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What is an SSD? SSD Explained and Compared to HDD

What is an SSD?

SSD is short for Solid State Drive. SSDs are also called Solid State Storage Devices (SSSD). They are computer storage devices invented in 1980 by Fujio Masuoka at Toshiba Corporation (Japan). 

These days you often hear about SSDs, whether you are looking to buy a new pc or you are simply trying to upgrade your current PC’s storage. 

Solid State Drives (SSD) are known for their faster transfer speeds which boost PC system performance for those looking for an extra edge over the competition.

However, SSD technology is still limited, as it comes with a larger price tag than its mechanical cousin, the Hard Disk Drive (HDD). Additionally, it’s slightly harder to find SSD hard drives with large storage capacities.

Since an SSD’s capacity is smaller than traditional alternatives, it is often used as the boot device to speed up Operating Systems and storage device for the most often used application, his way speeding up the required application resource retrieval and as a result, reducing load times and latency for in applciation actions.

Why is SSD Important?

SSDs loosen the bottleneck on system performance by slow storage. For some time, HDDs were the slowest component in computers, restricting the performances of all the other parts.

Now Operating Systems are booting quicker and programs are running faster. The benefits of SSDs properly utilized are plenty but they can only be fully realized when it is used correctly. 

SSDs as a rule, have longer lifespans than mechanical Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). This is because they don’t have any moving components which are subject to wear and tear. 

Types of SSD

They are two considerations when classifying commercial Solis State Drives. They are the form factor and the connection interface. The universal form factors are the 2.5” form factor and the M.2. The interfaces are SATA, NVMe, and PCIe.

2.5” SATA SSDs

They are 5x faster than HDDs but slower than other types of SSDs. They use SATA as a connection interface and they are also the cheapest type of SSDs on the market.

The size is similar to 2.5” HDDs and they can be easily swapped. SATA transfer speeds are capped at only around 600 MB/s.

In comparison to other SSDs, they are the slowest. They also have lower bandwidth and higher latencies. This means they have more delay times and slower transfer speeds. 

M.2 SATA SSDs

M.2 stands for the second generation of miniature SSDs. They also peaked at speeds of 600 MB/s.

They are smaller than the 2.5” form factor therefore they take less space inside computers. 

M.2 NVMe SSDs

The NVMe stands Non-Volatile Memory Express. Non-Volatile means that the device doesn’t require power to maintain persistent storage.

They have maximum speeds of 3400 MB/s thus they are also more expensive.

PCIe SSDs

PCIe stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect ExpressThese SSDs are only used in desktop and larger computers because of the large PCIe connector.

They have the same transfer speeds as M.2 NVMe SSDs. However, PCIe SSDs are much larger and more expensive than their siblings M.2 rivals.

SSD VS HDD

It seems obvious to some that an SSD is better than an HDD but a more discerning eye would find that the HDD still has its place locked amongst users.

They can be compared in the following 7 categories so that a clear victor for your specific case emerges.

Technology

Solid State Drives (SSDs) uses integrated circuits to store data, typically using flash-based memory.

They have an array of connected flash-memory chips called NAND. SSDs also contains a controller which is an embedded processor that executes low-level code.

SSDs store data on individual memory cells that the controller can instantly access. Thus they are much faster.

Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) operate using a spinning magnetic disk that holds all the data and a head that hovers on top.

The head handles all read/write operations on HDDs. Because HDDs have mobile parts, they have a limit to how small they can become. Thus many portable devices favor SSD flash-memory technology because it tends to be smaller. 

Additionally due to these moving parts they are generally considered as more fragile than the SSDs

PRICE

SSDs are more expensive than HDDs because they are newer and they have higher production costs. In contrast, HDDs have been around for a while and their production costs have been streamlined and minimized.

SSDs cost twice as much as HDDs. For example, an 1TB SSD costs $100 whereas a 1TB HDD from the same brand costs $47.

Accordingly, the WINNER is the HDD.

TRANSFER SPEED  

HDD transfer speeds max out at around 200 MB/s. On the flip side, the cheapest SATA SSDs reach their climax at 600 MB/s.

Higher End SSDs can even reach speeds of 3400 MB/s.

It’s clear as day that the WINNER is the SSD.

POWER USAGE

Solid State Drive are non-mechanical storage devices meaning that they don’t suffer from friction and noise. SSDs also can instantly access data without searching for the exact location.

This uses less power in contrast to an HDD. HDDs’ moving parts suffer friction and noise which wastes energy. HDDs also have motors that waste time getting up to speed.

Unmistakably the WINNER is the SSD.

SHOCK RESISTANCE

The Solid State Drive (SSD) is better for rough handling. They are a safer bet for use in portable devices that are susceptible to falling and shaking.

In comparison, HDDs are more vulnerable to physical damage from falling. Hence your data is safer in an SSD.

The Winner is the SSD.

LONGEVITY

HDDs having moving parts means they suffer from more wear and tear than SSDs.

An HDD’s lifespan is around 5 years. Conversely, SSDs due to recent developments can last up to 10 years.

The WINNER is the SSD.

STORAGE CAPACITY

Commercial SSDs have a maximum storage capacity of 4 TB whereas HDDs have a maximum of 14 TB of storage.

The storage to price ratio of HDDs is cheaper hence they are better mass storage devices.

The WINNER is the HDD.

VERDICT

SSDs are faster, smaller, stronger, and more power-conscious than HDDs. However, SSDs also have smaller storage and are more expensive than HDDs. 

A perfect analogy is this; the SSD is a sports car whereas the HDD is a haulage truck. What you choose depends on what purpose you want it for.

Therefore if you’re feeling a need for speed, choose Solid State Drives (SSDs) but if you prefer having your own personal Netflix on your PC, Choose a Hard Disk Drive (HDD).

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