I’ve written a few times why solid-state hard drives (SSDs) are a sea change, similar to our transition from CRT to LCD a few years ago.
Anandtech gets it right in an exhaustive analysis of why this is so. The biggest problem with traditional (spinning) hard drives is not simply raw speed — it’s that they are sequential.
Many traditional drives can do high-throughput when you benchmark them. And that’s all well and good. But there is only one head in the drive, which means it can only read one file at a time. So any program can monopolize the hard drive with little difficulty — no matter how fast the drive is.
What users expect and perceive is responsiveness. Even a theoretically fast drive can feel very slow if other things are competing for its attention. And on a modern computer, it’s trying to do a dozen things for you at any given time. Get in line.
SSDs excel not simply because they are fast, but because they can handle many tasks at the same time. So even if they are busy, what the user asks for gets handled immediately, in most cases.
That is a situation where the user benefit is disproportionate to the raw underlying specs. I think it will change what we expect from our computers.
We should think of SSDs are a multi-core, multi-tasking system which replaces a single-threaded one. Our operating systems were like that in the mid-90’s, and if you were to use such a thing today, you’d wonder how we got by. SSDs are a similar step forward.