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160 GB SSDs coming soon?

This is a few days old but still worth mentioning. Intel has announced that it is entering the SSD (solid-state disk) market this year. In addition to bringing down prices through extra competition, Intel is also offering speed improvements over existing SSD drives from other manufacturers.

Details are sparse but enough to whet our appetites - there will be a SATA (3 Gbps) version and the drives will range from 80 to 160 GB in size (in comparison, the largest generally-available ones are 64 GB). This means that SSDs can, for the first time, directly compete with hard drives on a technical level. They can't yet compete with hard disks on price but Intel is predicting prices of less than $200 by 2010.

This means a lot because solid-state disks are considerably smaller, faster and more reliable than conventional hard disks. Tests with the MacBook Air have shown considerably faster boot and application loading times. The traditional downside to SSDs (and something Intel did not mention) is that their write speeds are considerably lower than their read speeds - in fact, lower than the write speed of a conventional hard disk. This will no doubt change with time but for some tasks such as high-bandwidth acquisition, they are not yet ready to replace something like the RED Drive.

They would be great in a video editing environment though, where you don't need to write large amounts of data very often and much of the your time is spent reading data. With a lot of editing systems (particularly with the advent of 8 core Mac Pros), the bottleneck lies in the disk speed. It can also improve the responsiveness of applications like Final Cut Pro that store only a limited amount of timeline information (such as clip thumbnails) in the main memory, with the rest on disk. I can't wait to see these new drives in a RAID 0 configuration.
Posted by Jon Chappell on Mar 12 2008 to Analysis, Hardware, Video Editing