Solid state vs SATA drives

Written by on Tuesday, July 29, 2008 23:35 - 1 Comment

Solid state flash hard drives vs traditional SATA platter drives

Solid State Drives (SSDs) are the buzz word in data stroage these days.  These drives are presented as the next best thing, and some foresee them replacing conventional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) for most applications in the near future.  But are they really everything they are cracked up to be?  That’s an interesting question, and the results we’ve been able to locate might surprise even the staunchest supporters.

SSDs offer some obvious improvements in technology.  Being solid state, they have fewer parts to wear out or malfunction.  Anyone who has ever had an HDD die on them will perk up at that bit of news, as a hard drive failure can mean the loss of many hours of work; sometimes permanently.  Since there are no moving parts, an SSD can begin reading data right away, where and HDD must begin at the center of the disk and spin outwards to locate the data each time new information is retrieved.  In this respect, an SDD blows its HDD comrades away.

Another tremendous benefit of an SSD is in power consumption.  Having fewer moving parts mean that less power is required to operate the drive.  This is a big improvement, especially for laptop users, where power is limited and must be conserved whenever possible.  Also, fewer parts and lower power use equates to cooler operation.  Conventional HDDs generate a great deal of heat during normal operation, which can adversely affect system components, and reduce operational efficiency of the drives themselves.  That’s 2 for SSD, zero for HDD.

Solid is less susceptible to bumps and jarring.  A traditional HDD can be permanently ruined by even a minor impact, which results in lost data, which equates to lost time and productivity.  For high intensity use, or use in setting which may contain electromagnetic fields (such as military usage, or many industrial settings), the SSD once again rises above.  They are able to operate efficiently at a much wider ambient temperature range than HDDs; they can take a knocking and keep on rocking.  SSD 3, HDD 0.

Is there anything that an SSD doesn’t excel at?  So far, it would appear that there is little reason for someone to invest in an HHD, but there are still major considerations to be looked at.  First of those is lifespan.  Moving parts wear out in an HDD, giving it a relatively short lifespan, not to mention that data can only be written into a sector so many times before the sector losing it’s magnetic storage ability..  The chips that a SSD writes data to also wear out over time, and for a USB type drive this could mean a shorter lifespan that an HDD.  However, for standard sized drives, innovations allow the drive to monitor writes to specific locations, and perform a sort of load balancing between data that gets red and written often, and data that is only read from the chips.  This gives them an increased serviceability, and today’s replacement SSDs can be expected to operate for several years.. almost certainly until the next generation comes out.  In this category, there’s no clear winner.

And while and SSD is much faster at reading data from the chips, writing that data isn’t really much different than for an HDD.  Remember, there are data storage monitors at work, which equates to programming routines which must be applied to each new file written to the disk.  Even though we still have to give the writing speed award to the SSD, it is not by a margin of any importance.

Storage capacity could affect one’s buying decision.  Recently, SSD has made some gains in overall capacity, with new drives released in the past month reducing the competitive of HDDs dramatically.  At this time, though, HDDs still have the ability to store a good deal more information than most SSD manufacturers have achieved.  So while it won’t be long until SSD takes the lead in this respect, for now we have to give traditional HDDs the mark on this one.  HDD 1, SSD 3.

Price is the deciding factor for many who purchase a new drive.  AS HDDs have consistently become less expensive over time, they are now available for extremely affordable prices.  On the flip side, an SSD is an expensive device, as yet.  At this writing, the cost of an SSD is only slightly less than the cost of an entire computer which uses HDD technology.  Coupled with the current SSD capacity threshold, upgrading your drives may not be cost effective for another 6 months or so, at the least.  For the price comparison, HDD comes out ahead by a very strong lead.  Final score is SSD 3, HDD2, tie 2.

After all the comparisons are tallied, SSD has the highest score.  However, due to the current (but changing quickly) price factor, you would be wise to consider upgrading to SSD very carefully before jumping on the bandwagon.  Unless disk read speed, power consumption, and impact resistance are your primary concerns, now may not be the best time to make the switch.  At current pricing levels, it’s still cheaper to replace those HDDs with new HDDs several times than it would be to install solid state devices.  Bear in mind, though, that the cost of SSDs are coming down fast, and past trends indicate that they’ll come down even faster as time goes on.  For this reason, keep an eye on the market, and when the prices drop a little, be ready to make the switch. ')}

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Aug 30, 2008 2:33

That Solid State Drive’s looking great but I agree with the price factor being the deciding issue for most users. Moreover users who are running servers will lean towards storage space. So although it’s superior to HDDs in most aspects it still isn’t as practical.

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