Trending December 2023 # Griffin Watchstand Charging Station: A Solid Two # Suggested January 2024 # Top 21 Popular

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Earlier this month I reviewed the Belkin Charge Dock, a stylish dock for your iPhone and Apple Watch. I praised it for its classy, minimalistic design and embedded chargers, but knew that its steep $130 price tag would be a turnoff for many potential buyers.

This time around I want to tell you about a more affordable option—the Griffin WatchStand Charging Station. It too offers space for your iPhone and Apple Watch to rest and recharge, at less than half the price, but that savings does come with a few tradeoffs.

First, there’s design. I don’t think the WatchStand looks bad—in fact, Sebastien called its identical smaller sibling “sleek”—but I also don’t think it looks anywhere near as good as the Belkin. Second, there are no cables included, meaning you have to supply your own.

So does the WatchStand’s price and functionality offset these shortcomings? Let’s find out.

At 18 oz., the WatchStand feels solid, like it’s not going to bounce around your desk or nightstand. The base measures 3.15″ x 7.87″ and is made mostly of polycarbonate plastic. It features a felt-covered platform, where you can lay your iPhone down without worrying about scratches, and a 5″ tall podium for charging and displaying your Apple Watch (yes, it supports the new Nightstand Mode in watchOS 2).

Underneath the base you’ll find two USB ports: a 2.5W (for Apple Watch) and a 10W (or 5V @ 2.1 A)‭, and a port for the 100–240V AC power supply.

Griffin attempts to make up for not having embedded chargers with smart cable management. Beneath the stand, across from the USB ports, is a place for you to wrap up your USB cable, leaving just enough slack to plug the Lightning connector into your iPhone on the platform. The Apple Watch podium features a removable, ribbed center piece and a hollow body, so you can wrap up your cable and pull it through to the bottom ports. The result here is pretty clean, with little to no cables showing.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done. While I was able to wind my iPhone cable and tuck it underneath the stand fairly quickly, hiding the Apple Watch cable was a much more tedious process. There’s not much room for error inside the podium, so if you don’t wind your cable extremely tight around the center piece, you’re going to have a hard time getting it to fit. I took a few shots at it, and I still wound up having to forcibly shove the center piece into the podium, and honestly I’m kind of worried I won’t be able to get it out. Nevertheless, once it’s done, it’s done, and I don’t imagine most folks will be moving cables back and forth with this thing.

Overall, I think Griffin has created a useful accessory for iPhone and Apple Watch owners here, but as for whether or not you should get one, I’m torn. I think I’d still recommend the aforementioned Belkin over this. It looks better and is much easier to setup, and the fact that it has built-in cables almost makes up the difference in price ($130 vs $60 + $30 for AW charger + $20 for iPhone USB cable). That being said, if you don’t mind using your own cables and are looking for a two-in-one charging station for your Apple Watch and iPhone, no one would blame you for picking this up.

If you’re interested, you can find the WatchStand Powered Charging Station on Amazon for $59.99. The box includes the WatchStand; power supply; interchangeable power adapters for the US, UK, EU and AUS; the user manual; and Griffin does offer a 1-year warranty.

Also be sure to check out these other Apple Watch dock/stand reviews:

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The Virus Station: A Field Lab For Finding A Deadly Disease

A man who worked in a lead and gold mine in southwest Uganda died suddenly from a hemorrhagic fever. Concerned that it could be the beginning of an outbreak of Marburg virus, which is similar to Ebola, doctors sent a blood sample to the Uganda Virus Research Institute, where pathologists confirmed that Marburg was indeed the cause of death and alerted the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both the WHO and the CDC are tasked with containing the spread of virulent diseases. If scientists could locate the animal that transmitted the virus to the miner, they could stop an outbreak.

Two days later, in Atlanta, a team of eight scientists from the Viral Special Pathogens Branch of the CDC loaded respirators and Tyvek suits, liquid nitrogen tanks, folding tables, a generator and five gallons of Lysol into the belly of a 747. They flew to Entebbe, outside Kampala, Uganda’s capital, and drove 200 miles to Ibanda village. Just outside the village, the group reached the mine, where they expected to find the animal host.

Bats, and their guano, were everywhere. The scientists donned their suits and respirators and entered, using nets to capture 800 bats before heading back to Ibanda, where the rest of the team had constructed a lab inside the village’s hospital. Then they euthanized the bats.

The Virus Station 02

RAPID RESPONSE The Viral Special Pathogens Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization use portable field labs to dissect fruit bats.

The team went to work dissecting in an assembly line. One group collected tissue samples from the bats’ kidneys, livers, lungs and hearts; another took blood samples; another entered data. They put the samples in tubes, put the tubes in women’s stockings (which fit snugly around the samples), and dipped the packages into tanks of liquid nitrogen, where they were stored for transit. A scientist returned to Entebbe with the frozen tubes.

Within a week of the call, the samples reached Atlanta and the CDC’s high-containment labs, where scientists hunted for signs of Marburg. “If we can know how a population with the disease acts, how it might impair them, we can get a jump on it,” says Craig Manning, a member of the CDC team. With the samples, they could begin to understand how the disease manifested itself in one species and jumped to another.

They discovered that 23 of the 800 bats carried Marburg, although they couldn’t find evidence of symptoms. Back in Uganda, the mine was shut down and the virus’s only victim buried.

Check out more from our Future of Medicine issue here.

Octopath Traveler Review: A Solid Throwback To The Jrpg Greats

Octopath Traveler review: A solid throwback to the JRPG greats

After more than a year of waiting, Octopath Traveler has finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch, and boy are JRPG fans excited. One look at its aesthetic is all you need to begin drawing comparisons to the many excellent JRPGs from the 1990s, like Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI, and Chrono Trigger. It’s safe to say that hype among the folks who love this genre was incredibly high in the lead up to release, but now that it’s here, does Octopath Traveler live up to the hype? Is it the 16-bit throwback we’ve all been waiting for?

Those are difficult questions to answer. In a lot of ways, Octopath Traveler does live up to the hype and is worthy of standing next to the JRPG greats. At the same time, though, Octopath Traveler isn’t afraid to set aside some of the tropes of the genre, which is does to varying degrees of success. Generally speaking, I think most JRPG fans will find plenty to like in this game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the game causes some furrowed brows too.

As you can tell, I’m somewhat conflicted when it comes to Octopath Traveler, but that isn’t some kind of universal truth that applies to every aspect of the game. There are some things about it that are unquestionably great, such as the graphics. Octopath Traveler is a beautiful game, and more than that, it’s possibly one of the best looking games I’ve ever laid eyes on.

The screenshots the Switch captures definitely do not do the game justice. The sprites in this Octopath Traveler all look excellent – especially the oversized boss sprites – and the environments all have this effect that almost makes them seem like they’re comprised of painted pixels. Square Enix, I believe, calls this an “HD-2D” graphics style, and that’s honestly the best way to describe the visuals in Octopath Traveler. It’s something that needs to be seen, controller in-hand, to be appreciated, as I don’t really think screenshots or video are going to convey its unique aesthetic well.

What’s more is that the game looks fantastic even when you’re playing it in handheld mode, which can’t be said for all Switch games out there. Regardless of the usage mode you play in most, Octopath Traveler is a feast for the eyes, and quite often during my time with the game, I found myself stopping just to admire my surroundings for a while.

Similarly, the soundtrack in this game is incredible. The score was composed by Yasunori Nishiki, and I’m almost positive that this is the first time I’ve ever heard any of his music. I’m utterly impressed with what he’s done for this game though, as this is one of those instances where the music is so good that it elevates the package as a whole. The music in this game ends up feeling like a crucial part of the experience instead of just a backdrop, and each song fits its respective scene perfectly. I hope I hear more from Nishiki in the future, because it’s clear from Octopath Traveler that he has a ton of talent.

Combat is another high point in this game, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had more fun with combat in a JRPG. Maybe that just shows that my experience with the genre has been limited to the big names, but I suspect that even seasoned JRPG veterans who count the genre as their favorite will agree that Octopath Traveler’s combat is something worth getting excited about.

Combat in Octopath Traveler revolves around a simple concept: breaking through your opponent’s defenses. Every enemy you encounter in Octopath Traveler has at least one weakness, but many enemies have multiple. Those weaknesses may be weapon types or elemental attacks, and it’s your job to figure out what they are. Each enemy also has a certain number of shield points, which decrease each time you hit them with something they’re weak to. While they still have at least one shield point, every attack you hit them with will do less damage than it normally would, so the full potential of your damage output won’t be realized until you get those defenses down.

When you finally “break” an opponent’s defenses, they’ll be stunned for the remainder of the current turn and the entirely of the next one, wiping their attacks from the turn order and giving your team an opening to do as much damage as possible before their shield points are regenerated.

To dish out that damage, you can spend boost points to super-charge your attack. Each of your characters earns one boost point at the beginning of each turn, and boost points are capped at five per character. You can spend up three at a time on a single action, but the most interesting thing is that you’re not limited to only spending your boost points on attacks. You can use them to make your healing more potent, extend the duration of positive status effects on your allies and negative status effects on your enemies, or increase the chances of certain actions (such as stealing or capturing beasts) succeeding.

Between boost points, enemy weaknesses, and defense breaks, you have a lot of tactical freedom in each battle you’ll fight. A job system that seems fairly simple on the surface adds even more layers to combat, ensuring that it never really gets stale. Octopath Traveler’s combat helps make boss battles feel suitably epic, and if you don’t ensure that your team covers potential enemy weaknesses well, the battles you’ll face will feel grueling at times. Combat is one of the most consistently exciting and addicting aspects of Octopath Traveler, and it is easily one of my favorite parts of the game.

Now that we’ve covered the parts of Octopath Traveler that are unquestionably great, let’s tackle something that’s been a little more divisive: the story. Octopath Traveler, as I’m sure many of you have heard by now, doesn’t have a conventional RPG story where our heroes unite to accomplish a common task. There are no great evils or existential forces pulling our eight heroes together, and for most of the game, their alliance feels like one of convenience more than anything else.

At first, this is very strange. Even after playing for more than 60 hours I still find this approach to be a little weird. It’s a neat idea, for sure, but I feel that the execution could have been better, because there are points where the disjointed narrative just feels like a slog that isn’t really going anywhere.

The stories themselves range from dark to more lighthearted, at least at the start. Primrose the dancer, for instance, is on a quest of vengeance. Her goal is to kill the three men who assassinated her father and usurped his throne when she was a child, and it’s suggested very early on that she’s lived a horrifying life while she waits for the right time to exact her revenge. Tressa, on the other hand, is an all around cheery girl who one day decides to leave her quiet seaside town and set out on a quest to see the world and hone her skills as a merchant.

In general, the stories are all engaging to some degree, but inevitably, you end up becoming invested in some more than others. For me, at least, this resulted in something of a lopsided experience where I was immersed at some points and bored at others. I don’t expect this will be the case for everyone, and indeed, I have a feeling that some will appreciate every story for what it offers.

That isn’t to say that some characters are somehow more valuable than others. Even if you’re like me and you find that some of these mini-narratives leave something to be desired, there’s plenty of reason to recruit every character in the game and see what their story holds. Each character starts the game with one of eight different jobs, and those jobs grant a unique path action. You’ll use these path actions to complete quests and interact with NPCs.

Once you get to chapter two, you can begin assigning sub-jobs to your heroes, which gives you a lot of flexibility in crafting your team. Even though you have this ability, heroes will still have capabilities unique to them. For instance, even though you may have someone pivot into the Alchemist sub-job, Alfyn is the only one who can concoct alchemical creations in battle. Tressa, meanwhile, will sometimes find money left behind by others when you enter an area, which is something only she can do. This means that it’s worthwhile to rotate through all eight characters as you play, rather than just sticking with the same group of four throughout the entire game.

It’s a cool system and I’m happy to have a reason to cycle through all eight characters throughout the course of the playthrough, but I just wish the payoff for doing so was better. Working your way through all eight stories takes a long time, and while the writing is decent, I don’t think it’s particularly great. There’s a lot of it too, so expect to have some serious downtime if you intend to see all this game has to offer in a single playthrough.

With that in mind, if you’re looking for a game you can really sink your teeth into, this is it. There’s dozens and dozens of hours of content in the main portion of the game alone, and total playtime is extended further by the number of extra areas to explore and plenty of side quests to complete.

One thing I particularly like about Octopath Traveler is that there aren’t really any waypoints – you’re simply told which city to go to in order to begin the next chapter in a certain character’s story, but beyond that, you’re on your own. When an NPC gives you a side quest, you’re left mostly unassisted in figuring it out, and there’s something novel about that here in 2023. This approach, I feel, makes you appreciate the game world as whole, since you’re not simply running from waypoint to waypoint and forgetting to explore.

Jsaux Omnicase 2 Pro: A Storage Docking Station Everyone Must Have!

The Omnicase 2 Pro is a great docking station for frequent travelers and those who want to keep their desks tidy. The 12-in-1 docking station is robust, with various ports and storage options.



12-in-1 docking station

USB cables and adapters provided

Perfect grooves for storage


No significants cons found

Buy now from Kickstarter

If you’re a frequent traveler, you might find it troublesome to organize your cables and SD cards and carry a docking station for the ports situation. While various docking stations and organizers are available in the market, carrying both of them would add extra weight to your shoulders.

What if I said you could get a docking station and an organizer in the same product? Sounds unbelievable, right? But it’s true if you get yourself the Omnicase 2 Pro.

What does Omnicase 2 Pro do?

The Omnicase 2 Pro is a storage docking station, meaning you can store your memory cards and cables, but it also doubles as a docking station. Furthermore, don’t get deceived by its compact size; it’s more powerful and packed with features than you think.

Features of Omnicase 2 Pro

The Omnicase 2 Pro is an all-in-one docking station that offers a variety of features to enhance your Steam Deck experience. Here are a few of its most notable features.

Accessories organizer

As previously mentioned, the Omnicase 2 Pro is an accessories organizer that you can use to arrange your memory cards and cables correctly. Opening the dock will reveal all the storage options to organize your cables and cards. Moreover, here’s everything you get with the Omnicase 2 Pro:

USB-C to USB-C 3.2 cable

90° female to male USB-C adapter

USB-C to USB micro-B adapter

USB-C female to USB-A male adapter

iPhone charging adapter

Ejector pin tool

They come with the package, but along with these, you can also store SIM cards, SD cards, and TF cards. Everything fits perfectly within its respective grooves, so you don’t have to worry about the fit.

I loved the quality of each accessory offered by Omincase. So, if you don’t want to buy the whole set, and just want some good-quality, basic accessories, I’d highly recommend getting the USB-A to USB-C cable and PD charger.

Now, let’s move on to the main event.

12-in-1 Docking station

The most essential part of the Omnicase 2 Pro is its 12-in-1 docking station. It comes with a wide-variety of ports to serve all your needs. Here’s a list of ports that you get in the Omnicase 2 Pro:

3.5mm audio jack

2 HDMI ports

Display port

RJ45 Ethernet port

USB-C out and USB-C in ports

TF card slot

SD card reader

USB-A 2.0 port

USB-A 3.0 port

USB-C 3.0 port

You get 12 ports that can come in handy when your work demands. The best part about the two HDMI ports and the Display port is that they deliver 4K resolution at 60Hz. Moreover, the USB-C out port offers 100W PD charging. Finding these many ports in a docking station that also doubles as an organizer isn’t easy.


With these many ports and organizing options, you may ask if it’s portable or not. The answer is it is portable, given that it has a lightweight, anodized aluminum build. Moreover, the magnets to enclose the case are pretty strong, so you need not worry about the cables or cards falling off.

Interestingly, you might not find it hard to fit into your pocket. To state the obvious, it’ll fit inside your bag, taking little to no space. The Omnicase 2 Pro weighs only 192g (6.7oz), measuring 5 x 3 x 1 inches (12.6 x 7.8 x 2.6 cm).

Omnicase 2 Pro – Build quality

Regarding the build quality, the Omnicase 2 Pro is comfortable to hold, and JSAUX’s efforts shine here. Besides, it is easy to carry with a sleek and lightweight design, and the docking station feels more on the premium side, provided they made it with anodized aluminum. If you like this already, then brace yourself for the features it has to offer, which will blow your mind.

Should you get the Omnicase 2 Pro?








Value for money


If I were in your place deciding whether to pick the Omnicase 2 Pro, I wouldn’t waste much time thinking about it; I’ll grab one for myself. The features that it offers at such a great price make it a valuable product in its class. Besides, if you have a MacBook, you won’t have to struggle with the port situation once you get this.


The best part about Omnicase 2 Pro is its pricing. If you only want the Omnicase 2 Pro, you can purchase it for $79.99. But if you get the Omnicase 2 Pro complete set, which includes a curved laptop and Steam Deck stands, you’ll have to pay $109.99, which is a much better deal.

Lastly, Omnicase 2 Pro is a Kickstarter project backed by many people and has reached its goal of making it possible. On the other hand, you’ll have to wait for the campaign to end to actually get one for yourself. The Kickstarter campaign for the Omnicase series will end on June 30th at 6:55 AM PST, with deliveries going out around August 2023.

Buy now from Kickstarter


Omnicase 2 Pro review summary

Omnicase 2 Pro review summary








Total Score

Author Profile


Sajid is an Electronics and Communications Engineering graduate who loves writing about tech. He’s primarily interested in writing about Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows. You’ll find him watching Anime or Marvel when he’s not writing.

Netac Zx20 Portable Solid State Drive Review

Offline storage and backup can be a big problem. Basically, the data we generate monthly in 2023 would have been a lifetime supply only 10 years ago. Even with cloud storage, there is still a very present need for physical storage for temporary backup, transportation, security, and backup off site. With USB sticks so darn easy to lose, what we really need is some kind of reliable, high-capacity storage in a form factor that’s bigger than a USB stick and smaller than a USB hard drive. This leaves room for the Netac ZX20 Portable Solid State Drive.

This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Netac. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence even when a post is sponsored.

Netac’s Tiny Drive

The Netac ZX20 Portable Solid State Drive takes a small SSD and puts it into a small form factor suitable for your bag or even your pocket. It’s so small and neat, you could even slip it into the trouser pocket of a suit and not spoil the lining.

The case dimensions are only 8 cm x 4.3 cm, about as big as a cigarette lighter for comparison. The case is robust and silicone protected on five sides. It has a hole built into the corner so that you can use a carabiner clip to lash it to a bag or jacket or link it to your keys for easy transport. Attachment to a computer or device is handled by the included USB-C to standard USB cable.

Also included is a USB-C to USB-C cable for connection to the growing lot of devices using that standard. You also get a tiny leatherette pouch that doesn’t protect it so much as look nice. I can’t say I use it much, but it’s nice to have.

Netac is one of the claimants to being the inventors of the USB memory stick, which tells you something important: it has been doing this kind of thing for a long time.

Big Storage, Small Package

The initial response to opening the box and taking out the drive is how small and neat and nicely made the drive is. It feels expensive. Out of the box it is formatted for Windows, so I plugged it into the PC, and it recognized it easily. The USB lead is very well made and feels robust enough to carry around in a coat pocket without risking any damage in transit.

The first thing you notice while using it is how fast it is compared to the bulk of the external storage you use on a PC. Obviously, you only get full speed if you have certified USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gbps) sockets on your machine.

Of course, the primary limiting factor and primary bottleneck in any USB-based storage system is the speed of the socket itself, which is a serious thing you should bear in mind.

On that note, I have USB 3.0 and not 3.2, so I have to cite test results supplied to me by Netac. The USB-C test results sound impressive: 2031Mb/s sequential read, 1774Mb/s sequential write. If you can’t get a certified USB 3.2 with a USB-A interface (easy to spot with the blue tab), then clearly, USB-C is your best bet.

This doesn’t mean that if you don’t have USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gbps) this drive is useless. To the contrary, in fact.

Although the peak performance of the ZX20 can only be achieved with the USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20Gbps) interface, this product supports full backward compatibility with a variety of interfaces and can still be used when connected to a USB 3.0 interface. This means that if you take the product out and about and use it on someone else’s device, it will work fine.

Using the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test tool and a regular USB socket, I could see the ZX20 managed speeds as high as 145MB/s. That’s good enough to read and write 2K cinema-quality video attached to a digital cinema projector.

This product gets on well in connection with a standard USB 3.0 interface. As you can see, it can reach levels of 429Mb/s read and 405Mb/s write. Basically, the type of performance you get depends entirely on the kind of interface you have. Suffice to say, whatever you are using with it will be fast.

I really like the Netac ZX20 Portable Solid State Drive. It’s difficult to put across how small it is – yet powerful and fast. The speed of regular USB sticks is usually terrible, as they are almost always cheap. That’s understandable, as if you are going to carry around something small AND expensive, it’s a recipe for disaster. But this device is not only compact, powerful and fast – it’s also not that expensive, and with USB 3.2 it really flies.

I only have two quibbles with it, and they are very minor and purely personal. Number one: it would have been nice to have a little LED activity light on it. I don’t like indicators that are too bright, but a nice discreet little light that flashes when it’s working would have been nice.

I also question why the cables you get with this and similar items are so stiff. I get that they have to be durable, but it doesn’t lie flat when I plug the drive. Admittedly, this is more to do with my own OCDs than any technical deficiency in the product, so it’s not a major issue, and the PSSD willl be dangling in some way anyway.

Where to get it

All things considered, the Netac ZX20 Portable Solid State Drive is a great little drive, and for an estimated retail price of about $70, not crazy expensive either. It’s probably about $10 more than I’d like to see, but the quality is great, so I’ll forgive the price immediately, as you can’t go wrong with the capacity.

All images by Phil South.

Phil South

Phil South has been writing about tech subjects for over 30 years. Starting out with Your Sinclair magazine in the 80s, and then MacUser and Computer Shopper. He’s designed user interfaces for groundbreaking music software, been the technical editor on film making and visual effects books for Elsevier, and helped create the MTE YouTube Channel. He lives and works in South Wales, UK.

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The Evolution Of Solid State Drives (Ssds)

When solid state storage were invented over half a century ago and then made widely commercially available, their effect was transformative — the technology has played a major role in the evolution of storage, gaming, business and computing. But by examining SSDs, you can also understand what the future will hold for their components, benefits and applications.

What is SSD storage?

Solid state drive (SSD) storage uses non-volatile solid state chips that feature flash memory cells to store data on a long-term basis. Unlike traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), which use magnetic platters spinning at high speeds to using an actuator arm reminiscent of a record player, SSDs require no moving parts. Instead, the storage solution depends entirely on flash memory to store data, making them much faster at reading and writing data, both ad hoc and in sustained operations.

Using a mesh of electrical cells in a NAND — a type of non-volatile flash memory — to store data, SSDs include an embedded processor known as the controller. It runs firmware-level code to help the drive operate and bridge the media to the host computer via the interface bus. Today’s SSDs don’t require an additional power source that maintains an electrical current into the device at all times to preserve the data. This makes them increasingly more reliable than traditional HDDs (from a mechanical and data integrity standpoint).

SSDs also have built-in technology that further improves read/write speeds, making them faster than traditional HDDs. Historically, HDDs included a bit of memory within the drive hardware itself (typically eight or 16 MBs) to increase the perceived read/write performance. If the data a user wants to read or write can be stored within the high-performing cache memory, the drive temporarily stores the data in the fast memory modules. It then reports back to the operating system once this is complete, triggering the drive to transfer the data from the cache to the much slower magnetic media. This doesn’t always work, as only a small portion of the drive’s total data is cached at any time, and if data isn’t in the cache, it has to be read from the slower physical medium.

SSDs utilize the same kind of concept involving a cache, except they include dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips — a type of semiconductor memory commonly used in PCs and servers — within the controller hardware on the SSD itself. Ranging from 64 MBs all the way up to GBs, they buffer requests to improve the life of the drive and serve short bursts of read/write requests faster than the regular drive memory allows. These caches are essential in enterprise storage applications, including heavily used file servers and database servers.

When were SSDs first available?

The use of flash memory for longer-term storage has been around since the 1950s, but those solutions were generally in mainframes or larger minicomputers. They also required battery backups to preserve the contents of the memory when the machine was not powered by the host, as those solutions used volatile memory.

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Since then, the technology has gotten smaller and faster, and it no longer requires battery backup. Performance has skyrocketed too, as new PC bus interfaces have made it possible for data transfer rates to far exceed the standard rates that traditional spinning media would saturate. They’re also less expensive today, even compared to the first SSD drive released in 1991 — a 20MB SSD that sold for $1,000.

Applications for SSDs

There are multiple benefits to using SSDs for production storage applications. Because SSDs have no moving mechanical components, they use less power, are more resistant to drops or rough handling, operate almost silently, and read quickly with less latency. Additionally, since there are no spinning platters or actuator arms, there is no need to wait for the physical parts to ramp up to operating speed. This feature eliminates a performance hit that hard drives cannot escape. SSDs are also lightweight, which makes them ideal for laptops, small form factor machines and high-capacity storage area networks in a smaller footprint.

To host both the database engine and the database itself for quick access.

As a “hot” tier in a stratified network storage archive, where frequently accessed data can be retrieved and rewritten very quickly.

In situations where physical shocks are a possibility and HDDs would present an untenable risk to system reliability.

In gaming, where the user is often moving through new environments.

In business settings where you need your operating system and applications to load quickly.

How to choose the right SSD for your needs

PCIe SSDs interface with a system via its PCIe slot — the same slot that is used for high-speed video cards, memory and chips. PCIe 1.0 launched in 2003, with a transfer rate of 2.5 gigatransfer per second (GT/s) and a total bandwidth of 8 Gbps. GT/s measures the number of bits per second that the bus can move or transfer.

Several years later, PCIe 2.0 was introduced, doubling both the bandwidth and the gigatransfer speed, hitting 16 Gbps and 5 GT/s, respectively. Subsequent generations doubled bandwidth and gigatransfer speeds with each new iteration. PCIe 3.0, for instance, features 32Gbps bandwidth and 8 GT/s.

Most recently, SSDs started using the PCIe 4.0 specification, which features bandwidth of 64 Gbps and a 16 GT/s rate. PCIe is now being paired with the non-volatile memory host controller interface specification (NVMe), a communications protocol for high-speed storage systems that runs on top of PCIe.

However, not everyone has a PCIe-enabled system, and some may have PCIe slots in conjunction with other system add-ons, like memory or graphics cards. In these cases, other SSDs like the Samsung 870 EVO are an ideal option for content creators, IT professionals and everyday users. An 870 EVO uses the standard SATA interface to achieve the maximum SATA interface limit of 560/530 MB/s sequential speeds. Samsung 870 QVO also achieves the maximum SATA interface limit, with offerings in the 1, 2, 4, and 8 TB 2.5-inch SATA form factor configurations.

What does the future hold?

In the short term, capacities will continue to ramp up, while the cost per GB for SSDs will continue to decrease. New form factors that increase the number of parallel data transmission lanes between storage and the host bus will emerge to increase the speed and quality of the NAND storage medium.

The physical layer of cells that holds the blocks and pages will improve, offering better reliability and performance. Form factor will also continue to shrink. In 2023, Samsung announced it had reduced cell volume by up to 35%, making its 176-layer 7th-generation V-NAND SSD offering similar in height to its previous generation.

Learn more about how to improve your storage planning and evaluation processes with this free guide.

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