Print 43 comment(s) - last by tygrus.. on Jul 28 at 10:12 AM

Samsung solid-state NAND hard drives will be cheaper than reported, more versatile

Earlier today Samsung announced its 4GB solid-state NAND hard drives. The 1.8" and 2.5" devices will primarily be marketed for enthusiast and high-end desktops supporting Microsoft Windows Vista's ReadyBoost feature.

A DailyTech competitor claims "Samsung confirmed to TG Daily that the SSD is likely to be priced below $200," implying the price of the drive would be just under $200.  In fact, when DailyTech talked to Samsung the company confirmed that the device will cost significantly less than that, perhaps as much as $100 less. The company has not released pricing on the drive yet, but current prices on the NAND spot market quote 4GB of flash memory between $62 and $70.  Samsung Semiconductor's Director of Flash Marketing, Don Barnetson, was able to confirm that a slight premium on these prices was more in line with real pricing of the drives.

Samsung clarified during our conversation that the initial versions of the SSD will feature a Parallel ATA interface as opposed to the newer Serial ATA interface use in notebooks and PCs. Additionally, many of the chipsets Intel is releasing do not support the PATA interface so Samsung will definitely need to think about switching to SATA sooner than later. The SSD drives can be mounted in a PC using mechanical mounts or a 2.5-inch slot.

According to Samsung, the 4GB SSD should be ready to ship in time for the Vista launch, and features 57MBps read speeds and 31MBps write speeds and up to 5,000 operations per second.

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By namechamps on 7/26/2006 11:34:33 PM , Rating: 2
What is with releasing new tech with old specs?

HD moved to SATA what 2 years ago. Now virtually all HD are native SATA and have no cost premium over PATA. However optical drives continue to love the ancient PATA. There have been like 2 SATA drives released and they have huge price premium. Same thing with PCI vs PCIe. There is no reason to make the switch. Can't be a chicken or the egg situation . Virtually every single MB in last year has both PCIe and SATA ports.

Would be nice is we could drop this legacy garbage. Remove PCI ports, PATA ports, serial ports, parallel ports, and maybe even PS2 ports (going to get flamed for that one). Replace them with 2+ more PCIe ports, 2+ more SATA ports, 2+ more USB ports and still have room for maybe another 2 1394 ports or maybe 2 1394a and 2 1394b ports and a eSATA port.

Products like this will keep legacy ports on motherboards for another 10 years.

By NainoKami on 7/27/2006 4:11:39 AM , Rating: 2
I do see the point of moving to newer technology, but if you have a PCI soundcard that you paid $ 8000 for, you're not going to be happy when you upgrade to a new PC and can't use it... It's an annoying fact that most people can't afford to replace an entire system - especially when they have expensive I/O interfaces and such.

By Dfere on 7/27/2006 7:51:12 AM , Rating: 2
Hello? Is this thing on? $8000 for a soundcard? How does that relate to PATA? (you shoulda used AT's RTE! or at least pricewatch).

New technology always has some legacy issues, but in this case, not many.

By rrsurfer1 on 7/27/2006 8:06:13 AM , Rating: 2
He's definitely refering to some professional hardware. There are plenty of high-end I/O cards costing that much.

By TomZ on 7/27/2006 8:39:33 AM , Rating: 2
I think your thesis would be more correct if you apply it to devices, not motherboards. New devices should use new interfaces, e.g., as you said SATA instead of PATA and PCIe instead of PCI.

But for motherboards, they should, and will, include both "legacy" and new interfaces for some time to come since not all devices, both pre-owned and new, use the newer interfaces yet. For example, most CD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs are still PATA. Many types of expansion cards are basically PCI only still.

By shamgar03 on 7/27/2006 9:02:12 AM , Rating: 2
I am not really sure the performance benefits of sata are really that great to justify upgradeing at this point. I don't really have the numbers to back that up, but I can't really tell the difference in speed between my raptors and my 80gig ATA100 driver. If you aren't doing alot of file transfers or digital editing it doesn't make sense to pay premium for sata...

By TomZ on 7/27/2006 10:29:35 AM , Rating: 2
The benefits of SATA to the end user is in terms of the better cabling and jumperless configuration. There shouldn't be, in the longer term, any price difference between SATA and PATA.

By highlandsun on 7/27/2006 3:06:33 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect the only reason they've gone this route is because they had the PATA interface on the shelf already. I.e., this drive is nothing more than a 4GB CompactFlash card with TrueIDE support, surrounded by a 2.5" hard drive case. From a technological perspective, it's utterly boring. From a storage perspective, come on, there's already 8GB CompactFlash cards out there, you can do better than this.

The I/O rate is nice, but SanDisk already released their 8GB CF card with 40MB/sec read and write speed, so there's really nothing impressive here at all besides the promised price. SanDisk's 8GB CF is $640, this is 4GB at $100-200. All this tells me is that SanDisk's product is way overpriced...

By GTVic on 7/27/2006 3:46:20 PM , Rating: 2
Since Vista is 1-1.5 years away I think this product will change significantly by the time it is in demand.

By TomZ on 7/27/2006 4:05:15 PM , Rating: 2
Since Vista is 1-1.5 years away I think this product will change significantly by the time it is in demand.

Are you being facetious? Vista is currently scheduled to release beginning of 2007, which is only around 6 months away.

By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 7/28/2006 9:50:54 AM , Rating: 2
no kidding. I just bought a compactflash to IDE converter card from newegg for under $10.
Using it to replace a standard hard drive in an industrial machine. Because of the heat and vibration, we had been replacing the hard drives frequently. This converter plus a 2GB CF card was $80. More than enough room and speed to run DOS and the one application that controlls this machine.

By shabby on 7/26/2006 6:39:39 PM , Rating: 2
7megs/second? Gimme a break, my usb stick is faster then that.

RE: ...
By CKDragon on 7/26/2006 6:44:41 PM , Rating: 2
Where is that number from? Did the article originally say "7" and not "57"? Just curious, thanks.

RE: ...
By shabby on 7/26/2006 7:17:25 PM , Rating: 2
57mbps / 8 = 7.125 megs/second.

RE: ...
By NainoKami on 7/26/2006 7:34:51 PM , Rating: 4
Learn the topygraphy.

57 MBps = 57 MB/s
57 Mbps = 7.125 MB/s

B = byte
b = bit

Stop whining....

RE: ...
By eomhS on 7/26/2006 7:35:14 PM , Rating: 2
it says 57MBps x 8= 456Mbps!

RE: ...
By Samus on 7/27/2006 1:45:07 AM , Rating: 2
you don't have to worry about arial efficiency, either. most drives slow down when they're more than half full, however, solid state has the same access time and throughput for every block of memory.

you will still have to defragment it though.

RE: ...
By surt on 7/27/2006 10:49:55 AM , Rating: 2
You wouldn't need to worry about defragging as much, really, because fragmented files just require extra seeks, and seeks are much faster on flash drives.

RE: ...
By TomZ on 7/27/2006 10:51:31 AM , Rating: 2
you will still have to defragment it though.

Why? If there is nearly zero latency, then how much of an effect would fragmentation have?

SOunds like a great speed boost with Vista...
By kingpotnoodle on 7/26/2006 10:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like these are intended to work with Vista's intelligent caching system which will put the 4GB worth of most accessed files straight onto the SSD. (I'm a little worried all it will do is fill up with mp3 and movies though, I hope MS have thought of that)...

For the more expensive system an extra $100 for the serious speed boost this could bring would be a bargain... however as most high end systems are already limited with PATA ports and the new Intel chipsets don't feature it AT ALL unless the motherboard manufactuers add a extra chip (JMicron seem to be doing well out of that) then for the life of me I cannot understand how in the hell Samsung thought a PATA interface was the right one? I hope its just becuase its simpler to implement for development and that a SATA model (with NCQ) will be available in the winter when this and Vista actually hit the shelves!!

RE: SOunds like a great speed boost with Vista...
By shamgar03 on 7/27/2006 8:58:02 AM , Rating: 2
I don't really understand this, linux is actually smart enough to load up your ram as cache when you aren't using it. Windows on the other hand just lets the ram sit empty 90% of the time. If the windows designers took a page from the linux book we wouldn't really need to cache on flash drives.

RE: SOunds like a great speed boost with Vista...
By TomZ on 7/27/2006 10:38:42 AM , Rating: 2
I guess you don't understand Windows memory usage at all if you feel it is less sophisticated than Linux. Windows makes good use of memory when it is "empty" (as you say). Here's an article with a quick overview; use google if you want to learn more details.

By highlandsun on 7/27/2006 3:01:17 PM , Rating: 2
That link is talking about Vista/Longhorn. Windows today is very brain-damaged and doesn't use RAM nearly as well as it could. I've got 2GB of RAM installed in my laptop, only about 200MB of it ever goes to the buffer cache, with typically 1.3GB unused. Even when I start a disk and memory intensive job (compiling code) it never caches as much as it should. (And yes, I've already done all the registry tweaks to enable the large cache, etc...)

The Windows cache manager acts like it's allergic to RAM, and tries to empty it as much as possible, dumping out pages even when there's no memory pressure whatsoever. Stupid.

RE: SOunds like a great speed boost with Vista...
By TomZ on 7/27/2006 3:04:12 PM , Rating: 2
That link is talking about Vista/Longhorn.

You need to read more closely. From the article...

In today's versions of Windows, a technology called the Windows Prefetcher performs simple memory caching in a bid to improve overall system performance. The Prefetcher uses available system RAM to cache, or prefetch, memory pages that it believes the user will need in the future. The goal is to reduce unnecessary disk access because random disk I/O is one of the most obvious performance bottlenecks on a typical PC. "To get the disk out of the way," Aul told me, "the Prefetcher precaches the data it thinks you will need. That way, the disk read operation won't be necessary."

Windows XP's Prefetcher performs this service for a wide variety of file types, including Windows Explorer, the Windows boot files, and others. But Prefetcher has some limitations. If you run several memory-intensive tasks (e.g., games, graphics editing, video editing) all of those cached memory pages will be pushed out to the disk-based page file. So when you go back to a cached task, the system has to read them back from disk, thus obviating any performance benefit.

By Zoomer on 7/28/2006 3:19:42 AM , Rating: 2
What does it matter? It's obviously broken.

I see the same thing happening as well. It normally uses about a few hundred megs of system cache, out of 1.5 free gigs.

He's right to say that this is retarded. Dram, unlike flash, do not have any real write limits.

By OddTSi on 7/26/2006 10:08:17 PM , Rating: 2
What's the lifetime of these drives?

RE: Lifetime?
By kingpotnoodle on 7/26/2006 10:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
I assume Samsung have solved the issues of flash memory degrading over time?

Am I wrong in remembering a time when flash cards were limited to around 1000 re-writes before needing replacement?

RE: Lifetime?
By peternelson on 7/27/2006 10:41:25 AM , Rating: 2
I think with an optimised wear-levelling algorithm such as Sandisk use in their flash, it's longer than that.

Something like 100,000, maybe even a million writes.

But if some malware was written to specifically write to it repeatedly, I'd say it could burn through that number pretty quickly and you'd need to buy a new one.

I'd rather be able to decide myself what goes on it, and that only. I would not want to allow my OS to write to this drive arbitrarily, particularly not logs or swapfiles.

RE: Lifetime?
By TomZ on 7/27/2006 10:49:00 AM , Rating: 2
But if some malware was written to specifically write to it repeatedly, I'd say it could burn through that number pretty quickly and you'd need to buy a new one.

Very unlikely, since the selection of the physical sectors is done by the drive's firmware, not by anything on the other side of the IDE cable. The malware would have to be at the drive firmware level.

RE: Lifetime?
By surt on 7/27/2006 10:51:23 AM , Rating: 2
The rewrites on newer devices are up in the > 1 million write range now.

Going to raid them
By tk109 on 7/26/2006 6:27:11 PM , Rating: 2
I'm going to get 4 or these. Stick them on a controller card and raid them. Ought to be pretty fast, silent, and cool. And have all my swap files and temp files on an I-Ram. Thats should work good right?

RE: Going to raid them
By mendocinosummit on 7/26/2006 6:36:19 PM , Rating: 2
$400 for 16GB? I doubt that is the intention of the 4GB SSD's. I would only use them to make boots faster and programs to run faster.

RE: Going to raid them
By bunnyfubbles on 7/26/2006 11:54:52 PM , Rating: 1
depending on how much space vista requires to install, I'd think you could get it all on these SSDs and completely bypass the need for the caching feature (which I fail to believe will be all that amazing, worthwhile maybe)

After that, it would be cool if Vista could work off of the SSDs and still having its caching feature work for additional drives, such as the hybrid drives...

As far as iRAM, it seems much like a gimmick unless its price really comes down and you have some old RAM lying around - then maybe it'd be ok for swap/temp files (otherwise I don't think you'd need anything more than the SSD).

RE: Going to raid them
By Googer on 7/27/2006 1:39:48 AM , Rating: 2
$400 for 16GB? I doubt that is the intention of the 4GB SSD's. I would only use them to make boots faster and programs to run faster.

You would be better off with the latest Generation Seagate 15k.5 SCSI or SAS perpendicular recording hard drive that features a blistering 120+ MB/s transfer rate.

Seek Time Difference
By edlight on 7/26/2006 10:14:17 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps they will be much faster than anticipated by comparison to HD's due to the lack of having to mechanically seek around. Everything may be like serial access on a fast HD. No random seek slowdowns.

RE: Seek Time Difference
By kingpotnoodle on 7/26/2006 10:23:09 PM , Rating: 2
The most time consuming thing about hard drive access is the seek times (the read head moving and the disk rotating to bring the right block under the head), once the read head is in position its quick... thats why fragmentation is a bad thing because it causes the read heads to have to re-seek rather than reading contiguous sectors.

RE: Seek Time Difference
By tygrus on 7/28/2006 10:12:49 AM , Rating: 2
A general desktop drive gets around 80-120 iops (iometer) for random wirtes. 100 random reads per second of 32KB each means 3.125MBps. High-end SCSI with seek optimisations might get 400iops so that would be 12.5MBps. That's very short of the ~30MBps write and 57MBps read of the SSD. Yes, sequential read/write is much slower for current SSD but anything more than 20 seeks per second and the HD's are typically slower. Cheap SSD is now quite attractive.

FLASH memory can use redundant data cells to remap areas lost to too many writes. They can also spread the file writes over the disk so the same spot isn't used too many more times than everywhere else. 1M writes for each block = 1M cycles of every cell being re-written. Pre-FLASH EEPROM was about 1000 cycles.

fastar boot times!
By puffpio on 7/26/2006 6:58:51 PM , Rating: 2
I woudl get it and install windows + office + firefox + acrobat reader and other frequently used apps on it..
then isntall other programs on the regular hard drive

RE: fastar boot times!
By ksherman on 7/26/2006 7:17:55 PM , Rating: 2
well, the way i am understanding their intended use, was that Vista has going to use these NAND flash based hard drives and intelligent chache drives, where Vista would learn what sort of files are being used often, and put a copy of it on the SSD drive. Maybe im woring, that possible. But I highly doubt its intended/most efficiant use is going to be to have the user decided what to put on it.

I for one am very very much looking forward to these devices. I moved to Dual Core (X2 3800) and noticed a pretty big difference in multitasking performance, BUT (always a but) I only have one 400GB hard drive, and I think that multitasking performance is HUGELY impacted when everything you are accessing and running is all on one drive. I do have 2GB or RAM which helped also to improve multitasking performance. With the ability to access the files MANY times more than a standard hard drive, this is certainly to be a sweet blessing... Id give it about 3-5 years before we see capacities near high enough to be truly useful though. and with in the next 3-5 years, there is also likly to be huge gains in "Standard" hard drive capacities as well.

I could see have two drives, one ~200GB SSD for installing programs, and then another 2TB+ drive for storage. But who knows...

Under $100
By berat556 on 7/26/2006 7:14:46 PM , Rating: 2
The magic price seems to be $100 dollars, I am definetely going to buy one a pair it with my Raptor, even BF2 should load faster with two monster right.

RE: Under $100
By vtohthree on 7/26/2006 8:31:03 PM , Rating: 1
I've been liking Samsung's news lately, first GDDR4, then the new NV series, and now SSD's for under $100!

By ProviaFan on 7/26/2006 9:07:20 PM , Rating: 2
I was really hoping for a 64GB SSD (actually, two of them in RAID 0), but that won't happen since they will probably cost $,$$$ at first even after the "consumer" models are released (if they even come out later this year as promised). One or two of these will be great for Vista... But for the love of all that's holy, Samsung, please get with the program and make some of these with SATA!

By rushfan2006 on 7/27/2006 2:53:49 PM , Rating: 2
Price drops galore with CPU's..dual cores.....greatly affordable memory prices (getting 2 gb for a system is nothing anymore, etc.)....and now SSD on the horizon....nice...and in another 4-6 months I'll be due to build my next gamer system too.

I love the thought of having the OS on SSD -- if it would work 100% off SSD the way I picture it....that would be sweet....pretty much no boot time would be awesome as well.

"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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