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IDC: Solid state drive, hard disk speed gap small

A report says the performance gap between solid state drives and high-performance hard disk drives is not that significant.

Dell will sell you a 128GB solid state drive for an unprecedented $649. But wait. An IDC report claims the performance gap between solid state drives and lower-cost high-performance hard disk drives is not that significant at the system level.

Solid state drive offered by Dell
Solid state drive offered by Dell Dell Computer

Solid state drives are attracting more scrutiny as they increase in capacity and decrease in price. (Dell's $649 drive is a radical price drop since many drives with half the capacity still sell for more than $700.)

Solid state drives (SSDs) are considered to be generally more power efficient, faster, and in some respects more reliable than hard disk drives.

IDC tested 2.5-inch 7200 rpm desktop drives against SSDs and found that previous tests comparing SSDs and hard disk drives may be misleading, according to, which cited the IDC report.

"Many tests have been done comparing 4200 rpm hard drives to SSDs," said IDC analyst David Reinsel. "But 5400 rpm is now mainstream and even 7200 rpm disks are available." The IDC report says the performance gap between computers with 7200 rpm 2.5-inch drives and those with SSDs was smaller than expected because the performance of the entire system must be taken into account.

(It should be noted that 4200 rpm hard disk drives are sometimes used in comparative testing because 4200 rpm drives are offered along with SSDs in laptops such as the MacBook Air and Hewlett-Packard 2510p.)

IDC's Reinsel also said that system redesigns will be necessary in both PCs and enterprise storage systems to reap the full benefits of SSDs. One of the challenges is that SSDs generally write data more slowly than they read data.

In related news, The Tech Report also did benchmarking of SSDs and 2.5-inch hard disk drives rated at 5400 and 7200 rpm. Generally, the SSDs were faster (in some cases much faster) but not in every benchmark and not by that much in some benchmarks.

SSDs have received a lot more attention since companies like Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Toshiba have adopted them as alternatives to hard disk drives in laptops. Lesser known is that SSDs are also being deployed by large corporations in server-related applications. Companies like Citibank and American Express peg server performance on IOPS or input/output operations per second where SSDs beat hard disk drives handily.

The IDC report follows other reviews that claim solid state drives (SSDs) are not as power efficient as manufacturers claim--though the power-efficiency testing methodology used by some review sites has been disputed by manufacturers.

IDC abstract here.