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Samsung’s Solid State Drive

By Milton Hooper

September/October 2008 Table of Contents 


You know the scenario very well. You rush into the conference room for a meeting with opposing counsel, slip out your laptop and turn it on. You need to make some last-minute changes to an agreement, and then it happens — the hard drive crashes. Oh no! This can’t be happening! Not now! Not today! Your hard drive has betrayed you at a crucial moment. It’s estimated that 44 percent of law firms experience a notebook hard drive failure rate of 5 percent to 10 percent annually, while 37 percent suffer notebook PC hard drive failures of more than 10 percent per year. There has got to be something better, right? Now there is a new alternative — Samsung’s Solid State Drive, which cur­rently is sold by manufacturers like Lenovo and Dell.

In the “old” days, you carried around a diskette with your information. Then diskettes were replaced with compact discs and today, we have a host of USB drives such as thumb drives, hard drives, secure digital cards, etc. While mobile data technology has changed, the hard drive has remained relatively unchanged — until now. The traditional hard drive has undergone a makeover.

An SSD is comprised mainly of NAND Flash memory. NAND Flash is a special form of Flash memory. Flash memory is a memory technology that keeps data even when the power supply is cut off; this is known as a non-volatile memory type. NAND Flash is faster than regular Flash, which most commonly is used in digital cameras, portable MP3 players and USB sticks.

The SSD is like having a giant thumb drive as your hard drive, but don’t confuse it with the same Flash memory on a thumb drive. An SSD is Flash-based storage, but provides a higher level of performance and greater range of capabilities than a standalone Flash chip, largely because it includes a sophisticated controller and special algorithms to improve performance and reliability. The lack of moving parts makes it a crash­-resistant storage drive, which sounds like a good idea for professionals in the legal field since we constantly are on the go. We need mobility and reliability without the fear of a crashed drive, but could a product with these traits really exist?

Samsung claims that with its SSD, booting up and application start-up times will be up to 40 percent faster; unfortunately, I didn’t notice a significant difference in this area. The SSD-equipped laptop was not any faster than my normal laptop with a traditional hard drive. However, this was the only claim Samsung makes that I discovered wasn’t the case. I found that the SSD-equipped laptop seemed to have a longer battery life. An SATA II SSD uses almost half the power that a Hard Disk Drive uses — the SSD uses approximately 0.5 watts compared to 2.1 watts for the HDD in active use. Since there isn’t as much of a drain on the battery, I felt more secure working from battery power and resisted the urge to plug in the laptop. The SSD also is quieter since you don’t hear the normal whirling noise of the hard drive. Noises bother me and especially are intensified in the courtroom.

Another huge advantage of an SSD drive is the reduction in the laptop’s weight. Laptops with an SSD can be smaller and more compact. You can have the functionality of a laptop without the weight to drag you down. Personally, this is a huge advantage since I routinely have a collection of files, media and other accessories that weigh me down and cause me considerable back strain. I want a lighter laptop without sacrificing performance. With Samsung’s SSD, you no longer have to lug around a heavy laptop bag or need a lot of room to work on a flight. With flights becoming more crowded and space at a premium, your fold-down tray would provide plenty of work space.

Durability is something that hard drives lack, but testing has shown that the SSD stands up well to shock, vibration and high temperatures. Another thing I noticed about the SSD is that I actually can keep the laptop on my lap without it getting too hot to stay there. Since there are virtually no heat emissions, the SSD doesn’t need a fan to keep it cool.

I always am eager to try something that promises to improve my job performance and help me use my time more efficiently. If I were in position to make IT purchasing decisions for a law office, I would consider laptops using the Samsung SSD, although they currently are more expensive than laptops with traditional hard drives. The lighter weight, durability and reliability of the SSD seems to be a perfect fit for the mobile para­legal.



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