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Flash SSD Update: More Results, Answers

Flash SSD Update: More Results, Answers
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ssd hard drive

First of all, we want to take this opportunity and apologize to our readers, for we made a procedural mistake when we compared battery runtime of various Flash SSDs, which we used to replace a 7,200 RPM hard drive on a business notebook in an effort to compare battery life of SSDs versus a conventional hard drive. As it was commented by our readers (see comments of that article) and other sources (thanks, George), part of the test procedure was inaccurate because of varying workload. This may cause other system components such as the CPU to be used more intensively, hence contributing to draining the battery earlier than on a slower drive.

The conclusion, however, that Flash SSDs are often misleadingly presented as energy savers to increase your battery mileage on notebooks, is not invalidated. The truth is that more and more Flash SSDs will be increasingly efficient. But many conventional hard drives can also be more efficient than today’s Flash SSDs in the scenarios some of you were demanding: when providing data under a defined workload such as video playback or in idle until the notebook battery runs empty.

We looked into all of that to find answers to the questions. You will see that there is indeed one Flash SSD that beats the living daylights out of any hard drive now, and you will see that answers can only be found for specific applications.

We’ll talk about this drive later, but this is exactly what our initial article meant to say: many Flash SSDs simply aren’t there yet.

There is no Simple Conclusion

The truth is that no general conclusion, such as “Flash SSDs are more efficient,” can be drawn at this point for the majority of the Flash SSDs on the market. Performance, efficiency and performance per watt typically depend on the specific workload, and some hard drives are surprisingly efficient in certain disciplines.

Some Flash SSDs were designed to be performers and they deliver on that promise regardless of power consumption (although performance per watt is typically great). Many others, especially first-generation drives, simply do not serve up the same solid results.

Additional Products Tested

For the additional tests we decided to take battery runtime tests out of the equation, mainly because they take a lot of time and we wanted to focus on a representative variety of drives when we provided this update.

We had to return the MemoRight Flash SSD, but we still have the Mtron Flash SSD, SanDisk’s SSD5000 and the Crucial SSD. We also received additional Flash SSDs by Super Talent (Master Drive MX) and the OCZ SATA II Flash SSD, which is the real surprise, proving us right when we say that many Flash SSDs are a hoax, while also proving many other people right who say that Flash SSDs do much better than magnetic hard drives. Much better.

Finally, we added more hard drives to our lineup. There is the Hitachi Deskstar 7K200, which we used for the initial article, Samsung’s HM320JI, a brand new Seagate Momentus 5400.5 — both 5,400 RPM drives — and Western Digital’s WD3200BEKT, which runs at 7,200 RPM like the Hitachi drive.

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Top Comments
  • 11 Hide
    JPForums , July 14, 2008 1:13 PM
    Kudos to Tom's for having the decency to admit their mistakes and revise the article. The results, while not extraordinarily different than the previous article (discounting newcomers) provided a much more complete picture of the advantages and disadvantages of SSDs.

    Articles like this one are a necessary step to regaining some of the lost credibility from previous articles like in this scenario. (Though it would be better if the articles didn't need revision) In short, it is encouraging to see that Tom's is listening to the readers. IMHO the real enthusiasts are more concerned with well thought out procedures, and accuracy/completeness/comprehensiveness of results than reading the "We posted first" articles that are all to easy to find on the internet.
Other Comments
  • -7 Hide
    Xeus32 , July 14, 2008 7:41 AM
    LOL
  • 1 Hide
    Xeus32 , July 14, 2008 7:43 AM
    Flash SSDs do not inherently contribute to increasing battery life and better efficiency comes with the appropriate Flash SSD used for a specific application. "Flash SSD" is not a qualifier for efficiency or performance.
  • 1 Hide
    swiftpulse , July 14, 2008 10:02 AM
    This is much better than the first article now. Specially the DVD playback is interesting.
  • 0 Hide
    swiftpulse , July 14, 2008 10:06 AM
    The 64GB OCZ seems to be an amazingly exceptional drive.
  • -3 Hide
    bloodymaze , July 14, 2008 11:37 AM
    Hahaha. Once again contradicting yourself as Xeus pointed out.
  • 11 Hide
    JPForums , July 14, 2008 1:13 PM
    Kudos to Tom's for having the decency to admit their mistakes and revise the article. The results, while not extraordinarily different than the previous article (discounting newcomers) provided a much more complete picture of the advantages and disadvantages of SSDs.

    Articles like this one are a necessary step to regaining some of the lost credibility from previous articles like in this scenario. (Though it would be better if the articles didn't need revision) In short, it is encouraging to see that Tom's is listening to the readers. IMHO the real enthusiasts are more concerned with well thought out procedures, and accuracy/completeness/comprehensiveness of results than reading the "We posted first" articles that are all to easy to find on the internet.
  • -3 Hide
    dragunover , July 14, 2008 1:23 PM
    iLOL
    I like when people talk about the power inefficiency of hard-drives,yet don't blame things like CPU's,or discrete GPU's in their laptops.

    However,I would like to see this as a high power part in desktops sooner or later,but with of course more power and(hopefully) stellar reliability.
    And I mean for under 300 dollars.
  • -4 Hide
    dragunover , July 14, 2008 1:25 PM
    iLOL
    I like when people talk about the power inefficiency of hard-drives,yet don't blame things like CPU's,or discrete GPU's in their laptops.

    However,I would like to see this as a high power part in desktops sooner or later,but with of course more power and(hopefully) stellar reliability.
    And I mean for under 300 dollars.
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , July 14, 2008 2:34 PM
    Is measuring only wattage correct? What about the amps? I'm no electrical/mechanical engineer but I have always thought you need to measure both wattage and amperage to get the actual power consumption?
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 14, 2008 2:39 PM
    Dragunover - no one is refuting the fact that the CPU/GPU will be power hungry... that's not what is under discussion here. i'm interested by the fact you seem to be asking for SSDs that consume more power...?
  • 8 Hide
    igot1forya , July 14, 2008 2:51 PM
    Ziria, Wattage (P) is calculated by multiplying Voltage (V) by Amps (A).

    Hence, the only important number is Wattage.
  • 3 Hide
    mdillenbeck , July 14, 2008 3:10 PM
    This article demonstrates that too often people generalize from specific test data.

    Whether SDD or HDD, how you use your electronics device will influence how it much power it consumes. To conclude that one drive uses less power because a specific test does is an inaccurate conclusion - the testor can only state that it uses less power under those given circumstances and that is most likely will hold true under similar circumstances. (For example: this test is for random read/write operations, so the results most likely will be true for most applications that follow that pattern of disk usage.)

    My point? Many times reviewers do not have the time to evaluate a product in depth, and thus they should not make broad generalizations or exaggerated claims.

    Hopefully Tom's will keep up with in-depth reviews for a variety of users - road warriors (office apps/web/email), multimedia entertainment (DVD/video streaming apps/music playing), gamers, and "typical home users" - and creating good summary tables of their findings.

    Myself, I find the IOs/Watt information especially valuable. I'll use that to find the IOs/Watt/$ when evaluating my future purchases. I'm kinda curious how the SSDs stack up against each other in that category (and I'm sure the HDDs are still waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy ahead of the SSDs right now).
  • 3 Hide
    Fadamor , July 14, 2008 6:50 PM
    demonhorde665to me teh argument isnt so much a "efficency" issue , to mee flash SSd's represent a future in computing where we don't have to replace , storage devices every 5-6 years (this is assuming you are getting agood high quality hard drive ) old mechanical hard drives (the current standard) fail after about 5-6 years to date the longest livinf hard drive i have is at 6 and i'll be amazed it it last half another year./ Also note you can cut this hard drive life expectancy in half if you smoke around your computer or you ahve a dusty home like many peopel in more rural areas. This hard drive death is soemthign that can't be stoped as the metal paltes require mechanical parts to spin them , and like any motor the parts will wear outa nd eventually stop working all together. Now fast forward to when they have SDD's that range in a better size (like at elast 250 gb) i can see these drive replacing even desk top hard drives , simpply for teh reason ... They HAVE NO MECHANICAL PARTS THAT WEAR OUT !

    Not true. Flash SSD's suffer the same flaw as your typical Flash "thumb drive"... The recording medium fails after X number of writes. They've added technology in the controllers to extend the drive's life by spreading the writes around the drive's landscape, but the drive WILL fail eventually... even if you treat it with kid gloves.
  • 2 Hide
    gxsolace , July 14, 2008 6:55 PM
    Wow. Pretty rare these days to see a big publication go out and admit a mistake and even make a big public apology. kudos to you guys.
  • 2 Hide
    uday_ananth , July 14, 2008 7:03 PM
    hard disks have been here for ages.. give ssds some more time and only then we can actually evaluatethe differences..
  • 3 Hide
    hergieburbur , July 14, 2008 7:29 PM
    Wow, I have to admit, I did not expect Tom's to admit their errors in the last article. I am glad they did though, and this one looks to be much more along the lines of what we would expect to see. Props for having the gut to admit your mistake Patrick and Aaron.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 14, 2008 8:10 PM
    All that really matters to me in regards to these articles, is that i'm not going to notice any difference in battery life while using my lapop. I could however expect to enjoy the speed if i got a good SSD.
  • 1 Hide
    gwolfman , July 14, 2008 9:06 PM
    Nice job Tom's. I thoroughly enjoyed this article a lot more than the previous one. It seems like the last one way maybe rushed. Either way, thanks for keeping things legit and up to (at least my idea of) Tom's quality standards. Thanks again!
  • 0 Hide
    shadowmaster625 , July 14, 2008 9:15 PM
    so where are the benchmarks for OCZ Core Raid-0?
  • -1 Hide
    JonnyDough , July 14, 2008 9:53 PM
    It's pretty simple. Solid state storage power can be turned off while in use in between read and writes. Hard drives have to continue spinning, or their access times would be seconds. I think the future is pretty clear, and there is no "hoax." Early hard drives were sub-par as well. If you release garbage stories like this, you'll hurt the SSD market and it will take longer for fast efficient SSDs to come into play. This is more like a retraction to an advertisement trying to slow the SSD market than anything. Methinks Tom's Hardware has been bought and paid for by the very companies it reviews, even going so far as to post articles and videos about integrity among video game reviews, to paint themselves in a "holy" light. Tom's, you have become an absolute farce. Leave it to California business to be corrupt and try to favor certain companies over others. We'd be morons to believe that it doesn't happen in the geek sector. Everyone has a price.
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