Anyone using a flash memory hard drive?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Super Macho Man, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. Super Macho Man macrumors 6502a

    Super Macho Man

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Location:
    Hollywood, CA
    #1
    I'm on a quest for low noise, reduced heat generation, and energy efficiency in my Power Mac server. It has 2 modern SATA drives (quiet fluid bearings) for file storage and an old IDE drive (ear-piercing ball bearings) for the OS. I'm considering getting rid of that thing and popping in an IDE-to-CompactFlash adapter in its place. OS X would be installed on a 4 or 8 GB CF card. All non-OS stuff, including user home directories, would go on the SATA drives.

    Has anyone done anything like this? I've heard about how flash memory can only be overwritten so many times before it fails, and I know OS X writes to the disk a lot (log files, swap, etc.) Speed is not a huge concern - I only need high performance from the SATA drives.

    What about a CF Microdrive?
     
  2. KD7IWP macrumors 6502a

    KD7IWP

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    American living in Canada
    #2
    Do you mean CF microdrive like the ones in the iPod mini???? I sure hope not, THAT would slow you down. I would imaging a flash hard drive for OSX would be fine. You can rewrite a number of times. Sandisk is already making 32gb 2.5" flash hard drives.
     
  3. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #3
    Really, really bad idea.

    CF is approx 10 - 50 times slower (2 - 10 Mbs) than a hard drive (100 or so Mbs), and as mentioned will die after a few hundred thousand rewrites. Unfortunately, thats exactly what an OSX boot drive has to do, be rewritten thousands of times per hour.

    Microdrive? Think about it a moment, mate. Instead of a hard drive, install a CF adaptor, then install a hard drive that is mated to a CF card?.. no sense to this at all...

    Don't read the word Flash and assume that all flash memory is the same, there are many different types, and the really fast stuff is also really expensive.

    (Plate steel stops bullets. Steel is metal. Tinfoil is metal. Therefore a tinfoil suit stops bullets)
     
  4. Super Macho Man thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Super Macho Man

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    #4
    OK, no flash then...

    I'm aware that a Microdrive would be a lot slower. But like I said, noise, heat, energy. Once the system is booted, I could move the swap onto one of the SATA drives. All the files that demand speed are stored on the SATA drives - the Microdrive would contain only the OS. I wouldn't really even care if it took 10 minutes to boot up, since it's a server that runs 24/7. Once the daemons and such are loaded, they just sit in RAM, which there is enough of.

    If this great idea doesn't hold up, maybe I'm looking at a laptop HD?
     
  5. booksacool1 macrumors 6502

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    Australia
    #5
    I can't believe I'm going to say this, but what your after is Windows Vista... Microsoft has a great new feature known as 'Windows Readyboost'. What it does is it uses flash (CF/SD cards or Flash drives) in conjunction with a normal HDD. This gives performance benefits because while flash memory may be slower at a sustained transfer, it is much faster with small sized chunks of data which would take a HDD a long time to seek (the time it takes the HDD/needle to find the data and start transferring it). This is exactly what occurs in the windows page file, lots of small pieces of data which are frequently 'paged'.

    Additionally, if most of the data you use is available through a page file, it becomes possible to spin down the hard drive to reduce heat and, more importantly, prolong battery life in laptops. This would be the case when you're doing word processing.

    Having said all that, Hard Drives already do this using their 'cache'. However it is only for very frequently accessed files due the minuscule size (2-16MB) of the cache. However there have been rumours of Hard Drives with large amounts of inbuilt flash based storage to allow the drive to spin down even more often.
     
  6. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    America's Third World
    #6
    Exactly. IBM's new 4GB Modular Flash Drive (39R8697) is ~$200, and Sony's 32GB flash drive used in its new Vaio notebook is ~$500... :eek:
     
  7. TheBobcat macrumors 6502

    TheBobcat

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    #7
    No, but it stops aliens from abducting you.
     
  8. Super Macho Man thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Super Macho Man

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    #8
    Hmm that sounds like a nice idea. Now to get Vista running on this 400MHz Power Mac. :)
     
  9. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
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    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #9
    Just put in a modern IDE drive (7200 RPM, fluid bearings, 120 Gb) in place of the old one as your boot drive. Or if you must, a 2.5" laptop drive with a 44-40 pin convertor and a 3.5" bracket. But the 2.5's are not made for 24/7 running.
     
  10. scotpole macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2006
    #10
    Fire Wire not Flash?

    Most fire wire drives allow you to boot externally. A firewire 800 gives an approximate speed of 800mhz from the drive to the processor which may be as fast as any internal speed sata card for another hard drive. If your 400Mhz machine only has firewire 400mhz, this should still be fast enough to load a system. A 250gig fire wire drive can be found for around $125 which may be cheaper than all the other stuff you would be doing with flash Ram.

    You would also probably have to visit system preferences and change your sleep settings for your hard drive and processor to never sleep, especially if you are running some sort of server.

    I have booted from fire wire and run from it for long periods of time. But I do not know for sure that you can set it up and forget it. You might be able to find more information from Apple's technical library.

    I do something similar with a dual processor 867mhz g4 tower. My boot drive is the original hard drive where I have my OS and Creative Suite. Then I have two 250gig internal drives that I use for Photoshop and IPhoto files. One of the drives has a backup system, the other 250gig drive has no system and is my primary scratch disk in Photo Shop. But I agree with you, the original drive whines and pierces the silence. My ultimate solution is a new box and with the new 8 core boxes, I am almost ready for the upgrade. Now, if only Leopard would have a release date, I would have a date with a new Mac.
     
  11. makku macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2006
    #11
    I know it is not something you asked for but maybe you can try something like the i-RAM from GIGABYTE. Depending on your SATA controller there is a chance that it will not be compatible though.
     
  12. Super Macho Man thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Super Macho Man

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    #12
    You are really no fun. I think I will put in a CF card just to spite you. :)
     
  13. Super Macho Man thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Super Macho Man

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    #13
    Hey, that is a really interesting device. I'm not sure it's what I'm looking for but it's definitely interesting. Maybe I could use it as high-speed temp storage or something...
     

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