The Promising Future of Laptop SSDs


Solid state drives (SSDs), a storage technology in which nonmoving elements replace revolving platters, are carving out a niche in the computer world. Most recently, SSDs are gaining in the laptop sector.


This piece looks at the pros and cons of using SSDs in laptops. David Strom begins by noting that Apple, Lenovo, Toshiba and Dell have released laptops using SSDs, and that this approach also is finding use in high-end storage-area networks (SANs).


Strom concludes that SSDs drive prices up, are faster, and may or may not consume more power. Much of the second half of the story is dedicated to the power consumption issue. A nice chart highlights five available SSD laptops, their capacities, price, and the premium paid to get the SSD.


Glenn Fleishman neatly wraps up where the mobile industry is in relation to SSDs. It is at a very early stage of an evolution that may have profound impact. Fleishman describes SSDs as "a fancier form of flash memory" that uses a 2.5-inch hard drive interface. He says that various tests show that current SSDs aren't significantly less power hungry or faster than traditional drives. However, the sector is at an early stage of evolution and has an extremely high ceiling.


It is prudent to form a baseline for SSD performance now so that what figures to be a fast evolution during the next few years can be accurately gauged. Earlier this month, IDC partnered on research in which six devices -- two traditional mobile PC hard drives, two SSDs and two hybrid hard drives -- were tested under the same conditions. The precise results of the testing weren't released. The overall conclusion is that assessments of SSDs that don't take into account the systems in which the devices are used are overstating their advantages.


The tide seems to be rolling toward SSDs. For instance, this month Samsung announced that it has begun mass producing a 128-gigabyte solid-state drive in 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch models. Earlier in the month, the company began producing a 64 GB SSD.


This report at Tom's Hardware is referred to by many other posts, and seems to be the most comprehensive available. The writer concludes that OCZ's SATAII 2.5-in. SSD is the best on the market. More broadly, he says that flash SSDs are "not there yet" and may even cost battery life. He also says they do offer more efficiency as they are called on to do more. In the final analysis, decisions should be made on the basis of how well a product serves its intended purpose, not into which generic category it fits.