Solid-state technology for computer hard drives is relatively new for PC consumers. Although military applications and industry have been using solid-state technology for some time, the first solid-state computer hard drives really only became affordable for everyday personal computing on desktop machines in late 2008. So, you may not yet be familiar with what a solid-state computer hard drive is or why it is much better than a conventional hard drive.
What Is a Solid-State Computer Hard Drive?
Unlike conventional computer hard drives, which use a motor to drive a spindle with a magnetic head to encode and read information from a magnetically coated disk (platter), a solid-state computer hard drive contains no moving parts. Instead, these hard drives, such as the Intel® X25-E Extreme SATA Solid-State Drive, use only flash memory, a CPU and a battery component.
Many smaller devices, such as flash drives and camera memory cards, already use solid-state technology for portable data storage. This year, however, solid-state technology is becoming popular for more than just flash drives, and with good reason. In fact, with entry of affordable solid-state computer hard drives onto the market, some industry experts are predicting the death of the traditional computer hard drive.
Advantages of Solid-State Technology
Their unique design gives solid-state computer hard drives a decided advantage over other computer hard drives. Don’t take my word for it, however. Learn the facts and decide for yourself.
Here are some of the benefits that you can expect from a solid-state computer hard drive:
- Lower Failure Rate – You have probably already experienced at least one computer hard drive failure. In fact, with a mechanical hard drive the moving parts make eventual failure somewhat likely. Even something as innocent as dust getting in the mechanism could cause problems. Since there are no mechanical parts to solid-state drives, the failure rate is much lower.
- Longer Life – With a conventional hard drive it is usually not a matter of whether the drive will fail; it is a question of when. Most hard drives fail after several years and can be severely damaged if dropped or shaken. In contrast, with a solid-state drive there are no mechanical parts to wear out. In addition, advanced products such as the Intel® X25-E Extreme SATA employ wear-leveling algorithms to extend the life of the drive.
- Environmentally Friendly – A traditional computer hard drive needs a fan to cool the motor down. However, there is no cooling requirement for a solid-state hard drive, as it consumes less power and is easier on the environment than a traditional hard drive. The lower power consumption means that a computer with a solid-state hard drive costs less to operate, too.
- Faster – You may think that your traditional hard drive is fast, but a solid-state hard drive can access data in a fraction of the time that a typical hard drive takes. For example, a typical hard drive can take as long as 10,000 microseconds to access data. The read latency for the Intel® X25-E Extreme SATA is only 75 microseconds. That makes the solid-state drive 133 times faster!
- Quieter – Traditional computer hard drives have gotten quieter over the years, but if you listen carefully you can probably still hear your computer hum (something that you won’t hear with a solid-state machine). The mechanical parts of the computer drive cause that hum.
- Lightweight – A solid-state drive weighs much less than its traditional counterpart, making it easier to ship and store. The lighter weight also gives your computer equipment a much lighter footprint and makes your computer easier to install and move.
A Word About Cost and Size
If solid-state technology is so wonderful, you might ask yourself – why are we still using traditional hard drives? Why don’t all computers have solid-state drives?
Until recently, a relatively high cost and low memory size kept solid-state technology drives from dominating the personal computing market. However, the newest generation of solid-state hard drives offers both reasonable cost (less than $1,000) and larger storage capacity.
With recent technological advances, solid-state technology is not just for flash drives any more.
What to Remember When You Choose a Solid-State Computer Hard Drive
As the solid-state computer hard drive technology market starts to heat up, dozens of players are bound to enter the consumer market.
However, your best bet for finding a reliable solid-state hard drive is to look for a company that has decades of memory engineering experience and a solid reputation for design and reliability. Doing your homework and carefully choosing the right vendor is crucial to getting the right computer hard drive for your needs.