Giz Explains: What's So Solid About Solid State Drives?

Illustration for article titled Giz Explains: What's So Solid About Solid State Drives?

The best way to explain why SSD is a buzz acronym for the solid state drives we want in our notebooks is to show the problems with practically stone-age spinning hard drives inside most computers (and iPod classics). Since they have platters w/ magnetized surfaces that spin fast as they read or write data—think record player—they can be quite slow, and are really fragile. Anyone who's owned a computer or iPod knows (or will one day learn) that if the read/write head bumps into the platter, it's all over. SSDs aren't like that at all.


SSDs have no moving parts, so seek time is drastically reduced. No spinning=less battery vampirage, so your laptop lasts longer too. And finally, the lack of a deadly read-write head means you can drop your SSD-powered lappy with far less chance of weeping. Right now, SSDs are usually made with either SDRAM (like RAM used in computers) or NAND flash (like in thumb drives, iPod nanos, etc.). Flash is more common, since it doesn't need a battery even though it's slower. Problems: Gig for gig, SSD is way expensive. The beefiest you'll be able to get soon is 128GB (or maybe 256GB)—but the current 64GB 2.5" SSDs go for $1,100 and up. Still got questions?



I've been using a Raon Everun UMPC with just a 6G SSD for a few months now. The boot time isn't that much faster (if at all). Though the time from standby is like an on/off switch. That device has a slower, low power CPU and a decent size battery so it can work on wifi or video playing for just under 5 hours. I think that they draw less juice but in terms of the contribution I think the spinning disk probably doesn't draw all that much more and low power processors is where you can save power the most (at an obvious cost of performance). The cool thing is that it's silent. There is a tiny little fan but you can't hear it unless you put your ear up to it. None of the clickity click of a regular drive. And the increased durability is nice. Those to reasons were what drew me to SSD. And it runs XP. I think the read write issues are not the big deal people talk about. I've heard the new flash memory is much more tolerant than previous generations. I'm not an expert on that. 6G is fine for a portable device that you just want to use for the functions of a computer and not a mass storage device. To be honest I don't get people wanting to carry around every bit of data, music or video they've ever downloaded at all times. But I am probably in the minority when it comes to tech dorks.