Solid State Disk Drives Are Here

Flash-Based Storage's Achilles Heel

The first fully-featured, commercially-available solid-state drive (SSD) has reached our storage test lab. While we already reviewed a $1,000 prototype from Samsung a year ago, and most memory vendors have only been announcing flash-based drives, SanDisk's SSD 5000 is the first real piece of 32 GB hardware that made it to our labs.

First, the worst thing we can say about this device is that it cannot meet the constraints of some server workloads. But in the big-picture sense, the device is overall superior to traditional hard drive technology. Indeed, storage performance is crucial, and it is about to go to the next level Compare Prices on Solid State Drives.

SSDs have been around for many years, and were mostly sold by storage vendors such as Bitmicro and others. However, non-volatile memory, usually flash, has been far too expensive to create storage products that can a) offer sufficient capacity for desktop or mobile use and b) be reasonably priced. Although flash-based drives now have capacities between 8 GB and 32 GB, they are still a bit away from the sweet-spot capacity points, which are 160-200 GB in the desktop space and 80-120 GB in the notebook market. A 32 GB flash drive is also three to four times more expensive than a conventional hard drive with three to four times the capacity. So should you still invest in an SSD so soon? The short answer is yes.

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