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Solid State Drives (SSD)

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Solid state drives or SSD drives

A solid-state drive (SSD), sometimes called a solid-state disk or electronic disk, is a data storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently.

SSD technology uses electronic interfaces compatible with traditional block I/O hard disk drives.

SSDs do not employ any moving mechanical components, which distinguishes them from traditional magnetic disks such as hard disk drives (HDDs) or floppy disk, which are electromechanical devices containing spinning disks and movable read/write heads.

Compared to electromechanical disks, SSDs are typically less susceptible to physical shock, are silent, have lower access time and latency, but are more expensive per unit of storage.
SSDs share the input/output interface technology developed for hard disk drives, thus permitting simple replacement for most applications.

Hybrid drives combine the features of SSD and HDD in the same unit, containing a large hard disk and an SSD cache to improve performance of frequently accessed data. These devices may offer near-SSD performance for many applications.

Comparing mecahnical hard drives to SSD drive speed:

SSD drives are many times faster than hard drives for a number of reasons:

  • Start up times: SSD start up time is instant. Hard drives require some time to spin up.
  • Random access time for SSD is about 0.1ms, HDD is 5-10ms.
  • Read latency time in SSD is very low, mechinal hard drives read latency times are high.
  • Data transfer rates for SSD is consistent and fast. Mecahnical HDD transfer rates are slow and depends on teh drive's rotation speed (4,200 rpm to 150,000rpm).
  • Fragmentation is irrelevant in SSD. DIsk Fragmentation impacts performance in mechanical hard drives.
  • SSD drives are silent.
  • Temperature is not well tolerated by mecahnical hard drives, and hard drive cooling is highly recommended for hard drives. SSD drives can tolerate high temperatures.
  • SSD drives are shock and vibration resistant.
  • SSD drives are not affected by magnetic fields.
  • SSD drives are expected to last many years, whereas hard drives can fail due to wear and tear.


M.2 is now supported by various motherboards. These SSDs are capable of much faster speeds than SATA3.

M.2 speeds

M.2 connect through the PCIE3.0 x4 are capable of speeds of up to 32Gb/s / 4GB/s  (theoretically but 3.9GB/s in real world) whereas SATA3 is limited to 6Gb/s / 750MB/s (theoretically but 600GB/s in real-world)

To take advantage of these enhanced speeds, check the specifications of the M.2 before buying, and check where your motherboard does in fact support the M.2 and those speeds.

M.2 sizes - 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280, 22110

Check the correct size for your motherboard as these cards come in many sizes.

There are many different M.2 module sizes because of the different types of M.2 cards ranging from SSDs to Wide-Area Network (WAN) cards.

For SSD-based M.2 modules, the most commonly occurring sizes are 22mm wide x30mm long, 22mm x 42mm, 22mm x 60mm, 22mm x 80mm and 22mm x 110mm. The cards will be called after their dimensions above: The first 2 digits define Width (all 22mm) and the remaining digits define Length from 30mm up to 110mm long. So, the M.2 SSDs are specified as 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280 and 22110.

PCIe lanes - purchasing a PCIe x4 M.2 for a M.2 motherboard

The PCIe M.2 SSD would only be able to operate at PCIe x2 (2-lane functionality) speeds within that motherboard. If you purchase a motherboard that supports PCIe x4 speeds, your x4-capable M.2 SSD should work as expected within that environment. In addition, there are PCIe limitations on system boards where the total number of PCIe lanes could be exceeded, limiting the PCIe M.2 x4 SSD to either have 2 lanes or even none.

M.2 Keys

M.2 SSD is keyed. These are nothches that determines if the SSD will fit into a socket and prevents incorrect installation of modules.

Specifically for M.2 SSDs, there are 3 commonly used keys:

  • B
  • M
  • B+M (so both keys are on the M.2 SSD)

Purchase the correct module with the correct key.

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