Saturday, May 29, 2010

SSD: faster storage; faster Internet

I got a Dell laptop with solid state storage (SSD) instead of a rotating magnetic disk drive (HD). As shown here, the SSD is about twice as fast as my desktop computer and 4 times as fast as my old laptop with a hard disk.

These benchmarks are not 100 percent comparable (the machines had different configurations and operating systems) nor realistic (they only test raw read/write speed), but they show a clear advantage for SSD.

The speed difference is confirmed by my subjective sense of the SSD machine -- program load times feel much shorter.

The SSD should also consume less power and be more reliable than the equivalent HD.

It is interesting to consider the trade off between running network applications like Google Docs versus local applications like Microsoft Word as storage and Internet speeds increase.

Today I have a 3 Mbps link to the Internet at my home, so my old laptop storage access is about 100 times faster than my Internet connection. With SSD, that jumps to around 400 times, favoring local applications.

If, as the (conservative) FCC plans, I can upgrade my Internet connection to 100 Mbps, the pendulum will swing back toward network applications. If Google's vision is realized, and I can connect at 1 Gbps, network applications will look still better. Furthermore, once an application is "fast enough," additional speed does not matter.

On the other hand, SSD performance is also improving -- it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Which applications are already fast enough on the Internet that you choose them over local applications? Which are close?