SSD rocks my development environment

Posted 11 February 2009  

Visual Studio 2008 Team System installed in 3 minutes. Thank you Intel!

I’ve been hearing so much about the higher-end Solid State Disks that are out there on the market. Like a virus, it is slowly infecting more and more people. This past week, I made the jump and picked up an Intel X25-M 80GB SSD drive to replace the 10,000 rpm Raptor drive in my primary workstation at home.

So far, it’s been worth every penny – and then some. I did some reading before making the jump and was skeptical; effectively this Intel MLC drive offers write speeds along the same lines as a 10K hard drive, but with random read speeds around 250 MB/s. Goodbye defrag!

Anyway, the experience for so many of the operations that I do daily (disk-bound builds, multi-tasking, exploring the jungle that is Outlook) is just an insane improvement.

Since I’m installing a new build of Windows 7 every few days, I’m getting pretty familiar with application setup dialogs.

Here’s my unscientific take (watching the Windows clock) on application install times. They’re installed over my gigabit home network, from a local file server – obviously these are not typical results:

Visual Studio 2008 Team System 3 minutes
VS2008 Service Pack 1 11 minutes
Office 2007 3 minutes
Adobe Photoshop CS4 64-bit 2 minutes

Of course, this is on top of a very powerful Intel workstation (45nm extreme proc, 1333fsb, DDR3). Anyone out there have good or bad experiences with similar hardware? Is this a new wave of innovation and developer efficiency?

Yes, this is the infamous “Jeff hardware budget” that is a little unrealistic. I sure do hope that the prices come down soon so that I can swap out all my old-school hard drives with SSD… but this hard drive does cost as much as a Netbook.

Jeff Wilcox is a Principal Software Engineer at Microsoft in the Open Source Programs Office, helping Microsoft scale to 10,000+ engineers using, contributing to and releasing open source.

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