A major evolution in computing: Samsung's 256 GB solid state drive

by David Spark on March 1, 2009

Samsung 256 GB SSDI don’t normally get into hyper geeky subjects on the Spark Minute, but the release of Samsung’s 256 GB solid state drive (SSD) or flash drive is a very big deal. Given the big jump in capacity, it’s going to significantly change computing to be lighter, faster, more reliable, and last longer.

All hard drives fail

The question with all hard drive failures is an issue of when. And if you were going to bet on which item in your computer was going to go first, most of us would put our money on the hard drive. The rest of you would choose the fan.

Hard drives are most often the top hardware fail point of any system. That’s because outside of the fan, it’s the most critical device that still has moving parts.

According to Samsung, its drive could conceivably last 100 years. Seagate and Western Digital can’t say that about their drives. Their hard drive warranties max out at five years.

Flash drives big enough for computing

We have all used flash/USB drives before. But their limited capacity meant we only considered them a convenient device to store data, and not to actually use for computing. That’s until we saw a flurry of Netbooks and the Mac Air, both of which use flash drives.

The TV I have at home I’ve had for more than 15 years. During that time I’ve bought about six computers because the parts kept breaking or I needed to upgrade because new processing power, disk space, and memory afforded me all new computing capabilities.

Majority of software can still run on the lowest end computer

Today, the fact that the overwhelming majority of software can be run on even the least powered machine being sold, means that processing power no longer provides the leaps in computing capability it once did. You don’t have to upgrade to a faster machine just so you can run a new application. In fact, even the weakest machine can handle video editing which is one of the most memory and processing intensive tasks you can do on a computer. The only reason to really upgrade your computer is because of the hard drive. In that case, you can just get an external one.

Reliable systems have no moving parts

If you want a piece of technology that’s going to last you more than three years, you’re going to need a more reliable system. And a system that has little to no moving parts will last longer than one that does have moving parts, like a hard drive.

The introduction of Samsung’s 256 GB SSD, large enough for most everyone’s computing needs. The previous SSD with the largest capacity was Intel’s X-25M with 80 GB of storage space. With 256 GB it makes the possibility for long term, faster, more durable, and reliable computing possible. This could usher in the era of all computers having SSDs. No need to get a specialized “Netbook” or “Mac Air.”

The estimated price of $500 for the Samsung drive is more than four times the cost of a comparable hard drive, but it provides so many other benefits that a $400 premium would be worth it.

The benefits of Samsung’s 256 GB SSD

Here’s a summary rundown of the benefits of Samsung’s SSD as compared to a comparable HD.

  • It’s much lighter. Only 2.8 oz. No need for spinning metal plates.
  • It’ll last longer, a lot longer. I wouldn’t rely on a hard drive much longer than six years of continued use. Samsung claims that even with heavy use, its drive would last more than 100 years.
  • It’s much faster. No need to physically move plates and read heads.
  • Faster boot up time with Samsung’s SSD. A full complete boot up only takes 25 seconds.
  • SSD’s in general are more reliable than HDs. As mentioned before, no moving parts.
  • SSD’s can take greater impact. You can knock around a computer with an SSD a lot more than you can with a computer with a spinning HD.

For those geeks who want to see all the hardcore numbers of Samsung’s 256 GB SSD vs. other SSD’s and hard drives, check out Computerworld’s complete review, test, and analysis.

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