Storage space is one of the useful features to check out while purchasing a tablet PC or a new laptop. In fact, it is a buying factor that affects your decision of purchasing the device. The preference for data storage is not going to depend only on price and performance. This is because you will obviously also consider the storage needs.
The best laptop under 800 with Windows as the operating system and other mobile computers usually have one of the four storage types namely, Hard Disk Drive (HDD), hybrid (HDD + SSD), Solid State Drive (SSD), and embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC). It is vital to know that not all of these are same. Not even all SSDs are same.
It is known to most of us that SSDs are faster than HDDs. This is perhaps why they are now the mainstream. However, it is also common to see eMMC storage in economic laptops and tablets. Just because they are economic, it does not justify why they are still in use. This means both SSDs and eMMCs must have their specific uses. Let us find them out along with other differences.
An SSD is not the same as a Secure Digital (SD) card or a flash drive in terms of components. Although the type of NAND memory chips is the same, the SSD has significantly more in number. Further, these chips are of better quality and are faster in performance in SSDs.
In addition, SSDs has a controller with firmware, which is the reason why they are termed as sophisticated drives. In simple words, this controller offers advanced features. For instance, the controller splits the read as well as write tasks and spans them across the SSD’s memory chips. Therefore, the performance of an SSD is not confined by the individual chip’s speed.
This controller acts similar to a RAID configuration. This is because it utilizes several chips separately for accelerating the execution of tasks. For instance, at the time of writing, the SSD may be writing to 15 NAND chips simultaneously. On the other hand, the same task for an SD card having only one chip may take more time, which can be 15 times more than what an SSD takes. Thus, if an SSD takes 1 minute to write, an SD card can take 15 minutes to do so.
The controller’s firmware also takes care of wear-leveling tasks to spread the data to write evenly across the physical drive. This does not allow the flash memory to wear out. The controller expounds the memory in a consistent manner to the computer due to which PC performs normally. However, the SSD is rearranging it all in the background.
SSDs also provide more sophisticated features such as TRIM for accelerating the performance. Frankly speaking, an SSD optimization tool is not at all required. This is because the firmware is taking care of drive optimization and data shuffling for improved execution. Moreover, an SSD is usually connected through a SATA 3 or SATA Express interface both of which are quicker than the speed of those available for a standard SD or flash drive.
A MultiMediaCard (MMC) is analogous to an SD card and it forms the basis of eMMC. The SD card, at the time of its release, was looked upon as an improvement over MMC. Even today, almost all devices support an SD card slot and prefer it to an MMC slot. However, no one can deny the fact that MMC was the pioneer of SD storage. While MMC is still available, it is a fact that its embedded version is more preferable.
eMMC is a more sluggish as well as economical Flash-based storage than SSD. It is commonly present in consumer electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets but rarely in desktop PCs. Still, it is common to find it soldered onto motherboards of some economical notebooks and 2-in-1 computers. Most of these models are compact. In terms of daily use, its performance is between the pace of HDDs and SSDs.
The ’embedded’ word is derived from the fact that the drive is typically linked directly to the motherboard. The eMMC storage contains NAND flash memory (same available in USB drives, SSDs, and SDs), which never demands for power for sustaining data.
Coming to its storage speed, the existing standard is expressed as a ratio of 5.1. In simple words, an eMMC storage drive is capable of working effectively at a speed of up to around 400 Mbps. Well, this is not actually a slow speed. This is because even the speed of SATA SSDs is somewhat around the same speed.
What you need to understand here is that the overall transfer rate is not the only factor to govern a device’s performance. eMMC storage conventionally runs with only a handful memory gates as compared to an SSD. This means that the former can yet run at the same speed but the volume shall vary.
Visualize this scenario as that of a road. The more lanes, more vehicles can proceed simultaneously. Now, visualize this: eMMC is a single lane, whereas an SSD is a highway having multiple lanes. The speed shall be the same but the line to come onto the road shall not be as slow as on the highway.
eMMC or SSD?
If you are looking for a storage option that can ensure delivery of data as quickly as possible, you should ideally choose SSD and that too PCIe-based. The modern lineup can deliver up to 3,200 to 3,500 Mbps with a slower speed that is half of this reading speed. However, still, the modern SSDs are quite quicker than eMMC storage.
Those who have looked for a budget tablet or laptop are likely to know that these models are available with 32 or 64 GB storage capacity. Well, these two sizes are most common for eMMC. However, it is equally true that eMMC storage can also be of 128 GB. Consider eMMC storage if you will be handling small file sizes, as they do not result in any bottlenecks. If you have big files to work with, consider getting an SSD.
The lineup of SSDs have models that are of larger sizes, typically ranging from 128 GB to many TBs. Well, the price increases as the storage capacity rises. Therefore, SSD laptops and tablets are certainly costlier. This is true despite the fact that the cost of overall computer technology is decreasing steadily. Undoubtedly, even the cost of SSDs is falling but they are still expensive. As compared to HDDs, SSDs for consumers are almost four times expensive. This also makes them costlier than eMMCs. Thus, SSDs are hardly used in electronics made at the consumer level. Majority of manufacturers favor HDDs but a few still prefer eMMCs, particularly for entry-level devices. Here, eMMC’s limitations are easily overcome while the costs are affordable, as these devices are not for working with huge files.
If you are on budget and are focusing on eMMC, it is highly recommended to factor in the outlay of cloud storage. This is because you will certainly end up paying for it. The reason is that 32 and 64 GB storage drives do not sustain anymore for cloud requirements. Thus, if the cost of cloud storage is coming equally to that of an SSD, you may prefer paying it front and not afterward.
Just because eMMC has some limitations, it does not mean that it is only meant to avoid. Smaller and economical eMMC storage is useful too and that there is a market for it. This scope is in the category of budget laptops. In terms of durability, it is not that lasting in terms of appearance, as the touchpad or display is likely to become crap just prior to the storage degradation.
Inference: The decision to buy or not to buy eMMC storage is specifically based on the set budget and the purpose of investing in the device. If you are looking for a budget notebook or a tablet just for Internet browsing or viewing some media, it makes more sense to stick to the affordable eMMC storage. At this point of time, just remember that not all eMMC storage models are same. Thus, it is obvious to check for specifications and reviews for knowing the speed and other features prior to taking a final decision.
If you wish to use a notebook or laptop for working with truly heavy-storage files or apps such as a game or database software, ignore the thought of eMMC even if you are on a budget. This is because even a Word file containing images will not work quickly on it. Thus, it is rational to increase the budget if possible. This is true even if productivity is your top priority.
Just as the eMMC drives, SSDs are also not identical. You can easily end up getting a slow SSD if you do not do your smart work of research. Yes, there are many slow SSDs there. So, do read reviews before investing in one of them.