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.