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Table of contents
Host Interface – The host interface enables an SSD to connect to the target device. Popular interfaces presently in use for SSDs are SATA (3.0 Gbps and 6.0 Gbps), and SAS (3.0 Gbps and 6.0 Gbps). Other interface types include Fibre Channel (FC), PCIe and mSATA.
SATA II and SATA III – SATA connections offer high transfer rates between an SSD and the host device. SATA II cables can reach speeds up to 3GB/s while SATA III can reach speeds up to 6GB/s.
Controller – The controller manages the transfer of data between an SSD and the host device. It is usually a highly integrated and specialized SoC (System-On-a-Chip) with a single- or dual core-based processor with advanced features built into the device, such as hardware error correction (ECC) and data buffering.
Firmware – The controller contains a built-in ROM (either mask-programmed or programmable) that contains firmware that controls the drive. Since an SSD is an example of an embedded system, it needs a Real-Time OS (RTOS) for proper operation. Several firmware options, both open source as well as proprietary, are available for SSD controllers.
NAND Flash Memory – NAND flash acts as the primary data storage element for an SSD. Based on the target application, the flash type may be either Multi-Level Cell (MLC) or Single-Level Cell (SLC). The interface for the NAND flash (SDR or DDR) also becomes a major contributor to the drive's performance.
MLC and SLC – Multi-level cell (MLC) and Single-level cell (SLC) Flash memory are similar in their design. MLC Flash devices cost less and allow for higher storage density. SLC Flash devices provide faster write performance and greater reliability, even at temperatures above the operating range of MLC Flash devices.
DRAM – The DRAM chip in an SSD acts as a buffer that speeds up data access and reduces latency. Although DRAM is volatile memory, it is faster than NAND flash memory. SSDs may use DRAM range from 32MB to 1GB, depending upon the required performance. Moreover, the type of DRAM used also determines the performance of an SSD.
Performance and Transfer Rates
Average Mean Time Before Failure (Life Expectancy)