A solid-state drive (SSD, also known as a solid-state disk) is a solid-state storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently. SSD technology primarily uses electronic interfaces compatible with traditional block input/output (I/O) hard disk drives (HDDs), which permit simple replacements in common applications. New I/O interfaces like SATA Express and M.2 have been designed to address specific requirements of the SSD technology.
SSDs have no moving mechanical components. This distinguishes them from traditional electromechanical magnetic disks such as hard disk drives (HDDs) or floppy disks, which contain spinning disks and movable read/write heads. Compared with electromechanical disks, SSDs are typically more resistant to physical shock, run silently, and have lower access time and lower latency. However, while the price of SSDs has continued to decline over time (24 cents per gb as of 2017), consumer-grade SSDs are (as of 2017) still roughly four times more expensive per unit of storage than consumer-grade HDDs.
As of 2015, most SSDs use MLC NAND-based flash memory, which is a type of non-volatile memory that retains data when power is lost. For applications requiring fast access but not necessarily data persistence after power loss, SSDs may be constructed from random-access memory (RAM). Such devices may employ batteries as integrated power sources to retain data for a certain amount of time after external power is lost.
Hybrid drives or solid-state hybrid drives (SSHDs) combine the features of SSDs and HDDs in the same unit, containing a large hard disk drive and an SSD cache to improve performance of frequently accessed data.
Enterprise flash drives
Enterprise flash drives (EFDs) are designed for applications requiring high I/O performance (IOPS), reliability, energy efficiency and, more recently, consistent performance. In most cases, an EFD is an SSD with a higher set of specifications, compared with SSDs that would typically be used in notebook computers. The term was first used by EMC in January 2008, to help them identify SSD manufacturers who would provide products meeting these higher standards. There are no standards bodies who control the definition of EFDs, so any SSD manufacturer may claim to produce EFDs when in fact the product may not actually meet any particular requirements.
An example is the Intel DC S3700 series of drives, introduced in the fourth quarter of 2012, which focuses on achieving consistent performance, an area that had previously not received much attention but which Intel claimed was important for the enterprise market. In particular, Intel claims that, at a steady state, the S3700 drives would not vary their IOPS by more than 10–15%, and that 99.9% of all 4 KB random I/Os are serviced in less than 500 µs.
Most SSD manufacturers use non-volatile NAND flash memory in the construction of their SSDs because of the lower cost compared with DRAM and the ability to retain the data without a constant power supply, ensuring data persistence through sudden power outages. Flash memory SSDs are slower than DRAM solutions, and some early designs were even slower than HDDs after continued use. This problem was resolved by controllers that came out in 2009 and later.Flash memory-based solutions are typically packaged in standard disk drive form factors (1.8-, 2.5-, and 3.5-inch), but also in smaller unique and compact layouts made possible by the small size of flash memory.
Lower-priced drives usually use triple-level cell or multi-level cell (MLC) flash memory, which is slower and less reliable than single-level cell (SLC) flash memory. This can be mitigated or even reversed by the internal design structure of the SSD, such as interleaving, changes to writing algorithms, and higher over-provisioning (more excess capacity) with which the wear-leveling algorithms can work.