Flash Storage vs. SSD: This is What Professionals Use

The Difference Between Memory And Flash Storage on a Mac

Flash Storage vs. SSD?

Are you too confused between these two terms, i.e., which one is best?

Well, many people seem puzzled in this regard.

This article explains all about these two storage types.

After reading this article, you will get to know what is SSD and flash storage, the difference between these two and a lot more about them.

Some of the main points discussed in this article are:

  • Solid state drive definition
  • Its types, history, uses, and architecture
  • It’s manufacturers and price
  • Largest SSD drive
  • How to install SSD drive
  • HDD vs. SSD
  • Fusion Drive vs. SSD
  • Flash storage definition
  • Its interface and uses
  • Its benefits
  • Flash memory working
  • Difference between flash storage and SSD
  • External hard drive vs. flash drive
  • PCIe-Based flash storage vs. SSD
  • Difference between memory and flash storage on a Mac
  • What are hybrid drives

What is a Solid State Drive?

What is a Solid State Drive

It is a nonvolatile storage device whose responsibility is to store the persistent data on the solid-state flash memory.

They are not the hard drives.

Uses of SSD:

  • High-performance servers
  • Laptop
  • Desktops

Real-time applications also use this technology.


The earliest drive of this sort was designed for consumer devices.

  • In 2005. Apple iPods, the first flash-based device was introduced.
  • EMC is the first vendor that included SSDs in the enterprise storage hardware. EMC is a provider of different product and service related to big data, cloud computing, etc.
  • This company was acquired in September 2016 by Dell, and then the company was known as Dell EMC.

Flash Memory:

  • Pure Storage, Texas Memory System, and Nimbus Data are among some startups that played a significant role in the adoption of all-flash arrays that depends on the solid state drive storage to replace the hard disk.
  • Due to the success of the all-flash startups, the manufacturers looked forward in selling a retrofitted all-flash version of the traditional disk-based arrays.
  • IBM was the first vendor that introduced a dedicated all-flash array platform knowns Flash System.

SSD Nonvolatile Memory Types:

NAND and NOR flash memory are two different things. Their circuity differs because of the login gate use.

NOR flash memory is used in more phones.


  • SSDs consist of a mostly single-level cell or a multi-level cell NAND flash memory.
  • SLC drive can store 1-bit data per cell of the flash media.


While in MLC based SSD, the drive capacity is doubled.

This is done by writing the data in two segments.


  • Now triple-level cell NAND flash is also being sued that can store three-bit data per flash cell.
  • TLC is cheaper than the SLC and MLC.


Benefits of Solid State Drive

Some of these include:

  • Intel
  • Samsung
  • Micron
  • Seagate
  • Toshiba
  • SanDisk


  • Its price is higher than the hard drive.
  • Due to the advancement in manufacturing technologies its prices have dropped a bit.

Benefits of Solid State Drive:

These are explained below.

1) Elimination of Moving Parts:

  • Moving parts most often wear out.
  • Product designers try to eliminate the moving parts as soon as possible.
  • This is because they know that such components can be easily damaged.

They don’t have mechanical components.

These drives are more durable, and reliable as they don’t have moving parts.

2) Speed:

They are speedy, i.e., can read or write data at excellent rates.

3) Mobility:

  • They are much smaller and lighter than the previous drives.
  • This is the reason they are in today’s laptops and other devices of this sort.

4) Design And Size

  • They come in different design sizes.
  • This also depends on the number of chips they have and on the arrangements of the chips too.

5) Resistant to Physical Shocks:

They are more resistant to physical shock

6) Quick Access Time:

They have immediate access time.

They are now mostly used in the budget oriented systems.

7) Low Latency:

Have lower latency that means a lower delay in data transmission.

Types of SSD Drives:

Types of SSD Drives

These include:

  1. mSATA
  2. M.2 Module
  3. PCI-E

1) mSATA:

  • It is also called mini SATA.
  • It is a circuit that is smaller than 2.5″.


Its applications include:

  • Laptops
  • Notebooks
  • Devices that need a smaller footprint.

2) M2:

They are the same as MSATA.

The main difference is that it is available in different width and length combinations.

  • They provide more flexibility in usage.
  • Due to this versatile size, they are mostly found in the mobile solution like tablets and ultrabooks.
  • It supports NVMe too.

3) PCI-E:

They use the PCI-E slot.

Which One to Choose?

The type of interface that you choose among the three discussed above depends on the ports that are available on your motherboard.


The main components of such drives are:

  • Controller
  • Memory that stronger data

a) Controller:

This is an embedded processor that pleas a vital role in the promotor of this drive.

It executes the firm level code.

Some other functions that it performs are:

  • Read and write cache
  • Wear leveling
  • Garbage collection
  • Encryption
  • Bad block mapping

b) Memory:

Flash-Based Memory:
  • Many manufacturers use flash-based memory in the construction of such drives. The reason for this is the lower price.
  • Flash-based memory also can retain the data without the need for a constant power supply.

They are a bit slower than the DRAM solutions.


By using DRAM memory, fast data access is possible in such drives.

This accelerates the application.

  • DRAM-based SSDs use an internal battery or an external AC/DC adaptor to ensure data persistence in case of power failure from the external source.
  • They also have a backup storage system.
  • If the power failure occurs or the power is lost the battery provides the ability which allows the copying of information from RAM to the backup storage.
  • And when the power is again restored the data agents copied from the backup storage to the RAM back.

Largest SSD Drive:

Largest SSD Drive

Nimbus Data ExaDrive DC200 is the massive drive that is regarded as the world larget SSD drive.

  • It stores 100TB data.
  • It utilizes 3D NAND flash memory.
  • In this way, it can easily store 20,000 HD movies or 20 million songs.
  • The read and write speed is 500MB/s.
  • It also consumes 85% less power per TB storage.
  • It is small in size. In this way, the amount of space is reduced.

How to Install SSD Drive?

  1. Unscrew the computer case.
  2. Remove its side. Now you will have unobstructed access to the motherboard SATA port and also the hard disk bays.
  3. Place the SSD in the removable bay.
  4. Line it up with the hole that is under it.
  5. Screw it in.
  6. Position the mounting bracket.
  7. Secure it with the holes that are present on its side.
  8. Connect the SATA cable. The L-shaped end to the SSD and the other one to the spare SATA port.
  9. Connect the power cable.
  10. Remove the hard drives.
  11. Insert a USB that has Windows OS.
  12. Switch on the PC
  13. Press the boot key(mostly its F12) to get into the boot menu.
  14. Select the USB.
  15. Follow the instructions on the screen to install the OS on the SSD.
  16. Put your hard drives back in the PC when the installation gets finished.

HDD vs. SSD:

HDD vs. SSD lifespan

HDD access the data electromechanically while the SSD does it electronically.

This results in mechanical ruggedness in HDD.

Some more differences between these two are explained below:

a) Startup Time:

SSds have no mechanical components that’s why they require few milliseconds as a startup him while in HDDs the drive spinning up may take several seconds.

b) Random Access Time.

  • For the SSD it is 0.1 ms.
  • This small time is needed because the data can be accessed from various location and thus the access time is not a performance bottleneck.
  • For HDDs, the time is around 2.9 to 12 ms. This is because of the moving head that waits for data rotation.

c) Noise:

  • SSDs are silent.
  • While HDDs have parts like head, actuator, and the spindle motor and are therefore noisy.

d) Breather Hole:

  • SSDs don’t need any breather hole.
  • HDDs need it to function correctly.

e) Power Consumption:

  • Flash-based SSDs usually require half the power that HDDs consume.
  • The DRAM bases SSDs require the same power as that of HDDs.

f) Fragmentation:

  • As HDDs have a rotary recording surface where they work best with, the larger files that suffer from the issue in the contiguous block.
  • Then these drives start to fill up, sometimes the large files get scattered, and thus cause the fragmentation.
  • SSDs have no issue with where the data gets stored on their chip as they don’t have physical readers here. This is the reason they are faster.

g) Data Storage:

  • The HDDs are the literal disks that write the code into magnetic coding by spinning around. In this way, the data gets preserved.
  • The SSD makes use of flash memory and is into depended ton writing physically.

h) Structure:

  • An HDD consists of a spinning disk with an actuator.
  • The actuator is the mechanical arm that includes a read/write head.
  • While an SSD consists of an array of semiconductor memory that is organized as a disk drive.
  • This semiconductor memory uses integrated circuits instead of magnetic storage.

i) Performance:

The performance of SSDs is much faster than the HDD.

This is because they have an electromechanical disk drive.

j) SSD vs. HDD Lifespan:

Solid state drives are more durable than the hard disk drives too.

To increase the lifespan, they use wear leveling.

Wear leveling is managed by the flash controller that use algorithms to arrange the data to evenly distribute the write/erase cycles among all the block that reside in the device.

k) Latency:

Solid state drives have lower random access than the HDD.

Also, their latency is low too.

This low latency is because of flash SSD that read data immediately from the PCI-E flash cell area.

Due to this reduced latency, the user can enjoy a faster boot time.

Fusion Drive vs. SSD:

Fusion drives are the hybrid drive.

This hybrid drive is formed by the combination of a hard disk drive with a NAND flash storage. Here NAND storage refers to the solid state drive in 24GB capacity or even more than that.

What Are Hybrid Drives?

Hybrid drives combine the feature of SSD and HDD in a single unit. Such drive is also referred to as solid-state hybrid drives.

They contain a sizeable hard disk an also an SSD chance that in improving the performance of frequently access data.

They are present in single core storage managed logical volume.

The files that are frequently accessed are stored on the flash storage.

  • For better performance, you will need to go with the SSD.
  • While if you don’t need an excellent performance, then you can use the fusion drive.
  • If you don’t have much budget, then you can go with the fusion drive.

What is a Flash Storage?

Flash Storage definition

  • This memory is found in small computing devices and is also becoming more and more common in sizeable storage systems too.
  • The size of flash-based storage differs from one device to another.


  • An electronic device that can perform as a storage repository with the flash memory is referred to as the flash storage.
  • The data is stored in an array of memory cells.

This storage removes the rotational delay which also results in the elimination of seek time.


  • It is mostly used in consumer devices.
  • Smartphones
  • MP3 players

Benefits of Flash Storage:

  • Power consumption
  • Compactness
  • More resistant to the high gravitational acceleration

Flash Memory Working:

It is a form of EEPROM.

  • EEPROM stands for electrically erasable programmable read the only memory.
  • The fundamental difference between flash and EEPROM is in the way they erase data.
  • EEPROM erase bit by bit level while the flash erases the complete block of data at once.
  • Before writing the new block to the microchip the one stored earlier in the flash memory needs to be removed.
  • Flash is nonvolatile, i.e., it does not require power for data storage.

Memory Chips And Controller:

It consists of

  • Memory chips
  • Controller

The memory chips store the data while the controller access the storage space.

The controller is multichannel, i.e., work with RAM cache.

Cache Buffer:

The cache buffers the data that goes to and from the chips. This buffering in cache increases the speed.

Flash Storage Interfaces:

This storage for the computer memory comes in many interfaces.

These include USB, SATA, PCI Express and SAS.

All Flash Array:

  • It is also is known as a robust state array.
  • It is data storage that contains multiple flash memory drives.
  • Less heat is generated as flash drives doesn’t contain any moving part.

Flash Storage vs. SSD:

Flash Storage vs. SSD

Flash Storage suffered from some aging issues.

The performance used to get worse from time to time.

When such issues started getting better, the manufactures stopped making RAM from the flash memory and instead they made SSDs.

This stoppage happened in the late 2000’s.

The SSDs that you see today is flash based. Thus there is no not much difference between these two now.

Flash storage can be referred to any device that works as a storage repository.

  • A simple USB device can be flash drive too.
  • While the SSD is an integrated device that is mostly used in enterprise storage arrays.

The main difference is that flash storage have moving parts.

Comparing the flash to the SSD is much similar to comparing the batteries with the lithium ion.

In both the case discussed above, the latter one is a type of the former one.

Both of them have the same hardware-software. But they both don’t use mechanical components.

Flash storage is a bit smaller than the SSDs and is a bit faster too.

SSDs use a form of flash memory to read, write and store data but flash storage is not necessary to be SSD.

External Hard Drive vs. Flash Drive:

Each of them has its pros and cons.

Flash drives are more robust.

If you drop it to the ground, it will still keep working.

a) Storage Capacity:

  • It is a vital factor.
  • The storage capacity of the external hard drive is up to 2TB.
  • Thus for storing a great deal of data, a hard drive is a better choice.

b) Price:

Although a flash drive comes in small storage, still it is the cheaper of the two.

c) Durability:

The traditional hard drives have moving parts which make them less durable.

Thus, in this case, the flash drives win.

d) Lifespan:

If you intend to store data for a more extended period and don’t plan to use it frequently, then the external hard drive would better.

e) Portability:

This means the drive size.

Flash drive comes in small size. Thus they are more portable.

f) Read/Write Speed:

This depends on the controller and manufacturer.

A standard hard drive can transfer bulk data easily while a flash drive may be suitable for transmitting small data bits.

PCIe-Based Flash Storage vs. SSD:

PCIe-Based Flash Storage

  • The PCI-E based will make your PC faster and will also boot more quickly. It reduces the compilation time.
  • The difference is in the controller that they use.
  • All Sata device whether it be SSD or an HD, use traditional disk interfaces. This increases latency.
  • The PCI-E based storage gets directly to the PCIe bus that is connected to the processor which makes it fast.
  • While the other one means the connection interface of SATA3 that is fast too at 550Mb/s.
  • The PCI-E based is faster than the SATA based.
  • They have a better bandwidth too because of the PCIe connection and thus have higher sequential read/write speeds.

What is the Difference Between Memory And Flash Storage on a Mac?

They both are commonly known as solid state memory. There is some difference between these two.


Here the memory refers to the system memory.

It is also known as RAM.

It works with the power connection. When the power is turned off, the session is lost.

It uses scheduling for memory allocation. The memory of the machine comes as:

  • 4GB = Light working use like normal browsing
  • 8GB = For a working lifestyle like lots of windows open or light gaming and video editing
  • 16GB= For fast performance like lots of gaming or video editing

Flash Storage:

It refers to the area where the data is stored.

  • It is a faster loading hard drive.
  • It is the conventional memory that stores data when the device is power off.
  • It is cheaper than RAM.


Some examples include:

  • MicroSD
  • Flash disks
  • External hard drive

Flash Storage vs. HDD vs. SSD For Mac Pro:

Flash Storage vs. HDD vs. SSD For Mac Pro

Choosing an excellent storage source for your Mac pro was a bit easier sometimes ago. But nowadays this decision is a bit difficult to take, and it’s much complicated too.

There are many storage sources now so deciding which one to choose is a difficult task.

HDDs for Storing a Large Volume of Data:

  • HDD comes in 3.5″.
  • This is the size Mac Pro used.
  • It also comes in 2.5″ for the laptops.
  • You can add five HDDs in the MAc pro.
  • Four can be put in the HDD slots while the remaining one in the lower disk bay with the help of an adaptor.
  • This gives up almost 30TB of internal storage.
  • They are also cheaper.
  • No doubt they are the cheapest and can store a large volume of data still they have drawbacks, i.e., they are the slowest.
  • A standard 72200RPM HDD will take almost 180MS/S to read and write the data.
  • Also, the more data it has, the slower its speed will be.
  • It is also advised not to use more than 80% of its memory.
  • They are the least reliable among the three storages that we are discussing here.

You can also RAID the HDDs together to increase the read and write performance, but to do this you will need to install a separate RAID card. This special installation will undoubtedly increase the cost.

Thus it’s not ideal if you intend to have fast speed.

SSD For Great Performance With More Storage:

They were introduced in the mass market in 2007.

  • They are faster than the storage solution discussed above.
  • They come in 2.5″ laptop HDD format ut an easily installed on a Mac Pro’HDD with the help of a caddy.
  • In MAC Pro you can quickly add up to 5 SSDs in the HDD bays and three more on the PCI-E slot. GPU will take one slot too.
  • They are a bit expensive.
  • They provide much better performance.

They can provide an excellent feature with the TRIM.

What is TRIM?

TRIM allows the SSDs that are installed in the MAC Pro to provide excellent performance without considering the amount of data that is stored on the TRIM.

  • TRIM is a command by which the OS can tell the SSD drive to delete the data block that is not needed
  • Such block can also be marked as free for rewriting.
  • In simpler words, this command tells the OS where the data is stored that you pointed to more or delete.

In this way, the drive can access those block only that have the data.

And whenever the OS issues a delete command, the TRIM also commands the remove the pages or the block where those files were stored.

This TRIM command provides a benefit that when the need arises for OS to write the data thee again, then it will not have to wait to delete the data.


The performance also increased when they are installed on the PCIe drives.

If you have spare PCI-E slots, then do install them.

  • On PCIe slot, this drive will read the data at around 500MB/S and will write at 450MB/s.
  • The main advantage of installing the storage on the PCIe slot is the configuration of striped RAID information without the need of a RAID card.
  • You can even install two such drives on PCI-E adapter ad they configure theme easily in a RAID to get a faster speed.
  • Two RAID this configured this way will read at 700MB/s and write at around 720 MB/s.

Flash Storage For Good Performance For Professional Use:

Then the only difference in flash storage is the increased speed. Otherwise is they contain all the benefits of the SSDs.

You can install the flash storage on the PCE-e slots with adaptors.

  • A maximum of 3 can be installed.
  • As there are 4 in total and the GPU will occupy one.
  • Flash device can be easily configured onto a striped RAID formation without the use of extra hardware.
  • Its cost per TB is higher than the other two storage types discussed above.
  • Although they are expensive this actually what an excellent performance demands. The read sped is around 1,100MB/s, and the write speed is 975 MB/s.
  • TRIM also work on flash storage.

For professional use, ultimate performance is required, and this is what flash storage offers.

Which One to Choose?

Now you might be wondering which storage you should use for your MAC pro.

Well, it all depends on your budget and requirement.

Final Words:

SSD provides almost all the physical characteristics of a hard drive. In fact it provides much faster read and writes speed than the hard drives.

SSD vs. HDD lifespan is the main difference between these two.

HDD have moving parts and thus are not much durable.

Then comes the flash storage which is used for enterprise storage.

It provides ultimate performance for the professional use.

Flash storage is present inside the solid-state drives.

Flash storage vs. SSD is like lithium ions and battery.

One is the form of the other.


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