Intel 34nm SSD released

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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qviri
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Post by qviri » Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:44 pm

Matija wrote:Never heard of that. What does it do?
Requires that the user enter the password before they'll be able to access the drive's contents.

I've mostly seen it used in notebooks TBH.

Matija
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Post by Matija » Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:01 pm

OK, that much is obvious, but what does it do on low level?

Logically thinking, the password encrypts something. It cannot be just the MBR, because that wouldn't do much. So, I can guess that it encrypts everything on the drive; the CPU won't do that (too risky), so it's probably the built-in controller on the drive doing encryption on the fly.

If you change the password, does it re-encrypt the entire drive? That would take too long, especially on notebook hard drives. What happens if power goes out (and batteries too)?

Really, what does it do?

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Post by qviri » Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:48 pm

I'm not sure myself. I'd suspect the drive firmware just doesn't respond to any data requests unless it's been provided with a valid password at boot. That is, not encryption, just a as-low-level-as-it-gets lock-out.

This is kind of off-topic, no? This isn't an Intel SSD specific feature.

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Post by Matija » Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:33 am

Hmm, makes sense. That would still allow data to be "scraped" off traditional platters, but you can't do that with SSDs, so the drive is bricked...

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Post by dhanson865 » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:18 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_A ... d_Security
HDD Passwords and Security

The disk lock is a built-in security feature in the disk. It is part of the ATA specification, and thus not specific to any brand or device.

A disk always has two passwords: A User password and a Master password. Most disks support a Master Password Revision Code. Reportedly some disks can tell you if the Master password has been changed, or if it still the factory default. The revision code is word 92 in the IDENTIFY response. Reportedly on some disks a value of 0xFFFE means the Master password is unchanged. The standard does not distinguish this value.

A disk can be locked in two modes: High security mode or Maximum security mode. Bit 8 in word 128 of the IDENTIFY response tell you which mode your disk is in: 0 = High, 1 = Maximum.

In High security mode, you can unlock the disk with either the User or Master password, using the "SECURITY UNLOCK DEVICE" ATA command. There is an attempt limit, normally set to 5, after which you must power cycle or hard-reset the disk before you can attempt again. Also in High security mode the SECURITY ERASE UNIT command can be used with either the User or Master password.

In Maximum security mode, you cannot unlock the disk without the User password - the only way to get the disk back to a usable state is to issue the SECURITY ERASE PREPARE command, immediately followed by SECURITY ERASE UNIT. In Maximum security mode the SECURITY ERASE UNIT command requires the User password and will completely erase all data on the disk. The operation is rather slow, expect half an hour or more for big disks. (Word 89 in the IDENTIFY response indicates how long the operation will take.)
While http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_ATA doensn't mention this feature, but I'm assuming it carried over to the new standard and just isn't mentioned by Wikipedia.

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Post by echn111 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:41 pm

Quite a few negative views of SSD's here. From what I've seen, an SSD like this one is amongst the best upgrades someone can make nowdays in terms of performance and in terms of cost. Compared to many other upgrades, the performance gain in everyday computing makes this an absolute bargain in terms of cost to performance increase. (Needless to say, it also has advantages for quiet computing, but that's obvious).

Paired up with a modern computer and several terrabytes of cheap, quiet and power efficient 5400rpm storage, a small SSD will dramatically increase your overall performance. People complaining about storage capacity are missing the point. And if you haven't tried it and seen the difference, you may wish to consider your lack of hands-on experience when stating your opinions.

Ok, I admit, if you either have no budget or your idea of silent computing is to use the lowest power, most obsolete and cheapest hardware you can find, this doesn't apply to you. But for many enthusiasts, it is an excellent and relatively cheap upgrade for performance and quietness.

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Post by aztec » Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:11 pm

echn111 wrote: People complaining about storage capacity are missing the point. And if you haven't tried it and seen the difference, you may wish to consider your lack of hands-on experience when stating your opinions....
EXACTLY!

Its getting tiring to raed people whine about every little bump SSD experiences.

The technology will get better. PERIOD.

It will get cheaper. PERIOD.

The bugs will get ironed out. PERIOD.

I mean seriously.....would you rather that manufacturers concentrate on magnetic disc tenchology instead?

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Post by nutball » Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:59 am

aztec wrote:The technology will get better. PERIOD.

It will get cheaper. PERIOD.

The bugs will get ironed out. PERIOD.
None of which is very helpful if you happen to already own an expensive, buggy SSD. PERIOD.

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Post by wojtek » Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:47 am

nutball wrote:
aztec wrote:The technology will get better. PERIOD.

It will get cheaper. PERIOD.

The bugs will get ironed out. PERIOD.
None of which is very helpful if you happen to already own an expensive, buggy SSD. PERIOD.
That's true if you are a owner of some of the early SSD's. But if you got Vertex (or something newer) than you are a WINNER and you can fully use this technology and appreciate this jump in the overall system performance.

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Post by Matija » Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:18 am

I still don't understand how exactly SSDs make things faster.

Most people today spend 95% of their time in browsers, which are extremely far from requiring fast disk performance.

There are also gamers, who don't benefit from SSDs that much.

What do you use the speed for?

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Post by swivelguy2 » Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:37 am

Matija wrote:I still don't understand how exactly SSDs make things faster.

Most people today spend 95% of their time in browsers, which are extremely far from requiring fast disk performance.

There are also gamers, who don't benefit from SSDs that much.

What do you use the speed for?
The reason that an SSD makes everything faster is because Windows is so blatantly not designed for performance. Windows is constantly checking DLLs, touching log files, reading setup files, etc. These files are all scattered around a hard disk and create many of random HDD accesses every minute. The milliseconds of access time that a magnetic hard drive has will really add up when there's a queue of small actions to be performed at different locations on the disk.

The end result is that when something like a browser DOES need to access a file - say, a stylesheet in your Firefox profile - which is more common than you might imagine, it has to wait behind the ever-present queue of silly Windows file commands. While Firefox is waiting to pull up its stylesheet, you're waiting for the webpage to load. You don't wait for long, but you do it often enough that the difference in experience is very noticeable.

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Post by dhanson865 » Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:13 am

Matija wrote:I still don't understand how exactly SSDs make things faster.

Most people today spend 95% of their time in browsers, which are extremely far from requiring fast disk performance.

There are also gamers, who don't benefit from SSDs that much.

What do you use the speed for?
Have you not read a good SSD review?

Windows boot time is faster on a good SSD. I can't see how most people and gamers can avoid booting Windows on a regular basis.

Browsers like to write to cookies and other temporary files. Early SSDs actually slowed down the web browsing experience for some sites (more so for chat, filesharing, and email). Newer SSDs are fast enough to keep up with the numerous small file writes that typical usage patterns entail.

Gaming is often severely limited by something called "level load times". I'm surprised you haven't read about these sorts of benchmarks. SSD level load time

I might kvetch about the downsides of SSDs occasionally but I have a hard time understanding how you haven't heard how a quality SSD makes most anything you do on a PC faster.

Anything I don't like about SSDs now will become laughably a non issue in the months or years to come. There is no question in my mind that SSDs will replace hard drives for the average user.

Oh and did we forget to mention this is SPCR? SSDs are silent. Not just quiet but truly silent. A good SSD is faster than a good hard drive and the SSD is at 0dbA when the hard drive is at 20+dBA.

Matija
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Post by Matija » Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:26 am

Browsers: non-issue. There's this thing called "write cache".

DLL checking / registry / what not: non-issue. There's this thing called "read cache".

Boot time: non-issue. Computers usually boot once per day.

Game level load times: non-issue. Relevant only for some gamers and in some games.

I understand the silence aspect and the occasional performance improvement, but the latter is extremely rare. If you are a C programmer and compiling something with thousands of files, yeah, having a SSD will help you... But if you are a normal, or even an above average computer user, there is no REAL benefit from SSDs, apart from "gee, I can launch five programs at the same time" instead of "launch, wait (x5)", although even that is a non-issue because once launched, you will be using those things for hours.

I worked on a machine with an X25 yesterday, and haven't noticed ANYTHING, despite synthetic benchmarks just screaming with speed.

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Post by Cov » Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:03 am

Can I suggest that nobody replies to Matja's last posting please ?

Otherwise this silly discussion is gonna last until the end of my life.

Thank you

*unsubscribed*

aztec
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Post by aztec » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:39 am

bring ISA, AGP, ATA and floppy back!

there's no need for the typical user for any faster interfaces! :oops:

qviri
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Post by qviri » Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:16 pm

Photoshop.

CoccoBill
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Post by CoccoBill » Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:13 am

I've had this "same" pc since around '96 (obv every single component has been changed/upgraded several times). The upgrade from a Samsung F1 640GB system drive to a 80GB x25-m is the single most impressive upgrade to perceivable performance of the machine, ever, bar none, and by a wide margin. The second might have been going from a P133 to a Celeron 300a@450MHz.

The people saying SSDs make no sense probably only have experience with some older cheap SSDs or none whatsoever.

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Post by JazzJackRabbit » Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:01 pm

Matija wrote:Browsers: non-issue. There's this thing called "write cache".

DLL checking / registry / what not: non-issue. There's this thing called "read cache".

Boot time: non-issue. Computers usually boot once per day.

Game level load times: non-issue. Relevant only for some gamers and in some games.

I understand the silence aspect and the occasional performance improvement, but the latter is extremely rare. If you are a C programmer and compiling something with thousands of files, yeah, having a SSD will help you... But if you are a normal, or even an above average computer user, there is no REAL benefit from SSDs, apart from "gee, I can launch five programs at the same time" instead of "launch, wait (x5)", although even that is a non-issue because once launched, you will be using those things for hours.

I worked on a machine with an X25 yesterday, and haven't noticed ANYTHING, despite synthetic benchmarks just screaming with speed.
Install FileMon and watch in awe how much read/write activity windows does even when it's supposed to be "idle", and most of it for small files/registry/checking if file is there or not, etc...

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Post by Matija » Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:09 pm

It's all in the cache, it doesn't slow anything down.

Like I said, I used a machine with an X25, and it only felt (a lot!) faster when doing things nobody ever does, like starting four apps at the same time as a virus scanner is running and an archive is being extracted somewhere.

Don't get me wrong, an SSD is nice to have, but having first-hand experience with the fastest one available, I can only say "meh, is this what people are making all the fuss about?".

Most of you are probably too young or too computer-fresh to remember very old hard drives and what incredible things Norton Cache did to performance if you let it use at least 1 megabyte of memory. THAT was a performance improvement. This just isn't, sorry.

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Post by echn111 » Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:20 pm

Cov wrote:Can I suggest that nobody replies to Matja's last posting please ?
Otherwise this silly discussion is gonna last until the end of my life.

Thank you
*unsubscribed*
JazzJackRabbit wrote:
Matija wrote:Browsers: non-issue. There's this thing called "write cache"....worked on a machine with an X25 yesterday, and haven't noticed ANYTHING, despite synthetic benchmarks just screaming with speed.
Install FileMon and watch in awe how much read/write activity windows does even when it's supposed to be "idle", and most of it for small files/registry/checking if file is there or not, etc...
Matija wrote:It's all in the cache, it doesn't slow anything down.... I can only say "meh, is this what people are making all the fuss about?" Most of you are probably too young or too computer-fresh to remember...
LOL! :P

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Post by Matija » Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:32 pm

The only funny thing is that people using SSDs are well on their way to becoming another Apple or Firefox cult. Ears plugged, "la la la, I can't hear you".

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Post by alleycat » Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:39 pm

Wouldn't say I'm exactly computer fresh... my first experiences were programming mainframes with punch cards...

I don't ever want to buy another clunky mechanical drive. After using an SSD they seem like noisy junk :lol:

Seems that Matija thinks all us SSD owners are deluded :roll:

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Post by Shamgar » Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:56 pm

SSD owners are deluded? Somewhat.
Firefox an evil cult? No, it's (still) a very good browser.
Apple an evil cult? Definitely.
Mechanical drives noisy junk? Noisy compared to SSD (unfair comparison) but not terribly so. And they are not junk.
Is performance the most important thing to everyone? No. Only a few percent.
Is absolute or "dead" silence (whatever that means) the most important thing to everyone? No. Only some. And I'd rather be alive and in tune with my environment with a little noise, than "dead" in an anechoic chamber for an office where somewhat deluded people are having tea parties with cupcakes and scones celebrating the purchase of their SSDs and looking down on those who still use mechanical drives and fans.

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Post by CoccoBill » Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:53 pm

Matija do you work for Seagate or WD?

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Post by Matija » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:34 am

alleycat wrote:Seems that Matija thinks all us SSD owners are deluded :roll:
Because you are :)

It's almost the same as with people overclocking their CPUs to over 9000!!! MHz. Yes, there are indeed certain scenarios in which you can notice the massive speed increase (and extremely easy to prove it in benchmarks), but for *regular work* and *real world usage*, it doesn't matter the slightest.

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Post by alleycat » Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:21 am

This is getting really funny. I never expected the troops to come out in such vigourous defence of their mechanical junk :lol:
Shamgar wrote:I'd rather be alive and in tune with my environment with a little noise, than "dead" in an anechoic chamber for an office where somewhat deluded people are having tea parties with cupcakes and scones celebrating the purchase of their SSDs and looking down on those who still use mechanical drives and fans.
Dude, you really need to chill out. Seems like you've got a bit of an inferiority complex or something. I don't think anyone here is looking down on others for not owning an SSD. I do, however, look down on those who don't know what they're talking about.
Matija wrote:It's almost the same as with people overclocking their CPUs to over 9000!!! MHz. Yes, there are indeed certain scenarios in which you can notice the massive speed increase (and extremely easy to prove it in benchmarks), but for *regular work* and *real world usage*, it doesn't matter the slightest.
This proves to me more than anything that you just don't "get it". I've never tried benchmarking my computer, it's irrelevant, I'm not interested. The performance speaks for itself in my "regular work and real world usage". You say you worked on a computer with an SSD and didn't notice anything. This is very different from my experience, so either your judgement is extremely poor, or something wasn't set up properly on that machine. Surely, with so many of us reporting massive performance gains, you would try to find out why your experiences are so different to ours? Continually reiterating non facts and making inaccurate analogies is not advancing your argument. It just reinforces to all of us that you have missed the point.

And in case anyone has forgotten, this is SilentPCReview, so is it surprising that a silent solution to one of the most problematic sources of noise has been met with such enthusiasm by forum members?

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Post by Matija » Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:28 am

Massive performance gains in WHAT?

Web browsing?

Sending emails?

Booting Windows?

Playing Plants & Zombies? (Highly recommended, BTW.)

What?

It's not me who's missing the point.

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Post by alleycat » Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:39 am

I open and close browsers, office documents, photoshop and other programs many times throughout the day. Everything happens almost instantaneously. It makes for an extremely responsive system.

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Post by Erssa » Fri Aug 07, 2009 4:53 am

alleycat wrote:
Matija wrote:It's almost the same as with people overclocking their CPUs to over 9000!!! MHz. Yes, there are indeed certain scenarios in which you can notice the massive speed increase (and extremely easy to prove it in benchmarks), but for *regular work* and *real world usage*, it doesn't matter the slightest.
This proves to me more than anything that you just don't "get it". I've never tried benchmarking my computer, it's irrelevant, I'm not interested. The performance speaks for itself in my "regular work and real world usage". You say you worked on a computer with an SSD and didn't notice anything. This is very different from my experience, so either your judgement is extremely poor, or something wasn't set up properly on that machine. Surely, with so many of us reporting massive performance gains, you would try to find out why your experiences are so different to ours? Continually reiterating non facts and making inaccurate analogies is not advancing your argument. It just reinforces to all of us that you have missed the point.

And in case anyone has forgotten, this is SilentPCReview, so is it surprising that a silent solution to one of the most problematic sources of noise has been met with such enthusiasm by forum members?
I agree the overcloking part is a bad analogy.

It could also be, that Matija is such a slow user, or so used to extremely slow computers, that the speed is not an issue for him.

Couple of weeks ago I moved an accounting software database from MSDE to mysql server 2005 EE. The computer was 3.2Ghz P4 with 1 GB of memory and 80GB 7200rpm hard drive. The whole process was sickeningly slow. And I'm not just talking about the harddrive performance which was dismal. Just taking and restoring backups took hours. But being used to a snap py dual core system, using a sinle core computer was a nightmare. I was wondering how the people operating those computers could tolerate the overall sluggishness, but they just didn't know of anything better.

When you are used to a certain speed and responsiveness, you just can't go back to anything slower. Dual core upgrade has been the most important upgrade for me, it didn't make things that much faster, but it made everything so smooth. That's probably the thing with X25-M. It makes the whole computer experience much smoother.

But hey, I'm partial. I have already ordered my 160GB version. I should get it in 3 to 4 weeks. Even if this isn't "the next dual core", I will probably be happy because of the noise reduction. If the difference in speed isn't noticeable, I will come back and support Matija.

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Post by Vicotnik » Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:19 am

alleycat wrote:I open and close browsers, office documents, photoshop and other programs many times throughout the day. Everything happens almost instantaneously. It makes for an extremely responsive system.
^ That sums it up really. It makes for an extremely responsive system. It's all about fast seeks and a mechanical drive just cannot compare.

If you don't use your computer in a way that very fast seeks matter to you - fine. Then there's little point getting an SSD today since a regular HDD will give you what you need at a lower price.

Now can we please just chill? :roll:

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