Solid state drives are the new cool in PC storage hardware. But for the majority of us they are currently well out of reach due to the high prices. If you want an SSD for it’s low power and noiseless function then maybe using an SD card could be a cheap alternative.
This is going to be an unusual review because I got this product off ebay and it’s not branded. Therefore I cannot rate it as a specific product that you can buy. If you compare the pictures carefully to one on ebay you might be able to order the exact same product but it’s definitely not guaranteed. So consider this a review of the concept rather than a specific product.
My interest in buying an SD card to IDE adapter came about when I was considering how to put together a low power server. I wanted to have an operating system drive that would make next to no noise and draw very little power and then I would have additional storage drives for media files and the like. The motherboard that I had was given to me and is an old Intel socket 7 board without any new features like SATA, this left me with IDE only. What I did have available though was spare SD cards that got superseded by a 16GB SDHC in my HP iPaq 214. This included an OS suitable 4GB card.
The SD to IDE adapter is very simple in function and setup. It has a slot for the SD of choice to be inserted, it only takes one card. Then there’s a connector for power, which in the case of mine is a floppy drive type of connector. Finally you also have a connector for the IDE interface.
The IDE connector is a female connector and so plugs directly into your motherboard instead of being connected via an IDE cable. This could cause problems in motherboards with 90 degree IDE interface connectors which is obviously not the case in my Pentium3 based server! You can get these types of cards with molex power connectors too but I wanted one with the floppy connector as I had a spare floppy connector for it.
Once you’ve installed the SD card adapter and plugged in a suitable SD card the card acts just like any IDE hard drive. If you’ve installed it as a slave you can access it as a second drive through your operating system and if you’ve installed it as a primary drive you can even install an operating system to it. I installed Windows XP Home initially just to see if it could and to see what kind of performance I would get, it is mightily slow. I then re-formatted and installed FreeNAS but unfortunately found that FreeNAS doesn’t support the PCI RAID controller that I’d bought for file storage. So in the end I turned to Ubunutu which is working very nicely.
The performance will depend on what SD card you are using and will always be lagging behind a standard IDE 3.5″ hard drive. It can also take a long time for the operating system to boot from the SD card but this is to be expected, especially when you consider the cost compared to the SSD devices from Intel and OCZ amongst others. However that’s not the point really. I bought this to boot from and then to have running continually with little power drain. This it does well, my entire server draws only 25W when sat in idle which in the days of quad core monsters is a breath of fresh air to my electricity bills.
I can really see devices like these having lots of uses, especially in the modding communities. It’s lighter than a traditional hard drive, mounts directly onto the motherboard and if you line it up with the casing the SD card could even be swapable externally.
As I mentioned at the outset. This isn’t a normal review and with that in mind it isn’t going to have the usual rating and advantages/disadvantages section at the end. Make your own conclusions and feel free to comment…