Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Laptop Solid State Drives

Solid state is an electrical term that refers to electronic circuitry that is built entirely out of semiconductors. The term was originally used to define those electronics such as a transistor radio that used semiconductors rather than vacuum tubes in its construction. Most all electronics that we have today are built around semiconductors and chips. In terms of a SSD, it refers to the fact that the primary storage medium is through semiconductors rather than a magnetic media such as a hard drive.

SSDs, or solid state drives, are becoming more and more popular in notebook computers. They are perfectly suited for ultraportable laptops because they consume less power than in spinning mechanical conventional hard disk drives. The thin Apple Air or Lenovo Thinkpad laptops, amongst others, feature this solid state storage technology.

How Do They Work?

Traditional HDD have a spinning platter with a head that reads data from the platter. Remember all those hard drive crashes? This was primarily due to the vulnerability of the head being jarred by dropping or bumping into the computer and crashing into the platter causing mechanical and or read/write errors. Solid State Drives have no moving parts. Instead they have Nand flash chips and a controller. They are simply flash drives on a large scale. Solid State Drives are attractive when considering speed, noise, power consumption, and reliability. They consume approximately half the power of traditional hard drives of the same size. For example a 2.5 inch Samsung Solid State Drive consumes less than 1 watt of power when active, as compared with 2.1 watts that a standard 2.5 inch HDD consumes.

Increased Performance?

SSDs are noted for faster startups and shutdowns. They also have improved performance when applications are launched. Traditional hard drives get fragmented and slower over time unlike Solid State Drives. Because of this non fragmentation SSDs have a real time improvement with random reads. Performance remains constant throughout the entire drive even when it starts to fill up.

SSD vs Battery Life?

Many components in a notebook computer effect battery life. LCD Screens in particular do. The savings are about 10% prolonged laptop battery life for An SSD vs a traditional hard drive. For most, an SSD upgrade is not worth it for this feature alone.

However when taken into account the other benefits of Solid State Drives including: faster performance, less heat, less noise, no fragmentation, lighter weight, and a longer life expectancy an extra $1000 upgrade may well be worth it.

Which laptop brands have SSD options?

Asus, Lenovo, Samsung, Apple, Dell, Sony, and HP/Compaq are amongst the brands offering SSDs now. Solid State Drives are available in 64, 128, and 256 GB models.

The future for Solid State Drives

At a component level, manufacturers have been doubling the density every 10 years for these types of notebook drives. This makes for larger storage capacity at smaller sizes. Price varies per manufacturers. A 64GB Solid State Drive which costs about $900 now is expected to cost $450 in 2009 and $200 in 2010. Both SSDs and traditional hard drives will probably coexist for a while to come. Because SSDs do offer added value and benefits in several ways they are expected to grow to be in nearly 40% of the notebook laptops by 2011...

Source: expert Paul Steinberg