What is SSD? Know the types and sizes

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What is SSD
SSD

Nowadays, having an SSD in your computer is practically a requirement for a good user experience. Find out what SSD is and its types

Finally, SSDs have become increasingly accessible to the public, but some questions still arise about these devices, such as what is SSD? With this in mind, Showmetech has created a complete guide on these components, which in the past were true “luxury items” in computers and today have become essential parts for good performance.

What is SSD?

Before knowing its types and particularities, we first need to understand what SSD is. Also known as Solid State Drive, the SSD is a type of storage unit, a device with the same function as your HD (Hard Disk), the to store your data, software, operating system, games, etc.

But if SSD and HD have the same function, what is the big difference between them? While the HD has an internal disk and its operation takes place magnetically, the SSD is built around a semiconductor integrated circuit, responsible for storage and has flash memory (technology similar to that used in memory cards and pendrives). This makes SSDs essentially different from HDDs and LTO tapes — which use magnetic systems and from CDs and DVDs, which use optical systems.

What is SSD

The main difference between SSDs and HDs is that the former do not have moving parts.

To be more specific, the conventional Hard Disk uses a magnetic disk that rotates at a certain number of times per minute, and the information is read when a small arm, much like the piece that played the songs on the LPs, touches certain parts. of the disk. This makes recording and writing on these devices slower and more prone to damage, as there are several fragile components that wear out over time.

On the other hand, as we explained before, the SSD depends on 2 fundamental components to function:

  • Flash memory: Directly responsible for storing all files, it does not require motors to operate.
  • Controller: It has the function of managing the exchange of data and information involving the computer and flash memory.

Because it works electrically, the SSD can make faster and quieter reading and writing functions. The controller is responsible for encrypting information, mapping parts that have defects in the SSD, increase the useful life of flash memory and manage the cache of reading and writing files.

SSDs use flash memory to store data

Types of SSD

Now that you know what an SSD is and what the differences are to an HD, it’s time to get to know the types and formats of these great devices.

SSDs SATA

When we talk about SATA it is necessary to understand that we are talking about a type of command/protocol that the industry uses to make the connection between the SSD, the motherboard and consequently the processor. Basically it is a connection format.

SSDs SATA

SATA is the acronym for Serial Advanced Technology Attachment, and was the first type of connection used not only for SSDs, but also for the HDs. This fitting is made using a cable that is usually included in the motherboard box, the SATA cable.

SATA cable

The SATA cable is used to connect SATA HDs and SSDs to the motherboard

SATA is a standard that was constantly changed and reached 3 main versions: SATA I, SATA II and SATA III, the most current of this format. Nowadays, SSDs with this slot use the SATA III standard, which can reach a maximum of 600MB/s.

SATA is an extremely popular connection and is still very fast, but it is certainly not the most current and fastest type on the market, as we will see below. Additionally, Sata SSDs are 2.5 inches in size, so they work on both desktops and notebooks. It’s worth remembering that notebook HDs also have the same 2.5-inch size and the same Sata connection, so we can connect an SSD that was on a desktop computer to a laptop and vice versa.

SSDs SATA Express

The SATA Express connection is a hybrid connection, which combines the SATA standard with the possibility of connecting directly to the motherboard through PCIe ports. As this technology consists of making two drives work together, it is possible to add two SSDs and thus be able to deliver better performance. Something similar to RAID, a technique that makes the system faster and safer.

So basically the connection now has 3 inputs and outputs very similar to the SATA data, although the fittings are slightly different. Therefore, data transfer speed can reach up to 10Gb/s. Unfortunately, this technology does not seem to have taken off so well and is not the most common for daily use.

NVMe

Before we move on to the next format we need to remove a big stone from our path: the NVMe standard. The acronym refers to the term Non Volatile Memory Express, and unlike what many think, NVMe is not an SSD format, but rather a type of interface focused on increasing the performance of the SSD, < /span> since file access times are much shorter. Thanks to this technology, it is possible to use PCI Express speed to access faster hardware.

It is important to highlight that it is not the priority of this function to reduce transfer speeds, but rather to reduce  the access time. This way, reading files is faster. This is only possible because NVMe was designed to take advantage of what is called superior random access (reading and writing data), very common in SSDs. It is possible that this technology will also appear not only in SSDs, but also in new technologies such as MRAM and RRAM.

“SATA allows a limited number of commands, in addition to depending on an intermediate layer of contact with the CPU, which forces the SSD controller to translate the commands from the computer’s processor, overloading the components. On the other hand, SSDs with NVMe connect directly to the CPU and, consequently, have greater autonomy to focus on their write, read and optimization operations.”

— Iuri Santos


SSDs PCIe

SSDs PCIe

PCIe SSDs are installed in the same motherboard ports used by components such as GPUs

Now that we know about the previous technology, we can continue the types and formats of SSDs. Now we talk about PCIe SSDs, which are fitted to these ports on your motherboard, in the same way that you install an internal audio or network card.

These connections are extremely fast and can even serve as “expansions” for the M.2 format, which we will see soon. Basically we can put 4 SSDs in a PCIe bracket, fit it to the motherboard and that’s it. But there is also the PCIe SSD itself, which is not used as an expansion.

It is important to note that in order to install PCIe SSDs, there must be x4, x8 or x16 connections available on the motherboard, as in the example below:

Therefore, we have seen so far that SSDs can be connected via SATA cables and directly to specific slots on the motherboard. And that brings us to the next subdivision…

SSDs M.2

SSDs M.2

What is SSD? Know the types and sizes

We finally arrived at the M.2 format, which represents a major evolution for this segment. In addition to being faster SSDs, the M.2 models differ due to their compact format and different fittings, as they have more than one type of connection, although they are all a little similar.

These devices are very similar to small plaques, all 22 mm wide, but with different lengths: 22 mm x 60 mm, 22 mm x 80 mm and 22 mm x 110 mm. Thus, M.2 SSDs are specified as 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280 and 22110.

Another positive point is the support for AHCI and NVM-Express, two logical interfaces. By supporting the Advanced Host Controller Interface, it is possible for the SSDs M.2 to be compatible with “past” software , older OS and previous generations, not leaving aside motherboards and other SATA drives. NVMe support provides better use of the high speeds of a PCIe connector, while also allowing the computer to multitask.

This model can also easily transfer at least 1GB/s, but everything will depend on where you are sending the files. It’s no use if you can transfer all that amount at the same time, and the receiving storage can’t receive it all at once.

type of m2 min

What is SSD? Know the types and sizes

According to Kingston, there are 2 reasons for the M.2 length difference. The first is linked to the fact that the larger the card, the more FLASH chip units can be allocated, and consequently more storage power. The second factor is related to space, since motherboards may not have enough space to support many models and also to be compact enough to integrate the components into notebooks.

Now that we understand the size and its meaning, why does this M.2 format have different connections and where do we connect it on the motherboard? For the second question, the answer may vary, as motherboards distribute ports throughout their body, so we cannot align with certainty. In the images below we can see some connections with red arrows, while the red squares show the heat sinks for the SSDs.

The heatsinks can already be integrated into the SSD itself, as is the case with the Western Digital SN750 Heatsink. In other cases, the motherboard itself has compartments to help cool the storage units. This is the case with the ROG XII Hero.

Now we need to talk about the particularities of the connections. If we look at an M.2 SSD we can notice that the item has yellow connectors at the end. We call these connectors keys, but to make it easier to understand, think of them as little teeth. Officially there are 12 types of keys, but the vast majority are not yet used on the market. Therefore, we need to keep an eye on 3 specific keys:

  • Key connection B has a larger row and a small tooth on the left, with 6 pins. This connection supports SATA III interface;
  • The M key connection has a large row and a 6-pin tooth on the right, with support for PCIe nVME interface. Therefore, this connection is faster than the previous one.
  • The B+M connection supports the previous two, combining these standards and allowing all forms of fitting.

Just like the PCIe format, it is necessary to check if your motherboard has the previous slots. Just check the box or the manufacturer’s official website. In notebooks, this model also follows the same idea as Sata: the M.2 SSD can work on both desktops and notebooks, just pay attention to the size that the laptop supports and the type of key.

After all, is it worth buying SSD?

There is no other way to answer this question other than with a big YES, it is worth buying an SSD in 2021. This storage unit is not necessarily perfect, as it is more expensive for a smaller amount of GBs, but it has definitely become an item Almost essential for assembling a computer or notebook.

Benefits

  • Reduced access time
  • Quieter
  • More resistant against physical shocks
  • Lighter
  • Lower energy consumption
  • Supports higher temperatures than HDs
  • Much higher bandwidth

Disadvantages

  • Higher cost
  • Options with more storage are very expensive

With a good SSD, the standard user will have the operating system loaded in a few seconds, providing great agility and fluidity in everyday use. For the most enthusiasts, the SSD has already become synonymous with the right purchase, especially if you are thinking about running current games or don’t want the headache of waiting for heavy programs to open.

What is the best type of SSD?

In the end, the best SSD is the one that fits well into your budget, but if we were to rank, the standard NVMe M.2 seems the most interesting, precisely because of its high data transfer rate. The model has become extremely popular and it is already possible to see a gradual decrease in prices.

To give you an idea, the latest ultra-thin notebooks from brands like Dell, HP, Samsung, etc. use M.2 SSDs due to their super compact size, low temperatures and performance. The same thing happens with the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and S, which use versions of this format together with compression technologies, providing very fast loading.

Recommended products

SATA III

SATA III SSDs are a great upgrade option for those who already have a notebook or desktop with a SATA HD, simply replace using the same power and data cables, and are great options for daily use. In general, SATA SSDs serve very well for games, and there are few brands that use more extravagant designs, with RGB, etc.

SATA III

Below, we present models that differ more in terms of storage capacity than performance:

PCIe

Unfortunately, PCIe SSDs are not so common on the market and when they are found they cost very high prices, but they provide very high reading and writing data. In general, these models are more aimed at gamers or enthusiasts.

PCIe

AORUS PCIe SSD boasts extraordinary speeds

We recommend the Aorus 1TB RGB Gigabyte AIC PCIe NVMe SSD. This model has a heatsink to keep the temperature under control and incredible read speeds of 3480MB/s and write speeds of 3080MB/s, and can be found for R$ 2,140 at Magazine Luiza.

How to use expandable M.2 SSD storage PlayStation 5

SSD M.2

Finally, the M.2 format also allows this flexibility between desktops and notebooks, and can be used both on daily occasions, to place just the operating system, and also for gamers, as they have high transfer rates, perfect for fast loading of textures, maps, etc.

For everyday use, models from Kingston or Samsung are most recommended, while for enthusiasts and gamers they may be interested in the XPG Adata, the Black line from Western Digital and especially the Gigabyte Aorus with heatsink and RGB lights.

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