The evolution of SSDs – from vacuum tube to storage at the nanoscale




For a little tweaker is not a secret for years, but for more and more users it slowly becomes clear: the best upgrade for your PC is an SSD. The speed gains offered by SSDs, makes your desktop or laptop much rapper and feels more responsive in everyday use. No more waiting for the “spin coating”, no sound of moving parts, lower sensitivity to bumps and drops: these are just a few advantages of a solid state drive over a hard drive.

ssd pcb

Such an easy choice but it was not always. In the early days of solid state drives for consumers so-called drop-in replacements with SATA interface and 2.5 “- or 3.5” -formfactor, prices were exorbitantly high and the performance is often not very much better. As an example we take the models from the first SSD review published by Tweakers: SSD Mtron drives and Memo Right, which cost at twenty euros per gigabyte. Apart from the access times, which even then offered a vast improvement over that of hard drives, the performance was not so great. The sequential speeds were only slightly better and traces performed drives two to five times as well as hard drives.

Meanwhile SSDs become about eighty times as cheap and capacities up to 64GB 16G grown to 120 to 2TB. The access times are still orders of magnitude shorter than that of hard disk drives and also the sequential speeds are now, thanks in part to new interfaces such as PCI-E, dozens of times higher than that of HDDs. However, SSDs are still young; where hard drives are commonplace for at least thirty years, are SSDs that not even ten years. Yet they are decades in development, but only in the last decade, they are suitable for consumers.

We look at this brief background story to the history of memory in general and SSDs in particular. We look at the technology that underlies nand memory and how SSD works, and finally we look ahead to the near future.

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