Yes, you read that right, our solid state drives are set to be the next battleground in the world of overclocking. It has been announced that, as part of an overclocking seminar at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) today, that Intel will go into detail, and demonstrate, overclocking SSD technology. Intel are trying to woo back the enthusiast crowd with new extreme CPUs running on the existing X79 platform - stay tuned for that one, folks - now they’re also looking at other areas they can use to inspire serial tweakers.
When it comes to SSDs it’s all about sacrificing usable capacity for the speed of solid state storage, right? Well, with the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB they are looking to give you both size and speed without you needing to auction off your first-born for the privilege.
Yup, we’re finally at a time in the evolution of the SSD where decent capacity drives are available to mere mortals. Previously, if you’d wanted a terabyte of solid state storage you’d have to go for a frighteningly expensive PCIe-based drive, like the KingSpec Multicore 1TB. That’s retailing for as much as £2,300 / $3500.
Thanks to first Crucial, with their 960GB M500, and now the Samsung 840 EVO 1TB, standard 2.5-inch ‘terabyte-class’ SSDs are finally within reach. We’re talking around £500 / $650 for these drives, or close to 50p/65¢ per GB.
Remember me going on about how Crucial had made the SSD market a bit tasty recently? Well, Samsung are not the kind of folk to be outdone and today announced the Samsung 840 Evo series. What’s so special? Well, again we’re talking about capacities and Samsung have hit the 1TB mark with the top drive in the new Evo range.
But Sammy drives are generally pricier than the competition, so it’s still a win for Crucial, right? That’s the interesting part, with the extra capacity in the 1TB 840 Evo against the 960GB M500 they both come in around the same price/GB. Yup, the 1TB 840 Evo is coming in somewhere around 50p/GB too.
But it’s also going to be a hell of a lot faster in general usage too. In my preliminary tests I was seeing a doubling of random 4K reads and writes compared to the Samsung 840 Pro. And that’s without using any of the Evo’s funky new software gubbins.
They’re not as glamorous as a new graphics card, and not as ultimately vital as a processor, but a good solid state drive can make a big difference to your gaming PC. It’s also an incredibly easy upgrade and making the move from traditional spinning platter hard drives to an SSD will instantly make your machine feel faster.
Solid state drives have been around for a good while now, but they probably still represent the most volatile segment of the PC component market. For processors, motherboards and graphics cards the scene has shrunk down to just a few key players, but there are still a huge number of SSD manufacturers, each vying for dominance. You’ve got massive mega-companies, like Samsung, developing their own SSD hardware and comparatively tiny underdogs, like OCZ, beavering away on their own memory controllers and firmware. But it’s the Crucial M500’s price that has grabbed my attention. Could this be a sign that SSD's are moving toward a more affordable price point?
It’s been a while coming but Seagate has finally joined the ranks of the consumer-class solid state crowd. They’ve just announced their first SSD for the masses, the 600 SSD, while rivals Western Digital have teamed up with memory-maestros SanDisk to create a brand new WD Black solid state hybrid drive (SSHD).
As one of the major players in the hard drive market it’s a surprise Seagate have waited this long to put out a commercial drive, despite having enterprise offerings out there for a while now.
The Witcher 3! Dragonborn! A Half-Life movie? This and other topics get tackled this week by Evan, Tyler, and T.J., who returns from Iceland to tell us about the games he saw at Paradox Interactive's annual event. We also touch on the merits of Linux gaming and SSDs.
Listen to PC Gamer Podcast 343: Bear-On-Werebear Violence
Taiwanese manufacturing mogul, Asus, are aiming their Republic of Gamers alter ego squarely at the performance SSD arena by announcing its very own PCI-Express solid state drive. The top SSDs are already bumping up against the limits of the SATA 6Gbps interface, so if you want to push past that these PCIe drives are the way forward. Well, until the hybrid SATA Express interface sees the light of day anyways.
The one problem with solid state drives? They don’t last. Non-volatile memory will generally just about last 10,000 read/write cycles before it gives up the ghost and falls over. Like, permanently. Dead. Norwegian Blue-style. Taiwan memory manufacturer, Macronix, though has come up with a neat solution which could extend that life to 100 million read/write cycles.
Memory specialists Kingston have hit us with a one-two combo of brand new solid state drives and a whole new memory module they’re calling the Beast.
As if the memory market wasn't already macho enough, Kingston are looking to sex things up with the latest addition to their Predator line-up of memory upgrades. It’s all ostensibly dual-channel DDR3 in speeds ranging from 1600MHz up to 2400MHz and in kits of up to 64GB (sixty-four gigabytes! I felt that needed emphasising), with a range of memory latency ratings too. The Beast title is being given to the modules carrying the new “viciously aggressive” heatspreader design and that 64GB capacity is the largest in the HyperX performance memory family.
Semiconductor giant Intel is rolling out solid-state drives featuring the very latest of their 20nm NAND flash modules - good news for owners of gaming laptops, which will benefit hugely from the improved power efficiency, allowing longer sessions away from the plug socket.
Intel have been in the consumer SSD game since the very beginning, and despite ditching their own memory controllers, the 330 Series have already carved out a pretty decent niche thanks to some recent price drops and Intel’s reputation for longevity.
Toshiba has announced that it’s to launch a new range of 2.5inch hard drive which combine either 750GB or a terabyte of spinning storage with an 8GB NAND flash cache as a hybrid hard drive. The MQ01ABD, for that is its name, learns which files you regularly access and then clones them into the cache area in order to speed up loading times for commonly used files.
Spotted via Kotaku is the announcement that Samsung's new 830 series of solid-state drives will include a free copy of Batman: Arkham City.
The 830 series for desktops comes in four sizes: 64GB ($130), 128GB ($230), 256GB ($430), and 512GB ($850). Not bad for an SSD, and the buzz on the 830 series has been good. If you deduct the $40 or $50 you were planning to spend on Arkham City anyway, it starts to look even better.
SSDs are great. Not make the world a better place and sort out your work/life balance great, but having one in your PC will almost certainly make it a slightly better machine. The problem is, of course, that they're quite small.
The standard advice for making the most of SSD space is to install Windows and a few key games onto your SSD and put everything else, like videos and music, onto a larger, slower hard drive. If only it were that easy.
Lots of programs, from iTunes to Google's Picasa to most games, save large files like thumbnail caches or save data in the Users folder on the C:\ drive. That's regardless of where you install the application itself to. They offer you no control at all, and in the case of iTunes and Picasa especially can quickly use up many gigs of precious space.
Thinking of buying an SSD to speed up your system in the next couple of weeks? If you can hold off for a little while longer you might be doing yourself a favour. News in this morning is that Corsair is launching a new line of solid state drives (SSDs) which are looking particularly promising in terms of price and performance.