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Thread: Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

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    The User DemonDragonJ's Avatar
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    Default Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

    Solid-state drives are an amazing innovation in the realm of computing, because of their amazingly fast transfer speeds and very low power consumption in comparison to mechanical hard drives. They eliminate the slowest component of a computer, making its overall operation far faster and more efficient.

    Currently, most solid-state drives use the SATA interface, as that is the most commonly-used interface for traditional hard drives. That is understandable, as that allows the drives to take advantage of existing infrastructure, without needing to introduce an entirely new interface for them. However, it is almost certain that SSD's shall advance to the point that the SATA interface is not sufficiently fast for them, requiring that they use an even faster interface.

    Such an interface would be the PCI-express interface, in my mind. It has far greater data transfer rates than does SATA, and also can power a device itself, eliminating the need for additional cables. At the present time, there are solid-state drives that use this interface, but they are not commonly used and currently are more expensive than their SATA-based counterparts, due to the cost of the interface. However, I am certain that such devices shall become less expensive, and thus, used more frequently, as time passes and they can be manufactured more efficiently.

    What does everyone else say on this subject? Shall PCI-express-based solid-state drives gain greater usage in the near future? I await your responses.
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    Moderator TLHarrell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

    I see it as a benefit since the PCIe bus has far greater bandwidth. The only drawback is adoption. Sure, it may be the greater of the two options, but if it's not adopted in the industry it will never meet the manufacturing quotas to bring it into the price point for wide adoption. It's like the VHS/Beta wars again.
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    Undead Pirate d_stilgar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

    For now, I think SSDs aren't fast enough to even saturate sata 6Gb/s, so there's no point with PCI. Also, I think most people who are spending lots of money on SSDs are also likely to be getting nice video cards, which take up lots of slots on the board.

    Idk though, I could be wrong.

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    Default Re: Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

    My company sells a lot of the Texas Memory Systems PCIe based SSD modules (RamSan). The main drawback is the expense.

    We also sell their standalone systems and they can get into the 6 digit price range...

    Once these systems become more mainstream, the price will come down. IBM sees this and that is why they recently bought TMS. I think it is going to be at least 5 years before the price comes down enough to make them a real consumer option.
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    ATX Mental Case CrazyTeaPot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

    I'm guessing that the future holds faster SATA speeds, making PCI-E SSD's more or less irrelevant. They're just too large and typically take up wanted space inside of PC's. There will probably always be a market for them, though.

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    Default Re: Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

    Quote Originally Posted by CrazyTeaPot View Post
    I'm guessing that the future holds faster SATA speeds, making PCI-E SSD's more or less irrelevant. They're just too large and typically take up wanted space inside of PC's. There will probably always be a market for them, though.
    First, while I am certain that a faster version of SATA may eventually be developed, PCI-express shall always be the faster interface, because of its nature, which allows for it to scale far better than can SATA.

    Second, the PCI form factor is actually better than the SATA form factor in that it provides greater uniformity to components of a computer: since video cards, sound cards, and other add-on cards already use that form factor, it is only logical to manufacture data storage devices that utilize that form factor, as well, since SATA-based devices do not typically occupy the same physical space as do the central components of a computer (processor, motherboard, memory, and add-on cards).

    Therefore, I definitely believe that PCI-express-based solid-state drives shall definitely increase in popularity and feasibility in the future; the only uncertainty is when and how that shall occur.
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    Undead Pirate d_stilgar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

    Quote Originally Posted by DemonDragonJ View Post
    PCI form factor is actually better than the SATA form factor in that it provides greater uniformity to components of a computer: since video cards, sound cards, and other add-on cards already use that form factor, it is only logical to manufacture data storage devices that utilize that form factor, as well, since SATA-based devices do not typically occupy the same physical space as do the central components of a computer (processor, motherboard, memory, and add-on cards).
    While I don't disagree, the problem is that I can get a few video cards in my machine, and then I don't have room for anything else.

    I really think the days of dedicated sound cards, ram drives, and PCI based SSDs are limited by the nature and size of our motherboards. If I have a choice between PCI based SSD (which is still prohibitively expensive) and another video card, I'll choose having another video card and a sata SSD.

    Part of the cost of PCI SSDs are the fact that they use a different kind of memory that can actually use the speed of the PCI slot.

    Standard SSDs are getting cheaper because of scale, but it's also cheaper memory. There are very few drives that can even saturate a 6gb/s sata port as it is. The drives that can are very expensive, and the same will hold true for PCI based drives.

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    Default Re: Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

    I would love to have one as I am still using an X58 system and it only has 3GB sata ports. I would have to loose my Physix card but I think it would be a lot faster than connecting the card through sata. My only question is how will it effect the video bandwidth on the PCIE lanes?
    I think we can make that fit.

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    ATX Mental Case CrazyTeaPot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

    I think it's obvious what's going to happen just by going by current popularity and information.

    The price difference is fairly minimal, yet SATA is still winning the race by miles. With SATA, you can get 240GB's at 465MB/s Write for $210. With PCI-E, you can get 240GB's at 900MB/s for $280. The performance increase is quite large, but people are still mostly buying SATA.

    The variety alone when comparing the two is another large variable in this situation. OCZ is pretty much the only company currently offering PCI-E SSD's, yet despite that they have the entire niche to themselves, they aren't really selling that well, at least not in comparison to SATA drives. So why invest? It's not a, "If you build it, they will come" situation, because it's built and still people are only minimally interested. (Like I said, it will always exist, just in smaller numbers.)

    PCI-E SSD's take up room in PC's in multiple ways too, which most people aren't going to want. You basically have to have the right motherboard layout in order for it work. But then, on top of that, you have to also consider that there's a very real chance that it will disrupt airflow in that general vicinity, which will affect GPU's and CPU's alike. It's a bit of a problem unless you build with it in mind specifically, which might not be possible or desirable for a lot of people/companies.

    SATA is universal, simple and already widely established. Why would they change? Because PCI-E is twice as fast as current SATA models? That's something to consider, but most people seem to be happy with their already very fast SATA drives. Even the old Vertex 2 Drives are pretty fast, at half the speed of the Vertex 4 Drives. The current benefit of going PCI-E is just negligible to your average consumer. The only difference that they're going to notice is an increase in cost and possibly frustration due to the things mentioned above, so why do it?

    It's an enthusiast market, just like those WD Raptor drives of the past. They'll exist, without a doubt. But it's not going to take off like the other drives do. It's a niche market product, not a mass-market one.

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    Default Re: Will PCI-Express-Based Solid-State Drives Become More Popular in the Near Future?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechh69 View Post
    My only question is how will it effect the video bandwidth on the PCIE lanes?
    I have often heard computer users speak of "lanes" when discussing PCI and PCI-express, but, to the best of my knowledge, PCI-express is a point-to-point interface, rather than a multi-drop interface, as is conventional PCI. I am not an expert, but should that not mean that each port, and thus, each device in each port, has its own dedicated connection the CPU, which means that they do not share lanes, and thus, a device in one port shall not detract bandwidth from another? Is that the case, or am I misunderstanding how PCI-express functions?
    "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." -Thomas Jefferson.

    "Those who would trade their freedoms for security will have neither." -Benjamin Franklin

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