Hi all! SSD, HDD and all sorts of storage lovers!
If you’re anything like me (PC enthusiast and gamer) you are always looking to improve and upgrade your computing/gaming experience.
And as it happens, I’ve been planning a big upgrade for my aging PC for a while now.
One of the main components and bottleneck to performance these days is storage. It’s not so much about the capacity – the limit of affordable capacity has been raised quite substantially over the last 5-10 years, but most people still rely on the old mechanical-magnetic Hard Disk Drives (HDD).
Thankfully, we now have much faster options in the form of Solid state drives (SSD). These make use of flash memory chips – similar to those found in those common USB thumb drives.
Let’s see the evolution:
HDD – Mechanical hard drive using magnetic platters and moving read/write heads – been around for several decades:
And here is an example: HGST Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380 1TB 5400 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 2.5″ Internal Notebook Hard Drive Bare Drive for $62.90
SSHD – A hybrid between the old mechanical beasts and the newer (and more expensive SSD). A part of the space inside the box is reserved for fast solid state flash chips which are used to accelerate the mechanical bits – though not quite up to the levels of SSD.
Here’s a SSHD example: New Original Barracuda ST1000DX001 1TB Hard Drive SATA3 1000GB 3.5″ desktop for $110
SSD – the classic one is the 2.5″ SATA form factor, containing anywhere from 64GB – 4TB of flash memory chips inside, and reaches typical speeds of 400-550 MB/s read/write speeds.
Here’s a SSD example: Samsung 850 EVO 500GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-75E500B/AM) for $179.07
M2 SSD – same chips, but on a stick similar to RAM chips configuration. Everything else is quite similar to the classic SSD, but you have to make sure that you have the right connector (M2) on your motherboard before you plonk money on this.
Here’s a M.2 example: Samsung 850 EVO 500GB M.2 3.5-Inch SSD (MZ-N5E500BW) for $239.29
mSATA – again, same chips, but a more square-ish form factor – also bare-boned like the M2, and requires a dedicated connector on the motherboard. No significant speed difference.
Here’s an example: Samsung 850 EVO 500GB mSATA 2-Inch SSD (MZ-M5E500BW) for $227.53
NVMe SSD – the last but definitely not least, is the PCI-Express based NVMe SSD. It is significantly more expensive than all the other options, and with good reason. The storage comes built into a PCI Express card, with a powerful controller and since it hooks up to your motherboard via PCI-e slots, the speed is the highest you’ll find. Anywhere. the typical result runs in the 1200-2200 MB/s – that’s 2-3 times that of a traditional SSD, and it orders of magnitude when compared to the old HDD.
Here’s an example: HyperX Predator PCIe Gen2 x4 HHHL (Half Height Half Length) Internal SSD Drive 480 GB SHPM2280P2H/48 for $401.86
But what’s next? well, the future (near future) holds greatness, in the shape of 3D flash modules. Intel, who lead the SSD revolution, introduced new SSD solution called 3D Xpoint which takes the SSD to places it never been before. Instead of “settling” for top transfer speeds of 1000-1500 MB/s, Intel demonstrated speeds that approach 10 GB/s!
Naturally, this technology is bleeding edge and is not commercial yet. And when it will be, it will target the enterprise market and not us mortals. But.. it’s only a matter of time till we’ll get it as well… so there is a lot to wait for!