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Alienware m9750  (Source: Alienware)
Alienware embraces solid-state disks for its notebooks

The use of solid-state disks (SSDs) continues to expand with the announcement that Alienware will offer the speedy drives in its Area-51 m5550, Area-51 m9750 and Aurora m9700 notebooks.

Alienware is offering customers a wealth of options when it comes to SSD configurations. Customers can choose a single 32GB SSD, a 32GB SSD combined with a 200GB 7,200RPM HDD (which should provide a nice compromise of speed and storage capacity) and dual 32GB SSDs in a RAID-0 configuration (for maximum performance). The dual-drive configurations are only available on the Area-51 m9750 and Aurora m9700.

"Alienware's new flash-based solid state drive solutions dramatically accelerate performance for mobile storage applications," said Alienware Associate Director of Product Marketing Bryan de Zayas. "From blazing load times to rock-solid durability, all the essential features that customers look for in a notebook are maximized in Alienware mobile systems loaded with solid state drives."

The new SSD options are currently available from Alienware's online website. A single 32GB SSD will set you back $500. Stepping up to the 32GB SSD combined with a 200GB HDD costs $800. Going full bore with dual 32GB SSDs will add a whopping $920 to your total bill.

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Good Grief
By Cobra Commander on 7/24/2007 2:58:00 PM , Rating: 2
Are ANY of you impressed by this (RAID0 SSD) in the slightest???

RE: Good Grief
By Mudvillager on 7/24/2007 3:00:44 PM , Rating: 4

RE: Good Grief
By AstroCreep on 7/24/2007 3:04:03 PM , Rating: 5
Honestly, at the price point SSD is at right now, I'm not too impressed - period. Haven't read any benches on striped-SSD arrays, but the price would probably put me into a coma.

Ask me again in a year.

RE: Good Grief
By wordsworm on 7/25/2007 3:09:46 AM , Rating: 1
Is your data worth $920? Some of my unique data is irreplaceable. Having solid state drives would greatly enhance the safety of that data. I do backups, and I would continue to do so. However, having the extra durability is *almost* worth the price.

RE: Good Grief
By theapparition on 7/25/2007 7:59:18 AM , Rating: 3
If your data is so irreplaceable (as is mine), you don't want to go with RAID-0!

RE: Good Grief
By TomZ on 7/25/2007 4:59:49 PM , Rating: 2
If your data is irreplaceable, you should have good backups, and then choose any RAID configuration you like. While it is true that RAID0 does increase your risk of having a problem, just using a HDD in the first place also carries considerable risk.

Therefore, the only rational way to mitigate that risk is through a good backup system, and that logic applies equally well to RAID0, no RAID, or RAID1.

RE: Good Grief
By theapparition on 7/26/2007 9:14:16 AM , Rating: 2
Backups are only valid to the last backup. Even daily backups can potentially cost a full day of work. That, in my view, is completely unacceptable for a long term strategy. Plus, there has never been an instance of backups going bad, has there???(/sarcasm)

Adding another drive in Raid 1/5/10 (plus a good backup plan) is signifigantly better since there is no downtime.

With a mirrored array, you are not decreasing your odds by half, they are decreasing exponentially since the odds that both drives fail at the same time are so much higher than a single failure.

For true data security, you should have redundant hardware, make frequent backups, and then store the backups in an insured/climatecontrolled/fireproof facility. I have a service that takes our backups and stores them.

RE: Good Grief
By Kamasutra on 7/26/2007 6:47:18 AM , Rating: 2
It is true that the RAID0 would halve the MTBF, but he also said he backs his data up anyway. Just curious, do you know the failure rate of these SSDs? I'm not sure if it's really that much more reliable as I haven't researched the subject, but it appears he's just making the argument that the convenience would be worth it to him.

RE: Good Grief
By FITCamaro on 7/24/2007 3:15:28 PM , Rating: 2
Given the $920 price tag for 64GB of space with questionable longevity and average performance (compared to RAID-0 with 7200 rpm drives), no.

Most notebooks don't even cost $920. I can't imagine spending that just for hard drives. Not when I'm getting barely more space than my 3 year old laptop has.

RE: Good Grief
By TomZ on 7/24/2007 3:26:24 PM , Rating: 2
The price is high, but the performance is almost certainly higher than any mechanical hard drive.

Here's an article that shows some quick (but not thorough) testing the PATA version of the drive. Basically the drive was faster than everything they tested, plus it delivered the near-zero seek times that you would expect from a SSD:

I don't think the longevity is a question at all. Flash drives have been used for at least 10 years in lots of applications, it's not like it's a new technology. They should easily outlast mechanical HDDs.

RE: Good Grief
By Mudvillager on 7/24/2007 3:35:13 PM , Rating: 2
+ they use some kind of algorithm to stop the drive from writing in the same cell twice.

RE: Good Grief
By omnicronx on 7/24/2007 3:46:39 PM , Rating: 1
I do not see how this would make a difference though, all flash drives have a maximum amount of times they can be written too, whether or not they have an algorithm to evenly disperse where the data is being written too or not.

I wonder if any hardcore testing has been done on ssd drives with many small files being written over and over again.

RE: Good Grief
By Mudvillager on 7/24/2007 4:56:30 PM , Rating: 2
If the drive were to write at the same spot every time, it could kill those cells within days.

RE: Good Grief
By TomZ on 7/24/2007 5:06:22 PM , Rating: 4
That's impossible.

1. You cannot write directly to a particular sector over and over. The wear-leveling algorithms will store the data in a different location each time you write.

2. Typical NAND flash, assuming nothing special used, is guaranteed for at least 1,000,000 write cycles. Typical longevity will actually be much higher.

3. Bad blocks are automatically marked by the drive and not use again.

There is no factual basis for believing SSDs will be less reliable than HDDs - it is a total myth.

I should point out that SSDs are regularly used in mission critical applications - the same applications where HDDs are deemed to be not reliable enough.

RE: Good Grief
By wordsworm on 7/25/2007 3:19:11 AM , Rating: 2
100,000 times is a lot. I think I read somewhere that it equates to about 5-10 years life. That's long enough for most of us.

RE: Good Grief
By TomZ on 7/25/2007 9:01:04 AM , Rating: 2
These drives use NAND flash.

The endurance of NAND flash is much greater than that of NOR flash (typically 1,000,000 cycles vs. 100,000 cycles).

RE: Good Grief
By FITCamaro on 7/24/2007 4:16:35 PM , Rating: 5

1) The difference between the SSD and a 7200 rpm drive is not that big.

2) That test shows nothing for write speeds.

Until I see that SSDs can last for years operating as a main drive for a PC OS (which is constantly writing to the page file on the hard drive), I'm not going to get one. And even if they prove they can, I'm still not going to get one at a price of $15.62/GB. I wouldn't spend $400 a 1TB drive (considering I can get 2 500GB drives for $200) so why would I spend 25% more for 3100% less?

RE: Good Grief
By spindoc on 7/24/2007 4:07:31 PM , Rating: 2
About 6 years ago, before I bought my house I bought a Seagate Cheetah 36GB U160 SCSI drive for $900. I sold it for $20 last week.

The point is that if I had money to burn today, I might consider those drives. Since I'm homebroke or mortgagebroke or whatever you want to call it, I'll stick to the "hot deals" section on tigerdirect.

RE: Good Grief
By UBB on 7/25/2007 5:44:47 AM , Rating: 2
You're better off shopping at zipzoomfly or newegg. There's no such thing as "hot deal" at tigerdirect.

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