Aboard the SuperSpeedDrive train

Alright, this isn’t really about a train, at least not the one that transports people and things from here to there. This “train” is more like a train-station; as in, one that stores and transports people to and from itself. The faster the station can process each person, or transaction, the quicker trains can come and go.

Until the past couple years, in a computer system, this station/storage-engine has been the slowest element. The SSD (Solid State Drive) is a new generation of hard drive that is really fast. Speed that is leaps and bounds above the current mainstream technology. It just can’t be stated enough, SSDs positively bring an entirely new level of performance to the slowest component in a modern computer. In order of magnitude, lets go back to that train metaphor:

The Traditional Hard Disk Drive

Speed of a new SSD

One primary source of speedup is the demise of the last truly mechanical internal computer component – not counting fans.  These mechanical hard drives are literally a spinning disk with a small arm that reads from them. The very nature of this interaction has physical limitations that electrons moving across silcon chips do not.  This fact alone gives these SSD drives speed potential far beyond their mechanical ancestors.

Under the covers, Old and New

Being a complete hardware geek, I have followed SSD press and reviews closely since their “netbook” launch in 2007.  After deflecting most of the hype about how incredible SSDs are (even going so far as to say they’re “life changing”), I’m happy to say I’ve finally upgraded my station.

Until now, I’d skimmed news about this amazing technology with a steady stream of skepticism.  Yeah, I get that it’s fantastic, but it’s just an overblown Flash (or Thumb) drive with an off the frackin’ charts price tag (5+ times the cost of the traditional hard drive of higher capacity).   Fortunately, with the new technology, came some new comers to the SSD game. These players are out to capture a very valuable, fast growing and extremely competitive market.

OCZ, Corsair, G.Skill, Super Talent, Patriot, Intel, Samsung, A-Data, Kingston to name a “few” of the SSD manufacturers. But the core components are basically based on one of just three primary “controllers” – by Intel, Samsung or the smallest newcomer, Indilinx. These three companies make the SSD controllers, geekily explained here, though it simply be thought of as the “brain”.

They’ve all had their own first generation problems. From data loss to disheartening speed degradation as the drive is used. Thankfully, early adoption is not one of my foibles. But I digress, I know how stunning this new piece of hardware would upgrade my X200 thinkpad experience – in both speed and lower power consumption, i.e. maximize battery, not to mention something to write about. So I decided give in, when the time was more right.

After many weeks of waiting for the price to come down to a satisfactory level – was hoping for at least 80GB for <$200 – I finally found the right “deal”. I procured the Intel X25-M Generation 2 80GB. This drive has consistently received the highest overall review marks for SSDs and $212 (after a rebate) is a reasonable enough price.

Sweet Speed

Even so, it felt strange paying that much for *just* 80GB as the price for traditional hard drives has dramatically plummeted in the past five years to the current song of ~$.10/GB. Paying $.40/GB, while a decent deal in today’s SSD market, just felt a little wrong.

But it’s not about capacity here, its speed. Raw unfettered hair-raising speed. Can’t wait to launch my applications over & over, just for the rush.

Tags: , ,

1 comment

  1. […] a fan of Windows 7, and of new hardware technology in general, I took the train to SSD-land some two months ago.  Presented here is some of what I learned whist accomplishing the migration. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *