Recently, in the world of laptops, there seems to be a major push to replace traditional Hard Disk Drives HDDs with the newer and speedier Solid State Drives SSDs. This issue presents a challenging question for future laptop buyers and especially for those considering buying a gaming laptop.
Which data storage system should you go with ?
Now, SSDs or Solid State Drives are not new, they have been around since the 70's but were mainly used in niche applications in the past. Only recently have computer makers been utilizing SSDs for their machines, especially in laptops. Will these flash drives replace one of the last hold-outs of movable parts in data storage – the hard disk drive?
What is a Hard Drive?
Most computer users are familiar with Hard Disk Drives since they are presently found in most computers and laptops. An HHD stores data on rotating magnetic platters which have different speeds, that's why you often see 5400rpm and 7200rpm associated with Hard Drives. Data is written to and read from these platters by a block of read / write heads, which are controlled by a micro-controller.
Since your information can be stored in different parts on a Hard Drive, the time needed to get and retrieve data can significantly vary. Keep in mind, these devices are movable mechanical parts so they are prone to all the problems associated with moving parts and can sometimes fail, ie crash. Most of us have been there, done that!
What is a Solid State Drive?
Now SSD is an entirely different creature from a Hard Disk Drive. Solid State Drives uses a flash memory chip managed by a micro-controller to store its data. The major thing to remember, SSD usually have slow write times but have very quick read times. Since most users read rather than write information, SSDs can be much faster than HDDs.
In addition, SSDs have no moving components so they are more durable and much quieter than traditional HHDs. Plus, you can use less power consumption and there are less problems with vibrations interfering with ongoing operations.
What you have probably already guessed by now, SSDs are perfectly suited for laptops and smaller devices such as netbooks. The growing popularity of these very handy portable machines has pushed SSDs to the forefront of computer technology. Our need for speed has always been insatiable, but so too, has our need to make things smaller and sleeker.
SSDs are better suited for these devices and all major laptop makers such as Dell, Apple, HP, Levono … have all lately begun to deliver laptops with SSDs. Toshiba, which is one of the world's largest semiconductor manufacturers, has also started producing laptops with SSDs. They also invented NAND flash memory, these chips are commonly used in different memory cards such as SmartMedia and CompactFlash. Again, the major advantages being the faster access times, lighter weight, less power consumption, more resistant to impact and much more durability.
Another trend where we see SSDs taking hold is in the netbook market. This is a relatively new trend since the netbook was only launched by Asustek in the fall 2007 with its first Eee PC. Other laptop makers such as Lenovo, MSI, HP, Dell … have all followed along and jumped on this very popular and growing sector of the laptop industry.
The Cost Of SSDs Are Higher
One of the major obstacles to using SSDs has to be cost. SSDs are more expensive than HHDs but prices will eventually fall as production costs decreases. However, for now there is a marked different and many laptop buyers will go with the cheaper HHDs.
Another related issue is the amount of memory SSDs can support. Because of the cost, many of the present day SSDs have comparably low storage amounts in order to keep the overall cost of a device down. However, we are now seeing larger SSDs which support 64 GB, 128 GB and 512 GB of memory. We even have one SSD drive which can store 1 TB (Terabyte) of data produced by PureSilicon.
Another thing to consider, with SSDs you do not need cache since system caches are usually made to solve hard drive performance problems. This can be a way to save money on future devices since cache is expensive.
The Future of SSDs
The real future of SSDs have to be realized in the growing popularity of ultra-portable devices like netbooks, mini-laptops and the like. The SSD is perfectly suited for these kinds of portable devices and as consumer demand grows stronger, the future of SSDs looks very promising indeed.
Another market for SSDs has to be in gaming laptops, which are ideally suited because gamers use their machines mainly to read rather than write data. Plus, gaming laptops and gamers want the best possible performance at whatever cost; they do not mind spending the big bucks if they can get top performances in return.
Major gaming specialists such as Alienware, do offer the option of SSDs in many of their laptops and even in some desktop machines. Other gaming laptop makers are following in the same direction. As with any technology there is a lag time before the old is replaced with the new. The traditional hard drives will be around for quite some time yet, but its days may just be numbered.
For the laptop buyer, which type of drive you finally choose will mainly depend on the purpose of your new device. If you're looking for a quiet, long lasting, speedy netbook that can take more than a few hard knocks, then you should be looking at a SSD equipped machine. If you want a traditional desktop computer or a desktop replacement laptop, then you can save money by going with an HDD equipped device, these have worked perfectly fine for years and will be around for some time in the future. Of course, if you're into gaming laptops and want a state-of-the-art machine, then a Solid State Drive may be your best option, assuming money is no object.