UPDATE: Solid State Drive price drop of about 30%! See the full range of Intel X25 SSD drives at OWC. All of the Intel X25 series are blazingly fast at reads, but the Extreme X25-E models (lower capacity) offer 2.4X faster write speeds of 170MB/sec vs 70MB/sec. Read speed is usually most important, but the write speed matters most for Photoshop scratch volume.
I have on loan from Intel two of the 80GB X25-M solid state drives (see my review), which I’ve turned into a single striped RAID volume. I’ve now tested them for speed in general (about 500MB/sec for reads, 150MB/sec for write), and with Photoshop—results to come in my Optimizing Photoshop page in MacPerformanceGuide.com.
Intel is now shipping 160GB models of the same performance as the 80GB models, and there is a substantial price drop coming very soon (though they’ll still be expensive). Those two factors may make them very appealing for notebook users, especially pilots and Tibetans (hard drives are rated only to 10,000' or about 3000 meters).
As a striped (RAID 0) boot drive, they provide a very responsive experience on the Mac Pro, but it’s a fleeting advantage once the system has started up and Mac OS X has cached things, and assuming you have some kind of efficient system setup. I explain why a fast boot drive is usually mental masturbation in Boot Drive Dogma. However, there are use cases where SSD can be a solid strategy.
Over the new few weeks as I gain more experience with these drives, I’ll offer practical tips for making use of them.