Solid-State vs. Mechanical Hard Drives


Most people share an illusory perception that SSD could eventually mark the end of the HDD (Mechanical hard drives). That however, by far means, is not true. Let’s kick-start our analogy by understanding the inference of both the terms:

SSD stands for Solid-State Hard Disk, which uses a battery powered RAM, EPROM or any other electrically erasable RAM for storing the bits. Hence, there is no mechanical overhead (as is the case with Mechanical Hard Drives). That implies while reading/writing data, there is no seek-in/seek-out time required which apparently lets your data gets stored and read faster. Additionally, SSDs are more resilient to physical vibrations, shocks and temperature alterations. However, the only potential drawback of SSD is the cost per megabyte factor.

Mechanical Hard Drives on the other hand are conventional data-storage devices which work on the principle of mechanics and electromagnetic induction, where a moving arm moves over a magnetic disk tape to seek in and seek out. The whole mechanism is controlled by an electronic circuit (PCB) but the storage of bits occurs on magnetic domains. Mechanical Hard Drives provide large memory space and the reading/writing speed is also subtle enough for normal operations. However, it’s the relentless crave of humans for optimality and adroitness, that is keeping the bar ever rising.

Now, to compare Solid-State and Mechanical Hard Drives is to compare the two sides of a coin, though different, very much on the same platform. Interestingly, as per a recent survey, by 2020, around 99% of the computational devices are likely to come enrolled with SSDs. So now that this SSD storm has struck, we found some plausible reasons which would make SSDs stand out as a stalwart, in comparison to Mechanical Hard Drives.

1) Longevity: SSDs are believed to have a much longer lifetime. The reason being utterly simple. Unlike mechanical hard-drives, they do not have any mechanical equipment (everything works on the circuit and flash chips) and due to prolonged usage, they tend to suffer normal wear and tear, which reduces the lifetime of a traditional HDD. On the other hand, SSD works on electronic circuitry and possess efficient algorithm to manage and balance the disk blocks, written each time. For stats, flash-drives are capable of handling around 1,000,000 write cycles per block, much more than a Mechanical HDD would be capable of handling.

2) Speed: To make this point extremely pellucid and tangible that SSDs are faster, some number-crunching is done at the bottom. The access time of traditional HDD is 5000-10,000 micro-seconds, whereas that of SDD is 35-100 micro-seconds, making SSDs 100 times faster than a HDD.

3) Size: As the size is small, around 2.5’’ to 3.5’’, they fit easily into embedded systems and portability is never an issue.

4) Heat: The heat-dissipation is relatively lesser, purely because they use Flash storage for reception of data. As the heat dissipation is less, they can be an ideal choice for Notebooks, Tablets, etc.

5) Power: The power consumption is also relatively less, for the apparent reason that it does not require any mechanical arms for operation.

6) Reliability: As SSDs are resistant to vibrations, electric shocks and extreme temperature fluctuations, they are highly reliable.

However, SSDs still have a long way to go when it comes to practical application in various fields and products, considering the cost of installation. Though the prices of SSDs have demarcated in past years, if they continue to slide to around $1 – $2 per GB, they can indisputably alter the dynamics of the computer world, forever.

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