SSDs at Overclockers UK
Lightning Performance. Efficient Storage
How Do SSDs Work?
Where a standard HDD (Hard Disk Drive) features a platter of magnetic disks which store data through the alignment of heads, reading and writing data across a number of locations through magnetic dots, SSDs function in a drastically different manner, all the while serving the same purpose in a more efficient way. Since HDDs use moving parts which constantly in use for the duration of the PCs use, the component is open to wear and tear throughout the years of its lifespan, fragile to movements, and required cooling.
Storing data through the means of flash memory chips – similar to those featured on system RAM, SSDs can operate up to to four times as fast as a regular HDD, doing so with a vast improvement to power requirements and noticeable sound. As the flash chips share more in common with traditional RAM and USB drives, not only is it faster, it can also to be built to an incredibly small form-factor, depending on how dense each individual flash storage chip is.
Doing away with the requirement for moving parts allows a SSD to be substantially more durable, which proves ideal for those looking for external storage for their laptops. Available in form factors of 2.5”, various manufacturers will often design their SSDs slightly smaller internally – adhering to the 2.5” form-factor for the external shell, giving those who decide to install the SSD into a desktop the capability to do so.
Operating at an average speed of 500MB/s over the 130MB/s as those offered by a regular HDD, the improvements of an SSD for all computing purposes becomes instantly noticeable. Where a HDD may deliver system boot up times of 40 seconds and longer, a SSD will reduce this to an average of 15 seconds. This improvement to speed also applies to day-to-day uses such as opening applications and files, searching for documents and internet browsing. As the SSD is available in many different configurations, with the most common being a standard SATA drive, others such as M.2 SATA and PCIE can provide faster performance, thanks to their designs which feature a direct connection to the system motherboards.
Where a 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 instant opening of applications, which eliminates loading times when streaming data, gamers can expect 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.
Types of SSDs
Built to the 2.5” form-factor standard, SATA SSDs are ideal for those in need for additional storage for their desktops or laptops, allowing for installation in a 2.5” storage bay. External SSDs also follow this form-factor, with an integrated converter for USB connectivity.
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 integrated software features.
NAND Flash Chips
Improving on transfer speeds thanks to the utilization of flash memory chips is just one of the benefits that SSDs have over HDDs. The manner in which SSDs manage the data allows the drive to improve over time, allowing for more effective use and less corruption of data. 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 providing the same purpose and only affecting performance to an extent based on the use-case, each type of cell stores data differently.
Delivering the highest tier of performance with the lowest level of density for accurate management of reading and writing data, 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.
Proving ideal for general computing as well as gaming, MLC stores data as multiple bits per cell, allowing for cheaper production costs and a reasonable level of performance. Although not as durable nor 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, so to for the applications which they will be using.
Similar to the functionings of MLC NAND flash chips, TLC stores data as 3 bits per cell. As this means the cell increases on density, meaning it’s not as fast as MLC or SLC, it does give way for cheaper production costs with differences not being inherently visible during day-to-day usage.