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Origin Storage says TDK bid to replace laptop hard drives with solid state technology will not fly

May 2009 by Origin Storage

TDK’s announcement that it plans to oust magnetic hard drives with its new range of solid state drives (SSDs) is interesting, but the plan is doomed to failure, says Origin Storage, the storage systems integration specialist.

"SSDs definitely have their place in the storage hierarchy, but their applications - in rugged and other specialist situations - cannot hope to replace the flexibility and longevity that a magnetic drive offers most laptop users," said Andy Cordial, Origin Storage’s managing director.

"Much is being made of TDK’s SSD range supporting on-the-fly encryption, but this technology only supports 128-bit AES, whereas 256-bit AES magnetic drives offer far better encryption protection," he added.

According to Cordial, the fact that external 2.5 inch form factor drives are also available in a rugged casing, means they can more than give SSDs a run for their money in terms of durability.

There is also a question over SSD lifetimes as, he explained, even the multi-level cell (MLC) technology used on the latest SSDs is subject to a lifetime of between 50,000 and 100,000 write operations before the drive starts to fail.

And, he says, given that most netbooks - where SSDs are usually installed in place of magnetic hard drives - have limited memory; the number of drive write transactions can be quite high, especially under the Windows operating system.

Added to the fact that SSDs typically only go up to 64 gigabytes in size, and magnetic drives are available in much large formats - even in a 2.5 inch form factor - the advantages of magnetic drives are quite clear.

The bottom line in the SSD vs magnetic hard drive debate, he says, is that the price and durability advantages of SSD are now starting to be eroded to the point where magnetic drives have the edge in most situations, especially when it comes to secure storage applications.

"The only real advantage that SSD continues to offer over magnetic drive storage is speed of read/write access, but given that we are dealing in milliseconds, the big question is whether consumers will pay for a faster, but significantly smaller drive," he said.

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