Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Whirly Magnetic Disks Still Rule

Couple of interesting things popped up today here and here pointing to new laptop users being disappointed in both the performance and reliability of solid state drives (SSDs), a feeling that's probably amplified by being asked to fork over in excess of $1,000 extra for the privilege of being on the bleeding edge. Oh yes, and battery life wasn't any better either, it seems.

These stories echo what was written in Business Week a couple of issues ago when they profiled IBM's work to develop a new super thin and light laptop, the X300. IBM pulled SSDs from the first iteration of this machine because suppliers couldn't meet the contracted levels of quality.

Some experiments done by ARS technica on a Macbook Air show that, for a premium of $1,300, you only win with the SSD-equipped version when doing random-access based disk reads. In daily use, despite a 200 Mhz clock speed advantage over it's HDD-based sibling, the SSD-equipped Macbook was only noticeably better in one circumstance, namely, "it didn't suffer entire machine slowdowns when there was a lot of disk activity—or at least less so than the HDD model. "

So there you have it. Further proof that it's sometimes better to lag than it is to lead, especially when you plonk down your dollars before the pundits get their hands on a new advance, in advance of you. And for the more cynical amongst you, another victory for Jobs et al in their relentless war to squeeze increasing profits from hardware before the law of commoditization kicks in.

Apple acolytes please note: this is one expensive religion to adopt, particularly if you are relentlessly at the head of the queue for the latest blessing.

Me? I'm just disappointed that this technology doesn't appear, at least at first blush, to be the answer to achieving a major step-up in both the performance and reliability offered by current generation laptops; one piece of the puzzle perhaps, but not a complete new picture.

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