SSD drives and write speed, help required

Okay …
I’m pondering getting SSD drives to reduce the vibration in my case… (this noise is creating more than anything else)… and yes I do have rubber grommets… and no I don’t have any 5 1/4 inch spaces available for drice silencers…

Has anyone tried these with ardour yet?

Are there any recommendations and are there any pitfalls with certain drives?

At this stage I’m looking at the OCZ drives… but will take any suggestions…

The 60GB drives are much cheaper and probably 2 of these will cover my requirements for space (1 for OS and one for recording) while retaining a single 320GB for my home directory and maybe /tmp folders (I use gentoo so I definitely don’t want to be using the SSD’s for compiling on) …

I generally record at 48 Khz 32 bit float with up to around 32 tracks… (and if I end up getting an Allen & Heath Zed R16 firewire desk could record up to 32 tracks simultanesouly at that sample rate)… my calculations look like this…

So a quick calculation says 32 tracks * 32 bit * 48000 hz… = 49152000 bits per second…
to get kilobits (/1024) = 48000 Kb/s
to get KB/s (/8) = 6000
to get MB/s (/1024) = 5.85

Surely my logic isn’t correct here in saying that I could get away with a drive with only a sustained write of 6 MB/s???

What should I be looking for in a minimum sustained write speed??

hi allank, the HD I use for data is this one:


This is not SSD, but its performance is good, and the noise / vibes from a 2.5’ HD like this are close to nothing, especially if your PC case is quiet (I do not hear the HD activity at all in my system).

All SSD have good sequential read/write performance, way above your requirement since a Intel Postville 80go for instance can write 80 MBytes/s sequentially and SSD with Indilinx controller have even higher specs. All SSD have perfs higher than conventionnal HD, unless you pick an outdated oddball.

The SSD have a weakness in random read/write on little files (4ko) and are all very good in sequential read/write. So we are lucky, i think, because our audio needs favour sequential reading/writing.

SSD have way better access time and this may be good for low latency as well.

To summup the situation with the SSD market, everything boils down to the brand of the controller (Indilinx, Intel, Samsung, Jmicron) and the capacity (the more Go you have -> more channels = more speed). They are mostly all clones under different packaging.

Indilinx Barefoot=good balance between random and sequential performance
Intel=way better random perfs but less good sequential r/w (Postville are more suitable for database and web/file server usages)
Samsung PB22J=very good sequential r/w but a little so so in the random departement
Jmicron (two different controllers)=
+ JMF602 (in the Kingston V-series) very crappy random r/w, decent sequential perf (perferable to avoid it despite its low price, its end of line, bad reputation of stuttering).
+ JMF612, the new one, not really available right now, same perf as Samsung SSD, will do fine for audio.

I would advice you an Indilinx or a Samsung based SSD with 60 Go for the Music, and a Postville 80Go for your Gentoo as the perfs with the little files are the best on the market, and for the compilation, i think, it may be a time saver when you do an emerge world (i have a Gentoo and will probably buy a Postville for this reason). Alternativly for the OS, you can pick the 40 Go version of the Postville that will debut soon (as well sold by Kingston as a clone) because its very cheap and retain the excellent random perfs but be warned it has only half the sequential perf of the 80Go brother and consequently less suitable for audio (but it can sustain yet a healthy 40 MBytes/s). A vertex will do fine for the OS as well.

Indilinx based SSD=OCZ Vertex, Crucial M225, Corsair X64, GSkill Falcon “I” (the 2 as an eco version a little less good)…
Samsung based SSD=Corsair P64, OCZ Summit, Kingston V+ (not the “V-” !!)

Heh that was a VERY good rundown on the state of SSDs.

Just to balance it out slightly, I am currently using a single SSD for my OS(Mac OS X) and tracking, and just tracked a decently large show with no problems whatsoever. I did need to increase the buffer size in Ardour from the default of 5 to 60(Probably could have done much less), but with a SSD the difference in performance for seeks is extremely minimal and was well worth it for stability.

I own one of the older Intel X-25M drives, though the next one I get at this point will likely be a OCZ Vertex drive.


This is very comprehensive… thanks everyone…

Reading around it does look like 2.5" sata drives are much quieter an option I’m thinking about … but leaning towards the Intel/OCZ combination retaining one of my old 320GB drives for /home and /tmp (emerge world) … by themselves the 320’s I have are quiet it’s just the resonance being created by my dual RAID 0 setup at the moment that is the issue.

Seablade… when you talk about buffers is this jack buffers (i.e. the value for n )?? This concerns me somewhat as 60 is very high… my useage involves a lot of fader automation using MIDI controllers… and using PFL on my mixer but using ardour for monitoring the main output … Or is this more likely the result of using the same drive for OS and tracking and the fact it is an Intel as well??? my standard jack configuration (unless I get very plugin heavy)… is usually a period of 64 and buffersize of 3…

@allank: seablade meant the disk buffer size used for each track in ardour; units are seconds. this can only be adjusted by manually editing your ardour.rc file. i also question whether it was actually necessary for him to do this, but it worked for him and that’s really all that matters.

thanks again… once again food for thought…
As stated my principal reason is noise… but I was also interested (maybe fooled) by all the marketing which suggests that SSD’s are significantly faster but if the difference isn’t that significant, I think I may choose another line of attack…

Seablade, could we know how many tracks did you tracked at once during this show ?

Unfortunatly SSD are still relativly new technology and people sometimes report loss of performance for no clear reason, the firmwares of theses drives are constantly evolving and the consumer may pay the hard price for this.

EDIT: @allank, yep, but don’t get fooled the other way, its not just a marketing hype, SSD are clearly faster in the benchs, its a fact. But for sequential reading/write, usual HDD are already doing fine. Then, its a personal choice. SSD are more reliable, take less power, etc…

As for myself i want one to replace the terribly slow 5400rpm HDD of my laptop :wink: I will consider one for my audio needs later on my other PC.


In my case it was necessary, if you remember the conversation we had about a week ago was a direct result of this.


I suspect it was an issue of the OS running from the same drive, but I am unsure. I did 60 as I was straight tracking. I have never needed ardour to run this for mixing, but I haven’t had a reason to change it back since I did it as the difference in tracking was very noticeable, but the difference in overall performance OFF MY SSD is not so noticeable(In fact nearly unnoticeable). Automation Mixing should never be an issue, in fact I am fairly sure I have done some basic stuff since then on my Mackie where it was not, Ardour handles this itself. The only tradeoff is seek time etc. where the buffers need to be refilled completely. On a SSD even at 60 this is nearly instantaneous to me(About a half second pause IIRC, had to move the session off my SSD for space reasons). But again keep in mind this is strictly for tracking purposes, and Paul and I just had a conversation stemming directly from my experiences that I pointed out what I think may be an improvement, Paul corrected me, and I think we hit on a general improvement on how things are done hopefully for the future somewhere in between.

One thing to keep in mind, the increasing the buffer size was ONLY for tracking purposes really. I was occasionally getting the ‘disk subsystem could not keep up’ messages when it was at 5, often enough I couldn’t trust it live. I only increased to 60, I skipped all values in between and never tested them. It may be that increasing from 5 to 6 might have made all the difference I needed, I don’t know, I didn’t have time to test. I will have to do so with silence sometime just to check it. It is VERY likely I may be running into an issue where the lack of TRIM support in OS X is catching up to me, where in order to write to the SSD I have to blank some already existing cells that are no longer in use, which takes time. With an SSD you can’t simply overwrite what is already there, but have to blank each area of the drive with data that is unused first which is a seperate action(Simplified but the basic point is there).

End result though, I have no issue reccomending SSDs for audio work. I will say I would tend to lean toward other solutions for a desktop, I was doing it here for power saving and performance on a laptop. But the entire reason I would look towards other solutions is a price issue. Nothing more. SSDs are expensive and I run out of room quick on mine currently.


And Paul was correct, I was talking about Ardour’s internal buffers, not Jack buffers. Good grief I don’t want to think about running Jack buffers like that, that would be annoying to say the least.



Yes SSDs are faster, however as the well written post above mine explains, you get differing quality levels as well. For desktops I would address the noise in a different manner and run a RAID array myself as I said, but for laptops and specifically my internal drive which shares OS and data on the drive, the speed is a huge factor from a single drive and is why I went for it along with power saving.

In as far as how many I tracked, I tracked 15 to my laptop, while playing sounds in QLab for the show etc. I had it sync’d to an HD24 as I couldn’t get all the tracks on my laptop for space reasons. I am going to be mixing down the 40 track session(Ok 39, one track on the HD24 apparently didn’t record:( ) here in the next several weeks however now that I rebuilt the session it is on an external as it is far to large to fit on my SSD, even if it was the only thing on there.

The reason you will suffer degraded performance in most cases has to do with the SSD controller, as mentioned above. In particular most of the first generation of SSDs from any manufacturer used a JMicron controller notorious for stuttering and similar. That is why when I bought mine I was looking at either the X-25M or the OCZ Vertex as they didn’t. The newer X-25Ms have had some issues IIRC, I am unsure of the current status of them. The OCZ Vertexes still seem to be fine. Keep in mind that as the drives fill up you WILL lose performance as it has to erase a block before it can write to it, as I mentioned above. The TRIM command will help with this, however all that being said, the overall performance is still much better than I could get with a single mechanical drive without any doubt.


LOL…@seablade… the problem IS my RAID array (internal to case though… getting an external RAID array with hardware controller e-sata style will cost more than SSD’s)… Remember it seems to be a harmonic resonance issue with the drive vibrations and the case… seek noise is insignificant… (in actuality it’s the case that’s vibrating even though the drive mounts are dampened from factory and I have added damping material to the case itself… )

I’ve just read 2 very big reviews… skimmed some of the information but this has been extremely helpful…

I lost one of the links but this is the main one…

It reiterates and explains the reasons for some of the previously mentioned things… however I am now convinced …

Intel X-25m g2 (TRIM compatible) for OS drive
and an indilinx or Samsung drive of some sort for audio… (OCZ Vertex, Patriot TORQX, Corsair)

/tmp and /var/tmp on either tmpfs or on HDD
and /home on hdd…

now the difficult part it appears will be the choice of filesystem… it appears it will either be btrfs or ext4…

(probably not your area seablade)

I’ve still got a few months to work it all out though… so this all could change…(again)

External RAID will cost more yes, but you will get MUCH more storage space as well.

In as far as your RAID array and the harmonic issues, there is likely a solution there as well, but it isn’t something I could even begin to guess without being there and may involve some modifications to the case.

Of course then one has to wonder whether just replacing your case might be cheaper as well;)

IN as far as FS… well ext4 was deisgned with mechanical drives being the norm. btrfs has been built with SSDs in mind. So personally I would lean towards btrfs myself, but would want to test both before I decided. In the end though I would bet neither will make a huge difference.


PS Yes, anandtech has a good article or three on SSDs. Well worth the read.

If you need really much space, but a NAS is too expensive, why not consider building an external case for the drives only? Have a look at a case I built in 2007:

no space is not the issue at all… I have a mythbox/fileserver with plenty of storage space… @seablade the case is a rackmount and the only equivalent case available in australia (rackmounted but with case dampening etc… is an expensive lian li or a silverstone htpc case with rack ears…) I don’t really have a good space to put a mid-tower/tower type case otherwise I would have used an Antec P-18x a while ago (the file-server is in one has 8 drives in it and 6 fans and is still very quiet)…

so, I am going to play around with the drives a bit to see if my theory of it being the 2 * 320’s causing the vibration issue is correct. If it is then I think I will still get the Intel X-25 for the OS for the speed boost and use my 2* 80 gb drives still in raid 0… and keep 1 * 320 GB drive… as above…

@allank Re your drive / case vibration issues, I’ve been hugely impressed by the genius HD mounting system in my new Antec case. It’s super silent, even with two normal HDs paging away.

The drives are basically tightly suspended from the sides of the HD cage hammock-style by four twists of knicker elastic. Simple and brilliant. You might try a DIY of sthg similar.