2
With proper management, a flash drive can last 56 years. Yes, that is intensive writing, too.


By ET on 6/8/2006 6:58:52 AM , Rating: 2
You're confusing "write" with "write cycle". A write cycle only happens when you need to erase data of a specific block to write new data there. To get what you describe you'd have to write once per second to the exact same place on the disk . You can see why this is unlikely.

As has been mentioned in another post, even when you do try to write to the same place, a well managed flash will actually write to another place. That's not only because there's a limited number of cycles, but because erasing a block is a slow operation.


By lemonadesoda on 6/8/2006 2:45:43 PM , Rating: 1
Hello???? Read the post please. We are talking about the swap/paging file.

Please don't tell me you are recommending a "constantly crawling", mega-fragmented swap file!


By AndreasM on 6/8/2006 3:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Hello???? Read the post please. We are talking about the swap/paging file.


Fragmentation doesn't matter with flash memory as much.

quote:
It depends very much on your machine purposing. If you are running office apps, then you will not thrash the swap file as hard.

If you are running P2P, database app, or you are a graphics designer, you may indeed be working that little apging/swap file even harder.


Ditch Azureus in favor of utorrent and your P2P won't swap and hog all your RAM. I think database appers and graphics designers would be better of buying enough RAM so they don't need to swap. 2 GB is cheap nowadays, and should ensure that one doesn't need to chug along with constant swapping. :P


By lemonadesoda on 6/8/2006 7:03:24 PM , Rating: 1
...thanks for the tips. Unfortunately, laptop limited to 512MB. Otherwise laptop is perfect and would otherwise not need upgrading.


By lemonadesoda on 6/8/2006 8:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
I politely advise all people who think that a windows system doesn't do much HDD writing to download the following:

http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/Diskmon.html

Please remember the following high-write activities:

1./ Registry updating
2./ NTFS last access
3./ IExplorer temp folder
4./ Paging/swap file

e.g. Loading PHOTOSHOP takes about 1500 reads and 300 writes.

(and thats before I've started working on the pictures!!!)


By saratoga on 6/8/2006 11:10:00 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
e.g. Loading PHOTOSHOP takes about 1500 reads and 300 writes.


Thats almost nothing. Even if the 1 million write thing was a hard limit (its generally much higher), you'd have on the order of 100 trillion writes before the thing failed. Realistically, the number is much higher then that.

Do the math here. That thing writes at maybe 20MB/s. Maybe. 1,000,000 writes * 64,000,000 blocks / 20,000 blocks per second == 104 years of continuous writing. Not to mention, most people will occasionally want to read values too.

Also, I doubt that app can tell the difference between a cache hit and a cache miss, so its probably massively overreporting the number of writes actually commited.


By mindless1 on 6/13/2006 9:00:42 AM , Rating: 2
untrue

1) It can only write to free space. That's already lower (than traditional magnetic HDD) because of the inherant cost per GB.

2) it's not a "thing failed" when no single block can be written, it's a thing failed when the reliability of successful data retention is below the user's needs. It's not quite enough to have a failure then a remap where data is lost.

3) Writes are not 20MB at a time, a few KB here or there will use more space and there is still a filesystem table of some sort to update.

This doesn't make flash unuseable by any stretch but IMO the tendency for apps and windows itself to do so much writing needs to be rethought, done more conservatively, which I think may happen as flash becomes more predominant but it seems Vista is too near for it to happen effectively in this generation.


By saratoga on 6/8/2006 10:58:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Fragmentation doesn't matter with flash memory as much.


For page files it doesn't really matter even with a hard disk since the page size will always be smaller then the block size on your disk, and since access is generally poorly localized anyway.


By sonoran on 6/8/2006 3:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
>Please don't tell me you are recommending a "constantly crawling", mega-fragmented swap file!

If you can afford these babies, my recommendation would be no swap file at all. Just toss a few GB of real DRAM into the machine and forget about swap files (which are only needed when you don't have enough DRAM to hold what's "in memory" anyhow).


By ET on 6/9/2006 9:37:49 AM , Rating: 2
Do you know what will happen to a memory location that changes every second? It will never be swapped out! Unless you're getting swap file thrashing, in which case you're probably taking time to sleep while your computer is responding to you. The point of a swap file is to keep on disk the areas of memory that aren't active.


By AndreasM on 6/8/2006 7:53:47 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Assuming 1,000,000 maximum write cycles, and one write to swap/paging file per second, the device would last for 1,000,000 / 8hrs per day / 60 minutes per hour / 60 seconds per minute = 1 month.


One write to swap per second? I recommend buying more RAM if your computer swaps that much. :P


By lemonadesoda on 6/8/2006 2:47:46 PM , Rating: 2
It depends very much on your machine purposing. If you are running office apps, then you will not thrash the swap file as hard.

If you are running P2P, database app, or you are a graphics designer, you may indeed be working that little apging/swap file even harder.


By GoatMonkey on 6/8/2006 10:24:20 AM , Rating: 2
How about a solid state drive. They use regular memory with a battery backup.



By Trisped on 6/8/2006 11:42:55 AM , Rating: 2
Power drain when off would not be good for a laptop. The price would only be 3x as much as a strait NAND. You could also set it up so the drive would have to be re-filled from a standard rotating drive everytime the laptop was turned on, but that would greatly increase the load time.

Another solution would be to add 1 Gig of DRAM for use as a cach. When you are already spending over $2000 the extra 50 dollars isn't going to add that much. The problem would be when people imporperly turn off their computers. A battery backup system (or one that maintains power from the laptop battery) would allow the mantanancy of this cach while writing completed. Then it would power down. I think that right there would be the best solution.


By Xenoterranos on 6/9/2006 12:55:15 AM , Rating: 2
Samsung....YO SAMSUNG. Over here. Yeah, I have an idea...DO WHAT THIS GUY SAYS. That is all.


By PandaBear on 6/8/2006 2:20:58 PM , Rating: 2
This is why buying a good brand like SanDisk helps. I have personally know some shady manufactures using reference firmware design that doesn't do wear leveling, bad block mapping, or allocate reserved blocks and sell their flash cards as is. While you may be lucky, they get corrupted in many access pattern (like using it as swap or log). I would bet many of the fake memory stick are just using reference firmware (just so the controller manufacture can prove that the product works, but you need to add additional feature you need) to make a quick profit.


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997














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