Solid State Drives – No More Spinning Platters

ssdBy Beers R Us

With the new technology in hard drives older computers can come back to life. 

Welcome the age of Solid State drives.  

An SSd is just a memory module; it’s not really a drive in the sense we know, it contains no platters or reader heads. SSd’s have what’s called NAND flash memory, there are currently 3 types (that I know of) SLC, MLC, TLC.

SLC (single level cell) where it stores one data bit per NAND flash cell. This allows for faster seek times, longer life, but smaller storage and higher production costs.

MLC (multi-level cell) store two or more bits per NAND flash cell. This allows for higher capacity drives and lower manufacturing costs. It also means a shorter life span.

TLC (three level cell) Samsung has marketed a series of SSd’s with this technology. It does have a higher capacity and lower cost over the latter and, of course, its lifespan is shorter. Samsung claims reliability with the TLC tech, I say wait for proof.

Solid state drives don’t have moving parts, don’t consume much energy, can seek data at sub millisecond times, take impacts into the 100g area and keep working.

The only downside at the moment is cost, compared to conventional hard drives and that there is a lifespan.

Let’s dive into some of the benefits. 

No moving parts, the conventional style (platter drives) have a disk inside which spins and a reader head which pulls the data off and puts it back on. This consumes energy and the data has to be sought after when the disk is spinning. Where an SSd just loads the data onto its memory, it doesn’t have to wait for a disk to spin around and the head to reach the spot on the disk where your data is. This allows the SSd to grab your data 10-20x faster than the best platter drives.

Energy consumption, ties to no moving parts. SSd’s don’t need extra power to spin the disk or move the head. SSd’s idle consumption is around .5watts with full on use around 2.5 watts. Compare that to a platter drive, which consumes at best 5 watts at idle and 6 watts under light use.  The low power consumption means “longer battery life in your laptops.”

Seek times are very important, why? The lower the seek time the faster you get your data. The best conventional drives have a seek time of around 9 milliseconds, where an SSd seek time is usually under 1 millisecond. Less time to retrieve data, computer moves faster, you spend less time watching the hour glass spin, the longer your battery lasts.

With the conventional drives you were always worried about dropping your laptop in any form. A dropped laptop meant the reader head could crash the disk and all data lost, so extreme measures were taken and a lot of money was spent to keep this from happening.  Welcome the age of Solid state drives. These drives have no moving parts and can handle over 100g’s before failure, so even with a hefty drop, cracked case or broken corner your data is good to go.

Not everything is perfect and you always have a balance. With SSd’s there is a downside, but I think the benefits far outweigh any downside. 

SSd’s do cost more than the conventional drives, at the moment. For example, you can purchase a decent conventional 1TB (terabyte) drive for what a 240GB (gigabyte) SSd costs.

All things must come to an end and the same holds true with the SSd’s. They have a life span which is determined by how many reads/writes the drive initiates to the cells.

Don’t worry too much about life span. About the time the lifecycle is coming to an end your drive/computer will be out of date and a newer, faster, bigger, better drive will be on the market.

Some of the operations that will shorten the life are excessive benchmarking and defragmentation. When using SSd’s you don’t need to defragment and all manufacturers recommend you don’t.


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