By 13 August 2010 | Categories: feature articles


What is SSD?

A SSD is a data storage device which uses solid-state memory to store data. The primary difference between traditional hard disk drives (HDD’s) and SSD’s is that a solid-state drive has no moving parts compared to the electro-mechanical nature of hard disk drives.

Instead solid state drives use microchips, making them more resistant to physical damage while at the same time being quieter and sporting lower access time than HDDs.

The latest SSDs uses NAND-based non-volatile flash memory which can retainpersistent data without the need of a power supply. This is made possible thanks to a special kind of memory chip with erasable, writeable cells.

Flash memory can be electrically erased one block at a time without the need to erase data on the entire chip. To explain better, primary memory or cache memory will always be lost after the device is shut down, but secondary memory like the type used in SSDs can retain its data, kind of like a footprint caught in wet cement.

Like traditional hard drives, a SSD has a special area used for storing cache memory. Data that is frequently called up gets stored in cache memory, vitally increasing processing speed for frequently used data since it doesn’tneed to be recovered from the main storage area each time the data is called up.

A good way to think of an SSD is to picture it as the big brother of the memory stick, which works on the same principle.

Advantages of SSD

SSD’s have many advantages over standard HDD’s, the most prominent being their increased seek time which makes them much faster when recalling data. Notebooks with SSD typically boots faster.

Having no moving parts means an SSD is very durable as it has no parts which can malfunction. SSD’s also generate less heat than their HDD counterparts.

They are also lighter than standard drives and requires less power to operate while also being completely silent, making them perfect candidates for inclusion in high-end notebooks.

Disadvantages of SSD

One of the most prominent disadvantages of SSDs at this stage is that they’re considerably more expensive than standard HDDs.

They also have a finite number of erase/write cycles that can be performed before the unit begins to lose reliability, giving them a decreased lifespan than that of standard drives which can function for up to ten years without flaw in some cases.

SSD pricing and availability

SSD’s have started to make their mainstream appearance in modern notebook but the technology is still significantly more expensive than that of standard drives.

A 64 GB SSD currently retails for roughly R2000 while larger drives like 128 GB and 256 GB drives will lighten your wallet by between R4000 and R8000, depending on brand.

One of the most competitive deals at the moment is the Intel 160 GB X25-M MLC SATA SSD, available from the Prophecy Shop for just over R5000.

It seems inevitable that SSDs will completely replace hard disk drives as the norm in data storage at some stage. Before this happens however, the disadvantages of SSD’s will have to be be remedied or at least seriously reduced.


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