Sunday, May 31, 2015

Where have all the SSDs gone?

My current and previous laptop - that's a 3-year timespan - both had an internal SSD rather than rotating rust. The difference between those and prior systems was like night and day - instant-on, rather than the prior experience of making a cup of coffee while waiting for the old HDD system to stagger into life.

My current primary desktop system is also SSD based. Power button to fully booted is a small number of seconds. Applications are essentially instant - certainly compared to startup times for things like firefox that used to be double-digit seconds before it was ready to go.

(This startup speed changes usage patterns. Who really needs suspend/resume when the system boots in the time it takes to settle comfortably in your chair?)

So I was a little surprised, while browsing in a major high street electronics retailer, to find hardly any evidence of SSDs. Every desktop system had an HDD. Almost all the laptops were HDD based. A couple of the all-in-ones had hybrid drives. SSDs were conspicuous by their absence.

I had actually noticed this trend while looking online. I've just checked the desktops on the Dell site, and there's no sign of a system with an SSD option.

Curious, I asked the shop assistant, who replied that SSDs were far too expensive.

I'm not sure I buy the cost argument. An SSD actually costs the same as an HDD - at least, the range of prices is exactly the same. So the prices will stay unchanged, but obviously the capacity will be quite a bit less. And it looks like the sales pitch is about capacity.

But even there, the capacity numbers are meaningless. It's purely bragging rights, disconnected from reality. With any of the HDD options, you're looking at hundreds of thousands of songs or pictures. Very few typical users will need anything like that much - and if you do, you're going to need to look at redundancy or backup. And with media streaming and cloud-based backup, local storage is more a liability than an asset.

So, why such limited penetration of SSDs into the home computing market?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Curious, I asked the shop assistant, who replied that SSDs were far too expensive.

I'm not sure I buy the cost argument."

But the shop assistant is right - the SSD capacities substatially lag after SAS (which lag after SATA) drives, so one gets significantly less storage for the same amount of money.

Additionally, good luck finding a consumer grade SSD drive which will honor ZFS flush requests, or implement the entire SCSI command set properly; if you want your data to be safe, you will immediately land into professional territory - with pricing to match. You are on the illumos / SmartOS mailing lists, ask Keith, he can tell you all about it (and has written at length there on the subject).