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Upgrade to a Solid-State Drive

As I was preparing my recent presentation on The Flash Storage Revolution (see previous post), there were a couple interesting business announcements that point the way to developing trends in personal storage -- from the very tangible and always-there flash memory to the much more ephemeral but wide open vistas of the network cloud.

The first news was from Western Digital, a clear leader in magnetic storage, with hard disk drive systems from portable consumer peripherals to high-performance PCs to enterprise servers. Last month, Western Digital announced the acquisition of SiliconSystems, a leading supplier of solid-state drives for the embedded systems market, for $65 million in cash.

Clearly, Western Digital is recognizing the importance of Solid-State Drives (SDD) as a challenger to hard disk drives (HDD), saying in the announcement that the acquisition will help "address emerging opportunities in WD's existing markets" -- and across the product line, to "significantly accelerate WD's solid-state drive development programs for the netbook, client and enterprise markets."

The key advantages of SSD are its ruggedness (no spinning or even moving parts), and the performance -- computers boot up and launch applications visibly quicker, 2 to 5 times faster then HDD. (See Joel on Software for a testimonial on huge differences from rejuvenating old systems.)

SSD also is more shock and heat resistant, lighter and permits more compact designs (1/2 the weight), uses less power (1/2 the power in a PC, and 1/8 the power in Samsung camcorders), runs cooler and quieter (for longer battery life), and is more reliable (up to 6X longer mean time to failure).

SSD already is an option for some new notebooks, albeit still at a price premium, but companies like Intel, Samsung, and SanDisk are working hard to bring SSD prices down even faster and further. SSD is also a cost-effective option for upgrading older systems. Instead of replacing an older laptop, you can swap in a SDD drive to make the system feel young again, with a clearly visible performance boost for disk-intensive operations.

Companies like SanDisk and Imation now offer both consumer and enterprise lines of SSD replacement drives, in both 2.5-inch and 3.5- inch form factors. The Imation SSD Upgrade Kits (shown here) bundle the SSD drive with a power cable, USB-to-SATA or SATA connector cable, and Acronis True Image HD software for migrating from your existing hard drive -- including the data, applications, and operating system.

See the SanDisk Drive Your Laptop site for more information on SSD

See my article on The Flash Storage Revolution for more on flash, SSD, and its use also in new netbook computers.

See my Portable Storage Gallery for more on storage formats and devices.

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This entry posted on April 16, 2009.

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