SSDs are trying to enter market and replace platter based hard drives. Technologywise they surpass the old way of storaging data magnetically so why the SSD market is still so slow eventhough the drives have been around for couple of years now?
We try to answer this question with our first SSD review. First we take a brief look on what the SSD is all about and then focus on Patriot's Warp v2 32 gigabyte SSD unit. Let us see what the future have in store for us.
Technology behind the SSD
! Note, this part is meant to be light reading. It covers the basic idea behind the SSD and gives you all the basic data that you should have when reading this review.
SSD is a short for Solid State Drive. As the name implies, the drive doesn't use magnetic disks or moving parts but instead relies on integrated circuits to hold the data. These days flash based drives use Nand Flash to store the bits. This technology is divided to SLC (Single Level Cell) and MLC (Multi Level Cell).
SLC is the more expensive version. It uses one memory cell for each bit of data you store. MLC memory cell has two bits stored within thus making it more "cost effective" as the both take the same amount of space on the chip. SLC is faster to access as the controller can access each bit as it pleases but with MLC it has to be extra careful not to alter the other bit inside the cell.
You may have heard people complain about the short life span of the SSD drives. As it happens, these Nand memory cells are good for a certain number of read/write cycles. SLC is the better one as it hold only one bit of data in each cell. This translates to around 100.000 cycles. MLC has two bit and all that controlling means that the cell is good for around 10.000 cycles. These numbers may sound small but when translated to a real-life situation of 20 gigabytes of data written daily, the drive should last around 5 years.
Inside the firmware of the SSD unit operates some smart pieces of code that try to use all the cells evenly. Drive holds a "map" that tells it where the data has been written recently and that the new bits should not be written there. This "map" takes space and because of this, the amount of available storage space on a SSD-unit is about 5% smaller than the advertised maximum capacity.
Patriot Warp v2
From inside the package we find the drive and a brief manual. No "dog-tags", lanyards etc. that we have used seeing lately bundled with computer components. Hmm... who will be the first one to release a Gaming SSD?!
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