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SDDs: Solid and reliable?

Helen French
SDDs: Solid and reliable?

There are many benefits to SSDs over traditional spindle drives - they are increasingly competitive on price, less vulnerable to damage from movement, offer quicker boost times and better performance overall.

They’re an attractive proposition for any retailer or reseller who can offer clients the chance to upgrade.

However, there are still concerns in some quarters that because SSDs don’t have a proven history like their hard disk counterparts, then entrusting data to them is a risk.

This means knowing the benefits of SSD is vital if you want to offer them as upgrades to your customers.

Pasi Siukonen, field application engineer at Kingston Technology reviews the benefits: “Compared to traditional drives, SSDs are silent, have no moving parts, and generate less heat as well as consume less power. When integrated into an old PC or laptop, greater speeds and system applications are experienced, enhancing device performance tenfold.”

Prices have come down rapidly, reaching the magical $1 per GB point. IDC expects worldwide SSD shipments to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 51.5 per cent between 2010 and 2015.

Mark Pini, senior regional marketing manager at Sandisk, suggests a reason why every SSD may not be created equally: “As with every developing technology, it takes time to bring the high performing and reliable products to market, especially from the controller point of view as this tends to be a very complex matrix.”

There are a few issues that are particular to SSDs. One centres around data recovery. Hard drives might be prone to failure now and then, but plenty of firms offer ways to get your data back. Even Kingston’s Siukonen has to admit: “SSD recovery is possible, but due to inherent differences in the technology, it’s more challenging.”

StorageSearch.com recommends that anyone in need of SSD data recovery goes to vendors before they try any data recovery sites. In these cases the vendors are still (usually) the experts.

Samsung’s Stefanie Sears-Black says: “SSDs tend to wear out rather than ‘die,’ and they do so gradually. Using Samsung’s Magician 4.0 software customers will be able to view a health status bar that provides a traffic light system on the health status of the drive and confirms the number of terabytes of data written to the drive. This allows consumers to be much more aware of the health of their drives.”

There have also been concerns about ‘wear out’ or ‘write endurance’ because blocks of flash memory can only take a certain number of write cycles before becoming unreliable.

Does this mean a shiny new SSD is going to fail after a few weeks?

Sears-Black thinks it’s unlikely: “Today's SSDs will easily outlive the useful life spans of the devices they power. When we speak of ‘write endurance,’ we’re referring to the durability of individual cells, of which there are millions in an SSD. In fact, internal testing at Samsung suggests that SSDs can last for decades under moderate to heavy daily workloads.”

Choosing the right brand is important in this sector. Pini says: “There is a lot of expertise required to develop products in the SSD market. End users need to consider this when making purchases, as well as price and performance.”

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Tags: ssds, Analysis, Pasi Siukonen, Mark Pini

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