Thursday, 23 July 2009

SSD and next generation OS's

Someone in my office recently got a nice shiny new Solid State Drive for there Laptop. It really does sound really cool to have one of these and Im sure most expect it to be beneficial to removing what is probably the weakest link in most laptops today of Boot times, defrag issues and general slow down over time of the OS environment.

When I looked at it though through my sceptical eyes my first thought was....Are the currently available Operating Systems optimized to use capability in SSD yet? On the SSD my colleague has Windows 7 on it so all very swish....thing is is W7 optimized for SSD as what is a "next generation" Operating system and is possibly one of Microsoft's last OS's in the Architectural sense that we know today?

After having a look around on some websites to back this up and I found and so it appears we are still at very early days of being able to exploit full capability in SSDs and a lot of enablement technology hasn't made it through development into Windows 7 yet. I know that Windows 7 is not GA'd yet but I am pretty sure this functionality won't make it through to GA in the next few months. So what is it that will propel SSD to bridge the early adopter gap and into being fully commoditised.

Future OS's

Google just announced an OS last week which I predict will be an OS that will be designed to cater for future hardware such as SSD. Netbooks today run many Linux variants such as Ubuntu and Fedora which are continually in open development and lifecycle due to the nature of Open source will also be OS's that will exploit the benefits for Notebooks/PC's.

The TV

I compare the SSD experience to the TV, We all love our TV, its been a device in the home that has functionality available within seconds, press the big red button on your remote control and your tuned in and ready for action. This is exactly what I would expect from a computer running SSD, I want to be able to press the button and boot into my programs, I don't want to wait and make a cup of tea while it boots, I also don't want to sit waiting for it to turn off either! I also think that anyone who is a Mac user will know how dam good it is to just open and shut your macbook to resume where you left off, I hardly turn mine off, the pitfall of this is gradual battery drain but its still what I would want to see from a future machine built with SSD however from boot.

It appears it is in the hands of the ISV's for us to start to see instantaneous available functionality becoming defacto for OS's, I do predict that Google and Apple will be ahead of this curve before Microsoft (please post if im wrong MS and you have SSD in your roadmap). Building an OS from the ground up maybe a benefit to Mr Google, it certainly gives them the opportunity if it is based on a Linux kernel to continuously evolve the kernel around the technology that is ever evolving a lot more easier.

Hopefully this post has shown that SSD in the Laptop/PC is not certainly something you will obtain large benefits from if you are looking to become an early adopter however I am more than sure it will provide better benefits than what is available in PATA/SATA today. SSD's in a SAN on the other hand is a different subject post all together....:)

SSDs have not performed up to expectations so far, I think. Quite a disappointment, given their high cost and low capacities. Despite all the hype, they don't seem to fare very well on random writes, resulting in stuttering when multi-tasking. Apparently, defragging an SSD the conventional manner is not recommended, but regular free space consolidation and optimization with an application like Diskeeper's Hyperfast* seems to be useful. At this point in time, unless there is a pressing need for SSDs (eg. tough, hardened field laptops), it's best to wait and watch for improvements.

* Actually, Hyperfast is the only app I know of that is specifically meant for SSD optimization.

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