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SSD Experiments on PPC & 68K PowerBooks


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Since I have been doing this for almost 10 years, I want to continue the experiments further and post my results. Hopefully others will share their experiences of what they found.

 

Note: These experiments are done on PowerBooks with PCMCIA slots and IDE Hard Drive Ports. That's anything from the PB 190/5300 to G3/G4 iBooks and PowerBooks. It also includes the 500-series PowerBooks as they have an optional PCMCIA slots and the PowerBook 2300 and PowerBook 150 (I think) which has an IDE Hard Drive Port.

 

In both cases, to work with a Compact Flash Card (CF card for short) you will need a CF card to IDE or CF card to PCMCIA Adapter. With all other 68K PowerBooks, you would need a CF to Laptop-SCSI adapter, which I do not have but would like to one day. I have many PowerBooks from which they could benefit from a SSD because of their dying hard drives.

 

There are also IDE SSDs which can also be used, which will also be discussed. I used KingSpec PATA/PATA II SSD on a couple of PowerBooks and they work great. But I have heard others complain about KingSpec's SSDs. I think its the luck of the draw here, and in late years they have improved. Other technologies will also be discussed as well - Linear Flash and SRAM Drives usually in PCMCIA Format will also be discussed as soon as somebody has access to them.

 

Thus far, I have found that CF card on a PCMCIA Adapter is faster than a CF card on a IDE Adapter, with the same CF Card being used. Depending on the CF card, this difference can be huge, more than double; because the limiting factor is the speed of the IDE Port and the PCMCIA's connection to the system bus being direct and the IDE Bus is not. In either case, both adapters are faster than a hard drive, twice as fast or faster. I can discuss details later.

 

But I found some (really old) PCMCIA Flash RAM cards which many used in the day as temporary storage for hand-held devices like the Newton and some laptops used them as well. But are they faster than a CF on a PCMCIA Adapter? Theory says that at best they should the same, at worst because of them being older and slower memory cores that they should be slower than the CF.

 

Using SiliconeDrive's PC Card 64MB Flash Memory SSD (model: SSD-P64MI-3012) I had to format and put in a system that would fit into the tiny space. I chose System 7.6.1 from my 5300CE which I whittled down from 186MB to 56MB, getting rid of a lot of drivers, extensions, control panels and preferences that was stored on the original System. This not only boots on the 5300, but also on the 1400cs/166 as well, and it is the 1400cs that I would be using as a standard machine.

 

On a CF with a PCMC on the 1400cs, even with the full 186MB system, it takes less than 45 seconds, close to 30 seconds. That is, from Smiling Mac Icon to Desktop - it takes that long for it to boot. Everything else before the Smiling Mac is diagnostic and memory testing routines.

 

On the 64MB Flash Memory PCMCIA Card with the shrunken system - 10 to 15 seconds! The smaller system file has something to do with it. But I noticed that the Diagnostics was faster. I think it is because the Flash Card is able to set up its parameters into the PRAM faster than a CF. Also the PCMCIA card uses all 68 pins of the port, while the CF card uses 50-something of those 68 pins. So access to the PCMCIA Flash memory card must be using DMAs and other things not used by the CF card through its adapter. Mind you, this card is at least 10 years old with a slower memory core than a CF card though both uses the same Flash Memory technology.

 

More experiments must be done, I'm waiting on an order of 1.2GB PCMCIA Flash Memory card to use a full sized system and a few apps to replicate access a hard drive. I'll post my results here when I get it. I will also be posting up videos, maybe, as I will have 2 1400cs to run together side by side simultaneously. Only then will I get some real results.

 

What you guys think? What are your experiences?

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I've been toying with getting the Kingspec SSD for my MacBook Air, as the first gen requires a ZIF PATA connection, and 1.8" seize, and they're really the only ones who make one (OWC has an option but it's more than double the price). Being limited to 2GB of RAM, I think it'd benefit from an SSD.

 

I'd actually be kind of interested in doing this on my clamshell, the old IBM hard drive is a bit noisy. Too bad getting those apart is a pain.

 

I don't think I would see a benefit on my 12" PowerBook though.

Edited by TheWhiteFalcon
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