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After searching on the internet for performance improvements when using Visual Studio 2010 with a solid state hard drive, I heard a lot of different opinions.

A lot of people said that there isn't really a benefit when using a SSD, but in contrast others said the exact opposite. I am a bit confused with the contrasting opinions and I cannot really make a decision whether buying a SSD would make a difference.

What are your experiences with this issue and which SSD did you use?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Nov 29 '11 at 13:40

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

closed as off topic by Yannis Rizos, Jarrod Roberson, Thomas Owens, MainMa, ChrisF Nov 29 '11 at 21:49

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Why the downvote? It's not a bad question and fairly relevant to SO –  Purplegoldfish Nov 29 '11 at 13:33
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although its probably off topic on programmers I think a lot of us would be curious as to how much of a difference would this make. –  Thanos Papathanasiou Nov 29 '11 at 14:07
    
Recently got a new workstation with a Samsung PM810 type of SSD. Not sure if this is generally considered 'good', but I am sure it does speed up things. All our projects are split into a lot of small modules. The more modules, the more reads/writes from/to the disk (just run a tool like ProcMon on devenv.exe and you'll see the huge amount of files it accesses) –  stijn Nov 29 '11 at 14:08
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Why was this migrated from Stack Overflow? According to the FAQ there, questions about "software tools commonly used by programmers" are on-topic. I'm pretty sure Visual Studio is a software tool commonly used by programmers. –  Thomas Owens Nov 29 '11 at 19:59
    
If this is really off-topic here, then whoever migrated it needs to re-read the FAQ for this board. –  Kyralessa Nov 29 '11 at 22:04

4 Answers 4

I think a lot of it comes down to what languages you're planning on programming in on VS2010.

For example I know that on fast machines, C# compiles in under 5 seconds on a relatively large project.

On the other hand, programming Native C++, takes ~45 seconds for a project of the same size.

In my own experience, for compile times I don't think an SSD will make much of a difference.

That being said, the launch time of VS2010 on your computer will definitely be shorter than using a conventional hard drive if you use an SSD, but whether that's worth it or not to you is your choice.

Hope that helps.

EDIT: I may be able to play around with this today if anyone is interested. I own an OCZ Vertex 3 120GB, I can install Visual Studio on it and give you a rough estimate in comparison to my work PC, which is roughly equivalent PC specs. I'll make a copy of my project and hope that I can have it compile at home. I will update you sometime later today

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I think it also depends on your projects. The last project I worked on had a solution with about 125 C# projects containing around 50K lines of code, and that was a medium-sized effort for our team. Definitely took more than five seconds to compile. –  TMN Nov 29 '11 at 20:40

I upgraded my computer a few months ago, and decided to test c++ build times before and after to see what sort of speed improvement I got. I tested three configurations, all building a C++ project in Visual Studio 2005 with Windows 7:

  1. Core 2 duo ~2.6ghz, 4gb RAM, building a project from an SSD
  2. Same system, building the same project from a 7.2k rpm hard disk
  3. Core i5 2500k 3.3ghz, 8gb RAM, building the same project from an SSD

I did each build twice, one right after a warm boot, and again just after the first build (once everything had been swapped in to the disk cache). Here are the results I got:

  1. First build – 96 seconds. Second build – 92 seconds.
  2. First build – 96 seconds. Second build – 92 seconds.
  3. First build – 54 seconds. Second build – 51 seconds.

In cases 1 and 2 you’ll note that I got exactly the same build times, regardless of whether I was building from my SSD, or the 7.2k RPM drive. So disk speed appears to not be a factor in compiling, at least for hard disks of a decent speed. The change that made the huge difference was going from a core 2 duo to a i5 3.3ghz CPU – so it appears that compilation is CPU bound, and not memory- or disk-bound.

I had been assuming that going from hard disk to SSD would increase speed a bit, but apparently that’s not the case – presumably everything just gets swapped in and after that goes at the speed of memory.

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I think it makes a huge difference. VS (like windows) is constantly writing to the disk. This is surprising slow, even for small amounts of data. I put a SSD in an old laptop and it made it about 5 times faster. You can see the results.

Although I don't have any first-hand experience with VS and SSD's, I am sure it will make everything much faster.

One thing to be aware of: SSD's have very high failure rates (including the first one I purchased). Buy one that is highly rated such as this one. Also, you don't need a particularly large SSD. Just big enough to hold the OS, program files and your project with at least 20% free is fine. So perhaps 128GB.

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Visual Studio is sensitive to disk speed, but if you use TFS you're far more at the mercy of the speed of the TFS server and the network (since opening files and the initial modification requires a fetch and checkout).

If you use a DVCS, then target SSD -> CPU frequency. Visual Studio is somewhat sensitive to CPU speed, and doesn't seem to be highly threaded. Prefer fewer faster cores over more slower cores. It doesn't seem to use much more than 1.5GB of RAM without running into OOM exceptions, so don't bother with shoving your machine full of more than 4GB of RAM. If you are lucky enough to have over 4GB of RAM, use the extra as a RAM drive to store your source code in (draconian backup measures necessary). Nothing can yet touch the speed of a RAM drive. Here's a benchmark from my workstation:

drive speed comparison between ssd/ramdrive/raid0

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