Solid State Drives - The future of personal computing

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Solid State Drives (SSDs) have taken the computing world by storm!

These drives are faster, more durable and more energy efficient than traditional (magnetic) Click here to view some Solid State Drives icon

Small laptops or notebooks (referred to as Netbooks) were the first recipients of these drives.

Evidence has shown that SSDs are now being used in some high-end laptops and desktops.

Compared to traditional hard drives, these drives have higher performance speeds and without moving parts, are more durable and less susceptible to vibration damage. Other advantages are less energy usage and almost silent operation.

SSDs are available in standard 3.5 inch and 2.5 inch form factors with regular SATA connectors hence they fit perfectly into regular and traditional applications.

With all the positives, there is one drawback ...SSDs are far more expensive than traditional hard drives hence its curtailed use in present computer applications.

Some solid state drives use DRAM for storage. This principle requires a battery backup to keep the data. Another type of SSD more popular in consumer products uses a flash based memory.

Unlike SSDs that write data to flash memory, traditional mechanical hard drives use a magnetic read/write head to access data on fast spinning metal platters.

Traditional hard drives are marvels of technology compared to the simple principle of these drives. SSDs use a SATA interface similar to the one used by traditional hard drives but stores data on flash modules instead of rotating metallic platters.

SSDs with the absence of moving parts, do not have to wait for drive heads to find and read data on rotating platters hence their random access and read times are extremely fast.

Solid State Drives, as the name implies, are less prone to failure caused by dust, vibration, magnetism and excessive bouncing. Excessive bouncing and external magnetism will damage the read/write head and platters in a magnetic drive but will not affect the flash memory of SSDs.

Unfortunately, with all the advantages compared to traditional hard drives, the current set of SSDs have some disadvantages. Flash memory is far more expensive than magnetic media hence the higher cost of producing solid state drives.

solid state drives solid state drivesThe average size of SSDs is miniscule in comparison to the size of traditional hard drives. The largest consumer traditional hard drive is 3.0TB compared to 256GB for the SSD.

Another negative is the slower write times compared to a high-end traditional hard drive. The explanation for this is a bit complicated so I will skip it for now.

The flash memory cells used in these drives have a finite number of read/write cycles up to a maximum of approximately 100,000. Fortunately, if the SSD reaches its cycle limit, it does not crash like the traditional hard drive. It just stops 'writing' and only allows read-only, permitting you to access your data. Click here to view this Corsair CMFSSD-128GBG2D P128 Solid State Drive - 128GB, 2.5", SATA II. icon

The future seems bright for SSDs since some hard drive and major flash memory manufacturers will be working towards correcting the minor deficiencies to present a more efficient and competitively priced product.

Apparently, the minor deficiencies and bugs have been cleared up because solid state drives are now in mainstream production systems. Also, there are a host of different brands easily available on the retail market.


Therefore, if you have a desktop or a laptop with a compatible SATA interface, try one of these to enhance your system's total performance.

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