SSD confusion

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by gazwas, Apr 23, 2010.

  1. macrumors member

    gazwas

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    #1
    SSD's seem to be the hot topic amongst the Mac Pro and MacBook Pro communities at the moment and the best upgrade to speed up our Macs.

    What I'm faling to understand and please someone put me straight is what exactly in the real world (no benchmarks please) do they speed up?

    I read reports of boot times cut to a quarter of the usual time and applications launching super quickly but who apart from the obsessive, who really cares about that stuff? I open the handful of apps and they are then open all day until I shut down at the end of the day.

    My Mac Pro is used in a photography studio and has 16GB of memory on offer and fast regular HDs. On average I may work on an image for 1-2 hour before I move to the next shot and the only time/speed increase I'll get is when I hit save.

    Possibly save me 30 seconds per 1-2 hours work?
    Am I working in the wrong sector to appreciate this technology?
     
  2. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2010
    #2
    The primary performance benefit is in random read-writes. i.e. when you're multitasking, a hard drive usually has to gather data from lots of different sectors of the disk and slows down tremendously. A solid state drive doesn't have that problem, partially because the memory works in parallel so multiple sectors can be accessed almost simultaneously.

    At least, that's what I gather from spending too much time reading tom's hardware and anandtech articles :D
     
  3. macrumors 6502

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    #3
    In my case, I use my mac pro for 3D rendering and HD video encoding. SSD have faster read/write times since as their name implies they dont have moving parts. So yeah encoding and rendering times are shorter thx to my intel ssd gen2
     
  4. thread starter macrumors member

    gazwas

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    #4
    I can fully appreciate the improvements in speed from such write intensive stuff as video encoding but as a photographer, is it a waste. With 16GB of memory on tap and the soon to be released Photoshop CS5 being able to use most of it, won't most of the work I do just be stored in my RAM with no need to write/swap to HD?

    Most people when talking about SSD say they improve the performance of the user experience?:confused:
     
  5. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2010
    #5
    The impression I get is the same as you- SSDs are best for laptops and (maybe) servers; desktops not so much. They're still an improvement, but the other benefits of desktops make them less of an improvement, percentage wise. The main bottleneck for laptops is the hard drive, which isn't quite as restrictive on desktops.

    I don't actually know this- it's just what I've gathered from reading lots of tech articles and macrumors threads.
     
  6. macrumors regular

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    #6
    I dont think that they benifit Desktops as much as most people scream about. Im using a 10000rpm Velociraptor, and that is much cheeper and performs well.
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

    KeriJane

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    #7
    Hello.

    Another thing to consider with SSDs...

    They have a finite lifespan regarding Writes. Reads are OK but Writes eventually wear them out.

    I thought that maybe an SSD would make an outstanding Scratch Disk but using it in this fashion would ruin it quickly. Oops. :eek:

    The SSDs of today are best used as a System or Application drive where data is written to it once and seldom changed or over-written.

    I would love to get the faster boot and loading times of an SSD without my Caviar Blacks rattling away but for me the time is not yet here.
    It'll probably be pretty soon though. Maybe by the time I get that next Mac Pro with 64 cores and 128TB of RAM ...;)

    * what??? not till next WEEK???* :p


    Have Fun,
    Keri
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    reel2reel

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    Jul 24, 2009
    #8
    Wow, I wish I had as much spare time as you! Time is money to me and speedy boots and app launches are worth $$$. I guess I feel it worse, because I'm using Final Cut Pro daily for huge projects and launch times can be extremely painful. I also live in a world of reboots and relaunches and all this time adds up at the end of a workday, especially when you're working on killer deadlines.

    It's shocking, I know, but a lot of people use Mac's for hard work. :rolleyes:
     
  9. macrumors G4

    Joined:
    May 6, 2008
    #9
    SSD's are good for OS/applications drives.

    They are fast at random access reads, writes vary by disk model. As it's been mentioned, Flash has a finite write cycle associated with it. MLC is good for 1E4, SLC 1E5. This is improved with wear leveling, but the specifications published by drive makers are misleading. They throw out the worst 10% of all cells, and only compute the statistics from the best 90%. And the writes are performed on a blank disk, unlike one that's used by an actual user (empty cells available for wear leveling are far fewer).

    None of which is real-world conditions. As they're still rather new, there's no long term data available yet under real world conditions.

    So until that happens, or they switch to a newer Flash technology (much higher write cycles), it's best to use them as a boot disk, as it's by far used for reads rather than writes.

    Keep high write usage to mechanical for now.
     
  10. thread starter macrumors member

    gazwas

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    #10
    I'm sorry but I run a very busy studio and work closely with other photographers and videographers and I don't know any who have to reboot or even relaunch apps all day long.

    Maybe there is something wrong with your system if it needs constant reboots?

    And the old line that time is money wares a little thin with the speed of most modern Macs. If your deadlines are really that tight that saving a few mins per day because of app launch times mean that much to the job then maybe you need to look at how you charge your time out to customers?

    I know we all work differently but I just don't get your argument.
     
  11. macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Uhmm... this is soooo misleading. SSD's have a significantly longer life span than your regular platter hard drives. This statement makes it sound like the SSD will die within a year, when it's more like 1000 years. So, please discount this one.

    This thread is also misleading you with all the statements that the SSD is designed for random read/write. The INTEL SSD is "optimized" for random read/write because historically this has been the weakest performance point of SSD's. A point of fact is that SSD's will perform orders of magnitude better on big files - so SSD's are extremely well suited for video and photography work.

    Now, to answer your question: An SSD will enhance your performance on ANY platform that uses a hard disk. The SSD is capable of nearly saturating your SATA II disk connection where a regular platter drive can't even approach using 50% of the same connection.

    What that means is all of your disk activity will be HUGELY increased. Think of buying a garden hose and trying to water your lawn. Do you want a hose that is 1/4 inch thick or a hose that is 2 inches thick --- that is the difference between a platter drive and an SSD.
     
  12. Guest

    #12
    I'm very glad someone posted this thread as SSD has had me flumoxed for ages.

    I've almost gathered enough funds to gets me a MBP and the biggest question for me spec wise, is which hard drive to go for.

    I'm a graphic designer in the main, but also do a lot of photography - RAW files all between 24-50meg per image, and I'll tend to batch produce/edit around 50 images in a session.

    Obviously spending the amount I am, I want a good few years out of this machine and I'm concerned mainly with durability. What drive/type of drive is the best option for me and will last a while.

    There appears to be divided opinion on simply using a SSD drive as a read disk for system use and apps. I always write to a 500gig external drive and try and keep my current system as clean as possible, so I'm use to this way of thinking - my current system pretty much just has around 500 itunes albums on it, and not much else apart from apps - BUT, I'm slightly confused then, if I was to get a SSD drive, which is my best option?

    Is the increase in capacity well worth the extra cash?

    Also, I've been reading rave reviews about Inte'sl X25-M 160GB SSD and was wondering if this would be a way better option than apples offerings, teamed up with a 1TB time capsule.

    Any thoughts/comments/suggestions would be very welcome.

    I'll be going for a 17" MPB, core i7 and will prob buy 8GB of ram separately.

    One last thing, if I was to get an Intel SSD, would apple then fit it for me? Does anyone know/had experience?

    Cheers!
     
  13. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2010
    #13
    That is a matter of means vs need. I opted for an OCZ 250 because of the increased capacity.

    Yes, without question --- Intel or OCZ are very much superior drives.

    You mean for backups I assume. I use time capsule, but not Apples. Check out this guide. http://guides.macrumors.com/Fedora12_Based_Time_Capsule_Server

    Very nice machine. I did the same thing on memory.

    I have no personal experience with this... but I can't see any problem with calling and making a genius appointment to ask the to install a third party hard drive for you. The worst that could happen is they say no. You could also go to any certified apple repair shop.
     
  14. macrumors 68030

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    #14
    I've experienced the exact opposite of this. Both my desktop (Mac Pro current generation) and my Laptop (13" MBP) have an SSD and the desktop definitely profited much more from the SSD because the hardware of the laptop does not seem to be able to really utilise the speed of the SSD.
    I tested the same SSDs on both machines and the exact same SSD performs considerably better on the Mac Pro.

    Of course you can use a 4+ drive RAID X on a desktop which you can't do with a laptop, but such RAID configurations only give you higher sequential read/write speeds. The random access times are not considerably faster, but these times are important for application loading and general OS speed.

    I will NEVER go back to a magnetic drive for a boot drive. All my machines (except for my storage servers) have an SSD for boot and I never regretted to spend the money for them.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors member

    gazwas

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    #15
    OK, I know an SSD will speed up my system but what is still not clear is if it will speed up my working (image handling) system.

    It seems from the replies so far that an SSD as a system drive will make it feel zippier but unless all my working image files are the same drive my work won't speed up. Considering the size of SSD, it won't be long before it's full and I'm waisting time transfering my work onto yet another drive.

    Size and cost really do seem the major problem to me and make them a luxury rather than a mush have.
     
  16. macrumors 68030

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    #16
    You said that you open a file, work on it for 2 hours in PS and then save it. If that's your all day work, a SSD will probably be a waste of money since it doesn't make any difference if the file open and saves and 30 seconds or two minutes.
    A SSD won't speed up the image processing in PS itself, it is only affected while opening and saving files.
     
  17. Guest

    #17
    +1

    You put it better than me to be fair, I have exactly the same dillema.

    What I want to know is what is a good size SSD to get (minimum, to run say 4 apps at the same time comfortably) and is the best way to use an SSD to run in conjunction with a fast, high storage external hard drive?

    I'm basically thinking I'll use time capsule with a 1TB apple wireless drive, or else a wirelss third party drive.

    But yes, do SSD's function better reading data off the system, or better reading from an external? Just use the SSD for booting and running apps?

    Thanks for responses to my somewhat vague questions so far
     
  18. macrumors 68030

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    #18
    Intel or the new OWC/OCZ SandForce drives.
    The Intel drives are really made for multitasking over other brands with Indilinx controllers (e.g. Samsung).
    I constantly run at least 10 apps at the same time and the Intel handles them absolutely fine.

    I don't understand what you mean with reading form an external.
    SSD should only be used as a system drive since OS operations really profit from the extremely fast access times and random access reading/writing speeds.
    You can of course put all your data on the SSD (they've got higher sequential write/read speeds than any other drive (2-3 times faster) but putting large media files like movies on a SSD is a waste of money since large capacities are still limited and expensive.
     
  19. Guest

    #19
    Thank you, think that basically answers my question. I just meant is it best to have all my files/data on an external hard drive, and then just get a SSD drive and put nothing on my system other than apps. I reckon the Intel 160gig one will be plenty good enough to run PS, Illustrator, Indesign and Aperture consecutively! - oh and ITunes!

    Great, thanks for answering!
     
  20. thread starter macrumors member

    gazwas

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    #20
    But that's what I don't get about them. If your storing all your data on traditional external platter drives you won't feel the performance.

    Like I said earlier I work on an images between 1 and 2 hours at a time from capture to the end retouch. Probably 4 to 5 images a day and I don't think I'll see a benefit even though everyone tells me it will speed me up.

    I'm just grasping where it will speed me up especially after CS5 ships and we can use more available memory, scratch discs and swap files will be a thing of the past won't they?
     
  21. macrumors 6502

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    Mar 23, 2008
    #21
    What made purchasing an Intel 160GB SSD G2 easy for me was this...

    I was told that the 2009 Mac Pro's hardware now outperforms mechanical hard drives... So, the beach balls that I was experiencing when doing basic tasks was due to my hard drive and NOT my Mac Pro... Ever since getting the SSD, my computer has been nothing but smoking fast with NO beach balls! That includes opening Microsoft Office ;)

    I have everything on my SSD except for video... All my video files are on an internal WD Black 1TB. This thing just flies!
     
  22. macrumors 6502a

    KeriJane

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    #22
    Hello.


    By your post, I'm assuming that you have an SSD and use it for massive amounts of Writes and the eventual degradation of the drive is so slow that we'd be upgrading to something better long before the drive would lose its ability to accept new Writes.
    Is that correct? That you're implying that modern SSDs can be used as a scratch, render or swap file disk with no ill effects for years?
    If they're at this point already, Great!
    Maybe I'll try a small one for just such a use and see what happens.

    Yes, most of us know about the massive speed and bandwidth increases an SSD offers. Obviously, SSDs will dominate the market in a few years and our noisy, hot and slow mechanical drives will go the way of Floppy Disks, Punchcards, 8-Track tapes, Microsoft Windows, etc....

    I just feel that the time is not quite yet. Sooner or later someone's going to make non-volitile memory with a near-infinite Write capacity.
    That'll be the day the last platter spins to a stop. :)

    Have Fun,
     
  23. macrumors 68030

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    #23
    Intel gives an estimated life time of 5 years for their G2 SSDs which includes an everyday write cycle of 20GB.
    If you exceed that "limit" your life time will definitely go down.
    So if you're dealing with large amount of data that has to be written every day, don't use a SSD for this.
    As a boot disc it is fine, because the OS won't even come close to 20GB per day, which is why the SSD is supposed to last much longer.

    Anyway, even if the write 20GB every day, 5 years are way longer than most users will keep their systems and drives.
     
  24. thread starter macrumors member

    gazwas

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    #24
    But apart from boot time and the 5 or so apps I start in the morning I won't see any other benefit from the SSD making it a pointless exercise. :confused:

    Why is everyone so obsessed with boot and app launch time as its pretty insignificant over a 8 hour (if I'm lucky)working day.......
     
  25. macrumors 6502

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    Apr 5, 2010
    #25
    Then you have answered your own questions. Save your money for more storage then. SSD's are a performance enhancement for IO for disk. If you are not accessing disk throughout your day, then why other with one.
     

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