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Micron C400

By Matt Simpson - Thursday, April 19, 2012

SSD’s have been around for some time now. We are used to the idea that they have no moving parts, transfer data at speeds that could never be achieved by their mechanical hard drive forebears.  The new drives are virtually vibration proof, run silently, and use almost no power. As if that weren’t enough, they are actually smaller than the drives they replaced. Today, however, there is a trend towards making small form factor PC’s and other tiny devices. It turns out that the 2.5” form factor of most solid state drives is actually overkill. There have been some 1.8” SSD’s but for the most part, the 2.5” size is still used for backwards compatibility. Now, the MSata standard is allowing for smaller drives than ever and have those drives delivered on a standardized platform.


For decades, the primary storage system was the hard disk drive or HDD for short. These were elegant but complex mechanical devices that had to be manufactured to exacting tolerances. They were built around the magnetic recording principle that also worked on audio tape and other devices of the day. A small electrically articulated arm could move a head from the inside of the disk to the outside. The disk would then spin under the head, this way the arm had only a small distance it needed to move and could wait for the spinning disk to pass under it. The head on the end of the arm could read or write depending on the electric signal it had been sent.

In order to increase the size and performance f these devices, several methods were employed. First, multiple disks were housed within one hard drive, allowing for improved size as well a faster read times. The speed at which the disks spun was also increased. This increasing speed continued until drives were spinning at over 10000 rpm’s and still being able to maintain their reliability. Likely the biggest improvement however, was the increase in the number of magnetically modifiable bits on the surface of the drive. An early drive may have been able to store 20MB on a single disk, while later examples could hold over 500GB.

We have essentially reached the limits of what could be done to speed these drives up. Increasing the density of the platters, while still possible, had slowed to a point where it would no longer have the huge returns of the past. Spinning the drives at faster speeds would be likely to hurt reliability as well, so a new method was devised for saving and accessing data.


We have been using NVRAM for some time. This is memory that holds its information after power has been disconnected. First in our Bios chips, and later in our USB drives and other storage devices, the technology has been used as a secondary storage medium for years. It should have been no surprise that we would adopt this technology to be used as a primary storage media.

Solid state Drives have several huge advantages over their mechanical counterparts and we are still only in the first few generations of their existence. The sustained transfer speeds are several times faster than the fastest mechanical hard drives and the random accesses, the kind that count in everyday computing, can be almost 100 times faster. This combines with a random access time that is closer to memory than a spinning hard drive to make an I/O device that doesn’t simply outperform the HDD, but it makes them completely obsolete in any case where performance is considered. The real drawback thus far has been pricing. There is no technical reason why a 3TB or 4Tb SSD couldn’t exist, but it would be priced so high that few could afford it. Until that changes, most use an SSD as a primary drive alongside a HDD for data storage.

Micron C400

One of the first drives to utilize the new MSATA standard is Microns C400. It is a fairly conservative SSD, but would still outperform any of its HDD brothers. AT 64Gb, it’s not the highest capacity either, but then again, it’s barely larger than the connectors needed for the SATA and power delivery and less than a quarter the size of its identically performing 2.5” brother.

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