Help choose SSDs for SPCR's test systems

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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xen
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Post by xen » Tue Jan 01, 2008 5:48 pm

Even if you have system images you'll still have to install windows on every new system (mainbord) you test, isn't it? Or did Windows become friendly to moving from system to system with the same install (harddisk), recently?

dhanson865
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Post by dhanson865 » Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:15 pm

It just depends. If you do the work properly you can use Sysprep to make an image more universal. You still end up having to install drivers after the image is dumped to a drive but you don't have to reinstall the OS or applications for testing that way. OK, if you get really fancy about it you can even get some of the drivers to autoinstall during/after the sysprep process but I haven't bothered to go that far yet.

Oh and the drive controller is usually the determining factor on whether an existing installation of windows will work on another motherboard. There is a unapproved workaround involving a USB enclosure that can get you past that issue without reinstalling windows but such a thing isn't exactly kosher for Business use, benchmarking, or reviews and such. You want a proper install without multiple driver sets hanging around possibly giving you performance that wouldn't be seen on a clean install.

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Post by michaelb » Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:27 am

michaelb wrote:PATA IDE to CF I think is just connecting the right pins to the right places. So the adapter is passive. Have read that some old, cheap ones didn't connect all pins needed for current DMA, but hopefully newer ones do. I'm guessing it's a good sign if the card says "DMA" on it, like some of the $4 ones on ebay do, but I'm not experienced or expert in this.
Update--

Though several people have posted on various forums that these adapters are passive, and a few people have warned that not all adapters connect all pins, they don't look 100% passive to me. Someone posted on a car mod forum that their adapter just had lines connecting pins, nothing else. But adapters I got from ebay, and pictures of some adapters online show some tiny components. I don't know what they all are. Some are tiny LEDs, but there's too many for all to be, and some are black.

My cheap ebay adapters don't work, especially the two marked "DMA." I've ordered the more pricey ones from Addonics, and will eventually post separately when all is working.

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Post by michaelb » Sun Feb 03, 2008 11:10 am

jojo4u wrote:The big news for me ist that atcfwchg is said to work with the Sansdisk Extreme-IV cards. This could mean standby and more than one partition in Windows ;)
atchwchg did work to make my Sandisk Extreme IV's Fixed. Oddly, just like before I made them fixed, they are still performing in single or dual CF-ATA adapters at UDMA 2 or 3, while my A-Data and Transcend CFs under certain configurations are UDMA 4.

So far, I've been happiest with the A-Data Turbo 266x CF, but I haven't tried to measure random write speed.

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Post by halcyon » Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:39 pm

Any updates on this test? Inquiring minds want to know :)

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Post by merlyn » Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:26 pm

MikeC wrote: uh-oh... That's bad! Anyone succeed booting/running an OS w/Flash Voyager GT? If there's even one success story, then there's hope.
Hi Mike,

Apologies for taking so long in getting back to you, it been madness around here!
I got my HTPC booting on my Corsair Voyager GT this morning without any issues other than having to FixMBR after USBoot did it's stuff. Currently running without a pagefile. I'm gonna mess around with it a little. I don't like my HTPC at the moment because of the Zalman CNPS8700, even at lowest possible speed it's too noisy for me :( need to find another low profile top down cooler that I can slap a slipstream on! I've only got about 70mm height to play with.

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Post by dhanson865 » Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:33 am

ExpressCard SSDs are getting cheaper for laptop use. Is there a cheap PCI or PCIe adapter for ExpressCard that would make it a bootable drive?
Last edited by dhanson865 on Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

dhanson865
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Post by dhanson865 » Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:46 am

MyDigitalSSD 8GB 2.5" MLC SATA I/II Solid State Disk Drive (SSD) - MDSSD08MLC-S about $80 with 120MB/s Read and 30MB/s write.

MyDigitalSSD 8GB 2.5" SLC PRO SATA I/II MDSSD08SLC-S looks to be about $170 with 130MB/s Read and 70MB/s write.

I don't have either device. I'm just posting specs to compare against down the road.

Oh, and btw did SPCR ever get an SSD to use?

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Post by MikeC » Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:56 am

dhanson865 wrote:MyDigitalSSD 8GB 2.5" MLC SATA I/II Solid State Disk Drive (SSD) - MDSSD08MLC-S about $80 with 120MB/s Read and 30MB/s write.

MyDigitalSSD 8GB 2.5" SLC PRO SATA I/II MDSSD08SLC-S looks to be about $170 with 130MB/s Read and 70MB/s write.

I don't have either device. I'm just posting specs to compare against down the road.

Oh, and btw did SPCR ever get an SSD to use?
Not yet. Several USB 2.0 flash drives all failed to make our systems boot. It appears our boards are probably too old to support this. The above items look cheap enough to get into, tho.

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Post by IsaacKuo » Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:26 am

Is it possible to get Windows XP to boot after copying the entire OS into a ramdisk? If so, then this would be the least expensive solution, as well as the highest performance.

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Post by dhanson865 » Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:24 pm

IsaacKuo wrote:Is it possible to get Windows XP to boot after copying the entire OS into a ramdisk? If so, then this would be the least expensive solution, as well as the highest performance.
He needs more than the OS in that ramdisk or SSD.

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article846-page4.html on that test system there is 1 GB ram but he needs

Windows XP
SpeedFan
CPUBurn P6
Throttlewatch
Hitachi Feature Tool
HD Tach

and possibly one or two other pieces of software I missed.

Now I'd assume he would use XP SP2 or SP3. He said earlier in the thread he could get away with 4GB but it'd have to be persistent storage. How is he to load the data into the ramdrive and keep it there for months at a time without using a traditional hard drive?

8GB gives him breathing room so he doesn't have to be frugal with disk space and if he goes SSD instead of RAMdisk he doesn't have to worry about battery backup.

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Post by IsaacKuo » Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:41 pm

Umm...there's no reason why the OS partition needs to be a clean fresh install with no software installed.

If it's possible to boot up Windows XP after copying it over to a ramdisk, then you'd simply install Windows XP and then whatever drivers and software are desired. When doing testing, the data could be saved first to the ramdisk, and then copied over to a USB thumbdrive. Or the data could be saved directly to a thumbdrive.

With Linux, I don't bother with any sort of battery backup or anything. Whenever I reboot my main workstation, the OS (including installed software) is copied fresh from the image I had prepared in the past. I save documents to a network share, and some software is configured to use a network directory so its state is "persistent".

Oh--in case you're still a bit confused, I do indeed have a traditional hard drive in my main workstation. It is spun up for about half a minute during boot up, until the OS image is copied into RAM. After that, the drive spins down and is silent.

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Post by IsaacKuo » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:02 pm

Oh wait. I think I figured out the source of the confusion. I was talking about a "ramdisk" in the sense of a software feature. The RAM that's used is simply system memory on the motherboard; typically cheap DDR2 RAM.

I think you're thinking of something like Cenatek's Rocket Drive or the Gigabyte iRAM (or whatever exactly they're called). These products were expensive hardware products with expensive SDRAM or DDR, and they used some sort of battery backup and/or power supply to stay powered on and keep the data persistent. They also used some sort of interface like SATA which would bottleneck performance.

No, I'm talking about a cheap and FAST solution. Using a software ramdisk is stupendously fast, and it doesn't cost anything extra. An AMD motherboard capable of accepting 8megs of economical RAM can be pretty cheap (4 slots of 2gig DDR2). You can get such a motherboard+A64X2 CPU for $120 at TigerDirect. The RAM costs about $260 (4x2gig), but that includes the system RAM as well as the software ramdisk.

Personally, my main workstation has just 1gig of RAM, which is comfortable enough for me for the entire OS as well as space for software to run.

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Post by Cryoburner » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:14 am

IsaacKuo wrote:The RAM costs about $260 (4x2gig), but that includes the system RAM as well as the software ramdisk.
Actually, it's even less expensive than that if you don't require the absolute fastest memory. Two of these sets of 2x2GB DDR2 800 ram can be found at Newegg for just over $150 shipped.

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Post by dhanson865 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:30 am

No I wasn't confused. I just question the practicality of a traditional old school ramdisk when SSD is the alternative.
IsaacKuo wrote:It is spun up for about half a minute during boot up, until the OS image is copied into RAM. After that, the drive spins down and is silent.
Are you talking about Windows XP? The lowest delay for turning the drive off is 3 minutes on my PC.

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Post by MikeC » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:40 am

The whole point of the exercise for SPCR test platforms is to eliminate reliance on HDDs entirely so that they are neither a potential for failure nor a source of noise during testing. IsaacKuo's software ramdisk systems sound really cool for more general use, but it is not the right solution here. More and more, the simple solution is a small SSD with SATA. It doesn't even have to be fast. But there's so much work to be done around here re the anechoic chamber that all these kinds of refinement projects have to wait till after.

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Post by IsaacKuo » Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:09 am

dhanson865 wrote:No I wasn't confused. I just question the practicality of a traditional old school ramdisk when SSD is the alternative.
It's certainly a practical alternative from my perspective. It's much cheaper and much faster.

My RAMboot technique can of course be adapted to load up the image from a cheap slow thumbdrive instead of a hard drive. I use a hard drive because I'm just that cheap--a thumbdrive might cost ten bucks, while an old hard drive lying around essentially costs nothing.
IsaacKuo wrote:It is spun up for about half a minute during boot up, until the OS image is copied into RAM. After that, the drive spins down and is silent.
Are you talking about Windows XP? The lowest delay for turning the drive off is 3 minutes on my PC.
I don't use Windows XP, but I'm sure there is some simple .exe utility for manually parking the hard drive.

I'm not familiar enough with Windows XP to know if this technique is even possible. It may require some sort of cracked version of WinXP which won't complain when copied from one drive to another. I do know this technique works for Windows 98, and someone posted here on SPCR how to do that.

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Post by IsaacKuo » Wed Jun 18, 2008 8:21 am

BTW, the reason I did NOT suggest diskless netbooting is because my experience is that network access makes noise (at least on some mobos). On my cheap mobos, diskless netbooting is much noisier than using a well enclosed 2.5" drive. But even an enclosed 2.5" drive involves the mobo's I/O hardware, so it still makes noise (less than the ethernet device). USB thumbdrive access seems very quiet, but so far the ONLY "drive" of any sort which so far is absolutely silent is ramdisk. Thankfully, ramdisk also happens to be the fastest and almost the cheapest.

I use a combination of the two cheapest options--ramdisk and network drive. The former is fast and silent. The latter is noisy (to me) but offers lots of hard drive space.

For my purposes, even if SSDs were cheaper I suspect my cheap motherboards would still make noise while accessing them.

Oh--if you haven't noticed "cheap" is one of the highest priorities for me.

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Post by dhanson865 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:50 am

I'm all for cheap but if history repeats itself we'll be seeing SSDs in the sub $20 range eventually.

Just the other day someone was bragging about the 4GB USB flash drive they got for under $10 including shipping, handling, and tax without having to deal with a rebate of any kind. It was a Newegg sale on Corsair Flash Voyager retail package. Newegg has since raised the price back up to $20.

It's not uncommon to see deals like the one below if you are a rebate junkie.

1. A-Data 4GB USB Drive : $35.99
2. Rebate1 Price : -$26.00 ( Exp : 11/28/07 )
3. Rebate2 Price : -$5.00 ( Exp : 11/28/07 )
Final Price : $4.99 Shipped After Rebate

Sure SSDs will remain more expensive than USB flash drives. They have a controller, more connectors, a better housing, work faster. But at the end of the day they are a commodity item being manufactured by the millions.

The price will come down.

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Post by IsaacKuo » Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:02 am

That'll be nice if/when it happens (I'm still waiting for it to happen with Compact Flash). In the meantime, I don't have to wait. I already have my desired combination of cheap/superfast/silent for the OS drive.

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Post by dhanson865 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:29 pm

oofta, I didn't know anyone still used CF cards. You can get a 8GB 133x speed CF card for about $40. Or you can get a 4GB 266x card for about the same price. 266x is touting 40MB/s so they are slow compared to a good SSD.

Sometimes a format just gets abandoned so I won't promise you'll always see CF cheaper than SSD.

For example try to find a 8gb XD card. They were supposed to be released years ago but I never saw one with more than 2gb storage.

The key is keeping that status of a "commodity item being manufactured by the millions". Lose that status and the price stops dropping.

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Post by IsaacKuo » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:39 pm

First off, the SSD format may be abandoned before we ever see $10 SSDs. (Note that $10 is still too expensive for me to switch; I already have cheaper and faster.)

Second, there's no guarantee that a "commodity item being manufactured by the millions" will ever reach $10 levels. The 3.5" hard drive market is still thriving by all measures, and we're no closer to $10 hard drives.

Now, why did I even bother bringing up CF cards? Because sadly, it's still one of the few options for an IDE or SATA compatible solid state hard drive. Do you want a SD card->IDE adapter? Or a USB thumbdrive->SATA adapter? Too bad, just dream on.

But note--why do we even care about IDE or SATA compatibility? Because Windows XP will only boot from a local IDE or SATA hard drive. Will Windows still suffer this limitation five or ten years from now?

As you've noticed, USB thumbdrives are the cheapest form of "hard drive", and if you shop around they offer the best bang for the buck. Linux can boot off of a USB thumbdrive. Why not Windows? If Microsoft can ever get their act together with an acceptable Windows XP replacement, then maybe it will have the ability to be installed on a USB drive. We might see laptops and desktop motherboards with "internal" USB ports to take advantage of the cheapest and most compact form of solid state "drive".

Oh yes, I'm aware that USB2.0 is slower than SATA. But what about USB3.0? Remember, it's going to be many years before spinning hard drives go away, even on laptops.

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Post by dhanson865 » Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:02 pm

Windows doesn't boot from USB thumb drives because it isn't free and the suits that sell it haven't figured out the business model for letting you boot from any cheap device you can plug into a PC somehow.

MSFT has one reason to want you to not transport your OS from PC to PC. They want you to buy a copy of Windows for each machine not steal it.

I know that making it easy to do won't make piracy any more likely to occur but the suits don't think that way. They think DRM and copy protection in general are good things.

As was I used to recommend 98se retail as a good OS to buy. As is I don't recommend buying MSFT OSes because they often spend to much R&D making it harder for me to install their OS on the hardware I want to use.

WinPE shouldn't be a behind closed doors item. It should be on the retail shelves. It should be for sale as a cheap download. If WinPE were easy for an average user to obtain there would be a lot more people installing windows on alternative media...

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Post by dhanson865 » Fri Jul 04, 2008 11:14 am

Core series SSD drives are available in capacities of 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB and deliver incredible 120-143Mbs/ 80-93Mbs read/write speeds and seek times of less than 0.35ms, making the Core series up to 10x as fast on a seek-time basis and up to 40% faster on a R/W basis that the best performing 2.5" HDDs on the market, all while consuming 50% less power. MSRPs at time of launch are USD $169, $259 and $479 for 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models respectively.
OCZ is looking to trump Super Talent push down-market with faster SSDs at even lower price points. The company today announced its new Core Series 2.5" SSDs which are the most affordable, large-capacity SSDs that we've seen to date. The 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB models are priced at $169, $259, and $479 respectively -- the drives also feature a two-year warranty.

And unlike the Super Talent MX SSDs, these new Core series doesn't give up much in terms of speed to its more expensive rivals. OCZ is projecting read speeds of 120 to 143 MB/sec and write speeds of 80 to 93 MB/sec. All Core Series SSDs feature a mean time before failure (MTBF) of 1.5 million hours.
http://www.ocztechnology.com/products/f ... ii_2_5-ssd
Core series SSD drives are available in capacities of 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB and deliver incredible 120-143 MB/s 80-93 MB/s read/write speeds and seek times of less than 0.35ms, making the Core series up to 10x as fast on a seek-time basis and up to 40% faster on a R/W basis that the best performing 2.5â€

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Post by MikeC » Sat Jul 05, 2008 5:24 pm

Thanks for the update, dhanson865. :) This is still on our list of to-dos.

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Post by kirbysdl » Mon Jul 07, 2008 12:29 pm

You might also consider DOMs that plug directly into the port on your mobo. Two fewer cables for a cooler system (and they use all of 0.7W). The only problem is that regardless of manufacturer, they'll always make true SSDs that are higher-performance than comparable DOMs. However, Emphase's 40MB/s Read, 20MB/s Write speeds (for DOMs) are pretty good. If you guys find faster DOMs, please post!

http://www.pqi.com.tw/Product.asp?cate1=5
http://www.emphase.com/fdm_4000X

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Post by andyb » Mon Jul 07, 2008 2:42 pm

You might also consider DOMs that plug directly into the port on your mobo. Two fewer cables for a cooler system (and they use all of 0.7W). The only problem is that regardless of manufacturer, they'll always make true SSDs that are higher-performance than comparable DOMs. However, Emphase's 40MB/s Read, 20MB/s Write speeds (for DOMs) are pretty good. If you guys find faster DOMs, please post!
DOM's look interesting, they still need their own power connector (unless you are using the with a 44-pin laptop connector). I was rather hoping on finding some cheap SATA DOM's that had decent performance, I was dissapointed.

The PQI one is pretty lame, but I found one that might be "OK", it looks pretty like dodgy performance all round, 2ms access time 24MB read, 14MB write, but they are really cheap. The 4GB is available for less than $100, and the 8GB one for less than $200.

It could be interesting to see them in a RAID-0 array as supported by most motherboards now, you could get reasonable performance, and 8GB of storage for $200.

On the other hand you could forget the SATA connection all together and get the 8GB PATA one for $200 on its own at the performance mentioned above - it also claims high reliability like the professional SSD's

http://www.memorydepot.com/ssd/listcat. ... id=SATADOM
http://www.memorydepot.com/ssd/listcat. ... id=EDC4000
http://www.innodisk.com/flashstorage_sp ... flashid=29


Andy

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Post by kirbysdl » Mon Jul 07, 2008 3:59 pm

Whoops, you do still need power, but I think I'll be routing 5V power to mine from a USB port (they're low enough on current draw that it should be fine). 2 thin wires that can hug the surface of the mobo should be able to help air flow a bit. Sorry to have forgotten that part.

Also, pin 20 in a 40-pin IDE connector is sometimes used to provide power to DOMs, but that's generally on special industrial/embedded mobos. Standard fare used by SPCR testbeds will likely not have that pin, but I figured I'd mention it in case it's useful to someone. =)

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Post by andyb » Wed Jul 16, 2008 9:21 am

The new OCZ 32GB SATA SSD's can be had for around $200.

They meet all of SPCR's requirements, and now have a desirable pricetag.

Working on the assumption that the drive will be used for 2 years (its warranty length), and be used in just one review per month (24 reviews total) it would cost $8.3 per review.

A true SSD now looks like a viable option for SPCR - all being well (fingers crossed) SPCR's re-fit will come in under budget and allow SPCR's donators to be able to enhance SPCR's reviews buy buying this (or another) SSD with whats left in the war-chest.

Better still to have one donated free of charge from OCZ (or Samsung - they are practically identical).

viewtopic.php?p=422452#422452


Andy

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