CS44800: Introduction to Database Systems, Spring 2019


Solid State Drive (SDD)

A solid-state drive (SSD) is a solid-state storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies as memory to store data persistently. It is also sometimes called solid-state disk, although SSDs do not have physical disks. SSDs have no moving mechanical components. This distinguishes them from conventional electromechanical drives such as hard disk drives (HDDs) or floppy disks, which contain spinning disks and movable read/write heads. Compared with electromechanical drives, SSDs are typically more resistant to physical shock, run silently, have quicker access time and lower latency. However, all SSDs still store data in electrical charges, which slowly leak over time if left without power. This causes worn out drives (that have exceeded their endurance rating) to start losing data typically after one (if stored at 30 °C) to two (at 25 °C) years in storage.

Micron and Intel initially made faster SSDs by implementing data striping (similar to RAID 0) and interleaving in their architecture. This enabled the creation of ultra-fast SSDs with 250 MB/s effective read/write speeds.

Architecture and function

The key components of an SSD are the controller and the memory to store the data. The primary memory component in an SSD was traditionally DRAM volatile memory, but since 2009 it is more commonly NAND flash non-volatile memory.


Every SSD includes a controller that incorporates the electronics that bridge the NAND memory components to the host computer. The controller is an embedded processor that executes firmware-level code and is one of the most important factors of SSD performance.

Most SSD manufacturers use non-volatile NAND flash memory in the construction of their SSDs because of the lower cost compared with DRAM and the ability to retain the data without a constant power supply, ensuring data persistence through sudden power outages. The performance of an SSD can scale with the number of parallel NAND flash chips used in the device. A single NAND chip is relatively slow, due to the narrow (8/16 bit) asynchronous I/O interface, and additional high latency of basic I/O operations (typical for SLC NAND, ~25 μs to fetch a 4 KB page from the array to the I/O buffer on a read, ~250 μs to commit a 4 KB page from the IO buffer to the array on a write, ~2 ms to erase a 256 KB block).

If a particular block was programmed and erased repeatedly without writing to any other blocks, that block would wear out before all the other blocks - thereby prematurely ending the life of the SSD. For this reason, SSD controllers use a technique called wear leveling to distribute writes as evenly as possible across all the flash blocks in the SSD. In a perfect scenario, this would enable every block to be written to its maximum life so they all fail at the same time. Unfortunately, the process to evenly distribute writes requires data previously written and not changing (cold data) to be moved, so that data which are changing more frequently (hot data) can be written into those blocks.

Source: Wikipedia.org