Learn About SSD Flash Disk Hard Drives


Solid State High Performance Disks Means:



Popular SATA SSD Models


           
Latest OCZ SSDNewest SanDisk SSDHi-Capacity Crucial SSD
#1 OCZ Vector SSD

Highest I/O Performance
SanDisk Ultra Plus

7mm SSD with 2mm Spacer
Crucial M500 SSD

Drive Capacity to 960GB


SSD DISKS AREN'T REALLY NEW ARE THEY?

No. Industrial and Military often use the many heat/vibration tolerance advantages of solid-state drives and have for years. At a high price. But we're in a shift from the original single-layer SLC to much higher chip density multi-layer MLC, lowering production costs, yielding higher capacity & speed, better SSD bridge-controller chips, and an upswing in consumer market interest and availability.

ARE SSDs REALLY FASTER THAN HARD DISKS?

Overall, most are, especially the RECENT models. NAND flash memory technology is changing rapidly, just as say, Compact Flash and other digital camera memory is offered in different speeds and capacities. How fast to you want to go? How much are you willing to pay? Many SSD's are sold spec'd and clocked at different Read/Write Transfer-Rates, similar to Sandisk Extreme IV ultra-fast CF cards. A given SSD manufacturer may offer different TIERS of drives - priced accordingly: MLC drives in the low end, top performing SLC drives at the high end. Beware discontinued, previous generation technology - SSD performance has increased dramatically over the past year. Cost per gigabyte is plunging, especially for 32GB and 64GB drives.

SUPER-FAST DISK READS - BUT SLOWER WRITES?

Flash memory is faster to Read From - than Write To. So certain things like computer startup, application launch, document opening can benefit dramatically! Conversely, write-intensive apps like Sound or Video Editing, anything which works on SEQUENTIAL writing large files might be better served by cheaper HDD hard disk technology. Many opt for a solid-state Boot drive, with a high capaticty 2nd spinning-platter drive for the best of BOTH worlds. The addition of larger cache memory on recent SSD controller chip sets has improved, and made for much faster and smoother write speeds.

TIP: Anything you can do to minimize writes is smart. Bumping up the RAM in your computer along with an SSD drive purchase may be the BEST way to minimize disk swapping in Mac OS X or Windows XP - Vista and help real-world SSD performance. Maxing to 4+ Gb of RAM along with your flash disk drive purchase makes ALOT of sense. Advances in Operating Systems will begin to factor-in SDD's and in the future will implement far more intelligent means to minimize disk swapping to maxkimize flash disk performance. SLC SSD's have up to 10 TIMES more writeability over the lifespan of the drive than MLC. 'Wear-Leveling' techniques are used to map out worn-out cells and preserve the life - and slowly shrinking capactiy of an SSD over its lifetime.

A great quote from Toshiba illustrates that the right combination of design make for a good SSD: "We believe that three factors are critical: the design of the controller, proven NAND flash technology and experience with the hard disk drive market. The architecture of the controller can have a significant impact on endurance, wear-leveling and performance, and SSD architectural features such as DRAM cache and parallel design are critical to better performance, but are not apparent to the end user."

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE: SLC VC MLC?

Flash memory stores information in the voltage levels of transistors and is nonvolatile because those levels don't require power to maintain. Traditionally, digital information storage, including SRAM, DRAM, and early Flash, stored information by toggling each cell between TWO states; a neutral and a charged state; this is a single-level cell (SLC) design. In Multi-Level Cell (MLC) flash, each cell has a neutral voltage and 3 levels of charged state, for a total of 4 states capable of storing two bits of information. This scheme allows more data storage per transistor—and is much cheaper. However, reading more finely differentiated voltages requires finer measurement, which is in turn slower and more error-prone. And - reduces the usable life of the Flash. So SLC is superior in terms of write-performance and lifecycle and priced accordingly, but lower-cost MLC has been catching up on both fronts and as such, MLC is currently dominating the rising SSD segment reaching consumers - and meeting the needs of Enterprise storage as well.

SSDs FIT INTO LAPTOP AND DESKTOP COMPUTING?

Initally: Early adopters. Geeks. Laptop and Mobile markets upgraded to SSD's first - because of many benefits of SSD technology. In mobile devices and laptop computers - every ounce of weight, minute of battery life matters. Expect Hybrid SSD/HDD platter drives are being developed to leverage all factors: Speed, Capacity and Cost. But things have changed rapidly. With smaller capacity 60GB and 64GB SSD drives now well under $100, SSD's are an affordable drive option for modest needs: This Cavalry Pelican 32GB SATA + USB 2.0 MLC SSD is onlyabout $90.. For mobile-laptop users the current crop of 60gig to 128gig SSD drives is giving a good balance between cost and capacity.

SOLID-STATE DRIVE SPEED BENCHMARKS - GIVE ME THE NUMBERS!

Other sites far more geeky and capable will be bench-testing drives to within a millisecond of thier lives. It's going to be a hot and RAPIDLY CHANGING market for the foreseeable future. SSD capacity and speed increases, price drops, competition and demand will all work in consumer favor. Here we'll keep up on featuring the BEST SSD PRICES over time. Right now, Intel and Samsung are leading in performance due to superior controller design, ample write cache, and intelligent SSD firmware.

EEEK! FAST, HIGH-CAPACITY SSD's ARE EXPENSIVE!

Perhaps. But mechanical disk drives have notorious failure rates. Many HDD's die in 1 or 3 years or often become intolerably noisy as they age. Having to replace one costs $100-200 bucks so factoring the cost of an SSD over a computer's lifetime may be offset. You could also put the value of the hard drive you replace with SSD to work into an external USB/FireWire/Combo case and still use it as a backup drive.

Get that Dell Laptop, HP Notebook, or Apple MacBook ready for a FAST, silent, low-power, battery-saving SSD hard disk drive replacement. The future of computer storage is already here; Solid-State drop-in DIY upgrades to SLC and MLC flash memory drives.

The SSD disk drive market is changing so rapidly it's unreal. At 2008 CES a ton of Solid-State flash disk products were announced. Only dribble of SSD's came out as NONE of the manufacturers wanted to reveal their pricing. The first to lay their cards down would get undercut. Then the SSD price bloodbath began. And the dribble became a deluge of shipping drives. Fast-forward to 2011: SSD transfer rates are now exceeding 300mpbs Read and Write speeds. Price per gigabyte, better SSD controller chip design, and flash read/write reliability is improving and prices are dropping rapidly.

MISCELLANEOUS SSD DRIVE NEWS AND TIDBITS

Feeling sticker shock? Conventional spinning disk drives still deliver the most bang for the buck. In traditional platter drives, one of the top performing laptop drives is the Western Digital Scorpio BLACK 320gb 2.5" At prices around $100, the Black series is both BIG + FAST - and a safe bet until you're ready for an SSD.

Unlike early MacBook Pro models the Unibody Aluminum and "Classic" white and black Apple Intel MacBook owners, the low-end MacBook's drive is ridiculously easy to replace with any currently shipping and readily available 2.5" SATA SSD. Just remove the battery, 3 screws to loosen the metal plate that covers the memory slots and pull the drive's plastic tab! 4 more screws for the drive bracket and your ready to fly. It remains the easiest Apple laptop to plunk and slap a 2.5" flash drive into. MacBook PRO models are decidedly more complicated to get open and work on. Or were... until the recent addition of the ALUMINUM MacBook/Pro line who's hard drives are now easy to access right under the battery cover. Thank you Apple!

Most SSD's manufactured today use the SATA - SERIAL interface. But ATA drives can be found in Trancend's SLC/MLC line. Choose carefully: even Newer Transcend models such as Transcend 2.5" Solid State Disk 64 GB - Internal 2.5" IDE/ATA aren't terribly impressive performance-wise, unfortunately. Transcend has been in the SSD market a long, long, time for industrial, military and embedded markets. What's needed is next generation Parallel interface SSD drives to fully max out the capabilities of ATA 100/133.