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SSD V HDD - What’s the difference?
A standard HDD (Hard Disk Drive) utilizes multiple disks which store data through magnetic dots whereas SSD's (Solid State Drives) function in a drastically different manner, all the while serving the same purpose in a more efficient way. SSD's actually store the data on solid state flash memory arrays which can access data almost instantaneously – Upto 5x faster with practically zero seek time.
One of the other key benefits of an SSD is that they are solid state meaning they have no moving parts. HDDs on the other have multiple potential points of mechanical failure including spinning platters and actuator arm which holds the read/write head. This, unfortunately means HDD’s can be damaged when subject to sudden movement or vibrations while under operation and transport. SSD’s, on the other hand have no such issue and can be subject to many undesirable conditions without failure.
In summary SSD’s are low power, silent, compact, durable, produce practically no heat and outperform a HDD in every field except capacity and price - in which the HDD is still king.
What is NAND Flash?
SSD’s attribute the blazing fast transfer speeds down to the utilization of flash memory. When data is written to an SSD, it is stored within a cell. Depending on the manufacturer, this cell will either be a single layer cell (SCL), multi-level cell (MLC), or triple level cell (TLC). While all methods of NAND Flash storage serve the same purpose, each is slightly different and affects performance, accuracy and overall price. Let’s take a look at the different versions in a little more depth:
SLC (Single Layer Cell)
SLC stores data in a measurement of single bits per cell, making it ideal for faster speeds and intense workloads, such as those which are found in embedded systems and workstations. SLC delivers the highest tier of performance with the lowest level of density for accurate management of reading and writing data.
MLC (Multi-Level Cell)
MLC stores data as multiple bits per cell, allowing for cheaper production costs and a reasonable level of performance. Although not as durable or as accurate in overall performance, which in itself isn’t noticeable during day-to-day usage, MLC has been designed directly for the needs of the general consumer.
TLC (Triple Level Cell)
Similar in function to MLC NAND flash chips, TLC stores data as 3 bits per cell. This means the cell increases in density, meaning it’s not as fast as MLC or SLC but does give way for cheaper production costs with differences not being inherently visible during day-to-day usage.
How much faster are SSD’s?
Operating at an average speed of 500MB/s vs the 130MB/s generally offered by a regular HDD, the improvements of an SSD becomes instantly noticeable. Where a HDD may deliver system boot up times of 40 seconds plus, an SSD will reduce this to an average of only 15 seconds. The huge improvement in speed is also very noticeable when opening applications and files, searching for documents and internet browsing. As the SSD is available in many different configurations, with the most popular being a standard SATA drive, others such as M.2 and PCIE can provide much faster performance thanks to directly integrated design which bypasses the SATA controller and uses the much quicker PCIe interface.
If you want to speed up a slow aging PC or Laptop – Upgrading your HDD to SATA SSD will have a huge impact on your overall system performance. Your other option is to buy a new computer or configure your very own from our ever growing range.
Are SSD’s good for gaming?
While an SSD will provide an incremental improvement for general computing, those looking to purchase one for the purposes of gaming will also see an incredible performance gain when installing games to an SSD. As the SSD allows for near instant opening of applications and games, which eliminates loading times when streaming data, gamers can expect pretty much instant gameplay and a reduction in stuttering and hitching, which is commonly associated with open-world games due to the continuous stream of loading data.
What are the different types of SSD’s available
SATA: Built to the 2.5” form-factor standard, SATA SSDs are ideal for those who want to increase system performance or require additional storage for their desktops or laptop. By simply installing in any standard 2.5” storage bay you can experience the revolution of solid state storage.
mSATA: Delivering similar performance to a SATA SSD, the mSATA has a smaller form-factor which makes it ideal for motherboards which feature mSATA connectivity, as well as laptops making use of a thin form-factor.
M.2 Drive: Differing from the 2.5” inch variations of SSDs which connect to the system using a SATA cable, M.2 drives feature their own proprietary M2. slot, which provides the same transfer speeds as a standard 2.5” SATA drive. In order to gain the most benefit from the M.2 drive it must be installed using the PCIe interface. Using this connection rather than SATA can deliver read and write times up to 3000MB/s and 2400MB/s on average.
PCIe SSD: Functioning in a similar manner to M.2 drives, PCIe SSDs connect to the motherboard’s PCIe slot and offers increased performance over SATA based SSDs. This type of SSD seeks the most benefit when being used inside workstation PCs thanks to its intergrated software features.