SSDs and HDDs are two types of storage devices that are used as a local disk for a laptop. OEMs have reportedly revealed that Microsoft is pushing them to ditch hard drives as the primary storage device in pre-built Windows 11 PCs and use SSDs instead, with current timelines for the transition set at 2023.
These actions by Microsoft are not accompanied by firm SSD requirements for Windows 11 PCs, and OEMs reportedly spurned the odds. A Dell representative pointed out that nearly all of its systems already come with SSDs, but he couldn’t confirm or deny the analyst’s claims.
It should be noted that an SSD (solid-state drive) is computer equipment that allows the storage of data on flash memory. With no moving mechanical parts, an SSD is materially tougher than a hard drive; indeed, the trays of the latter are more and more often made of glass since 2003 (although still very often in aluminum alloys), but above all, because this technology involves the mechanical interaction between storage elements (trays) and access elements (read/write heads), even slight shocks can cause scratches to the magnetic surface, or damage to the access elements, and therefore loss of data or even permanent failure.
Conversely, SSDs have no moving parts, which gives them much greater resistance to shocks and vibrations. SSDs also outperform hard drives in terms of performance (throughput, negligible latency, power consumption).
Disadvantages of SSDs compared to HDDs
SSDs have disadvantages compared to hard drives:
- Flash memory chips have a limited number of write cycles, causing the entire unit to have a limited capacity in terms of the total amount of data written (reading is not affected by this issue.) Hard drives (although may fail at any time) do not have this limitation. A priori: if the magnetic substrate is of good quality, it can be rewritten practically infinitely. Even if the evolution of technology tends to reduce the concrete impact of this inconvenience in the context of conventional use (for models marketed after 2015; it can be considered that technological obsolescence will be reached well before the limit of the ‘write’), this makes hard disks more suitable for tasks involving the constant writing of large volumes of data (for example: backup servers, CCTV);
- sensitivity to so-called logical corruptions is higher, in particular in the event of an unexpected interruption of the power supply; recent models incorporate technologies that reduce or even eliminate this vulnerability;
- the capacity/price ratio remains the advantage of hard driveseven if this gap tends to narrow from year to year (since the beginning of the 2010s and especially since the floods in Thailand at the end of 2011, which considerably affected production volumes worldwide and led to major restructuring. hard drives are stagnating or shrinking very slightly, while SSD prices are falling 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 done so for years. Some types of semiconductor storage are better than others. Cheap eMMC storage in a cheap laptop will be nowhere near as fast as the cheapest NVMe SSD. However, these days only the most budget-friendly desktop computers still use hard drives as their primary storage.
Microsoft would also maintain requirements for PC manufacturers that are different from Windows’ base system requirements. Manufacturers were required to ship and enable features such as Secure Boot and a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) for years before Windows 11 began 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 instead of just software. They can be used to encrypt disks using Windows features such as bitLocker, or to prevent password dictionary attacks. TPM 1.2 chips have been around since 2011, but they’ve generally only seen widespread use in IT-managed business laptops and desktops. Microsoft wants to bring the same level of protection to everyone who uses Windows.
In other words, even though PC makers can’t sell a computer with a spinning-disk hard drive as a startup disk, Windows is less likely to refuse to install on such a hard drive if the user uses it. needs for some reason. The current system requirements for Windows 11 state a storage capacity of 64 GB or more, but do not specify what type of storage to use. Indeed, to install or upgrade to Windows 11, devices must meet the following minimum hardware requirements:
- RAM: 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 later, with WDDM 2.0 driver;
- Display : high definition display (720p), 9 inch or larger screen, 8 bits per channel color;
- Processor : 1 gigahertz (GHz) or more with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system-on-a-chip (SoC);
- Storage : 64 GB* or more of available storage space is required to install Windows 11. Additional storage 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. The Home edition of Windows 11 requires an Internet connection and a Microsoft account to complete device setup on first use.
Systems that still use hard drives are overwhelmingly 1 TB models. Since a good brand 1 TB hard drive and an entry-level 250 or 500 GB SSD all cost between 40 and 50 dollars, manufacturers should at least be able to step up a gear without raising prices (although manufacturers’ pricing of PC components is different from that of end users).
Some analysts say trading that capability for dramatically increased speeds is the right call for most people. Not everyone needs to store 1TB of data locally, but everyone will notice and benefit from faster startup, faster application and game launch times, and multitasking.
As always, the question of all systems moving to SSDs comes down to cost: Trendfocus VP John Chen explains that to replace a 1TB hard drive, you need to upgrade to a low-cost 256GB SSD , which OEMs don’t consider to be enough capacity for most users. Conversely, switching to a 512 GB SSD would be contrary to the budget of low-end machines whose price is strictly limited.
The original introduction date, based on our discussions with OEMs, was supposed to be this year, but it was pushed back to next year (second half, I believe, 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 desktops 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 may make a few exceptions, but the firm predicts that dual-drive desktop PCs and gaming laptops with both an SSD for the boot drive and a hard drive for the mass storage will be the only mass PCs with a hard drive.
What is your opinion on the subject?
Are you for or against the abandonment of hard drives in PCs in favor of SSD drives?
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