Report: SSDs Can't Replace HDDs

On Friday, TDK Corp reported that its new line of serial ATA II compatible solid state drives (SSD), dubbed the SDGA2 series, would launch by the end of May, offering a maximum memory capacity up to 64 GB, depending on the model. TDK bragged that the SSDs are capable of 95 MB/sec. read speeds and 55 MB/sec write speeds, and provide 128-bit AES encryption that has been officially registered with the US government (FIPS PUB 197). The smaller versions--ranging from 1 GB to 32 GB--use single-layer cell Flash technology, potentially making them faster than the larger drives using the multi-layer cell approach; there are MLC versions of the 16 GB and 32 GB drives in addition to the 64 GB drive.

But what made TDK's revelation stand out Friday was its claim that the new SSDs are ideal as magnetic hard drive replacements, and, according to the EETimes, the company began to shop the new SDGA2 around to laptop manufacturers last week. "TDK’s SDG2A series of industrial SSDs are SATA discs suitable as replacements for hard disc drives(HDDs) and provide high-speed performance, data reliability, storage life span, and data security at the highest levels in the industry," TDK said Friday in a press release.

However, storage system integration specialist Origin Storage quickly fired back at the company's claim, saying that any plan to replace magnetic hard drives--especially in laptops--is doomed to failure. Why? Andy Cordial, Origin Storage's managing director, said that SSDs definitely have their place, but cannot replace the "flexibility" and "longevity" that magnetic drives offer most laptop users in rugged environments and other "specialist" situations. Laptop manufacturers chimed in with Cordial as well, stating that the SSD's limited capacity range--from 1 GB to 64 GB--puts them behind the current capacity of 2.5-inch notebook-oriented hard drives.

In addition, Cordial also pointed out a major difference between the encryption technology used with the SDGA2 series, and the encryption used with magnetic hard drives. "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," Cordial told the EETimes. Needless to say, the SSDs are not quite as secure as their magnetic counterparts.

Cordial also goes on to give examples of SSD setbacks when compared to HDDs: unlike solid state drives, many external 2.5-inch form factor drives offer rugged housing to protect the delicate innards. Also, netbooks normally have a limited memory capacity, thus they read and write to the pre-installed SSDs at a constant rate, especially with a Windows OS installed. Currently there are questions about SSD lifetimes, in particular those with the MLC technology; currently these drives have a lifetime of between 50,000 and 100,000 write operations before they begin to fail.

Ultimately, Cordial says that SSDs have no real advantage over standard HDDs where secure storage applications are concerned. The only real advantages SSDs hold over their magnetic counterparts are read and write speeds and durability. The question boils down to whether the consumer wants to shell out big bucks for smaller drives with faster read and write speeds, or spend less money on magnetic hard drives--internal or external via a USB connection--with slower read and write speeds, and (substantially) larger capacities.

  • skittle
    Who says we cant have both?
  • Tindytim
    So the only issues are the limited number of writes, and capacity?

    Capacity of SSDs have been increasing pretty quickly, so I don't see how that will be a concern for long. Not sure about limited writes, but I'm sure that's being worked on.
  • Platypus
    "Any plan to replace magnetic hard drives is doomed to failure."

    I love it when people try to completely discredit something while it's still in its infancy. SSDs have made great improvements in a very short period of time, and there is much more to come. No sense putting your foot in your mouth this early.
  • lejay
    Are they claiming that SSDs are fundamentally limited to 128 bit AES? wtf?
    Anyway, for pretty much any security scenario, 128 bit aes will not be your weakest link.
  • KyleSTL
    Modern Science (1952) -

    The abacus will never be replaced by calculators.
  • Ciuy
    I`d go with an SSD for the win swap file and/or games or other stuff that need fast read. Then put 2 1Tb drives for storage :D .

    Maybe even 2 SSDs, can they go in Raid or something?
  • my_name_is_earl
    No duh! If it reaches 1tb and cost $100 by the end of the year then no, it won't replace HDD anytime soon. Even the 256gb cost an arm. I rather use the funds to upgrade my graphic card/CPU then SSD.
  • hellwig
    So, um, TDK basically announced they made a line of SSDs that can compete with HDDs from about 10 years ago in capacity and performance, but with the brand new (read: 6-yera old) SATA interface that every other SDD already uses?

    Is the revelation here supposed to be that TDK is supporting extended SATA features such as hot-swap, etc... that other SDDs don't yet support? I'm sort of confused, because there is no such thing as SATA II.

    It must be my ignorance, but other than the hardware security these sound like pretty mediocre drives (down right pathetic when capacity is taken into account).
  • dark_lord69
    Cordial is full of dumb4sses.
    Incryption can be increased it doesn't have to be 128bit.
    Capacities will increase.
    Prices will decrease.
    The housing can be made more durable.
    All of thier arguements are shortsighted and seemingly against SSD like they have a bias opinion.

    OOOH the security isn't good enough.. well I don't keep top secret information on my PC and the average joe can hack 128bit. Sure if you work for the secret service or FBI perhaps higher incryption will be important but NOT FOR MOST USERS!!

    All of these things are just the way they are because solid state is still new to the PC markets and still hasn't hit the big time with lower prices and higher capacities but that is only a matter of time. Cordial... what the h3ll were you thinking say some BS like that? NEWS FLASH: YOU'RE WRONG! SSD will become the primary drive in the majority of computers in the future.
  • doomtomb
    This "specialist" really dropped the ball on this one, that is his explanation. SSDs are PERFECT for laptops and netbooks. It is a native 2.5" device that weighs less, consumes less power, produces less heat, and is more durable than hard drives. Those are all welcome improvements over hard drives especially in mobile devices. If you drop your laptop or netbook, there is a good chance your magnetic hard drive is toast. At least with an SSD, losing your saved information is about the least of your worries. The only thing that SSDs lack still is: Capacity, price, and optimization for current operating systems. Windows 7 is planning to fix the later.