Thursday, June 12, 2008

Overlooked SSD/HDD Facts

The net is filled up with interesting articles and comparisons between HDDs and SSDs. However no matter how many articles I read, I feel that some core points are always missed from this SSD HDD war. These points may not be of pimary concern, but they are very important for some users. I am writing this article only to highlight these overlooked facts.

A bit of Preface

SSD is a cheesy technology, finding its way into business class Notebooks and Cheap NetBooks/UMPCs. However how promising they may look, current-gen HDDs are getting better and cheaper. Following are the widely known benifits of both of them. If i've missed something, please dont care as listing these points is not my primary concern.

  • Fast access times
  • Shock-Proof
  • Low battery consumption (debatable)

  • Good transfer rates
  • High number of read/write cycles
  • Low cost per MB.

Overlooked Fact 1 : Parallel Data Access Speed

Try copying a movie from CD/DVD to disk and open that 3MB Excel file at the same time and you will know what I mean. Current gen HDDs handle single IO thread very nicely, but as soon as anything more than 1 app try to access the disk, it will crawl to its feet. Begin installation of VS08 and you will have to wait ages even for Firefox to start up. Consider a sunday noon system with Firefox+MSExcel+YMessenger+Skype+your-antivirus+a-few-background-services+... which leads to 480MB RAM + 350MB pagefile and you will start thinking that the sales person was right that you really need a quad core system for web surfing! (dont ask me to add ram, I just want to highlight parallel data access problem) In short if two or more high IO apps are running, they can make your system dead slow.

On the other hand, SSDs solves this problem (upto 90%, if not fully) and perform much better in such situations. This is specially useful for business users and multimedia pirates!!!

(Please leave your comments on what you think)

Overlooked Fact 2 : Heat Generation

HDDs are so sensitive to operating temperature that a rise of few degrees over the limit increases the data loss/failure chances a few times. Now considrer the situation in a Laptop. CPU and GPUs are actively cooled while HDDs are enclosed in a cramped space. If you live in a 20 degree C state, the heat might not even show up, but unfortunately the heat builds up very aggressively with the reise in room temp. In a 40 degree C state, you can see HDDs hitting 60+ degree very easily if lappy not placed on a good serface, forget leeping it on bed/lap. This really puts a threat to all my (junk) files inside and also limits they way I can use my notebook. In short, some (if not all) HDDs can overheat to extreme levels and can turn out to be the hottest components in Laptops

SDDs also warm up on practical use, but not as much as HDDs.

(Please leave your comments on what you think)

Overlooked Fact 3 : That Strange Clicking Noise

Now you might not hear anything in your office with coworkers twitting all around, but try reading a PDF late night and you will get those SFXs all for free! Add it with some disk access deamons/services in background and they will be enough to make a few users uncomfortable. In short, HDD clicks might bug you sometimes.

SSDs does not have this problem at all.

(Please leave your comments on what you think)

These are my personal views and my not be applicable to all users and all situations. Now I am no techno expert, but I would really appreciate if some expert reviewers can come forward to do, all what they do, so that we may get a clearer picture of this HDD vs SSD war.

Thanks all, please feel free to post your comments/updates.