Authored by Dave Mallisk in Computer Hardware
Published on 10-20-2009
The solid state drive vs. hard drive war is only beginning. These combatants will shed much silicon and iron before either retreats. Currently, SSDs (Solid State Drives) are too expensive for most people. In contrast HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) are relatively inexpensive. Although SSD prices are falling slightly, and SSD technology is slowly improving, most of us will continue to buy and use hard drives for many more years, maybe decades.
As outlined below SSD drives have both advantages and disadvantages relative to hard drives. For more-specfic information, here is a good review that compares SSDs to hard drives: Is an SSD Worth the Money?
Solid State Drive Advantages
Compared to a hard drive, an SSD has the following advantages:
- An SSD uses less power than a hard drive because an SSD does not contain a disk that it needs to spin continuously. Of course, lower power consumption is a greater advantage in a laptop computer than in a desktop because using less power extends the useful working times between battery recharges.
- An SSD is more rugged than a hard drive because an SSD has no moving parts. This is also a greater advantage in a laptop because it can more easily survive the occasional bumps to which a person might subject it.
- An SSD runs cooler than a hard drive, indirectly benefitting all other computer components by letting them also run cooler.
- An SSD starts up faster than a hard drive because an SSD does not need to start spinning a physical disk or move read and write heads into position.
- An SSD performs better than a hard drive. A typical SSD has transfer rates that are approximately 50 percent faster than those of a typical hard drive.
Solid State Drive Disadvantages
Compared to a hard drive, an SSD has the following disadvantages:
- An SSD has a limited lifetime because it can write to (erase) each cell (data-storage bit) only approximately 100,000 times. While this write endurance seems adequate, some computer applications, such as programs for copying and editing large video files, can easily overuse an SSD and cause it to fail prematurely. Consequently, disregarding price, this write-endurance problem is the primary reason that an SSD is a poor choice for many potential customers. Storage-circuit designers can minimize the write-endurance problem. Built-in spare-storage elements can replace failed storage elements. Various readdressing techniques help ensure that an SSD does not write to its same storage elements too often. For more information, see:
- SSD prices are a major concern for most potential customers. For example, here are some current (October, 2009) SSD prices at a major online computer retailer:
- One 60 GB (GigaByte) SSD costs $158.00, which is $2.63 per GB. In contrast, an 80 GB hard drive costs $40.00, which is 50 cents per GB. Therefore, a small SSD costs more than five times as much per GB than does a comparable hard drive.
- One 250 GB SSD costs $718.00, which is $2.87 per GB. In contrast, an 250 GB hard drive costs $45.00, which is 18 cents per GB. Therefore, a ‘large’ SSD costs almost 16 times as much per GB than does a ‘modest’ hard drive.