What are Solid State Drives?

What are Solid State Drives

Computers are provided with a number of data storage solutions. Some are of primary in nature and form a part of internal atmosphere of the device. The others are attachable to the device and offer extra storage capacity to it. Drivers like HDD, solid state drives, mechanical drives or flash memory storage solutions are some of the alternatives that can help in carrying out the storage process. After computing, storage is the most important function of a laptop or computer and therefore, a number of innovations are always under trial. An SSD is one such innovation that has helped improve the storage component by reducing the physical size, but without compromising the storage capacity.

What are solid state drives?

The solid state drive SSD is the next gen storage solution that runs on the flash memory making it easy to download files faster than a typical mechanical hard disk drives. The solid state drive is the solution for enabling faster working of computers and laptops while saving the data. It is a secure, safe and highly efficient solution. Available in different types, the SSDs can be one of the factors that can distinguish a computer or laptop from another.

Types of solid state drives

You must have come across the terms like PCIe, M.2, U.2, SATA and SATA Express and so on while going through the storage specifications of a laptop and also when asking the Google, “what are solid state drives?”. These are nothing but the types of solid state drives that are employed by the maker in designing the storage structure of the device.


PCIe are the latest entry in SSD market. It is the most advanced SSD type and so offer the users a justified alternative to NVMe SSD that costs a premium. PCIe is available in configurations of x1, x4, x8, x16 and so on. These configurations show the number of lines the PCIe card will have for storage and carrying of the data. This configuration is also dependent on the type of motherboard employed. If the motherboard has numerous PCIe slots, one can add video card, Wi-Fi and even add-on SSD card etc. Thus, the computers designed with PCIe can store data like graphics, videos, games and audio files easily. Different generations have been introduced in PCIe too. These generations are named as PCIe 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0. Each generation can allow doubling of bandwidth, making it easier to save more and download faster.


SATA is based on two-connector system similar to the traditional hard drives used for storage. The SATA SSDs are used in older computers in which the newer SSD slots were not available. Experts cloned the older drivers to SSD and replaced the hard disk drive with SSD to combat the problem of slow working computers. The data transfer speed in SATA had higher limit of 600MB/s. So, to get the speed higher than this (present records show speed of 3Gbps), one has to move to the computer having SSD slot


NVME stands for non-volatile memory express. To accommodate the SSDs in the computers, these are replacing the previously used AHCI. The latter was the interface that was designed keeping hard drive functioning in mind. NVMe is now designed to complement fast speed SSDs. These can work better and more efficiently only when the PCIe is working as bus. It is important as PCIe can surpass all the bottlenecks which were common with SATA. NVMe features lower latency period and also support high efficiency.

A lot of data, consequently, can be downloaded and saved in shorter duration without slowing the speed of the computer. NVMe is also being developed in various version with each new more advanced than the older one. The NVMe required M.2 as connector key that features 5 pins. While some SATA SSD hybrid drives can recognize both M and B connectors, NVMe is compatible only with 5-pin arrangement. Being newest SSD available, it costs more than others. The faster booting of the system as well as programs offsets this shortcoming remarkably.

Benefits of Solid State Drives

SSDs are the latest storage solutions added in the new gen computers and laptops. These offer a lot of convenience to the users of laptops in the form of:

1) Better machine performance due to no significant temperature rise

While using SSDs for downloading and saving purposes, the users do not face the problem of heated up machine. Since there are no moving parts involved in saving process, these do not develop much heat. Also, the less development of heat allows the fans to work slowly without making much noise. This helps in keeping the device temperature minimal and its performance quite optimal. Since too many of resources are not required to maintain the temperature of the computer, it leads to better functioning and happier results.

2) Faster functioning

All the functions related to downloading, booting up of the device and the system programs and applications are sped up as SSDs are flash memory based. This storage solution complements plug-and-play culture prevalent in the present times nicely. The user gets more time to do things that matter more.

3) Pro-multitasking

In the present times, the users tend to do n things at one time. The processor, storage drive and other related parts, therefore need to be lightning fast in their functioning. SSD is designed to support multi-tasking by reducing failure rates. The user can back up the data, enjoy playlists, and access websites, etc. all at once without registering any kind of performance lag in the device.

4) Supports longer shelf-life of the battery

SSD work fast, does not heat up the machine much and supports multi-tasking too. All these lead to one result – that is – more work done per unit of batter consumed. Thus, the users can appreciate the longevity of the battery of devices and can save lot of money in replacements and maintenance.

5) Data loss not experienced due to accidental falls

SSDs are very small sized parts which do not get hit easily if you drop the laptop accidentally. Also, the resistance to trauma and shocks or vibrations make these a perfect companion for working even while feeling jolts during travelling. The SSD takes away the pain of data recovery and offers same working speed on the move as you get while sitting in your office or home.

6) Very easy installation

The installation is almost DIY thing if SSD is involved. The makers offer complete and easily understandable installation kit. You just need to have a screwdriver and the manual ready while doing the job. In a few minutes, the fitting is completed. The installation process following after it is completed in few clicks.

Applications of Solid State Drives

SSDs find their main application in networking and data center storage. Apart from the next gen laptops. In networking world, these are useful in following applications:

1) Tiering the information

Tiering means dynamic movement of data between different levels of I/O arrays in order to allow access as per the preference. The allotment of tiers happens according to the space requirement, cost and analysis. Information needed frequently most occupies the top tier, this is where SSD is placed mostly. According to the frequency in which the files are accessed, these are stored first in SSD and then in FC and least frequent ones on SATA. High I/O performance possible with SSD makes these useful for applications that need fast data transfers.

2) Boosting cache for faster I/O in array

Information is stored in arrays for faster I/O. It does need the support of cache to deliver information in a blink. SSD plays its role in faster retrieval of information by boosting the cache memory. Every device in the present times have cache, and SSD will just speed up the I/O without determining the criticality.

3) Fast storing of I/O information

Speedier I/O needs solutions that can store things fast, reduce the access time, too, along with maintaining the optimal device temperature. SSD is capable of doing all these. This is why; one of the major application of SSD lies in storage device that is now replacing HDD with something faster and less resource-consuming in nature.

4) Functioning of virtual machines

Virtual machines need faster data retrieval from memory chips. SSD can help in swapping process, which involves interchanging memory pages to disk by carrying out change of .vswp files on the SSD drive. ESK files are hosted faster with the help of swap files that lead to reduced latency in network. This is how SSD helps in optimizing the performance of VMs.

Limitations of Solid State Drives

SSD is seen as advancement over HDD, still it comes with certain disadvantages, such as:

High price:

The SSD is tagged with high price as compared to HDDs that are available at reasonable rates in the market.

Low life expectancy:

When writing is done using NAND memory-flash chips, it stops working after certain number of rounds. Thus, you need replacements of SSD frequently in this case.

Incompatible with old devices:

The devices having Windows 7 and below versions were not designed to fit the SSD. So, the device’s shelf-life decreases in the want of SSD slot. Trying to adjust SSD with the obsolete operating system hits the driver performance badly.

Limited storage capacity:

Given the price of the tag attached to the SSDs, the data possible to save is to be reduced too. It, certainly, cannot support hefty transfers, and lags in performance become quite obvious.

Permanent data loss:

The data saved in the SSD, when removed, cannot be retrieved by any chance. The data deleted is data lost in case of SSD. Thus, one needs to be extra careful in taking decisions pertaining to data back-ups and deletions.

High power consumption in some variants:

SSDs running on DRAM technology extract more power to get started. Thus, when compared to HDDs, the power consumption can be an issue. It will require frequent charging of batteries as a result.

Limited write/erase cycle:

In HDD, the read write head performance remains the same till the end of the life of the product. In case of SSD, the write/erase cycles reduce from a million cycles to 1 lakh cycles. Thus, SSD will need replacement in order to extract the same performance, which certainly adds painfully to the cost.

Low writing speeds in case of hefty data saves:

When the data is enormously large, the latency and slow speed become quite conspicuous. It is certainly not noticeable in the small writes, however.

New developments in SSD technology

SSD technology developers are achieving various milestones in speeding up the functioning of SSDs. They have introduced changes like:

1) Inline compression and deduplication:

Mostly, in flash storage, it becomes difficult to accommodate the duplicate and unused files. With the help of inline compression, more storage space is created off the given SSD. De-duplication works towards the same aim by controlling the resource abuse and misuse with the help of removal of duplicate files regularly.

2) More responsiveness:

The enterprise SSDs feature backup power circuitry which is in-built in improved versions. This allows the user to enjoy uninterrupted working experience even in case of unexpected power cut.

3) Improved total cost of ownership:

With the help of enterprise-grade SSDs, the users are able to save the cost of floor space, cooling, electricity consumption, labor, etc. Thus, the cost of ownership, in case of data centers, decreases considerably without changing form factors.

4) Scalable performance:

The SSDs for data centers are made enterprise-grade with an intention to support heftier workloads. Similarly, the client-grade SSDs make optimal use of technology to deliver customer-centric experience. thus, there is a solution for every scale of requirement.

SSDs are truly advanced. These are making the devices lighter in weight, but quite efficient in performance. The multitasking abilities of SSDs allow the users to have devices that excel in multi-utility aspect. It is advisable, however, to keep an eye on latest developments in SSD technology because the present versions do have some shortcomings of their own. So, when you need to upgrade, you must be aware of the options available.

See Also…

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