Intel SSD Toolbox Update

Discussion in 'Software Updates' started by kemical, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    Just ahead of IDF, Intel made available an updated version of the SSD Toolbox, an application which enables people to manage their Intel solid state drives, keeping them in shape through various optimizing utilities.

    The new Toolbox, version 2.0, adds two new features, the System Configuration Tuner which enables users to configure their system for optimal SSD performance, power efficiency and endurance, and Secure Erase (the name says it all).

    The Intel SSD Toolbox 2.0 is free and can be downloaded from: http://downloadcenter.intel.com/Detail_Desc.aspx?agr=Y&DwnldID=18455

    Ref: Intel's SSD Toolbox reaches version 2.0 | TechConnect Magazine
     
  2. TieRage

    TieRage New Member

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    Rather than install Windows on the SSD, I like to use the SSD as an offload device to speed up the computer. SSD are too small, and too expensive for larger ones (which are still too small), and they wear out more quickly than spinning disks. I use a tool to optimize performance around the SSD.
     
  3. Mike

    Mike Windows Forum Admin
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    You should know that the end of life listed on readouts from a given SSD are estimates that have not been proven, even in a test environment. This entire website is currently hosted on SSD and I have an office computer I've been using for over a year with 6 SSDs in a RAID-0. There have been no drive failures, slowdowns, errors - nothing. The systems are on 24 hours a day. We still offload backups to larger devices, but the performance is at the point of solid stability. The main problem with standard HDDs are the moving components. When we look at SSDs and standard HDDs from a risk management perspective, in a business environment SSDs actually beat standard drives in probability of failure at this point in time. There is a growing myth that SSDs have a set end of life where they just turn off or all files disappear. This is not the case at all. Like all devices, they can and will fail, but the probability of failure is significantly less than a standard HD. Moving platters will wear our faster than SSDs. They are non-volatile storage while moving HDDs are a completely volatile form of memory.

    SSD failure rates? - HEXUS.community discussion forums

    The myth that they fail more is completely incorrect. Its from years ago when they were just hitting the retail market. The ones being marketed by Intel and Crucial are expensive because the performance just blows away a standard drive. No noise, 10x less electricity, and extremely economical. When the price drops, you will see storage increase, and everyone can tell by now that they will very likely obsolete standard drives by the end of the decade.

    We get a 3598.4MB/s average burst speed using SATA-II SSDs. These numbers have not degraded after over a year of constant, heavy use with storage sometimes at 80-90%. Not a single drive has failed.
     
  4. TieRage

    TieRage New Member

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    I suppose I agree to a point. The fact is, the memory inside SSD has limited write capability. They are similar to the memory used in digital cameras. They do wear out. It is true that spinning disks are mechanical, and therefore wear out too, but that industry has been around for a while. Spinning disks will last 5 years or more. If you used a SSD as your primary Windows disk, I doubt it will last that long. Inside the SSD, they employ wear leveling algorithms, which help a lot. In the end though, they will fail more quickly. The industry is working to address this issue, and it is getting better, but not as good as spinning disks yet. Most people can't afford 6 SSD for their PC. So, cost and capacity are still issues.
     
  5. Mike

    Mike Windows Forum Admin
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    Yes - the computer I use here is the culmination of hoping someone I was building servers for would actually want to pay the extra couple hundred dollars for a SSD+1TB backup combination, which never happened. At one point I was selling servers like hotcakes, and picked up some SSDs. The good ones from Intel and Crucial will last longer. I think the cheap ones will fail quicker. My point in illustrating the RAID-0 is that no one in their right mind would do that with standard drives. RAID-0 is performance RAID, and if one drive goes, so does the whole bowl of jelly. In this case, read and writes are so precise that the same array has existed, without failure, for well over a year after constant, heavy use. No sign of performance degradation. One disadvantage of performance RAID is that it writes to all of the drives simultaneously, and they are constantly spinning (or in the SSDs case - not moving). Here you can see the example of having a hundred SSDs vs. a hundred standard drives. If an SSD is going to fail as DOA, you're going to know pretty soon. A standard drive can go a month after... sometimes a year. No way to know. But if you think of 100 HDDs just spinning vs. 100 SSDs just sitting there, you start to realize where that advantage is.

    Crucial SSDs, last time I checked, were coming with a 3 to 5 year manufacturers warranty on their SSDs. After 3-5 years, I would still expect a standard HD to become reliable. Like regular drives, SSDs are also S.M.A.R.T compatible, and can give out readouts and warnings if they are starting to fail.

    I really do believe you're paying a high premium because of the performance and reliability. Perhaps more for the performance right now, but the reliability is a big factor. Intel is shipping industrial quality SSDs on servers right now. They are very expensive for the cost because they're top notch in the quality arena. When dealing with SSDs and flash memory sticks, I have had 2 PATRIOT 64GB USB flash memory dongles in constant use that have outlived many a regular old hard drive over the last 4 years.

    I just see the reality in the idea that people see a big price and they come out and say "it's not worth it". But having worked with these devices and experienced them firsthand, I know they are very reliable and very good. "Spinning disks will last 5 years or more." if lucky. Anything can disrupt this. The power dying or being cut abruptly can damage a conventional drive. I believe wear and tear with conventional drives is worse at this point. The fact is, its like having a car without wheels that just hovers above the ground. Sure, the hover mechanism could break down, but you're probably much more likely to get a flat. It is the next, logical move in storage. It is an applied concept that has been around for a very long time. Not to mention, for the workstation RAID I am talking about SSDs connecting into the SATA ports themselves. The high end SSDs are being built on PCI-E x16 slots to increase throughput.

    I think you will see even better performance and reliability when file systems come out that are no longer designed solely for magnetic disks. The whole idea that you have a drive screaming and rotating as fast as possible to keep working has always been the Achilles heel of a great system. The bottleneck and the one component that was always in an unsure, unready state and required maintenance.

    As someone that has seen heavily used IDE drives in business use for 8+ years, their performance is a nightmare anyway.. I have seen disk drives in use in a business env. not defragged for over 8 years where Windows XP would take 15+ minutes to boot. Out of 200 computers in an enterprise environment, the primary failure for nearly every system other than PSU failure was the hard drive. It was the hard drive at least 80% of the time. In 5 years, you won't want to be using that drive, and I really think SSDs show promise right now for businesses especially, and consumers, very soon. The problem with pre-shipped consumer SSDs could become apparent if companies like Dell an HP decide to go down the cheap-o route like they usually do with their hardware (sorry just my opinion). Under these conditions you can expect to get a trashy SSD that's extremely low-end. This has the potential to be a sour taste in consumers' stomach. It was done on the Dell Mini 9 whereas they used a terrible SSD that was easily replaceable with a markedly faster Runcore 64GB SSD chip sold almost exclusively from a company in Ireland. It made the Mini 9 running a SSD about 4-5x faster. I could go on... things have improved though, drastically, since they first started coming out. The ones that shipped with pre-built systems from major manufacturers last year are almost implied to have been a washout for so long as those companies build systems with cheap parts. System builders will know where to look for the quality drives that can outperform conventional ones.
     
  6. TieRage

    TieRage New Member

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    Good response, thanks. Ignoring the wear problem, SSD still have problems in desktop computers. Speed is the primary reason people want to use them, since the HDD has become the PC bottleneck. Unfortunately, SSD are too small to be the only disk in the computer. Bigger SSD are much more expensive, and they are still too small for most people, with digital music, photos, and movies. So, if the typical desktop user wants to use SSD to improve performance, they need both HDD and SSD, one for capacity and one for speed. With the right use model and Windows configuration settings, a small and inexpensive SSD can be used to accelerate a PC. My web site discusses this in more detail if you are interested.
     
  7. Mike

    Mike Windows Forum Admin
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    No thanks.

    You are witnessing the applied use of SSDs right now. At datacenters, hardware has insurance on it, so businesses have little to worry about when using SSDs. They are a solid investment and promise both performance and reliability. As demand increases, so will capacity; the price will decrease in concordance. A few years ago, a 80GB SSD was unreliable had a cost of over $1,000. Today, you can purchase one for less than $200. If the objective of securing the operating system with a non-volatile drive is the goal of having a dual-model system, this also works. However, I can not see much use in running applications off a secondary, non-SSD while maintaining the OS on one SSD. This decreases effectiveness. If you want a $50 hard drive for a $300 computer, slowness will be the norm. If you are interested in building systems for performance and reliability, SSDs are already the way to go. You can easily pick up 2 256GB SSDs. 500GB is enough space for movies, music, and games. The cost can be offset by making compromises in other areas of the assembly, if necessary, such as the processor and video card. If you want to throw together a cheap system, you can continue to use rotary, magnetic disks. They are, at this point, nearing obsolescence. If you are a system builder, you can easily build a system with SSDs that have enough capacity with a cost that is less or equivalent to a retail workstation. These pre-built workstations usually have a high markup to begin with. In server environments, SSD-powered servers can be linked with SAN storage, and other devices, if additional space is necessary. With the price and storage capacity gap quickly closing, however, the technology can already be used quite reliably to max out 3GB/s on SATA-II interfaces, and 6GB/s on SATA-III. Most Xeon and Opteron servers are designed with many expansion bays for additional drives, and so adding additional SSDs, for storage, is not a problem. Similarly, migrating to a more effective model would not be a problem. The case for "the hard drive that lasts more than 5 years" is an argument that can be challenged on grounds that a 5 year old hard drive will be out of date, irregardless. 5 years ago, standard SATA drives were using a 4-8MB cache. Today that cache has increased greatly, and no one would want to use a drive like that if they didn't have to. As I stated before, server-hardened x16 PCI-E SSDs from Intel already provide high capacity storage with performance reaching higher than SATA3. At least one SSD-prototype has been designed for use in DIMM slots as well. SSDs beat SCSI in performance ratings and, on server setups, are extraordinarily, numerically cheaper.
     
    #7 Mike, Nov 28, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2010
  8. TieRage

    TieRage New Member

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    Mike, you are missing my point in a couple ways. I'm not saying the OS is on the SSD and apps are on the HDD. I'm saying the SSD is used as an accelerator for the computer. Anything that needs to be sped up goes through the relatively small SSD. You are sounding like costs are not an issue. You obviously have a good job, but a lot of people are trying to make their 3-year-old computer last a couple more years. They might be willing to throw $100 at the problem, but your dual-SSD system is likely out of reach. You are also quite technical, and most people don't want to go through that reconfig. People are searching for "speed up my computer". They are spending $30 on registry cleaners, which don't really address the problem. The problem is that the HDD is the bottleneck. By using a small SSD to offload the HDD, performance is improved without reconfiguring the system, and without changing the way people organize files.
     

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