Storage

Pop quiz: Solid-state drives

If they aren't already, IT professionals should be up to speed on solid-state drives. The following pop quiz is a chance for you to test your current knowledge of these up-and-coming storage devices.

Although solid-state drives (SSDs) have been in limited use since the 1990s, they are rapidly gaining ground in the laptop market--Apple offers a 64GB SSD in the MacBook Air. As SSDs fall in price and grow in capacity, they may eventually overtake the venerable hard disk as the data storage standard in both desktops and laptops. If they aren't already, IT professionals should be up to speed on these up-and-coming storage devices. The following pop quiz is a chance for you to test your current knowledge of solid-state drives.

Note: Unfortunately, our poll tool, which I use to create each pop quiz, doesn't let me indicate a correct answer after each question. To keep from giving away the answers before everyone has a chance to test his/her knowledge, and ruining all the fun, I'm going to hold off posting the answers until next week.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

16 comments
odiug
odiug

how long should we wait until SSD can be available on laptop at a reasonable price (20% more than the standard hd)?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The question and answer choices as they are: [pre]Which of the following solid-state drive technologies requires constant power to store information? * SDRAM or NAND flash memory * NAND flash memory * Optical media * Magnetic disks [/pre] The question and choices as I suspect they should be: [pre]Which of the following solid-state drive technologies requires constant power to store information? * SDRAM * NAND flash memory * Optical media * Magnetic disks [/pre] Sorry. It's the deeply suppressed teacher in me coming out... Edit: formatting

RFink
RFink

Indefinite = unknown, no set lifespan Infinite = forever, never ends I have never seen any hardware with a definte lifespan, i.e. the PC will last three years. Some last more, other less. All hardware has indefinite lifespans.

Dr Dij
Dr Dij

not in the conventional sense but the doping atoms in transistor junctions are subject to atomic migration, the more electricity flows thru the junction the more this occurs. This is one reason why processors, regular ram, and other electronic devices fail. Semiconductor devices used to switch heavy current for consumer devices are even more prone to fail if not designed for long life. This may be why if you read sites with opinions on consumer devices by actual end users, for example a Hitachi TV was listed by many dift users as having power 'switch' which is really a power switching semiconductor go out regularly within a month. They will replace regular hard drives eventually as they become cheaper, faster and more reliable but I don't think there is a way to 'open up the cover and recover the data' like you can much of the time with a regular hard drive if only the drive electronics failed. And as for MTBF, I'd like to see some figures. Supposedly laptop users of solid state drives have been returning them in droves because not getting the performance boost they were hyped for. Witness how many posts we've had here on TR regarding failed flash drives and mostly the advice, short of trying on another machine to be sure is not a USB prob on the PC, is that it needs to be reformatted or trashed.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

I decided it was a typo and read it as hard drive. I like these quizzes :D Keep 'em comin!

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Solid-state drives are quickly gaining ground against conventional computer hard drives, particularly in laptops. You can test you knowledge of the up-and-coming storage devices in the following IT Dojo pop quiz: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=117 Once you've taken the quiz, I'd like to know whether you think solid-state drives are the successor to the conventional hard drive or just a flash in the pan.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

* SDRAM or NAND flash memory SDRAM needs constant power, it was a 'trick' question. SDRAM OR NAND -- look at the OR there. t took a minute but I got past it just fine :D

tkeller
tkeller

As long as we're down to the atomic level, we could consider everything above absolute zero to have "moving parts". :)

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

From what I remember reading, flash memory takes longer to write than a HD. This means that for processes that do a lot of writing (databases come to mind) that flash drives would actually be slower than a hard drive. There is also the fact that Flash memory can not be written to as many times as a hard drive. Most flash drives get around this by shifting the memory locations that are being used, but this would not be as effective if the drive was close to capacity. Bill

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

I think that solid state drives will be used much more often in the near future. HDD's have their uses, but he failure rate is quite high over a few years.Te single largest problem with flash drives for main storage is that flash drives cost a lot in comparison to HDD's. However, another problem is that if there are power surges, a flash drive will be more corrupted than a HDD in many instances. It may be rendered completely useless as the HDD can still be accessed for data, meaning backups aer still very important.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Don't get me wrong, I chose the correct answer. But that type of "trick" question is very often successfully protested by students. There's a reason I used as few multiple choice questions as possible when I wrote tests.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Conventional HDs for large scale long term storage, but use the SSDs for actual processing - move a DB for example from the HDD to the SSD when launching the app, run the DB from the SDD, back it up to the HDD later. James

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

This is very good info. I first ran into these (that I can remember at least) was with MS exams for NT4. Often there was no correct answer, and they were looking for the best way to fail (I always hated these). Thank You!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I was teaching electronics and avoided multiple-choice tests as much as possible. I usually gave a circuit diagram and related questions that required my students to provide the correct answer rather than discern it from a series of choices. Interestingly enough, students here are sitting for days and paying hundreds of dollars for somebody to tell them almost exactly what you posted. Go figure.

mileslee_n8vjm
mileslee_n8vjm

I teach English at an electronics factory in Taiwan. My work visa says "Administrator", I am the de facto company teacher and also hold the title of "Applications Engineer". One of the things I teach my students is "HOW TO PASS A TEST". This country offers some of the most horrifying tests I have ever seen. Often, there is NO right answer. This is especially true of tests cooked up by publishing houses, but still true of government administered standardized English language proficiency exams. Bottom line: if all answers are wrong, pick the least wrong; if more than one is right, pick the most correct; if two or more are equally correct, choose the most popular (not true everywhere).

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

and like I said, when I looked at it, it took a minute, then I realized the OR and thought, OK, that is the only possible answer that is correct :)

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