To SSD or not SSD, that is the question
August 1, 2011
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Late last week I had a researcher come rough from the IDEAS research center looking for a placement drive; he had filled up his 250Gb drive… He wAs hoping to get something with a faster throughput but with only SATA connectors on the small factor machines, choices are limited. Quite by chance i’d been reading a cent article on SSD’s which seemed to fit the bill. To my (and everyone else’s) rescue comes an intensive article from TomsHardware on this issue.
As the price of SSD’s drops down to a price us mere mortals can even contemplate them, people are asking the question, should I swap to SSD? The answer, as ever, is, it depends in what you are doing. SSD’s definitely have a better throughput than HDD so if you want your machine to run a bit faster or have I/O intensive tasks then it’s worth considering as an option. If, however, it is for data storage, SSD is not going to give you much advantage.
Undoubtably there is a cost difference between the two types of drives and SSD’s don’t have the same capacity as HDD drives. As price and capacity usually forms a major factor in selecting a new drive, this is usually the start and end of the choice. Although the price is dropping, it is estimated that it is going to take around 5 years before the two technologies prices come anywhere near each other.
Beyond the price you have the question of whether the write endurance limitation on an SSD (the amount of re-writes you can make to a sector on the drive) outweighs the likelihood of the failure on the mechanical drive. From the report on TomsHardware, it looks like we certainly don’t need to worry that much about the write endurance and a quick and swifty calculation led to a figure of 31 years on old 35mm NAND drives. That drops to 18 on newer 25mm NAND drives but they do have a higher threshold of writes too…
Overall it seems that SSD’s are not any more reliable that mechanical drives but overall fail at around the same rate over it’s lifetime. The recommendation is to always have a second copy of your data but that applies for all data in all reality.
The report is about eight pages of good quality researched material and well worth a read if the question of SSD’s is on your mind.
Here’s the link back to the article: