Solid State Drives, or SSDs, are now the preferred method of storing data across a multitude of platforms from laptops to data centres across the globe. With their unique combination of no moving parts, low power consumption, high capacity, fast speeds and small size, SSDs can fit into pretty much any system.
Choosing an SSD
SSD technology is ideal for a wide range of applications such as laptop or desktop upgrades (from old Hard Disk Drives) to data centres where vast arrays of servers host huge amounts of information. For more specialist industries such as automation, aerospace, defence, transportation, retail etc. Solid-state drives have revolutionised the way data is collected, stored and analysed. Understanding SSDs, the best fit, performance characteristics and what application they are can be quite daunting but expert advice is always available from the team at Simms.
What’s in an SSD?
Take the casing off an SSD and you will be faced with what looks like an electronic motherboard. The main thing you would notice is lots of little black blocks which are the NAND flash or memory chips, which is where all the data is stored. NAND Flash comes in different types depending on what you are using your SSD for. The most common type is 3D TLC a relatively new type of NAND that came into the market during 2016/2017. Most SSDs are now made with 3D TLC but more specialised SSDs for industrial applications might use something else like; SLC, MLC or pSLC. These types of NAND have different performance characteristics.
Unlike HDDs, SSDs have no moving parts which make them ideal for applications in high vibration environments such as machinery and transportation. SSDs have now taken over as the storage method of choice for consumer and business computing because of their faster speeds, lower power consumption, and higher endurance over HDDs. SSDs have an abundance of additional features that HDDs simply cannot compete.
Benefits of SSDs v HDDs include;
Which form factor?
SSD technology comes in a variety of form factors ranging from the most popular 2.5″ to some lesser-known form factors such as eMMC and mini mSATA, each with their own set of distinct characteristics. There are over 20 different SSD form factors for a multitude of applications and selecting the correct one can seem daunting. Always seek expert advice to ensure the correct fit, form and function for your application. Simms supply SSDs for several markets which include; consumer, enterprise, data centre and system integrators.
SSD sizes can vary and fit into some very small spaces. eMMC and BGA SSDs are roughly the size of a one pence coin and can hold masses of data, in some cases up to 128GB. The more common form factors are 2.5″, 1.8″, M.2, mSATA, slimSATA. The amount of capacity and SSD is measured in GigaBytes (GB) and TeraBytes (TB) (1,000 GigaBytes is one TeraByte) and varies with different form factors. Take 2.5″, these SSDs can have a capacity of up to 7.68TB and are perfect for data centre and hosting companies that store masses of data. At the other end of the spectrum, a system may only require a minimal amount of storage, say 16GB – it all depends on what data is being written and how often.
There are three main types of SSD interface (the connection between the SSD and motherboard) SAS, SATA and PCIe. SAS has been around since the early 1990s and is still used mainly in older data centre environments. SATA has been the mainstay for storage interface technology since the early 2000s and is now the norm especially for desktop, enterprise computing and embedded applications. PCIe (which is sometimes referred to as NVMe), was specifically designed for SSDs and has been for several years, but is gaining popularity because of its transfer speed. SATA tops out at 600 MB/s but PCIe (Gen4) is over 3x faster, plus PCIe can transfer up to 25x more data faster than SATA and cuts out the middleman by directly communicating with the system CPU. Unlike SATA based SSDs which have a controller built into the SSD. PCIe-based storage works with all major operating systems regardless of form factor, hence the gain in popularity and looks set to be the preferred interface in years to come.
Industrial SSDs are highly customisable to increase lifespan and performance. Industrial SSDs can come with a whole raft of features such as encryption, health monitoring, advanced wear leveling, wide operating temperature, conformal coating, controlled BOM, power failure protection, secure erase and DESLP support to name a few! It really does depend on what the SSD is being used for and how much data is being written (or stored). SSDs are built for a purpose. You wouldn’t place and industrial SSD in a data centre where huge amounts of data are being written or use a consumer SSD in an industrial application. Both will quickly fail, causing; system downtime, engineering resource and potential loss of income. Find out about the different types of customisation available.