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SSD (solid state drive, solid state disk, solid state storage drive)

Definition: Learn what a solid state drive (SSD) is, why SSDs are replacing electromechanical hard drives and which form factors are approved by the Solid State Storage Initiative (SSSI).

An SSD (solid-state drive or solid-state disk) is a nonvolatile storage device that stores persistent data on solid-state flash memory

SSDs actually aren't hard drives at all in the traditional sense of the term, as there are no moving parts involved. Instead, an SSD has an array of semiconductor memory organized as a disk drive, using integrated circuits (ICs) rather than magnetic or optical storage media. This arrangement has many advantages. Data transfer to and from solid-state drives is much faster than electromechanical disk drives. Seek time and latency are also substantially reduced and end users typically enjoy much faster boot times as well. In general, SSDs are also more durable and much quieter, with no moving parts to break or spin up or down. SSDs have a set life expectancy, however, as they have a finite number of write cycles before performance becomes erratic.

Development and adoption of SSDs has been driven by a rapidly expanding need for higher input/output (I/O) performance. High performance servers, laptops, desktops or any application that needs to deliver information in real-time or near real-time can benefit from SSDs. Historically, SSDs have been much more expensive than conventional hard drives. Due to improvements in manufacturing technology and expanded chip capacity, however, prices have dropped so both consumers and enterprise-level customers are re-evaluating SSDs as viable alternatives to conventional storage. The Solid State Storage Initiative (SSSI) has identified three major form factors for the enterprise: solid state drives (SSDs), solid state cards and solid state modules (SSMs). Solid state drives come in traditional hard disk drive (HDD) form factors and will fit into the same slots. Solid state cards use standard card form factors such as Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) and reside on a printed circuit board. Solid state modules reside in a Dual In-line Memory Module (DIMM) or small outline dual in-line memory module (SO-DIMM) and may use a standard hard disk drive interface such as Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA).

This short video from Micron provides a back-stage view of the manufacturing process for sold-state drives.

See also: RAM-based solid state drive, client solid state drive, solid state drive capacity, solid state drive RAID, array-based solid state drive

This was first published in August 2014

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