Flash Storage vs. SSD, Differences between Both that You Need to Know

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The technical discourse around the topic of flash storage vs SSD can be easily found in every corner of the internet. That being said, a lot of people still use both terms interchangeably. This is a common problem for hardware terms such as with the memory, RAM, and DRAM.

However, there are some key distinctions that set both apart from each other, especially when you break them into more detailed definition. Unlike the interchangeability regarding memory, RAM, and DRAM, flash storage and SSD do not refer to the same thing, although SSD uses flash memory and sometimes flash storage can be classified as SSD.

The following passage will provide you with insights of flash storage vs SSD differences. So if you want to know more, keep on reading below.

Flash Storage VS SSD Definition

Flash Storage

Before you read the difference between flash storage vs SSD, it is worth to know more in detail about both of them individually. Let’s start with flash. Flash storage is a term that refers to medium of storage formed on silicon chip that may be written or removed through electricity. Some other instances of storage media are Blu-ray, DVDs, CDs, tape, and floppy disks.

There are some distinctive characteristics that are possessed by flash storage, which makes it specifically useful to store enterprise data. As implied by its name, this storage medium runs faster than HDDs. Also, unlike other types of storage media, it can be utilized to create drives without any moving part. This results in more resistance to storing failure or breakage, particularly those that are related to the moving situation of the storage.

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Flash is also a type of non-volatile storage or non-volatile memory (NVM). It means that it has capability to retain stored memory even when the power is switches off. This what makes it different from RAM or random access memory, which also has fast capability, but removes its data whenever the power system is off. You can rewrite flash storage easily as well, so it is highly utilizable to store frequently changed data, unlike DVD or CD.

In addition to be used on SSDs, there are a lot of things you can use it for. Some instances would be laptops, mobile phones, video cameras, digital cameras, USB sticks, memory cards, and even calculator.

It is also important to note that there are a few different varieties of flash storage. NOR and NAND are two of the most commonly found types, with NOR being the prior or both types to be established and developed. NOR can read extremely fast, but slower to write memory. This is why NOR is often used for situations where code is needed to be written only once, and then to be read for times. The other type, NAND, is more advanced as it writes faster and it requires significantly smaller space then the other. However, it comes with pricier cost. NAND is more used variety in flash that’s used in SSDs.

Move on to the next point on this flash storage vs SSD difference explanation. SSD (Solid State Drive) is a device used for storage purpose. You may think of SSDs and flash as the CD drive and the CD. CD drive is the device to store the CD, which is the medium. Therefore, SSD is the device with storage purpose while flash storage is the medium.

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However, SSDs do not always use flash as a medium for the storage. You may include any non-motion storage type as SSD, as signified by the name. In fact, when it was still on the early development stage, SSDs did not actually use flash as the medium, so there’s a good chance that it will use other medium in the future.

Flash Storage VS SSD Comparison

storage comparison

Now that you have known more about both, here are the flash storage vs SSD comparisons which are assessed from four different aspects:

  • Usage

The first aspect that must be discussed when it comes to flash storage vs SSD differences is usage. Flash is widely used for various purposes and devices – from laptops to medical equipment, even for modern digital toys. Meanwhile SSD is mainly used for laptop and PC only, so the first has more versatile usage than the latter.

  • Lifespan

In terms of lifespan, flash memory has shorter duration of life. There is limited number of when it can be erased and then rewritten back. Not to mention, with the technology of multi-layer cell application on NAND flash memory, it becomes denser. Meanwhile with flash storage, you have no limit on number of times to read blocks. SSD’s lifespan is normally measured by using Total Bytes Written (TBW) unit.

  • Performance and Capacity

The average read speed of flash storage is 1100 MB/s, while its write speed is about 975 MB/s. The capacity of flash memory ranges between 256 GB to 3TB and up. Meanwhile, the average read speed of SSDs is 550 MB/s, while its write speed is about 520 MB/s. The capacity of flash memory ranges between 4 TB to 16TB and up.

  • Cost

When it comes to flash storage vs SSD cost comparison, flash storage is pricier than SSD. This is because flash memory devices are raising products. Their performances are developed, thus improved rapidly compared with products that have limited SATA.

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In the future, SSD devices are going to meet with capacity and speed growth, as well as decline in its prices. For those of you who have budget limitation, it is a good idea to continue using HDD to store your internal memory capacity, while simultaneously attaching smaller SSD to store applications and system. This way, your device is going to run and perform well even if you store massive data amount.

If performance is your concern in comparison between flash storage vs SSD, then you may choose flash memory. Flash storage with PCI-E offers unbeatable speed, about 10 times faster than the convenient HDD drives. In similar fashion, you may use a trick of combining larger HDD or SSD with flash memory device if you have limited budget.

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