Why SSDs are worth the money

Here's a great, sweary presentation from Artur Bergman about the joy of using SSDs in your laptop and data-center, and how it's totally, absolutely worth the expense of replacing spinning drives with solid-state drives. I've been solid-state for more than a year, and I totally, absolutely agree.

Artur Bergman (Wikia) on SSDs on O'Reilly Media Conferences - live streaming video powered by Livestream:


  1. The video kept suttering – traffic overload?

    Anyway, I’m typing this from a MacBook Air and couldn’t agree more with SSDs. Everything from apps to wake up times are noticeably faster.

    1. Anyway, I’m typing this from a MacBook Air and couldn’t agree more with SSDs. Everything from apps to wake up times are noticeably faster.

      One subtle effect I noticed with my eeepc 701 is that regardless of the overall speed, load times for applications are more consistent. For me, this makes the device feel faster because things happen when I expect them to.

  2. Is this even a debate? Problem is, it’s just too expensive. (not surprised the advocates on here so far are apple fans)

    Just bought a name brand 500gb, 7200rpm mecha drive this morning for $60. Likewise, a 64gb ssd is selling for $119. Easy decision for me, and I’m not even going to notice the tens of seconds I’m wasting each day.

    1. It’s only a waste when you waste it. Instead of sitting there waiting for the computer to boot, do something else.

      SSDs are great, the cost not so much. Very much looking forward to a few years from now when they’re both great and inexpensive. Getting very very close.

    2. You’ll notice that wasted time once you get an SSD. ;)

      Besides, all the smart budget conscious people don’t get 500gb SSDs to store their MP3s and movies and crap, they just get a 64GB and use it for OS and applications. 64GB is plenty for the majority of normal computer users.

      1. >applications

        I guess you mean word or w/e, because you can’t install a substantial number of real applications on a 64gb drive.

        1. … because you can’t install a substantial number of real applications on a 64gb drive.

          That depends on what operating system you’re using. With Windows, this might be true.

  3. I got a 32GB to install an OS on. Not worth it. No matter how much fat I trimmed and files I relocated, it eventually filled up on mandatory system files. In the end, it was just Windows 7 with no programs, backups or hibernation states.

    A 64GB is a great addition if you have money to spare. 32GB is a waste.

    1. >32Gb and couldn’t fit Windows 7 on it

      HOLY BAT CRAP! (Been a linux user for 10 years and had no idea Windows folks had it so bad)

      Running Xubuntu.

      OS, all apps (Netbeans and LibreOffice included) and temp files: 3.8Gb
      Swap space: 2Gb
      My personal files (just documents, code, etc, not pirated media which is on removable disks): 2.4Gb

      Total used space on this laptop (my main computer): 8.2Gb

      I’ve just figured I’d swap out this laptop’s 60Gb hard drive for a 60Gb SSD when I thought I deserved a treat. :-P

  4. I don’t know why anyone has cared at all about boot times since they invented “sleep mode”. Why are you booting your computer more than once a month? Just leave it on. Close it, it goes to sleep. Open it, it wakes up, right where you left it.

    1. Boot times are just a specific measurable metric that is directly affected by quality / speed of hardware.

      If you don’t push your computer hard or have people working for you that push their computers hard for a living it probably isn’t all that important to you.

      SSD’s are a nice way to speed up an older laptop and it’s easier to justify shelling out a hundred or two for a way fast speedup than a grand or two for a new lappie.

      1. Boot times are a lousy metric in a world where people leave their computers on all the time. You don’t have to be condescending about it. If I don’t restart my computer very often then it isn’t important to me. Whether I “push my computer hard” is not exactly the same thing (gcc is rarely disk bound).

        1. Boot times may not be the best metric for comparing hard drives to SSD’s but it is a metric that is easy to understand and easy to replicate. The differences in time it takes to load the OS can be measured with a stop watch or even just counting out loud. It also is something that can be a useful explanation tool when trying to sell the suits on shelling out a lot of dough.

          I didn’t mean to be condescending but merely pointing out that just because you don’t think it’s a useful metric doesn’t make it less or more valid for a real world rough idea comparison. Conversely me being a proponent of a metric that while flawed offers a simple and reliable way to measure performance increases doesn’t make my viewpoint more true.

          If your current hardware is fine and you see no need to upgrade, don’t upgrade. There are many reasons people are pushing their hardware hard. I’m not implying that you don’t do “work” on your computer. My hardware however is stretched enough that often I do notice waits. It’s a 5yo old core 2 duo macbook pro upgraded to its limit of 2gb of memory and I often am running apache, tomcat, mysql and an image editing program, some coding tools and too many web browsers tabs and driving two monitors with it.

          If I could afford to upgrade even just the drive to SSD I would. Right now I’m just trying to find a job and sell enough personal items to get massive dental work done.

          TL;DR The boot time metric is easy to explain and relate to suits/bean counters even if it isn’t perfect or 100% representational of actual day to day work. I’m pushing my hardware hard because I can’t afford any serious upgrades and I think an SSD would make this older hardware more liveable.

    2. I don’t know why anyone has cared at all about boot times since they invented “sleep mode”. Why are you booting your computer more than once a month? Just leave it on. Close it, it goes to sleep. Open it, it wakes up, right where you left it.

      i know, what the shit? I use “instant on”. I open my MacBook Pro i7 and it wakes from sleep immediately. As fast as I can get my hands to the keyboard to start typing, it’s already up, running and ready with all my apps and files I was last working on right there waiting for me.

      And, I’m sorry, but my 800 GB internal drive would be thousands of dollars last I checked if it was SSD. I’ll wait until more geeks buy SSD’s and the prices get more reasonable, thanks.

      Do I want an SSD? Yes. Are they practically priced for my needs right now? Hell, no.

  5. I love SSD’s for laptops etc, but I was under the impression that flash memory degraded over time. Of course we are talking many hundreds of thousands of read/write cycles… but the idea I got was that for data centers, servers or volumes that are accessed by many users, SSD’s weren’t the safest solution because of memory degradation. Am I incorrect on that?

    1. Thoughts on SSDs:

      Inevitable failure / failure rate: There’s been a push for using fault-tolerant file systems (ZFS), and there’s already error-correction laid into both HDDs and SSDs for random failures in the flash. ZFS is especially handy in the server-world because you can tier storage together into one massive pool.

      AnandTech (http://www.anandtech.com/show/3963/zfs-building-testing-and-benchmarking/7) set their system up to have a ridiculously large ramdisk (I think 12GB) up front, with an SSD after that, and then a regular HDD after that. The Ramdisk takes care of the most actively accessed files, the SSD with less-likely to be accessed files, and the HDD with the least-likely to be accessed.

      But yeah, Flash memory cells are rated for only so many reads/writes. I think 10,000 is somewhere in that ballpark. Even so, that’s a lot~! The best filesystem drivers will be lazy (Reiser4) and not write any changes to the drive until it’s without penalty (no re-writing of the same drive-sector over and over again, just change it in RAM).

      But I’ve tried to do the math on how much damage I do to an SSD, and it comes to about 2.8 years of use (I use a computer ~9 hours a day). That’s about on par for when HDD’s start showing their age for me.

      The guy’s right about the difference. It’s night and day, and totally worth it if you’re one of those users losing seconds or minutes while their machine gathers data.

      Best upgrade isn’t RAM/CPU for day-to-day speed, it’s an SSD. I’m working on removing the optical drive on my laptop, and putting an SSD in it’s place RIGHT NOW.

      1. interestingly the SSD failures I have seen have been when used as ZFS intent logs (2 super talent & 1 corsair). The intels we used did handle the strain. Then we stopped using ZFS because OpenSolaris is/was rubbish and put the SSDs in our workstations.

    2. They make separate enterprise drives. These are anywhere from 10 to 1000 times longer lasting than consumer products. They accomplish this through a lot of techniques. Two main ones are overprovisioning and SLC NAND flash.

      SLC NAND lasts much longer but isn’t as dense as MLC ( costs more per GB ). Overprovisioning means that a drive has a bunch (sometimes as high as 50%) extra flash memory which can be used when flash starts wearing out.

      With these (and many other nifty tricks) you end up with a drive lifetime of 1 or 2 Petabytes, or 1 TB per day for 5 years. That should suit most enterprise systems.

      1. They make separate enterprise drives. These are anywhere from 10 to 1000 times longer lasting than consumer products. They accomplish this through a lot of techniques. Two main ones are overprovisioning and SLC NAND flash.

        …and wear leveling, and write-bandwidth limiting on some of the newer models.

        Countering that is write multiplication ratio (you write a whole on-flash block every time you write a byte, so if your filesystem or program are writing small updates you’re actually doing proportionally more damage to the FLASH).

        SLC NAND lasts much longer but isn’t as dense as MLC ( costs more per GB ). Overprovisioning means that a drive has a bunch (sometimes as high as 50%) extra flash memory which can be used when flash starts wearing out.

        With these (and many other nifty tricks) you end up with a drive lifetime of 1 or 2 Petabytes, or 1 TB per day for 5 years. That should suit most enterprise systems.

        Advertised lifetime of 1-2 PB will likely not last that long. I burned out a best in class enterprise SLC drive with 310 TB of database write activity, 31% of its rated lifespan. Similar numbers come out of conference proceedings in computer reliability and storage technology (and personal communications with the researchers in academia and industry). Some drives may under some conditions survive the whole rated lifetime; you should figure 25-50% practical lifetime.

        If your enterprise app writes rarely and reads a whole lot, then you should be fine. Monitor your disk activity for a while, figure out how much you actually write, work out the numbers. Either your drive lasts long enough or it doesn’t. With the newer models that write-throttle to ensure calendar lifetimes, ensure that your write activity is little enough to not trigger throttling, or your disk speed will collapse and your users will flay you alive.

        If your laptop or desktop doesn’t write that much (and most don’t) even MLC will probably do fine for you.

    3. SSDs do have suffer from degradation, due to the number of write cycles. If you keep writing to the same part of the disk, eventually it breaks. However, this isn’t a problem in practice. They use a technique called wear-leveling to spread out the writes throughout the disk so no one part of the memory gets used more often than any other part.

      SSDs are being used in data centers. Due to their cost, they’re primarily used as a a caching layer in front of slower traditional magnetic disks.

  6. the car analogy is pretty close.

    I waste more time in traffic than I do waiting for my laptops/PCs to start. I’m gonna by a Ferrari first, then with my spare cash I’ll upgrade my HDs to SSDs.

    Oh, but how will I fit all the stuff sometimes need to fit into my Honda? I know! I’ll get a trailer I can attach to my Ferrari when I need to carry that extra stuff around.

    And then I’ll get an external USB drive to carry the extra data when I need it. But then my Ferrari will only goes as fast as the trailer will allow (or more likely traffic) and my Mac will only work as fast as the usb port will allow.

    They can be worth the money in some cases, but there are advantages and disadvantages.

  7. I bought one of the hybrid drives for my laptop. Saves boot time, apps open quicker, battery last a little longer. But, the failure rate for SSDs is pretty high so you better be backing up.

  8. Bought a 120GB SSD about a year ago to use as my OS drive. Faster than a greased squirrel and I am in no danger of running out of space on it. I guarantee that even if I were to price my time as little as $30/hour that I have already saved money by speedier file access alone

    You can by a 120GB for about $150 these days.

  9. When I mentioned SSDs to a friend, he sent me a link to Jeff Atwood’s blog post about them. Jeff documents a very high catastrophic failure rate, but uses the “Hot/Crazy” line from How I Met Your Mother to explain how their performance makes them worth the trouble.

  10. What is this guy’s problem? Maybe his message is important, but, dude, unless you’re a standup comic, if you’re getting up and speaking to a wide audience, at least make an attempt to look and sound presentable. Wear a shirt and comb your hair.

    And above all, clean up your language. Grow up and act like a professional.

    1. He’s a Chuck Norris of web server efficiency. They invite him to say his piece year after year. Why would he do any of the things you want him to do? What’s in it for him?

    2. I think you missed the atmosphere of the entire presentation (“Maybe his message is important”) and then some. Have a look a look at the related videos at the same presentation. Wearing a suit would be demanding, condescending, and represent an insecurity in ability. Plus, I doubt there’s much return on investment for a guerrilla-advertising jacket for Fastly.

      Totally not pro, dude. But perhaps you were searching for somebody in a suit, presenting to many people in suits, with subject matter dispassionate enough so that what they’re wearing is worth commenting on. I’ll help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8R6QDoPCKk

      1. Nobody is asking that he wears a suit.

        But to be honest the juvenile attitude of people in the IT field is a tired cliche, at the very least you should leave the T-shirts at home.

    3. I tend to think people that focus on the messenger more than the message are more child-like, but hey, that’s just me. I cringe anytime someone whines about language.

      1. That is just you, the rest of the word judges based on appereances (you do as well, but you are just mounted in your high horse right now), specially is you are actually trying to sell professional services of any kind.

    4. [Ratio dryly addresses crowd in monotone. Crowd falls asleep. Ratio not invited back. Ratio mad.]

  11. Eh, I hit the power button in the morning, take a piss, and the computer is booted. The bigger problem I have is that my computer doesn’t connect to the internet right away after it boots. I’ve tried different laptops, different routers, and different modems (but my tablet, xbox, and friend’s netbook never see this problem). I’ll worry about fixing that before shelling out $100’s to gain a few seconds on boot time.

  12. So: 80K for one machine, then another 80K for its redundant brother. Another 160K for that pair in another data center… And then you get hosed by the fact that you have to replicate between them. But I suppose we are all sitting on transcontinental OC48s (2.4 GBps).

    There is a lot more to scaling an application than having really fast joins.

  13. Wait … people turn their computers off? Seriously though, by the time I buy myself an ultra-portable laptop SSD drives will really be hitting the sweet spot price/space-wise. How long until we have multi-terabyte SSDs?

  14. Man, I counted at leaast 45 seconds of dead air between his sentences! Times the 1,700 people there, that another day of lost productivity right there! He should have talked non-stop.

    The more people watch this video, the more time is wasted!

    Talk faster, Bergman! Don’t breathe in, it’s just a waste of time.

    While I’m at it, THAT’s the problem with modern life if you ask me, it’s going not fast enough… There’s just too much time wasted smelling the roses.

  15. SSDs aren’t that awesome. If you look carefully (it’s hard to see on the awful web video), you can see that the “boot” sequence was a rigged demo running inside some kind of movie player.

  16. I agree that it isn’t really a debate – for most people, though, it’s really not actually worth the cost because the cost is still way too high.

    Actually, there is something causing a huge performance bottleneck on my main computer, a 13″ macbook pro from a couple years ago, when I do certain things like multitasking where one of the tasks is something really intensive like photo editing. As far as I can tell, it’s the hard drive that’s causing the problem.

    I assume that upgrading to an SSD will solve my problem, but, for the very high cost involved – and that includes all the time it will take to image the drive etc. – I’m not sure enough to actually pay for it (also I’m unemployed).

    Next time I buy a new laptop, though, heck yes it will have to have an SSD.

  17. @continental: I think it’s a Mac/Flash thing – no matter what I did it stuttered like that (running the latest Flash 10.3), but on another Mac it played fine.

    For laptops/desktop systems, replacing the HD w/ SDD gave me better perceived performance than pretty much any other upgrade short of buying a new machine. I’d recommend it unconditionally (I’m a fan of SandForce controllers, although Micron is putting out some neat new stuff). 120GB SF-1200 drives are under $200. If this sounds expensive to you, then you’re probably not the target market. However, if you are on your computer >8hr/day, an SSD will be lifechanging, and a total bargain.

    @SBR I’m a bit skeptical of the anecdotal evidence. I haven’t found SSDs to be any less reliable than HDs – that being said, almost every single HD I own has died over the course of the years. I think the main takeaway is that you should always be backed up. For those interested in SSD write expectancy, this page is a good summary of the current state (for good controllers): http://www.anandtech.com/show/4159/ocz-vertex-3-pro-preview-the-first-sf2500-ssd/2

    This talk was given at the Velocity, a conference focused on webops/scaling (servers, data centers, etc etc), and I think that’s the focus. Too many people are still building servers with HDDs, which is madness, especially because most servers are IO limited. A shortstroked 15K SAS drive *might* get you 300 write IOPs. A modern enterprise SSD, like the aforementioned Vertex 3 Pro should bench in around the neighborhood of 60K write IOPs. That’s a ballpark 200x performance difference. Also, it’s about a 1000x IOP/W difference (~16W per 15K drive vs 3W per SSD).

    It’s really just in the past couple years that things have gone from “that looks neat” to “I’d be dumb not to”, so a short, funny 10min talk seems about the right type of thing in case you haven’t been paying attention (SSD development finally brings storage onto the silicon curve, so expect things to keep accelerating).

  18. I don’t have to be sold, I already know. A well-off friend of mine has a Mac with an SSD that has the system loaded on it. It’s pretty much instant-on. It loads the system so fast, I almost want to cry. At work, I have a G5 running OS 10.4.11, can’t go any higher, so the controls won’t support it. That is irrelevant, because to get any meaningful increase in speed at work, the servers would have to have SSDs. Not likely.

  19. Just chiming in as another converted SSD-er. I ordered my MBP with a 70GB (or something) SSD. Then replaced the disc drive with a huge conventional HD. OSX and Win7 on the SSD plus some apps – media and everything else on the HD. Great setup, love it. No issues since getting it over a year ago. Boot time from cold start: 20sec. Photoshop boots super fast.

  20. You will notice compiling is *stupidly fast*.

    SSD operations basically are completely optimized for the types of reads that compiles do. Disk IO is a huge bounding factor on compilation for many types of code.

    1. Disk IO is a huge bounding factor on compilation for many types of code.

      Not for anything I’ve ever encountered – even on a large code base, OS disk caching tends to render disk access irrelevant. Even running as parallel as a modern machine can handle, compilation still tends to be CPU bound…

  21. 2011 was the year I upgraded my work and home computers to SSDs. I can do a full-text search on 3GB of files in 30 seconds, where it used to take me 6 minutes.
    He’s talking about booting a computer and doing joins in MySQL, but the gains are also seen when doing searches in Outlook, or using the “find” feature in Windows, or installing a new computer or loading any Adobe application, or anything to do with OpenOffice (sorry guys).
    My new home computer has an SSD for the OS and some applications, and two RAIDed 2tb hard drives for everything else. I’m very happy with the performance. Two SATA 3 SSDs in a RAID 0 would be that much more impressive.
    Hard drives have been the limiting factor in computing performance for many years, but those years were < 2011.

  22. The biggest bottleneck in modern systems is I/O.

    Using an SSD makes Pagefiles fast. Basically virtual ram doesn’t hurt one bit. My os boots very fast, all applications open quickly, files save quickly. It really makes a difference.

  23. Energy is produced magically from thin air without any pollution being generated at all!


    It will never cause a dependency on nuclear power or fossil fuels, that’s just liberal hogwash! If you want porn, you shouldn’t ever have to wait even one second! This is the 21st century, not the 12th!

    I’m George W. Bush, and I approve this message.

  24. You don’t need SSDs. You need to have savings, and money to live incase you lose the job which affords you all the luxuries first.

    All my geek friends have SSD, large displays, new laptops, but none of them can afford to quit there job even for 2 weeks or they’ll end up homeless.

    I’d encourage everyone who is thinking about buying another item to put away their debit or credit card, and figure out how you can take the $500 for your SSD and put it in box in your house.

  25. So what’s the deal with hybrid drives?

    Is it almost like you have a 500GB or whatever SSD?

    Is the SSD bit typically replaceable?

  26. There is certainly a place for SSDs. I use them in some circumstances, but for general use, you do not need that many IOPS. They are great for meta data servers on parallel filesystems, but when streaming data, they aren’t necessary. If they were any close costs between SSDs and HDDs, i would go with SSDs throughout, but that isn’t today’s market.

  27. I just finished reading a little bit about Solid State Drives and have come to two conclusions; wouldn’t there be less toxic waste in replacing a SSD instead of HHD?

    @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid_state_drives:

    As of 2010, most SSDs use NAND-based flash memory, which retains memory even without power. SSDs using volatile random-access memory (RAM) also exist for situations which require even faster access, but do not necessarily need data persistence after power loss, or use external power or batteries to maintain the data after power is removed.[2]

    This is one of the reasons for increased speed, it’s like picking up the phone and the person you want to call is already there; Nice.

    @ Kimmo; I wanted to know the same thing.

    @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid_state_drives

    A hybrid drive combines the features of an HDD and an SSD in one unit, containing a large HDD, with a smaller SSD cache to improve performance of frequently accessed files. These can offer near-SSD performance in most applications (such as system startup and loading applications) at a lower price than an SSD. These are not suitable for data-intensive work, nor do they offer the other advantages of SSDs.

    Finally, the reason I would want one is for laptop use, SSD’s have more shock resistant value than HDD’s, not a big issue for a desktop.

  28. Artur: Buy a Commodore 64, Commodore Datasette and 300 baud modem. Use. Experience long loading times and slow downloading speed for the first time in your life.

  29. I just spent the last 20 minutes looking up numbers and doing calculations.

    If everyone who reads BoingBoing takes the advice of the people here who are saying you should leave your computer on standby all the time, there will be 250 tons of carbon emitted into the atmosphere this year from the power draw of the BoingBoing readership’s computers while on standby.

    That’s two hundred fifty tons my friends.

    We are all breathing the same soup. Please don’t shit in it because you can’t wait a minute for your computer to boot.

  30. Entirely worth it!
    If you need the speed and/or power savings more than money and/or storage space.

  31. Umm, still using my 2003 era 12′ apple laptop. Yes, it is slow and sucks. But it is also small and can play pron and also browse when I travel. Other times, I have like 5 computers I can log into at any one time. How quickly do I need to get to my inbox. Exactly, not that quickly. I waste more time doing pullups after every X minutes than waiting for my computer.

    OTOH, can’t wait to get my new 13″ mac air. Yay. SSD FTW!

  32. SSDs would be a wonderful thing if the price point were lower and boot times were an issue.

    I really don’t know what other folks do, but I have 100% no problem with the bootup time on my Mac. If I have ever been in a situation—such as server monitoring—I just put the machine to sleep and wake it when I get a frantic call or SMS about a problem.

    I think the speed praise is just male ego nonsense. 10 years ago it was CPU speed. Now it’s hard drive access.

    Also, folks who complain about speeds in an era when cheap machines are faster than ever will never ever be happy.

    Take the saved money when buying a “normal” hard drive and buy a nice dinner and maybe a bottle of booze of your choice. That makes me happier than millisecond “snappier” boot times.

    1. 10 years ago it was CPU speed because CPU speed was the main bottleneck for performance – there was no issue using all the cycles your CPU came with. Now, for an average home user, maxing out the CPU is pretty hard to do and a delay in any action is due to other factors. Hard drive seek times become more of an issue as you pull more randomly-located data off the drive, and they haven’t dropped notably over the last 10 years (unless you’re using 10k or 15k rpm drives).

      Increasing ram helped, especially with software pre-caching at an OS level. But at some point, we have to make a change. Hard drive seek times are a very noticable bottleneck now, and there’s no technology on the horizon to improve it. As all other parts of the computer get better and faster, the seek times become a bigger fraction of what slows your computer down.

      Sure, in 10 years time when everybody is on SSDs for their desktops/laptops, there’ll be a new amazing tech the enthusiasts are waxing lyrical about. Those enthusiasts are driving the production up and the prices down, and that means you and I can have a better computing experience without issues like this becoming something we have to directly worry about.

  33. We’re not going to see SSD’s in large numbers in datacenters anytime soon. Certainly not in storage arrays till the cost comes down considerably. Maybe in blade servers running Windows, but with the move towards virtual, it’s all going to be SAN anyway. So it will be a while..

  34. To address a couple of specific comments:

    “The demo was rigged. SSDs aren’t that fast.” Yes they are. I just put an SSD in my laptop – a three-year-old Dell XPS M1330 – and my boot time went from about 22 seconds (with a 7200rpm mecha drive) to about 9 seconds. Firefox opens in a second and a half. Heck, I installed the whole operating system in about four minutes. Not making these times up.

    “Don’t play with magnets around SSDs.” Um, what has your experience been when playing with magnets around ordinary drives? Anyone who puts a magnet on their computer deserves what they get.

    “32GB is too small to run Windows 7.” How is that the SSD’s fault? If you can’t fit your size 12 foot in a size 8 shoe, is it the shoe’s fault? I’m running Linux Mint on a 40GB SSD and I have oodles of space left over. If you want to run a big space-hogging OS, you have to buy a bigger drive.

    “That’s too much money just to boot a little faster.” It’s not just booting. Anything that uses disk is significantly faster. It takes a lot of the frustration out of using a computer.

    SSDs are the future. I plan to upgrade all my machines eventually.

  35. Im amazed everyone cares about speed (is your browser really taking that long dude? and who the hell boots up their computer except maybe once a week to clean up?) and hasn’t mentioned the real benefit of SSD’s- no moving parts.

    My imac sounds like a scratchy record that can break any second. My laptop feels downright scary, because theirs a small record spinning outrageously fast with a microscopic needle. It feels like 1980’s technology. It makes me permanently uncomfortable to the point of me preferring to web browse on my iphone.

    I cant wait to get an SSD. And look back at the days of primitive vinyl record type storage.

  36. Reading these comments really seems like a lot of people miss the point. SSDs are a powerful technology which in certain situations can offer dramatic performance games. The boot time test is really stupid because it makes people knee jerk and react to it as in “who cares about boot times?”.

    I hope you realize that booting the OS is not the only time you see drive access. If you multitask a lot and use applications that require lots of memory, unless you are packing a good 16GB plus of RAM, you’ll probably be hitting virtual memory (swap space) on your hard drive. This is insanely slow when changing applications.

    A good example would be a web designer who might run four or five different Adobe applications at a time, along with web browsers, email, an IDE etc. Swapping around and waiting for applications to come up off of swap space can impact productivity seriously.

    That’s just one example, the main one the video was attempting to state was use of SSDs in large database applications. His point was that by increasing the IO performance you can avoid using techniques such as sharding or nosql. If you don’t know what that means, they are techniques for managing large data sets. They also typically involve application and infrastructure modifications to implement. This translates to huge costs when scaling a web application that becomes successful. $80k sounds like a lot but it’s sure less than the salary of a single DBA competent in those technologies. Never mind developers, quality assurance and testing etc. SSDs are dirt cheap versus a complete change of DB architecture.

    These two examples are both business related where the upfront cost of the SSDs is cheap in terms of the potential benefits.

    Do you need one? It depends on what you use your computer for.

  37. Could someone tell me how he boots straight into the main OS and then ask for password, instead of having to go through the login screen.

    I prefer if the programs were already loading in the background whilst I type the password, save me those milliseconds.

    1. Could someone tell me how he boots straight into the main OS and then ask for password, instead of having to go through the login screen. I prefer if the programs were already loading in the background whilst I type the password, save me those milliseconds.

      I had OS X doing that when I was having some issues with my older Macbook Pro related to something or another. IOW, I don’t think he had it do that on purpose (and I actually chucked when I saw it do that to him). And if I remember correctly I had access to the computer before typing in the password, so you don’t want that. Probably comes from hacking the shit out of his Mac like I do, I dunno. The issue went away after I screwed with ACLs or maybe it was something else, it was many months ago on my old MBP.

  38. In terms of perceived benefit SSD is the best upgrade I have ever done*… and I am including upgrading entire computers. It’s not about boot time. I usually only restart every few weeks, but when I accidentally open the wrong file and Photoshop launches, it taking 3 seconds to load and then me being able to quit it is much better than 45 seconds!

    In my Macbook Pro I have a 120GB OS/App SSD drive and a 750GB 7200RPM drive. Total cost $425 for both including the cost of a new bracket and an external USB case for the liberated internal DVD drive. Not cheap but not too terribly expensive either.

    *OK now that I think about it when I went from using cassette tapes for storage to floppies back in 1981 that was better, but only marginally.

  39. Dont ever play with magnets when your Mac (with SSD) is around.

    Oh, for frak’s sake! Y’know some people like to (anonymously) publicize their ignorance and stupidity.

    The only way a magnets can damage a SSD, or a Mac, or a PC, is if the magnets are strong enough to physically warp the material.

    While I’m at it: another thing you can do to improve boot time, get rid of the password. Waste of time!

  40. Damn right SSD’s are worth money: you can get $400 for an original Society System Decontrol LP on ebay!

  41. *shrug* my laptop, that I use for all my daily activities and running several websites, is an eight year old laptop I paid <$60 for. I did max out the RAM and hard drive too, for a total investment of about $200 (2gb+320!)...but, shit, that's not a bad price for a book that's now provided about three years of service. They key is the wonderful Ubuntu 10.04, it's a fantastic workhorse, able to run several windows of high res photo editing and 25 tabs in opera, 10 in chrome without breaking a sweat. The reason I bought it is because nvidia plays so nice with linux. It books from cold startup in 20 seconds. That's pretty damn good. Programs take a couple seconds to load, but who cares? I usually keep the same ones running all the time. The key is to just have a properly configured, efficient system. Laptops have a pretty high environmental impact, you know... All that being said..yeah, SSDs do have a certain appeal. I really like the idea of having dual SSD and hard drive, like some high end laptops have and any modern desktop can have easily. It's a good idea to partition your disks anyway, so why not just set all your boot, application, and system files onto an ssd? For a hundred bucks, not a bad idea. You could always even keep them synced up with a partition on the large 'data' hard drive you would have next to it. P.S. Check out 'sweet compiz' on youtube, it's just nice as hell to use. Neither Redmond or Apple have EVER had anything that could come close to just what -compiz- can do with total desktop management. And notice the videos that come up are 3 or 4 years old, too...

    1. Sorry, just checked back on this thread and realized the important number: Yes, my everyday laptop, that is quite quick except at high-res image manipulation tasks, cost me $60 bucks. SIXTY bucks! You would have a hard time convincing me I would get 20 times more utility out of it with an SSD :P

  42. I’ve avoided SSDs since a 256Mb pendrive died on me in 2003, after less than a year, wiping a lot of documents I really cared about.

    They are amazing but their reliability is incredibly low, I can trust them for swap space and little more.

  43. I’ve avoided SSDs since a 256Mb pendrive died on me in 2003, after less than a year, wiping a lot of documents I really cared about.

    As opposed to hard drives? I send back one or two under-warranty hard drives back to Seagate a month. There is no substitute for a backup.

    1. What can I say, I must have been lucky. In about 20 years, I’ve never had a regular HD fail on me before two years (which means by then all the important stuff had been migrated to a new location).

      I agree that there is no substitute for backups, but SSDs make backups necessary even for average-joe usage patterns that didn’t really need one before.

  44. Seems like a waste to change right now. Solid state devices are going to change dramatically in the next couple of years due to phase change memory such as the “Moneta” storage array. They are up to 7 times faster than current ssds.

    At the rate of technological change your system is outdated in less than six months. All I can say is Kurzweil is right.

  45. For the average guy in the street, does it matter?

    I boot my laptop, I run Google Chrome, microsoft Word and PowerPoint, I play mp3s and a very occasional game if it will run on the hardware I have (half life 2 mostly).

    Should I care about SSDs over HD? For a keen but average home user.

  46. For the enthusiasts it matters what kind of drive they have in their battle station. Also for the professionals running heavy software on their work stations. Average Joe who has his laptop for browsing, casual gaming and light desktop stuff should just go with whatever technology gives the most per penny. Today that is a conventional, environmentally friendly hard drive. They are fast enough (though the geeks might argue otherwise) and save some electricity for your bill and the planet.

    I have a high performance SSD at work because I do graphics work, coding and compilation on that beast. My home laptop has a regular HDD and goes to sleep after 30 mins idle and hibernates after an hour. It takes a minute to boot, but I can afford that wait in my free time. No need to speed up the five seconds or so it takes to launch Chrome, or at least I can’t motivate the cost for it. The work station stays awake for one hour and hibernates after three, just in case I forget to turn it off when I leave.

  47. I’ve had an SSD in my desktop computer since last fall. The real win for me isn’t speed. SSDs make zero noise. And that’s worth the money, in my opinion.

  48. The thing to keep in mind in the evolution from HD to SSDs is that IO on an HD has a physical bottleneck in that it has a spinning disk and a read/write head that has to move into position. When you ‘load an app’, what is happening is you are reading/translating data from a magnetic pulse on the spinning magnetic medium into RAM. With an SDD the “disk” is actually already RAM and there are no moving parts, so its essentially moving data from one bank of memory to another.

    Traditionally, denying power to main memory meant the memory discharged and all data in memory was lost. “Sleep mode” basically just stores things in memory to physical disk. If that disk is an HD then the save/load time factor is taken up in the time to translate from memory to magnetic pulses on the spinning disk and the time to move the physical read/write head. The reason why boot up time is relevant is that SSDs don’t really require that translation its moving things from one memory source to another memory source and that is just fast and smart.

    I’m long past the days of keeping up with the latest greatest stuff just because it is cool. But I do work for a company dealing with serving GIS data and rendering maps does require database processing (querying ) and writing of map images to disk prior to reading them back in to send them back to clients (the browser). What this means is that the disk(s) have to move and do their thing and handle requests from more than one user at a time. If I can reduce the time it takes to do a query (by any amount) and reduce the time it takes to generate the image by reducing the write time and subsequent read time there are three spots in which the seek time of an HD over the lack of seek time of an SSD can make a significant difference in keeping people from getting bored and leaving. Likewise, any database backed web-based solution that can effectively do everything in memory, whether it is main memory or memory drives like SSDs are going to benefit from speed increases and therefore better user experiences.

    Because HDs have moving parts they also wear out over time. Aging is a fact of life and everything has its wear time. As to the commenter who is basing things on their SSD experience from 2003, I would point out that this is technology not geology, we’re not talking about rocks that don’t change we’re talking about technology which changes faster than it took to read through all the comments here. Anybody doing research on SSDs should take care to note the date of the article they read. The longevity of SSDs is an older concern that has actively been worked on.

    I imagine eventually we’ll do away with the notion of main memory and disks for normal usage and just have massive SSD like technology that is all some form of memory-based storage.

    For now, its new tech and definitely a natural forward progression. But for average daily usage you might be correct if you added an extra D to the end of SSD and chock SSDs up to solutions for those with ADD. But do keep in mind if you are doing things that do a lot of reading and writing to disk that SSDs should be like being able to do everything in memory.

    1. With an SDD the “disk” is actually already RAM and there are no moving parts, so its essentially moving data from one bank of memory to another.

      Sorry to be Mr Pendant, but an SSD isn’t “RAM.” Flash memory is much, much, MUCH slower than the RAM in your system.

      For a good overview of what SSDs can and can’t do in real-life server applications: http://blogs.oracle.com/jkshah/resource/pgeast_ssd.pdf

  49. I can’t fucking afford 1000 to 2000 euros for the 500 gig I need, when my computer only cost 600, I’m looking and two new objectives and a new camera. A data center, spending other people’s money, may well be able to afford it, and may see some real savings, but they are wa-a-a-ay too expensive for the average consumer. This guy ain’t talking to me.

  50. Only a Mac user would tell you that a $500.00 ssd will pay for itself right away. How many times a day does a typical user boot up? How long does it take to replace your drive and reinstall operating system?

  51. Meh, my server has 7.5TB of RAID5, never needs rebooting so that’s not an issue, and it’s there to serve data over the 100 MHz network so there wouldn’t be any performance difference anyway (not enough users to start thrashing the heads or worry about spin latency).

    On my desktop, sure, I guess I could boot in 3 seconds instead of 10 (99% of the time my desktop is in sleep mode which draws 2 watts and is fully up in about 10 seconds – power off mode also draws 2 watts so no price is paid). Honestly I bap the spacebar when I walk into the room and it is up and waiting for me for 30 seconds by the time I put all my stuff down, kick off my shoes and sit down.

    So for me, I doubt I’d even know the difference.

    Laptop – I HAVE a laptop but I use it about 3 hours a year, to check email when on vacation. I think I’ll skip it.

  52. Most of the people commenting here are not the target for this presentation. This was a presentation to Web/Ops professionals at a conference called “Velocity” in Silicon Valley. In this industry, Artur Bergman is one of the most well known contributors to web application performance. Almost if not everyone in that 1700-1800 person audience knows who Artur is and most of them pay attention when he talks about efficiency and optimization of systems.

    Where most people look at SSD’s as expensive low density replacements for spinning disks, people who run memory/IO intensive services or tasks can use SSD’s as ridiculously dense and cheap memory.

    People who buy servers with 300GB 2.5″ 15k rpm SAS drives for $450/ea are wasting their money when compared to a 300GB 2.5″ SSD for $550 when the performance goes from 200 iops on the SAS drive to 40,000 iops on the SSD. That’s over TWO ORDERS of magnitude faster for 1/15 the power consumption and a $100 price difference per drive.

    If you’re a developer and are constantly compiling code, every minute you save in the compile process will improve your efficiency. If you’re running a high performance OLTP database with 15k rpm SAS drives you’re wasting your time. Having mysql replication problems in your production environment because single threaded replication in mysql creates horrible replication latency? That replication latency goes away when your secondary mysql server has SSD’s.

    Any memory intensive task that makes you swap to disk will be practically unnoticeable on an SSD. I can run VirtualBox on my ThinkPad with an entire application stack with virtually no impact on performance. That’s an Ubuntu web server, CentOS app server and Fedora mysql server under Windows 7 and it runs great even though I’ve allocated more memory to the virtual hosts than what I have in my ThinkPad. It just swaps out to disk, SSD that is.

    The Intel320 series SSD’s are $550 for 300GB & $1150 for 600GB. Basically there’s NO PREMIUM for 600GB SSD’s which allows you to get double the density in those 1U/2U servers with no price penalty or having to buy a bigger chassis to get more drives. Did I mention that they’re 200 times FASTER than the fastest SAS drives you can buy with minimal increase in cost?!

    This is why it’s stupid to not buy SSD’s. Not because you’re mp3’s don’t play fast enough.

    1. This is perfect. It should have been apparent to anyone who watched the whole video that he’s talking about large scale SQL or other database servers and datacentres, not ‘that home server I made that is partially constructed of duct tape and peanut butter’. As the owner of a ducttape/peanutbutter server, I am proud of it and it’s rad and I love my 8 TB of ZFS and all that…but I’m still not the target audience.

      To steal an analogy from him, this is like watching someone presenting to Formula 1 engineers and then commenting saying ‘I don’t need super high octane fuel in my ’94 taurus this guy is dumb.’

      1. Sentences like “Everyone who doesn’t have SSDs in your laptop: you’re wasting your life” don’t really make a distinction between a personal/home market and a server market. It’s like telling an audience of Formula 1 engineers that they should all go out and buy a Ferrari because otherwise they’re wasting their life when they go shopping.

        That SSDs are a big help in the datacenter for caches and low-latency tasks, it’s not exactly a secret: even mainstream publications like Linux Magazine carry ads of hosting providers boasting about SSD. That they should be in everyone’s laptop is another matter entirely, considering current price-points and reliability considerations at the low end of the market.

        1. I believe everyone should have an SSD in their laptop. Okay, I believe that everyone would like to have one. There is a price tradeoff to make.

          But anyone that can afford to buy a nice laptop like a Mac or a Vaio should consider adding the SSD.

          The reliability is at least as good as a laptop drive. Laptop drives have a rough life, take a lot of beating and in my experience often fail in a couple years. The SSD is immune to g-shock from regular knocking about and most users will never come close to hitting the SSD’s write limits.

          I know from personal experience with my 15″ Macbook that the disk is the worst part of the entire machine. Booting is fast enough, actually. But after I log in, I have several apps to start along with the live backup program and the file indexer and all of them compete for the disk which only seems to manage about 100 IOPS.

  53. For those people commenting on the lack of “professional” attire, you’re either in the East Coast where banks, insurance companies, IBM and the government dictate the dress code or consult for those kinds of companies. Out here in Silicon Valley, business casual is a t-shirt (with either a company logo or from a technical conference) and un-ripped/un-torn jeans. If you’d seen the audience, he was appropriately dressed for the venue.

  54. If you do a lot of work on computers then SSD should be a no-brainer. While boot times are an easy metric, the real advantage is in everything else.

    Applications load super-quick and your computer never gets crippled by Windows doing some stupid HD-based I/O shit in the background. e.g. using the paging file won’t slow you down, nor will searches or program updates. They go a long way towards eliminating those moments of, “What the hell are you doing, stupid computer, just open the damn file”.

    Depending on the value of your time, SSD might not be for you. I certainly don’t care about putting one in my cheapo web-browsing laptop, since I don’t need fast boots and I don’t care about super-fast load times for checking facebook and emails.

    If you’re buying a moderately powerful PC (i.e. an i3 or faster processor), then a small-ish SSD (64 GB) coupled with a cheap spinning-metal data drive is almost certainly the way to go. I have a 120GB SSD which lets me put a decent amount of important data (or games…) on it, as well as the O/S and application files. Coupled with a cheap 2TB green drive for media storage and it’s perfect.

  55. 30 GB is big enough to run Windows 7 and a reasonable number of apps. It is a little bit tight but not impossible.

    Until I upgraded to a 120 GB SSD just last month, I was running Windows 7 on a 30 GB. I also had 600 GB of Velociraptors for the bigger stuff.

    On the SSD I had Windows, Thunderbird, about a gig of downloaded email, Firefox with a gig of cache, Visual Studio 2008, Open Office, Virtual Box (but not the VM images), Minecraft, Turbo Tax, Pidgin and some other assorted stuff.

    I had disabled Hibernate, moved the swap file to the Velociraptors and restricted the size that System Restore was allowed to use.

    I even had a couple gig left over.

    I did have to keep on top of cleaning temporary files, install files and the backup file copies that Win7 SP1 left behind.

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