Super Talent’s SATA25 128GB solid-state hard drive

Manufacturer Super Talent
Model SATA25 128GB
Price (Estimated) $4600
Availability October

APART FROM COOLING FANS, hard drives are the only mechanical devices inside a modern PC—the last bastion of an era lost in a sea of silicon teeming with billions of transistors running at gigahertz clock speeds. The mechanical internals of modern hard drives are hardly low-tech, of course, but they do carry a number of inherent penalties we’d rather avoid.

For example, hard drives feature platters that take a fair bit of energy to keep spinning at thousands of rotations per minute. Power consumption is of course a greater concern for mobile applications, but it’s become a key metric for desktops, as well. Those spinning platters also introduce a measure of rotational latency that severely impedes seek performance. The drive head can’t just go and grab data from a given target; it has to wait for that target to come ’round on the platter. And then there’s the not-so-trivial matter of fragility. Hard drives have become considerably more robust over the years, but moving parts are still prone to damage from jostling and other physical abuse.

Solid-state drives (SSDs) aim to solve the problems associated with hard drive mechanics by replacing them with memory chips. On paper, it looks like a great idea. The first batch of SSDs did offer low power consumption and quick seek times without moving parts, however, actual throughput was dismal and capacities were quite limited.

Now a new wave of SSDs is upon us, led into our labs by Super Talent’s SATA25. This 2.5″ drive packs a stunning 128GB of total capacity and claims sustained read and write speeds of 60MB/s and 40MB/s, respectively—huge improvements over previous solid-state drives. But how does it hold up in the wild? We’ve run the drive through our comprehensive suite of performance, power consumption, and noise level tests to find out.

The big squeeze

Limited storage capacity has always been a problem for solid-state drives, so the SATA25’s 128GB capacity makes it rather special. Traditional hard drives still have a significant storage advantage—the latest 2.5″ mobile drives are available up to 320GB—but 128GB probably more than enough for most folks. In fact, I’m barely using 128GB on my primary desktop, and most of that space is consumed by junk I could easily live without.

Solid-state drives typically top out around 32GB, so the SATA25’s 128GB capacity is particularly impressive when compared with its peers. Super Talent achieves this capacity with 32 Samsung SLC NAND Flash chips, each of which tips the scales at 32Gbits, or 4GB.

Cramming 32 memory chips into a 2.5″ hard drive form factor is no easy task. Super Talent manages to get the job by spreading chips over a pair of PCBs that are stacked on top of each other. This makes the SATA25 a little thicker than typical mobile drives, though.

Most mobile drives measure 9.5mm thick, but the 2.5″ drive standard also allows for thicknesses of 12.5mm, 17mm, and 19mm. Fortunately, the SATA25 hasn’t completely let itself go; at 12.5mm thick, it’s at best packing a spare tire. Of course, that spare tire is one that the drive can’t suck in to slide into notebooks designed exclusively with 9.5mm drives in mind.

Super Talent is looking into stacking chips on a single PCB to reduce the SATA25’s thickness. However, the company is unsure whether it will be able to slim things down enough to reach the next notch in the belt.

If you don’t fancy squeezing the SATA25 into a notebook, the drive sports a standard Serial ATA interface and will work in regular desktop systems. It also has an “ultra rugged” metal casing that nicely complements the inherent shock tolerance and durability of solid-state drives.

A lack of moving parts makes Flash memory chips much more durable than mechanical hard drives, but longevity can be an issue. The SLC NAND memory used in the SATA25 is typically good for 100,000 write/erase cycles, and Super Talent quotes drive life at greater than 140 years. Of course, like most mobile drives, the SATA25’s warranty runs out in three years.

To help extend drive life, the SATA25 employs wear-leveling algorithms that spread write/erase cycles evenly across the disk to ensure frequently changed memory blocks don’t fail before their neighbors. There is no limit on read cycles for SLC NAND Flash memory, so wear leveling isn’t necessary for frequently read memory blocks—just those that are changed.

Test notes

Today we’ve pitted the SATA25 against 7,200-RPM mobile drives from Seagate and Hitachi, and Super Talent’s old IDE Flash solid-state drive. We’ve also thrown in the latest 3.5″ drives from Hitachi, Maxtor, Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital. These 3.5″ drives aren’t natural competitors for the SATA25, but we’re curious to see how SSD performance compares with the fastest desktop drives on the market.

We use a common hard drive test rig here at TR, so all the results are comparable to those in our last major hard drive review, and even our mobile hard drive round-ups.

Our testing methods

All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged, using the following test system.

Processor

Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz
System bus 800MHz (200MHz
quad-pumped)
Motherboard

Asus P5WD2 Premium
Bios revision 0422
North bridge Intel 955X MCH
South bridge Intel ICH7R
Chipset drivers Chipset 7.2.1.1003

AHCI/RAID 5.1.0.1022

Memory size 1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Micron DDR2 SDRAM
at 533MHz
CAS latency
(CL)
3

RAS to CAS delay
(tRCD)
3
RAS precharge
(tRP)
3
Cycle time
(tRAS)
8
Audio codec ALC882D
Graphics

Radeon X700 Pro 256MB
with CATALYST 5.7 drivers
Hard drives

Western Digital Caviar SE16 750GB
SATA

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750GB
SATA

Western Digital Raptor X 150GB
SATA

Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB
SATA

Western Digital Caviar RE2 500GB
SATA

Seagate Barracuda ES 750GB
SATA

Samsung SpinPoint T 400GB
SATA

Maxtor DiamondMax 11 500GB
SATA

Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 1TB
SATA

Seagate Momentus 7200.1 100GB
SATA

Hitachi Travelstar 7K100 100GB
SATA

Super Talent IDE Flash 8GB
ATA

Super Talent SATA25 128GB SATA


OS


Windows XP Professional

OS updates
Service Pack 2

Thanks to the folks at Newegg for hooking us up with the DiamondMax 11 we used for testing.

Our test system was powered by OCZ PowerStream power supply units. The PowerStream was one of our Editor’s Choice winners in our last PSU round-up.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

WorldBench overall performance

WorldBench uses scripting to step through a series of tasks in common Windows applications. It then produces an overall score. WorldBench also spits out individual results for its component application tests, allowing us to compare performance in each. We’ll look at the overall score, and then we’ll show individual application results.

The SATA25 is a huge improvement over Super Talent’s previous generation solid-state drive in WorldBench, turning in an overall score 13 points higher than that of its predecessor. That score is nearly good enough to catch Hitachi’s Travelstar 7K100, although desktop drives prove faster.

Multimedia editing and encoding

MusicMatch Jukebox

Windows Media Encoder

Adobe Premiere

VideoWave Movie Creator

The SATA25 scores a win in WorldBench’s Windows Media Encoder workload, but the results from the Premiere test are far more interesting. There, the SATA25 is nearly twice as fast as the older IDE Flash drive and even quicker than the Travelstar. The SATA25 also shows a marked improvement over the IDE Flash in the Movie Creator test.

Image processing

Adobe Photoshop

ACDSee PowerPack

WorldBench’s ACDSee workload creates huge problems for the IDE Flash, but the SATA25 is unfazed, finishing the test almost four times faster. The SATA25 isn’t quick enough to catch either 7,200-RPM mobile drive, however.

Multitasking and office applications

Microsoft Office

Mozilla

Mozilla and Windows Media Encoder

The tables turn briefly in WorldBench’s Office XP test, where the older IDE Flash takes top honors and the SATA25 languishes at the back of the pack. The drive redeems itself somewhat in WorldBench’s multitasking test, but it’s not much faster than the competition there.

Other applications

WinZip

Nero

WinZip doesn’t look good for either solid-state offering, with even the SATA25 taking nearly twice as long as the closest 7,200-RPM mobile drive to complete the test. Fortunately, the SATA25 springs back in Nero, where it’s more than four times faster the IDE Flash. In that test, the SATA25 proves faster than the Momentus and Travelstar, as well.

Boot and load times

To test system boot and game level load times, we busted out our trusty stopwatch.

Load times are very fast with the SATA25. The drive edges out the rest of the pack in our system boot time test and easily posts the fastest Doom 3 and Far Cry level load times. Not even the speediest 3.5″ Serial ATA drives on the market can keep up with the SATA25 here.

File Copy Test

File Copy Test is a pseudo-real-world benchmark that times how long it takes to create, read, and copy files in various test patterns. File copying is tested twice: once with the source and target on the same partition, and once with the target on a separate partition. Scores are presented in MB/s.

To make things easier to read, we’ve busted out our FC-Test results into individual graphs for each test pattern. We’ll tackle file creation performance first.

File Copy Test’s file creation workload probes the greatest weakness of solid-state drives: write performance. Here, the SATA25 is decimated, failing to even come close to the performance of 2.5″ drives spinning at 7,200-RPM. To be fair, however, the SATA25 is between two and three times faster than the original IDE Flash drive.

Now that we’ve created the files dictated by all these test patterns, let’s see how fast the drives can read them.

Solid-state drives prefer to read, and the SATA25 does rather well when FC-Test turns its attention to read performance. The SATA25 easily outdistances the fastest 2.5″ drives, and with a couple of test patterns, it dusts all or most of the 3.5″ drives we’ve assembled, too. Perhaps even more striking is the huge performance improvement over the IDE Flash drive, which is roughly a fourth as fast across the board.

File Copy Test – con’t

Next, File Copy Test combines read and write tasks in some, er, copy tests.

Copy tests stress the SATA25’s strength and its weakness, giving us somewhat mixed results. In four of five test patterns, the SATA25 is much slower than our 7,200-RPM notebook drives but still significantly faster than the IDE Flash. However, in the ISO test pattern, which is made up of a small number of very large files, the SATA25 actually manages to pull even with the Momentus and Travelstar.

FC-Test’s second wave of copy tests involves copying files from one partition to another on the same drive.

The results from the partition copy tests closely mirror transfer rates from the standard copy tests. Plagued by its poor write performance, the SATA25 is slow here, but comparatively a little faster in the ISO test pattern.

iPEAK multitasking

We’ve developed a series of disk-intensive multitasking tests to highlight the impact of command queuing on hard drive performance. You can get the low-down on these iPEAK-based tests here. The mean service time of each drive is reported in milliseconds, with lower values representing better performance.

The SATA25 scores a rare overall win in one of our iPEAK workloads and easily stays ahead of our other 2.5″ competitors. What’s most interesting is how much the SATA25 improves upon the mean service time of Super Talent’s IDE Flash. Again, we see the latest generation SSD beat the performance of its predecessor by nearly a factor of four.

iPEAK multitasking – con’t

Our second batch of iPEAK workloads presents more mixed results. In one test pattern, the SATA25 is actually a little slower than the 7,200-RPM Travelstar. However, throughout the rest of the tests, it’s the fastest 2.5″ drive in the pack.

Again, we see the SATA25 mopping the floor with its IDE Flash ancestor. Solid-state drives have come a long way in just a year.

IOMeter – Transaction rate

IOMeter presents a good test case for seek latencies with a demanding suite of multi-user load simulation patterns.

IOMeter’s file server, database, and workstation test patterns hammer drives with a mix of read and write operations, so they’re less than ideal for solid-state drives. Still, the SATA25 manages a good showing in the file server and workstation test patterns, particularly because the drive’s throughput is consistent regardless of whether there’s a light or heavy load.

Things turn in the SATA25’s favor with the web server workload, which is exclusively made up of read ops. There, the SATA25 decimates the field, leaving even Western Digital’s 10K-RPM Raptors in its wake. The web server test pattern results are even more striking because the SATA25 and IDE Flash are relatively evenly matched across IOMeter’s other workloads, yet the SATA25 is close to three times faster when it’s only asked to read.

IOMeter – Response time

The SATA25 doesn’t look quite as hot when we look at IOMeter response times; the drive is largely bunched with the rest of the field. However, in the web server test pattern, the SATA25 is clearly much more responsive.

IOMeter – CPU utilization

CPU utilization stays low across three of four IOMeter workloads. With the web server test pattern, though, the SATA25’s near-biblical throughput does require additional CPU resources. Even the IDE Flash consumes a few extra CPU cycles here, but neither drive takes up much more than 4%.

HD Tach

We tested HD Tach with the benchmark’s full variable zone size setting.

Super Talent claims 60MB/s read and 40MB/s write speeds for the SATA25, and they’re not being overly optimistic. The SATA25 just eclipses those numbers in HD Tach’s sustained read and write speed tests, in both cases leaving 7,200-RPM mobile drives behind. Again, we see the SATA25 simply outclassing Super Talent’s previous generation SSD.

Without a fast DRAM cache, the SATA25 doesn’t have a chance in HD Tach’s burst speed test. At least the drive’s burst performance is more than four times quicker than that of the IDE Flash.

Random access times are where solid-state drives really shine, and this synthetic test shows just how brightly. The SATA25 seeks in just 0.4 milliseconds—20 times faster than Western Digital’s fastest Raptor and even a little quicker than the IDE Flash.

CPU utilization results are within HD Tach’s +/- 2% margin of error for this test.

Noise levels

Noise levels were measured with an Extech 407727 Digital Sound Level meter 1″ from the side of the drives at idle and under an HD Tach seek load. Drives were run with the PCB facing up.

Without moving parts, the SATA25 is utterly silent. The noise levels you see here for it and the IDE Flash refer to the noise level of the system as a whole, effectively minus any noise created by a hard drive.

Power consumption

For our power consumption tests, we measured the voltage drop across a 0.1-ohm resistor placed in line with the 5V and 12V lines connected to each drive. Through the magic of Ohm’s Law, we were able to calculate the power draw from each voltage rail and add them together for the total power draw of the drive.

In a rare moment, the IDE Flash tops the podium, drawing less juice than any other drive. The SATA25 understandably draws more power here; it’s packing 16 times the storage capacity of the IDE Flash, and that’s a lot more memory to power.

Likely as a result of its extremely high capacity, the SATA25 doesn’t make as compelling a case for lower power consumption as one might expect. At least at idle, our 7,200-RPM mobile drives barely consume more power. However, those drives more than double their wattage under a seek load while the SATA25 barely moves the needle.

Conclusions

Super Talent’s SATA25 is a testament to just how far solid-state drives have come in a very short while. SSDs have always enjoyed blistering random access times, but as the IDE Flash illustrates, transfer rates have been dismal. The SATA25 is a huge improvement on the transfer rate front, in some cases offering more than four times the performance of its predecessor. That’s a huge leap in performance from one generation to the next, and one that allows the SATA25 to be competitive across a much wider range of tests.

Of course, the SATA25’s particularly jaw-dropping performances are confined to a narrow range of tests. Random access time is clearly the drive’s strongest suit, and as our IOMeter results suggest, the SATA25 is an absolute monster when crunching web server workloads. The drive’s performance in IOMeter’s web server test pattern is nothing short of stunning, particularly when you consider that its 128GB storage capacity should be more than enough for most web server needs.

128GB of fast flash doesn’t come cheap, though. When the SATA25 hits Newegg and other online retailers at the end of the month, it’s expected to sell for a whopping $4600, or roughly $36 per gigabyte. For web servers, $4600 for a 128GB solid-state drive is a lot cheaper than the equivalent in DRAM, so the SATA25 may actually be a pretty good deal. Obviously, though, it’s still deep in luxury territory for the rest of us. And that’s fine, because despite massive improvements in transfer rates, solid-state drives don’t yet offer the kind of all-around performance that most of us seek.

They are getting close, though, and that’s the most encouraging thing about the SATA25. This drive may have mouth-watering potential for workloads that stress random access times, busy web servers, or environments that demand high storage capacity with rugged shock tolerance or absolute silence. What’s perhaps more important is how quickly solid-state drives are catching up with their mechanical counterparts. Solid-state drives won’t replace mechanical drives for the masses overnight, but if the SATA25 is any indication of what’s to come, SSDs may chip away the mechanical monolith quicker than anyone expected.

Comments closed
    • markos
    • 12 years ago

    I’m not certain I’m reading the same article, based on some of the overly positive replies that I’ve gone through in this comments thread.

    From the tests that you’ve run, this SSD is only marginally better than the higher-quality mechanical drives, and in many tests that you show results for, it’s worse (or much worse.)

    Why on earth would there be any interest (even from the gamer/hard-core enthusiast) for this technology given how poorly it performs (at the present) against run-of-the-mill hard disk drives?

    Certainly there might be niche applications (low power consumption is the only one that really sticks out to me) that can benefit from this technology, but I don’t see general-purpose applications gaining such a beneft.

    • someotherguy5
    • 12 years ago

    My theory is that the web server test is returning many small requests. I doubt this trend would continue if the web server test was vs. larger files served…

    A further analysis should include a “file-size” dimension.

    Further, I now wonder about the database results. If you’re doing a lot of very quick, lookups reading small data sets, or performing data locking in transactions, I think the solid state might work well. If you’re querying for large datasets, I doubt it.

    I wonder about small database transactional writes… vs. large transactional writes.

    ps: Also might it be better to deck out your webserver with ram and cache everything? With new systems, 128GB of RAM is actually possible..

    What do y’all think?

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    At the IDF, Intel is already touting an SSD with twice the write performance of existing SSDs (though actually, if you’re paying attention, that line above it about “10X-50X IOPS” is more impressive).

    §[< http://www.hothardware.com/articleimages/item1027/big_gelsinger_22.jpg<]§

    • DrDillyBar
    • 12 years ago

    I’m glad they’re pushing up capacity, but price isn’t quite in the right place just yet.

    • moog
    • 12 years ago

    Does anybody know what the mean time to failure of this drive is (or SSD drives in general)?

        • moog
        • 12 years ago

        Interesting, other than cost, there’s really no reason to use HDs anymore.

          • UberGerbil
          • 12 years ago

          Well, yeah, other than the cost. Cost is kind of a biggie, though. Write performance still sucks, but that should improve with time and capacity (as more chips are run in parallel).

          The cross-over point — when “big enough” is “cheap enough” is probably 2010 for notebooks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple does it (and makes a typically Jobsian big deal out of it) for some MacBooks next year (like the oft-rumored ultralight MacBook). It’s further out for desktops, just because everyone has gotten used to huge quantities of cheap storage, and even if they’ll never use it they think they “might” so they don’t want to pay more for less. Business desktops, where all the important data should be living on servers anyway, will transition first. Hybrid drives may help too because the drive electronics could be smart enough to migrate data from the flash to the platters based on usage, giving the best of both worlds during the transition (without burdening users with understanding how to manage two storage volumes with very different characteristics). Though, interestingly, HP said their testing didn’t show much benefit to hybrid drives.

          But yeah, at the rate things are going we’ll all be switched over to NAND sometime in the next decade — just in time for the <i>next</i> technology transition.

    • Tarx
    • 12 years ago

    Hmmm… definitely better than some past SSD, but even ignoring the price it seems mostly interesting for some specific needs.
    What struck me more was just how well the WD 750GB HD did in most of the tests.
    edit: great review!

    • gratuitous
    • 12 years ago
      • johnamadeus
      • 12 years ago

      100000 hours = 11.41553 years =)

      • eitje
      • 12 years ago

      well, the way decibels are measured, 40 dB to 50 dB is distinctly different from 0 dB to 10 dB. So, they’re probably going for the straight, 100% accurate measurement, rather than the adjusted, possibly confusing, value.

    • PenGun
    • 12 years ago

    You know even windose will create and use RAMdisks.

    Set up one with 2G or so and see how fast that puppy is.

      • DrDillyBar
      • 12 years ago

      I’d like to see this too, just for kicks. 😉

      • tfp
      • 12 years ago

      What software is used for ramdisks lately?

    • Forge
    • 12 years ago

    Somebody buy me one, please?

    I’ll name my nextborn child after you.

      • gratuitous
      • 12 years ago
      • IntelMole
      • 12 years ago

      I might buy one if I can choose the name of your child. Deal?

    • bdwilcox
    • 12 years ago

    As far as thickness issues go, wouldn’t a stacked BGA architecture solve this problem without all the problems one would normally encounter with stacked TSOP technology?

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    Somebody get it out of the way to ask whether there are limited writes on SSDs, and then ubergerbil will tech pwn ur *ssg{<.<}g

      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      Heh. Please: no.

      • eitje
      • 12 years ago

      i considered it as a joke, but i just can’t do that *hugs UG*.

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    Price will drop 50% each year. Capacity will climb, though I don’t know how necessary that is now that we’re over 100GB — archival and media storage can remain on spinning disks. Speed should improve as well, though they’re going to have to find ways to jam more chips into the same space. Assuming they can do that, doubling the transfer speed next year is trivial, quadrupling the year after that. Try that with HD tech.

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    You know, there really shouldn’t be much power used by this at idle. The NAND by itself isn’t using any, so there certainly shouldn’t be such a difference vs the 8GB IDE SSD simply due to the size. It looks to me like the SATA interface by itself uses a watt. I wonder if the entire stack — motherboard, BIOS, SATA controller, OS — fully implemented the latest ACPI (3b) and AHCI (1.2) specs, if the SATA interface could be put to sleep and then woken up (looking much like hot-plugging the SATA controller, I would guess) to eliminate that power drain. I wouldn’t be surprised if Windows wouldn’t be too happy with having the interface for the system drive going away periodically, however.

    Still, 1W is a lot in a mobile application.

    • eitje
    • 12 years ago

    what i like most about TR reviews is that they understand that the enthusiast is actually riding a fine line between server tech and desktop tech. for us to REALLY be ahead of the curve, we need to be aware of hardware like this.

    Thanks for the review!

    • bhtooefr
    • 12 years ago

    Hmm, I see an idea here that may make this drive work a lot better…

    How about a DRAM write cache? I know it takes up more space, and increases power use, but it might be worth the tradeoff – you can write to DRAM a hell of a lot faster than you can write to flash. So, in a workstation workload, that should help a lot (because it can write to flash during periods of idle…) even an 8 MiB cache would help. Remember, it keeps up with the pack in read access, even without a read cache.

      • CheetoPet
      • 12 years ago

      I’d have laughed quite hard at your suggestion has I not read the article first. Judging from the burst speeds scores there could potentially be a solid performance improvement.

      • notfred
      • 12 years ago

      That’s what the memory in the PC is for, the OS should use it as a filesystem cache. Some OSs and some filesystems are better at it than others.

        • Taddeusz
        • 12 years ago

        But the RAM cache on the drive is used as an interface cache. It works on a different level from the OS’s file system cache. The drive itself needs a cache since the interface itself can send and receive data faster than the drive can write and retreive it. There are multiple purposes for the cache but one is as a command buffer since modern drives can queue up multiple reads/writes.

        Not having at least a small RAM cache would make the whole computer extremely slow.

          • stdPikachu
          • 12 years ago

          Cache is there to compensate for the disparity of speed of access between system memory and a disc platter. With SSD’s, there’s no access time penalty, and no rotational latency, and so a disc-side RAM cache is pretty much pointless. Much like benchmarking burst speed, in fact 🙂

            • eitje
            • 12 years ago

            if you’re looking at read cache, that’s true. But the initial post was for a WRITE cache, which would – in fact – be pretty handy for NAND SSDs… wouldn’t you agree?

            • stdPikachu
            • 12 years ago

            No, because the OS should always be certain when something has been flushed to disc. When I run “sync” I want to know that the data has been written, not that it’s sitting in a HDD-based write cache.

            • eitje
            • 12 years ago

            if write-caching is enabled, it has to assume that everything went to the disk w/o a problem.

        • UberGerbil
        • 12 years ago

        As Taddeuz says, the cache within an HD operates at a different level from the caching performed by the OS. That’s why otherwise identical drives with larger caches have better performance regardless of the OS or filesystem in use (though the marginal benefit drops quite a bit as the cache gets large enough). In HDs, the drives use the cache opportunistically to load data that /[

          • stdPikachu
          • 12 years ago

          What makes laptops more “limited” than desktops? And since when was 1-2GB “limited”? I’ve not had XFS use more than about 30MB of RAM for write caching on a standard desktop.

            • UberGerbil
            • 12 years ago

            Laptops are limited because most only have two DIMM slots, and many have only one. Many recent laptops using DDR thus top out at 1 or 2GB (because their chipsets don’t support more than 1GB SODIMMs). Whether that’s enough, or limiting, depends on your usage. But it’s at least potentially more limited than desktops.

            • stdPikachu
            • 12 years ago

            Well, 1-2GB RAM doesn’t really count as limited in my book, but anyway.

            The whole purpose of the HDD cache is to mask the latency inherent in the mechanical device. Since there’s negligible latency in SSD’s, there’s no point in having a cache, since the SSD will start delivering the data as soon as it can (bandwidth permitting). It’ll take exactly the same amount of time to read the file into cache or straight onto the SATA interface, whereas a standard HDD will usually read bits of the file from all over the place (not neccesarily in sequential order either) and “assemble” them in the cache to be sent.

            • eitje
            • 12 years ago

            There’s negligible READ latency in SSDs, but the write speed is plainly not so great. i think that’s what the thread originator was asking for – a write cache.

        • ew
        • 12 years ago

        Applications that perform synchronous writes will not benefit from write cache. Unless the proposed DRAM cache for SSDs has a battery backup then it wouldn’t be used for synchronous writes either.

      • Taddeusz
      • 12 years ago

      I don’t see any information on their web site saying that the drive does or doesn’t have a RAM cache. Since RAM is actually faster than Flash it would make sense to still have a small RAM cache in there. But since we’re not engineers maybe it doesn’t make that huge of a difference in this type of storage.

        • TO11MTM
        • 12 years ago

        I’d wager it does… If you look at the HDTach scores versus the real world scores, it seems to show that huge initial burst from the cache of a traditional hard drive helping things out quite a bit.

        That, and for 3600$ the thing better have at least 128MB of Cache.

          • Saribro
          • 12 years ago

          Surely, looking at the HDtach scores is obvious that it doesn’t? The read burst speed is barely higher than sustained read and nowhere close to interface speed (not even halfway). If there is a DRAM cache, it must surely be designed to suck… The “helpings” in the app-benches are much more likely to come from the very low latency.

    • Perezoso
    • 12 years ago

    I’d like to see this SSD tested with an NVIDIA or AMD based motherboard. At least some Intel chipsets have performance issues with SSDs, as demonstrated by AnandTech’s review.

    • tfp
    • 12 years ago

    It would be interesting to see some compile times with the flash drive vs standard drives. The random access time should help but the write speeds might counter some of that. However when running multiple builds on a drive it could make a difference vs a standard drive.

      • UberGerbil
      • 12 years ago

      Yes, any task that emphasizes random reads of small blocks (and minimizes writes) should benefit disproportionately from the characteristics of an SSD. Some DB work patterns look like this as well.

        • tfp
        • 12 years ago

        That is what I would expect as well. I would love to see some compile comparison in any of the HD tests that TR runs. Some of the file copy stuff that is done in some build systems can be extrapolated from other benchmarks but for me at least the other info would be very interesting.

        It would also be interesting to see these flash drives in a RAID.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 12 years ago

          a sufficiently large (and therefore expensive) RAID5 getup should really help the write times.

            • tfp
            • 12 years ago

            Yeah or just a few in a RAID0

    • willyolio
    • 12 years ago

    i would totally buy this if i could find a 95% off coupon for it.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 12 years ago

      Really? You’re still paying over $200 dollars for just 128GB of storage, then.

        • willyolio
        • 12 years ago

        that’s within my range of a reasonable “new-technology markup” fee. i’m not going to be using it to store my massive collection of media on it, obviously.

        $4600 is just a tad too much.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 12 years ago

    I want to live in a world where Macbooks come stock with a hybrid 2.5″ drive: 4GB NAND w/ 1 80GB platter. OS X would treat the NAND portion as the “fast sector” of the hard drive, and migrate commonly read files there, while intelligently copying or writing large files onto the platter.

    Maybe someday, after robotic beings rule the world.

    • continuum
    • 12 years ago

    No review of the Mtron yet? That’s the only really impressive flash drive out there at the moment.

    §[< http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3064<]§

    • PRIME1
    • 12 years ago

    l[

    • danny e.
    • 12 years ago

    lost my interest after the first benchmark where it wasnt in first place.
    i can put up with slightly slower load times for games & system boot when in most other normal situations a $100 hard drive is faster than this thing.
    i dont see the point at all.

      • Saribro
      • 12 years ago

      It would seem the current market for these things is restricted to webservers. But as the conclusion notes, it is promising progress, with write performance the obvious culprit to fix.

        • indeego
        • 12 years ago

        I can think of many off the top of my head:
        libraries
        children’s naprooms
        recording studios
        people with PTSD that were attacked by loud HDD’s.
        The list goes on and ong{<.<}g

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