Over at CNET’s Nanotech: The Circuit Blog, Brooke Crothers writes about Samsung’s efforts to educate people on the reliability of Solid State Drives (SSDs):
A concern often mentioned is wear. That is, flash has the potential to wear out after tens (or hundreds) of thousands of write cycles. This characterization, however, is too simplistic, according to Michael Yang, flash marketing manager at Samsung. A flash device that is rated at 100,000 write cycles, for example, can write 100,000 times “to every single (memory) cell within the device,” Yang said. In other words, the device doesn’t write to the same cell over and over again but spreads out the writes over many different cells. This is achieved through “wear leveling” which is carried out by the SSD’s controller, he said.
This makes it virtually impossible to wear out a flash chip. Yang said a pattern could be perpetually repeated in which a 64GB SSD is completely filled with data, erased, filled again, then erased again every hour of every day for years and the user still wouldn’t reach the theoretical write limit. He added that if a failure ever does occur, it will not occur in the flash chip itself but in the controller.
In addition to a device that is rated at 100,000 write cycles, you have the factor of the drive not being susceptible to the bumps (and potentially drops) of everyday use that laptops go through. You’ve removed the mechanical elements that can be jostled or stop working, as well as you’ve removed a lot of heat from the equation (and heat can be an enemy of many a device).
My view, once the price drops by another %50 or so, there won’t be much of a debate about SSDs. I would even go so far as to say that 5 years from now, SSDs will probably be the standard option on ultraportable devices.