Solid-State Drives vs Hard Drives

By · Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Solid-State Drives(SSDs) Vs Hard Disc Drives(HDDs)Smartphones, tablets, and ultra notebooks are among the many devices becoming increasingly dependent on flash technology. There’s a good reason – flash memory is more rugged (precisely because there are no moving parts), has a better handle on random data access, and consumes less power. In the battle of thinner and lighter, solid-state drives win against hard drives. But once a few other things are factored in, it becomes apparent that SSDs have a lot of catching up to do to offer what HDDs offer in terms of storage capacity and cost.

With so many people touting the advances of flash memory technology, it seems that hard drives (HDDs) are increasingly taking a backseat to solid-state drives (SSDs). Technology experts argue that HDDs’ reliance on moving parts is becoming fast and far inferior to the non-moving efficiency of SSDs. With more and more devices relying on the “instant on” quickness of SSDs, it seems that HDDs are inevitably destined for the technology graveyard. Closer scrutiny, however, reveals a very different scenario: with the rise of solid-state drives actually driving the sale of hard drives and the difficulties of developing solid-state drives ensuring a longer future for hard drives.

Why Hard Drives RULE!

For one, it cannot be ignored that SSDs can cost from three up to 30 times more than HDDs. With the demand for huge storage capacities ever increasing, cost becomes one of the most important factors, since an upgrade in capacity usually means a hike in prices. HDDs trump SSDs in this area, regularly offering the same capacities or more for less.

The complexity of developing higher capacity SSDs is another reason why HDDs are still in the game. SSD developers are currently running into problems trying to develop SSDs that match HDD storage only to be plagued by problems concerning controller chips, backplane switches, or system bandwidths.

All these problems cost a lot of money to circumvent, which brings us to another obstacle in SSD domination: the volatility of the flash technology market. There is almost always a great disparity in supply and demand for flash memory because developers try to feel the market for demand. If the demand is insufficient, production slows to cut high development costs. When demand suddenly rises, prices also rise thanks to inadequate supply. This turns into a destructive cycle that benefits HDDs because HDDs are capable of upgrading capacities in smaller installations and are generally more adept in reacting to the ebb and flow of supply and demand.

In this kind of market, HDDs aren’t even in retirement. Give us your thoughts on which you think is the best.


By mark williamson on January 2nd, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I am under the impression that SSD technology still is limited by its silicon chip life. Namely that SSD storage / access stops after 100k reads. Which limits the life of an SSD, if true. A heavy user might reach that threshold in a year or less, a casual user in three. I can’t find much in literature on this topic; but I may not be looking in the right places. Responses appreciated.