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SSD and Hard Drive together?


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I am thinking of buying an SSD drive, specifically OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30G 2.5" 30GB SATA II

Currently $159. $10 off and free shipping ($168 total). Was another $10 cheaper as shell shocker, but my ISP sucks so I can't do stuff, so I'm doing it at friends. Competitor is selling same thing for $200 with shipping, so this is a decent deal (remember prices are in Canadian).

From the review, it is one of best SSD out there (behind intels more expensive ones).

The SSD Anthology: Understanding SSDs and New Drives from OCZ

So from what I read there, ocz vertex is around twice as fast as the fastest hard drive you can buy (velociraptor). I just have your average 320gb hard drive bought in 2007 (made in 2006). So I would expect it to be 2-3 times as fast as what I have. I don't have much need for lots of gb, I have more need for speed, so 30gb is fine, and I'm on a budget. For me to buy a full new computer system, to make it worth while I would end up spending $800 ($500 would get me similar machine that I now have). So I figure spending $168 on something like SSD would be a nice incremental upgrade, and can be switched to another computer later on if needed. Ubuntu is currently using 15gb, but 6gb is virtualbox, so 30gb is fine for OS/programs assuming my hard drive is still able to run at same time to store/access large files/data.

Now, I have sata hookups (one power, and one data) not being used, so I could hook up an SSD. If I hook up SSD, I presume my hard drive would still boot up? I would have operating system and programs and most used files on SSD, and for large data that wouldn't really fit on SSD, I would keep on hard drive. So I could still access hard drive while using SSD? Say my music collection is on hard drive, I could listen to music (like how I use Ubuntu, and my music is on an ntfs partition)? With SSD and hard drive connected at same time, how does it know which device to boot from? I presume in BIOS I would set SSD to boot before hard drive, and SSD would have GRUB on it to select OS? Can GRUB detect operating systems on SSD and hard drive, so I still have winxp on hard drive and it stays there, I could boot to winxp?

My basic computer specs in case you notice a bottleneck that would make SSD pointless:

core2duo E6300 1.8ghz (low end/early core2duo)

intel g965 x3000 (decent intel graphics, much better than 910/950 series, but obviously no good for games made past 2004)

300gb HD

3gb ddr2

dvd dual burner

I'm guessing SSD don't use a lot of power (like say video card), so I shouldn't have to worry about not having large enough power supply (EDIT: uses only 2 watts!!). I frequently get power outages (say once per month). Does that corrupt entire SSD or just do similar thing as hard drive? Nothing to worry about since my HD went through dozens of power failures and it still works? I realize stuff I'm working on wouldn't be saved if it wasn't written to SSD/hard drive before power crash, and stuff being written would simply be shown as incorrect and eventually overwritten.

Since I have 3gb of ram, I could save writes by sending and keeping more in ram? In ubuntu I use preload which normally loads 500mb into ram on startup (on top of 500mb normally used, and the rest for cache). Reason for using preload is that loading most often used programs into ram at startup will make the startup time of program much lower (since it is in ram instead of hard drive). I guess with SSD this performance boost would not be as fast.

Thanks for any tips, and sorry for writing so much stuff.

EDIT:

oh and my hard drive probably has 8 or 16MB cache, while ocz vertex has 64MB cache. So another point of major improvement.

EDIT:

In order to flash the SSD with newest firmware, it says you need a "jumper". Apparently it does not come with one, and I have no idea if my computer came with one. Also no idea where to get one. Does this contain the jumpers needed? OCZ Vertex 120GB v1.10 MLC SSD Review

Hmm, maybe you don't connect something to the jumper? Just add the blue thing and then connect sata connections and firmware goes through sata? No idea. Hmm, looks like you do just attach the jumper, update firmware, then remove jumper.

EDIT:

Using PC wizard, I got some into on my current hard drive and comparing to SSD

Size: 320 GB SSD: 30gb

Cache: 7 372 KB SSD: 64mb (8x more cache)

Latency Access: 9711ms SSD: <1ms (not sure if comparing same stuff though)

Attached is PC wizard chart of my current hard drive to give read/write numbers.

ocz vertex has 250mb sequential read vs my 78mb. 3.2x faster

ocz vertex has 93mb sequential write vs my 56mb. 1.66x faster

post-1194-12833239838598_thumb.png

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Using a SSD with MLC-Architecture as ths OS drive isn't the best solution. If you want to use a SSD, keep looking for those with SLC-archicteure. But they are also more expensive.

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So, what would be the purpose of the SSD I listed? Can't be for storage as it's only 30gb, so I presume it is meant for OS/programs? Or as a write data you use often to it once, that won't change? Such as music collection? But having OS on normal hard drive and reading lots + writing little from SSD would seem pointless with no noticeable speed gain since OS and programs are slow.

I notice at newegg OCZ OCZSSD2-1S32G 2.5" 32GB SATA II SLC for almost $400. The read/write speed are less (1/2) than the $160 30gb ocz vertex. Ok, at wikipedia it says MLC have 1,000-10,000 writes vs 100,000 for SLC. So I guess it would mean eventually each sector would not allow writes (complete write failure maybe in 2 years?). Say an OS starts twice a day, and makes 2 writes to several files each day. 2x365 = 730 writes. So it should last at least 1 year before noticeable failure right? If I were to load OS parts (say /home and couple others that gets tons of writes) into ram on startup, then it would write back to SSD upon shutdown the changes, that should save on writes? Instead of constantly writing to SSD small changes to some files? They would constantly change in RAM, then the final end product upon shutdown would be written? Say I'm writing a project in openoffice calc, tell it to autosave every 15 min, well if /home were mounted into ram, it would not affect SSD, until shutdown with final product. And files that did not change will not need to be rewritten to SSD. Am I correct in guessing that? Or am I getting confused with mounting stuff to ram does not get saved back to hard drive if it changed? (oops, according to boot to ram I am a bit confused, the /home directory should not be loaded into ram if you plan on changing stuff). So mounting stuff into ram is a bad idea. At least ext4 has delayed allocation so not as many writes occur. Well acording to ramdisk at ocz forums, loading stuff into ram does help.

Anything over $200 would be out of my price range for SSD. Not necessarily looking for top quality since I can't afford it, and my computer wouldn't take full advantage of it anyway :P

From anandtech article I linked in first article at conclusion section:

I’d argue that Intel got it “right”. Given the limited sizes of SSDs today and the high cost per GB, no one in their right mind is using these drives for mass storage of large files - they’re using them as boot and application drives, that’s where they excel after all.

No where in the article did I notice him warning about MLC and them write failing within a year or any warning that they would fail fast. Even if it did write fail in 1.5 years, the same product price then should be 1/2 what it is now anyway, or same price and much better quality.

EDIT: vertex has 2 year warranty, I presume write failure would not be a large problem within that time, otherwise I doubt they'd have a 2 year warranty if they expected them to all fail in less than 2 years. and I'm guessing everyone would be using them for OS/programs/data usage.

So any other negatives to worry about? Thanks for the tip veK about MLC/SLC. SLC is way out of my price range.

Would I be better off waiting another 6 months for large price drops etc?

Hmm, I think I'll wait on SSD. I'll buy eee box once it goes on sale cheaper to replace old pentium4 computer as that has more importance. eee box much faster than old computer, and will only use 10% electricity, so I guess more benefit per $ spent.

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It's not about the write or read speed when comparing SLC with MLC. MLC chips have a few issues and the mainly used JMicron controller isn't the best (and main reason for the more annoying issues). Just google it, I only have know german sites about these topics, that won't be any help for you I guess.

Intel and MTron both build their own controllers and as far as I know there are some manufacturers that use their (Intel/MTron) drives and relabel them. Anyway, if you want a ssd for your OS (which makes the most sense) you should rather go for one with SLC chips. Those are still pretty expensive though so I suggest waiting. I had a MTron 16GB (it's in the hardware thread) and it was really great. Unfortunately there was a problem with the booting. That problem was later confirmed to be related to the unsual Intel chipset that's used on the Shuttle's mainboard.

Now I'm using a laptop anyway and put in a 500GB HDD instead of the 250GB that were in before. Of course I'd like to have that SSD in there but I already gave it back and also I'd have to carry around my mobile HDD all the time because the 16GB SSD obviously was only big enough for windows and all my programs.

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Ok. I'll probably wait, especially since my computer is acting up. At least I did some research in case certain ones go on big sale.

About the jmicron chip, the vertex does have it, but it is fixed to perform good (no big latency problems that every other jmicron SSD has). Starting on page 20 of the review, ocz sent anand a vertex with jmicron, the latency was 50ms. He told them it was no good, so they sent another with lowered mb/s to get latency below 1ms and closer to intel SSD.

So I'd expect any new SSD (jmicron) coming out to have fixed the latency problem. But there's still lots of crap ones already released. I think firmware can control those types of things. So at least the good manufacturers will continue with firmware updates to fix stuff (ocz has made about 5 firmware updates to vertex in 2 months).

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I don't know that much about it, but from the dutch reviews I have read, you can better wait. The price is high and for (very) small files the SSD is not so good.

Perhaps a <$50 videocard will give you more boost, in games that is.

You can also try RAID 0 for HDD's, that can give a boost.

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The Vertex doesn't use a JMicron chip so there's no micro stutter. It uses the Barefoot controller.

http://yertech.blogspot.com/2009/02/ocz-updates-vertex-ssds-trashes-jmicron.html

You're probably confusing it with the Solid or Apex series. Putting 2 hard drives will increase their sequential read and write, but the random read/write of the SSD will till be a few times higher than the SSDs in RAID0. Lastly, and most importantly, the random access time on the HDD will never improve, no matter how many drives you put in the RAID0 array (7200 RPM Caviar Blacks, one of the fastest 7200 rpm drives, will have a random access time of more than 10 ms, and SSDs have around 0.1ms). Once you try a SSD (without the JMicron chip), you'll never go back to HDD.

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Thanks for the correction Dave510.

EDIT:

I misread the anandtech article about the controller. Here is relevant part:

They were the first to bring an Indilinx drive to the market, the first to produce a working drive based on Samsung’s latest controller, and the company that fixed the Indilinx firmware. I’ve upset companies in the past and while tempers flared after the X25-M review, OCZ at least made it clear this round that their desire is to produce the best drive they could. After the firmware was finalized, OCZ even admitted to me that they felt they had a much better drive; they weren’t just trying to please me, but they felt that their customers would be happier.

I should also point out that the firmware that OCZ pushed for will now be available to all other manufacturers building Indilinx based drives. It was a move that not only helped OCZ but could help every other manufacturer who ships a drive based on this controller.

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WTF?

OCZ Vertex is selling for $119 regular (currently with free shipping!) at newegg.ca See my first post/link for details.

Anyone else see this or am I seeing things? Was $159 a couple days ago.

Newegg.com is still showing $119 (after $20 off, and free shipping). maybe newegg.ca is messed up? Should I take advantage of low price?

Vertex at ncix.com (canadian e-retailer) is still listed at $189. So I don't think it was a manufacturer price drop, and US prices should be lower (~20%) than Canadian prices.

I'm looking through neweggs terms to see what happens if they incorrectly list a price and you order it. If it is still at that price 18 hours from now I'll probably order it.

EDIT:

Reading latest anadtech ssd article back on March 30, jumpers are not needed to update firmware, so that solves that problem for me.

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For 119$ you should probably get the OCZ. I didn't know it uses a different controller. Seems ok and for that price it's a great deal. I can only speak for the SSD I had. Aside from the booting problem which was due to the mainboard chipset I really loved the SSD for windows. It's just damn fast and a lot of fun then.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Gah, they dropped the price to $138, free shipping and $20 mail in rebate. Todays newegg shell shocker.

I'm so tempted. But I should probably wait until October for new ubuntu+kernel which will work better with SSD. And probably less problems/price.

And I still don't know if grub can boot to different hard drives. ubuntu on SSD, ubuntu + windows on hard drive. Will grub easily detect the ubuntu and windows on hard drive when installing ubuntu to SSD? I've tried searching for answer, but havn't found anyone talking about it. There seems to be a lot of work to optimize SSD for linux to get the best performance, and decrease the writes so it lasts longer.

I don't know that much about it, but from the dutch reviews I have read, you can better wait. The price is high and for (very) small files the SSD is not so good.

Perhaps a <$50 videocard will give you more boost, in games that is.

You can also try RAID 0 for HDD's, that can give a boost.

I have thought about video card, but I don't know if my power supply can handle one. I'll probably wait until a new computer before getting one (waiting for win7, usb3, or build a computer from scratch). I was thinking of SSD as it would make loading OS and programs/files faster. I don't have much of a plan for newer games, but it would be nice. I might get console for games at some point instead

Raid 0 for HD won't work, as the fast hard drives cost $100 each, so to get two of them would cost $200, and SSD is $150, and faster than raid hard drives. I don't have a storage problem because of my slow internet. I can't even fill my 320gb hard drive.

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Perhaps as temporary solution you could try sleep mode instead of turning the PC off. I don't mean stand-by (where the memory holds work data), I mean that the OS writes the work data to the HDD. Booting up goes way faster from sleep mode.  :)

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Perhaps as temporary solution you could try sleep mode instead of turning the PC off. I don't mean stand-by (where the memory holds work data), I mean that the OS writes the work data to the HDD. Booting up goes way faster from sleep mode.  :)

you are correct. In ubuntu, suspend is very fast. 9 seconds, and remembers my running programs.

Hibernate does not work as I only have 500mb swap, and it wants more to save everything from ram.

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Yah, I looked into ramdisk a bit, especially if I were to buy a SSD to decrease amount of writes. I have 3gb of ram and rarely use more than 1gb (although sometimes make ubuntu use more with preload). Preload is a good program to load most used software into ram at startup. When I was using it, it was loading 1500 files and 550mb into ram. I dunno if it made anything faster, but theoretically it should as the programs I most use would be already loaded into ram at startup.

Your suggestion of suspend works great. I turn on computer in morning, do some stuff, then put into suspend before work, get home for lunch/supper and resume/suspend again. I shut it off at night because the LED lights on computer are too bright and flashing. 10 seconds from pressing power button to a working desktop is great, and suspend remembers/keeps all my programs open and running. So if I am browsing web, and have something to read on a website (slashdot), but then have to leave, I put into suspend, and resume where I was when I get back.

I just installed bootchart to see how long it takes for ubuntu to start. It is quite fast.

Currently 19 seconds. The ext4 and 64bit most likely helped.

Intrepid was between 24 and 26 seconds.

Hardy was 25 seconds.

Gutsy was 22 seconds.

post-1194-12833239882147_thumb.png

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Great that it works.

I have on my logitech wave keyboard a special key for shutdown/suspend stuff, that makes it even easier/faster. Perhaps you can also have that or use a key combination in Ubuntu.

Using stand-by/suspend also saves energy (instead of letting PC run).  :)

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SSD Prices Could be Cut in Half Due to New JMicron Flash Controller & 32nm NAND Flash

Hope it's true! If Jmicron can get as good as ocz vertex (fix stutter) and cut prices in 1/2 by christmas, then we'll see lots of people buying SSD.

will support the use of up to 256MB of DDR or DDR2 DRAM as an external cache.

...

While most drives using the new chip will be designed for its SATA II interface in mind, it does have a USB 2.0 interface for data transfers and firmware updates.

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  • 2 weeks later...

According to short anandtech article:

OCZ is expected to have TRIM support on its Vertex drives shortly, potentially within the next month from what I've read on their forums. Samsung's latest drive will have TRIM support once Microsoft has released Windows 7; I'm guessing that means September/October.

So waiting for TRIM to be shipped with SSD, and waiting for win7, looks like quite a bit should be sorted out by October. With TRIM support it should make SSD even faster, especially for writing. I presume ubuntu/linux will support trim by the time win7 is released, so everyone wins.

2010. Year of the SSD?

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SanDisk releases faster netbook solid state disk drives

SanDisk Corp. today announced the general availability of two new solid state disk (SSD) drives for netbooks that it said increase random read/write rates by as much as nine times over its first generation netbook SSDs.

...

Barnetson said the P2 and S2 drives have sustained read/write rates of about 70MB/sec. or about twice as fast as a standard 5,400RPM hard disk drive. They also consume about half the power of a standard 5,400RPM drive, he said.

...

The new SSDs come in 8GB, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities, with up to 320MB of cache. Barnetson said the 16GB version will have an suggested retail price of about $40 and the 32GB drive will run between $60 and $70.

Looks like the end of 2009 (after win7 release) should be a great time to buy stuff. :)

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Are you glad you waited?

Yes I'm glad I'm waiting. Learning lots more about them. Although having a faster HD now would be nice ;D

Also, from my previous link to anandtech about ocz trim, it also points out that 120gb ocz vertex is 20-30% faster than 30/60gb models. And the price per gb for 120gb is 50% of 30gb. So waiting even longer for 120gb price drop, will have even bigger rewards (speed/price).

EDIT:

Actually at newegg.ca:

120gb costs $400 (free shipping)

30gb costs $170 (not including $20 mail in rebate). so the free shipping and MIR cancel each out lets say.

400/120 = 3.3333 $/gb

170/30 = 5.6666 $/gb

5.6666 - 3.3333 / 3.3333 = 70% more cost per gb for 30gb. Or 5.6/3.3 = 1.70, or 170% increase in cost per gb for 30gb.

So at current prices, 120gb is much cheaper per gb. Although the 30gb did go on sale for $120 at one point, but I think that was to get rid of inventory of ones with old firmware.

So we have windows 7/Mac OS/ubuntu all released September/October and usb3/SSD going to get popular around that time as well. Although usb3 probably won't be around much until 2010, but it means that usb2 products should become very cheap as they try to unload them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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