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ssd form factor

What Is SSD Form Factor and Interfaces

Are you wondering how a solid-state drive (SSD) works? SSDs function like hard drives but with different technology. Like USB drives SSDs use flash memory for data storage which can be accessed digitally. Hard disk drive (HDD) uses a rotating bracket and an arm that passes over the bracket to read all of the data. 

As a result, SSDs provide almost instant boot and loading times because they do not have to mechanically search for data on a rotating tray.

What makes a solid-state drive?

Inside your computer, the storage drive (whether SSD or hard drive) works alongside your system's memory and processor to access and use data. 

Solid-state drives (SSD) form factors use different technology from traditional hard disk drives that allow SSD to access data faster and improve full desktop and laptop computer performance. This data includes things like your operating system games photos or music.

For example, if you want to access data from a spreadsheet and make some basic edits here's what goes on behind the scenes

Programs and files are stored on your storage drive. In this case the spreadsheet you want to access.

When you request to open the spreadsheet your computer processor transfers the program data from your storage drive to RAM for short-term access and use. Because SSDs have almost instant data transfer speeds they speed up the data transfer process i.e. the amount of time solid-state drive (SSD) takes to load programs and files.

The processor then accesses the data from the memory which serves as the bank of the available workspace. The memory is then used to "run" the program. Learn more about the difference between memory and storage.

In addition to being faster, SSDs are more durable because they have no moving parts that can be broken or worn out especially when moving around. Besides, they use less energy and save battery life.

Installing an SSD is one of the easiest ways to change almost every aspect of your system performance making slow charging times a thing of the past. Find out more about the benefits of solid-state drives.

SSD Form factors are explained

Solid-state drives (SSD) are defined by three form factors; These are the size of the drive, the type of connection interface, and the physical space that the drive will occupy on the computer.


A smaller form factor SSD is called mSATA. The mSATA SSD form factor is in the eighth of a full 2.5-inch drive and is designed to connect to the mSATA socket on the desktop or laptop system board. MSATA drives are used in ultra-thin and mini devices or as a secondary drive on the desktop.


The smallest form factor for SSD is called M.2 about the full size of a chewing gum stick. M.2 SSDs connect to the motherboard via an M.2 socket and are designed for space-constrained tablets and ultrabooks.

Find out more about the role that SSDs play on your computer.

To determine the type of SSD compatible with your system use the Crucial® Advisor tool or the system scanner tool and find out a few clicks.

The Inside Story

SSDs and hard drives (HDDs) serve similar purposes - they are storage devices. Unlike the HDD however, the SSD has no moving parts. It does not store data on magnetic plates and no head rotates over the plates to read or locate data.

What's inside the SSD and how does it do what it's supposed to do?

Flash controller

The flash controller is the heart and brain of the SSD. It is responsible for the interface with the host computer and the other components of the SSD. When a host wants to send data to a solid-state drive (SSD) the flash controller adjusts the data flow to ensure reliable storage and retrieval. 

It also contains the firmware that manages the SSD and performs background processes such as managing a flash file system leveling wear error correction cutting and garbage collection.

Volatile memory (DRAM cache)

This is a small amount of memory that is used as a temporary storage of data. It is not available on all SSD form factors. Because it is volatile it requires power to store information. 

A controller firmware decides when to discard or transfer data from volatile (non-continuous) memory to non-volatile (continuous) flash memory. In the event of an unexpected power loss, cached data may be lost or damaged unless there is an effective power outage mechanism.

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