The message that industry data has been driving home over the past few years when it comes to hard drives has been unmistakable—consumer interest in once-ubiquitous HDDs is declining, and interest in SSDs is picking up. One need look no further than to a chart on statistics portal Statista that indicates that since 2012, the number of PCs shipped with HDDs that shipped has dropped from 475.4 million to 416.7 million. In that same duration, the number of PCs that shipped with SSDs leaped from 31.1 million in 2012 to 153.8 million in 2015. The chart further extrapolates that in 2017, 227.1 million SSDs will ship in PCs while only 409.9 million HDDs will.
To what does the industry owe this spike in interest in the new kid on the data storage block? This comparison between reliability and performance of the two options will show exactly why customers are clamoring for SSDs and shifting away from the old hard drive standard.
SSD Performance, Speed, and Size
Many of our contemporary computing needs call for extreme speed, which is one area where HDDs just can’t compete with top-of-the-line SSDs. Because HDDs are built around a spinning plate from which data is read with a mechanical head, such basic physical concerns as friction put an absolute cap on how fast they can go. When SSDs write to flash memory, there are no moving parts involved in the process, so the sky is truly the limit when it comes to the speeds they can reach.
SSDs themselves are getting faster, as is the controller technology that governs them. Whereas just a few years ago SSDs were limited by controllers designed to manage the flow of data from HDDs, SSD-specific controllers are now becoming prevalent, thus allowing SSDs to live up to their full potential.
Not only do SSDs outperform HDDs in speed, but they also do so while taking up less physical space. Because of the physical mechanism that constitutes an HDD, the drive must be a certain size. SSDs, on the other hand, don’t have this limit, so they are becoming physically smaller, even as their storage capacity is growing larger.
SSD Reliability, Durability, and Capacity
Because there is no spinning mechanism in SSDs, they are much more durable; therefore, when people are commuting with devices or are in other situations where a drive can be prone to physical damage, they are a safer bet. Likewise, drive failure from mechanical errors, which can easily affect HDDs, is not really an issue for SSDs, thus leading to greater reliability in many circumstances.
In terms of capacity, though the largest capacity HDDs (those used for servers) are currently up in the 10 TB range, SSDs are not lagging that far behind anymore, with drives in the 6 TB range currently beginning to appear on the market.
The Next Big Thing
With all the development resources being pointed at improving SSD technology on all fronts, you can easily see why extrapolated sales data shows a continued uptick in the amount of machines that will ship with SSDs in the near future. SSD reliability and performance are only increasing. Although HDDs are still a bigger seller, the numbers indicate that in a few years SSDs could be outpacing the older technology in sales.
In what ways have you seen SSDs outperform HDDs?