If you look at a modern laptop, you will likely see some that come equipped with a solid state drive. This form of computer storage has been on the market for some time but only recently has been embraced by the industry and consumers as a viable alternative to traditional hard drives. So, what exactly is a solid state drive (SSD) and how does it compared to a traditional hard drive?
Solid state is term that refers to electronic circuitry that is built entirely out of semiconductors. The term was originally used to define those electronics such as a transistor radio that used semiconductors rather than vacuum tubes in its construction. Most all electronics that we have today are built around semiconductors and chips. In terms of a SSD, it refers to the fact that the primary storage medium is through semiconductors rather than a magnetic media such as a hard drive.
Now, you might say that this type of storage already exists in the form of flash memory drives that plug into the USB port. This is partially true as solid state drives and USB flash drives both use the same type of non-volatile memory chips that retain their information even when they have no power. The difference is in the form factor and capacity of the drives. While a flash drive is designed to be external to the computer system, an SSD is designed to reside inside the computer in place of a more traditional hard drive.
So how exactly do they do this? Well, an SSD on the outside looks almost no different than a traditional hard drive. This design is to allow the SSD drive to put in a notebook or desktop computer in place of a hard drive. To do this, it needs to have the standard dimension as a 1.8, 2.5 or 3.5-inch hard drive. It also uses the common SATA interface so that it can easily be placed into any PC as a hard drive would.
Solid state drives have several advantages over the magnetic hard drives. The majority of this comes from the fact that the drive does not have any moving parts. While a traditional drive has drive motors to spin up the magnetic platters and the drive heads, all the storage on a solid state drive is handled by flash memory chips.