LONDON Storage systems integration specialist Origin Storage (Basingstoke, England) says TDK's announcement that it plans to oust magnetic hard drives with its new range of solid state drives (SSDs) is doomed to failure and 'will not fly'.
"SSDs definitely have their place in the storage hierarchy, but their applications - in rugged and other specialist situations - cannot hope to replace the flexibility and longevity that a magnetic drive offers most laptop users," said Andy Cordial, Origin Storage's managing director.
TDK started pitching SSDs at laptop makers late last week with a new line of SSDs, dubbed the SDGA2 series , and suggested the products should be considered HDD replacements.
However, others suggest the capacity range - 1GB up to just 64GB - puts it well behind the capacity curve for 2.5in notebook-oriented drives.
TDK's initial offerings will follow the 2.5in form-factor, but it said it will offer 1.8in versions too. The Japanese group's approach appears to focus more on netbooks than notebooks.
The lower capacity models - 1, 2, 4, 8, 17 and 32GB - use single-layer cell (SLC) Flash technology that is said to be faster and offers better longevity than the multi-layer cell (MLC) approach employed with the 64GB drive. MLC versions of the 16GB and 32GB drives are also on offer.
The drives use TDK's own controller chip, the GBDriver RS2. This uses the hard drive-oriented Smart (Self-Monitoring and Analysis Reporting Technology) system to report the drive's capacity decline over time, the product of Flash storage's limited write life.
The SDGA2s also support on-drive AES-128 automatic data encryption.
Commenting further on TDK's claims, Cordial said: "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."
According to Cordial, the fact that external 2.5 inch form factor drives are also available in a rugged casing, means they can more than give SSDs a run for their money in terms of durability.
Origin Storage's MD also said there were questions regarding SSD lifetimes as even the MLC technology used on the latest SSDs is subject to a lifetime of between 50,000 and 100,000 write operations before the drive starts to fail.
He adds that, given that most netbooks - where SSDs are usually installed in place of magnetic hard drives - have limited memory, the number of drive write transactions can be quite high, especially under the Windows operating system.
The bottom line in the SSD vs magnetic hard drive debate, according to Cordial, is that the price and durability advantages of SSD are now starting to be eroded to the point where magnetic drives have the edge in most situations, especially when it comes to secure storage applications.
"The only real advantage that SSD continues to offer over magnetic drive storage is speed of read/write access, but given that we are dealing in milliseconds, the big question is whether consumers will pay for a faster, but significantly smaller drive," said Cordial.
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