SSD vs Flash Memory? What is the difference in speed of opening apps?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by iHalo, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. iHalo macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2008
  2. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    My understanding is this 'flash memory' the air is for all practical purposes an SSD without a case.

    I say that for this reason:
    1) It uses the Toshiba SSD controller same as used on other Apple SSD's.

    If the controllers the same, sure the chips might be slightly slower but still an order of magnitude faster than a platter hard drive (Especially the 1.8" 80gb "iPod" hard drive in the original macbook air!)

    It IS an SSD. Think of it that way.

    /disclaimer: I don't fact check and I make up statistics.
  3. telco*engineer macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2009
    I have an Intel X25 SSD in a 2009 Macbook Pro and i'd say the new Macbook Air opens app quicker. That is just based on playing on one at Covent Garden London for an hour today. Quick little machine IMO
  4. hachre macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2007
    There is no difference between a SSD and "Flash memory". As akm3 said a SSD is just a bunch of flash memory + controller in a box that has common hard drive dimensions.

    Apple seems to have done a good job on their "SSD". The benchmarks I've seen so far top the Intel X-25 SSDs and that is pretty awesome!

    Compared to a traditional hard drive, flash drives open apps nearly instantly. For example opening Photoshop on my old drive took close to 20 seconds. On the SSD it takes 3 seconds.

    It is basically the time that you see on a traditional hard drive when you open an application, quit it, and then immediatly open it again. The time it takes then is about the time the SSD takes every time.
  5. Black.Infinity macrumors 6502


    Apr 17, 2010
    Apple tree-Toronto
    The 128GB flash storage measured 209MB/s READ and 193MB/s WRITE for large sequential transfers. That's slower than the best SSDs we've tested like the OCZ Vertex 2 and OWC Mercury Extreme (272MB/s), but twice as fast as any notebook 7200rpm HDD (100MB/s). Ditto for small random transfers -- at 90MB/s, it was faster than HDDs but slower than SSDs. Overall, respectable performance and a good move by Apple to provide flash memory as standard equipment.
  6. mrsir2009 macrumors 604


    Sep 17, 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    A SSD and flash memory are pretty much the same thing. Except a SSD is housed in a big case while the MBA's Flash memory is not.
  7. CaoCao macrumors 6502a

    Jul 27, 2010
    FYI Flash Memory+Case=SSD
  8. Corndog5595 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2010
    A whole other world of difference.
  9. lukiki macrumors newbie

    Dec 2, 2012
    SSD <> Flash


    I read that SSD is slower than Flash because it shares for compatibility the old and slow interface originally designed for old and slow HDDs (either IDE, SATA, etc...). I've not checked though, but looks like it makes sense.

    That would be an other example where Apple dared to be innovative by cutting off the old IDE/SATA constraint and wired directly a Flash chip to its processor without the slowdown from the standard IDE/SATA outdated interfaces.

    My wife's macbook air is just so fast I just don't see any other PC around that I would consider buying instead, even with an SSD...

    I might be wrong though, any facts welcome before I buy ...
  10. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    Most modern computers use SATA 3, which is plenty fast enough for modern flash memory. The flash memory modules in the Macbook Air use a proprietary connector but it's most likely still just the SATA 3 interface below the surface.
  11. schimmel, Dec 3, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012

    schimmel macrumors member


    Oct 31, 2009
    Stetrain is correct here. SATA 3.0 is rated at 6Gbps which means they can handle around 480 Megabytes per second. Granted, some SSD's are close to that, but the interface is not a bottleneck yet. Most drives perform at around half that speed. SATA has been evolving just quick enough to handle the speeds of SSDs.

    Also, by far the most important thing that SSDs does so much better is reading many small files faster, so even if we only had the original SATA 1.5 GBps spec, SSDs would still be lots faster than a mechanical HD.

    See Anandtech's link with much nerdy info on the SSD and SATA controller in the MBAs:
  12. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    P-ATA (IDE) and S-ATA are not the same. S-ATA is the successor of P-ATA and currently comes in three variants:
    • S-ATA 1.5 Gbps (S-ATA I)
    • S-ATA 3.0 Gbps (S-ATA II)
    • S-ATA 6.0 Gbps (S-ATA III)
    S-ATA is backwards/forwards compatible, thus an S-ATA 1.5 Gbps (S-ATA I) device will work on an S-ATA 6.0 Gbps (S-ATA III) interface, though at S-ATA 1.5 Gbps (S-ATA I) speeds (around 150 MB/s).
    The same goes for S-ATA 6.0 Gbps (S-ATA III) devices, they can be connected to an S-ATA 1.5 Gbps (S-ATA I) interface, again only working at speeds of the slowest component.
    Anyway, current S-ATA 6.0 Gbps (S-ATA III) SSDs can perform as fast and even faster as the flash storage devices Apple uses.

    Was that understandable?

    PS: S-ATA 3.0 Gbps (S-ATA II) is twice as fast as S-ATA 1.5 Gbps (S-ATA I), and S-ATA 6.0 Gbps (S-ATA III) is twice as fast as S-ATA 3.0 Gbps (S-ATA II) or four times as fast as S-ATA 1.5 Gbps (S-ATA I).
  13. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    A couple points worth clarifying. Flash is a type of memory used in all sorts of storage devices. For example, Solid State Drives, USB/flash/thumb drives, and so on. Flash is available in different technologies which affects services life, speed, reliability, and so on. USB flash drives are generally much slower. Typically people buy them based on how much storage you can get for the price. In any event the performance is limited by the I/O technology (USB 2 and 3). Science experiment: create a USB 2 flash memory boot drive and see how much slower it is than an HDD.
    SSDs, on the other hand, have many factors that determine their speed and reliability, including type of flash used, controller firmware, I/O channels on the drive, processing cores, and so on. As noted earlier, anandtech has reported on these for years, and can provide much detail, as can tomshardware. Other than price, it's hard to find anything wrong with SSDs -- they really improve the overall experience.
  14. Alameda macrumors 6502a


    Jun 22, 2012
    An SSD uses flash memory
    A USB thumb drive uses flash memory
    An SD card uses flash memory
    Your iPhone boots from flash memory.

    An SSD, or Solid State Disk, is a device that uses flash memory to create a hard disk drive replacement. It's mostly made of flash memory chips, but there is also a chip or two which manages all of the chips and converts SATA hard disk signals into memory read/write signals to the flash chips. In this way, replacing your hard disk with an SSD is the same as installing an ordinary hard disk.

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