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Samsung Announces Solid State Laptop 114

An anonymous reader writes "Samsung has announced they'll be manufacturing solid-state laptops, with an eye for a June release in Korea. Everything you wanted from a laptop: faster boot times, quicker storage access, less noise, longer battery life. Laptop Logic has the story." From the article: "Now to the features of this laptop: Celeron M 1.2GHz, 12.1-inch screen, 512MB DDR2, Wireless LAN 802.11b/g, Digital Multimedia Broadcasting TV, and measuring 2.5 pounds. Price? $3,700 and only available in Korea in June."
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Samsung Announces Solid State Laptop

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:35AM (#15401456) Journal
    Seek time for a 5400 laptop hard disk [newegg.com]: ~ 12ms
    Seek time for a 7200 laptop hard disk [newegg.com]: ~ 10ms
    Seek time for solid state hard disk [wikipedia.org]: < 0.1ms

    They're at least a hundred (if not thousand) times faster and on sale for $160 USD for 32GB size of it [yahoo.net]. Now, why is the laptop so damned expensive?
    Everything you wanted from a laptop: faster boot times, quicker storage access, less noise, longer battery life...
    You also forgot to say "less heat." Which is my biggest concern with the lifetime of my laptop and my sperm count [com.com].
    • Seek time for a 5400 laptop hard disk: ~ 12ms
      Seek time for a 7200 laptop hard disk: ~ 10ms
      Seek time for solid state hard disk: < 0.1ms

      Number of rewrites on solid state storage: ~1 million.
      Number of rewrites on a laptop hard disk: Until the drive mechanism dies.

      Hope you don't do a lot of swapping on your solid state flash hard drive.
      • I was going to mod you Insightful but decided to reply instead... It would be fantastic if these solid state laptops could have a secondary drive, which is sync'd to at shutdown - it's almost a certainty that this would not fail before the normal drive, so hey presto - instant, permanently available no-effort backup for the user. For an extra $100 on the costs, it'd be worth it as a USP too... Of course, they'd have to hide it from the OS and make it a hardware/firmware function, which would be harder wor
        • You can get 4GB USB sticks or Compact Flash for about $100-150 these days, and CF-to-PCMCIA adapters are ~$20. Most newer BIOSes support booting from USB, so if you've got a desktop machine you can just use a USB stick as your primary disk. For laptops, that's not mechanically safe if you want to carry them around - you'd probably want to do something with a PCMCIA adapter for CF (I haven't tried that yet), though I suppose you could use one of those card-adapter-on-a-wire things if you don't mind getting
          • For about $12 you can get a CF to IDE adapter. Without chips.

            So, since you can do the same between standard HDs and laptop HDs, you should be able to go from CF to laptop IDE.

            Screw booting USB or using a PCMCIA adapter, you can do it the way I mentioned above and the BIOS wouldn't even SEE a difference between it and a real hard drive.
        • Samsung also just announced a hybrid hard drive the other day--partially solid state and partially magnetic. Only issue with it is that from the announcement it sounded like it was Windows only. I use Windows and all, but only as one of several other OSes, so unless the harddrive (and all benefits of the hybrid system) can work with the other OSes then count me out... I also though the whole hybrid system would work great on portable media players--huge storage PLUS fast speeds/low battery usage/anit-skip.
      • I think that 1 million writes could last you quite a while, providing you got rid of some extra unnecessary writes. Get rid of swap and just have 1 Gig of RAM. That should be enough for most of today's applications. It's not a database server, it's a laptop. Since it's solid state, there's no need to defrag and move files around. Maybe make the drive smart so that if the bit doesn't have to change, then it won't "write" to it. I think that this would work for a lot of people. Most people I know aren'
        • There are already drivers for solid state devices which already do this quite effectively (i.e. minimize the amount of rewriting of bits). I'm sure this laptop would come with a similar driver included.

        • I do a lot of web browsing.

          If you don't move your browser cache off the drive and onto a virtual RAM drive, you will easily rack up millions of writes to the disk.

          Now I know that solid state media scatters the writes around so as not to stress any particular sectors, but if you don't actively seek to reduce disk writes, it'll only take a few particular programs to really kill the lifespan.

          The biggest benefit of solid state drives, is that they don't die, the writeable area just gets smaller.
      • by Whiney Mac Fanboy ( 963289 ) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:13AM (#15401828) Homepage Journal
        Number of rewrites on solid state storage: ~1 million.
        Number of rewrites on a laptop hard disk: Until the drive mechanism dies.

        Stick some dram cache on your ssd drive & it's likely to outlast a typical hdd [bitmicro.com]:
        With usage patterns of writing gigabytes per day, each flash-based SSD should last hundreds of years, depending on capacity. If it has a DRAM cache, it'll last even longer.
      • If this were a desktop system, you'd be right on. But laptops don't live very long anyway, and in general they see a lot less intensive use than desktop workstations. Furthermore, if you're paying through the nose for a flash-based main disk, getting an extra GB or two of main memory is peanuts.
      • by ms139us ( 723585 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:38PM (#15402669)
        Number of rewrites on solid state storage: ~1 million.
        Number of rewrites on a laptop hard disk: Until the drive mechanism dies.

        Hope you don't do a lot of swapping on your solid state flash hard drive.

        Why does this myth refuse to die? These do "wear leveling" which moves the writes around the flash and means that you would need to write the whole drive one million times.

        Let's do some math. One million writes of 32 GB equals 32,000,000 GB, or 32 PB.

        Suppose you average 10 MB/s of writes the whole time your laptop is in use (good luck pulling that off). You would have 3.2 billion seconds of use, or 101 years of continued use.

        Let's see a hard drive take that kind of pounding.
        • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @03:17PM (#15404120) Homepage Journal
          Wear leveling on aggregate devices like a flash hard drive is of very limited effectiveness without operating system intervention. To understand why, you must understand how wear leveling works. The basic premise is that the chip carries a certain amount of extra storage---say 25%. Each time a block is written, that block is mapped to one of these unmapped blocks and its previous allocation unit is freed for future use.

          There are two major flaws in such a mechanism. The first flaw is that it assumes that you can spread the load evenly among these spares. This varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. We will assume that the flash is made by someone whose algorithm is good. The second flaw is that, AFAIK, generally speaking, existing blocks are not remapped unless they are actually being written. The reason for this is that flash writes are relatively slow. To illustrate why this is a problem, it is necessary to give a fairly concrete example.

          Assume that you have a flash device that is full (so that every logical block is mapped to a physical block). Assume that the vendor left an extra 25% overhead for wear leveling. If you rewrite random portions of the disk, there will be significant improvement in longevity, as each block is only rewritten 4/5ths as often. However, if you rewrite the same single block, you only have to wear out the 25% overhead plus one block. Assuming a 32GB disk, that's one million writes times 8GB + 1 block. (I won't speculate on the block size.)

          But it's worse than that. You probably don't have a single 32GB flash part. It's probably a bunch of flash parts that are, at most, a gig or two, and in all likelihood, smaller. If each part is only 512MB, you can create a catastrophic failure of that part (effectively preventing any further writes to the part) with only one million writes times 128MB (a fourth of 512MB) + one block. Thus, even if you randomly use all the blocks on a single flash part and ignore all the others (which is typical usage for the first part of the disk, assuming the consecutive flash parts are mapped linearly), that takes the time down from 101 years to less than 2 years. If you do the "repeatedly write one block" technique, that reduces it from a couple of years to under 5 months.

          Now all of these problems are, to some extent, solvable, but they would require a cross-chip wear leveling mechanism, coupled with OS intervention (or a relatively smart on-disk controller) to periodically remap random blocks without modification. I'd be surprised if either of these was being done.

          In theory, wear leveling makes flash a reasonable alternative to a hard drive. In practice, flash needs to be at least an order of magnitude (and preferably two orders) more reliable before I would ever trust it with anything more than photos in a digital camera... and even for photos in a digital camera, I carefully limit the number of times I will reuse a flash card to ensure that I never run into these sorts of problems.

          • And the heads on your hard drive can crash at any moment so you shouldn't use that either. I'm not sure if I would use SSD yet since the cost of standard hard drives are so inexpensive. Although, I'm not sure I would be too concerned with the failure rate of SSDs if I did use one.
    • Methinks the SSD in the title of that drive means something other than Solid State Disk. If you do a froogle search for the model number, none of the other resellers include that feature and they're all in the same neighborhood pricewise.
      • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 25, 2006 @11:08AM (#15401787) Journal
        Yeah, that was a quick google search for 32GB SSD and that was the only returned link.

        After doing more thorough researching, I found expensive 32GB SSDs but also 16GB SSDs at around $600 here [etech4sale.com] & here [dvnation.com]. I know that size is not always directly related to price but I guess the release of this laptop with 32GB means they've found cheaper ways to produce the 32GB versions.

        The $3k price tag is probably pretty reasonable considering that two drives equating to the same size would run around $1,200. Heck, after thinking about the number of writes to the disk they're good for, it might benefit you to have your OS and apps on a drive apart from your userspace drive (a la Unix security layout).

        Again, I apologize for not researching my link in the original post and for wasting your time. I only hope the discussion isn't waylayed by people pointing out my ignorance.
        • isn't waylayed by people pointing out my ignorance.

          That's 'waylaid'.

          ...Just sayin'.
      • You're quite right, the URL for the hard disk at ibm (search: ibm 08K9509 site:ibm.com) is http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/documen t.do?lndocid=MIGR-44390 [ibm.com]. It's got 8 heads on 4 platters... SSDs have 0 heads, and 0 platters :)
    • I'm looking forward to 1GHz+ laptops that don't need a fan you can hear unless you press your ear up to the vent. To me something isn't "solid state" unless there are no moving parts inside on which the electronics are dependant.
      No fan = no cool = no work != solid state.
    • It looks like the link you posted was for a normal IDE hard drive...Maybe they have the wrong picture, or are just using a normal hard drive casing....Then again $160USD for a 32GB hard drive is quite steep so...
    • That drive you linked to can't possibly be a solid state disk -- if for no other reason than that IBM sold their hard drive business to hitachi long before this technology would have been produced with an IBM sticker and the price is far too low

    • Which is my biggest concern with the lifetime of my laptop and my sperm count.

      You still put the laptop lifetime first though. Typical :)

      Regarding the sperm problem, I wonder we still don't see pants with radiators and fans built-in. They'll sell like hot... err.. cool... anyways.
    • "on sale for $160 USD for 32GB size of it."

      Like everyone else said, that's not a solid state disk. If you google the part number, it comes up as a Thinkpad part number. As far as I know, no thinkpads had solid-state hard drives.
    • I think you should compare to something like the Super Talent 2.5 inch 16GB IDE Flash Drive [supertalent.com] instead. Digging around the Net, I'm seeing it running for under $550 USD.

      I could use sub-16GB for work stuff, though I couldn't fit all my music on that, obviously. I would absolutely require 1GB of RAM so as to avoid any need for swap.


    • You can get this drive: IBM Thinkpad 60GB HDD(STD)5400RPM - 08K9700 [yahoo.net] for $160.00 on sale now... it's not solid state but it does come with a surprise (note the STD acronymn ;-)!!!!!!

      "Life is like a box of chocolates, ya neva' know what you gonna get..."

    • That is all good but can I play Doom 3 or FEAR on it???
    • Ok, so you can get to the first bit of data quickly, how long does the flash drive take to stream out bits 1 through 524287 ? Last I checked spinning bits under a read head was actually winning that statistic.
    • I really doubt you can get that 32GB solid state drive for less than $1000. Solid state drives are a silicon-based product, and solid state drives have about the same order of magnitude complexity as regular old DRAM, so I don't expect those drives to be several orders of magnitude cheaper than the same amount of DRAM. 32GB of DRAM would run for maybe less than $3000, so I am suspicious of any claim that you can get a 32GB SSD for $160.
    • The fastest spinning notebook drive consumes a maximum of 2.5W. The lowest powered notebook CPU is 6W, but the T series Core Duo currently consumes up to 31W. I think from that information, it should be obvious where to put the heat minimization effort, i.e. you don't worry about the heat of the smallest item when the biggest consumer is more than 10x that.
      • The relevant comparison is not the maximum power consumption but the average power consumption during use. The hard drive is always spinning (basically) while the CPU can scale itself down when you're doing nothing. Unless you are playing Quake on your laptop, the hard drive probably rivals the CPU in average power consumption.
    • Hey Doofus,

      That's not a solid-state harddisk....

      If a 32GB flash disk exists, it will probably cost more like $1600 than $160.

      Every companies IT department would be buying only solid-state laptops if the cost of the solid-state disk was trivial.
  • Disk Space (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kraegar ( 565221 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:39AM (#15401503)
    The fine summary forgot the important aspect of these laptops, the disk space. From the article: "32-Gigabyte (GB) NAND flash-based solid state disk (SSD)".

    So 32gb of total storage. Not too bad, really.

  • by tddoog ( 900095 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:40AM (#15401507)
    It is about time.

    I was getting tired of replacing the vacuum tubes in my current laptop.

  • ...I was getting tired of replacing the vacuum tubes in my old model.
    • I had to look twice there - I mean I know /. is often accused of groupthink, but you and the poster above both posted the same thing at the same time. I am freaked, and I haven't even had any weed today! Between you and this 'Bad Wold' sign I keep seeing, I think I will end up incarcerated for my own protection pretty soon..
      • It was the most obvious joke you could make, and the first thing I thought of when seeing the headline as well.

        Mad props for the "Bad Wolf" reference, even if you did have a typo.

        Bad Wolf is old and busted though. The new hotness is "Torchwood." It's mentioned in almost every episode of season 2.

        ("Torchwood" an anagram of "Doctor Who." Whether that's a clue to anything or just the writers trying to be clever, we will see as the season goes on.)
        • I am painfully aware of the impending launch of Torchwood, as the g/f is reduced to puddle of orgasmic goo (without intervention from myself alas) at every mention, hint & allusion to it! She has a particularly frightening hard-on for the sexually-ambiguous Capt. Jack. Looks like I'm gonna have to kiss another man soon just to keep her interested in me...

          PS Thanks for not being a pedantic twat about my typo, was a refreshing change...
          • by Golias ( 176380 )
            PS Thanks for not being a pedantic twat about my typo, was a refreshing change...

            From the way I'm usually a pedantic twat about your typos? I don't remember doing anything like...

            Hey, wait a minute!!! If I've done things I don't remember doing, that means either I'm slightly forgetful, or, far more likely, I will eventually learn to TRAVEL THROUGH TIME!

            Sorry for the fact that I have been / will be a pedantic twat sometime in my future (which is actually the past.) I'm going to be / was out of line. Perh
            • Mate mate mate, slow down, there was no sarcasm. Damn this linear textual medium. I don't think you are said pedant as I don't know you. 'Pedantic twats' in this instance was more a reference to the collective ego's of /. as a whole. If I have offended you, I didn't mean too. I don't think I knew you until today. Or possibly three weeks into the future, by what you're saying, but in any case, unfashionable as it is, I just simply wasn't being sarcastic or snarky. I was trying to be nice dammit, look, I eve
              • I knew what you intended to say. I just thought it was funny how it came out, so I rolled with it.

                I needed a laugh... It's been that kind of week for me.
                • I'm not even sure what I mean to say sometimes. Happy to oblige you though, hope you have a better week next week. There, That's mORe Compassion and Humanity than you Will ever recieve again On this gOD-forsaken site. But I think it's A gooD idea to stop looking for patterns Where nOne exist, Lest it Forces me to start taking medication.
        • ("Torchwood" an anagram of "Doctor Who." Whether that's a clue to anything or just the writers trying to be clever, we will see as the season goes on.)

          It's the name of a spinoff series with Captain Jack [bbc.co.uk].

          • When I speculate about it being a clue, I'm not talking about the spin-off, so much as I mean a clue to the ultimate meaning of all the "Torchwood" references within the series itself.

            We never meet the eccentric scientist who established the Torchwood Estate. The way the name stretches through history, "Bad Wolf" style, implies some kind of connection to the Doctor, don'tcha think?
            • We never meet the eccentric scientist who established the Torchwood Estate. The way the name stretches through history, "Bad Wolf" style, implies some kind of connection to the Doctor, don'tcha think?

              I haven't seen any series 2 episodes myself. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has a list of Torchwood references. Most of these look like plausible connections rather than the "Bad Wolf"-style of omen.

              It seems inevitable there will be some crossover episodes; which however are rarely good ideas, no matter how much the fans geek ou

    • Wow ... posts just one number apart ... karma grabbing for your dual accounts to be able to upmoderate yourself by any chance?

      http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=18665 8&cid=15401508 [slashdot.org]
      http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=18665 8&cid=15401507 [slashdot.org]
  • Celeron M? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I remember when I bought my Celeron M laptop and was dismayed to find that the only difference between a Celeron M and a Pentium M was cache size and the fact that the Celeron CAN'T CLOCK ITSELF DOWN to SAVE POWER. If you're shooting for lower power consumption among other things, shouldn't they use the Pentium M? In the same vein, higher on-die cache means fewer RAM accesses which means LOWER POWER CONSUMPTION. This in combination with eldavojohn's point seem to indicate they didn't *quite* think this t
    • At nearly four grand the laptop is only for yuppy idiots who want a chi chi laptop with total diregard to function.

      As long as it has MS IE and Office it's probably all the dolts want.

    • Awww I know * exactly * what you mean. My g/f's Fujitsu/Siemens Amilo is a Celeron M, and it doesn't matter how cold the ambient temperature is, the thing is always whining. It is louder than my desktop PC, which has 2x Case fans, 1x Proc. fan & 1x PSU fan, and that is when I am sat next to the desktop. I've tried everything under the sun to try and underclock it, she is all for anything that can cool/quieten it down.
      • the manufacturer probably left something out. my wife has an intel based laptop from hp. intel requires a couple components for speedstep to work (they provide a diagnostic tool on their website). turns out everything (processor, BIOS, OS, voltage reg) on her laptop supports the feature except the chipset.
        • Yeah I think that is the case here too. The fan is literally *always* on. I think the chipset is a likely candidate, this is an area where m/f's frequently cheap-out on components. The BIOS is an insult to anyone with more than a week's experience of PC's - only shows options for changing the date/time & the BIOS boot-up splash screen. Pathetic. Can't even find a replacement BIOS image for it anywhere. In theory software clocking adjustment should be possible, but every utility under the sun is unable t
  • Drive capacity? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:43AM (#15401542) Homepage Journal
    Sadly, the article exerpt skirts the question of drive capacity, normally people don't skip that part, but for this, they have reason to. It appears to be 32GB, which is about the capacity of my four year old notebook but the drive, if sold by itself, probably would cost a couple thousand dollars, meanwhile a 160GB mechanical notebook drive costs about $250.

    If you have a lot of money and don't use much space, then I suppose it is a fine option. It probably would go well in the more rugged of the Toughbook series.
    • If you scroll down in the article you get the press release which tells you that and I quote "the world's first PCs embedded with a 32-Gigabyte (GB) NAND flash-based solid state disk (SSD)"... Just have to scroll past the Korean lady's picture...

  • Strange... (Score:5, Funny)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @10:46AM (#15401567) Homepage Journal
    Everything you wanted from a laptop: faster boot times, quicker storage access, less noise, longer battery life

    Those are the things I've always wanted in women too.

  • I wonder, how much trouble is it to make something like this on your own?

    I know that some laptops have flash-card slots, and in others you can plug in a PC-Card reader for a flash storage device.

    How feasable (and how expensive) would it be to arrange a hard-disk-less machine that boots off an "internal" (not USB) flash device, using off the shelf products?

  • Durability? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cronot ( 530669 )
    TFA says the solid-state harddisks are more durable than conventional laptop harddisk. Is it? I thought that Flash RAM wear was one of the main reasons things like that haven't been done before... Have the technology evolved? The write-count is higher now?
    • What their getting at is not the lifespan of the drive, but rather its ability to withstand people dropping it, kicking it, knocking etc.
    • No. Rather, hard disk platters have a whole lot of angular momentum, which means if you move them violently while they're reading or writing they can get wrecked. Solid state memory (is it even technically a disk?) does not have this problem, which means you can be a good bit less careful with it.
    • More durable in the sense of harder to break by dropping repeatedly.

      The writes are in the 2-3 million range now, but since harddrives can write in the 10 billion range, they aren't quite there yet, but 2-3million is probably sufficient for 3 years of fairly heavy usage. 2 million writes is enough to cover 41 days of continuous full bandwidth writing to the hard drive ... if your usage pattern resembles that much continuous writing, then this is probably not the right technology for you.
    • There are pretty good "wear leveling" techniques that spread out the writes. So if it notices that one part of the drive is getting a lot of writes, it will move that logical block around the disk so that no physical block is overbalanced.
  • only old people will use hard drives on their laptops.
  • pagefile (Score:1, Redundant)

    turn off your pagefile / swap partition and it should last a while. otherwise, i wouldn't give it more than a year.
  • "Celeron M 1.2GHz, 12.1-inch screen, 512MB DDR2, Wireless LAN 802.11b/g, Digital Multimeida Broadcasting TV, 32GB storage, 2.5 pounds.

    Price? $3,700 and only available in Korea in June.

    There's a 20-30 gram difference in weight beetween the solid state storage and a HDD, I'm not seeing any numbers on improvement to battery life in TFA, but HDDs aren't the biggest drain on battery life anyway.

    This laptop costs around $2500 more than it would if it had a HDD in it. I can't imagine who'll pay $2500 ext
  • Ahem:

    1. I, for one, welcome our new solid-state Overlords.
    2. Yes, but how well does it run Linux?
    3. Yes, but how well does it run World of Warcraft?

    Please resume the normal, high-signal discussion.

    Oh wait, this is /.

  • Can we say ruggedized application?

    Solid state laptops would do well out in the field since lack of moving parts would potentially help increase their durability when (not if) dropped. The price is probably comparable to existing ruggedized laptops on the market already.
  • Still 2.5 pounds? and only 25 - 50% faster booting Windows? Anyways, its a step in the right direction and I applaud any attempt to bring solid state into mainstream. But at $3700 for a celeron based laptop with 32gb storage, there is a long way to go before I will want one.

    Funny though is that they show Windows Vista installed.
  • by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Thursday May 25, 2006 @12:20PM (#15402488) Homepage Journal
    Those liquid state laptops keep dripping on my pants.
  • What if you just mirror two standard 32GB parts? Isn't that what RAID is for? So what if the MTBF is 10% of a regular drive...keep a fresh one in your laptop bag and you're good to go.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.