No one stays in this business, even as an observer, without a good dose of silicon fever – the high-tech version of gold fever that creates a permanent lust for newer, faster, smaller technology.
It should go away after a while, or at least be dampened by bitter experience with great new developments that almost worked the way they were supposed to, or at least didn't work that much more slowly than the previous generation.
It doesn't go away, though, even when the lust it inspires is not for feather-light laptops or slick, stylish tablets or even software in a cloud that keeps all our data right with us all the time and never exposes us to the the risks of the Internet, or service providers who value our privacy to exactly the degree (and price) they can get by packaging and selling it.
Elbow room (room for very fast elbows)
The fever spikes even when the product is boring, if it promises to take the laptop that is our view and environment half the hours of every day and give us the one thing we want out of it more than anything else – speed.
Flash-storage and power-component manufacturer OCZ is answering that need with a boring product that could make laptops and users scream with ecstasy, rather than the usual frustrated expletives, by replacing old, slow hard drives with bootable flash storage with an entire terabyte of space.
Solid State Drives are the grownup version of flash, but have never been that attractive to most geeks, despite legions of fans that praise them for their speed, the incredibly long battery life they allow and their light weight.
They'd better be light, if you're paying $300 or $400 for one carrying 250GB of space – plenty for an OS and a few apps to make your travel kit lighter and save your batteries, but nowhere near the closet space you'd need for your main laptop.
Today OCZ announced something that's only an evolutionary step above all the other SSDs out there – all of which have been getting faster, cheaper and larger in their storage size, at least since Intel started pushing SSD as a growth market by dropping prices for its own versions in 2009.
OCZ's Octane SSD has what Anandtech calls "competitive" input/output speeds of 560/400 Mbps and data-throughput speeds.
Its connection speed is impressive – either speeds of either 3 Gbps or 6Gbps, but that depends on whether you ask for 6Gbps SATA interface or a 3Gbps SATA 3 or 2 plug. The difference is mostly in the shape and capacity of the plug, so that doesn't add anything special.
The 1TB on the box is special.
Even storage isn't boring when it lets you move this fast
It's not a huge accomplishment to put together a terabyte of memory in one little box with a plug on it; it's not even that big a deal to charge between $1.10 and $1.30 per gigabyte, though the $6.40/GB Intel charges for its new 710-series SSDs is a mite higher in price.
Imaginary peaks still count; 1TB is a nice round number to count on
Breaking the 1TB barrier – a mental barrier of the same type and same impact for owners as watching their odometers roll over to 100,000 miles for the first time – makes SSDs seem like real hard drives for the first time, rather than cramped little specialty things you'd be happy to run the OS on, if the laptop also had space for proper hard drive with enough space for all the digital junk you can't spare the time to scrape off your portable pile of metadata.
With a terabyte on flash, you don't have to worry about running out of space when you download a couple of movies to watch on the plane, or that those games will push you close enough to capacity to make the OS less stable than a underdog for president trying to get noticed at a mass debate.
The boot-up speed is also special because it's supposed to cut boot times by half – compared to previous editions of OCZ's SSDs, not compared to disk drives.
Comparing it to disk makes the stable, reliable, inexpensive technology that is still the best bet for most situations in which laptops must be bought but money shoud not be burned, disk seems pre-industrial and quaint – like racing oxcarts against helicopters .
Even at the lowest price OCZ will admit – it hasn't announced prices for the new flash terabyte – multiply $1.10 by 1,000 gigabytes and you're paying more for the little SSD than you'd like to for the whole laptop.
That just raises the unobtanium factor, which amps up the lust of silicon fever – not because the product is so cool or storage is suddenly sexy, but because if you spend enough you can put your whole daily computing life on that fast flash drive and watch your laptop scream. Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.