September 17, 2010

Video demo: Using a solid-state drive with Creative Suite

That’s one impressive launch-time improvement:

Posted by John Nack at 11:27 AM on September 17, 2010


  • Tim Mackey — 11:41 AM on September 17, 2010

    I actually just did this to my laptop using the OWC Data Doubler. I now have my OS and Applications on the internal SSD, and all my data on my internal HDD. It’s incredible how much of a difference it makes in application response time, especially when starting up Photoshop, as well as with accessing the Scratch disk.

  • J. Peterson — 12:42 PM on September 17, 2010

    Disk is the new tape.

    Seriously, the disconnect between processor and mass storage speeds is truly breathtaking. A 2+GHz processor is chomping data each half a nanosecond. If what it needs isn’t in the processor’s cache, it can fish it out of RAM in just a a few nanoseconds (“300Mhz RAM”, etc.).

    But oh, you need to get something off that spinning platter of rust? Gotta move the head to find it? You’re talking at least a few milliseconds.

    Now the difference between nano and milli is…let me count zeros here…a factor of a million.

  • Craig — 1:16 PM on September 17, 2010

    I put one in my Macbook Pro and it now feels like it’s running Photoshop as fast as my Mac Pro tower. Single drive scratch disk performance is fantastic. Anyone running PS on a MacBook should consider a SSD.

  • Adam Jerugim — 1:24 PM on September 17, 2010

    I highly recommend using SSD as a primary OS drive and/or dedicated PS scratch. I’ve found Photoshop to launch 2x faster on SSD vs. a 10K RPM HD (WD Velociraptor) and performance improvements between 25-60% using SSD for scratch instead of a standard HD. If you use Photoshop for a living and get paid by the hour, the performance improvements you can get using SSD is well worth the initial expense.

  • TJ Downes — 2:07 PM on September 17, 2010

    Yes, I agree. Everyone should upgrade their system disk to SSD. Then the prices of SSD will drop and I might be able to finally afford the 512GB version!

  • Kai — 3:59 PM on September 17, 2010

    SSDs are the new black.
    Anyone who isn’t running a SSD isn’t serious about performance. It used to be, back in the day, when computers were RAM bound that the cheapest way to speed up your computer was to add more RAM. Nothing slows down a computer as much as hitting swap.
    These days when at least 4GB of RAM is pretty much standard, we’re now hitting the limits of disk IO.
    Dropping $200-400 on a SSD will do more to speed up a computer than just about anything else (provided you have sufficient RAM).

    It’s not about the raw transfer rates, while they are impressive stats, they don’t tell the whole story. It’s the number of IO operations per second (IOPS) that is what has SSD killing spinning disk.

    Take, for instance, a recent MacBook Pro. Hit the disk enough and the OS will start to be slow and unresponsive once you’re getting around 600-700 iops. Put a SSD in this machine and I have personally had it running at around 6000 iops, and the machine was completely usable. This was importing someone’s backed-up home folder and having Spotlight index a 6GB email store. 6k iops and I didn’t notice any slowdown on the machine.
    You used to be talking about enterprise disk storage in the multiple $10k range to achieve this kind of performance, and now it’s in laptops.

    Get an SSD.

  • Kai — 4:01 PM on September 17, 2010

    Oh, and SSDs aren’t for bulk data storage (unless you have the cash to spare). I’ve got a Mac Pro with a 40GB boot drive. It boots in around 3 seconds. I’ve got many gigabytes of media all on old-fashioned spinning media and it works beautifully – even to the extent that I have symlinked my ~/Movies ~/Music and ~/Photos to a regular hard drive.
    You then get the best of both worlds. Cheap bulk data storage and amazingly fast boot and app launch times.

  • Rich — 3:47 AM on September 18, 2010

    Does Apple support TRIM yet? I hadn’t thought so. What does everyone do to prevent the drives from slowing down?

  • Victor — 2:03 PM on September 18, 2010

    That an SSD drive is faste is obvious, 28 seconds is impressive. However, my mac boots much faster than their non SSD example, so what was wrong with it?

  • David Parrott — 10:39 PM on September 18, 2010

    @Rich: As of right now Apple does not have a public TRIM implementation to my knowledge. There is however a Linux implementation which seems relatively straightforward (not sure what license) which I’m sure will serve at the very least as a good reference for Apple’s own build out. Further, the new Apple hardware does support TRIM, it’s simply a matter of implementing it in software.


  • Richard Schmon — 3:09 AM on September 19, 2010

    Don’t SSDs wear out much faster than HDs? From what I’ve read they’re supposed to have a limited number of read/writes… What’s the average lifespan?

  • Mylenium — 7:46 AM on September 19, 2010

    Yes, they wear out faster, but that’s something you won’t notice on an average 3 year lifecycle if using the drives what they are meant for. 10000 operations before those little capacitors blow out is still a lot of mileage and given, that any Flash-memory is run through special controller chips that use specific allocation patterns to minimize overwriting always the same cells, this should be safe enough. However, I’d be extremely wary to put any swap files on such a drive. Since using huge swap files very much goes against how this is supposed to work, you are playing with fire and may ruin those drives prematurely. I’d strictly use them as fast booting system drives, but always have the fastest possible conventional spinning drive next to it for swap operations. That is, as long as those drives are so “tiny”. Once affordable gigazillion GB drives are affordable, that should not be an issue anymore, though – there will then always be enough intact spare cells.

  • Piet — 9:12 AM on September 28, 2010

    I recently did a blogpost on how to get the most of Adobe Lightroom on a computer equipped with an SSD. Those interested can read it here:

  • Alan Moore — 12:23 PM on September 28, 2010

    @Mylenium: You are correct, but these OWC SSDs (and others using the same Sandforce chipset) use over-provisioning to ensure there are always ‘good’ cells left over… their 200Gb SSD is actually a 256Gb SSD. Apparently this removes the need to ever recondition the SSD. Lloyd Chambers covers it in much better detail on his Mac Performance Guide website.

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