What is a solid state disk?

The computer world, and users of the computers, demand faster and faster systems. Waiting for a booting PC or for a software package to load has become less acceptable to the demanding user. 30 years ago software was loaded via audio cassette tape. Yet today we all expect everything to happen at the touch of a button. Whether we are listening to music, working on a spreadsheet, Hey! even do the 2 things at the same time, which all PC’s are now capable of doing.

However, nobody wants to wait for the next song to load, or for Excel to launch. I upgraded my Windows XP system recently to Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate with a SATA Solid State Disk. The difference is at times subtle, but in other ways staggering. As I type this my Winamp plays my shuffled MP3 collection seamlessly, but then it did on Windows XP. This is written using Thingamablog (that is what it’s called – rather than having forgotten what the blog software is called, cause that would be just dumb!), and so while I am typing, the SSD is whirring away – actually it doesn’t whir at all – it is silent. For me, today, that doesn’t make a lot of difference to my world – my amp connected to my speakers that the sound card is plugged into is louder than the PC whir (I stupidly bought a DJ amp which has a fan in it and have not changed it yet).

However, I can see the benefit of a silent, or at best quiet PC. At one point I tried it in our living room as part of our entertainment system, and it was just too darn loud. Recording studios and broadcasting, recording suites would benefit from a quiet PC, or indeed you had your PC in your bedroom and left it on when you go to bed waiting for that download to complete.

The main thing is the boot time and loading all software onto the system. With Windows XP I used to turn the PC on before I go out to walk the dog in the morning, happy that on my return, the login would be acceptable. On the times I forgot required a long weight ensued, and where a watched kettle never boiled – it seemed a painful experience.

My main system is a Ubuntu 11.04 laptop with an SSD – which loads in seconds and programs are immediately available after the completed login. Both systems enjoy this exact same experience now, though I accept Windows 7 probably does help to perform this wonder.

What is an SSD? Ok Ok sorry I went off on a tangent. A solid state disk drive has no moving parts, they use high speed circuits and NAND Flash memory to store data. Therefore they have no speed measurement like a 5400 rpm or 7200 rpm disk (revolutions per minute) which had a rotating magnetic platter on which the data is written to and read from using a mechanical arm. A solid state disk has no mechanical parts and uses technology similar (but more complex and robust) to solid state media used in camera cards, mobile phone memory cards and USB Pen drives.

With more and more drives appearing on the market, and more systems being shipped with an SSD as standard, it won’t be long before we see the end of the spinning disk in the market.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *