Poor man’s SSD: No news is no news

I haven’t mentioned it, because there wasn’t really anything to report. But since Anton Eliasson noted the six-month anniversary of the CF card installation, I suppose I should acknowledge it.

That’s right, six months with CF cards in two different machines, and a third one ordered a couple of weeks ago. Nothing wrong. Nothing broken. Nothing lost to hardware faults.

In sum, nothing to report. Even on the card that was “stress-tested” for the better part of a month.

For the most part I am overjoyed that the experiment has gone so well. After all, this is one of my personal triumphs, even if it wasn’t altogether my idea. ;)

But to be honest, there is a tiny part of me that’s just a little itty-bitty bit angry. I think it’s the same sense of frustration I had when I finally jumped ship from Windows, years ago.

Seeing through the veil of misinformation — in this case, all the advertising dreck and forum posts railing against the idea as a disaster waiting to happen — is both liberating … and irritating, to a much lesser degree.

So yes, I am happy that I have installed CF cards and adapters in three pre-1998 machines and seen nary a one cough up a fault.

But at the same time, I have to wonder now and again … who else is lying to me about what is possible, and what is not, with my computers?

I guess that’s for me to discover.

P.S.: Total spent to outfit three machines: Roughly US$100. Put that in your newfangled SSD and smoke it. :evil:

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8 Responses to “Poor man’s SSD: No news is no news”


  1. 1 x33a 2011/03/05 at 6:30 PM

    Congratulations :P

    I am curious though, how much transfer rates do you get?

    Also, does it work well with heavy I/O, for example games?

    • 2 Chubby Checker 2011/03/05 at 7:00 PM

      That certainly depends on a lot of factors. Just a quick test on my system:

      writing:
      $ time dd if=/dev/zero of=./zero.bin bs=10M count=100
      100+0 records in
      100+0 records out
      1048576000 bytes (1.0 GB) copied, 34.665 s, 30.2 MB/s
      real 0m34.672s
      user 0m0.000s
      sys 0m2.836s

      reading (cached):
      $ time dd if=zero.bin of=/dev/null bs=10M count=100
      100+0 records in
      100+0 records out
      1048576000 bytes (1.0 GB) copied, 1.12598 s, 931 MB/s
      real 0m1.130s
      user 0m0.000s
      sys 0m1.128s

      just kidding, so clearing the cache:
      # sync; echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches

      and reading uncached:
      $ time dd if=zero.bin of=/dev/null bs=10M count=100
      100+0 Datens├Ątze ein
      100+0 Datens├Ątze aus
      1048576000 Bytes (1,0 GB) kopiert, 22,3152 s, 47,0 MB/s
      real 0m22.332s
      user 0m0.000s
      sys 0m1.504s

  2. 4 Chubby Checker 2011/03/06 at 2:50 AM

    just found this pretty detailed current article on LWN:

    http://lwn.net/Articles/428584/?format=printable

    I hope this is useful

  3. 6 helf 2011/03/08 at 12:41 AM

    Newer CFs have wear leveling like their SSD cousins. I wouldn’t mind using a newer CF on an older machine, but I’d still be hesitant to use them on anything I had important data on without having many backups. I ran a laptop off a 2gb cf card many moons ago and it worked gloriously for months… then the card suddenly died. Couldn’t read or write to it. Nothing would even recognize it. SO, yeah, running CFs in machines has been easy and done for years, but I still wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a new fangled (and expensive, I might add) one with proper wear leveling. Otherwise it IS just a ticking time bomb once a segment that gets written to a lot finally goes.

    GLad its working out for you at the moment, tho :)

    • 7 K.Mandla 2011/03/08 at 7:03 AM

      We’ll see. Your comment is remarkably similar to some I heard before I started this experiment, so perhaps there are people who have had different experiences than the one I am having.

      But like I said before, these cards have already surpassed my expectations. Even if all three fail simultaneously tomorrow, I will have gotten more than I expected from them.

      And considering my track record with conventional hard drives in recent years, that will be at least as good as any other mechanical hard drive I’ve bought. In other words, if it fails, it fails … as all things must someday.

  4. 8 ancientforest 2011/03/09 at 5:56 AM

    I put a 400x Transcend 32 GB in my old ThinkPad T23 after reading about your experiences here. That was over three months ago. Not so much as a burp since then. Haven’t seen any write-blocking delays. I’ve installed Debian on the machine about half a dozen times as a result of tinkering, and it has been running 24/7 otherwise. The CF card is generally able to saturate this machine’s IDE interface. Finding it hard not to love this approach. ;)

    Per some other articles around the net, it’s a good idea to mount CF drives with noatime, to use GUID partition tables, because it helps with alignment, and to use ext4 if you want optimal read/write speeds. ext2 is of course a reasonable choice if one wants to wring every last write out of the medium. While this is all described elsewhere, here it is one place, as a footnote to kmandla’s opus.

    Cheers!


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