Friday I saw a story from a financial publication suggesting that DDR3 DRAM prices will be increasing soon due to increasing demand for PCs, thanks to Windows 10’s release and the back-to-school season.
That got me thinking, and while memory prices aren’t at an all-time low right now, they are pretty cheap. A Crucial Ballistix Sport 16GB kit runs about $105 right now. About two years ago, I paid $99 for the same kit. According to the pricing history available to me, the cheapest it’s ever been was $70, and the highest it’s been is $160.
I’m not particularly worried about this, but under the very worst case scenario, certain solid-state disks can theoretically lose data in a week or two if they’re left without power. But that doesn’t instill panic and get clicks when you say it like that.
But you knew I was going to write about it. Let me tell you why I’m not worried.
SSD pricing continues to be competitive, and if I were buying an SSD today, I would have a tough decision ahead of me. The Crucial BX100 would be the obvious choice, with its good speed, super-low power consumption, and attractive price, at $99 for the 250GB model and around $185 for the 500GB model.
But there’s an underdog: the PNY CS1111. Bear with me on that one: It’s a little slower than the Crucial, but costs 15% less.
Every once in a while I get a question about what SSD I recommend, since I’ve been buying them a long time. I always recommend the best price you can get on someone who makes their own memory chips, which means the cheapest drive you can get from Micron/Crucial, Intel, Samsung, Toshiba, or Sandisk.
If you’re concerned about SSD reliability, Tech Report has good news for you: They attempted to write a petabyte of data to six SSDs, and three of them survived. Considering the drives were rated for a 200 TB life expectancy, that’s impressive. In fact, even the worst drives outlived their 200 TB life expectancy. And all started behaving oddly long before their demise, giving you ample warning to do something in advance–something you can’t say about evil nasty platters of spinning rust–perhaps better known as traditional hard drives.
The first drive to fail, if you’re wondering, was the Samsung 840, which uses cheaper TLC memory. But even the Samsung 840 outlived its projected life expectancy. Since other companies are undercutting the 840’s price even with MLC memory these days, I’m not sure what Samsung’s plans for the 840 are. For the time being, I doubt you’ll be buying one. One of the drives that’s still going after a petabyte of writes is a costlier Samsung MLC drive.
If you’re looking for alternatives to nasty platters of spinning rust for storing your data, I have good news for you: SSDs are getting cheaper, and fast. They aren’t as cheap as rust, but there’s probably a good reason for that if you think about it for a minute.
PNY has been tempting me all year with the PNY XLR8, a 240 GB drive that typically sells for $80-$90 after a rebate. It uses an inexpensive controller to deliver middling performance, but compared to the speed that spinning rust can deliver, it’s still going to be pretty good. Then Micron came along with its Crucial MX100, which delivers 240 GB for $110, or 480 GB for $225, along with enthusiast-grade performance. Read more
Anandtech has a review of the Micron M500, which is the first 960 GB SSD to retail for less than $600. Micron had to make some decisions to get that combination of capacity and price, so it’s not truly a no-compromises SSD, but like the article states, it’s a not-quite-a-terabyte capacity at the price that the best 80 GB drive was selling for in 2008. That’s a long way to come in five years. At $599, the price is high, but it’s not out of reach. If you really need that much high-speed capacity, you can probably come up with that sum.
And the drive’s reception has been very good. It’s backordered everywhere I’ve looked. Read more
The ATX standard has changed very little in the last 15 years, which means some rather old computer cases can still accept new motherboards, as long as you also replace the power supply.
The bad news, as I stare at the case that once housed a Micron Client Pro 766 Xi (a 266 MHz Pentium II that was state of the art in 1997) is that front-mount USB ports were unheard of in those days, as were digital camera memory cards. Instead, machines of that era used obsolete floppy and Zip disks for removable storage. They also typically had more 5.25″ bays than we need today. When CD burners cost $400, most of us kept a reader in as well, to avoid wearing out expensive burners prematurely.
I won’t call it a revolution, because I wrongly predicted that RISC (in the form of DEC Alpha and Motorola/IBM Power PC) would start a revolution. But Micron released a new form of memory this week that promises to at least be a game-changer.
It’s non-volatile like the flash memory in your cell phone, digital camera, or SSD, but with a longer life expectancy, and it’s much faster. It’s fast enough to potentially use it for system memory, as well as storage. Read more