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SSDs: WTH happenned in these 2 years? Still same capacity and prices

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I bought an 80GB Intel X25M almost 2 years ago. Worked excellent as a CDROM replacement -- you can read from it... but you cannot write to it! Seperate thread was in the forum with benchmark data. Let me also tell you that I had to wait 3 years to jump on this SSD bandwagon in order not to be a guinea pig.

I had to constantly delete files in order to open up space from the OS partition and my data partition. 74GB, if you leave 15% recommended free sectors to increase its lifespan, you are down to 60GB. Hmm... let me see when I had a 60GB drive... in 1998 i guess. Overall, this was just a pain.

Well, okay. So many years passed. I said, let me get a 400-500 GB SSD. At least I can have sufficient space and remove my 750GB Seagate from the system that I was keeping since 5 years.

I was shocked to find out that this Intel still has the same capacities... 160GB being the highest... I bought the 80GB about $350... It is $240 now with 160GB being $430!!!

So what the hell happenned with these Samsung's Toshiba's so and so's 400 GB drives that were to be released 2 years ago? And their supposedly decreasing prices? Did this Intel monopolize all the market?

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I bought an 80GB Intel X25M almost 2 years ago. Worked excellent as a CDROM replacement -- you can read from it... but you cannot write to it! Seperate thread was in the forum with benchmark data. Let me also tell you that I had to wait 3 years to jump on this SSD bandwagon in order not to be a guinea pig.

I had to constantly delete files in order to open up space from the OS partition and my data partition. 74GB, if you leave 15% recommended free sectors to increase its lifespan, you are down to 60GB. Hmm... let me see when I had a 60GB drive... in 1998 i guess. Overall, this was just a pain.

Well, okay. So many years passed. I said, let me get a 400-500 GB SSD. At least I can have sufficient space and remove my 750GB Seagate from the system that I was keeping since 5 years.

I was shocked to find out that this Intel still has the same capacities... 160GB being the highest... I bought the 80GB about $350... It is $240 now with 160GB being $430!!!

So what the hell happenned with these Samsung's Toshiba's so and so's 400 GB drives that were to be released 2 years ago? And their supposedly decreasing prices? Did this Intel monopolize all the market?

Supply and Demand my friend. As long as technology allows such vast improvement manufacturers will be able to demand premium prices for new technology.

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I bought the 80GB about $350... It is $240 now

That sounds like a decent price drop to me!

Intel's drives aren't the fastest, looks like SandForce and Marvell have beaten them, at least til the G3 Intel's come out.

And the drive has its own internal free sector pool, you don't need to keep it that empty. It's not the drives' fault you bought a drive too small for your needs. :) (and hey, my OS drive was only 73GB up til about 8 months ago!)

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Supply and Demand my friend. As long as technology allows such vast improvement manufacturers will be able to demand premium prices for new technology.

Which new technology? This SSD crap has been around 6-7 years now!

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That sounds like a decent price drop to me!

Does it really? I bought a DVD writer for $600 which was selling for $100 a year and half later. I bought a 200GB drive for $400 which was selling for $100 a year later.

And the drive has its own internal free sector pool, you don't need to keep it that empty.

That is not accurate. Intel published a paper about garbage collection on their SSDs. 15% free space margin was sweet spot for life expectancy of the drive (on top of the 7% they do internally).

It's not the drives' fault you bought a drive too small for your needs. :) (and hey, my OS drive was only 73GB up til about 8 months ago!)

Oh come on continuum. I have a lean system. I have no games, no media files. I have no nothing. Just basics. The biggest folder on my Program Files is 400MB Wmware Workstation 6.5 (half of it already hardlinked to 750GB drive) and its containers are on a seperate drive. 20GB for my data on PGP Disk which I constantly need to clean since it fills up. I am just so sick and tired of this situation.

What happenned to all these 400GB SSDs that were announced 2 years ago? Or why is this Intel still at 160GB it started 2 years ago?

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And the drive has its own internal free sector pool, you don't need to keep it that empty.

Here is Intel presentation:

http://intelstudios.edgesuite.net/idf/2009/sf/aep/IDF_2009_MEMS003/f.htm

Basically, a stock 160GB drive has a lifespan of 15TB worth of writes.

If you use that 160GB drive as 144GB drive, you can write to that drive 42TB.

So 10% reduction in size =~ 2.8 times increase in lifespan.

It says you get diminishing returns after 27%... At 27% reduction in size, you get 3.5X more writes.

I think it was 6TB for my 80GB drive... And boy, those 6TB worth of writes finish rather fast if you are doing anything with the drive at all. Never mind they say it takes 20 years or 200 years or god knows what.

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Basically, a stock 160GB drive has a lifespan of 15TB worth of writes.

If you use that 160GB drive as 144GB drive, you can write to that drive 42TB.

I have a pile of dead SSD's here, I already know that... both filling partially full and completely full.

(then again some of my customer usage scenarios are far, far more aggressive than the typical enterprise user...)

That is not accurate. Intel published a paper about garbage collection on their SSDs. 15% free space margin was sweet spot for life expectancy of the drive (on top of the 7% they do internally).
Hmm. I think I've seen that presentation, although I had forgotten about it (I don't have WMP11 on this box either, can't view it. sigh).
Oh come on continuum. I have a lean system. I have no games, no media files. I have no nothing. Just basics. The biggest folder on my Program Files is 400MB Wmware Workstation 6.5 (half of it already hardlinked to 750GB drive) and its containers are on a seperate drive. 20GB for my data on PGP Disk which I constantly need to clean since it fills up. I am just so sick and tired of this situation.
You mention you are screwing in VMWare and PGP disks, though-- yes, those are far beyond the space needs of normal users or a typical "lean" install. :) Come now. :)

Must not be as lean as my setup, I was fine with 73GB (I had about 30GB free on my typical install) til I started loading my Lightroom catalog and scratch on it, then it got kinda small...

What happenned to all these 400GB SSDs that were announced 2 years ago?
They're available. You just gotta find a way to pay for it!

http://www.corsair.com/products/ssd_performance/default.aspx

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Hmm. I think I've seen that presentation, although I had forgotten about it (I don't have WMP11 on this box either, can't view it. sigh).

I tried to look for a text version but no link was available. That is why i gave the link to the presentation.

You mention you are screwing in VMWare and PGP disks, though-- yes, those are far beyond the space needs of normal users or a typical "lean" install. :) Come now. :)

My VMware disks are NOT on the SSD. There is no space to accommodate them there. Those were just VMWare's program files and I just gave it as an illustration that I dont have space hogs. My Adobe Photoshop is 260MB! PGP disk (actually a TrueCrypt partition now) hosts my private data. Personal files, work documents, software development, emails, etc. Nothing fancy. Just mostly text files, images, scans... static content. It was on a 100GB partition before the SSD, I had to crop them to 20GB... and I constantly try to free up space because of this situation. Which is really pain!

They're available. You just gotta find a way to pay for it!

They were available 5 years ago too with those prices. Samsung announced beginning of 2008 that mass production of 256GB SSDs will be by mid-2008. So did Toshiba with their 400GB drives. Intel came into picture with their X25's... and we have teh same capacities since 2 years. I am very much guessing that Intel paid off those companies and competition.

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As others said before: there are large SSDs, they're just not very popular due to the fact that they're freakin' expensive. I think demand is the reason you're mainly seeing the same capacities as 2 years ago.

Regarding the price not dropping as fast as many had hoped and some had claimed: you can't fault Intel for that, it's the real production costs as well as paying for the Fabs + R&D for future processes. Flash is a little simpler than CPUs, but not by that much. Actually the production has done very well: traditionally flash lagged behing DRAM and processors in manufacturing, whereas by now it has caught up or even overtaken them (AMD still at 45 nm, TSCM struggling with 40 nm etc.). It couldn't get much better than that.

And they've been around for 6-7 years? Well, in my opinion they only really became viable since the Intels and the Barefoot. Anything before them was not really worth the money over a contemporary HDD. And I certainly wouldn't call these early attempts mature or anything like that.

Having said that.. if you expect more than an improvement of a factor of 2 in the price or capacity area over the next 2 years you'll likely be disappointed again.

MrS

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Also keep in mind that performance has improved considerably in the past few years. Think of the horrid POS's that were the JMicrom 602B-based SSD's. :scared:

t was on a 100GB partition before the SSD, I had to crop them to 20GB... and I constantly try to free up space because of this situation. Which is really pain!
Like I said, your use clearly isn't "lean" by normal "light" standards. ;)

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Let me jump into the fray...

Those ever increasing HDD sizes for "active" use are - once a limit is reached utter nonsense.

Nobody needs 2TB in a computer - say a desktop (once exception video editing) - as external storage though it's very well.

My Vaio SZ uses about 36GB - that's with MS Office, And an Adobe Web Premium Suite (not all components though) - that leaves me with 113GB of free space - oh, and that includes my music collection that's too large (but also only what I listen too) - if you have the need for more specialized software there is plenty of space left, storage is better arranged outside - you don't ever need tens of GB of data immediately available at a high speed (exception Video Editing again).

Its the same as with cars - buy a Volvo, you have a reliable solid comfortable car with lot's of space and not particularly fast. Buy a ferrari or how these things are called and the suspension will break your back on anything but a racetrack and boot is your shirt pocket - but its fast.

A SSD is mainly built to be fast - and reliable in harsh environments - its not a storage media.

Of course the 40GB Intels are small - but they are a budget product - and the 80GB or 160GB ones are ideal.

Space for all the software you ever need - and the data you need right now - stuff that you need to carry around you can put onto an external HDD/or SSD - and that will also be much safer, because if its not used everyday the chances of failure - especially for a SSD reduce.

I've got roughly (off HDD specs - not actual sizes) 1,75TB of 3,5" USB drives at home... then a 120GB 2,5"drive - all just for storage - I used to connect them to my laptop all the time - I've stopped doing that (coming from a 250GB HDD on my Vaio and going to a 160GB Intel SSD) - the only drive I use regularly is a 500GB WD Passport drive - and even that's not connected all the time - why - because there aren't ever several GB of files that I need immediate access too.

And one last thing:

Flash development, I wouldn't be surprised if it is much easier to design higher capacity HDDs compared to higher capacity Flash - Flash is still much younger than HDDs which have been around in the first personal computers.

Edited by DetlevCM

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So what do you guys think about the hybrid drive then? We've talked about it in the past, a decent sized HDD with a little flash to top to handle regularly called for files. You'd get the performance per dollar ratio way down without giving away capacity.

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I see potential for hybrid drives, but also because of the vastly different approaches possible (eg caching algorithms and logic), different implementations could be very different in terms of real-world advantage.

Regarding the OP: in two years, capacity of SSDs at a given form factor have at least doubled. Performance for MLC hasn't doubled, however many other vendors have caught up with Intel's X25-M so the selection at that level is much better. Prices have been cut in half. I don't know when your "two years" began, but a lot's changed since mid-2008. The Intel SSDs didn't even ship until the end of 2008, and the Ms didn't get the firmware fix that made them perform as promised until mid 2009.

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Let me jump into the fray...

Nobody needs 2TB in a computer - say a desktop

..... Just like the old quote "640k is enough for anybody" People will use up whatever storage is available.

I think what the industry is finding is that making a proper SSD that performs simmilar to the current HDD is not an easy problem. There is a lot more to it than cramming a huge amount of flash memory onto a circuit board and selling it. Consider how long the HD has been around vs how long the SSD has been around, and its no wonder the SSD industry is still having growing pains.

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Detlev, your statement "Nobody needs 2TB in a computer" is far too general. Servers are computers, too. And I've got a colleague whose measurements take up a couple of GBs, every single one of them, and then require significant post-processing. You could argue that after post processing this data could go into the archive. But just increase the measurement resolution and you could fill an arbitrary amount of space. Does it that make sense to do so? I can't say more than "it depends", but rest assured that science and engineering can use up a lot of space.

Having said that, though, my own work machine is not using much more than 100 GB and I don't think I actually need more than 10 GB of it on a regular basis, which just proves your point.

@Brian: the hybrid disk drive would be a smart move, at least for the next couple of years, if done right.

- SSDs can't provide the capacity we're used from HDDs anytime soone (see my previous post & the frustration of the OP)

- but neither do they have to (as Detlev correctly points out) nor should they even try to (at least for the next 5+ years, as I would point out)

- there's a reason we don't have CPUs with 4 GB L1 caches: "deliver the speed where it's needed and keep it cheap"

-> SSDs would be best used as an additional buffer between main memory and HDD

If done correctly one could use a comparably small yet very fast SSD (8 - 32 GB), use less main memory (4 GB) and get by with 5400 rpm HDDs for bulk storage (easier to increase size at lower rpms). The overall package could be faster than the current one and wouldn't have to be more expensive.

There's a major problem, though, which is probably why it hasn't taken off yet: a cache needs someone clever to manage it. Sure, the HDD could just cache the recently used stuff by itself, but I don't think that's very good (overlap with OS caching in memory; probably leads to far too many write cycles).

What I think is needed is a smart software solution to go along with hybrid HDDs. The HDD design should be transparent to the OS and the OS should decide what to do. Win 7 already knows very well what to cache: it's got the normal file cache and super fetch. It can put accessed files first into memory and only write them into the SSD cache upon frequent use, maybe flushing worthy files from memory to SSD upon power down. That would save on a lot of writes and provide SSD read speed (or better) for all frequently accesses files. Dynamically adapted, without user interaction.

Furthermore there could (or "should" IMO) be an option to let users pin certain directories or files to be cached. At the end of the day the user would just buy an HDD, almost as before, and just have it work. No worries about flash size, about where to install what and to free up space on the SSD. They could still have their beloved single C: drive, drop all their documents onto the desktop, leave GBs of music and games and TBs of movies on the machine and have it just work.

If you feel like calling MS and asking them to create an open standard for this (so *nix users could also get these benefits) feel free to do so :)

MrS

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I think what the industry is finding is that making a proper SSD that performs simmilar to the current HDD is not an easy problem. There is a lot more to it than cramming a huge amount of flash memory onto a circuit board and selling it. Consider how long the HD has been around vs how long the SSD has been around, and its no wonder the SSD industry is still having growing pains.

Nah. They surpassed the speed of HDDs quickly after someone (*hint* the big blue guy in the corner) got serious about SSDs. Making them cheap is a totally different story: an HDD platter is a rather trivial thing. Adding some to your HDD doesn't cost you much. Making a flash chip, on the other hand, is in principle as complex as producing a CPU. It just doesn't need high speed transistors and uses a far simpler, regular design. And they've already been on a rampage making flash cheaper, just look at the development of pen drives (typically one package, which today contains several chips). Making flash cheaper is not an issue of experience, it's an issue of "creating one bulk piece of recording media" versus "a complex series of photolithographically defining the different regions of each and every transistor, etching away unwanted stuff, depositing new stuff, implanting fancy stuff, annealing etc."

MrS

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MrSpadge' date='11 May 2010 - 01:21 PM' timestamp='1273609262' post='261604']

Nah. They surpassed the speed of HDDs quickly after someone (*hint* the big blue guy in the corner) got serious about SSDs.

As you mentioned.. theres much more to it than speed. but basicly we are saying the same thing -- Making a SSD is much more complicated than making a traditional mechanical HDD.

I think also consumers are spoiled with the really good price per mb that the mechanical drives are offering. Right now I see a 1TB drive on newegg for $69. Compare that to a 32GB SSD for the same price, or a larger 120GB SSD for $320+, and I think your average consumer gets sticker shock.

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That's why I really like the idea of clever hybrid drives. Done right you could get the best of both worlds: high speed, large capacities and moderate prices.

An additional thought: assume we'd have hybrid drives and the software could make good use of it. Then it'd be nice if the flash was socketed, a bit like the main memory modules. If it wears down enough: just replace it. Or just get a speed upgrade (provided the controller could make use of faster cells). HDD died? Reuse the flash! Flash died? Continue to use the HDD as an archive or external storage.

That would require some more standards, flexibility and modularity. Introducing any of this is no small task.

MrS

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MrSpadge' date='11 May 2010 - 03:06 PM' timestamp='1273608418' post='261603']

Detlev, your statement "Nobody needs 2TB in a computer" is far too general. Servers are computers, too. And I've got a colleague whose measurements take up a couple of GBs, every single one of them, and then require significant post-processing. You could argue that after post processing this data could go into the archive. But just increase the measurement resolution and you could fill an arbitrary amount of space. Does it that make sense to do so? I can't say more than "it depends", but rest assured that science and engineering can use up a lot of space.

Having said that, though, my own work machine is not using much more than 100 GB and I don't think I actually need more than 10 GB of it on a regular basis, which just proves your point.

Which century are you living in? Engineering? We are talking about mere humans. Have you ever taken a picture with a digital camera? Each file is 20MB. You do a day outing and you are down with 5GB. Everybody has a digital camera now. My cousin has been using computers for 3 years and her personal data is 300GB. I am not intending to shuffle 28 hard drives to see the picture I have taken last week.

@Brian: the hybrid disk drive would be a smart move, at least for the next couple of years, if done right.

Hybrid drives are not necessary. SSDs have the capacity (as announced by Toshiba/Samsung 2 years ago). Intel just monopolized the whole area and probably connived with all the other manufacturers to hold their releases. As soon as Intel entered the market, everything came to a standstill.

- there's a reason we don't have CPUs with 4 GB L1 caches: "deliver the speed where it's needed and keep it cheap"

It is a totally different ballgame with CPUs. I am a power user and I still have not needed any more CPU power than my 10 year old P4 3.0GHz. I still am using a 2.4GHz Q6600 from 3-4 years ago and it is undervolted to operate at its minimum 1.6GHz. Hard drives have been the bottleneck all this time -- not CPUs. And CPUs have been monopolized by Intel too, by the way.

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Also keep in mind that performance has improved considerably in the past few years. Think of the horrid POS's that were the JMicrom 602B-based SSD's. :scared:

Like I said, your use clearly isn't "lean" by normal "light" standards. ;)

20GB of data is not lean for 15+ years of computer usage? Ok. What exactly is 'lean' by normal standards? How much is your data?

Anyone here with less than 20GB of personal/work data (excluding videos and music)?

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Anyone here with less than 20GB of personal/work data (excluding videos and music)?

Not counting games, music or video, or replaceable files - yes, im definately less than 20GB. This includes files ive collected over the past 10 years

I keep a local copy of my personal website - 40mb

3 different versions of a development environment @ 500mb each. but the actual data that I access is mabye 200k of text.

Save files from my games - probably 15mb

A backup of my sharepoint site - 2GB

bunches of text files and old code - probably 20MB

Database files - 30MB

all told - MUCH less than 20GB.

The thing is when you start looking at all the extra stuff needed to ACCESS the above data, then its a lot different.

3-5 games @ 20GB each = 60-100GB

3 dev environments at 500mb each = 1.5gb + 2-5GB of temp files.

Windows = 10-15GB

SBS 2003 on its own PC = ???GB

Drivers for everything (HW, audio, video, GPU) = ???GB

Graphics software 3GB per copy

...... and the list goes on.

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Quote

@Brian: the hybrid disk drive would be a smart move, at least for the next couple of years, if done right.

Hybrid drives are not necessary. SSDs have the capacity (as announced by Toshiba/Samsung 2 years ago). Intel just monopolized the whole area and probably connived with all the other manufacturers to hold their releases. As soon as Intel entered the market, everything came to a standstill.

Well, unless you consider the possibility of having a 400-500 GB HDD with SSD performance, at least in certain areas, for prices less than most current SSDs. That could be a compelling argument no?

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20GB of data i
I wasn't talking about just data.

I was talking about this:

The thing is when you start looking at all the extra stuff needed to ACCESS the above data

Clearly if it was only about data, you'd load your programs and OS on a mechanical harddisk and just load data on the SSD. ;)

I stand by my earlier statement. :)

Like I said, your use clearly isn't "lean" by normal "light" standards. ;)

Other comments:

Intel just monopolized the whole area and probably connived with all the other manufacturers to hold their releases. As soon as Intel entered the market, everything came to a standstill.
I actually see it the other way around. Til Intel came to the market we were stuck mostly with crap from JMicron and others with the associated write-amplification issues and stutters and horrid write speeds. Intel forced Indilinx, Samsung, and now Toshiba, Marvell, and Sandforce to step up.

A lot of what we're seeing now as far as performance limits is potentially due to consumer SSDs hitting the SATA 3Gbps limit-- fortunately with SATA 6Gbps, some drives (those based on Marvell controllers, at least) are starting to exceed that.

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I think also consumers are spoiled with the really good price per mb that the mechanical drives are offering. Right now I see a 1TB drive on newegg for $69. Compare that to a 32GB SSD for the same price...

the only 32GB SSD i see on newegg right now is the OCZ for $90. add to that, it is a complete POS that would be stomped by the 1TB. at least in writes.. and you have a recipt for disaster.

large and in part i agree with the OP. something is wrong with the SSD market... it should be were its at... that OCZ should be around $50. SSD's of that capacity and speed (120MB/s reads and 70MB/s writes) have been around for the better part of 2 years. maybe longer.

the intel 40GB x25-v for $125 offering reads of 170MB/s and writes of 30MB/s? thats a joke right? you would have to be an idiot to pay real money for that thing... maybe monopoly money... or obama dollars. but real currency? HA!

if manufacturers of SSD's dont get there collective arsis together they will end up the way of technology such as RDRAM. they will be a flash in the pan... or more specific, a lingerying grease fire. its dirty and messy but it will burn out sooner or later.

it seems like a stop-gap of such.

a consumer needs to be able to go to the stor and hold in one hand a ?TB drive for $70 and a 120GB SSD for $85 (reads at about 200MB/s and writes at about 130MB/s) and ask himself, "hmmm lots of storage, or a little more for performance?"

now its, "hmmm lots of storage, or lots of money for a little bit of performance."

on an impulse buy i bought a main stream SSD about 6 months ago for $150. it was a 64GB kingston SSDNow rated at around 130MB/s reads and 70MB/s writes. i see arguable no difference between the SSD and the 7200RPM Seagate in my laptop running the same OS. i kinda hate myself for wasting my money on it.

that taught me a very good lesson. SSD's have no place in the main stream market. with exception to the preverbal, "geek who doesnt know how to spend his money."

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Ok, so I just sat down and checked prices and started thinking what would it take for me to get on board with the SSD fad. $1 a gig is what it would take.

With that said, let me give a direct example of why I feel something is askew in the SSD world.

32GB Kingston SSDNow SNV125

130MB/s reads

50MB/s writes

No TRIM

$85

Almost $3 a gig

128GB Kingston SSDNow SNV425

200MB/s reads

160MB/s writes

TRIM

$249

Slightly less then $2 a gig

WTF?

that SN125 should be $30.

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