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Solid State put to the test - Team 16GB 2.5-inch IDE Solid State Drive - SSD Technology by Team continued

Large, heavy, and fragile - we look at why hard disk drives are quickly becoming outdated by solid state drives (SSD).

| SSDs in Storage | Posted: Apr 24, 2007 4:00 am

SSD Technology by Team continued

 

While 16GB is a much smaller capacity compared to the largest notebook drives today at around 250GB, solid state is still very much a maturing technology and the flash chip and controller companies are working hard to increases chip capacities. As we mentioned previously, by the end of this year Team should be selling a 128GB SSD and as time goes on, sizes will only increase. Team mentioned to us that roadmaps which it has seen show that chip companies are working very hard on increase chip capacities - it seems like the focus is capacity, and transfer speeds come second.

 

 

When we first started testing the Team SSD, we expected it to max out the Ultra ATA 100 interface but it did not. Read and write speed figures aside though, since we are using flash chips, things like seek and access times are improved dramatically over normal hard drives. Also since there are no moving parts inside, there are of course no inherent issues with spin-up requirements. The drives are instant-on in a sense, providing even more performance advantages over hard disk drives. Additionally, since SSDs use flash chips, seek time is consistent, at basically nothing or at least very minimal. And if that was not enough, you have got no issues with fragmentation either.

 

As far as power consumption goes and that is a very important thing when it comes to notebooks with battery life being such a priority, the Team SSD does not disappoint. Team Group told us that the most its SSD will use is just 0.5 watts. Compare that to regular notebook drives that use between 2 - 3+ watts. If you take a look at Seagate's 7200.10 line of 7,200-rpm hard drives you will notice that they have an operating average power consumption of 13 watts, which is 26 times more than the SSD we are looking at today. Not only is SSD going to help with longer battery life but it is bringing some bonuses to the environment.

 

Team claim sustained write endurance of 80 or more years and read endurance of two million hours (or over 200 years). Funnily enough though, data retention is set at 10 years, which means your 1s and 0s might go a little fuzzy after that time but then again, the average computer user would have gone through two or three new computers by then.

 

One of the other advantages of SSD is noise - there is none, period. This is great news for notebook users concerned with noise levels although remember that most notebook drives do not put out much more than 4dBA, so they are barely noticeable anyway. Compare the 0dBA of the SSD to something like Western Digital's high performance Raptor X hard drive and you have a different story though - it hums away full seek at 46dBA, which is very noticeable indeed.

 

While the benefits and advantages of SSD are certainly there, it is not all happy days for the new technology. At time of publishing, if you are buying a regular hard disk drive, (depending on brand) it will cost you around US$0.25 to US$0.40 per GB and prices continue to drop. You can expect the Team 16GB IDE SSD to set you back about US$25 per GB, if not more. Of course as flash technology improves and more people start buying SSDs, prices will drop.

 

While access times are fantastic and many times better than hard drives, actual read and write speeds are slower. Most current non-RAID hard drives are able to offer 2 to 3 times better read times and usually at least twice as fast write speeds compared to NAND flash SSDs. We asked Team Group if they see flash IC technology improving to accommodate faster read and write speeds; its opinion is that flash chip companies are more interested in increasing capacities at this stage - transfer speeds are of course important but second priority to density.

 

Now that we have finished covering the technology side of things, let us move onto the installation section.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320 GB SATA Hard Drive

 

Further Reading: Read and find more Storage content at our Storage reviews, guides and articles index page.

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