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Techie Stuff

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SSD Components

Host Interface – The host interface enables an SSD to connect to the target device. Popular interfaces presently in use for SSDs are SATA (3.0Gbps and 6.0Gbps), and SAS (3.0Gbps and 6.0Gbps). 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 3Gbps while SATA III can reach speeds up to 6Gbps.

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.

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SSD Technical Specifications

Physical Characteristics

  • Form Factor: Most often 2.5” but can be 1.8”, 3.5” or formatted for mSATA or PCIe
  • Capacity: Typically between 60GB – 1TB
  • Memory: NAND Flash with SLC or MLC architecture
  • Interface: Typically SATA II or SATA III, but also can be FC, mSATA or PCIe
  • Weight: Typically between 58g – 117g (2.05oz – 4.13oz); mSATA drives can weight as low as 6g

Performance and Transfer Rates

  • Average access time: 0.1  – 0.2 ms
  • Average random 4KB read time: 20,000 – 80,000 IOPS
  • Average random 4KB write time: 30,000 – 88,000 IOPS
  • Average maximum sequential read time: 280 – 550 MB/s
  • Average maximum sequential write time: 260 – 500 MB/s

Power Consumption

  • Average power consumption (idle): Typically 0.3W – 1.5W
  • Average power consumption (active): Typically 0.15W – 3W

Average Mean Time Before Failure (Life Expectancy)

  • MTBF: Ranges from 1 – 2 million hours

Environmental Tolerance

  • Average operating humidity: 10% – 90% RH
  • Average operating temperature: 0°C – 70°C
  • Average storage temperature: Typically -45°C – 85°C
  • Maximum shock tolerance: 1,500G
  • Maximum vibration tolerance: 20G

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