Every computer needs a storage solution, somewhere that it can save and edit data for future use. (SSDs) Solid state drives and hard disk drives
(HDDs) are roughly similar hard drives in their physical specifications, but store data in very different ways, and have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.
Hard disk drives consist of one or more magnetically sensitive platters, an actuator arm with a read/write head for each platter, and a motor to spin the platters and move the arms. There is also an I/O controller
and firmware that tells the HDD’s hardware what to do and communicates with the rest of the system. The platters are divided into concentric circles called tracks, which are further divided into logical units called sectors. Each track and sector number results in a unique address used to organize and locate data. Whenever a computer retrieves or updates data, the I/O controller tells the actuator arm where data is located, and the read/write head gathers said data by reading the presence or absence of an electrical charge in each address.
The drawbacks of HDDs are that mechanical parts used to read and write data, and physically find and retrieve the data takes more time than finding it electronically. These mechanical parts can also skip and fail if they are handled roughly or dropped. They are also heavier, and use more energy than SSDs. However, HDDS are much less expensive than SSDs, and have much more storage space.
Solid state drives are a newer type of storage device, but are progressing rapidly and adding more and more storage capacity with every passing year. Solid state drives use NAND, a type of flash memory
. At the lowest level, floating gate transistors record a charge or lack of a charge to store data, and are organized into grid patterns, which are further organized into blocks. Block size can vary, but each row that makes up the grid is called a page. An SSD controller performs several functions, as well as keeping track of where data is located. Each time an SSD retrieves or updates data, the controller looks at the address of the data requested, and reads the charge status. Updating data in an SSD is more complex, as all data in a block must be refreshed whenever a portion of it is updated.
The greatest drawback of SSDs is that they are newer and therefore more expensive than HDDs. SSDs are also much smaller in terms of capacity than HDDs, which can be two and a half times larger than SSDs. SSDs however, are much faster for games, apps, and movies, are lighter and more shock-resistant, and use less electrical energy.
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