We’ve been talking about SSD, or flash-based solid-state drives for a good year or two here. Lately, there’s been some question on one of the key advantages SSD drives are supposed to have over traditional magnetic storage. Yes, they can potentially read / write data faster in some cases, decrease boot times, and they also have no moving parts to wear out or break. But we mobile device users are constantly grappling with battery life, so like many others, I was surprised to read that Tom’s Hardware testing showed less battery life with SSD drives. LAPTOP Magazine countered with tests of their own showing that the units they used actually did eek out a little more battery life.
Who’s right and who’s wrong? I suspect that both are right or wrong depending on device configurations and usage models. While we do benchmarking here for some devices, this illustrates the key reason why we only publish them to be used as general guidelines. Remember: personal computing is exactly that; personal. I could be happy with the performance of a device while you might find it to not meet your needs. And replicating two exact devices and configurations between two different users? Practically impossible.
Having said that, I still believe in SSD as a key mobile device component once we get a much lower cost-per-gig. Multi-level cell technology will help in that area and we should see SSD prices continue to trend downward much faster in the next year as a result. Battery life? I don’t think SSD technology alone will solve our battery challenges, but they really shouldn’t hurt them either. And maybe I’m over-simplifying here, but if both an SSD’s idle and active power consumption is less than a magnetic drive’s idle power usage, the law of averages generally tells me that the SSD drive will use less power overall when compared to that traditional drive (unless it’s much slower in terms of data transfer, perhaps?). Again, I might be off-base there, but I know you folks will keep me honest with your opinions.