SSDs and HDDs are two types of storage devices used as a local hard drive for a laptop. OEMs have reportedly announced that Microsoft is pushing them to abandon hard drives as the primary storage device in pre-built Windows 11 PCs and instead use SSDs, with current transition timelines set for 2023.
These moves by Microsoft aren’t accompanied by firm SSD requirements for Windows 11 PCs, and OEMs have reportedly spurned the opportunities. A Dell representative pointed out that almost all of its systems already come with SSDs, but he could neither confirm nor deny the analyst’s claims.
It should be noted that an SSD (Solid State Drive) is computer equipment that allows data to be stored on a flash memory. With no moving mechanical parts, an SSD is physically more robust than a hard drive; Although the trays of the latter have been made more and more often from glass since 2003 (although still very often from aluminum alloys), this is mainly because this technology involves the mechanical interaction of storage elements (trays) and access elements (read/write heads). slight shocks can scratch the magnetic surface or deteriorate the access elements, resulting in data loss or even permanent failure.
Conversely, SSDs have no moving parts, making them much more resilient to shock and vibration. SSDs also outperform hard drives in terms of performance (throughput, negligible latency, power consumption).
Disadvantages of SSDs over HDDs
SSDs have disadvantages compared to hard drives:
- Flash memory chips have a limited number of write cycles, resulting in the entire unit having a limited capacity in relation to the total amount of data written (reading is unaffected by this issue). Hard drives (although they can fail at any time) don’t have this limitation. A priori: If the magnetic substrate is of good quality, it can be rewritten practically indefinitely. Even if the evolution of technology tends to reduce the concrete impact of these inconveniences in the context of conventional use (for models marketed after 2015; it can be assumed that technological obsolescence will be reached well before the “write” limit), this makes hard drives more suitable for tasks where large amounts of data are constantly being written (e.g.: backup servers, CCTV);
- The sensitivity to so-called logical falsifications is higher, especially in the event of an unexpected power cut; newer models incorporate technologies that reduce or even eliminate this vulnerability;
- The capacity-to-price ratio remains the advantage of hard driveseven if this gap tends to narrow from year to year (since the early 2010s and especially since the floods in Thailand in late 2011, which severely impacted production volumes worldwide and prompted major restructuring. Hard drives are stagnating or shrinking slightly, while SSD prices dropping rapidly due to rapid changes in technology and capabilities).
The vast majority of new systems, whether laptops, desktops, or high-end ultrabooks, come with SSD boot drives, and have for years. Some types of semiconductor memory are better than others. Cheap eMMC storage in a cheap laptop is nowhere near as fast as the cheapest NVMe SSD. Today, however, only the most budget-friendly desktop computers use hard drives as their primary storage.
Microsoft would also keep requirements for PC manufacturers that differ from the base system requirements of Windows. Manufacturers had to provide and enable features like Secure Boot and a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for years before Windows 11 started requiring them for all Windows installations.
Microsoft has announced that Windows 11 will require TPM chips on existing and new devices. TPM chips work by providing hardware-level protection rather than just software. They can be used to encrypt disks with Windows features such as BitLocker or to prevent password dictionary attacks. TPM 1.2 chips have been around since 2011, but have generally only seen widespread use in IT-managed business laptops and desktops. Microsoft wants to offer the same level of protection to everyone who uses Windows.
In other words, even though PC manufacturers can’t sell a computer with a spinning hard drive as a boot disk, Windows is less likely to refuse installation on a spinning hard drive if the user needs one for some reason. The current system requirements for Windows 11 indicate a storage capacity of 64 GB or more, but do not specify what type of storage to use. To install or upgrade to Windows 11, devices must meet the following minimum hardware requirements:
- R.A.M: 4 gigabytes (GB) or more;
- TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0;
- System Firmware: UEFI compatible with Secure Boot;
- Graphic card : Compatible with DirectX 12 or higher, with WDDM 2.0 driver;
- Advertisement : high-resolution display (720p), 9 inch or larger screen, 8 bits per color channel;
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or greater with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system-on-a-chip (SoC);
- Storage : At least 64GB* of available disk space is required to install Windows 11. Additional disk space may be required to download updates and enable certain features;
- Internet connection : An Internet connection is required to perform updates and to download and use certain features. Windows 11 Home Edition requires an internet connection and a Microsoft account to complete device setup on first use.
Systems that still use hard drives are predominantly 1TB models. Since a good brand 1TB hard drive and an entry-level 250GB or 500GB SSD all cost between $40 and $50, manufacturers should at least in the Be able to shift gears without raising prices (although PC component manufacturers’ prices differ from those of end users).
Some analysts say that trading this ability for dramatically increased speeds is the right choice for most people. Not everyone needs to store 1TB of data locally, but everyone will notice and benefit from faster boot-ups, faster app and game launch times, and multitasking.
As always, the question of all systems moving to SSDs revolves around cost: Trendfocus vice president John Chen explains that to replace a 1TB hard drive you need to upgrade to an inexpensive 256GB SSD, which OEMs not consider sufficient capacity for most users. Conversely, switching to a 512 GB SSD would be against the budget of low-end devices that are strictly priced.
The original launch date, based on our discussions with OEMs, was supposed to be this year, but it’s been pushed back to next year (second half I think, but not sure of the exact date), Chen said. OEMs are trying to negotiate some level of pushback (transition to emerging markets in 2024 or transition to desktop in 2024), but things are still in flux.
The majority of PCs in developed markets have already made the transition to SSDs for boot drives, but there are exceptions. Chen notes that Microsoft might make some exceptions, but the company predicts that dual-drive desktops and gaming laptops with both an SSD as a boot drive and a hard drive for storage will be the only mainstream single-drive PCs will.
What is your opinion on the topic?
Are you for or against abandoning hard drives in PCs in favor of SSD drives?
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