There is a lot of talk about solid-state drives or SSD’s in the technology world, but the advantages and disadvantages of this technology are not always clear. Here we will look at how SSD’s are different from traditional hard disk drives, and the advantages and disadvantages that they provide.
A solid-state drive is one that uses solid-state memory instead of a hard disk platters to store and retrieve data. These drives are sometimes referred to as RAM drives, but more often they are simply referred to as SSD’s. SSD’s have no moving parts, unlike hard disk drives, which can encounter a number of problems related to their moving parts, especially when jolted or dropped.
The main advantage of SSD’s are the lack of moving parts, which reduces the chance of failures, as most problems with hard disk drives relate to mechanical failure of one or more moving parts. SSD’s do not need to “seek” data, but instead, can read multiple areas of the drive at once, virtually eliminating seek time. The lack of moving parts also makes the drives much quieter, and start-up time is much faster, as there is no need to wait for platters to spin up to speed.
The main disadvantage of SSD’s is that the flash memory used in the drives have a shorter lifetime than hard disk platters. This means that the drive’s memory will fail earlier in its lifetime. This problem has been reduced by the fact that modern drives spread out the read and write tasks across the entire memory of the drive, reducing wear on any one section. With this technology, the drives are capable of the same lifetime as a hard disk drive.
The other main disadvantage of solid-state drives is their high price. Since the drives use a much newer technology and flash memory is expensive, SSD’s are currently much more expensive than equivalent HDD’s. This is already beginning to change, however, and prices are continuing to come down as the process is refined.
While SSD’s are a niche market for those seeking better performance, they are expected to become the norm within a few years. Soon, the majority of computer users will be able to benefit from solid-state drives, without the high prices currently associated with them.