Whether it’s Best Foods Mayonnaise squaring off with Miracle Whip, or Chevy versus Ford, or PC versus Mac, brand bias works as a catalyst for new product models, modifications, and upgrades. One of the hottest topics in computers these days—whether you’re a PC stalwart or Mac zealot—is SSD (solid state drive) versus HDD (hard disc drive). The issues that spark this debate usually come down to speed, capacity, price, durability, and size.
Probably the most obvious evidence of speed is boot time. An SSD averages about 11 seconds and an HDD is right around 50 seconds. If you do some quick math you find out that within a year you have an extra 12 hours—or half a day—to do something other than wait for your HDD laptop to boot. Then there’s IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) which is a performance measurement used to benchmark computer storage devices like SSDs, HDDs, and storage networks. One SSD is 44,000 IOPS and one HDD is 180 IOPS. That means SSDs are fast.
However, what if capacity is a main concern? What if you’re a photographer managing hundreds of Gigabytes and you’ve got a fast drive but not enough space for your data? Giving a massive media user a 512GB SSD is something like giving a semi driver a pickup—the latter is faster but won’t do the job. There are 1TB SSDs out there, but they’re usually in the four-figure price range.
Pingdom has released data showing that SSDs remain considerably more expensive than hard drives on a per GB level, although flash-based storage devices are coming down in price much faster than HDDs.
SSD memory cost 120 times as much as HDD memory in 2007, but only 32 times as much in 2011. On another front, Artur Berg of Fastly claims that SSDs are actually cheaper than HDDs using the most relevant metric: $/GB/IOPS.
HDDs may hold a lot more data than SSDs, but how rugged and reliable are they? Putting your data in an SSD is like putting your money in a safe deposit box, but putting you’re your data in an HDD is more like putting money under the plant by the front door. SSDs are extraordinarily resistant to mechanical breakdown since there are no moving parts such as drive motors and all storage is handled by flash memory chips. The military and aerospace industries use SSDs because of their durability and stability. A Plextor SSD with True Speed technology can maintain high performance at like-new levels throughout the life of the drive.
Given the recent proliferation of Ultrabooks, size matters more than ever, but one size does not fit all. The MacBook Air and the Asus Zenbook have 128GB solid-state drives, but the Acer Aspire combines a 320GB hard drive with a 20GB SSD to help speed it up. Plextor’s new super fast M3 Pro SSD is 7mm in height and will easily slide into any Ultrabook. If recent evolutions in storage are any sign, we will soon see hard drives the size of rice grains powering music players small enough to fit inside your ear. In August there will be a Swiss Army Knife equipped with a 1TB SSD and a blade section that you can switch out to make it flight friendly, but it’s priced at $3000.00.
Currently what drive you use depends on what you do, but basic economics tells us that prices will go down as supply, demand, and manufacturing efficiencies go into effect. No one can say for certain which type of drive will win or dominate, but there is a good case to be made for SSDs if flash memory continues to stay on track and improve in capacity and price. When there is an affordable Terabyte sized SSD, it’s probably safe to say you can bet your argyles that almost all users, massive media and otherwise, will be touting SSDs as their drive of choice.
The Plextor M3 Pro SSD
Plextor’s latest SSD release, the M3 Pro Series, comes in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities starting at $219.99 at the Plextor Store. The M3 Pro uses a Marvell server-grade Controller, Flash Memory from Toshiba, and Plextor’s proprietary True Speed Technology to keep the drive running fast for the life of the drive. Plextor SSDs have a Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) of 1.5 Million Hours and Plextor stands behind its drives with an industry leading 5-year warranty.