The main advantages of a Solid State Drive over a mechanical hard drive are generally considered to be speed and durability. Of course, there are other related advantages associated with an SSD such as low power consumption, minimal heat, ultra shock resistance, and compact size. But if it’s not fast and built to last then it’s not going to rank very high on the sales desirability index.
Or — if the product is fast but then slows down to a crawl or comes to a dead halt—then there is no reason to buy it. But if it’s fast and still ticking after taking a licking (thank you Timex) then you have a product that’s worth buying and worth talking about.
A solid state drive is a product that tends to vie for bragging rights regarding speed. In fact, within the first two paragraphs of almost every SSD review you’ll find the sequential read/write speeds measured in MB/s and random read/write speeds measured in IOPS. And the people in the know will say “Aha! It’s not as fast as…” or “Aha! it’s faster than (you fill in the blank)”.
The problem with this performance ranking is that most SSDs are measured for optimum write performance when the unit is brand new—in a “clean” state. And, as it turns out, this spec is only representative of what you get for a very brief period of time. In fact, write speed losses can be up to 90% of the initial sequential write speed.
When the SSD is new, the writing process is simple. Blocks are ready to be written to, and large continuous areas of blocks are available. Shortly after the SSD is used, the structure of the files and space on the disk is a more complicated affair. Files are changed becoming spread out across more blocks. Deleted files free up previously used space. And as this premature-aging process continues, the disk becomes — in a word — dirty.
If a drive is not designed to deal with problems associated with being in a dirty state, then the write process becomes very inefficient. And, unfortunately, the disk can go from a clean to dirty state quickly — especially in enterprise situations — and can easily be detected in less than an hour of continuous testing.
Plextor solid state drives are notable for addressing this problem head-on by featuring exclusive firmware with True Speed technology, including Plextor’s proprietary Bad Block Management, Global Wear Leveling, and Instant Restore Technologies. True Speed is especially designed to prevent drastic drops in read/write speed. With True Speed technology, a Plextor SSD will maintain like-new performance and read/write speeds throughout the life of the drive.
The effectiveness of True Speed technology shows up dramatically in benchmarked testing using CrystalDiskMark. Three clean non-True Speed drives and two clean True Speed drives were subjected to one hour of continuous random writing to simulate a relatively short period of use. In this dirty state, the drives were then tested again using the same CrystalDiskMark tests. Results showed an average performance loss of 60% for sequential write and 58% for random write for non-True Speed drives. The performance change for the drives with True Speed was near zero.
It appears that if you’re looking for speed and durability — the main reasons for buying a SSD — a Plextor drive with True Speed would be the obvious choice.