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 USB Flash Drives and Solid State Drives

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PostSubject: USB Flash Drives and Solid State Drives   Mon Nov 14, 2011 3:52 pm

Solid state drives have been around for many years, but recent technological changes have increased their viability and their popularity. At its simplest, a solid state drive is one that is built entirely out of semi-conductors, rather than a magnetic drive with moving parts. Originally, solid state drives referred to electronics that did not use vacuum tubes, but this definition is now outdated.
One commonly available form of solid state drive is a USB flash drive. These use the same kind of non volatile chip to retain information, even without power. However, these drives have different capacities and form factors from the solid state drives that are now beginning to enter the market.
* A flash drive is designed as an external piece of the computer system.
* A solid state drive is designed to be used inside the computer in place of magnetic hard drives.
On the outside, solid state drives don't look any different from ordinary hard drives. That allows notebooks and desktop computers to use the solid state drive instead of a regular hard drive. They have the same dimensions as a conventional hard drive and use ATA or SATA interfaces in the same way as the drives we are all familiar with.
So, if these drives look the same and plug into computers the same way, why use them? The lack of moving parts in these drives gives them an advantage over conventional hard drive, which must use drive motors to spin magnetic platters and drive heads. The storage on a solid state drive is instead handled by flash memory, allowing less power to be used, data to be accessed faster and the drive to be more reliable overall.
Using solid state drives in portable computers is made much easier by their lower power use. Since they have no motors to draw power, they use a lot less energy than normal hard drives. While the portable computer industry has taken steps to address this, their solutions still use more power than a solid state drive. It consistently draws less power than either hybrid or traditional hard drives.
Faster data access is possible since the drive platter doesn't have to spin up and there are no drive heads to move. That allows data to be read from a drive nearly instantly. There's nearly a twenty percent improvement in the boot time of Windows on a solid state drive versus a standard drive. Reliability is also important. Since conventional hard drives are very fragile, being jarred can damage them. Solid state drives have no moving parts to be damaged, and can be used in computers that are meant to travel in rougher conditions.
Currently, the big reason these drives are not being used more widely, is cost. These drives have been available for a long time, but the cost of the drive would be equivalent to that of the entire computer they were installed in. Since these drives are growing more popular, price is going down, that suggests that solid state drives will soon be more readily available in forms other than USB flash drives.
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USB Flash Drives and Solid State Drives
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