What’s The Difference Between USB Flash and SSD Memory

Based on visual appearance alone, it’s quite easy to tell the difference between USB flash drives and solid-state drives (SSDs). USB flash drives, also known as thumb drives, are much smaller and compact – often small enough to fit on a keychain – while SSDs are quite a bit larger.

However, the confusion begins when you begin delving into the inner workings of both devices. Since both use flash-based memory for data storage, novice computer users often find it difficult to understand the difference in technology. Knowing the differences between products and services is something that makes the user better take advantage of its benefits, heart bingo online shows internet users a wide range of options and their benefits in addition to clarifying frequently asked questions.

What is NAND Technology? 

NAND technology is the key component of both SSDs and USB flash drives. However, there are different levels, standards, and capabilities involved with NAND technology that distinguish the separate devices. One of the primary differences comes in the number of cells used for data storage. 

Multi-Level Cell (MLC):

Multi-level cell, or MLC, is capable of storing several bits of information per cell. As such, it’s much cheaper – and physically smaller – than the alternative. In order to cut costs, USB thumb drives generally utilize the MLC format.

Single-Level Cell (SLC):

Single-level cell, or SLC, is a vast upgrade from the MLC standard. Instead of storing multiple bits of information in each cell, the SLC format can only store a single bit of information per cell. This ultimately improves data transfer speeds, but it comes with higher manufacturing costs and greater power consumption. 

To put this differently, most MLC devices can handle approximately 10,000 write and erase cycles before failure. In contract, SLC can withstand an average of 100,000 cycles. 

As you can see, NAND technology is a major influence in whether a manufacturer chooses to develop a USB flash drive or a full-scale SSD. Those who want to cut costs – for both themselves and the consumer – will typically opt for cheaper hardware and MLC technology. Manufacturers who want greater efficiency and reliability, on the other hand, will utilize SLC technology – and the price of their hardware will reflect that. 

Memory Control

Memory control is also handled differently in USB flash drives and SSDs. While the former includes an onboard microcontroller as well as limited amounts of onboard ROM and RAM, SSDs feature a lot more functionality. As such, it includes a full-scale memory controller to handle error correction, wear leveling, block mapping, data caching, encryption, and more. 

The additional hardware required by SSDs results in a device that is physically larger than the average USB flash drive. However, SSDs still have a smaller form factor than traditional, disk-based hard drives.

Connection Interface

Another factor in the performance of USB flash drives and SSDs, the connection interface can serve as a bottleneck in certain scenarios. While USB technology has improved as of late, earlier models might not support the transfer speeds of some USB drives. On the other hand, SSDs are capable of working with common HDD connectors as well as the newer, faster SATA Express interface. As a result, SSDs perform at higher speeds than USB thumb drives and even traditional, disk-based hard drives.