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Thread: Solid State Drives and Boot Times

  1. #1
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    Solid State Drives and Boot Times

    So in my quest to continue the evolution of the CarPC, I've taken an interest in the possibility of using Solid State Drives (SSD) for a boot drive.

    I'm finding a few threads here and there that discuss this option, but nothing diffinitive and they are all very scattered in thought processes, or so it seems.

    The way I see it, there are two maybe three options for this:

    1.5" SSD IDE drives

    Something similar to this

    Downsides: price
    Upsides: faster boot times

    Larger Compact Flash cards

    Downsides: would this actually be any faster than a normal HD? Say your mobo has a CF slot on it, would the data transfer times for that slot compared to regular IDE be any better in all reality?
    Upsides: cheap

    And the IDE disk on modules

    Downsides: Since Windows XP needs a tad more room than I'm finidng for most of these drives, I'm not sure they are feasable? Though I've seen some people use them for their OS, wondering how.
    Upsides: compact

    Can anyone give any more insight into any of this?
    Jan Bennett
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  2. #2
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    You forgot one category....

    The out-of-reach-to-the-average-consumer industrial solid-state hard drives.


    If I understand it correctly (as I told you earlier), is that the compact flash cards have the limited write issue. There are ways around this using EWF, but I'm certainly not an authority on this.
    As I understand it, EWF basically creates a static windows image on the CF card. One drawback to that is the difficulty in changing your windows configuration and setup, I would think. Again, I've no experience in this area.

    The other drawback, that I see it, is one of speed. From what I've read, the speed of a CF card setup is about the same as a hard drive, so the performance benefit isn't there. I may be wrong about this.

    Lastly, the read/write performance (which is what's going to increase Windoze performance) is present on the uber-expensive solidstate drives from Memtech and Transcend.

    Again, all these are my morning ramblings, hypotheses and theories that are not based on any sort of experience.
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  3. #3
    FLAC IntellaWorks's Avatar
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    Booting from a flash drive, compact flash in particular, is faster than a normal harddrive. The reason being is that the hardware doesn't have to wait for the drive to "spin" up it can immedialtly start accessing data. When working with a customized version of Win XP on a CF card boot times can be near 20 seconds where as a normal harddive can be 25 seconds.

    I don't beleive solid state drives are a good solution yet, since they are, as mentioned, expensive. I do however beleive that in the comming years, prices will be more realistic. Especially since Windows Vista will be utilizing flash drives almost for the same reason (for faster boot times). At that point I beleive our PC hardware will be able to utilize IDE flash drives since they will be more mainstream and probably cheaper. I think that with Vista, motherboards will begin to include flash storage and some other features such as ready-on or instant mp3, they will become even more sophisticated with more features that will essentially help us, in the carpc hobby.

    Red, I truely beleive that solid state drives, 1.5" IDE are the way of the future. Looking ahead into our hobby I can see 2 or 3 years from now almost every new car pc being designed including a solid state drive.

    Unfortunitly right now, these drives are still a little too expensive though since I've looked last, 2 or so years ago, the prices have dropped considerabally.

    I would say that for our current technology an affordable solution would be to stick with a CF card if you want to go with a solid state drive.
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  4. #4
    cheap custom title JC-S60's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red GTi VR6 View Post
    And the IDE disk on modules

    Downsides: Since Windows XP needs a tad more room than I'm finidng for most of these drives, I'm not sure they are feasable? Though I've seen some people use them for their OS, wondering how.
    Upsides: compact

    Can anyone give any more insight into any of this?
    http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=16#2618

    2GB should be plenty for XP (as you already need to use EWF etc, you can tweak a bit to reduce size of the image), and the price seems OK....

    We'll offer this as an alternative to HDD-only XTroniC F-series board computers

  5. #5
    FLAC IntellaWorks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    You forgot one category....

    The out-of-reach-to-the-average-consumer industrial solid-state hard drives.


    If I understand it correctly (as I told you earlier), is that the compact flash cards have the limited write issue. There are ways around this using EWF, but I'm certainly not an authority on this.
    As I understand it, EWF basically creates a static windows image on the CF card. One drawback to that is the difficulty in changing your windows configuration and setup, I would think. Again, I've no experience in this area.

    The other drawback, that I see it, is one of speed. From what I've read, the speed of a CF card setup is about the same as a hard drive, so the performance benefit isn't there. I may be wrong about this.

    Lastly, the read/write performance (which is what's going to increase Windoze performance) is present on the uber-expensive solidstate drives from Memtech and Transcend.

    Again, all these are my morning ramblings, hypotheses and theories that are not based on any sort of experience.

    Darq,

    Speaking from experiance, since I've implimented an OS on a CF card I can offer my insight based on what I witness on my system. There are limited Write cycles on a CF card and windows embedded EWF (enhanced write filter) helps limit the writes.

    System wide changes with EWF was diffacult until we created scripts to automate the process. Shutting off EWF and re-enabling the windows explorer can be done in one batch file, though a reboot is required.

    The reason why I was forced to go with an EWF setup was because weather up in New Hampshire is brutal in the winter, I needed a solution that could withstand the weather. Because EWF locks down the Operating System drive an external, laptop drive is needed. But since this drive can easily be detached from the system it's not much of a big deal. It's sort of a hybrid system, like I posted earlier we're just not there yet with solid state drives although I suspect that in the very near future things will change and we can consider using IDE solid state drives.
    Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
    Via EPIA MII
    512MB RAM
    OEM GPS (embedded)
    nLite WinXP pro on
    1GB Extreme III CF card
    Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
    Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JC-S60 View Post
    http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=16#2618

    2GB should be plenty for XP (as you already need to use EWF etc, you can tweak a bit to reduce size of the image), and the price seems OK....

    We'll offer this as an alternative to HDD-only XTroniC F-series board computers
    Thanks for the link!

    So it's looking like the Disk On Modules and the CF options are teh ways to go currently.

    Now the question is, benefits and drawbacks to both?

    With my mobo, I have a CF slot built in. Can I boot from this slot or do I need to get an IDE adapter to be able to boot from a CF card?

    Also, I know that in my digital rebel, there was a benefit to getting the ULTRA II CF card, faster writes. I'm guessing that this wouldn't be of concern with this implementation since the card will essentially be locked down?
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

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  7. #7
    FLAC sama's Avatar
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    red, here's an account of what I've recently experienced with EWF and a compact flash card.

  8. #8
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    thanks for the link - reading it right now!

    sama - could I ask a favor?

    I'm sure there are a lot of people over here that could really benefit from that write up.

    Would you mind posting it over here?
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

  9. #9
    FLAC IntellaWorks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red GTi VR6 View Post
    Thanks for the link!

    So it's looking like the Disk On Modules and the CF options are teh ways to go currently.

    Now the question is, benefits and drawbacks to both?

    With my mobo, I have a CF slot built in. Can I boot from this slot or do I need to get an IDE adapter to be able to boot from a CF card?

    Also, I know that in my digital rebel, there was a benefit to getting the ULTRA II CF card, faster writes. I'm guessing that this wouldn't be of concern with this implementation since the card will essentially be locked down?
    Red,

    You're MII isn't able to boot from it's built in CF slot, you'll need a CF to IDE converter, check the data transmission rate on the converter as some of the cheaper converters have 5MB/S (slow) transmission rates. You can use the MII's CF slot for the storage of your media, since your EWF-ing your C:

    I use an Extreme III, as it has 20MB/s where as the Ultra II has 10MB/S. The drawback to my extreme III is that it can't be set as a fixed disk. When windows xp is booted from a non-fixed disk it will freeze before it goes into shutdown, hibernate or standby. So you get faster boot times and better performance but you loose the ability to hibernate or standby.

    Sandisk has a utility that enables you to format the Ultra II as a fixed disk. Thus allows XP to hibernate, resume or shutdown. If I could go back, I'd probably put the OS onto the Ultra II and my Media on the Extreme III.
    Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
    Via EPIA MII
    512MB RAM
    OEM GPS (embedded)
    nLite WinXP pro on
    1GB Extreme III CF card
    Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
    Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

  10. #10
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    Very good information! I actually didn't even realize that there were new cards out...when I bought my digital rebel a few years ago, the ULTRA II was the fastest avaliable at the time.

    Also, thanks for the info on the converter. What's a good transmission rate to look for?
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

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