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I do iOS programming using XCode and of course the iPhone Simulator, I am using a 2009 Mac Mini (upgraded to 8GB RAM)

While it is not super slow, if I create a blank project, then compile and run it on the iPad simulator, this takes between 16 and 19 seconds between me hitting "RUN" then it compiling and it finally appearing on the simulator. This includes the simulator launching.

I work on larger projects that can take longer. 45 seconds, a minute... it all adds up.

My question: If I install a SSD and boot all my apps from that, and I stick my Xcode project files on it, will that speed up the compiler a lot? or is CPU likely to be the bottleneck actually slowing me down right now?

The time it takes for the iOS simulator app to launch and run is actually a lot of that time too, so this would speed that up for sure right?

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3 Answers 3

Yep, changing to SDD will certainly give you a boost. Expect reduction of compilation time by 30-50%. It really depends on a project type, it actually can become even faster on a large projects with a lot of files.

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+1, an SSD is The Definitive Rocket Booster these days (given that there is enough RAM, but in this case, there is), especially for development purposes! Even my wife's AMD E350 netbook feels a mighty machine after upgrade! –  ppeterka Oct 19 '12 at 7:06
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My computer is much, much faster with my new SSD for everything including Xcode. I highly recommend making the change. BTW, here's some info you might find useful when making the change (you could add the SSD to your mini or replace your system drive with your SSD and make your HDD a secondary drive).

unable to simultaneously mount hdd and its copy on OSX

blog post swapping SSD for HDD

Note: if you follow my blog post, copying the drive with 'dd' can take a really long time.

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The short story is, if you can afford it (and prices have been dropping lately), even a lower-range SSD will make your system feel much more responsive. I love this article for example: AnandTech WD Velociraptor review, the part where Anand compares one of the fastest (as of 2012) 10k RPM HDDs to a lower-range Intel 320 SSD. At 4kB random reads and writes, it's just a completely different category.

Regarding compile time, it won't speed it up the way a processor upgrade would, but for most other operations the bottleneck is HDD's slow access time: booting up, application startup, opening individual files, doing disk searches. My experience is: it makes you more productive.

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Of course, I recommend buying an SSD large enough to keep everything on it (OS, apps, project files). People who only put OS on their SSDs only benefit from faster boot times, which are least relevant IMHO. –  Groo Oct 19 '12 at 9:44
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