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My question is not about whether I should get an SSD drive for for my MacBook Pro, it is more along the lines of whether the SATA2 interface on my late 2009 MBP is a limiting factor and whether it makes sense to wait for the next generation SSD drives coming from OCZ and Intel rather than go for something that is current.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/3971/sandforce-announces-nextgen-ssd-controller-sf2000-capable-of-500mbs-and-60k-iops/3

http://www.anandtech.com/show/3965/intels-3rd-generation-x25m-ssd-specs-revealed

In other words, will I see performance gains with those upcoming drives over a current drive, even if my computer has a SATA2 interface?

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One of the things I love about the Stack Exchange network is that anytime I have a question I find it's usually been asked and answered :) –  Kyle Cronin Feb 16 '11 at 6:39
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3 Answers 3

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The SATA2 interface has an maximum speed of 3Gbit/s, or 2.4Gbit/s of data after taking encoding in to account. This equates to the upper limit of ~300MB/s (~286GiB/s) for transferring data.

SATA3 effectively doubles this.

Since the top-end of current SSDs are already around the limit for SATA2, waiting for newer drives that are even faster is unlikely to allow you any improvement in performance over currently available SSDs as the faster drives will be limited by your SATA2 controller.

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Yes. However, your real world performance, even with a drive far worse than an OCZ or X-25, will be massively improved over rotational media either way - waiting for newer drives will give you more improvement, but it's hard to envision what you're doing on your laptop to make that worthwhile (especially for the dollars those drives will cost). Even without NCQ, on average workloads the removal of drive head seek time will make more difference to you than anything else. If you're doing heavy bulk sequential writes, then maybe you want to stick with rotating media, but otherwise an SSD, even on SATA 2, will be a very significant improvement. Waiting for technology improvement is a fools' errand - there will always be something better coming down the pipe, and you'll wait forever if that is your bar.

(No current SSD can max out SATA2 read speed in sustained transfer, let alone their abysmal write speeds - newer drives will still perform better, albeit possibly not at their theoretical maximum, with your existing interface).

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I already understand that upgrading to SSD will make a huge difference in terms of speeds for disk reads/writes, what I was wondering was whether the upcoming generation of SSDs will make a difference to my SATA2 based Macbook Pro. –  Michael Gaylord Nov 4 '10 at 10:16
    
As I stated in my answer, it will make a difference, just possibly not the maximum theoretical one. Also keep in mind that new SSDs don't actually exist - the marketing spam that we're getting about their performance may or may not actually reflect reality. –  Nick Bastin Nov 4 '10 at 20:22
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I just installed an OCZ Vertex 2 (with the new SandForce controller) in my late 2009 MBP. The cost was about $225 for the 120GB model and it is now the only drive in my MBP. It has max read of 285 MB/s and max write of 275 MB/s. The real-life performance of this drive, in particular with write speed, is very impressive.

As you know, speed with SATA3 is double that of SATA2 (peak ~600 MB/s), and the new SandForce controllers already challenge the SATA2 max speed. Admittedly it varies from case to case, but SSDs have reached a point where they provide enough performance improvement at a reasonable price that I recommend adopting now instead of waiting for the next gen drives.

In your case, I think this depends on how long you plan to keep your current MBP. Perhaps it's worth waiting for the next MBP refresh to see if Apple will add SATA3.

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