Solid State Hard Drives: SSD HDD Promise Low Power Consumption and Durability
Hard drives are one of many key components of a computer system but traditional hard drives also have some inherant drawbacks. Issues such as heat, weight, and how easy it is to damage a traditional platter drive are all being solved with the advent of new solid state hard drives (also known as SSD's).
Solid State Drive Benefits:
The benefits of solid state hard drives are the antithesis of the problems associated with traditional platter based hard drives. With the absence of moving parts the issues of excessive heat generation and damage due to moving or dropping the drive from small distances are greatly reduced.
Flash memory retains its data even after power has been removed, enabling SSD equipped computers to be "instant on" systems. Since they do not require the spin up time and subsequent high battery drain of spinning platter drives they are perfect for mobile computing.
Another benefit is that solid state drives can be manufactured in much thinner sizes allowing them to be installed in laptops with incredibly small form factors. Apple recently released its very popular MacBook Air that includes an optional 64 gigabyte SSD drive. Other computers such as the popular XO computer (being sold under the "One Laptop Per Child" program also use solid state hard drives.
Solid State Drive Problems:
Contrary to popular belief, Solid State Drives do not necessarily use less power than traditional drives. An extensive test done by Tom's Hardware shows that SSD's are also not as efficient as HDD's due to the fact that the current crop of SSD drives pull power constantly and do not have the ability to throttle energy use during periods of low activity. This may change in future versions however.
Another issue with Solid State Drives is the problem of speed. Current data throughput when reading and writing to the drive is not as fast as when using platters. Again, technology is always improving in this regard and future models are certain to close the gap with old style drives.
Who are Solid State Drives Best Suited For?
Portable computing devices such as laptops and PDA's are the most likely candidates for benefiting from the use of SSD's. While battery life is still an issue the weight, size savings, and durability of these drives (even in adverse weather conditions) helps to balance things out. Desktop computer users will not likely benefit from using SSD's as traditional hard drives still beat them in performance and overall storage space.
Depending on budget, performance needs, and portability SSD drives make sense for some users. For most however, SSD's are not up to par at this point.
Author: Chad Criswell