I apologise up front – despite trying to keep technical matters away from this blog, I felt this article was worth posting because it explains so clearly and abundantly a technology that you almost certainly carry in your pocket on a regular basis.
Most of us are familiar with cut-open images showing the spinning platters in hard disks that store our data at home and in our data centres. Every time we put on a film in our living room, we feel at home with the notion of little optical knobbles that reflect blinding laser light and are often used to back up our personal data.
But, when you snap your friends at the party with your digital camera, or listen to music on your phone, how much do you actually understand the vast differences in the way that those tiny plastic flash memory cards work, and how much they will begin to encroach on other types of storage?
I was prompted to find out more about flash storage technology because I was working out whether it was going to be better to buy more DVD-ROMs or portable hard drives for a certain purpose, when I realised that cost for tiny, light-weight SD (and microSD) storage was actually starting to get seriously competitive. Considering you can now pick up 8Gb SDs (almost twice as much as a DVD) for just over a tenner, and 32Gb cards are becoming common, think how amazing the progress has been compared with staid and bulky hard drives, or cheap but small DVDs. Ok, so 15 years on Blu-ray offers 25 & 50Gb capacity per disk, but its still not getting bigger and cheaper at the rate of Moore’s Law.
So whether you really want to know about the silicon and the electrons inside your Memory Stick, or you want to understand why your Compact Flash seems slow some days, and blindingly fast other days, or you simply want to understand the commercial realities of why Solid State Disks are going to give hard disks a run for their money, I can thoroughly recommend the clear and concise yet comprehensive (though perhaps somewhat bullish) article on Icrontic covering The hows and whys of SSDs. Enjoy!
You don’t need to understand the technology but its good to know why its here and where its going.