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HDD, SSD and eMMC: What's the difference?

HDD, SSD and eMMC: What's the difference?

What are eMMC, SSD, HDD? The answer: they are all forms of storage that come on a laptop or tablet. However, they all work differently. Some are faster, some are bigger in size, and some can get pretty pricey. So what are the major differences between these devices?

eMMC

eMMC is short for "embedded Multi-Media Controller" and refers to a package consisting of both flash memory and a flash memory controller integrated on the same circuit. The eMMC solution consists of at least three components - the MMC (multimedia card) interface, the flash memory, and the flash memory controller - and is offered in an industry-standard Ball Grid Array(BGA) package that are used to mount devices.

Example products: https://www.dealscoop.com/search.php?search_query=emmc§ion=product

SSD

A Solid State Drive (SSD) can be thought of as an oversized and more sophisticated version of the humble USB memory stick. Like a memory stick, there are no moving parts to an SSD. No moving parts mean fewer parts tend to fail or go bad. Rather, information is stored in microchips. A typical SSD uses what is called NAND-based flash memory. This is a non-volatile type of memory. What does non-volatile mean? The simple answer is that you can turn off the disk and it won’t “forget” what was stored on it.

Example Products: https://www.dealscoop.com/search.php?search_query=SSD§ion=product

HDD

Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) were first introduced by IBM in 1956 - yes folks this is an over 60-year old technology! An HDD uses magnetism to store data on a rotating platter. A read/write head floats above the spinning platter reading and writing data. The faster the platter spins, the faster an HDD can perform. Typical laptop drives today spin at either 5400 RPM (Revolutions per Minute) or 7200RPM, though some server-based platters spin at up to 15,000 RPM!

Example Products: https://www.dealscoop.com/search.php?search_query=HDD§ion=product

Now that you know what each of these storage systems are, let’s do some comparisons to help you determine which would be best for your individual needs.

Attribute eMMC (Embedded Multi-Media Controller) SSD (Solid State Drive) HDD (Hard Disk Drive)
Power Draw/Battery Life Low power consumption of 0.5-2 watts Less power draw, averages 2-3 watts, resulting in 30+ minute battery boost More power draw, averages 6-7 watts and therefore uses more battery
Cost Really Cheap Expensive, roughly $0.20 per gigabyte (based on buying a 1TB drive) Only around $0.03 per gigabyte, very cheap (based on buying a 4TB model)
Capacity Generally 32GB or 64GB, but can be found at 128GB Typically not larger than 1 TB for notebook sizes; 4 TB max for desktops Typically around 500GB and 2TB max for notebook sizes; 10TB max for desktops
Operating System Boot Time Around 10-13 seconds average boot up time Around 5-13 seconds average boot up time Around 30-40 seconds average boot up time
Vibration There are no moving parts and as such no sound There are no moving parts and as such no sound The spinning of the platters can sometimes result in vibration
Heat Produced Lower power draw and no moving parts so little heat is produced Lower power draw and no moving parts so little heat is produced HDD doesn’t produce much heat, but it will have a measureable amount more heat than an SSD due to moving parts and high power draw
File Copy/Write Speed Generally above 200 MB/s and up to 400 MB/s for cutting edge drives. Generally above 200 MB/s and up to 550 MB/s for cutting edge drives The range can be anywhere from 50-120 MB/s
Encryption Full Disk Encryption (FDE) supported on some models Full Disk Encryption (FDE) supported on some models Full Disk Encryption (FDE) supported on some models
File Opening Speed Between HDD and SSD Up to 30% faster than HDD Slower than HDD
Magnetism Affected? An SSD is safe from any effects of magnetism An SSD is safe from any effects of magnetism Magnets can erase or corrupt data

As you can see there are many differences between eMMC, SSD, and HDD. Don’t need much storage and want to save some money? Go with an eMMC. Do you need lots of storage and don’t want to spend much money? Then HDD could be the best for you. Want faster performance and willing to pay more? Go with the SSD. It all depends on your preference. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Jun 5th 2018 Rachel Swink

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