A few weeks ago there was a conversation going on within our comments regarding the use of solid state drives (SSD) versus hard disk drives (HDD). The big thing about using SSD’s is that they are faster and more energy efficient, especially in the case of the iPhone which is what the comments pertained to. Earlier today I was flipping through YouTube videos (like I do almost everyday) and I came across one that actually demonstrated two systems side-by-side that compared the speed of a SSD and HDD drive:

The solid state drives are still very expensive, and according to the price comparison I have below it would cost $2500 for a 100GB SSD. Distributing these drives with PC’s is still a little out of the question, but we keep inching closer and closer to being able to reap the benefits of solid state drives:

  • Faster startup – Since no spin-up required.
  • Faster boot and application launch time – Result of the faster read and especially seek time.
  • Lower power consumption and heat production – no mechanical parts result in less power consumption.
  • No noise – Lack of mechanical parts makes the SSD completely silent.
  • Better mechanical reliability – Lack of mechanical parts result in less wear and tear as well as the ability to endure extreme shock, vibration and temperatures.
  • Security – Quickly “wipe” of all data stored.
  • Deterministic performance – “Seek” time is constant, and performance does not deteriorate as the media fills up.
  • Lighter and smaller (typically) 

While all of that seems too good to be true, it is in some cases. Here are some of the things that may not be so lovable about solid state drives.

  • Price – Currently around $25 per GB compared to about $0.25 per GB for mechanical drives.
  • Slower write time – Around 18 MB/s compared to over 50 MB/s for hard drives. 
  • Lower recoverability – After an SSD fails it is nearly impossible to recover any of the data.
  • Vulnerable – An abrupt powerloss, magnetic fields and electric/static charges could have more of an effect on an SSD compared to normal HDD’s.

I’m curious how long it will take for PC hard drives to start the transition over to solid state drives, but as limitations become more of a factor I think manufacturers will be looking for alternatives. One of the biggest upsides that I see to having the SSD’s is the extended battery life due to the lack of mechanical parts, but as seen above there are also several other advantages.

The other thing that I’ve been wrestling with in my mind is whether operating systems will ever be shipped directly on computer chips rather than software that gets stored on a drive. All of the necessary configuration files could stored on a drive that is read from, but if the operating system was closer to the processor I think the speed increase would be remarkable. I’ve heard talk about this sort of thing before but it has only been rumors.

It’s always interesting to think about what the future holds for technology…