Hard Disk and SSD Drives

SATA-to-IDE adapters, SCSI/SAS drives and the Crucial SSD Buying Guide

Only the cheap laptops, such as the Asus Eee laptop, designed for use in the third world make do with just flash memory, as the Apple iPhone does, to store the operating system (usually Linux) and software.

As stated earlier, hard disk drives and SSD drives used in most desktop and laptop PCs use the serial ATA (SATA) data-transfer standard, which has replaced the IDE ATA standard, also known as Parallel ATA (PATA). The SATA standard has reached SATA 3.0, which is required to make full use of a fast SSD drive, but an SATA 3.0 SSD drive works perfectly well from an SATA or SATA 2.0 port.

Note that SATA-to-IDE adapters are available for use with both desktop and laptop PCs that convert an SATA drive so that it can be connected to an IDE connector on the PC’s motherboard. This is particularly useful with an elderly laptop, which usually only has room for one hard drive, that has an IDE hard drive. I bought my first laptop with an SATA hard drive in 2007, so they have been around in laptops long enough so that it’s rare to find one using an IDE PATA drive. An SATA hard drive cannot use the IDE power and data cabling unless an adapter is used. To locate vendors, use a web search query in a search engine such as: desktop/laptop sata-to-ide adapter. An IDE-to-SATA adapter allows an IDE 2.5-inch drive to be used in a desktop or laptop computer that has the connections for an SATA drive.

PATA IDE drives for both desktop and laptop PCs were available in June 2014, but it won’t be long before they are no longer available.

The other much less used data-transfer standard is called serial SCSI (SAS), which has replaced the parallel SCSI standard (all drives now use a serial standard that transfers data in serial packets instead of along parallel lanes). SCSI/SAS is not used in home computers, mainly in mission-critical servers, etc., and so is not dealt with here in detail.

Serial attached SCSI [SAS] –

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_attached_SCSI

The hard disk drives for the desktop PC have a width of 3.5 inches (3.5″) and those for laptop PCs mostly have a width of 2.5 inches (2.5″) (or, rarely, 1.8 inches (1.8″) for laptop hard disk drives). The standard width of an SSD drive is 2.5 inches (2.5″), so an adapter, usually provided with the drive, is required to install an SSD drive in a 3.5″ bay of an ATX desktop-PC case.

Note well that in an SSD drive, MLC (multi-level cell memory technology) flash memory is cheaper, faster and allows for higher-capacity drives than SLC (single-level cell memory technology) flash memory. There are not many SLC SSD drives around and there probably never will be, but you should be aware of the difference between the two types in case you find and buy an SLC drive.

Intel was the first company to develop SSD caching technology that allows an SSD drive to be used in conjunction with a hard disk drive. The most commonly used files are stored on the SSD drive for ultra-fast access, boosting boot times and performance significantly. However, note that the computer’s motherboard’s chipset has to support the use of caching technology. To provide similar technology to all-comers, Crucial, the RAM memory manufacturer, has made its SSD drives and caching technology available for desktop PC’s. Click the following link to go to Crucial’s “SSD Information Guide”, which provides all of the information any home-computer user needs to know.

http://uk.crucial.com/gbr/en/storage-ssd-buying-guide

Page 6: Current HDD and SSD capacities, the 2.19 barrier, NTFS and GPT file systems and 3TB SSDs reviewed

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