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Hot or Not? New Samsung and Solidata SSDs

Hot or Not? New Samsung and Solidata SSDs
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The market is flooded with flash-based solid state drives (SSD) right now, all of which claim to deliver impressive throughput at power consumption levels low enough to save the world. So much for the theory, though—the reality is rather different.

A few select products are truly impressive, but the bulk of these are just expensive offerings that do not deliver on their promises. Two new drives by Samsung and Solidata found their way into our test labs, and they are as different as they can be.

Power Issues

We stirred up the SSD hive when we reported that many flash SSDs do not actually increase notebook battery runtime by saving power; in fact, they might shorten it due to the high power consumption of the drives. The article The SSD Power Consumption Hoax talks about power consumption issues we found half a year ago; our Flash SSD Update verifies and emphasizes these results. And the power issue is not over. Now that SSDs are exceeding 200 MB/s throughput, they tend to become CPU-bound. In other words, this means that running systems with full power saving settings enabled might bottleneck your SSD performance.

Performance Issues

First- and second-generation flash SSDs simply were not what people had hoped they would be. It took until 2009 for flash SSDs to become more efficient and noticeably faster. Six new drives did well a couple of months ago, but only Intel’s X25-M (consumer) and X25-E (professional) were able to truly impress us.

In addition to this, many tech Web sites are focusing on existing fragmentation issues with flash SSDs today, as the performance characteristics depend on the workload, the data stored, and the fragmentation level. Sequential reads or writes from or to flash SSDs aren’t, in fact, sequential, as intelligent controllers constantly try to optimize performance and wear leveling by distributing writes according to the flash SSD’s capabilities. They are typically successful, while staying within a one-workload scenario.

However, dramatic changes in workload or capacity reuse may impact flash SSD performance, and only SSD-drive-aware operating systems will be able to improve this situation. Until then, try to avoid heavy fragmentation (P2P downloads) or changing workloads (from intensive I/O to intensive sequential requests). If you use your flash SSD as a system drive, you should be fine, taking advantage of modern flash SSDs’ performance potential.

New Drives: Samsung PB22-J, Solidata X1 and X2

Samsung’s new PB22-J drive finally jumps over the 200 MB/s line, and it is available at capacities of up to 256 MB. Unfortunately, these drives aren’t intended to be sold at retail, though you may see re-labeled Samsung drives, or be able to get them in high-end notebooks.

We also received two Solidata SSDs, which differ by running two individual flash segments in an internal RAID 0 configuration. We found that the drives perform well, but they also require horrible levels of power consumption that actually exceed the amount needed by fast 3.5” desktop drives.

Display 14 Comments.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , 30 April 2009 18:35
    Err... have you completely forgotten the OCZ Vertex? Sheesh... It's currently the best reasonably priced drive - £120 for 30GB.

    And it's perfect as a boot drive for a laptop. Head over to Anandtech for a review of that drive.
  • 0 Hide
    will_chellam , 1 May 2009 15:49
    Thanks tom's - ive just spen 20mins reading about how good the new samsung drive is, only to find out you cant actually buy them.
  • 1 Hide
    simonmw3 , 1 May 2009 17:06
    I've a question on the MTBF. For hard drives you give a lower end of 350,000 hours. This is 14580 days (350000/24) or 40 years (350000/24/365)!
    If the MTBF were as given, then a PC could run non-stop for an average of 40 years before we saw a HD failure. In other words we would very, very rarely have hard disk failures. So how come HD failures are much more common?
  • 1 Hide
    will_chellam , 1 May 2009 18:23
    I think it's because 'enthusiasts' unknowingly or unwittingly use or abuse their hard-drives outside of the manufacturers specifications - ive got a 7gb fujitsu hdd in a web-server box thats been going solid for around 12-13years now - no errors....
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 1 May 2009 18:53
    will_chellamThanks tom's - ive just spen 20mins reading about how good the new samsung drive is, only to find out you cant actually buy them.

    It said on the first page, second to last paragraph
    simonmw3I've a question on the MTBF. For hard drives you give a lower end of 350,000 hours. This is 14580 days (350000/24) or 40 years (350000/24/365)!If the MTBF were as given, then a PC could run non-stop for an average of 40 years before we saw a HD failure. In other words we would very, very rarely have hard disk failures. So how come HD failures are much more common?

    Data corruption doesn't count as a failure, and most problems will be like this. Also, I'll bet keep turning them on and off doesn't help. 350,000hrs doing very little work?
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 1 May 2009 18:54
    And since when could you only get hard drives up to 500GB?!? (page 2)
  • 0 Hide
    Nick_C , 2 May 2009 05:10
    Currently 2.5" drives only go up to 500GB. The last paragraph on Page 2 puts this in context (sort of).
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 2 May 2009 06:33
    I walk away from all of Tom's reviews with doubt ever since I started reading the more thorough and confident reviews at Anandtech...
  • 0 Hide
    TheProdigy , 2 May 2009 10:44
    [quote=joebloggs]Err... have you completely forgotten the OCZ Vertex? Sheesh... It's currently the best reasonably priced drive - £120 for 30GB.

    And it's perfect as a boot drive for a laptop. Head over to Anandtech for a review of that drive.[/quote]

    couldn't agree more, the OCZ Vertex is one of the best SSD's
  • 0 Hide
    bobwya , 3 May 2009 17:12
    I will be heading over to Anandtech to find out how this new(ish) Samsung drive stacks up against the OCZ Vertex with a proper SSD test (4K random writes).

    Come THG leaving out OCZ is just stupid...

    Bob
  • 0 Hide
    shawkie , 4 May 2009 19:40
    Totally agree with all the comments about Anandtech and the also the missing OCZ Vertex. Also want to point out that if anyone does actually want to buy the Samsung drive then SCAN seem to be selling it. They also have a Corsair P256 which I believe is the same drive.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 5 May 2009 23:59
    Page 2 under 'Enthusiasts or professionals' heading

    "Enthusiast desktop PCs should be running a 1+ TB drive,"

    Huh? Professionals (ie those that get paid, those who work) have tiny hard drives as all of their data is stored on 'professional' servers. Even at home I have a single 300gb 'raptor on my main PC, everything else (films, music, web development etc etc etc) is on my 5tb server so everyone else on the house can access it.

    Also - you are journalists so basic grammar and a proof read should be a given. On page 1 you have MB instead of GB and in the table on page 2, you have MTBD instead of MTBF. I haven't read any more yet so I don't know if they are the only basic errors.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , 7 May 2009 07:18
    The new Samsungs are available from Novatech.co.uk - good price on them too. Other UK retailers (overclockers for onne) are also going to retail the oem drive.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 9 May 2009 01:10
    Quote:
    I've a question on the MTBF. For hard drives you give a lower end of 350,000 hours. This is 14580 days (350000/24) or 40 years (350000/24/365)!


    That is not how MTBF works. MTBF works on field accumulated operation time across many devices. In your example of 40 years MTBF, it would mean that if you operate 40 of these devices, you can expect one to be returned every year. If you operate a datacenter with 15.000 drives then on average you can expect one drive to fail each day.
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