Write-intensive workflows: HDD or SSD?

zephonic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 7, 2011
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greater L.A. area
My audio projects drive is failing and before I replace I want to know:

It used to be that HDD's were better than SSD's for write-intensive workflows (such as recording audio). Is that still the case today or should I just replace it with an SSD and not worry about it?
Thanks.
 

Slash-2CPU

macrumors 6502
Dec 14, 2016
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New Orleans, USA
Even the lower-end 500GB SSD’s are rated for ~100GB/day written for 3-5 years.

Samsung, Intel, Crucial mid to higher-end drives will give a couple to several times more endurance than that, and it’s not uncommon for a drive to exceed its rated endurance by 50-200%.

Write endurance is directly dependent on capacity. For two drives based on the same controller and flash type, the bigger drive has more space to spread the writes across, so it will see fewer writes per cell.

Larger SSD’s are also generally faster than the smaller ones in a model lineup. There is a point of diminishing returns with that, usually occurring with the third smallest or second largest model in a product line.
 

AidenShaw

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Feb 8, 2003
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The Peninsula
You can also over-provision - for example create a 400GB partition on the 500GB drive, and leave 100GB never touched. The SSD controller will use the 100GB to avoid writes during garbage collection. (TRIM has a similar effect - it tells the controller which cells are unused.)
 

Slash-2CPU

macrumors 6502
Dec 14, 2016
296
155
New Orleans, USA
You can also over-provision - for example create a 400GB partition on the 500GB drive, and leave 100GB never touched. The SSD controller will use the 100GB to avoid writes during garbage collection. (TRIM has a similar effect - it tells the controller which cells are unused.)
On most (maybe all) drives made in the last 5 years, you can also accomplish the same thing by not filling the partition. Unwritten space will be used the same as overprovisioned space to reduce write amplification. Filling any SSD past 90% comes with an increasing performance penalty and write endurance penalty as you approach 100%.

It’s ok to fill a drive to 100% once in a while when you need the space. Just don’t use a working or scratch space drive at 90% full every day.
 

AidenShaw

macrumors P6
Feb 8, 2003
18,073
4,139
The Peninsula
On most (maybe all) drives made in the last 5 years, you can also accomplish the same thing by not filling the partition. Unwritten space will be used the same as overprovisioned space to reduce write amplification. Filling any SSD past 90% comes with an increasing performance penalty and write endurance penalty as you approach 100%.

It’s ok to fill a drive to 100% once in a while when you need the space. Just don’t use a working or scratch space drive at 90% full every day.
As I said, "TRIM has a similar effect" - but your point about having lots of unused space (TRIM'd or over-provisioned) almost all of the time is important.
 

zephonic

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Feb 7, 2011
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greater L.A. area
Thanks for chiming in.

I actually already ordered an 860EVO for something else and Amazon limits them to one per customer, so that was not an option. Turns out they are out of stock just about everywhere, and since my drive was failing fast (7 bad sectors and counting) I had to act now. Went to Fry's and bought a WD Black 1TB to hold me over. The plan is to eventually buy a new Mac Pro when they come out, so I figure the WD spinner should be good enough until then.

I reserved the 860EVO to replace my sample library drive, as the newer VI's have many multi-GB patches, and loading projects with those instruments takes a looong time, so for me it makes more sense to put that on the SSD.