As an Apple Certified Consultant and Mac tech support professional, I knew all too well how risky and unreliable mechanical hard drive technology is. Over a decade of helping clients, the number of hard drive failures and replacements were distressing. Some drives got hot and noisy as bearings and lubrication worn out, other's intermittently clicked and klacked as read/write heads struggled to properly interact with the magnetic disk surface, and others literally screeched to a halt and died in a final scream of failure and agony. Some drive deaths were slow and painful, others were mercifully instantaneous. There HAD to be a better solution.
In the early days of SSD storage, the emerging technology was VERY expensive and decidedly not a mainstream product. Back then the drive interface was Parallel ATA - IDE at rather slow clock speeds. The NAND flash memory back then wasn't spectacularly fast either. Generally they edged out mechanical drives particularly for reading data, but write speeds were significantly slower - something that would be considered unacceptable in modern times. And they were very expensive, even when meager 1, 2, or 4GB SSD's were the common sizes. What they did offer was shock and vibration proof absolutely reliability, and as such were popular largely in only military and industrial environments that would have vibrated a mechanical hard drive to premature death.
As the consumer market started to become viable, and capacities over 32GB became available, a geek - hobbyist market began to emerge. The SATA I drive interface was taking hold and we started seeing SSD's that could now perform TWICE as fast as any HDD available. The White and then Aluminum Unibody MacBooks with 2.5" laptop drives were easy and popular models to perform a solid-state drive upgrade on.
Fast-Forward to the currrent state of solid-state storage on the Mac. As the SATA interface moved from 1.5, to 3, to 6GBps, the speed of Mac SSD drives became absolutely compelling. Increased drive capacity made SSD technology feasable as a boot drive anyways, with a secondary HDD wise for large data storage needs. The Read and Write speed discrepancy was narrowed, making slow(er) data Writes largely a non-issue. Currently OCZ, Intel, Sandisk and Crucial are the top players - with Samsung solid-state drives absolutely leading the performance charts.
In 2014, the COST of NAND flash memory collpased, and finally truly large and affordable 512GB and 1Terabyte SSD's reached the market. Suddenly having BOTH an SSD drive in your Macintosh desktop or MacBook laptop as well as a solid-state external backup drive became even more desirable and cost-effective. I'd expect 1.5TB and 2TB SSD drive capacities to be shipping by the end of 2015 - putting the last remaining pressure point on unreliable mechanical hard drives.
Do note hard-disks ain't dead yet, spinning platter drives still have their place: SSHD - Solid-State Hybrid Hard Drives - blend the best of both technologies for better speed and high capacity at reduced cost.
In 2015, the transition from Serial ATA to the PCIe internal drive interface is well underway. Drive performance nearly DOUBLE last generation SATA technoloy is now possible. New Macs and MacBooks with internal SSD slots are using PCIe connections, not SATA. Additionally, and thanks to Intel and Apple's ThunderBolt 2 interface at 20Gbps and previous generation 10Gbps ThunderBolt technology, we have an external interface with direct access to the PCI bus as well making ultra-fast file transfers and data backups a breeze. In fact, ThunderBolt has so much bandwidth, solid-state RAID drive arrays are the optimal match for it.
Stay tuned. www.ssd-for-mac.com will continue to provide coverge of Apple compatible SSD storage hardware as it evolves and improves. Death to mechanical hard drives on the Macintosh! Long live the future of swift, silent, low-power and RELIABLE SSD data storage on the Apple platform!
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